Rants and Raves #39

A Friday post for you! And I’m ranting and raving… sorry for the complete randomness of this.

Rave: Well I really have no excuse not to go to the local 5k race that takes place literally at my work. We have this lovely lake right next to the big office building (which is why it’s called Lakeside…) and there is a 5k series (Lakeside 5k) that goes on on some Wednesday evenings during the summer. I’ve never gone before because I’ve never been able to get back from work in time and then get there…and it’s a 5k. I hate 5ks. However it was my friend’s birthday and he was going and it is literally at my work so I figured I best make an appearance! I’d probably only run 3-4 miles anyway on my own. It’s always nicer to run with other people.Anyway, loads of my running club turned up which was nice and my birthday buddy, Joe, so it was a lovely social evening. I did a 1.5 mile warm up round the lake with a couple of the guys and convinced myself a fast run was not happening. Why do warm-ups always feel so crap and you feel so sluggish?

But weirdly as soon as we started going as the race began my legs were like “let’s do this”. I managed to maintain a decent speed and chip away at my time as the miles continued. I overtook some Hedgies in front of me and tried to encourage them with me (without sounding like a cocky so and so). My friend, Robbie, was ahead and I caught up with him and we raced to the finish together. I was dying a death inside but Robbie managed to sprint ahead of me (I was barely maintaining my final burst of speed!) and slam dunked the finish. What a sprint finish! Super impressive. Apparently the fastest 5k he’s done in ages, so major kudos to him!

I’m also really pleased with my time. I got 21:26 which is definitely the fastest Ive run in a good while. But jeeeeze, it was tough! Glad I went though as it was some good speedy miles that I’d have never done on my own.

Rave: I’ve now been to the cinema three times in the past two weeks. This is incredible for me. I love watching films and I do love going to the cinema but with my (old) commute and needing to get back for Alfie…well, I just had no time in the evening to really do anything but walk Alfie, make and eat dinner and chill a little before bed! Now that I have more time in an evening and more time in the morning (so less ridiculously early mornings) I’ve been able to get out a bit more. Ahh freedom!

This does unfortunately mean spending more money. And this is both on eating out and the actual film. I’ve been eating at Nando’s each time before the cinema because it’s a) easy, b) relatively cheap (OK it’s not really for just chicken), c) I love it and it’s always a consistently good meal for me. It’s also not something super indulgent on a weekday (all about that balance). I can’t always avoid the temptation of a pudding in other restaurants, whereas at Nando’s I feel fully satisfied after my meal (always a whole chicken, plain, with a side salad and sometimes a corn on the cob depending how I feel) to be content with just a main (I say “just” but we all know it’s a ridiculous meal for a girl my size).

Anyway so recently I’ve seen The Black Tower, Logan Lucky and American Made. The Black Tower was tolerably interesting but ultimately I wouldn’t recommend at all. Logan Lucky was hilarious, quick-moving and definitely worth a watch. American Made was a good watch but it dragged a little. It’s Tom Cruise’s new one and he basically plays Tom Cruise. A fun evening though anyway.

This also means that when I listen to my two movie review podcasts (Empire and BBC Five Live Kermode & Mayo) I actually have an opinion on the films for once!

Rant: Ahh Game of Thrones is over. The last episode was really good and made me feel more positive towards it then some of the other episodes. I really can’t wait for the next two books to come out though to see how George R.R. Martin will deal with the different characters and story-line.

Rave: The Great British Bake Off is back! OK yes it’s moved to Channel 4 (overseas readers, this is such a bugbear for us Brits as it used to be on the BBC, so there weren’t any adverts and it had the very British charm and gentleness that the BBC bring to TV, whereas Channel 4 is a bit more racy and ‘different’). But this does mean that every Tuesday evening I’ll be craving cake *sighs*. I haven’t actually watched the first one yet due to my busy evenings but I’m excited to catch up.

Rave: Speaking of cake…We recently had a successful big project complete at Wiggle so cake and fruit was brought for everyone in the office.Now THIS is how you get and maintain good levels of morale in a workplace. OK, not just bringing in food, but the fact that the workforce is thanked in such a nice way. It’s the little things that really help keep things consistently happy in a workplace.The cakes were really good as well. Lots of different flavours. I had a chocolate one (not normally my flavour of choice when it comes to cake but it had a wedge of Galaxy chocolate in the icing…) and a carrot cake one. SO good.

Rant: It really annoys me when shops try to upmarket something that you can get somewhere else for like half the price. Popcorn kernels are easily available and far more affordable in supermarkets!Don’t be won over by the fancy packaging. Believe me, as a girl who regular pops her own popcorn. They’re the same kernels!

