Vegan delights, running late and too much cake

This weekend was both super busy and super chilled. A good mixture I think!

On Friday night I stayed at my parent’s house as I’d planned on running to Lee-On-Solent parkrun the next day in order to kill two birds with one stone. I haven’t done parkrun since before Austria because of my injury, but I wanted to get back to it. Equally I wanted a long run and as I’ve been playing it super safe only running three times so this meant combining the two on Saturday as I’d already run Tuesday and Thursday. Lee-On-Solent parkrun isn’t very far from my parents so was a safe distance to add on before the 5k.

I was feeling quite tired so decided that I wouldn’t set my alarm too early. 7.30am seemed about right. As long as I was running no later than 8.10am that would give me a good amount of time to run 5 miles and have a bit of a buffer just before parkrun. For reasons beyond comprehension, when I’d planned my run I hadn’t really spotted that it was longer than 5 miles to get to the actual starting area of parkrun. And, as always, I wasted a bit of time in the morning faffing around… meaning by 8.15am I was still trying to locate satellites and not having much luck.

But, ever the positive and optimistic, I set off without a care in the world at 8.20am. The run felt good and I zoned out listening to a podcast as I plodded along. Funnily enough one of my non-running friends said they saw me running and got confused why I was running in the opposite direction to the Lee parkrun. They didn’t understand why I didn’t just run directly there. I had to explain about trying to get the extra miles. They didn’t quite get it. Non-runners, eh 😉

As I was running a route I often do when I run a long run from my parent’s house I know how many miles roughly there was to go until I got towards the Lee-On-Solent area. I realised I’d made a mistake somewhere in my planning. It was now closing in on 8.45am and I still had about three miles to go. I sped up a bit. As I was running along the coast I could see in the distance where the parkrun would begin. I was still so far away!As it got to 9am I was about 0.5 miles away and started passing some of the marshals. As I legged it past I shouted “Don’t think I’m going to make it!” and they laughed and said I better hurry up. I was somewhat banking on there being lots of messages at the start to delay it a bit but it seemed unlikely to be delayed so much after 9am. When I got to the start area of course they had already gone as it was now almost 9.10am. I ran past my friend Rebecca, who was marshalling and celebrating reaching 100 times volunteering (!), and she laughed at my lateness. I debated not doing it and just supporting and then getting my extra miles by running home (which would be about three miles) but I could see the runners ahead and decided just to try and catch up as much as I could and have a slower time.By this point I’d been running a lot faster than I intended so attempted to slow down a bit. I was now at parkrun so could chill. It was a shame to be late because my friend Ben was going to run with me at parkrun. I saw him fly past me in the other direction as he’d reached the turnaround point ages ago. I shouted I was late and he laughed at me (a theme for this run). Though it was quite a satisfying run because I could pick so many people off and feel like I was really gaining on the field. I wondered idly how many miles it would take to catch up with people running similar speeds to me… more than parkrun I thought. In fact the maths of it confused me a little – could I ever catch up to people running at my speed? No, I’d need to run faster wouldn’t I? The random thoughts of a runner…Anyway, as Ben had finished a lot before me he came back for me and ran the last 0.5 mile with me. I was pretty puffed by this point as I was still running faster than planned. I was still feeling a bit stressed about the whole thing! It was nice though to feel a bit of speed in my legs and I tried not to dwell on how much I’d lost since getting injured. Such is life! I finished, on my watch, 23:26 which isn’t too shabby at all given the time off I’ve had (my actual time was 30:18 tho). And a total of 9.6 miles. I was tempted to run it up to 10 but by that point I was done. I chatted with Ben (he’s working his way up to 50 marathons!) and Rebecca. She’s such a lovely, lovely person and it’s such an incredible achievement to have volunteered so many times.She seemed to be under the impression that it might seem a bit “sad” but I fully disagreed with her. It’s a fantastic thing to do and she should be really proud of herself. Volunteering is so important in the parkrun world (and life in general). You could equally call runners “sad” for running so many of them too. So enough of that nonsense Rebecca!

