Rants and Raves #37

Happy Friday Eve! It’s so strange to me that this is my last Thursday at work… I only have five working days left. I finish next Wednesday then have Thursday and Friday off before starting at Wiggle on Monday. I’m not panicking… yet! Anyway, on to some good ol’ rants and raves.

Rant: Still not running. Dwelling on this is both boring and pointless. I’m cross-training at the gym (elliptical machine. Woo). Fingers crossed it won’t be long. It doesn’t feel like an injury that will put me out for weeks and weeks, but with me you never know. As I said though, ZERO regrets. So can’t complain really.

Rave: While I was on holiday my parents took Alfie to the groomers for me. I’d intended on doing this before (or after) I’d gone to Austria but my parents were taking their dogs so it made sense while they were looking after Alfie. They sent me a photo while I was away so I could see how dapper he looked.They kept his beard thankfully (he’d be practically naked otherwise). My parents upgraded his grooming from the standard one to the super duper pampering which, I’m not even joking, included a blueberry facial. I mean, what? Now I love Alfie, but would I get him a blueberry facial? No. I see Alfie as the Bear Grills of the dog world. He’s a basic pooch. But apparently he enjoyed it. Traitor.

Rant: Having said I see Alfie as a “Bear Grills dog” I might need to backtrack somewhat. When it comes to thunder and lightning he’s such a wuss. He freaks out. He trembles, whimpers, barks, paces… and I do try to be sympathetic and cuddle him but at 2am in the morning my sympathy can somewhat wane a little. I had to put the light on and some music to try and cover up the weather. Neither of which are any more conducive to a good night’s sleep. But it’s fine because Alfie has all day to sleep so don’t worry, his sleeping hours probably wasn’t affected. *Sighs*.

Rave: I’ve mentioned a few times that my dad has been steadily losing weight using Slimming World. My mum and him go every week and, bless him, he always texts me how it goes (how much they lost or gained).He started last September and he’s already lost three stone. That’s obviously quite a lot in under a year but his starting point was quite high. He didn’t make any crazy drastic cuts but just became more conscious about what he was eating and making better choices. He became aware he was eating far too much bread, having extra slices with main meals and as snacks, and he wasn’t eating as many vegetables.

So in reality his meals haven’t changed a great deal, just tweaked a bit, and beer, bread and chocolate kept in moderation. He’s done it in a very slow and sensible way. Losing a lot of weight quickly because you’ve made huge changes to your diet simply to reach a lofty weight-loss goal is never going to be sustainable. My dad still goes out to dinner, still has the odd pudding, he still drinks beer and he still enjoys his food without being hungry or changing his lifestyle in a radical way. Weight-loss and then keeping to that target weight can only happen if you see yourself doing it forever. There’s no point in trying to reach a certain goal and then reverting back to your old ways.

As you can imagine, I’m hugely proud of him. He says he did this because my mum and I were nagging him, but I know that this isn’t entirely true. We’ve nagged him for years. He did this on his own and for himself, and really that’s the best way to do it.

Rave: OK OK I’ve gone a bit marathon crazy with the ones I’ve already signed up to. The New Forest (10th September), Bournemouth (8th October) and Brighton (15th April). And a cheeky one to start 2018…I mean, let’s just quickly put the standard Anna Disclaimer in: who knows if I’ll make any of these marathons (see above Rant 1). But the intent is firmly there. A few people have said that this marathon is rather dull as it’s pretty much all on a boring bit of main road. That may be so, but it’s a “big” marathon that attracts a lot of elites and fanfare due to the prize money and I’ve never been to Dubai so for me it’s more about exploring a different country and being part of something quite exciting. Plus the flights are cheap and the lovely Lily will hopefully be able to show me her favourite avocado on toast haunts. (And there’s a Cheesecake Foactory…).

