Running Lately

So last week I  felt pretty rubbish. I mean, it was a kind of unspecific rubbish. Like I felt overwhelming tired and really nauseous when I woke up in the morning but then I’d feel relatively fine (asides from tired) in the day. In a parallel universe these symptoms might suggest pregnancy, but yeah: NO.

And when it came to running it was awful. I ran 10k on Tuesday and it was such a grind.It was a combination of the tiredness/bug thing and the fact that I’d done some heavy squats and glute workout at the gym the day before. So my legs were basically giving me the finger (what a sentence…).

On Thursday I ran with Mike and, as we were both doing the D Day 10k on the Sunday, we decided to do our long run that evening together. But those 10 miles, Jeeeeeeeesus. I felt bad for Mike as I was just dragging and literally counting down every 0.1 mile.I was glad to have run with Mike though as I’m almost certain I’d have binned this run had I been on my own.

Then at parkrun I felt terrible again. The only way to describe it is like I was trying to run 6min/miles and failing.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

But I was running over 8min/miles…and failing. In the end, I just stopped looking at my watch. I chatted to a guy who fell in step with me and that helped take my mind of the struggle. As the run went on though I felt more alive.

I finished feeling a bit better than the previous week, in 24:03.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

As I headed back to my car to grab my barcode I saw a girl who was still running suddenly fall over. At first I thought she’d injured herself and tripped but then I saw she’d basically almost fainted, like I’d done the week before.

I ran over to help. Others who were still running stopped too but as I’d finished I said I’d look after her while they carried on. She was OK but a bit out of it. She was adamant to finish so myself and another girl helped her walk the last 400m of the parkrun to the finish while she lent on us. Then I guided her to some shade and gave her some water. Eventually she felt a bit better and I told her about my wobbly the week before. Happens to the best of us 😉 I think she was OK in the end, just a bit overly hot.

Happily it was my friend Geoff’s 250th parkrun (amazing, right??) so there was lots of cake.Cake definitely helped improve my mood and how I was feeling. Sitting in the sunshine in the cafe as well afterwards was fabulous. I’d taken Alfie with me to parkrun and he’d been immensely spoiled and fussed over by some very helpful volunteers, my friend Carlos’ daughter and Mike’s daughter. So I had no reason to rush home. A few of us also managed to plant the seed of having a BBQ in Mike’s mind. He’d just oomphed up his garden and bought a BBQ so really it was an absolute necessity to test it out on such a sunny day.

A few of us reconvened a bit later for lots of tasty food and just general chilling outness, of which, again, Alfie was able to join.It was a modest selection (*cough*) of burgers, sausages, ribs, pork chops, lots of chicken skewers, a rogue couple of turkey skewers and chicken wings. It’s entirely possibly that I ran so well at the D Day 10k the next day purely because I was so well fed. Either way it was very tasty and a nice way to spend the afternoon.

So this week I FINALLY went to speed training. Occasionally, when I’m feeling good, I’ll go out and do my own speed training session. There’s a killer hill near where I work and I tend to use that as some hill training on my own from time to time. But recently I’ve lacked the enthusiasm. On a Tuesday night I’ve gotten into the habit of just plodding round 3-4 miles.

But I’m adamant to make more of an effort. I’m always wary about speed training with others as I’m scared I’ll push myself too hard and injure myself. I’m so competitive that I’ll try and keep up with people and won’t listen to my body. That said, when I train on my own I can be lazy and lacklustre when it comes to speed… so there’s a balance somewhere but I’ve yet to find it. For now I’ll try and get to speed sessions once every two weeks? It’s entirely possible this won’t happen, but at least I’ve acknowledged what I need to do…*sighs*

So I ran the 1.5(ish) miles to training and then did a hill session with my running club. We did two different hills and paired up with someone else. One person would sprint up the hill and back down and then their partner would do the same, giving the first person some recovery time. We did this for two different hills which kept it interesting. But wowza it was tough! Check out my splits though – never have I had such a fast pace for me.I paused my watch during each recovery and obviously I was sprinting the entire time (and so many downhills) so this is why it looks so fast. Pretty cool though. Afterwards I ran back home. So a fairly tasty Tuesday night run!

