Jersey parkrun

I’m so chuffed I can finally say I’ve done the Jersey parkrun! Since I found out the parkrun Alphabet Challenge was a ‘thing’ I’ve been trying to do different parkruns hitting all the letters (apart from X – there isn’t one yet). It’s silly but I find it really good fun.

There are so many parkruns all over the UK (and the world) so it gets you to different places, meeting new people and just having a laugh really. Over this year I’ve managed to tick off quite a few letters. I’m strangely very proud of myself.

Anyway this weekend saw my friend Mike and I getting a flight from Southampton to Jersey so I could tick off ‘J’. Mike loves parkrun too but isn’t quite as mad as me with the Alphabet Challenge – though he’s now becoming more persuaded!I took a half day Friday so we could fly Friday afternoon. The flight was super easy and fast. We also both only packed hand luggage which made things even cheaper and easier. The plane was tiny and barely half full. We quickly arrived in Jersey and found a huge T-rex which was amusing!It even moved and roared! I love dinosaurs (weird I know) so this made my day straight away. We got out of the tiny airport and walked straight onto the number 15 bus. The buses in jersey are fantastic.It’s £2 for wherever you’re going. Handily one was going literally just then to St. Helier where we were staying. Twenty minutes later we arrived at Liberation Station, the main bus station. Super easy even for me! To be fair, neither Mike or I are the most savvy of people so it was highly likely something was going to go wrong on our little holiday… fingers crossed eh.We got two rooms at the Avoca Guest House, which was about a ten minute walk from the station. It was tiny and old school British quaint but it did the job and the owners were lovely and friendly. It was also cheap! It included breakfast but as we would be parkrunning Saturday and then half marathoning Sunday we wouldn’t be partaking.Bless Mike, he offered to take the smaller of the two rooms where the bathroom was shared with one of the other rooms (how weird) and I got the bigger room with an en suite. I was very grateful. Especially as I do always need a wee during the night.We ditched our bags and then headed for a walk to see the local area and to find some dinner. Unfortunately it seemed like the rest of Jersey also had this idea and most places were rammed. We tried a great looking little Mexican, La Hacienda, but it was fully booked. St. Helier is a small seaside town – very British but also felt a little bit French, which would make sense considering it’s proximity to the country. And the weather was beautiful. Sunny and warm!Eventually we found a place called the Canteen and Bar which looked reasonable enough. It wouldn’t have been our first choice but by this point we were super hungry and tired. We shared some falafels and chicken “cakes” and I had chilli beef and cheese on nachos (not my usual but after seeing someone with nachos in the Mexican I was now craving them) and it was very tasty.For pudding we decided to drop into a crêperie that we’d spotted on our meanderings. Mike had salted caramel and I had Belgium milk and white chocolate with honeycomb toffee crunch ice cream. Absolutely heavenly! Every bite was like an explosion of ‘to die for’ taste. I’m not usually a pancake or crêpe fan but this was just divine.Then we parted to our little rooms ready for parkrun in the morning. Through the night I was intermittently woken up by thunder and lightning. It went on pretty much the entire night and we woke up to it still carrying on and heavily raining. Uh oh. I’d only packed summer clothes and no coat! This had not been forecasted at all.Luckily I’d brought my umbrella and Mike was able to borrow one of the guest house’s umbrellas and we walked to the bus stop. We’d have gotten absolutely soaked had we not had umbrellas but it was still rather grim. I’d packed two options for that morning’s run (a strappy tank and my parkrun apricot t-shirt) and in the end wore both as I was cold. The bus journey took about 20 minutes and we picked up more parkrunners as we went. One of them told us that it might be cancelled due to the thunder and lightning and they were making a decision whether to go through with it or not. WHAT!!! Noooooo! Imagine coming all this way and not being able to get my ‘J’! Thankfully when we arrived I saw a Tweet that said it was to go ahead as long as the thunderstorm held off. Thank goodness.The parkrun was located next to the Les Quennevais sports centre. [Side note: check out Paul Jeffrey’s blog for some more good info on this parkrun]. We had a quick mosey about before heading back into the shelter of the sports centre. I had a quick wee and then eventually headed out for a mile warm-up. Absolutely necessary as I was quite chilly. The cycle track near the sports centre was exactly a mile which was perfect and gave us a good idea of what a section of the course would be like.We met lots of other lovely parkrunners as we waited about. There were a lot of tourists like us who had pretty much just come to do the parkrun (for the Alphabet Challenge like us) and some also doing the half the next day. There was one couple that had only flown in that morning and would be flying back out that afternoon. I mean that is mental! More mental that us…One woman, Marie, just had Jersey left to do for the challenge – which was super exciting. She also gave me lots of solid information about how to get ‘Z’ (Zary in Poland) and some tips on how to travel there and where to stay. Super helpful. She had a t-shirt made with all the letters she’d done. Very dedicated. Annoyingly I’d made the mistake of not bringing my cow cowl… everyone was wearing theirs!The first timer’s brief was hilarious because it was pretty much 80% of the field who moved over to hear the briefing. The marshal had to grab the megaphone so everyone could hear. And then we lined up ready to go. Though I’d checked the results for last week and seen over 300 people had done it, this week there was definitely less than 200. The run director did an introduction and then said “three, two, parkrun!” and apparently we were off! It was mental. I started running and realised there weren’t too many females ahead of me and decided to be stupid and throw caution to the wind and try and get first female. Stupid because of the the half the next day but ehhh.