As I headed off I noticed a vegan burger van and had to get a photo as it looked very quirky and I’d never seen one before – also selling churros randomly. I tried to discreetly take a photo but one of the vegan runners who was stood next to it spotted me and did a great pose. It was very amusing!My parents helpfully picked me up and then I had to race to get ready as I was meeting Andy for lunch and time was a’ticking! He picked me up with his parent’s adorable Cavalier, Tilly (the same black and white colouring as my parent’s dog Dylan). Tilly is very sweet and well behaved. And luckily the place we were going for food allowed dogs inside. To balance out our recent burger exploits, we decided to go to Off Beet in Wickham, which is a fully vegan cafe/restaurant. And honestly if you’re in the area and like good food – even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan – you must go there. The food is INCREDIBLE. It’s so reasonably priced (£9-12 for a main meal), sustainably conscious and amazingly inventive with their ever-changing menu. I’ve been there before with the lovely April so I knew I was in for a treat.

Tilly chilled out (though was ever aware of any food that would come her way by ‘accident’ under the table) as we debated back and forth of what to get… it all sounded so good! In the end Andy went for tacos (with harissa charred cauliflower and blackbeans on handmade gluten-free tacos).And I went for the Thai Green curry and tofu-fried rice. We also got some polenta chips…just because!It was so tasty. Now though I know I always seem to be eating ridiculously amounts of meat, I’m a food lover in general and can appreciate good food, regardless of whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or whatever. If it tastes good, I’ll eat it. I’m always happy to try different foods and give things a go. Yes I love meat but I’m happy to not eat it if the dish is good enough without. And it was DELICIOUS. And very filling. Well, not too filling… there was still room for pudding.

There are so many different kinds of vegan cakes we were really spoilt for choice. When Andy went to the till to order I’d told him if the one slice of brownie cheesecake was still there I would have that otherwise a peanut butter-based cheesecake. Well, he came back with three options! Definitely the best decision right there.

We shared (yes I know, I SHARED. Can you even imagine?) the three pieces. They weren’t overwhelming sweet like regular cake but they were very tasty (no refined sugars and all that jazz). They had interesting textures from the crushed nuts and creamy bits. I can’t really tell you what we had… one was probably chocolate chip banana bread, one was Nutella based and the cheesecake looking one was the peanut butter. My favourite was last one I think. But it was a tough call!

After filling our boots, we headed out for a walk down the bridal path of Wickham. It was a lovely day and a lovely walk. Tilly was pooped by the end!

That evening I had my friend’s 30th birthday party BBQ to go to (well, my married couple friends were both celebrating their 30th if that makes sense). By this point enough time had passed and I was hungry again. There was a fantastic spread of food and I loaded up a plate of vol au vents, pulled pork (winner right there), sausages and salad. Later I also had a burger and more pork. I guess I kind of undid all the good vegan work I did earlier I’m afraid!

Then trifle and chocolate cheesecake appeared… Well the BBQ went on well into the evening so a lot of this food was spread over a good amount of time. And of course I had to have some of this AMAZING unicorn cake. Some of it was coffee-flavoured (not my favourite admittedly) and rainbow sprinkles ‘flavour’. It was incredible. I felt well and truly pudding’ed out by this point!The BBQ was such good fun with my friends. Lots of games, banter and chilling out. A perfect end to a great Saturday.

Sunday saw a gym visit, chores and finally some relaxing! Whew.

How was your weekend?

If you’re not a vegan, would you ever eat at a vegan restaurant?

Have you ever been late to a parkrun?

Food, fitness and finally RUNNING

I don’t think I’ve ever woken up on a Saturday and looked forward to Monday morning at work before. This is very strange to me! I mean, I didn’t hate my last job or dread going in but I never felt the excitement and genuine interest that I currently feel. Long may this last!

As I said, my posts are a bit few and far between right now as I find my new schedule and get my life in order…but for today’s post I’ll recap the weekend as it was a pretty good one!

I spent Friday night with my parents and had a very much needed long sleep and lazy morning with them on Saturday morning, walking the dogs down the beach and catching up. They wanted to know how my new job had gone and all that jazz. Though I obviously missed going to parkrun it was really nice to spend this rare Saturday morning with them for once.

A bit later I headed to the gym and had a really good session, if I do say so myself. I came up with a circuit-style workout that I did four times, and it definitely got the blood pumping and the endorphins racing.