I’m definitely feeling better compared to last week, of which I’m obviously very pleased about. I’m just under 13 weeks away from the New Forest marathon and feeling in a very good place. I’ll be starting to increase my long runs soon and I just hope that everything continues as smoothly. With me, you never know. I’d like to think that I’m being sensible though in my training but I guess we’ll see!

What’s your favourite speed session?

Do you run when you’re not feeling 100%?

Do you often get tired during the week? I tend to get quite a solid amount of sleep. I get up very early (5am four times a week) but find I naturally get tired early so am in bed by 10pm which tends to give me a solid amount of sleep.

D Day 10k 2017

I went to bed the Saturday night before the D Day 10k at 9pm. This is despite getting up at the more leisurely time of 7am and having had an hour long nap at 6pm in the day. My body felt knackered. Last week had been a total grind.

All week I didn’t felt myself. I felt unwell, though not in like a dodgy tummy or sickness way but in a lethargic, foggy and overwhelming tiredness way. It felt like a virus as I didn’t feel right in myself, but other people have suggested low iron levels or over-training. But I don’t think it was. My heart rate, in general, had been normal when I woke up and during the day. But who knows.

ANYWAY. So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for D Day. Despite my early night and 8am alarm (so a very cushty 11 hours sleep) I woke up still not feeling like my normal sprightly self. But I wanted to do the race more to just be social and have a run with other people. I’d only mope about on my own and then do a feeble run later in the day anyway.

My friend Mike picked me up with his daughter and we headed to Portsmouth. Neither of us were “feeling” the race and we moaned about how rubbish we felt. We spoke to a few others and in general people were feeling a bit pants about it. But the sun was shining, it’s a flat course (albeit a lot of around a car park) and there’s a Starbucks just next to the finish.I said to Mike and my friend Geoff that I hoped to do sub-50. From parkrun the day before I just didn’t think my legs were going to perform well. Running was hard work recently. Mike was aiming to beat his PB but wasn’t sure how he’d fare. I was pleased to find that I could wear my Aftershokz headphones as they’re “bone conducting” so complied with regulations. I definitely needed something to keep me going!I hadn’t had breakfast that morning as I didn’t want to get up any earlier than 8am but had a glass of water with electrolytes and then an SIS caffeine shot 30 minutes before the race start. I hoped it would rev me up a bit.I did half a mile gentle jogging (something I rarely do but I had time on my hands) and then we headed to the start.We held a minute’s silence in respect for the victims of the London attack the night before just before the start, which was a sombre but respectful thing to do. Then we started. I had my music on and got going. As I weaved around people in front of me and got into my stride I found that I felt quite good. Nothing like the heavy leg and fogginess I’ve felt on my other runs that week. I checked my watch and was surprised to see 7:15min/mile pace. I genuinely wondered if my Garmin was playing up but decided to just go with it.

I kept with a guy from the club, Bernie, for a while and then felt myself getting stronger and overtook him. I actually couldn’t believe how strong I felt and yet how quick (for me) I appeared to be going. I decided to see what I could do. If I crashed and burned then so be it, but right then I felt comfortable.

The course itself at D Day is a bit dull. I’ve done it before a good few years ago but it’s changed hugely. It’s unrecognisable to what I ran previously. I knew there were three laps but I couldn’t work out where that would happen. I just kept focused on the runners ahead of me and gradually picked them off.

As I got into mile two, now down to 7min/miles, I was still wondering where this speed and ease of running had come from. The course was super flat and the wind, fairly gentle, seemed to be mostly going sideways at us or as a tailwind. Occasionally we’d run against it but it was only brief moments. Everything seemed to be on our side.I passed a guy who normally is miles ahead of me and wondered if he was just plodding it or having a bad day (I later found he was using it as a training sessions: first 5k easy, and then 1k sprints – wow!). I gentle passed runners and had no one pass me, which felt really nice! Though to be fair, it wasn’t a particularly big field.