I’d had a fairly rubbish week of running, with every run feeling hard and lethargic, so I was pretty sure the half wouldn’t go to plan, which is why I decided to capitalise on feeling good then and getting something out of the parkrun in terms of placing.

The first mile ran round the sports centre area on tarmac and had a slight, brief incline but otherwise was flat. Then we headed off along the railway line path which was compacted sand/trail and easy to run on. It was also nice and flat but you did have to do some puddle dodging. I managed to overtake the females in front of me and was now first girl. I felt the run was comfortably tough and the gentle rain helped cool me down – wearing two tops had not been the right decision!

After the first turnaround I realised the wind had been behind us and now it was against us… ehhh. Eventually though we ran down a small slope and got to another turnaround. It made me think, what’s better running downhill against the wind or running uphill with the wind behind? It didn’t matter hugely as we were soon heading out from this path and back to the tarmac where the finish was on the grass. I was surprised to get my token and see I’d gotten 7th place! I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such a high placing before. My time was 20:55. Happy days!But yeah, probably not the wisest decision. And my calf, which had been feeling super tight all week, was niggling a little. Of course. I signed the guest book and chatted to the others while I waited for Mike who wasn’t too far behind me (24:09). He too was supposed to be taking it easy but had run a bit harder than planned.We then headed upstairs of the sports centre to have a hot drink with a few of the other tourists. We enjoyed a lovely cup of tea with them, swapping running and parkrun stories. It’s so nice to meet people as crazy as yourself 😉 One of them, Richard, had got a hire car and offered to drop us back at our guest house which was very nice of him.

At this point Mike and I were ready to eat our own arms as we hadn’t had breakfast yet. It was about 1pm by the time we’d showered and found ourselves a cafe to eat in! It was a lovely place called Nude Food Cafe, which was kind of a health food cafe I guess. Lots of Buddha bowls, raw desserts and smoothies. We went for a rather healthified fry-up… poached eggs, pancetta, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potato and sourdough toast. It was delicious but I hoovered it up very quickly.Afterwards we shared a raw caramel shortbread. It was made out of coconut sugar, almost butter and things like that. It wasn’t overly sweet but it was nice.Thankfully it had stopped raining and was starting to brighten up. From the cafe we decided to randomly head north on the bus to go to do a bit of exploring. To be honest, our decision was down to what sounded good on the map and what bus was available within the next twenty minutes. So we headed to Greve de Lecq. It was to be an adventure!It was definitely a good choice though. The sun was out and we were at a beautiful bay.The beach had barely a handful of people on it and yet the sun was beating down. It was so beautiful. We obviously had to dip our feet into the sea as well. Stupidly I did manage to put my hoodie in the only puddle of water on the rocks…what an idiot. But as the sun was out I thankfully didn’t need it anymore.From the beach we then did a two mile hike along a clifftop path. It was a very windy and narrow path and at times very steep – not exactly ideal the day before a half but it was so beautiful and peaceful we didn’t care.This was such a random little excursion. We were so proud of ourselves to have found such a gem of a location and something fun to do that afternoon. I mean we were really just there for parkrun and the race, so everything extra was a bonus. And this was a definite bonus!Eventually we caught the bus back and headed straight to the Mexican from the previous night, determined to get ourselves seated. We literally rocked up as soon as it opened. Amazingly they had one tiny table available (apparently the restaurant is always booked up for two week’s in advance!).

