Superheroes everywhere

I do love a bit of fancy dress, you might have noticed. I don’t know why, maybe because it’s good fun and a laugh. So when it was announced (though not too widely it seems) that for Netley Abbey parkrun’s 5th birthday they’d be a superhero fancy dress I was all game.

My friend Mike decided to go as Robin and my friend Geoff decided to go as Batman. Well, I’d been Batgirl before so I hunted online and found that superhero females were somewhat limited. I could be Supergirl or Catwoman it seemed. Catwoman’s outfit looked far easier to run in (streamline if you like) so I went with that.My friend, Tom, was also joining me for parkrun on Saturday so I skipped setting the course up and picked him up at 8.15am. So I had a bit of a longer lie-in which was nice. Tom is a fairly new runner and had been doing Lee-On-Solent parkrun so I was chuffed to be able to show him Netley. Though Netley is a harder course than the lovely flat LoS!We got there to find not many people had embraced the superhero theme, which was a shame but kind of understandable as a few people had asked where the notice of fancy dress had been posted as they weren’t aware. *Sighs*

Photo credit: Sheryl James

But I didn’t mind. I love fancy dress regardless. I was going to run with Mike as we’re kind of around the same speed at the moment, though I’m perhaps a little faster. I didn’t want to go to speedy so it would work out well. All week I’ve been being very careful with my ankle and though it was feeling pretty much back to normal I didn’t want to risk it. I say this, but really I didn’t fancy running fast and the ankle was a good excuse 😉

Catwoman, Robin and Batman

Anyway as we lined up I lost Mike in the crowds. Tom stayed with me and was planning on “hanging on” for as long as he could. His PB is around 25 minutes.

As we started I just decided to run as I fancied, which turned out to be a fair clip in comparison to what I’d intended. My other friend, Mark, caught me up with his buggy and ran with me which was nice. He’s a lot faster so running my speed with his buggy was probably a walk in the park for him.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

It was nice running with Mark as we could chat and I could take my mind off the fact that I was running faster than I’d planned.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

The final lap I stepped it up a gear… I was thinking of all the cake at the end. As it was Netley’s birthday a cake sale had been organised (that info had been far more widely circulated…) and I was keen to get a few pieces.

I finished in 22:43 which I was pleased with considering how windy it was. I scanned my barcode pronto and then headed to grab some cake.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

I love this photo because it shows me in my happy place 🙂 The cake sale was to raise money for the defibrillator that we’re trying to buy, so I was only doing my good deed of the day really.I had a slice of Victoria Sponge (exceptionally tasty I must say. I had spotted this cake on Twitter beforehand and was glad to be able to grab a slice!), a white chocolate fudge slice thing and a white chocolate cookie. Pretty good haul! Though nothing like the five slices of the week before. The cake sale raised just over £366!! This is fantastic. Well done to all the bakers! The real superheroes of the day.

Tom did really well, coming in around 27 minutes which he was pleased with given how much more hilly Netley is compared to LoS and how windy it was. He showed me the bottom of his trainer afterwards; the sole was coming off! I told him off for wearing such old trainers, tsk!

After parkrun, showering and all that jazz I met up with my dad later in the day for a spot of Nando’s and a cinema trip to see Logan. I decided to change my usual whole chicken order at Nando’s and be slightly more healthy and opt for half a chicken and a Mediterranean salad.The salad was delicious. It had huge juicy olives, lots of sundried tomatoes and good chunks of feta. But I was a bit disappointed with the size of the chicken (I KNOW, I told you I’m greedy). My dad had gotten half a chicken with a side salad and a cob so we both felt we could share five wings between us 😉

And then we headed to the cinema…where I met a few more superhero friends.Logan was fantastic. Very violent but really different to the normal superhero films. I mean, I love X-Men anyway but this was very different.

The next day I met up with Robin Mike and we headed out for a long run together. I’ve become such a fan of running with other people again. Normally I’m like a lone wolf but having people to run with is a nice change, especially my long run. Running a long run with Mike is also good because as he’s slightly slower than me it means he keeps my pace in check.

I ran about half a mile to meet him and then we did a 5 mile out and back route through some fairly quiet country roads. The route was quite hilly though so a nice challenge at times. It was a great run and the miles flew by, as they always do when you run with someone else. I must do this more! Then I added a little bit more on at the end as I ran home to get to 12 miles (8:38min/miles overall pace).