There’s a section of the course that runs down a gravel path and alongside a lake and lots of greenery which was fairly pleasant. It was annoying to run on gravel at 10k speed but it was a nice change from the boring and hot car park that made up a chunk of the race. We were under some shade which was nice, but the path seemed to go on forever.

Halfway there was a water station and I grabbed a drink. I wasn’t terribly thirsty but it was hot so I swigged a good few mouthfuls before tossing it to the side (always a delicate operations to a) not hit other runners, b) not hit any spectators, c) not throw it somewhere really obscure that it can’t be cleared away later).

I hit four miles and now the effort level was high. I was in the zone of “stay with it, keep pushing” while all the time wondering when I was going to blow or have a wobbly. I felt the energy slowly being sapped out of my legs and tried to remember all the amazing food I’d eaten the day before that I was sure would still be helping me. I cursed myself for not having breakfast but wondered if that would have helped. Who knows.

The last mile down that gravel path was tough. I found myself alone now. The runners ahead too far away to catch and no one behind me giving chase. Mentally it was tough. Physically it was tougher. I was then off the gravel and onto the final stretch of pavement to the finish.My watch beeped 6 miles and I told myself to just hold on for a few moments more. A “400m to go” sign appeared and I could see the finish ahead. Ah, smile for the camera (I’m sure that was a grimace…), “200m to go”, keep going, keep going. Annnnnd finish!No wobble but the sheer sense of effort and “God I feel sick” feelings hit me. I bloody hate 10ks. My watch said 43:13. I was over the moon. I couldn’t remember my PB but I knew it was 42-something. I checked my blog as that’s where I keep a list of PBs (so handy) and found I was only 23 seconds off!

There was a small Hedge End Running Club turn-out due to other events happening (*sobs* the Romsey Beer and Cake race being one) but it was a nice gathering. For the most part, I think people did fairly well and were happy. Mike achieved his PB as well so he was happy (once he’d finished dying on the grass).And finally a few of us headed to the very nearby Starbucks and we celebrated with some tasty coffee (I went for decaf as I’d already had that SIS caffeine shot – which, by the way, I think really helped my race!)So from initially not even wanting to show up to D Day, to being close to my PB…well, a definite turnaround! I’m really pleased that since January my 10k time has come down from 46:26 from the Stubbington 10k, to 45:27 from the Brighton 10k in April, now to 43:13. Annoyingly my official chip time is 43:22. Initially the race organisers had issues with some of the chips so I only had a gun time of 43:27 and then they added the chip time later (43:22). Though I’m not sure that’s accurate either as I spoke to a few others in the same boat and their watch times and new chip time don’t match at all either. Hey ho, 43:22 is still a big mark of progress though!

I’m not aiming to improve on this 10k time as marathon training is about to begin, but it’s always nice to naturally get quicker. I have another 10k in July so we’ll see how much of an improvement I can make, but I won’t be losing sleep over it! I do so hate 10ks…

What’s your favourite race distance?

What’s your favourite post race drink?

Have you ever surprised yourself with a race result when you weren’t feeling it?

**Full Disclaimer: I’ve been sent SIS products to test for free in exchange of reviewing them on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

The Botanist – Reading

When you love food as much as I do, getting invited to a restaurant launch is probably up there with a dream evening. A new restaurant has just opened in Reading, called The Botanist.

The Botanist is a chain but with only a few locations. I first heard about and went to The Botanist in Chester after the Chester Marathon. I was blown away by the look of the restaurant interior – so pretty and adhering to its botanical-theme.  So I was curious to see what the one in Reading would be like.

I invited my friend, George, to join me as he lives in Reading and is a fellow lover of food. It was a Thursday night which was somewhat of a bummer but hey I’m not complaining! We headed there straight from work, hungry and ready to go. Being the keeners we are, we arrived ten minutes too early so decided to ‘waste some time’ in a delightful Turkish cafe down the road. I had a freddo cappuccino which rocked.