I’m so glad we got this table because honestly this is one of the best tasting meals I’ve had in ages. Like literally every mouthful was an explosion of taste. It was incredible. I had chicken wings to start (I know, I know, always the same) and then ‘deconstructed’ lamb tacos for main. GOD it was good.Mike had a burger with slow cooked pork on it. Honestly the food was incredible. I never wanted it to end! I had churros for pudding which were delicious as well but really the tacos were the main event. Maybe not ideal food for the next day’s half but it was worth it!

I’ll save the half for another post…Have you ever been to Jersey before?

What is your Mexican dish of choice? Normally I love fajitas.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever travelled for a race or run?

Lakeside parkrun – PB’s for friends

As much as I desperately want to avoid the obvious… It was rather hot this weekend, eh!

On Saturday morning I headed to where I always head Monday to Friday, Lakeside North Habour where Wiggle is based. But this time it was for the Lakeside parkrun that’s based there. It goes around the lake in an out and back style affair which is super flat and scenic. My friend, Kyle, wanted to get a quicker time (his current PB was 21:35 and he wanted closer to 21 minutes) and I offered to try and help him.I got to Lakeside at 8.15, a good 15 minutes before I was meeting Kyle, as I forgot that the drive would be so much quicker as it was Saturday. So I decided to do a bit of a warm-up. My aim was to run about a mile but as I got to 0.8 miles I got to a gate that was usually open but was now locked. I did try shaking the gate a bit – as you do, in the most ineffectual way possible, as if it’s going to change the fact that there’s a large padlock on it. I also managed to get grease on my hand and then onto my face. I only realised this when I got to the toilet just before parkrun and realised I looked like I was attempting some sort of tribal face paint.

Anyway, the locked gate meant I had to run back the way I came. This was slightly pushing my time but luckily I wasn’t late and soon met up with Kyle.Kyle and I then went and did a warm-up together. I said to Kyle that it was probably best we warmed up if he wanted to go guns blazing for the 5k. From experience I know that it usually takes half a mile to get into the groove. Ha, listen to me thinking I know what I’m talking about!After the warm-up we loitered under the trees to keep out of the sun, which was really beaming down now. We saw a camera crew and I asked them what they were up to. They said they were filming the volunteers to help spread the word. Very cool.We lined up and then we were off. I’d said to Kyle it was his run and if I was holding him back then just to go because he wanted the time. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel (they’ve been feeling quite heavy and tired lately) and I’d hate to stop him getting a good time. Anyway, as we begun he did peel off from me and I shouted at him to keep going as I couldn’t’ catch up. I seem to have a reoccurring trend of guys ditching me mid-parkrun, eh 😉 Something about me I guess.

Photo Credit: Lakeside parkrun Facebook page

The run felt really hard actually. It’s funny because I thought since getting my PB things would feel easier, but what lies! Trying to run sub-7 minutes still feels just as hard, let alone going sub 6.30s. After the first mile I managed to catch back up to Kyle. We were both on the struggle bus but at least we were struggling together.

Photo Credit: Lakeside parkrun Facebook page

I found myself as the second female – the first female flying ahead! The sun was beating down and felt very hot but we were now on the way back. I didn’t want to be that annoying person continually telling someone to keep pushing and as I peeled slightly ahead of Kyle I hoped it would be good motivation to keep going.