Happily my ankle felt absolutely fine (as it did the day before) and I enjoyed a normal run without issues. Ahh what a novelty eh!

As long as I remain running injury-free I’ve decided to do the London Marathon. I have a Good For Age place and was wondering whether to defer until next year as it was so close to Tokyo. But as Tokyo went well and, ankles aside, my recovery has been good I’ve decided to go ahead and do it. I’ll keep a watchful eye on any niggles that crop up or feelings of over-training but otherwise I’d love to do it. Again, no time goal but just to tick another Marathon Major off the list and FINALLY get London done.

How was your weekend?

What superhero would you choose to be?

Does your parkrun ever try and raise money?

Christmas – family, food and running

I took a bit of a break over the Christmas holidays to chill and reset myself so I’m a bit behind on blog life but here we go anyway…

Christmas is really one of my favourite day’s of the entire year. There’s something about knowing that a huge number of people are doing something very similar to you on the same day. You feel part of something, a collective and a togetherness. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but a vast majority do and it’s nice to feel part of something bigger.

On Christmas Eve I volunteered at Netley parkrun rather than ran as my leg is still not 100% and I wanted to run the Christmas parkrun and knew I couldn’t do both. The weather was so cold and windy that after helping set the course up and then cheering on two laps of the three lap course I quickly headed back to the start/finish area and then sat in my car with the heating on full blast while watching to see when I was needed to help clear down. I was so cold and, it must be said, a bit grumpy. I don’t think it helped that when I stood complaining about being cold someone said to me, “oh you’ll be warm as soon as you start running”… except I wasn’t going to run! I can understand why they thought I would though as I was in my gym gear (with a coat) as I was going to head to the gym afterwards and get my endorphins that way.

But anyway, I stayed at my parents for Christmas Eve and then got up early the next morning and headed to parkrun once again. But this time with my dad in tow as he was going to do the Christmas parkrun too. It’s funny because we were both feeling a bit nervous about it; me with my shin and him with not having done a parkrun in a few months, and not having done the new hillier Netley either.

The weather was far better though, for which I was eternally grateful for. I’d gone with a Christmas-themed fancy dress and was grateful for the warmer temps.My dad had his new Netley parkrun t-shirt on as well, bless him (oh I also have to make a correction to a previous post where I’d said he lost 20% of his body weight – which wouldn’t have made any sense. He’s lost almost 2.5 stone, which is ten percent of his body weight… stupid Anna).

Two of my lovely friends, April and Jo, also came to Netley which was lovely. We “met” via Instagram and social media and though I’ve met April a few times in ‘real life’, I’ve never met Jo. So it was nice to see them both at such a festive occasion.

April and I ran together, with my friend Mike, but Jo was super fast (despite coming back from a niggle herself!) – she came first at the Southampton parkrun just the day before…naturally. But April and me tend to be around the same speed so it was nice to run and chat. My shin played ball and only niggled a tiny bit so I was quite happy.

But it did still feel hard. When you haven’t run consistently or for any great distances in a while it always feels pretty bloody awful regardless of pace!

The Netley Abbey Running club has festively set-up a table with Baileys shots for anyone who dared, and then set it up at the finish at the end. They were raising money for charity and quite a few people went for the shots!
All in all it was a very festive parkrun, with lots in fancy dress and a band playing. My dad did very well, getting a 5 minute PB with a time of 46:32 minutes, which even beats his Lee-On-Solent time (a vert flat course) and he wasn’t last! He was over the moon.

Then we packed up the course and headed back home to celebrate Christmas. I helped my dad with the lunch prep, we opened presents, ate chocolate (well, my granddad and I did, while my parents were very restrained).

Amongst other bits and bops I got some very nifty lifting shoes for Christmas.

They’re for the gym and specifically for lifting. They should help my form a bit more and basically keep me planted nicely on the ground and support to help me lift. I love the colour personally 😉

Then after cooking we got down to the main event…

I had a couple more plates of the main dinner…so tasty. I’m all about the stuffing and honey roasted parsnips. And the turkey of course 😉 I was in charge of pudding so I went for an M&S Chocolate and Orange Melting Middle Pudding (*cough* maybe two of them…because having too much is always better than not enough!). I actually didn’t realise it was chocolate orange until I was eating it and wondering why it was so zesty. I’m not a big chocolate orange fan so it wasn’t the “rock my world” situation I’d imagined. However it was obviously very good and though we didn’t eat both puddings we did crack into the second one.