Anyway, back to The Botanist. On arrival we were offered Prosecco or beer. We went for a glass of bubbly and enquired about what the event would entail.Apparently lots of free drink (an open bar, anything you want) and then canapes at 7.30pm. I was somewhat disappointed that the food would “just” be canapes (check out the menu, so many tempting options!) and seemed so far away. But hey we rolled with it and decided to do a lap of the restaurant to check the scene.

The restaurant is so beautifully decorated. I just love how they keep to the theme! Flower pots, plants, flowers…so pretty.It was filling out quickly with lots of people so we decided to head to the outside area and chill with our bubbly. The restaurant has a small but lovely outside area which was delightful to enjoy in the evening sunshine.We also noticed lots of cool looking cocktails being handed out. Some of which were in plant pots!! The Botanist is well known for it’s very cool cocktails, again all botanically themed.The barmen and ladies were lovely and friendly and, as you can see very happy to have their photo taken. Anyway, sadly as I was driving I couldn’t partake in much drinking but had insane amounts of Diet Coke instead…love that stuff.George and I grabbed one of the above cocktails after a bunch were made. I tried a sip (divine, so tasty!) and gave the rest to George. Lucky guy, he lived just down the round.We were sad not to be able to try the plant pot cocktails but these were very tasty.

And then finally we saw canapes being brought out. By this point, George and I were VERY hungry. The waitresses (who were working very hard indeed that night! And were super friendly and helpful) were bringing out these boards of canapes and putting them on tables. We didn’t have a table and they were walking straight past us. Cunning work needed to be done.

I saw a waitress with a board and asked her if I could have one “for our table”. She gladly handed one over, yesss! George and I quickly found an edge of a table to perch it on and like locusts attacked. The canapes were DELICIOUS.

And from then we seemed to score big time on the canape front. After three more boards we decided to head outside again for some fresh air as it was quite busy inside. We luckily found a table and I chilled with my Diet Coke while George sipped a beer. And then a waitress came over and gave us another board. Amazing.We rated our favourites (now serious canape connoisseurs). The chicken lolly pop was the best, hands down. Followed by the pork belly skewer (neither shown in this pic annoyingly). The quails egg Scotch egg rocked our world too. A fellow patron came over and asked to have one of our Scotch eggs as she’d seen them and hadn’t been able to try one yet. George and I looked at each other, both clearly trying to think of a polite way to say no (yes, even though this was our fifth board…), when another board passed by and we told her to grab it. Whew! Crisis averted 😉

Basically the food was amazing and worth the wait. I’ve never been so full on canapes before in my life! It was great being there with George who was as food-centric as me. Then we headed back into the restaurant and enjoyed the live music and the free drinks (well, Diet Coke for me).The music, the food, the drinks…all made for a fantastic evening. I’ll definitely be finding myself in Reading again soon to go back for a proper meal. I’m really pleased this one has opened up closer to me as I was sad when I realised there were none nearby after I had such a great meal in Chester.

We eventually left, goodie bags in tow, and headed for a some pudding at a local ice cream parlour. It ended the evening perfectly.Cookie dough ice cream and fudge brownie. Delightful!

Have you ever been to The Botanist?

What’s your favourite canape?

What’s your favourite cocktail?

**Full Disclaimer: I was invited to the opening of The Botanist in Reading in exchange of a mention on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Long running and being forgotten

The second part of my bank holiday weekend was just as full of running and eating as the first part.

On Sunday I met up with Mike for a long run. I’ve become quite used to running with other people for a long run that I tend to not look forward to running on my own as much. It’s weird because I used to love long running solo so much more. I think it’s just perhaps because I’ve been training for marathons so often that I need to change things up.