Photo Credit: Lakeside parkrun Facebook page

The final straight along the tarmac path is a nice way to finish and a normal running area where Kyle and I finish our runches. I was also certain Kyle would be fine at the end as he has a great sprint finish so I didn’t feel too bad being slightly ahead.In the end I got 21:05, second female, and Kyle got 21:24 – smashing his PB by 11 seconds. We both found it a tough run. Super warm and just very draining. But we got it done.
We asked a guy to take our photo to commemorate the PB and fun run (fun? Ehhh) and hilariously the guy took two selfies of himself before taking our photo. I didn’t realise until later and wondered if he had done it on purpose or not.We then headed to the Starbucks, literally a thirty second walk away, and had a a nice chilled out coffee enjoying the lovely air conditioning, both trying not to sweat too much on the furniture.Lakeside is not my favourite parkrun but it is a nice one. Flat and pretty with the lake and the trees, but with three complete turnarounds it’s a tough one to keep your memento going. It’s nice that it has proper toilets and a Starbucks though. Very handy.

Later after a quick shower I headed to go shopping with my mum. I needed to take back a bikini to Victoria’s Secret which honest to god would never see the light of day. Awful. Never, ever buy anything you see on Instagram! It worked out really well in my favour though in the end. Because I bought it online this is apparently to do with the US store and not the UK store. So when it was put through as a refund, despite paying £16 for it I actually got £24.50 for it! It was store credit but that’s fine because I love that shop so didn’t struggle to find anything. Happy days.That evening I went to Nando’s (a basic but firm favourite of mine) and saw Deadpool 2. The story-line can only be described as chaotic but it was quite funny. Not as good as Deadpool but still worth a watch if you like that kind of thing. It was a good evening 🙂 I certainly feel like I’m getting up to date on my cinema visits now. Next up Jurassic World!

How was your weekend?

What have you see at the cinema recently?

Have you ever helped anyone to get a PB? To be honest, Kyle would have managed fine on his own I think!

Good runs and bad runs

So Friday was another one of my work’s “Run and Ride Outs” at Wiggle. I love these days because it just means everyone in the office is buzzing about what activity they’re going to do.

There are usually a couple of cycles planned (a long one and a short one) and a few runs (beginner, short run and longer run). There’s also a scavenger hunt and a swim. So it’s very inclusive. Of course you don’t have to do it, but realistically most people get involved because the alternative is carrying on working… Originally I was going to do the longer run, which was 9k. But I wanted an easier run and I knew some of the people in the 9k group were quite speedy. I didn’t want my ego to take over and for me to try and keep up at the front.

The shorter run was 5k and the group was a good mix of abilities and loads of people I get on with well. A fun group of people up for a laugh, which is exactly what I wanted from the run. Nothing serious, nice and chilled. Happily we also had Garmin and High 5 in to show off some of their new products and for us to try out. I didn’t get involved with the Garmin products because I’m more than happy with my Fenix 3 and don’t want to be tempted by anything else. I actually don’t think I could be tempted though because I really love my Fenix. I did get a cheeky photo with the Garmin car though…I did pick up some cool High 5 freebies though. I love their electrolyte tablets and gels so I made sure to grab some of those to keep stocked up. They’ve rebranded so the designs are all different which is cool. They had a tent set up with all their products set up and water dispenser thing with cups so we could try the electrolyte flavours. Also very handy for after the run and ride!

Photo stolen from friend, Kyle

So the run got started and it was very relaxed and chilled, heading towards the nearby Hillsea Lines which is a pretty trail next to a river and off the road. It was lovely. We stopped a few times to wait for people – the leading girl, Chloe, and I would run back to collect people as well, which was nice because you’d hate people to feel forgotten or left behind.Kyle did a good job of taking lots of photos. A fellow fan of the on run selfie. He’s gotten quite good at it. So basically all the photos are from Kyle.