  • 5 minutes on the rowing machine
  • 20x step ups
  • 20x lunges (w/barbell)
  • 20x squats and barbell overhead raise
  • 20x Swiss ball hamstring curls
  • 20x Swiss ball jackknives
  • 20x bench bunny hops

I then followed this with 25 minutes on the elliptical machine watching Iron Man 2. I’ve seen barely any of the Marvel films so I’m using my cross training time to catch up. So far I’ve done Iron Man and half of Iron Man 2 – only 9,000 more films to go 😉

That evening I headed out for another burger and ice cream-full evening with Andy. This time we were testing out 7Bone Burger Co., which is another Southampton burger-based restaurant (I believe there are a few around the place). This was a bit more low-key but very busy. It was literally packed! We luckily found a nice table and surveyed the menu.

I chose the Prince Charles is Overrated burger which came with a 10oz beef patty, bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles and dirty spread (mayo-based yumminess sauce). I ordered frickles to come with it (fried pickles – ABSOLUTE dream).

And I think Andy ordered the Ronald’s Revenge (mustard, double cheese, fried onions) and chilli cheese fries. We also shared some halloumi fries.

So comparing these burgers with the burgers from last week at The Rockstone… I can say that the burgers themselves were better at The Rockstone – a bit more “meaty” and substantial. The 7Bone Burgers disappeared very easily and very quickly. However, the meal itself was better at 7Bone because of the entire package. The frickles and the halloumi fries were literally heaven.

Andy kindly shared his fries with me and they were AMAZING. I mean, I’m not really a processed cheese fan but my God these were another level.

We let things settle before walking over to the handily located Sprinkles for a deja vu moment of finishing off the meal with ice cream again. This time I decided not to go for the behemoth sundae that I went for last time and stuck to a slightly more modest pudding in a jar.

I had the Guilty Pleasure, which contained gelato, melted chocolate, strawberries, brownie bits and caramel popcorn. Actually it was a little bit of a disappointment as quite a chunk of the jar was just cream and strawberries. I got major food envy of Andy’s jar which contained freshly baked cookie bits. Ah well, you live and learn.

Ooooof, what a meal! I was stuffed (again). Enough burgers and ice cream now for a while please!

The next morning I headed out for my first “long run” in a while. I’d run twice in the week to good results – minimal knee discomfort and nothing getting worse post run. So I decided to up the ante and go for the big one. SIX MILES. Jesus, calm me down. Six whole miles. Only five weeks to the marathon… PANIC.

Not quite. I’ve been here before where I’ve been injured and my well-laid marathon plans have been scuppered. So I’m familiar with this process. Inverse taper to the big day is the way forward. The only thing that will hold me back is if my knee decides to not play ball.

I’m quietly confident at the moment though as it felt pretty good during the six miles. The first mile was a bit uncomfortable but then it was absolutely fine. I was tempted to go further but thought NO ANNA, don’t over-do it. Keep calm and level-headed and just build those miles up slowly again until the big day.

What really made me happy was that I felt very comfortable running at a good pace. I don’t appear to have lost any major fitness in terms of cardiovascular-ness (technical term there). I just need my body to get used to the impact and pounding of running on pavements again. The elliptical machine is all well and good keeping my fitness in tune but it does nothing for allowing the ligaments etc. to adjust to that ground force.

After the six miles I headed quickly to the gym to top this up with 35 minutes on the elliptical machine to kind of replicate a longer run. I felt a bit weird turning up to the gym already sweaty but hey ho. Needs must. Then it was a quick dash home, shower and head to my parents to go over on the ferry to Gunwharf for a mosey round the shops and then a walk into Southsea for lunch.The Southsea kite festival was going on which was really cool as well. So many crazy kites!SouthseaI love the photo of the man behind me wearing his very cool purple sparkly cowboy hat.

