Rave, rave, rave

I was thinking of doing a Rants and Raves post but actually I couldn’t really find much to rant about. What a problem eh!

I am in such a happy place right now. My life seems to be floating along so nicely! I know this is mostly due to changing jobs and changing up my routine but it really has made me a much happier person.

Rave: Speaking of routines, so as you probably know along with running, I love going to the gym as well. I enjoy the different type of workouts I can get; focusing on strength training and making myself stronger. After moving into my parent’s house I realised I needed to change my gym as it was now too far away to make logical sense.

I did a bit of hunting. I briefly, VERY briefly, considered joining a ridiculous expensive gym right next to work…and then found a far cheaper and 24/7 gym on the way to work. This was perfect because a) I don’t want to spend a fortune on some fancy shmancy gym which probably will have a ratio of 10:1 cardio to weights ratio and b) I like to go SUPER early. I’m not an evening gym person and I like starting the day with a workout. Plus going early means beating any crowds.So the gym I found (called 24/7 Fitness) is SO good. It has several different rooms, which I quite like. A room that’s like a Crossfit room with hanging ropes, TRX’s, a rower and a climbing frame type thing and lots of mat areas with free weights and dumbbells. It has another room focused on chest presses and chest isolation machines. Another one focused on leg weights with squat racks etc. and then a room with just free weights and benches. It also has a “women’s only” area… lots of machines, all pink (*sighs*) – at least it’s not just full of cardio machines, eh! And a few other rooms with more machines and then cardio equipment. It is a bit shabby but I’m not there to admire the paintwork so it suits me fine.I drive there after walking Alfie, do my thing and then shower and get ready there. Other than making me get super organised the night before with packing what I need to take with me (so far no forgotten bra yet) but it’s saved me so much time sitting in traffic as I’m past all the busy stuff before the gym and then it’s a quick 10 mins from the gym the rest of the way. What a win!

Rave: Finding the most comfy and well-fitting jeans! As a runner my legs tend to have problems with fitting into jeans (hey there strong thighs). It’s mainly just the ratio of my body I guess. I’m sure non-runners feel this exact pain as well because, let’s be honest, we all have different shapes, lumps and bumps.I don’t regularly shop in Top Shop as it’s a bit…young?… for me. It’s like when you scroll too far on the Forever21 website and you go, “really, who actually wears this?”. But Top Shop have consistently done be well when it comes to jeans. I like that they do a waist measurement and a leg measurement. I popped quickly in there one day after work (SO MUCH MORE TIME IN LIFE!) and saw a pair that looked nice along with a lovely jumper and didn’t bother trying them on as I was heading to Nando’s with a friend. I could return them at the weekend if they didn’t fit so it wasn’t an issue.

BUT MY GOD. They fit like a glove, AND are super comfy. I love them.

Rave: Muffin market research… it was such a stroke of luck that this happened on the Wednesday. Any other day and I probably wouldn’t have seen it. But on a Wednesday I go downstairs to the Starbucks and was thus able to spot the market research table that had been set up…Muffins! Muffins galore! They had a load of different samples for people to try of either lemon, chocolate or blueberry muffins. You had to give your preference of muffin in terms of texture, taste and appearance. I mean, it was a tough job but I stepped up to the bar. I probably ate about four muffins in total. I was surprised at how much I quite enjoyed the chocolate muffins. Normally I’m not a big fan (well, actually I’m normally not a big muffin fan in general but they were free…). Some of the chocolate muffins had this delicious chocolaty oozy middle which worked against the dryness issue that muffins often face. Delicious!

Rave: New trainers. To put my work discount to good use I bought a pair of these ASICS Gel-Exalt. I get on well with ASICS and they’re a great colour.It’s funny because as I was packing before I moved back to my parents I actually found a pair of Adidas Boosts (Supernovas I believe) that have barely been worn so despite buying a brand new pair of trainers I actually don’t need them just yet. Always handy to have a few pairs to rotate with too!

Biggest rave of all: If you follow me on any form of social media (Instagram, Twitter, Strava or Facebook) then you’ll probably already know that the Bournemouth Marathon went very well for me. I’ll be (hopefully) getting my recap post up this week. I’m SO glad it went well and I can now look back at Bournemouth fondly and wear the marathon t-shirt with pride.What do you look for in a gym?