It’s so nice on these runs as you get to chat to people you wouldn’t ordinarily get to chat to on a daily basis. And let’s be honest, anything that includes running is always going to be a winner for me. It was very warm though! As we got into our stride a few of us stretched out ahead a bit which was nice and meant I got more of a negative split on my run. I got a bit further than 5k as I would run back for the last guys as well, so I was happy!Actually towards the end it was Kyle, Gavin and me seeming to run off quite fast. I think it was a case that none of us wanted to be the slow one and that just caused us to get faster and faster. It was a nice leg stretcher at the end but it did poop me out considering I was just after an easy run! I ran back to run with the others and Kyle caught some cool end photos.Ah such good fun with a nice group of people 🙂It was a great Friday because I was also off to Nando’s and the cinema with my friend Mike that evening as well. So I got to leave work early and meet up with him without rushing. I did have a quick shower at work though! Mike is a running friend so he’s seen me sweaty and a mess before but still 😉We had a nice catch up and chicken (obviously) and then headed to watch Han Solo. Asides from Mike accidentally (though hilariously) throwing popcorn all over me, it was a brilliant movie. Quite funny and good characters. I like a film where a female character’s strengths aren’t her boobs. I think that’s why I love the new Star Wars films so much (and the old ones I guess), strong female characters. We need more of them!The next morning I headed to Lee-On-Solent parkrun. I did my usual 1.5 mile warm-up jog and decided the legs weren’t up for a speedy run. I felt sluggish and tired. I got to parkrun just in time for a quick chat with the lovely Rebecca. She was having a rather stressful morning as run director with lots of different things going wrong. But from the outside, it all seemed like a normal and well-run parkrun! I had originally geared myself up to try going for it again as Lee is such a flat course, but in reality it wasn’t meant to be. Obviously though my brain forgot this realisation as we set off… I started running, getting carried away. It felt tough though. I hit the first mile in 6.36 and as we turned around and felt the wind against me (not massively, but enough) I knew I was on a downward decline to a rather miserable parkrun.

Photo Credit: Peter Stoddard (for the next two too)

I mean, I should have just given up and gone straight to a nice 8 mini/mile and enjoyed the other two miles but I didn’t do that. I just attempted to hold on to any semblance of speed that I could while the whole time just not enjoying it and feeling like it was the hardest thing in the world.As I clawed back to the finish, all the time wondering how I managed to get 19:40 the last time I was there. Mental.I finished with a time of 21:15 which really felt like such hard work. I sat on the wall after finishing and chatted to some other parkrunners. I mean, it does make sense that my body is feeling tired. Getting used to speedwork, running five times a week rather than my previously usual four. It all adds up. I’m happy where I’m at though. Uninjured and running consistently. I can’t argue with that! I don’t want to focus on times and try and beat my parkrun time every parkrun as that would suck the fun out for me. I think I lost sight of that a bit on Saturday. It’s easy to get a bit carried away with getting fast times and wanting to see them more. But that won’t happen every week. That would probably get me injured! It’s just such a contrast to how good my Wiggle run felt compared to this run. Like the Wiggle run was so chilled and relaxed, whereas this parkrun wasn’t. I should have just chilled and Lee and enjoyed the run at a gentler pace. The brain is funny thing though, eh!

I ran back to my car and was happy with almost 7 miles for the day. And a cheeky bit of cake later on. I mean, who doesn’t love a hot sticky sunny day than a fat slice of chocolate cake, eh? 😉Yummy Crunchie chocolate cake from the ever lovely Penguin Cafe. Delicious.

Do you ever do any non-work activities with colleagues?

Do you use any High 5 products?

What did you get up to over the weekend?

Now a member of the sub-20 5k club!

Leading up to the Brighton Marathon and the weeks after I’ve had a lot of solid, good running. I’ve felt strong, injury-free and I’m gaining some good speed. So on Saturday I decided to test out what I could do at parkrun.

I went to bed knowing I was going to go for it. I got a good night’s sleep and woke up at 7.50am… a lie in! I’d had a horrible dream about failing miserably at parkrun, not being able to run and just feeling like I was stuck in porridge. So I woke up feeling a bit apprehensive. I walked Alfie and then had an SIS Go Caffeine Shot (150mg of caffeine). I didn’t want a coffee because I didn’t want a lot of liquid inside me. I then drove five minutes down the road to park my car by the beach where I then ran 1.5 miles to the Lee-On-Solent parkrun start. The weather was perfect. Cool and still.During my warm-up my legs felt good. I had a quick wee and then did some dynamic stretches in the 10 minutes I had to spare. To be honest, I was just nervous and needed something to do. My lovely friend Rebecca spotted me and we chatted for a bit. I hadn’t told I was coming as it was a bit last minute. I also spotted the lovely Kerry, who I know through social media. So it was nice to have a natter beforehand to some friendly faces.Then we lined up. I got close to the front, knowing how busy Lee can be at the start. I felt very close to the front speedy guys but I knew I needed to give myself as good a chance as I could. If I failed at my time I wanted it to be down to me and not something external. I had my Bluetooth Jaybird headphones in and I was ready. As soon as we started my legs just went for it. I was scarily close to the front (I say front, I mean that there weren’t masses of people in front of me, but rather 15-20 people).