Rant: My neighbour having a full on rave at 1am. I was particularly tired that evening and not in the mood for his loud music and continuous opening and slamming of his front door. In a perhaps ill-judged move, I went out in my PJ’s and told him sternly to turn it down (#grandmastatus). To be fair to him, he looked very abashed and promptly quietened it all down (perhaps my crazy nighttime hair scared him?).

Rave: Spotted this adorable little fella on my way to grab a coffee in the local Costa.He was just plodding along down the path. I was a bit worried as there’s usually a cat which hangs out down this path but when I walked back down the path later at lunch the cat was just sat next to him without even glancing at him/her.

Rave: Bamboo Towels! I’ve recently been sent some luxury gym towels from The Towel ShopOne of my biggest pet peeves is people not wiping down equipment when at the gym. I mean, it is GROSS. I try not to think about the amount of dried sweat, dirt and bacteria on the equipment when I’m using it and will often over up a seat with a towel to help matters. This is actually really good timing to have been sent these towels as my current white one is looking a bit sorry for itself (and has bright yellow stains on it from where my BCAA’s in my water have dripped on it – making me wonder what it’s doing to my insides…).

Anyway, these towels are SO soft. Like unreal soft.  They’re made with bamboo fibres (ooh er!). They are also three times more absorbent than a standard towel and have anti-fungal properties (ideal for gym use!). They’re also eco-friendly and available in six different colours.I personally love the silver colour. I have a few different sizes – a couple of hand towels and a bigger one which I’ll be using as a bath towel. OMG so soft.

I washed them before using them (I don’t actually do this with clothes or anything – I know that might be a bit weird but I’m not that bothered). With towels I find you need to wash them first otherwise they don’t really “work” if you know what I mean. But after washing and tumble drying, they’re fantastic. Super absorbent. And I love using the smaller towels at the gym. It fits nicely into my gym bag!

Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

Have you ever tried Slimming World or Weight Watchers?

How noisy are your neighbours?

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

Southsea Food Festival and Why Not Run race

And I’m back home, back to reality, back to normality…and it sucks. OK I’m only partly  joking of course, but the Marathon Talk Austria Run Camp was EPIC. Amazing, fantastic, so much fun and so thoroughly enjoyable. I’ll be writing a recap soon, but for now I’ll recap the weekend just gone.

I got back late Friday night and decided a lie-in and a day off of running was definitely required. parkrun would not be happening! I had a lot to sort out in the morning (*sighs* how much does it suck to be an adult? Can’t someone else unpack, do my washing and buy my food for me? No? Damn). After getting all the boring shizz out the way I headed to Southsea to meet up with my friend, Michelle, for the Southsea Food Festival. Michelle had also been on the Austria Run Camp so it was nice to see her again and bemoan how we wished we were still in Austria and running through forests and mountains.

Southsea was positively buzzing with activity. There seemed to be a lot going on, on the seafront, near the boat lake and of course along the high street where the Food Festival was being held.There was so many vendors giving out tasters and selling an assortment of foods.It was fantastic! Indian food, burgers, sausages, olives, cheese, Spanish food, Caribbean food, cakes (oh the cakes…). So many different options!There was also a cookery demonstration happening (with free mini dishes of what they’d made) and a smoothie tent where you had to cycle in order to blend your smoothie.Michelle and I walked through the crowds to check out each vendor, nibbling on what was being offered. I spotted a huge slab of rocky road and decided straight away I needed that in my life.Then we were on the hunt for something for lunch. My parents met me with Alfie as well which was lovely as I hadn’t seen them for a week. Alfie seemed overjoyed to see me, which just melted my heart.He also very much enjoyed the Food Festival, hoovering up anything that had been dropped.