We then found the delightful Algarve Grill restaurant and had Portuguese-style tapas. Oh god, ALL THE FOOD.I was actually looking for something a bit lighter after the big meal the night before… but these things happen. I had sardines, meatballs, chicken skewers, these meat breaded pouch things and a pork dish (pork pieces cooked in a very delicious butter sauce). I was STUFFED. Happily we had quite a walk to get back to the car (all the way to Gunwharf, then over on the ferry and then to the carpark from there) so it had time to go down! Though I was shattered by the time we finally got back to the car. I’d done almost 30,000 steps!

Whew, that was a big post! Hopefully going to get back into some regular posting so watch this space 😉

How was your weekend?

What’s your favourite burger side?

What’s your favourite Marvel film, if you have one? I really like Thor but I’ve heard Captain America is really good.

Southsea Food Festival and Why Not Run race

And I’m back home, back to reality, back to normality…and it sucks. OK I’m only partly  joking of course, but the Marathon Talk Austria Run Camp was EPIC. Amazing, fantastic, so much fun and so thoroughly enjoyable. I’ll be writing a recap soon, but for now I’ll recap the weekend just gone.

I got back late Friday night and decided a lie-in and a day off of running was definitely required. parkrun would not be happening! I had a lot to sort out in the morning (*sighs* how much does it suck to be an adult? Can’t someone else unpack, do my washing and buy my food for me? No? Damn). After getting all the boring shizz out the way I headed to Southsea to meet up with my friend, Michelle, for the Southsea Food Festival. Michelle had also been on the Austria Run Camp so it was nice to see her again and bemoan how we wished we were still in Austria and running through forests and mountains.

Southsea was positively buzzing with activity. There seemed to be a lot going on, on the seafront, near the boat lake and of course along the high street where the Food Festival was being held.There was so many vendors giving out tasters and selling an assortment of foods.It was fantastic! Indian food, burgers, sausages, olives, cheese, Spanish food, Caribbean food, cakes (oh the cakes…). So many different options!There was also a cookery demonstration happening (with free mini dishes of what they’d made) and a smoothie tent where you had to cycle in order to blend your smoothie.Michelle and I walked through the crowds to check out each vendor, nibbling on what was being offered. I spotted a huge slab of rocky road and decided straight away I needed that in my life.Then we were on the hunt for something for lunch. My parents met me with Alfie as well which was lovely as I hadn’t seen them for a week. Alfie seemed overjoyed to see me, which just melted my heart.He also very much enjoyed the Food Festival, hoovering up anything that had been dropped.

Trying to choose something for lunch was insanely hard. But we walked past someone who had just ordered a kebab (not a dirty kebab, but a proper fresh and tasty looking one with salad and lamb koftes).It was ginormous. I was sold! I went for a chicken kebab (wrapped in a garlic naan, stuffed with salad and homemade tzatziki. Michelle went for a halloumi one.It was SO tasty. It was a good job it was wrapped in the paper as well as it kept it all nicely together so I didn’t make a complete mess of myself (which so often happens with food and me).My parents were very restrained and just had drinks. I was so proud of my dad as previously at events like this he’d have probably had a good number of different things. He bought himself some chutneys and was content to just try a few tasters and enjoy the atmosphere.

Sunday I was off to do a lapped race by the On The Whistle organisers at Staunton Country Park. The race, Why Not Run, was a 4.7 mile lap with a six hour time limit. If I hadn’t offered to drive two of my running club friends I would have bailed on this race. I was tired, my legs needed a rest and I really had no ambitions to do a crazy number of laps. I’d done almost 50 miles – which is MENTAL for me. I’m the girl who does 25-35 miles a week. I’m not a high mileage runner. But I’d agreed to drive so off I went!These events are very low-key and relaxed. The run director is a lovely guy who put everyone at their ease, reassuring everyone that they could or as much or as little as they liked. I was glad for this because I honestly didn’t fancy doing any running! My legs were heavy and my motivation low. But it was a nice atmosphere so I felt very chilled. I love that they decorated the bibs as well, a great touch.There was a good turn out for Hedge End Running Club, and with a lot planning on doing more than a marathon! Well I felt very pathetic just planning one lap but I knew I needed to be sensible.We set off and my legs felt niggly and tired. To be expected. I straight away knew to keep the pace fairly slow (for me) and to stick with a single running lap. The course was marked out well, you couldn’t get lost, and the marshals very friendly and supportive. It was a very happy and friendly atmosphere.The course ran through Staunton Country Park. It was a little tricky underfoot with pebbled, loose stones and uneven terrain but for the most part it was compact and fairly easy to run on. But it did require some concentration.It was an undulating course with gentle long inclines – not a PB course! It did somewhat sap my energy. But I popped a podcast on and zoned out.