I’ve also found when I run with others I run a lot slower, close to 9min/miles rather than 8min/miles. As I won’t be running on my own for the New Forest Marathon and will be running slower than I normally would (as I’ll be pacing Mike), this does make sense. Plus it makes the training a lot less intense and more enjoyable right now. Perhaps this is why I’ve managed to remain uninjured…who knows (*cough* let’s be honest, this is the way it’s normally done during marathon training and I definitely do need to slow down long runs). That said, I won’t be running all my long runs with others as I know mentally I need that time by myself running.

So anyway I ran 1.5 miles to the location I was meeting Mike. He was nice enough to meet closer to where I was (I was at my parent’s – they live about 15 minutes from Southampton) as I had a good route for about 11 miles that was quite pretty along the coast. It was fairly warm but not as oppressive as the day before. It was nice doing my usual route with someone else and the miles flew by as we chatted away.

I will explain why those mile splits look weird and actually further than 12.75 miles! The first reason is that I stopped my watch when I got to my parents so I could throw my water bottle on the drive after I decided to run back to Mike’s car…but I then accidentally saved the activity. So then had to start my watch again to record the last 1.5 miles recorded as we got going again.

For Mike to get a sub 4 hour marathon we need to be running around 9 min/miles so this kind of training is good. I ran back to Mike’s car so I totalled almost 13 miles whereas Mike did over 11. A good solid long run. Mike kindly drove me back to my parents and we waved goodbye. As I knocked on my parent’s door I realised both cars weren’t there…and I didn’t have a key. Hmmm. I decided to just chill outside on the grass as I’d said I’d be finished at 11am and it was just that now. As time ticked by I realised perhaps they weren’t coming back for 11 and had forgotten I didn’t have a key.

As I’d run 11.75 miles I decided I might as well run 1.25 miles to get up to 13 as it meant I could run along the pavement that I knew my parents would drive along if they were to come back and then I could hop in the car with them. Nope, still not back. Then I walked to the shop and bought a drink as I was now really thirsty. I was lucky that the weather was so nice as if this had happened in winter I might have been huddled in the garage instead!Eventually my dad arrived back at 12. He looked surprised to see me. As well he might!! Ah well. My time for any sort of breakfast had disappeared as we were planning to have a BBQ at 1pm so I had a shower instead.

And then to add insult to injury, I walked with my mum to the Stubbington village to buy a Costa to find their coffee machines weren’t working. And then it started raining. The universe is out to get me!

We decided to have the BBQ anyway as we had all the food, and to be honest we’re British and if you plan a BBQ you DO the BBQ regardless of the weather.My dad manned the BBQ under a large parasol and would run back into the kitchen with plates of cooked food for us to eat inside. We had a lovely spread of chicken skewers, turkey skewers, steak and burgers. Delicious and much needed refuelling!

Monday was a fairly boring day. I went to the gym, I did lots of housework and food prep for the coming week… but it’s always nice to get that stuff done. I met with my parents for coffee but otherwise had a very relaxed day. Sometimes you just need it!

How did your Bank Holiday weekend go?

Have you ever been locked out?

Have you ever BBQ’ed in the rain?

A wobbly parkrun and my divorce party

Bank holiday weekends are such a gift. That one extra day just makes it seem to last forever.

I definitely needed it after a very poor night sleep on Friday. I was woken up at 2am by some bad hay fever, so took an antihistamine and eventually feel back asleep. Then at 4am there was a thunderstorm. Alfie hates thunder and lightning; he gets very scared and freaks out. For whatever reason he decided that sitting on my head would be the safest place for him. And then intermittently barking. It seemed to go on forever, so we were awake for quite a while.

When my alarm went off at 7am I felt like I’d barely slept. I’m normally the type of person who gets up straight away with their alarm, but it was the first time in ages where I desperately wanted to snooze. But parkrun waits for no one!

I didn’t feel particularly great or 100% when I got to Netley. I’d felt very sick the day before for some reason so wondered if that, with lack of sleep, just made me feel rubbish. The weather was very oppressive as well, humid and close. Anyway, I helped set-up and decided today was not the day to push it.As soon as I started running I knew it was going to be a bad one. I was running far slower than normal and yet the effort level seemed the same. People who I normally run with or ahead of were overtaking me and I just couldn’t seem to catch up. I would occasionally surge forward but then found this shattered me.

