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?

No running

I mean, obviously this was going to happen. Going from 30-35 miles to a straight jump to 50 miles in a week is going to cause me, the delicate injury-prone runner, issues. That said, I regret NOTHING. Austria and all the running was amazing.

I have to say, I do somewhat regret last Sunday’s wholly unnecessary race which I’d forgotten I’d entered. I shouldn’t have run it but because I’d agreed to drive two friends down I felt compelled to still do it. My legs felt niggly and tired beforehand. I should have known better. My knee started niggling a little during that race and so I took the week off to let it settle…then decided to test it at parkrun.

I turned up early, as usual, to help set-up and in true English summertime style, it rained. I felt grumpy, tired and nervous about my knee.And, as expected, I began running and it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t painful per se, just stiff and uncomfortable. I was pretty sure I could carry on running but it would probably make it worse. So I stopped 0.5 of a mile in and called defeat.

Lots of lovely people asked if I was OK and I assured them, grumpily, I was OK and just playing it safe. Then I went and sat under a tree to shelter from the rain. I should have stood and cheered but I was, well, grumpy and it was raining. I know, pathetic.But I went to the cafe after helping pack away, again in the rain, and got back into a happier mood with my running friends. Can always count on running buddies to get you out of a funk! Especially ones who bring you cake that you miss at the local league races on a Wednesday night. True friends indeed!

After breakfast (yes I had both cake and breakfast) I headed to the gym as I still wanted to get a workout in for the day after the failed run. I managed 30 minutes of boredom on the elliptical machine and some strength training so not a complete wash-out. Though obviously I’d preferred to have run!Then I headed to my parents to go for some food and a cinema trip. We went to Nando’s because we wanted a simple and fairly healthy meal (my parents are trying to be good). I went for my standard whole chicken, salad and corn. It was delicious. Probably not that healthy portion-size wise but ehhh.At the cinema we saw Dunkirk. I’ve been wanting to see this film since the first trailer and Christopher Nolan is just a genius. And with such good reviews since it’s release I was pretty confident we were in for a good watch. It was incredible. I was tense the entire time. A fantastic film. I’m usually not a war film fan but this was something else. An important watch as well. I liked that there was minimal backstory to the characters and it was purely about the events taking place. And Harry Styles wasn’t bad surprisingly!

Sunday again was no running. I wasn’t foolish enough to attempt going for a run and decided a walk down the beach with my dad and the dogs was a nice way to get the day started before heading to the gym for another dull dull cardio session. More for my sanity than trying to replicate any sort of marathon training. It’s always nice to get a good weekend sweat on.

And then I had a date on Sunday afternoon, of which I will leave you guessing on how it went 😉

But back to running… my knee thing isn’t that serious. Previously I might be freaking out, moaning and getting all sad about it. But I’m realistic in knowing a bit of much needed rest from running will be enough. It doesn’t hurt when I walk, it just feels a bit off when I run. I’m not going to Google like a maniac how I can make things better or any quick fixes. It’s just time.

I know exactly why it’s happened. I jumped my mileage up a fair chunk and ran six days in a row (which I never do – I barely run more than two days in a row). The running I did was intense with lots of gradient and terrain changes. It is what it is! Though I do do a lot of strength training to minimise injuries (my injuries are so much less than previously!), it can’t quite shield me from mountain running consecutive days. I don’t regret Austria – of course not. And I still have seven weeks before the marathon so all is good. Sensible may be boring, but it is best. Better a couple of weeks off than making things worse and getting to the marathon broken.

How was your weekend?

How do you cope with being injured?

What film did you see last in the cinema?

Whiteley parkrun and a big breakfast

So this weekend was quite the busy one! Lots of running, eating and sleeping. Though I could have done with a lot more sleep it must be said.