I looked at my watch and saw 5:45min/miles which made me panic. Jeeeeeeeze that’s fast for me. I knew though I just had to give everything straight from the go. Running a 5k is nothing like running a marathon. You only have three miles to play with so you can’t waste one of them warming up or building yourself into a sprint. It has to be bat out of hell fast and then hanging on for dear life for the rest of it before you crash.

Inevitably, obviously, my pace slowed to a more manageable pace – but still ridiculously fast for what I’d run previously (6:17!). I felt comfortable though, my breathing easy, my legs smooth. I smiled at the marshals and thanked them as I raced past. We came to the first hairpin turn to head back the way we’d come and I felt the wind slightly against me. That meant a tiny bit more effort was required. I knew I just needed to just get to the next turnaround and it would feel a bit easier (in theory). But that was ages away.

I still had to go over the slight mini slope up the promenade (but then the lovely down section after that) and then the God-awful shingles you have to run across for about 100m. It really takes it out of your legs running over pebbles, trying to find your footing and getting no real grip on the ground. But then I wasn’t far from the turnaround bit. Two females were ahead of me; the first way ahead and the second was ahead but not within a distance I could reel in unless she faded dramatically. But it helped me focus on something to keep her in my sights.

We turned and then the wind was off us (I say wind, it really wasn’t windy but it was that slight bit of extra energy I needed to maintain my pace). On the second mile my pace had dropped to 6:27. I knew I was OK though because I needed 6:26 per mile for a sub-20 and I had some time in the bank from the first mile. I also knew at this point after the turnaround I was safe. I could maintain the pace and I was heading back to the finish. Just keep running forward. No turns, just the pebbles and the slope again. The pebbles hugely sucked. It killed my pace momentarily but I kept pushing.

At this point I was gasping and spluttering. No waves, no smiles, just head down, keep running. As I got over the slope I could see the finish ahead. Nice mini downhill and then just a stretch to the funnel. I was literally making all the noises now. I remember someone cheering me and me replying “I hope this is what a PB sounds like!” and he laughed.And then I got to the finish. I looked at my watch and squealed. 19:39! I jumped about and cheered, telling the funnel marshals that I’d just got a PB and my first ever sub-20. One of the ladies said “and most definitely sub-20!”. I was so chuffed. I was also dead on my feet and so grateful I was no longer running. I sat down and stared at my watch. I did it! And my watch said “Fastest 5k record” and had 3.1 miles recorded. No short course! An actual 5k. I was beyond chuffed.At the same time, it did feel a bit empty. I was there on my own. No one to celebrate with. It was what it was though. I ran back the 1.5 miles to my car. I saw Rebecca on the way back and cheered her on and mentioned about my PB. She was very pleased for me which was nice 🙂 She had a good run too. I got back to my car and decided to just chill for a bit looking at the sea and cooling down. It was very peaceful watching the gentle waves on the shore. I do love being so close to the sea.I spent some time trying to take a photo of my watch with the PB on it but because my main camera has broken (don’t even ask…) I was trying to use the selfie camera to do it. By the way this is a NIGHTMARE to take a normal photo with. As I was fumbling around an elderly couple walked past me. The man jokingly asked me if I’d won. I smiled and said, “yes I have…well, my own race anyway”. He asked me what I’d done and I explained about parkrun down the road and how I’d gotten a good time that morning. They both said congratulations. It was a nice moment.

A not so nice moment was almost losing my car keys due to an Anna’ism. So… I tend to leave my keys on the tire of my car (FYI, I won’t be anymore!) as I don’t want to run with them. Yes I know. Not safe. Stupidly risky, yadda yadda yadda. But remember, I’m Idiot Anna. So I went to grab the keys from the tire and I knocked them off. They fell behind the tire under the car. I bent to grab them and saw they were LITERALLY an inch away from a grate. Now had they fallen down the grate I’d have been actually screwed. Not only would they have fallen into the murky depths of a disgusting watery filled hole but as my car was on top of said grate my chances of retrieving them would have been slim to impossible. I do believe my PB glory was giving me a slight saving grace (this is lies, it was pure chance). I’ve never felt so lucky in my life. Lesson very much learnt. I mean, had my car ever gotten stolen I’d have probably learnt that lesson there as well. Hey ho.