Have you ever taken part in any market research before?

What do you look for in a muffin?

Life Check-In

So life lately. Asides from doing idiotic things in my spare time, life has been pretty good, albeit somewhat stressful.

Work

In terms of work, I’m still loving things. Now that schools have started again the traffic is heavier but it’s still nothing in comparison to my journeys to Basingstoke used to be. We’re still talking 30 minutes. This makes me extremely happy. Having more of an evening means I don’t feel like all I do is walk Alfie, eat and then go to bed. I can actually live a little. However this will be changing again as I’ve now moved back home to my parent’s house (more on this in a bit). Though they live closer to where I work, they actually live in a very annoying spot in terms of getting on to the motorway. So the likelihood is that I’ll get stuck in more traffic in the future. However, it still won’t be as bad as Basingstoke was I’m sure.

And the work itself? I’m loving it. So interesting and something I’m so keen to learn more and more about. Working in such a cool and friendly environment helps a lot as well. Not that my last place wasn’t friendly (I have some great friends I made there and keep in touch with) but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be now.

Moving

In terms of moving, I kind of left everything until the last moment. I mean, ehhh, don’t we all work a bit better with some adrenaline and looming, flashing deadline in front of us? I’m renting my flat out furnished so this did make things somewhat easier in terms of physically moving. But I still had a lot of “stuff” to move regardless. And cleaning. I’ve maintained a very high level of cleanliness in my flat (the letting agency commended it when they visited. I was proud) but there were still areas to clean of course. Cupboards, drawers, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

I had Friday and Monday off to master this moving process (while still having quite a busy weekend as well – I never make things easy for myself of course). Friday was literally pack my life away into my Fiat 500, and thankfully my dad’s larger car. I packed about half of my stuff (SO. MANY. CLOTHES. WHY) and then realised actually I had quite a lot of stuff.This giant Next bag and the big blue IKEA bags were my saviour. As everything was to fit into cars, rather than a van, it was all about squashability. Plus I didn’t actually have that many boxes. I’m also going through the very freeing process of becoming more minimalist. There’s nothing like packing to make you consider whether you want to actually move something or not. I’ve gotten rid of (well, donated to charity) a lot of old trainers, shoes, clothes, books, DVDs and random items.I’ve sold more expensive handbags on eBay and given away other stuff to friends (ahh smoothie maker, it’s been quite a while since I used you). So Friday, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were spent packing the last bits. As I had a busy day (mainly eating, it must be said) Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday, it was quite exhausting getting everything done.My flat was scrubbed clean; the fridge, the balcony glass panes, the windows (inside and out!), the oven, cupboards, bathroom, skirting boards…everything!It’s funny because I keep forgetting that it’s still going to be my flat. I can still move back there at some point in the future. I’m not selling it. So the level of sadness is minimal. I will of course miss it and I will miss my lovely cushty lifestyle there but I know this is the right thing to do. But jeeeesus was it tiring getting it all done. My parents helped where they could but they too were busy at the weekend and couldn’t have the time off of work. But I am an INDEPENDENT WOMAN, yes indeed. There is nothing like walking up and down two flights of stairs carrying heavy bags and boxes on your own to drill that into you.Running

By far the most interesting thing to discuss right? 😉 My running since the New Forest Marathon has been pretty good. Weirdly I’ve gone from the lone wolf runner who does most of her running solo, to someone who now regularly does her runs with other people. On Tuesday nights I’ve been running with a guy at work which has been nice. So far we’ve only run two four milers as we’ve both been recovering from high mileage at the weekend. But it’s been good regardless. It’s nice as well to chat to someone outside of work hours about work. I know that doesn’t sound great but for someone who would literally forget about work as soon as I left the building, to have interest and passion about what I do now means I’m genuinely interested in talking about it further.