Saturday started off with a 6am alarm and me getting out for a solo three miles. I was meeting my friend Mike to run to Whiteley parkrun at 7.15am but I wanted to get a few more miles because my next few weeks are a bit all over the place and I’m not sure when I’ll get a decent long run in. I did 15 miles last weekend so the plan was to get 16 miles in total.My three miles went by without a hitch and probably a bit faster than I was planning. I never give myself enough time for anything (incidentally, I’m writing this on the train up to London today and I had to run the last bit to catch it on time, case and point). I basically leave no wiggle room for if things go wrong. So the last mile I started panicking I’d be late and sped up a bit.Happily I got to Mike just on time and we started our run. Mike had thankfully provided the route (another thing I’m not great at…navigation). We aimed to go a bit faster than his planned marathon pace and the miles flew by as we put the world to right talking about dating, work and life in general. I enjoy running with Mike as he’s such a good friend and he’s always willing to listen to my randomness. These runs are like therapy sometimes!The last mile or so of the run was uphill and I was feeling fairly tired by this point. It was a struggle. However the final stretch was a lovely downhill. We arrived at Whiteley though with enough time for a quick loo visit and a chat with our friend, Geoff, who’s recently moved from Netley to Whiteley as his regular parkrun. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to so it was nice to catch up with him again.The first two miles of the parkrun were tough. Though Whiteley isn’t hilly there is a sneaky incline at the beginning that just sucks your soul. And then as you get more into the wooded parts it becomes quite twisty turny. You do three laps so it’s not a fast course but there is potential if you’re in good shape. I was in no shape really to do anything other than count down the 0.1 miles.By mile three I got a second wind and decided to push on a bit faster – mainly just to finish quicker really! I finished with a time of 23:39 which I’m very pleased with. And 16.5 miles in the bag. We helped Geoff pack away parkrun after he guilt-tripped us into it saying he had a low number of marshals 😉At this point I was desperate for a drink, specifically an ice cold Diet Coke. Mike and I were going to celebrate the long run by having breakfast at Coast to Coast which was in the Whiteley shopping area just a short walk away. But we helped him pack away and it was nice to carry on chatting with him.

Mike, Billy (another running friend) and I

We finally go to Coast to Coast and I had to stop myself downing my Diet Coke within 10 seconds.I ordered a fry-up, though I swapped the breakfast potatoes that would normally come with it for black pudding (I love black pudding) and ordered sourdough toast to go with it. I was quite surprised the fry-up didn’t come with toast to be honest.It was a good fry-up but not up there with the best (the fry-up connoisseur that I’ve now become…). I appreciated them segregating my beans from my meal as I hate a big puddle of beans contaminating everything and the black pudding was delicious. It came with a sweet potato fritter which was OK but a bit soggy and not that crispy (also quite random). But the meal was tasty and did the job. I actually didn’t need to eat again until 6.30pm!

Mike had pancakes, bacon and maple syrup which he enjoyed. I’m personally not a big pancake fan (or a sweet breakfast fan in general) so this didn’t appeal to me. But it was a lovely breakfast and a great way to celebrate some solid mileage. It was also fairly cheap as they had a “two breakfast for £10” offer going on.

My dad picked us up, which was really nice of him. Originally he was going to come and do parkrun but we had a busy day planned for Sunday with lots of walking round London so he decided to save himself – but still offered to bring us home as we were a bit stranded otherwise!

The rest of the day I was very tired. The run had really drained me. I met my mum for coffee and we did a bit of shopping and then I had a cheeky afternoon nap. I needed my energy as I was heading out that evening for drinks with my friends to celebrate a number of our recent birthdays.The evening was great. It was so nice to see my friends and de-stress. This past week has been horrendously stressful and I haven’t felt quite my happy normal self. I definitely needed to see my friends to help me relax and feel better.

Unfortunately I had another 6am alarm the next morning to catch a 7am train to London with my dad so I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I would have liked. But we had a fun day planned of the Great Newham 10k (my dad really enjoys spectating and supporting my races) and then some tasty food afterwards as a delayed Father’s Day and birthday celebration. But more on that in another post!

How was your weekend?

Do you like to run to parkrun?

What’s your ideal post run breakfast at a restaurant?

Thing I’m loving lately – June

*Whispers* I don’t want to speak too soon, but I have had a pretty decent streak of running uninjured.

I mean I had a blip after Tokyo with my ankle, but after a week off I was good to go again. It’s kind of all going…dare I say it, OK??Two marathons and now onto my next bout of marathon training, please let it continue to go as smoothly!

So as I’m in a pretty good mood with my running, I thought I’d continue these happy vibes with some things I’m loving lately.