Trying to choose something for lunch was insanely hard. But we walked past someone who had just ordered a kebab (not a dirty kebab, but a proper fresh and tasty looking one with salad and lamb koftes).It was ginormous. I was sold! I went for a chicken kebab (wrapped in a garlic naan, stuffed with salad and homemade tzatziki. Michelle went for a halloumi one.It was SO tasty. It was a good job it was wrapped in the paper as well as it kept it all nicely together so I didn’t make a complete mess of myself (which so often happens with food and me).My parents were very restrained and just had drinks. I was so proud of my dad as previously at events like this he’d have probably had a good number of different things. He bought himself some chutneys and was content to just try a few tasters and enjoy the atmosphere.

Sunday I was off to do a lapped race by the On The Whistle organisers at Staunton Country Park. The race, Why Not Run, was a 4.7 mile lap with a six hour time limit. If I hadn’t offered to drive two of my running club friends I would have bailed on this race. I was tired, my legs needed a rest and I really had no ambitions to do a crazy number of laps. I’d done almost 50 miles – which is MENTAL for me. I’m the girl who does 25-35 miles a week. I’m not a high mileage runner. But I’d agreed to drive so off I went!These events are very low-key and relaxed. The run director is a lovely guy who put everyone at their ease, reassuring everyone that they could or as much or as little as they liked. I was glad for this because I honestly didn’t fancy doing any running! My legs were heavy and my motivation low. But it was a nice atmosphere so I felt very chilled. I love that they decorated the bibs as well, a great touch.There was a good turn out for Hedge End Running Club, and with a lot planning on doing more than a marathon! Well I felt very pathetic just planning one lap but I knew I needed to be sensible.We set off and my legs felt niggly and tired. To be expected. I straight away knew to keep the pace fairly slow (for me) and to stick with a single running lap. The course was marked out well, you couldn’t get lost, and the marshals very friendly and supportive. It was a very happy and friendly atmosphere.The course ran through Staunton Country Park. It was a little tricky underfoot with pebbled, loose stones and uneven terrain but for the most part it was compact and fairly easy to run on. But it did require some concentration.It was an undulating course with gentle long inclines – not a PB course! It did somewhat sap my energy. But I popped a podcast on and zoned out.

Photo credit: Jon Lavis

As I finished my lap I picked up my wristband (this is how they track the number of laps you do) and headed to the very well stocked aid station.I had a nibble on some sweets and biscuits and drank some water.I knew that my two car share buddies, Sarah and Lucy, were planning on doing at least three laps so I decided to head out for another lap, but this time walking. It was a nice day and it seemed a shame not to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. I did get quite a lot of people asking me if I was OK and whether I was injured. I reassured everyone I was fine and just didn’t want to run anymore this week.

Photo credit: Jon Lavis

I joked with the photographer as I walked passed that my photo would be rather boring! I was tempted to do a crazy pose but decided not to subject the poor guy to it 😉Sarah did three laps and Lucy amazingly did four. Lucy has never run over a half marathon so was super chuffed – as she should be! And she’d been planning on 10 minute miles and had smashed it out with 9.30s! She was buzzing. I was very pleased for them, but equally happy that I hadn’t got carried away and attempted to run anymore. When the body says no, I now listen!So despite not really fancying this race and it being terrible timing, I had a lovely morning. I’d love to do this race again (or another On The Whistle one) when I’m more fresh and ready for it!I fully recommend this event as a lovely low key lapped event.

Have you ever done a timed lapped event?

Do you enjoy food festivals? Which ones have you been to?

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.**

Catch Up

I woke up on Monday morning feeling every minute of the Tough Mudder I did on Sunday.

A mixture of sunburn, scratches all over my legs, bruises everywhere and the general ache of my muscles made me switch my usual gym alarm (4:57am – yes it’s so exact, I value those three minutes) to a more leisurely time of 7am. I didn’t even have to walk Alfie as he’s currently at my parent’s so it was a very gentle and lazy morning for me. I normally always at least have to walk Alfie so it was odd getting to work having walked only about 1,000 steps.