Then we went for our annual walk down the beach. Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it was cold, wet and windy and we really just wanted to get it over with. It was nice to then get back home and curl up with a good movie. We watched It’s a Wonderful Life, which I’ve never seen before. I was a bit dubious about it thinking it was going to either be boring or ultra cheesy. I was pleasantly surprised at just how good it was and I was fully moved at the end, sobbing away at just how lovely it was. After another mini portion of leftovers and Christmas TV I was ready for bed! A really lovely Christmas 🙂

How was your Christmas?

What’s your favourite part of the Christmas dinner?

How I stay on track during Christmas

Christmas time can be the best and worst of times…In many ways, but specifically in terms of food.

As soon as the red Coca Cola lorry has rocked up and the John Lewis advert has hit our screens, we’re bombarded with a continuous onslaught of Christmasness. Personally I love it. The music, the decorations, the festive cheer and, of course, the food. You really can’t escape it. And it’s tough to keep on track of your health and fitness goals when you’re surrounded 24/7 by all those naughty but incredibly tasty Christmas treats. Mince pies, boxes of chocolate selections, biscuits, Christmas puddings, cheese, stollen, gingerbread, meals out, drinks out. It’s a bit of a minefield. It’s no wonder that as soon as January hits we’re all racing to the nearest gym armed with our shining New Year’s Resolutions promising not to eat a pig in blanket for a good while.

I do first want to preface this and stress that Christmas is certainly not a time for guilt, restriction and unhappiness over food. It should be enjoyed, but like all food, Christmas treats do need some moderation. I’m not trying to lose weight but I do want to keep myself in fairly good shape over December because 1) I’m going to Florida in January and want to enjoy eating LOTS of good food there while also remembering that 2) I’ve got a marathon to run in February. Hmmm. So here’s how I try and maintain a good balance:

I don’t use the “because it’s Christmas” excuse

It would be easy to just have an “F*** it” mentality when it comes to Christmas and just eat everything in sight. December is a long month and it’s easy to get into the habit through that month of eating rubbish and ignoring the consequences. Instead…

I know when to splurge and when to save

Over December there are so many events going on from parties, dinners, drinks out, Christmas markets… I try and save myself for those special occasions rather than a random lonely Friday night with a box of Celebrations. If I’ve got a Christmas dinner planned one week I want to go to it without feeling like I need to watch what I’m eating or refuse pudding because I’m “trying to be good”. Instead I’ll make more sensible and healthy choices in the days leading up to it and the day after and fully enjoy the ENTIRE meal without a care. If that means two puddings, then that means two puddings.

I had a second plate of puddings at my work Christmas dinner #winning

Eat the good stuff

I’m a big believer in not denying yourself any foods. However, there are definitely superior foods to be had during Christmas. There are treats I can eat any time of the year but mince pies, Christmas cake and things like that are generally only available around Christmas. And I don’t want some crappy mince pie because it’s just there, I want the quality one that I know I’ll enjoy and savour the most. If that means spending more money, then I will because food enjoyment is important to me.

Don’t buy it

If you are worried about over-indulging and eating ALLTHEFOODS, then don’t buy them. Rest assure you will find things to enjoy outside of your home but it’s all the harder to get to them which means you can’t easily eat them all the time. I don’t buy any Christmas food but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to eat it. I just enjoy it more when it’s not so easily available.

Keep focus on your goals

Christmas doesn’t have to change anything. Keep going to the gym or running etc. and stay in tune with the goals you had before the Christmas madness took over. Christmas is one day. There are still weeks before and after that you can carry on as normal.

But don’t punish yourself

You ate three mince pies in a row? You had two slices of Christmas cake? You went back for seconds/thirds/fourths at the buffet (please tell me we’ve all been there)? Don’t force yourself to “sweat it out” on the treadmill or bike. Don’t hate yourself over it. It’s one meal, one day, one indulgence. Just savour the memory, draw a line under it and move on. Life is far too short to torture yourself over a little bit of over-indulgence. Just don’t repeat that indulgence every single day of December.