The new series of My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: If you’ve never heard of it or think it sounds weird, you really just need to give it a go. It is HILARIOUS. Like actual laugh out loud comedy. I binge listened to the first two series and now they’ve just started the third series. They have fans such as Daisy Ridley, Elijah Wood, Michael Sheen. I can’t recommend it enough.

Dogs of parkrun: I love how many dogs come out to parkrun. Not all of them run, but it’s lovely to see them ‘supporting’. I took a photo of some of the ones I saw at Netley at the weekend and made a collage.All so lovely. I know that dogs at races/parkrun can be annoying but I’m a big dog lover so to me I’m happy to have to dodge around them and their leads. I’d love to run with Alfie but I’m worried that as he’s a bit older (almost eight!) it might not be a good idea. He’s never run further than half a mile so I’d need to start very slowly with him, which at the moment I don’t really have time for. He loves racing about on his own though.

SIS products: I really love these products I’ve been sent. I don’t actually take the Overnight Protein Powder in the evening as it suggests but I have it in my porridge every morning (about 15g). I like to boost my porridge in this way to get some added protein and it adds a nice chocolate taste. It really isn’t overwhelming sweet.They suggest taking the protein powder in the evening due to the casein content (80% casein and 20% whey from the milk protein). Casein works while you’re asleep, stimulating muscle protein synthesis. It’s low in fat and carbs as well. Like I said, I like how subtle the chocolate taste is so it goes really nicely in my porridge (I add it to the oats before I microwave it). I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet porridge. It also makes a nice hot chocolate as well when mixed with hot water!

And as I’ve mentioned previously, I love the Go Caffeine Shots. These are going to become pre-race staples for me. I’d normally have a cup of black coffee before a race but I hate drinking too much liquid. This shot is only 60ml so is perfect, so I can still hydrate well with water.

The tropical flavour is definitely my favourite over the cola flavour though. The cola one is just a bit too sharp/sour.

Having a clear out: My drawers are currently bulging with the amount of fitness clothes and race t-shirts I own so I decided to have a clear out. I donated a load of tops from races that I wasn’t too bothered about (really old 10ks) and then separated t-shirts I wanted to keep but would no longer wear, such as marathon t-shirts.

I’ve decided at the end of the year I’ll get a blanket made up of my race tops as a nice way to keep the t-shirts and remember the race. I’ve found this website that does it. It’s expensive, which is why I’m waiting until the end of the year so I can add (HOPEFULLY) a few more shirts to it.

I’d like to do something with my bibs as well (I always save them as well as my medals) but I’m not sure what at the moment. A friend of mine put them on his wall and that looked cool, but I don’t really have the space. Maybe a big scrapbook or something.

What do you do with your race t-shirts and bibs?

Do you use any SIS products?

Do you have long running streaks or are you injury prone like me?

**Full Disclaimer: I’ve been sent the SIS products for free to test out for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

parkrun, long running and a natural body polish review

This weekend was a really quiet one. I had no plans for once and it was a great time to catch up on house chores and jobs and have a chilled weekend.

I went to Netley parkrun on the Saturday morning. It was a warm morning but windy. I took Alfie along again with me. Now that it’s summer it’s so nice to be able to bring him so he can have a good run about while we set the course up. I don’t always bring him with me to parkrun though because I have to have someone to look after him while I run. My running friend Mike has been bringing his daughter, Kelci, to parkrun lately and she enjoys looking after Alfie, which is very helpful.I always feel so mean leaving Alfie at home while I go off running on a Saturday morning, especially when the weather’s so nice. So I’m very grateful for Kelci helping out! They’re planning on getting a dog of their own so it’s good practice.

I headed to the loo for a quick pre-parkrun pee to find a gathering of people and locked toilets. The person who normally unlocks them was late. Suddenly my desire for a wee intensified, purely on the basis that I might not be able to relieve myself! One of the parkrun regulars, an older and lovely lady, stated rather elegantly that she was “off to find herself a bush”. She said it in such a dignified and polite way it made me chuckle. Luckily though it wasn’t that much longer before the caretaker showed up with the keys. Whew!