Photo credit: Jon Lavis

As I finished my lap I picked up my wristband (this is how they track the number of laps you do) and headed to the very well stocked aid station.I had a nibble on some sweets and biscuits and drank some water.I knew that my two car share buddies, Sarah and Lucy, were planning on doing at least three laps so I decided to head out for another lap, but this time walking. It was a nice day and it seemed a shame not to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. I did get quite a lot of people asking me if I was OK and whether I was injured. I reassured everyone I was fine and just didn’t want to run anymore this week.

Photo credit: Jon Lavis

I joked with the photographer as I walked passed that my photo would be rather boring! I was tempted to do a crazy pose but decided not to subject the poor guy to it 😉Sarah did three laps and Lucy amazingly did four. Lucy has never run over a half marathon so was super chuffed – as she should be! And she’d been planning on 10 minute miles and had smashed it out with 9.30s! She was buzzing. I was very pleased for them, but equally happy that I hadn’t got carried away and attempted to run anymore. When the body says no, I now listen!So despite not really fancying this race and it being terrible timing, I had a lovely morning. I’d love to do this race again (or another On The Whistle one) when I’m more fresh and ready for it!I fully recommend this event as a lovely low key lapped event.

Have you ever done a timed lapped event?

Do you enjoy food festivals? Which ones have you been to?

What I ate when working in London

Whew last week was tough. I was in London for four days as part of the final bit of a project (for those who don’t know, I’m currently a software test analyst… yes very geeky). These last few weeks have been very stressful as we’ve had some unmovable deadlines to hit and lots of work to get done. But I won’t dwell on that for this post, this post is about the good stuff. FOOD.

I was in London Monday until Thursday. I was the only one in the group to be staying in a hotel. Everyone else lives in Basingstoke or nearby so the commute was a bit more manageable (well, I say that but one guy had commuting issues all week… something I was glad to avoid!). Luckily the office we were in had a very fancy pants kitchen area so I bought porridge oats and almond milk at lunch time on Monday so breakfast Tuesday until Thursday was covered as I could make it in the morning there. Saving money and still able to enjoy my usual breakfast 🙂

My job expenses travel, hotels and dinner but for breakfast and lunch I need to buy myself. The office was located in Victoria so at lunch there was a wealth of options available, from the Shake Shack, Subway, Pret, Itsu, McDonalds, Starbucks…etc. I’d heard good things about Leon so went there on Monday to grab something.

I went for the South Indian Spiced Fish, which was delicious.It was really tasty. It contained chunks of smoked fish in a mild coconut and turmeric sauce on a bed of rice. It was lovely and hot but not too spicy. I actually did buy some extra cooked chicken though to add to it as I knew I wouldn’t get much of a chance to eat again until dinner and I generally have quite a big appetite! It kept me going until 8.30pm (we didn’t finish work until 7pm).

That evening after getting to my hotel, which was in Paddington (so not too far from Victoria) I’d made sure I’d already made a Deliveroo order on my commute back. I didn’t fancy going out as I was exhausted from the day so this was ideal. I ordered from Lokkanta, which is a meze and barbeque restarant. I ordered a Tavuk Shish, which was chicken with Bulgar wheat with a halloumi and sundried tomato salad. I also ordered some bread on the side. I’m always wary of ordering when I don’t know portion sizes so I’m always willing to get more than I need than risk not getting enough 😉 Turns out I didn’t need the bread, but it was tasty.

My hotel… *sighs* was dreadful. It was tiny and not part of a chain, which can be nice sometimes but in London a chain is sometimes better because there’s a level of quality that needs to be maintained however basic the actual amenities are. When I was lying on the bed watching TV after eating I noticed tiny little white dots slowly moving on the sheets. On closer inspection I found that they were tiny mites. URGH. I headed downstairs to talk to the manager (the only person who seemed to work there…) and complained.