Thursdays still see me running with my friend Mike. He’s always fun to run with and we often have good conversations regarding dating, life and the universe. It’s a bit like therapy 😉 Our recent run of 10k went by nicely. Though we both wondered how the hell we’d run regularly 7-9miles before. A marathon definitely takes it out of you. However, our splits were nicely around 8.30s rather than 9minutes so that was something.And Saturday is parkrun of couse. Speaking of adulting fails… I somehow managed to register myself TWICE. So when I’ve been scanning my barcodes recently I’ve been scanning a different Anna (it’s still me, but not my usual account, just one I created YEARS ago when I was just starting running outside). I only realised this when I went to see how many parkruns I’ve done and found I’d only done about five, which is wrong! Stupid me. I’ve sent an email to the lovely parkrun chaps but they said it was too time-consuming to change it. It’s fair enough, of course. This is my own error, but I’m still SO annoyed (at myself). This means I’ll be out of count for milestones… OK my next milestone is 250 which is over 100 parkruns away but STILL. And now I don’t have Brighton & Hove on my tourism list. ARGH.

But anyway, parkrun at Netley this week was nice. It was lovely weather and I did a nice negative split as I started feeling stronger as the run continued.

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I so much prefer to build up to speed than go out guns blazing. Though with 5ks if you want a really solid fast time you do need to be on the speed as soon as you start… but my body doesn’t really work like that for parkrun. I guess I could do more miles to warm-up but with helping set-up there’s never time. Plus I’m not too bothered by getting a super fast time these days!

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I look very much “in the zone” in that photo above – this was on the finishing straight. So my time was 22:19 which is not too shabby!I think we’ll be moving onto the dreaded winter course soon (which feels so much harder). I had to dash off quickly after finishing as I needed to get a bit more packing done before meeting my friend for lunch. I did get a cheeky photo though with our new sign. Very fancy shmancy indeed! My friend, Joe, decided to photobomb it which was quite amusing.I’ll do a recap of the Solent Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday in another post…

Basically, the Cliff Notes of the post is, my life is going well. I’m a very happy apple right now (yes I did just refer to myself as an apple). Things have slotted into place and life is feeling good.

Do you enjoy cleaning? This is a random question, but I actually love cleaning. I get so much satisfaction from it.

Do you like the people you work with? And the environment you work in?

How’s your running/exercising going?

Skid Row Marathon and another adulting fail

On Saturday I headed up to London just before lunch for a running-specific visit. However, there actually was no running involved…not even for a train!

I always seem to harp on about this in my blog, but I’m a big fan of the Marathon Talk podcast and have been on a few different of the events that they run. They tend to run an annual run camp located in the heart of the New Forest (at a place delightfully called Sandy Balls) which I’ve been to three times and really hope to make next year too. I’ve also been on the Austrian run camp that they trialled this year, which was FANTASTIC (even if I did come back injured from over-zealous running).

At these events I’ve made some fantastic friends who I’ve kept in touch with and hope to continue being in touch with for years to come. Running really does bring people together and, as I always always say, is just such a warm hug of a community.

So when I heard about a running-based documentary being shown in London and a few of my fellow Marathon Talk friends had decided to go I immediately signed up. The film, Skid Row Marathon, sounded interesting enough but really I just wanted to hang out with some cool like-minded people and geek out over miles, splits and races.

Through the magic of social media I arranged to meet up with a Marathon Talker, James (@Runeckers on Insta) who I didn’t really know in “real life” but knew vaguely through Twitter and Instagram. But I thought he didn’t sound particularly like a psycho and it would be nice to grab some lunch somewhere before the 3.30pm showing. If I’m going to go to London I might as well make more of a day of it.

We arranged to meet in Leicester Square and had a brief moment of funny awkwardness when I could see him across a busy crossroad but he couldn’t see me but I couldn’t get across the road. I was messaging him saying “I can see you!” only to watch him look around bewildered. Eventually he spotted me, but it did scream slightly of a weird stalker girl 😉

James turned out to indeed not be a psycho and we chatted easily, as runners do, about all things races, PBs, injuries and goals. As I’d run 16 miles earlier that morning I could feel my runger start to emerge even though I hadn’t had breakfast that many hours ago. So there ensued us walking around trying to chat but also trying to make our minds up on where to eat. As tempting as Nando’s was, we both decided maybe something a bit more original and found a lovely spot called The Hummus Bros. It was lovely.I must admit the portion sizes did look alarmingly small to my highly greedy eyes, despite having “gone large”. However it was actually incredibly filling. It was quite intensely packed with hummus (surprise, surprise), shredded chicken and guacamole. It also came with two lovely warm thick pitas as well. James had the beef stroganoff hummus bowl which sounded bizarre to me but he said was nice.