Enjoy yourself

I love Christmas but I don’t go mad every day. I know for a fact on Christmas Day I will eat far too much food and will probably physically feel like utter crap the next day. But mentally I’ll have enjoyed myself and have no regrets. Food needn’t be a barrier or an anxiety during what should be a very happy and festive time. It should supplement the day but not be the focus. Enjoy the good food with your loved ones and relax.

How do you stay on track during Christmas?

What’s the one Christmas indulgence you just can’t say no to?

All the puddings

This weekend was full of highs and lows. Let’s get the lows done quickly, shall we?

I ran on Monday night and my shin/calf was really niggly. It had niggled slightly at parkrun a week ago but I put it down to it being really cold and my muscles not being warm enough. But Monday clarified things. It didn’t feel right and afterwards it felt pretty crappy. I’ll go into this in another post but basically this is rubbish.

Anyway, I didn’t run again until deciding to try a few miles before parkrun this weekend (because I was panicking I hadn’t hit the 8 mile long run I needed to for Tokyo). Though I knew I was lying to myself. I knew the run wouldn’t go well really and this was just to avoid me going to parkrun believing I could run and having to DNF. So on my pre-parkrun walk with Alfie I ran up the road with him and decided it was a no-go. I got back home, wrapped up in warmer clothes and headed to parkrun to set-up and volunteer.img_6900It was very cold and despite having several layers on and a hat I was cold. I was grumpy as I was overthinking about my leg, running and marathon training…but I was eventually cheered up by the lovely parkrun crew. You can’t be too sad at parkrun!

After parkrun and a hot bowl of porridge, I headed to the gym to take out some of my frustrations. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine which made me feel a little better about not running and then did a fantastic glute workout which I’m still feeling today. This included:

• Squats
• Landmine squats (these are great for really working on your depth)
• Monster walks with a resistance band
• Cable pull-throughs
• Leg press burnout
• Single leg deadlifts

I left the gym feeling accomplished and far more happy. Sometimes you just need to sweat it out!

I was also feeling good because I was going out for a Christmas meal with my friends. It’s always so nice to dress up. I wore a very sparkly dress with sparkly shoes and felt really happy 🙂img_6924

We went to the Cams Mill pub (where the Fareham parkrun starts at). It was very nice!img_6935We’d made our menu selections a while ago and I was disappointed with myself for choosing trout as my main rather than turkey (who does that!??!). I think my rationale was that I didn’t want to over-do turkey before the big day. I was very jealous when the mains came out though. However, my trout was delicious (and I got some leftover turkey from one of my friends so it was a win-win!)cams-mill-pubAnd again I was annoyed that I’d selected a pear tart for pudding… but then realised I’d chosen it because the cheesecake was chocolate orange which I don’t really like. I’m not a Terry’s Chocolate Orange fan at all! And Christmas pudding is a bit too rich and alcoholly for me.

The pear tart, however, was really really good. The ice cream was lovely and creamy and the tart was lovely and (dare I say) moist. No big nasty chunks of pear in which I was fearing. As nice as it was, I got serious food envy when I saw the cheesecakes. They looked so good! My friends laughed at me for ordering the inferior pear tart and I grudgingly watched them enjoy their cheesecakes (the far more popular pudding choice). Isn’t it the way when even though the meal you’re eating is nice but you see something that looks more appealing suddenly your meal isn’t as good…just me?

However, I was very lucky that two of my friends didn’t finish their cheesecakes and passed them down to me! Now, on reflection, I can say the pear tart was the better pudding. I’m still not a chocolate orange fan and who serves cheesecake with orange sorbet?? But I can’t say I complained too much 😉 Though I felt very full afterwards!!  Just call me the human dustbin…

I did have a few gin and tonics as well, because it’s Christmas 😉 Though amusingly my first G&T didn’t actually contain any gin and I was sipping away thinking “this is lovely!” until the barman ran over to me and said he needed to put the gin in as it got taken before it was ready! Oops. Shows how much I drink!img_6940Anyway the evening was good. Nothing like good friends and good food to make you feel 100 times better.

Christmas meal number two this week 😀

Are you going to any Christmas parties or meals this year?

Will you be dressing up?

What would you normally order on a Christmas menu?