I also didn’t feel right in that I felt hazy and foggy and a couple of times lost my footing. It felt really quite awful. Several times I wondered if I should drop-out of walk. But being the stubborn idiot I am I just pushed on, trying to get to the finish-line as quickly as I could.As I got closer to the finish I started getting more and more foggy and when I finished and stopped running I completely lost my bearings and stumbled to the floor. I can’t tell you how embarrassing this was. I just suddenly felt so dizzy and out of it. Luckily someone helped me and got me some water. I was very grateful, though hugely mortified. A lot of other people were also feeling the humid and oppressive weather conditions too so I didn’t look like a complete loon. I should have just stopped when I started feeling off.I somehow managed 23:07, but it felt so ridiculously hard. I helped clear up and then had a hot drink at the cafe. I still felt quite hazy so sitting and taking a moment helped. I had quite a busy day ahead so needed to have my shizz together!I got back home and was so busy sorting stuff I wasn’t able to focus on feeling under the weather, which I actually think helped (tho I had a moment in the shower where I found myself exhausted and wondering if I should just go back to bed…). I had my divorce party planned for 1pm at my friend’s house and needed to get myself together. And as I was in charge of the food, I needed to have that together too.

The day before I’d made a beef chilli (I used this Jamie Oliver recipe and slow cooked pieces of beef shin for over five hours and it smelt amaaaaazing).I was also planning on making some guacamole and had lots of snacks to take too. After rushing around like a mad thing I eventually made it to my friend’s house. She’d made the most fantastic cake! Red velvet…divine!We got the food prepared and spread on the table. I made guacamole using avocados mashed with some spices and low fat Greek yogurt and lime juice – delicious! And we were ready to go.The reason for the party was just to have a fun little get-together to take light of the fact that I’m now officially divorced (well, I have been for a few months now but haven’t really been that free at the weekend to do something like this). Yes being divorced sucks (oh the failure I am, how sad and pathetic my life is, woe is me… blah blah blah) but I’m a half glass full kind of person and wanted to just have a bit of fun with it. You can’t sit in a dark corner and be sad about life events that happen, you just gotta pick yourself up and try and move forward. I think I’ve consistently tried to do that and Saturday was just a way to enjoy myself with cake. My marriage wasn’t a mistake and I don’t regret it, it just had a fixed time limit and that’s that!To be honest, I just wanted a reason to eat lots of food and have cake 😉 I made a divorce playlist (think N*Sync ‘Bye Bye Bye’ and Destiny’s Child ‘Independent Woman’) and a love/hate themed quiz (Round 1: Connect the famous exes…to Round 4: Connect the song with the singer – again themed as breakup songs). It was good fun. I obviously ate far too much (two slices of cake and copious amounts of chilli and dip).Now I know people hate this word…but the cake was so moist! It was very tasty. Louise, my amazing baking friend, did herself proud!

As Lou and Tom, the hosts, had a wedding party to get to that evening we all vacated and reconvened later for, er, more food and some drinks at Portsolent. Some of the friends hadn’t eaten (or eaten as much as me) whereas I, unsurprisingly, wasn’t that hungry but I still fancied going out. We went to Wildwood and I ordered the lightest thing I could find. Just a “superfood salad”. On any other occasion it wouldn’t have been enough, but it was just perfect.I also enjoyed a nice refreshing Sol beer and then Bud Light at the next bar (I love Bud Light!). It was a great evening of chatting, laughing and generally just chilling out. I don’t tend to do much drinking but it was a nice change.

I’ll leave my weekend recap there!

What’s your favourite cake? I keep changing mine, from carrot cake to red velvet to lemon…

Have you ever been to a divorce party? It’s quite an obscure thing, granted!

Have you ever felt a bit dizzy or odd at parkrun/running?