To be honest though, my body needed the rest! Coming into work on Monday, I was somewhat relieved to find George in a similar state of achy sunburnt tiredness. It was quite nice having someone at work who “got it” as normally I come in after a long run or race and no one cares or remotely understands really (not to their fault, I know I’m the minority here).

My run on Tuesday night was like running through thick mud. I felt so heavy and my legs were status “No Beuno”. I managed to slog through four miles though and felt the better for it despite the grind.It is nice though starting a run and thinking “if I feel good I’ll run six miles…” and then downgrading to four just because I can.Because I’m not training for anything or following any sort of plan. It’s just so nice. I have a couple of races in the plan and plans for the autumn but right of this minute I’m just happily winging whatever I fancy. And it feels gooood. Well, for now it does. I can already feel myself getting excited about getting back into more goal-focused training in a month or so.

In general life, things are pretty calm. I’m currently house-sitting for my parents. It’s a bit weird being back at home without my parents. I took a suitcase of clothes and some food with me to keep me going for the week (staples like apples, supplies to make work lunches, hot chocolate, etc.).

Handily though they have a second freezer in the garage and it’s well stocked with some recent MuscleFood items. I tend to buy from Muscle Food when they have a good deal going on but I don’t have the space in my freezer so my parents graciously allow me space in theirs. So I’ll be enjoying lots of meatballs, steak and chicken burgers!

The reason I’m house sitting is because my parents have three dogs and they’ve been looking after another dog too, also called Alfie (though I refer to him as Fake Alfie). And obviously the real Alfie is there too… so five dogs.

I already failed at the first hurdle by giving Fake Alfie a bowl of his treats rather than actual food. I personally blame my parents because the instructions they left were not clear. That’s my story anyway. Five dogs is fairly manic.I walk the two Aflies in the morning and evening but the other three are quite…well, I don’t want to say lazy, but they kind of are. They prefer to lie about sleeping or eating. Two Alfies on a walk though, ay ay ay. And the real Alfie is very much a lone wolf and doesn’t like being bothered by other dogs. He’s not aggressive or anything like that but he is very much Cold Shouldering the Fake Alfie and refuses to play (Fake Alfie is a puppy and loves ALL THE THINGS).I don’t mind staying at my parent’s house as I have my own bedroom (which they did up after I left and has a lovely soft double bed) but it’s an extra 20-30 minutes to work for me which is a ball ache, I won’t lie. It also means I can’t go to the gym in the morning. That said, it is nice not getting up at 4:57am at the moment and having a leisurely morning. Though I take my breakfast to work with me as I have to leave earlier. This means cold overnight oats which honestly does not rock my world.Even though it’s exactly the same amount of oats, milk and the protein powder I add to it (with some grated courgette for bulk and extra nutrients), it doesn’t taste as satisfying or feel as filling. Is this psychological? Or is it something about hot and cold food? Either way it’s pretty lame but only for a few days so I won’t moan.

My parents will be back Tuesday so my stint will be over soon and things will be back to normal again. I hate change 😉

Have you ever house sat before?

Have you ever looked after someone’s pet(s) for them when they’re away?

Overnight oats: yes or no?

Things I’m loving in November

November, November…how is it November?? It has to be my least favourite month in the entire year, but it does mean we’re inching closer to Christmas and I love Christmas so at least that’s a silver living. I thought I’d share a few things I’ve been loving recently.

New leggings: OK I officially have far too many leggings. It’s a real addiction. It’s leaking out into everyday life – I wear them all the time. I’m pretty sure I could wear them to work as well as my office are pretty chilled but I’m trying really hard not to. Otherwise I’ll never be out of them! But anyway, I did buy another pair at the weekend. Hear me out. I don’t usually wear full length leggings and I don’t have any grey pairs sooo…ivy-park-leggingsThese leggings are from Top Shop from the Ivy Park range. Yep, I was fully sceptical at first as well. Top Shop? Beyoncé? Sportswear? Don’t be daft. But I tried them on and was really surprised. They’re made from a lovely, thick and stretchy material that hugs and “holds everything in”. I did several squats in the changing room to test them out (does anyone do this…?) and they didn’t slip down or go see-through (a big leggings no-no in my book!). For £40 they are expensive but the quality of the cut and material is there so I thought they were worth it.