Rant: OK not really a rant but just a bit of a “what?”. These fluffy things seem to be everywhere… I see them all over people’s handbags.And don’t get me started on those weird furry sandal things (sliders?) that girls are wearing. They look like slippers! What is going on!?

Finally… Not sure if this is a rant or a rave. But on my walk with my dad the other day we walked past a farmer’s field to find a load of pumpkins appearing. Summer is definitely over!

Are you sad summer is coming to end?

Do you adorn your handbag with fluffy things or similar?

Does your work treat you to fun things and cakes?

Currently – March

Thursday, hurrah! Or as I like to call it…Friday Eve 😉 Here’s a little update of how things are currently going for me.

Running: TOUCH WOOD, TOUCH WOOD IMMEDIATELY. Things are actually going OK. I am tired and feeling the effects of continued marathon training but my marathon training in comparison to others is kind of weak. No 50+ miles a week going on over here. But that said, I am running consistently and attempting the longer runs at the weekend.

What I’m really pleased about is the run I did last week after work. I picked a reasonably flat route (which is tricky given I work in Basingstoke Amazingstoke). I didn’t intentionally set off to run fast but I did want to do some fartleks so I popped on some motivating music (“banging tunes” some might say, I would never say that…out-loud/in public). As I started running my legs suddenly felt pretty good so I went with it. And consequently ran my fastest 5k in almost two years. TWO YEARS (to be precise, since July 2015 20:43, at Little Stoke parkrun).I was so in the zone that an elderly man cycled past me and said “you go girl!”. I stopped my watch exactly at 3.1 miles and couldn’t believe the time! OK not my fastest and still over a minute off my PB but for not having done any real speedwork lately, I WILL TAKE THAT.And happily, a royal flush negative split. Pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. And this has encouraged me to do one speed session a week. So last night I headed out to do a speed session (my intention was some 1km repeats with a couple of minutes rest between) but my legs went “nope” so I decided to do hills instead. Four hills (0.3 miles long, 11% gradient)…ooof. I do prefer hills though because even when you’re not feeling it, it’s still a good workout for your legs despite not actually going that fast. So mentally I can deal with it.

Books: I’m a keen reader so I’m always reading a book. When I finish one I move on to another. I usually read before I go to sleep to chill me out and with my breakfast in the morning (#nerd) so I can get through them fairly quickly. I signed up to BookBub.com (NOT an affiliated link, just a random recommendation) and you get emailed about discounted e-books around the web so I often take advantage of that. I rarely ever buy a book over £4. Anyway, I’ve just finished The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

It was fantastic. I love Jodi Picoult. She has such a great way of writing. This was really thought-provoking and I didn’t know how it’d end.

Before that I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.Whenever a film comes out that is based on a book I’m always prompted to go and read the book if it takes my fancy. This book was quite short but sad. I was literally crying into my porridge one morning reading it. But a good story.

Gym nutrition: I’ve been trying a new BCAA drink from Sci-Vation. I fancied a change from my usual BSN Amino X Intra-Workout.

I chose this because it contains no proprietary blend (which is a supplementary company’s way of cost cutting because they don’t have to state the dosage of the ingredients within the blend and you’ll likely be fobbed off with an ineffective dose to have any real effect) and 7 grams of BCAAs (a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine; plus an additional 2.5g of glutamine per scoop and 1g of Citrulline Malate) and 1.1 gram of electrolytes. Basically, a good BCAA drink! It’s more expensive, but more effective. And it tastes DELICIOUS. I use it during my fasted gym visits.

Slow cooker fun: I’ve been back on the old slow cooker wagon again.My meals are verrrrry basic but it’s so nice to come in to a home smelling of food and having dinner ready. LAtely I’ve been throwing in chicken drumsticks and thighs with butter squash chunks and other veg and just adding some basic seasonings and spices, like paprika, garlic, fish sauce (trust me, it works), Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Quickly back to running quickly, this week has been feeling tough (probably because I’ve suddenly started doing speedwork again and did a fairly tough 16 miler on Sunday…oh and I ran a marathon last month!). I don’t feel injured but I do feel worn out. I am “meant” to run a long run on Friday morning (as I’m away this weekend) but I’m just thinking it’s not going to happen. I’d rather turn up to London undertrained and than overtrained (or injured) so I’m probably going to skip it. Listening to my body and all that 😉 I might be able to get out Sunday afternoon when I’m back but I won’t cry about it if I don’t. And it depends how I feel!

Do you use a slow cooker?

What book have you read recently?

What signs tell you when to take some rest from working out?

Olympic Park 5k

While I was in London a Twitter friend and blog reader told me about a cool race series that was scheduled for Thursday evening while I was in London last week. After my disastrous run on Tuesday night I was reluctant to venture out on my own again and the race was 5k which was actually perfect for my training plan.