He literally looked like he couldn’t care less (by the way, this is the same guy who gave me a master key for the hotel when he couldn’t find the key for my specific room – oh yeah, I felt safe!!). When it looked like he didn’t really a) know what to do and b) want to do anything I suggested quite firmly new sheets for my bed. He looked really grumpy and finally agreed. He appeared at my door a few moments later and handed me the sheets. I handed them back to him and said I was going to step out to make a phone-call. I was not going to change my own sheets thank you very much. I came back and thankfully my bed had been made and the mites had disappeared. But Jesus. So yeah, that delightful abode is called Mina House Hotel FYI.

The next morning I headed out for a run. Despite my hotel being awful, it was very close to Hyde Park. As my last solo run in London had be disastrous I was glad to have somewhere specific to run around that had lots of maps about the place (and water fountains)!

I thoroughly enjoyed this run. I decided to go around the perimeter and see how far that was. It was very warm but the sights were so pretty with trees, grass, fountains, flowers and statues. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to Hyde Park before so it was a lovely way to explore it.At one point there was this huge line of horses with very fancy looking men all in special uniform walking graceful through the park. Apparently the Queen’s Guard! The Queen wasn’t there (obviously, it was like 7am) but it was very cool to see this procession.In the end I ran 8 miles which felt great! I had breakfast at the office again (porridge) and for lunch I headed out to find what delights I could embark on. I decided on Pret (how original) because I love their salads and their miso soup. I got that with the extra chicken from Sainsbury’s and some apples. The salad was the Greens, Grains and Chicken Salad. Sorted!

For dinner I decided to find somewhere on the way home from work as we finished after 6pm again and I wanted to prolong the time before I had to face my hotel room again. I found a lovely little Turkish restaurant (I think it was called Raffles) in Paddington. I went for something simple so had chicken wings to start (*cough* I know, I just can’t help what I like!) and chicken with rice and salad for main.It was really tasty and just what I fancied. When you have to spend a number of days away from home (and not on holiday) eating out on your own can get a bit tiresome and annoying. Granted this was only my second evening but I was pacing myself. I’d have loved to have eaten crazy exciting meals each night but I didn’t want to be too unhealthy. My usual mantra is eat fairly balance and normal meals during the week and then splurge at the weekend on more fancy and exciting meals.

The next day I headed out early to go to the local PureGym. I’d rung up the day before to extend my membership to the Bayswater one (which was about a 15 minute walk from the hotel). It would cost me £4 for the week on top of my month’s membership which sounded good to me. I punched in my code when I got there and found it wouldn’t let me in. I got a text message from PureGym informing me that my code wouldn’t work at this location. WHAT.

I tried ringing them but at 6.30am the hotline wasn’t open and there was no one in the gym to help me. So I huffed and puffed and then walked back. Luckily the weather was nice so that was something. I rang them later to find out what was going on and it turns out the person who I rang the day before hadn’t extended my membership properly. They were very apologetic and said I could go to the gym for the rest of the week without the £4 charge.

I had the same Pret lunch again (as I did for the next day – I just love that salad) and after work went for another run round Hyde Park.I decided to do something similar to before by running the perimeter. There were some live events going on (music, cinema and things like that) but being on my own I didn’t really fancy getting involved.A run was a far more fun activity for me as a solo person. As I was running I thought I might as well run somewhere to dinner and really fancied Nandos. So basic but I do love it. And handily Nando’s was just over a mile from Hyde Park so I incorporated that into my run.It did mean me sitting there in my shorts rather hot and sweaty but no one seemed to mind and I actually didn’t look that weird amongst the other assorted London folk… I was very warm though and cleaned up a bit in the bathroom. I went for a half chicken, with a side salad, char-grilled vegetables and a corn on the cob. I would have loved a whole chicken but it was only a Wednesday night after all!

The next morning I got up early once again to attempt the gym for the second time. I am but a girl of very small brains. Of course a trip to London must mean at some point I will go wrong and have an adulting fail moment. This was my time to shine. I put in my maps app what I thought was the Bayswater PureGym and headed off. I used a different app from the day before just because I prefer it to the Google one. It took me on a different route, which I put down to it being a different app. But as I became a bit more awake and compos mentis I realised I was actually no where near where I was the other day. And lo and behold, the PureGym I arrived at was not in fact the Bayswater one but a different one entirely. And nope, I could not get it. So I had to turn around and walk all the way back again. Well done, Anna.