And then onto the start and a squinty selfie.The sun was shining and I was fancying a time of around 22-23 minutes. With the wind and temperature I knew realistically breaking 22 minutes wasn’t going to happen, especially after having quite a heavy week of running for me (the intervals on Tuesday and a nine miler with my friend on Thursday evening). As soon as I started running I knew I should have had a warm-up. Why don’t I ever learn? Trying to run fast straight from the start never works and I feel terrible on mile one. It wasn’t hugely busy as the Endure 24 event in Reading was on and a lot of my club and other local clubs were doing it. The Isle of Wight Festival was on as well.I got stronger and felt better as the run continued thankfully (which is why I should warm up!). I waved to Kelci and Alfie on the way round, not that Alfie took a blind bit of notice as he was having far too much fun sniffing and playing with Kelci.The photographer, Chris Stapleford, took all the running photos this week so a big thank you to him. He said to me afterwards that I was one of the few runners that consistently smiled all the way round. Well, I don’t know quite about that as every photo I seem to be looking very serious!!In the end I got 22:05 which I’m chuffed with (damn those 6 seconds though…).Netley parkrun always seems to be a bit short on the Garmin because we go into the trees for a bit of it and it messes with the satellite. We’ve been reassured it’s accurate after several times measuring the course but it does annoy me when Strava thinks it’s 3 or 2.9 miles.

My running friend, Kate, was running with a buggy and she mentioned afterwards how she finds it annoying when people overtake her, cut in front and then slow down right in front of the buggy. I never really considered what running with a buggy would be like and it was interesting to hear Kate’s perspective. I always tend try to get past buggies as it can be annoying to get stuck behind one but Kate’s a fast runner so it must be very frustrating when people will assume she’s slow and just hurry past and then slow down again in front of her simply because she has a buggy. I know it bugs me when people do it to me on the motorway. If you’re going to overtake, maintain that speed afterwards!

I munched on two cookies afterwards (I do love it when it’s someone’s milestone!) and helped clear the course. Another solid parkrun complete.

The next day I had a long run planned with Mike and Kate, aiming for around 13 miles. As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying running with others and obviously running with Mike is good training as we’ll be running the New Forest Marathon together eventually (me pacing him).

Happily we met at the very socially friendly time of 9am (I like my 8am lie-ins on a Sunday!). It was a very warm morning so we all took water with us. We stuck to around 9 min/miles which felt comfortable but not as comfortable as it might have felt on a cooler day.Annoyingly I stopped my Garmin and saved it again when we crossed for some lights. SO annoying. The route we took is a really boring and annoying route, one I only do if I’m running with others. It becomes more undulating in the later part of the run which is never fun. But it did the job. For Mike to get a sub-4 we need to be running around 9 minute miles for the marathon, though the plan is to start a bit slower than this and pick it up later. I think he found the run quite tough but we’ve only really just started marathon training and it was a very hot day. Plus I think we’re both conscious of how we run the day before at parkrun will definitely have an effect on the next day’s running, so that’s something to bare in mind going forward.

And now onto a review of a body polish I’ve recently been using. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare I’m somewhat…lacklustre? I don’t really have a “routine”. I used to be really good about cleansing and toning, but now? Eh…not so much. I just can’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have good skin (asides from the occasional spot now and again) and I don’t wear make-up so really I don’t do much else than wash with water. When it comes to the shower I just use a shower gel.

I find though I do get a bit of dry skin on my legs so moisturise those after showering. So when I heard about the Beauty Kitchen’s Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Polish I was quite intrigued. I’ve found in the past exfoliating can help with my dry skin and this sounded like a really nice product. It contains minerals and naturals oils for detox, exfoliation and rejuvenation. It’s also never tested on animals and suitable for vegans.I use a scoop of it when I’m in the shower and basically rub it all over my legs in a circular motion. You can feel the grainy texture of it working with (against?) your skin as you do so. Then I shower it off. It does take some showering to get it off though as it is quite oily but afterwards my legs felt so silky! And the smell is heavenly. I don’t use it every time I shower because who has time for that!? But I try and use it once every two or three days and honestly it feels quite indulgent.My only annoyance is that it leaves little black flecks in my shower that I then have to use the shower head to wash away. But it’s worth it as my legs are super shiny!  It’s available from Holland & Barrett at £14.99, which is quite pricey (especially for someone who leans towards the cheaper shower gels…). But you only need a small scoop each time so I can see this lasting me a while. I love how natural the product is too. Thumbs up!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a skincare regime?

Do you have routes you’ll only run with other people on?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the body polish for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**