The race was run by The Race Organiser, who organise a lot of races in and around London. They also provide services to other races to with things such as race management, race timing and photography. A 5k race around the Olympic Park was scheduled for the Thursday at 6.30pm which was perfect timing for me. I finished my course at 5pm, went back to the hotel, got changed and walked to the nearby tube. The tube journey didn’t take long and I was rather chuffed with myself for having figured it out on my own without going wrong(!). However, when I got to Stratford I realised I didn’t know exactly where the Park was.

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I ended up walking around in circles for a bit and my lovely accrued buffer time slowly ticked away and I started to panic. Finally though I found the way (I was the wrong side of station I think) and then desperately looked around for fellow runners.

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When I go to different parkruns, for example, it’s always handy when you get close when you can see runners heading in the general direction and so I just follow them. There weren’t any runners I could see though and the Olympic Park grounds are actually quite big. Eventually though I asked a security guard and he pointed me in the right direction.

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A little race HQ area was set up with a table and marshals handing out the race packs. There were real toilets nearby (opposed to portable loos!) and the race bibs were chipped. I realised it wasn’t a huge event as 16 people shuffled up to the race briefing. I suddenly felt a little nervous as I was expecting a few more people. With so few people I felt a bit exposed…I wasn’t up for a fast run and the guys around me looked rather speedy.

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But hey ho, no backing out now! The event director explained the route (three laps outside the Olympic Park, though the first lap included a little out and back to make sure the distance added up as there was a slight diversion on the course due to construction). He mentioned it was clearly sign posted and there were several marshals pointing the way.

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I still felt a bit nervous. I mean, I’m not the best at directions (as has been made very clear lately) and if there are only 16 of us I might not have a person straight in front of me to follow if they’ve all dashed off.

But anyway we started and I went way too fast for the first 500m as I desperately didn’t want to get left behind. I think everyone felt similarly and as we got into the first mile we found our more natural paces. Luckily there were a couple of people (including my friend, Dasen) ahead of me who I could follow. I didn’t feel particularly comfortable in my running in terms of my pace and wondered if I could hold onto it for long, seeing a crash in the near future. I reminded myself it was just three miles and to hold on.

I managed to overtake the couple of guys ahead and felt myself getting strong as the race continued and this gave me confidence. The marshals were lovely, smiling and cheering us on and the temperature was a little warm but not too bad. The course was relatively flat with a few gentle inclines and declines and the wind wasn’t strong. So all in all, perfect conditions really and this spurred me on to run faster than I would have done had I been running solo.

I increased my speed at the end, feeling a lot stronger and knowing I didn’t have long to go. I finished in seventh place overall and second female (the joys of a very small race!). My time was 23:22. For not wanting to run fast (for me!) that evening, I was quite pleased at how I got my body moving in the end.

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I haven’t done any speed work in months (something I really must improve on) so I can’t expect super fast times but the effort level was there so I’m happy with a good solid workout.

I received a second place prize of some interesting detox drink powder things… (I’m slightly annoyed as I did take a photo of the goodie bag contents but I think I deleted it). The goodie bag was great: Haribo sweets, a health drink, a tester pouch of the detox stuff I won, a cereal bar, a water and a medal.

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I spoke to the event director and they were super friendly. I said how much I enjoyed it (well, enjoyed finishing anyway!) and how organised it was for such a small event. I even got a photo of them (which they found hilarious).

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It’s not the cheapest race in the world (I think for an affiliated runner it was around £17-18) but I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth as the organisation and location were superb. We were emailed out times later.

I chatted to Dasen afterwards and we got a selfie together, of course 😉 He lives just a tube stop away so it’s very handy for him!

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A great race, all in all for a random Thursday night in London! Then it was a quick hop on the tube back to the hotel. No getting lost thankfully!

Do you run many 5ks (excluding parkruns)? I tend to avoid them like the plague ordinarily!

Have you ever done a super small race before?

Have you done many races in London before? This was my second one. My first was another race (a 5 miler) around the Olympic Park as well.

No parkrun and no race

Although I was looking forward to the weekend gone, I was a bit down that I wouldn’t really get a good lie-inI normally get up four times in the week at 5am to go to the gym and around 6am on the other day so I like to sleep a bit later at the weekend to ‘catch up’ (although I know there’s to much science to catching up on sleep but it feels good!).

My university friends were popping down on Saturday and as always I’d planned to do parkrun. But as I was meant to meet one of my friends at the station at 10.30am it was going to be a bit of a push, what with showering and getting myself sorted. It would also mean, to save time, I’d have breakfast before parkrun and this would mean a 6.30am wake-up. On Sunday I was doing the Stubbington 10k and wanted to run 6 miles beforehand, so again another early morning.