iPhone battery: I love my iPhone but it frustrates me that it runs out of battery so easily. When I go on a day-trip somewhere I’ve invariably had to take a charger with me and hope to end up in a Starbucks somewhere where I can plug my phone in. It’s ridiculous. So I bit the bullet and bought a battery caseimg_6033I got this from Amazon for about £38. It’s a cheaper alternative to some of the other battery packs out there (including the ridiculously priced Apple one) and had great reviews. It does make my iPhone more bulky and heavy but I personally think it’s worth it as I now don’t need to worry about my battery running out and can go back to charging overnight. There’s a button on the back you click and it activates the battery and charges your phone up (the battery provides 130% more battery).

Pimped up porridge: I went back to porridge. I couldn’t stay away. I was having scrambled eggs and as delicious as it was each morning…I just missed my warm, stodgy oats. My problem with porridge was that it was just very high in carbs but without a lot of protein, and after going to the gym I like to have a balance of carbs and protein. So I’ve been adding some protein powder to my porridge to boost it up.img_6307Yes it does look like prison gruel…but it tastes really nice. I’m not a big fan of adding lots of toppings and extras to my porridge and normally wouldn’t like any sweetness but it’s not crazy sweet. I only add about 15g so it’s not overwhelming (and adds about 11g protein).

New book: I’m listening to a new audio book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain.quite-susan-cainI actually heard about this book through a TED talk from the same woman and it peaked my interest. I consider myself an introvert so I was keen to read the book. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’tr anti-social or incapable of social interactions. For me it means liking to spend a bit more time alone and not being fully comfortable in social situations of which I’m not used to. I find them overwhelming. After a day with my friends or in big groups, I prefer nothing more than going home and spending time on my own to “recharge” (and why I struggled quite a bit when I went to the bootcamp in Spain).

It seems that the ideal is to be an extrovert, and being an introvert is often seen as a disadvantage, but the book shows how introverts are powerful in their own ways and how they shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m half-way through and finding it quite comforting and reassuring. It provides me with a lot of answers about the way I am in certain situations and why I feel certain ways.

Good food: On Saturday I went to Chichester with my parents. It’s kind of an annual thing to do around Christmas time as Chichester is so festive and such a pretty town. There are some nice shops that aren’t just your regular high-street ones too.

We booked a table at Bills which, though is a chain, is a really nice chain. I didn’t realise there was one in Chichester and my parent’s had never been to one before so it seemed ideal.

For starters my dad and me shared a meze board, which had hummus, tzatziki, red pepper dip, olives, flat bread, chicken skewers, calamari and falafels. It was delicious.img_6314It also wasn’t huge as some platters can be. For main I almost went for a Caesar salad but decided to go for something different for once. I had the lemon paprika chicken with some long stem broccoli on the side.img_6317It was DELICIOUS. I honestly can’t sing this enough praises. It had honey roasted root vegetables and cranberries and was just divine. And very filling. Originally I’d intended on having a pudding (I spotted a brownie with my name on it) but I sensibly decided not to. The meal had filled me up perfectly and anything more would be greedy and unnecessary and would probably spoil the satisfaction I was feeling. Who even am I?? I’m trying to not be so gluttonous when I eat out…let’s see how long that lasts 😉

And finally…beautiful crisp winter mornings: There have been some beautiful sunrises in the morning when I walk Alfie. img_6255I’m very lucky to live so close to a pretty park and where Alfie can run off his lead while I enjoy the scenery. Yes it’s been very cold, but it’s worth it.

Have you tried anything new lately?

What kind of phone do you have?

What books have you read lately?