On our quest for lunch I’d spotted a fro-yo spot, Yorica, and as James had never tried fro-yo I pretty much demanded that we go there for pudding. You know, to spread the good fro-yo word.The fro-yo flavours sounded good and the lady behind the counter tempted me to trying a mix of chocolate with “mellow macha”. We saw someone having large chunks of brownie put onto theirs and immediately followed suit as well. They looked pretty tasty! It was an interesting spot with a machine for free sprinkles which was rather jazzy. Of course we had to have a little go.Though my fro-yo looks huge in comparison to James’ I actually had quite a big hole within the depths of the fro-yo which was somewhat disappointing but actually it was quite a decent portion (even for me). Then we ambled back towards the Prince Charles theatre in Leicester Square to meet with the others who’d arrived.Quite a few of the Austria run campers had come so it was nice to see them and catch up. Martin Yelling (one of the Marathon Talk presenters, who had organised the event to take place) and his wife, Liz Yelling, were also there and it was nice to say hi and briefly chat again. They also introduced us to the producers of the film which was very cool indeed.

I then bumped into Maria and had a nice chat briefly. She was far more organised than me and had printed off her ticket. I suddenly realised I didn’t have my ticket. What an idiot! I realised it would be on my phone in my emails but I was struggling with Internet signal. And suddenly everyone was going in! Ensue major panic. Luckily my lovely Austria run camp friend, Zoe (who incidentally was the one responsible for organising the cinema screening with Martin – they actually organised it while we were in Austria after Martin asked if anyone had any contacts for cinema screenings in London!) said she knew I’d bought a ticket so I didn’t have to struggle anymore. Thank God. Why am I not more organised!?

John (he’s just completed a ridiculous week of running silly miles every day, legend), James and me

The film itself was just fantastic. It was so interesting, so moving and so well made. I mean, I’m clearly no movie critic but I thoroughly enjoyed it and it deserves to be seen by more people. The film roughly followed four years of an LA criminal judge, Craig Mitchell, and a running club, called the Midnight Runners, that he helped set up. The club is part of the Midnight Mission which is a shelter and addiction centre in the heart of Skid Row where around 6,000 homeless people live (LA actually has 47,000 homeless people in total). It honed in on a number of real people who were trying to make a better life for themselves. They were previous addicts, criminals – even a murderer. A theme through the film, that the producer highlighted at the end, was that no single act defined a person and that people should be given a second chance. It really spoke volumes to me.

I could go on and on about how good this film was but I won’t. I will stress though that if you get the opportunity to see it (hopefully it will become available to stream) then you really must. It gave me a lot to think about.After the film had finished there was a Q&A with the film makers themselves, Gabi and Mark Hayes. They were lovely and were very generous with their time and patience to answer a number of questions. They shared a hilarious tidbit that during the Rome Marathon that the running club took part in, one of the main “characters”, Rebecca, stopped half-way for a pizza and a cigarette as she was struggling so much. I think we’ve all felt that pain before!

When we broke out into the foyer I hung out with other Marathon Talkers. Gabi and Mark were there too so we could ask them a few more questions. They were so willing to chat and so friendlyEventually a bunch of us headed off to grab a drink and food as it was now around 6pm. We stopped at a nearby Slug and Lettuce. A few of us ordered a chicken salad in a tortilla bowl (very tasty) and my lovely friend, Deni, ordered four portion of chips for us all to share.Runners know how to eat, of course!

After chatting away it was time to head back home. An easy train ride for me at 8.09pm to Portsmouth Harbour, which would stop at Hedge End where I’d walk the 15 minutes back to my flat. Easy peasy.

I got on my train (yep, it said Portsmouth Harbour, yep it was around 8pm) and happily chilled out. It was only when I got chatting to a lovely couple near me that I realised I’d made a mistake. Well, they highlighted to me my mistake. I was on the wrong train. The wrong Portsmouth Harbour train. I’d gotten on the one that didn’t go through Southampton! Why put TWO Portsmouth Harbour trains running at VERY similar times on neighbourghing platforms!? Don’t they realise they’re dealing with people with limited common sense, AKA me??