My last day in London saw the same breakfast and lunch as the days before. I’m fairly glad I don’t work in London all that often because spending £6-7 at least every day on lunch was becoming expensive! Normally I make my own lunch and take it with me, but for four days it was a nice treat (especially considering dinner was sorted for me).

This will be my only post for the week as I’m actually currently in Austria on the MarathonTalk running retreat (SO EXCITING!). So catch you on the other side!

Do you go to London for work often?

What do you eat for lunch during the week?

What’s your favourite lunch restaurant?

SimplyHealth Great Newham London Run

After a fairly late Saturday night, Sunday morning saw another 6am alarm and catching a train to London at 7am with my dad. We’d postponed my birthday celebrations and his Father’s Day celebration for this day because it meant we could combine going to a race (and my dad spectating, which he always enjoys) and then going out for a nice meal. A meal my mum probably wouldn’t enjoy! She happily stayed at home, bless her, looking after the dogs.

The 10k race was the SimplyHealth Great Newham London Run. This is organised by the Great Run people, who also organise the Great South Run (a nearby to me 10 mile race in Portsmouth) and the Great North Run (er, not so nearby), amongst others. Though these races can be somewhat pricey, they are always quite a big event with lots of supporters, sponsors and runners. They always feel like a big event, which can be a nice change from the smaller local events I often do. Each have their own pluses and minuses I think!

I was graciously given a place by the Simply Health guys, who are the main sponsors of the Great Newham 10k. They provided me with a very cool technical t-shirt to wear as well. I felt part of the team and ready to go!I had a couple of apples on the train as my breakfast (having a proper breakfast required me getting up even earlier and I preferred to sleep).Plus I knew I’d be eating more than enough later to make up for it! We then got the tube to Stratford, easy peasy. As we got closer to the area more and more runners started appearing. This always gets me buzzed as the anticipation starts to build. It doesn’t matter what race I’m doing, or whether I’m going to go for a PB or whatever, I still get nervous and excited for every race.We had more than enough time, which was nice and meant no panicked rushing around (I often think this is my default in life…). We walked through Westfields shopping area and headed to the Olympic Park.We had a little mosey about, took some photos of course and then I used the facilities. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this point before but it’s always nice to have a proper toilet to use before a race! There were lots of people everywhere but it was all very well organised, with big signs pointing people in the right direction, and water available for people to drink before the race. It was already very very warm. Someone on a speaker kept telling people to drink water if they were thirsty and that “today was not the day for PBs”. I quite liked that approach 😉

I spotted the SimplyHealth area and found they were sorting out a GIF booth. As it was literally just set up it meant I was the first to give it a try. You had to strike four poses in this little booth (with or without props… I went without as I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to increase how much of an idiot I’d already look). You can check out my ridiculous GIF here… I panicked and did a Usain Bolt/dab so it failed somewhat. I got a print out as well as a digital copy of my GIF so that was pretty cool. There was quite the line after I finished so I was glad to have gotten there so early!

Then my dad headed off to where he was going to stand and I headed off to the start. There were pacers, which was handy for anyone aiming for a certain time, and a rather elaborate warm-up (all about dynamic movements and warming the muscles up, which I much prefer to just static stretching). As I was tired from the night before and my 16 miles, I figured sub-50 minutes would be a good aim.Just as we started someone said hello to me and I turned to see my Twitter/Instagram friend, Matt. I knew he, as well as a few others, were doing the race but doubted I’d find anyone I knew as it was so crowded. So I was pleasantly surprised to bump into him!

We started running together and I realised I needed to check if he was aiming for a particular time or how fast he was going to go. He was aiming for 42-43 minutes, which was somewhat faster than I was hoping for! But we were chatting away and the pace didn’t feel too tough. It was nice to have the company too.