Luckily though I’d got Monday off so I knew I could at least sleep later then. But as I thought more about Saturday I realised it was causing me a lot of stress to make parkrun and meet my friend on time (and being on time is my New Year’s Resolution…). So to make life easier on me I decided to forgo parkrun. Sad times indeed. To be honest though, I probably did need a week off to reignite the parkrun love again.

So Saturday morning I slept in until 8am which was just glorious. Then I got my running kit on, walked Alfie and then got on with my lonely 5k round my block.IMG_7541

It was VERY cold. I’d decided straight off the bat to attempt to be speedy, which was ideal considering how cold it was. I put some music on and just focused on finishing. My hands, despite wearing my Nike gloves, were freezing. My face was numb. I know we’re very lucky to not have any snow but it was very cold!

I’m really pleased with my splits. It was a pretty flat 5k with a few turns and a couple of sharp (but short) inclines at the end) so the fact that I was able to do a negative split is really encouraging. My time was 22:41 and I came FIRST overall (in the race in my head… haha).5k

I was able to then sort myself out and get ready and be on time to pick my friend up without having to stress or rush. Obviously I missed parkrun and everyone there (especially as it was a couple of friend’s 200th parkrun!) but it had to be done.

 

It was lovely to see my uni friends, as always, and they got to see my new flat. Then it was time to head off for some lunch. So, er, this is embarrassing. We went to Coast to Coast… this was my fourth time in pretty much as many weeks. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you probably notice that when I like something food-related I’ll just keep eating it or keep going there again and again until I’m sick of it. Jamie’s Italian for example… Porridge for breakfast (this has been happening now for over 10 years – no toppings, just plain; yes, I am that boring)… Apples… Cake.

So apparently because I raved a lot about it they wanted to go. What can I say, it was their choice! 😉 And they all loved it and said they wanted to go again. Success! (Also, I’m not the only re-offender, I know several people who have gone back a few times… *cough* Mark).Coast to Coast

This time I went for chicken wings with a BBQ rub for starters, which was simply divine. Then I decided to try the baby back ribs for main with sweet potato fries (last time I had the St Louis’ ribs which were huge) and then finally the carrot cake. The baby back ribs were far more tender than the St Louis ones but smaller (I’m the greediest person alive so for a normal person they’d be just fine). The carrot cake was delicious and on par with the brownie I had last time.

After my friends left I headed to my parents’ house which is just five minutes from the start of the Stubbington 10k, the race I thought I was signed up to. I realised from other people’s posts in my running club’s Facebook group that I was missing a confirmation email and my bib number. After scouring the entry list I realised I had in fact not signed up at all. What an idiot. I’m not quite sure how I had assumed I had!

So my plans of running 6 miles, then running Stubbington 10k were scuppered and I planned a long run instead on my own. I wasn’t too sad as I wasn’t planning on racing anyway and it saved a lot of faff in the morning of getting my bib and getting to the start in the morning. My parents didn’t have to come and support me so they could have a chilled morning – though my mum, bless her, did ask if I wanted them to come and support me somewhere on my long run! Haha, could you imagine?12.6 miles

I did run about 4 miles of the Stubbington 10k route anyway, just about an hour before everyone else did. I saw the 1km markers and the drinks station with the bottles all stacked up neatly and a few marshals. A friend from the club also ran with me a little way as she was warming up before the race which was nice. Then I veered off the route and carried on with my run. I felt really good running. I rarely look at my watch on long runs and just run at a speed I’m comfortable at. This will slow down when the long long runs happen though I’m sure.

Better than last week was how I felt post long run and for the rest of the day. I had no headache and didn’t feel drained. I ate well through the day and actually felt pretty normal.

Though I did have a nice relaxing evening of watching one of my favourite films, You’ve Got Mail. I literally smiled the whole way through it. It’s such a classic and I just love Tom Hanks.

IMG_7582Post run

As I said, I also had Monday off and had another lie-in. It’s quite amusing that on Friday I thought I’d be struggling with no lie-ins and I actually got three solid night sleeps and lie-ins! I went to the gym in the morning and then had a reflexology appointment at midday (more on that in another post – but, spoiler alert, it was amazing). And I got my hair cut, which happens pretty much once a year. My hair was so long it was driving me up the wall with washing it and blow drying it. Now it’s a lot more manageable and a lot neater, but pretty much exactly the same. I’m not one for huge changes to my appearance 😉 So a standard good weekend for me: friends, running, good food and cake!

Do you have restaurants and food you always go back to?

How has the weather been round you? I much prefer it being cold and dry than wet and mild.

Have you ever thought you’d signed up to something to find out you hadn’t?