Wedding recap and back to reality

I’m back! After an amazingly epic week away in Spain at the BTN Fitness Retreat I am home safe and sound. I got back Friday and then sadly was struck down with some awful illness for about three days. I couldn’t even make it into work on Monday and spent the entire day pretty much in bed sleeping. I feel a bit better now but still not hundred per cent. Hey ho!

I’ll do a full recap of the fitness retreat soon… it deserves a good coverage. It was a fantastic week and I learnt a lot about myself (both good and bad). Before going to Spain I had my friend’s wedding as well. I’m the genius that books to go on holiday the day after a wedding!

The wedding was so good. It was my close friend, Shell, who I know from university and her lovely partner Rob. The wedding was held in Dumbleton Hall near to Cheltenham. As I live in Southampton this is quite a drive so I stayed with my friends in Bristol, getting the train from work on the Friday. We went to a fantastic Lebanese restaurant, Lona Grillhouse, on the Friday night which rocked my world.Lona Bristol

We shared a platter of different meat, including lamb cutlets, king prawns, lamb kuftas, shish taouk and lots more Lebanese-style meat. It came with couscous, chips, nan bread and salad. Very tasty! There was also free Turkish delight at the end when you paid your bill.

The next day we got up fairly early to go and do some running. Kate and Jamie have recently just gotten into running (they came down to do the parkrun the other week with me). Though we’d have loved to have done a parkrun, sadly the nearest one was about 30 minutes away now Little Stoke is no longer there. And we just didn’t have the time with the wedding being at 1pm.

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They took me to their local park instead which was basically a 1000 metre track. It had 100m markers and went in a loop. It was exactly 1km.

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We did that five times (not the most exciting of runs but very cool to have the markers) and then we got ready for the wedding.

Shell's wedding 5

The wedding venue was literally perfect. The weather was good – sunny but not too hot. All in all it was a fantastic day. Shell and Rob are such a lovely couple as well and we were all so happy to see them get married.

It was also nice to have another get together with my university friends and just laugh and chat like we always do. And so nice to put a dress on and be all fancy Winking smile

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There were lots of garden games as well to keep everyone entertained. And a hog roast sizzling away for the evening’s buffet… yessss!

IMG_2715Jamie and I were very pleased about this Winking smile

Shell’s dress was beautiful as well. She looked amazing.

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And of course the food and cake was amazing. Probably the best food at a wedding I’ve ever had. And I have a very good friend, Charlotte, who traded half her pudding with me so I could try both Winking smileShell's wedding meal

I had soup to start, lamb (very tasty!) for main and then half an apple tart and half a chocolate mousse thing. The wedding had a Japanese theme as they both love Japan. The favours were these very pretty tea light holders as well as some homemade Welsh cakes (as Rob’s side of the family is Welsh). Lovely touches.

I’m not going to lie. I did drink a fair bit (for me). I wanted to let my hair down and relax. I rarely ever drink… unfortunately I didn’t really stick with a type of beverage and went from Pimms, to a Bud, to sparkling wine, to red wind to then gin and tonics. It tasted great at the time… The cake was delicious (obviously) with a carrot cake layer and chocolate layer.

Shell's Wedding  9

We all had a good time boogying the night away as well. It was a great evening. My lovely parents came to pick me up at midnight and it was time to go home. I felt rough on the way home. A combination of all those different drinks and too much food (read: cake) meant I might have had to have stopped (*cough* twice) on the way home to be sick. Much to my parents great amusement. As I said, this isn’t something I normally would do! Oh the shame…

I had my alarm set for 6am and arrived home at 2.30am (ouch). And for whatever bizarre reason I woke up at 4:59am and got up! I was so convinced my alarm was going to go off at 5am. So I got showered and ready and then at 5.45am wondered where my taxi was… The penny then dropped that I was a full hour early. Needless to say I reset my alarm and went back to bed (fully dressed).

I have to say I have never felt so ill in my life from alcohol. On the plane I was freezing cold. I asked for a blanket but they didn’t offer them (well, it was FlyBe…). I felt unbelievably rough and it only reconfirmed to me why I don’t drink excessively. And sadly my first night in Spain, after meeting everyone at the retreat, was spent missing dinner and going to bed early. You know I’m not well when I miss a meal time!! Serves me right I know.

Do you enjoy getting dressed up?

Do you drink? When was your last hangover?

What’s your tipple of choice?