I quickly checked online on my phone and the couple were, of course, correct. This train did not go anywhere near Hedge End. Anna Standard Behaviour right there. So I made the dreaded phonecall to my parents to see if by any chance they could pick me up and take me home from Havant (a legitimate stop on this train), which was about 15 minutes from where they lived. As ever, they came to my rescue (and may I add, not at all surprised. After all, this is not unusual behaviour for me to be without my brain at crucial moments). In fact, my dad went as far to say that whenever I travel a distance away from home one of them won’t have a glass of wine that evening as they never can guarantee I can make it home safely alone. Jeeze.

What made it even worse was that the train was delayed by 45 minutes. My dad remarked when he finally saw me that only I could get on the wrong train and then have it delayed. The couple who I was sat near were lovely company though and we passed the time chatting away. Bless their hearts, they said they had a daughter “my age” too…she’d just finished travelling after university (she’s 23! Ha! I’m almost 30 don’t you know!). That said, this 23 year old could evidently make it safely and happily around South East Asia for six weeks without any issue. I can barely navigate two hours from my home.

*Sighs* but I made it home safely thanks to my life-saving parents. A silly way to end a fantastic day. At least I go to talk their ears off about the film that evening…

Have you ever got on the wrong train?

Do you enjoy documentaries?

A long run and cake – what’s new?

This weekend was quite a busy one! I was off to London on Saturday and then Sunday I was seeing my uni friends. And somewhere in there I had to run 16 miles… which would be my last long run before the New Forest Marathon next weekend. Non-negotiable!

I had a bit more time on my side on Saturday morning than Sunday and handily my friend Mark was planning a long run then so it made sense to join him. And as Mark is far more organised and better at adulting than I am, he planned the route and just told me where and when I needed to be. As he only wanted to do 13 miles and I wanted 16 I ran a few miles beforehand – basically just to the meeting point which he’d expertly made the right distance for me. What a star.

Unfortunately that meant leaving at 6.45am to get in Netley parkrun at the end (part of the route). But as I had a lie in the next day it was fine. Plus it would be a lot cooler than running later (yes, Mike, I KNOW. Sometimes you do need to get up early to beat the heat….).

My route to Mark was pretty much entirely uphill so was a bit of a slog. I listened to a podcast and ignored my pace. I was tired in general and my legs needed warming up. I amazingly made it on time and at the right location to meet Mark and we headed off to begin the next section of the run (well, Mark’s first section, my second section). It started with another slog uphill but otherwise was generally fairly flat thankfully.

Mark was great to run with. He’s usually super fast (aiming to break the 17 min 5k soon) but he happily (so he says) slowed down for me. He had a five mile race the next day so apparently it worked well for him (FYI, he smashed the race the next day but he did say he wasn’t sure it was wise to run so far as his legs felt quite tired during the race…).The weather was lovely and cool, though it did get sunnier and warmer as the run continued. I didn’t take water with me as it was cooler but when we got to Netley – 8.45am nicely timed – I was thirsty. I thought the cafe would be open but it wasn’t and toilet taps had a ‘no drinking water’ sign. I’ll drink from a dodgy tap on the beach but when there’s a sign I stay clear away! I spotted a waitress in the cafe though and tapped on the door and asked for some tap water. She happily obliged, taking pity on the sweaty runner, and I drank a big pint of cold water. Bliss! Thank you cafe lady!

Mark, Chris and me

And then it was time for parkrun. Now my legs were tired and I was not looking forward to getting going again. I ran with Mike who was taking it easier due to next week’s marathon.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

Mike’s training has gone superbly for this marathon and I imagine he’ll be the one pacing ME when it comes down to it since I’ve not exactly had the most ideal lead up! We plodded around chatting (I say plodded, this is just my plod speed – everyone is different). I felt better as the legs got going and I finished 25:45. 16 miles done!A lovely lady, Lizzie, who I’d been chatting to on Instagram said hi to me and we chatted afterwards, which was nice. It was great to finally meet her as we’d been meaning to face-to-face meet for a while now but our timings and parkruns had never matched up. She’s recently joined the Hedge End Running Club as well 🙂

My other friend, Lauren, also brought me some of her own grown apples (eating ones as well!). I was so excited… And then forgot them when I got a lift back with another friend. Damn! Luckily Mike picked them up for me. What an idiot!Netley parkrun has just acquired its first PB bell as well which is cool. Along with our monthly pacing event, it’s really moving up in the world.I’m very proud to call it my home parkrun. But there are still so many nearby I need to do as well.