Back to my run. Everything that morning had conspired to help me get my time. The weather, the course, how my legs had felt, a solid night’s sleep… it just worked out. My training has been good and people around me having confidence in me certainly helped. I feel like I’ve ticked off a significant goal that I’ve had going for ages. Since getting 20:06 (my previous PB) four years ago it’s been something out of reach for me. That said, I never put the effort in to get there again so I can really only blame myself.

The next day I had another glorious lie-in and then headed out for a 15 mile run. I didn’t feel to excited about it if I’m honest. I was dreading it a little. It’s a long way to go and I was going solo. Originally my friend Martin was going to run with me but he called in sick on Saturday… so it was me, myself and I. I lined up a podcast and set off on a familiar long run route. It annoyingly includes quite a big hill that goes on and on at mile 3 but otherwise it’s fairly flat and goes along the seafront.It was sunny but not overly warm so I didn’t take water. I knew I had my dodgy tap at the half-way point so I wasn’t too worried. The miles seemed to crawl until I got to 6 miles and then I was into the run and enjoying it. Weird how it takes so long for me! Classic long distance runner I guess. I got to the tap, drank and splashed the water on myself before heading off. I decided to do my 13 miles route and then add on miles at the end. Mentally it felt easier heading back towards home then heading further out. The mental games we play, eh.

It did mean the final two miles were a bit windy and looping but it was nice to be so close to home (and it did mean I could swing past the dodgy tap again), so mentally I knew if I fancied just stopping I could. But of course I didn’t. 15 miles done!So this week I managed to hit 40 miles. I don’t usually do such high mileage. I’ll normally be around 30. But since adding in another run I’ve managed to climb it up gradually over the weeks. I’m really happy with where I am right now. I’m not going to increase it any higher for now. Hopefully leaving around 35-40 miles will allow my body to adjust and adapt. I desperately want to avoid getting injured. So far everything feels good but I know from a wealth of experience this is not a good indicator of what’s lurking round the corner! I just need to be sensible. But long may my strong running continue. I won’t let it go to my head though. I know I’m not invincible. I’ll have another post soon on my current running and my goals going forward…

How was your weekend?

How do you celebrate a PB?

What mental games do you sometimes play to get through runs?

parkrun, afternoon tea and dogs – a few of my favourite things

For once, I was in Southampton this weekend.

I went to Netley Abbey parkrun on Saturday and was (semi) glad to see that we were doing the cricket pitch course rather than the winter course as there was an event setting up in the area on the summer course. The cricket pitch course (five laps around, you guessed it, a cricket pitch) is an exceptionally dull course. It’s flat and repetitive. However, I prefer it to the winter course has six hills and can be windy.

I helped set up, which was super quick because it’s a simple course, but all on grass so I gradually felt my feet getting more and more wet due to the previous day’s rain. Mike had sensibly brought a spare pair of shoes but unfortunately for him had not brought a spare pair of socks… haha. Wet feet all round.

The barcode sign in the distance in the middle of the field…

I did a quick warm-up (just over a kilometre) and found my legs to be quite heavy and tired. I had umm’ed and arr’ed as to whether I’d put some welly into this run but I could see it probably wouldn’t be that fast. We lined up and headed off. I had a long-sleeve on and even gloves as it was that chilly that morning! It was just a bit of a miserable morning – so different to last weekend (I’m sure all the London Marathoners and Southampton racers were feeling a little cheated).