The course was a lot more undulating than I was expecting and the sun was beating down quite intensely. I saw my dad at 4k and did my usual wave madly to him. As the miles ticked along I was finding it harder to maintain Matt’s pace. I pushed him to go on without me and he gliding off. As much as I enjoyed his company, it had put a bit of pressure on me to maintain that speed. I didn’t get slower but I didn’t catch up with Matt!The course wasn’t hugely supported but it was clearly marked out and there were two water stops and a shower mist thing to run through if you wanted. We looped around the Olympic Stadium, past the different Olympic bits and pieces. It was a lovely scenic course in that respect. The waters were small little bottles, which are better than huge ones you normally get (so much waste) and you could carry with you as you carried on.

As I got past 5k (at just over 22 minutes, which I was pleased with!) I started to feel like this was too much like hard work… I remembered my intense hate of 10ks. The views were very cool and I really wanted to take my phone out to snap a few photos but the effort of doing that seemed beyond me. You know it’s a tough race when I don’t take any photos!

I kept Matt in my eye ahead but there was no chance for me to catch up. As we got onto the last mile (and nubbin) I could see we were heading back to the Olympic Stadium. The finish was on the track inside the stadium so I felt like the end was in sight. We got onto the outdoors track (where the athletes warm up) and I tried to keep myself motivated to get to the end.As we entered inside the stadium (the bit underneath the seats) the music started pumping out. It was very warm as the air was so still and stale inside the tunnel. And it seemed to go on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. I had visions of us spiralling and spiralling through the tunnel for hours… until finally daylight could be seen and we came out onto the track. Ahh such a good finish. 100m of Olympic track, trying not to look like I was dying for the cameras and hearing the speakers calling out people’s names. I smiled like a loon as I crossed the line. Whew!My time was 44:11 (7th in my age/gender category and 16th female and 340th overall – happy with that!).Considering the 16 miles the day before, how hot it was, the undulating course and my lack of sleep (ALL the excuses of course!!), I am OVER THE MOON. I saw my dad in the stands and he waved at me with a Diet Coke (from a soda fountain – my favourite!) and I headed outside. I saw Matt and congratulated him on his speedy work – I think he was happy with his time. I’m sure he will smash the Berlin Marathon that he’s training for.I headed outside to find my dad. He handed me the cold Diet Coke, which was just heavenly.I’m really pleased with the time I did. I did have ambitions after D-Day 10k to beat that time (43:13) but it wasn’t to be. Though saying that, I’m pleased to have put some effort it rather than slacking off and doing another race where I “just enjoy it” and don’t race. Don’t get me wrong though, I love doing races like that! But it’s nice to get a solid speed workout in, especially when I so rarely do them on my own. It’s always easier in a race because you’re far more motivated.Anyway, after the race we headed to Reds True BBQ restaurant for lunch. By this point I was VERY hungry.

We chose this restaurant because we both enjoy BBQ food and I’d heard good things.The restaurant has a strange religious (or anti-religious?) theme to it… all “unholy sauces” and crazy artwork. I loved it! Very original and unique.We ordered some XXL chicken wings in a Buffalo sauce to share as a starter. I adore chicken wings (you might have realised this by now) and these were some very delicious ones. They were huge! The sauce was delicious as well, not too spicy but a nice after kick. They came with a very small portion of blue cheese sauce but to be honest it wasn’t the best I’ve had and there wasn’t enough for all the wings. The Buffalo sauce was good enough on it’s own though.

For main, my dad had a steak with garlic butter and chips (which he ate a very small amount of!) and I got half a rack of St. Louis ribs with BBQ sauce. They were very tender and tasty. Not the best I’ve ever had (as I’ve had a fair number!) but definitely up there as a good set of ribs. I also added on some rib tips. My first mouthful though didn’t bode well as they were SO chewy. However, after having another try I found some really tender bits too. So hit and miss there.

We left happy and full! But also, very tired. My dad had only 2,000 or so less steps than me which was crazy! He had done a lot of walking while I was running. I had a lovely nap on the train back 🙂

I fully recommend the Great Newham 10k. It was a lovely scenic 10k. Well organised and good fun.

Have you done any of the Great Run series?

Have you been to the Olympic Park before?

**Full disclaimer: I was given a free entry to this race in exchange for an honest blog post review. All opinions are my own.**