I also had some fun trying on my friend’s Garmin Fenix 5X to see how it sat on my wrist. I jokingly put my other watches on with as well. I wear two watches when I run because I like to keep a track of my steps with my FitBit  Surge and I like to track my run with my Garmin 220. The Fenix though would do both but it’s just SO expensive (even with a Wiggle discount…). One day.

I handily got a lift back with my friend as I was carless due to running to parkrun (I had arranged a lift before running there. I’m not quite that slapdash with all things in life…).

I had to get back fairly promptly to catch the train to London. I was heading to the Marathon Talk event to see the running-based film Skid Row Marathon. It’s a documentary about a criminal court judge who starts a running club in LA for ex-convicts and addicts, called the Midnight Mission, and how they train for a marathon. I was quite intrigued about the film but if I’m honest I was more excited about meeting up with fellow Marathon Talkers. There were quite a few of the guys I went on the Austrian Run Camp earlier this year and a few other people I knew going (including Maria from Maria Runs blog!).

Marathon Talk is a running podcast and organise the annual Sandy Balls running camp and I’ve met so many fantastic people through these events. So it’s always great to meet up with them and meet other like-minded people. Runners really are a lovely friendly group of people (provided they’re not injured… ;-)).  Anyway I’ll do a proper post about that as it deserves its own. The film BLEW me away.

The next day my university friends were coming down to Portsmouth for a meet up. As I always say, they’re such good friends and it’s always a lovely day when I see them.

Unfortunately the weather was pants. It was cold and drizzly. Despite the weather though we headed to Southsea and met in the amazing Tenth Hole tea room. If you’ve never been, please do go. It’s BRILLIANT. The cake selection is second to none.We got some hot drinks and caught up first. The hot chocolates that Shell and Kate had looked phenomenal.Then we ordered lunch. I went for the Lardon Salad which was, unlike so many other salads from British restaurants, huge and full of all the good stuff. It had chunks of bacon, new potatoes and a hard boiled egg. It was delicious.I also shared some sweet potato wedges with the girls. Well, I probably ate most of them! After filling ourselves with sensible and adequate nutrition, we then proceeded to order the more fun and exciting food. The cake.The choice was a toughie. The options were just so good. As I’ve been to the Tenth Hole a few times I felt I needed to try something different (the carrot cake is amazing, the honeycomb pie is good but maybe too much cream, and there was sadly no toffee apple cake). So I went for the cherry cheesecake chocolate brownie. What is this strange concoction you might ask? Well, let me tell you.It’s a dense chocolate brownie topped with a good layer of cheesecake goodness and then cherry compote on top. Now normally I’m not a fruit and pudding kinda gal. I like fruit. I like pudding. But together? Hmmm, not so much. I do like a crumble but it’s not top of my list. Cherry is also not my favourite. Anyway, I digress. BUT let me tell you, it rocked my world. The flavours went together perfectly. The cheesecake creamy bit helped balance the rich chocolate and the textures were fabulous. The whole thing was, well, just a delight. Ten out of ten.

Then we did a bit more catching up and chatting before everyone parted ways and headed home. I had a three mile run in the plan. I would have done this in the morning but due to events concerning my idiocy the night before I was unable… I mean, running after a fairly heavy cake isn’t always ideal but sometimes you just gotta get it done. It was raining and cold but actually I was feeling ready for a good run. And there were only a few cake burps mid-run. Actually my legs felt amazing. Despite the long run the day before I really did feel pretty good. I expect it was the sugar from the cake and the lower temperature that significantly helped, but I’ll take it! 7:39 min/mile average pace!

Whew. A fab weekend DONE.

How was your weekend?

Do you enjoy documentaries?

Do you like to break long runs up with parkrun and running with friends?

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?