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

The first mile was a slog and I quickly realised a quick time (for me) wasn’t really on the cards but decided to keep with the effort level and get a solid tempo effort in. I ambitiously wanted to stay around 7min/miles but on the second lap it just felt like a total graft to maintain any sort of speed. There were also tricky areas to navigate through as the grass got more and more muddy.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

A man was running next to me who was using a metronome – basically it audibly gives off beats so he could work on his cadence (As he told me afterwards). At first I thought I’d find it annoying once I began hearing it but then it became very rhythmical and nice to zone out too. We stuck together for most of the run.On the final mile (and God knows what number lap – I had to keep count on my hand) I felt myself have a spurt of energy. Probably because at this point I just wanted to finish the monotony of running in circles on sodden grass. I finished in 21:19 and a surprisingly high finish of 24 (2nd female). I think a lot of people were resting their legs after London and Southampton half/marathon last weekend.I helped close down and had a drink in the cafe after. Two of my running friends, Kate and her husband Mark, are heading to Devon and it was fun discussing the parkrun challenges of them trying to get all the Devon ones – apparently there are quite a few! I think down South we do very well with parkruns, there always seem to be new ones cropping up all over the place. This is both good and frustrating because just when I thought I was almost done with Bristol and Brighton they start creating new ones!

Later that day I went for afternoon tea with my friends from home. I hadn’t seem them in a while so it was nice to catch up. It’s mental to me that so many have had babies or are pregnant. While also discussing about turning 30 and arranging a big joint birthday party and how we’ all getting “old” I had a moment of, “shit am I a failure here?”.

It’s so easy to find yourself falling down that silly comparison hole. I absolutely do not want a baby right now. I actually couldn’t think of anything worse. I have a lot of plans I’m excited about and I love my life. I love the freedom I have, my holidays and running… not that having a baby means that everything you once loved disappears but it certainly means change and a whole lot more responsibility and proper adulting. But I think it’s so easy to let society tell you you should be living your life in a certain way, especially when you’re surrounded by people who are living that way. I don’t regret the choices I made and the way things have gone – I’m very happy with my life 🙂 Random tangent over!Now onto the important stuff… 😉 Afternoon tea was good but it was a bit too “delicate” for my liking. I’m a big fan of the big slabs of cake and chunky scones and regular sandwiches. Teeny tiny “pretty” cakes aren’t really going to cut it with me. That said, I was the human dustbin for everyone else so I did get a good share of extra cakes and sandwiches!The scones were delicious and the sandwiches were nice but I didn’t massively enjoy the tart (which was like a bland egg custard tart) and I’m never really a fan of creamy desserts that are like posh yogurts (I think it was a lemon posset?). My friend Anna (good name) said to me, “Don’t look behind you Anna, it will really upset you”. Obviously I did… a whole table with so many scones and cakes left behind. NOT EATEN. What!?

Anyway it was lovely to catch up with my friends and eat cake. Good times.

The next morning I met my friend Martin (who I ran the Gosport Half with back in November). I haven’t seen him for a good while so it was nice to touch base with him again, especially while doing a very scenic (albeit hilly) 13 miles. We did an out and back route through Durley which was really very pretty and, for the most part, car free. The hills were pretty savage though!After finishing the run I dashed home to shower and eat breakfast quickly before heading back out to meet Mike for a dog walk. Mike has a 13 week year old Siberian Husky crossed with a Golden Retriever who is just adorable, called Luna. I brought Alfie so Luna had a new friend. We met up in Royal Victoria Country Park (where parkrun is held) and walked round the field before heading to the dog fair that was going on.Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many dogs in one day! There were just so many. All of different breeds and sizes. Alfie was a little bit more wary of the other dogs – he’s very much a lone wolf, whereas Luna wanted to play with EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. Ahh the excitement of a little puppy. I remember when Alfie was like that. He’s almost nine years old. That is MENTAL. I still remember how tiny he was when we picked him up and he sat in my lap. I also remember feeding him a slice of apple and then him promptly throwing it up on my lap five minutes later. Lovely.Anyway, we walked round the stalls, chatted to other dog owners and enjoyed watching the “dog recall” competition (how quickly your dog runs back to you – there was a leaderboard and everything). Then we sat and had a coffee in the cafe outside while Luna enjoyed chasing every napkin that flew past her while Alfie rolled his eyes and tried to avoid getting jumped on.They got on well though despite the age gap. It’s a shame the weather wasn’t a bit brighter but thankfully we dodged the rain on all accounts.

How was your weekend?

Do you like dogs?

How many courses does your parkrun have? Netley has several!