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?

Good things making me happy

Apart from the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and rain, things are quite happy in my neck of the woods! It’s always nice to take stock of a few things that are making me a happy Anna.

The ‘C’ word: What is this madness? Christmas stuff already out in supermarkets. This photo was actually take two or three weeks ago as well.img_4888Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen… yep. It’s October. That said, I love all things Christmas, especially food-related items) so I’m happy with this state of affairs. More mince pies in my life can only be a good thing.

Tesco encouraging kids to eat more fruit: They’re offering a free piece of fruit to children coming into the supermarket. img_3917So they can chomp on something healthy as they walk round with their parents. What a great idea! Nice one, Tesco. We’ll let you off for your Christmas products 😉

New shoes: I bought some new shoes. They were really cheap as they’re of an older seasons but I really needed a pair of simple comfy shoes I could easily slip into and wear for quick errands or walking Alfie. img_5954I tend to have a lot of trainers, pumps, boots and then my gym shoes (Vans & Converses – ideal because they have flat soles for squatting and deadlifting which help me be more “in tune” with the ground and lifting) but nothing that I’d be happy to get a bit mucky. I had a previous pair of Skechers and I wore them to the ground. These were only £25 which I thought was a steal.

Unusual gel flavours: A lovely friend of mine (a triathlon legend it must be said – his training cycles make mine look very amateur indeed) sent me some gels as a good luck present for my marathon (though with strict instruction NOT to use them during the marathon if I hadn’t tried them first).img_5972Maple Bacon flavoured gels!! I know some (many?) of you will be thinking “that’s so gross” but I’m genuinely looking forward to trying them out. I quite like the GU gels (I still remember that salted caramel one I had once…so good. And the lemon flavoured one that tasted like a zesty pudding) so I expect good things 😉

Protein Porridge: I got a packet of this Mornflake Go! High Portein Porridge in my goodie bag from the Chester Marathon. Normally I will never use porridge packets because they always contain some form of sugar or flavouring and I can’t stand sweet porridge. For me the only sweetness I like is from the milk, so it’s very subtle.fullsizerenderBut this was different. It’s a pack of oats containing soya protein isolate and (other than a stabiliser) that’s it. No sugar, no fruit, no seeds…just oats and protein. One packet though wouldn’t be enough for me for breakfast as it was around 130 calories. So I used two with almond milk and it tasted almost identical to my normal porridge.img_5953Basically the same texture and it was really filling. I’m still regularly having scrambled eggs (with cheese, kale and olives – love it) for breakfast but I miss my porridge. The reason I swapped was because the porridge was quite low in protein but this is a great compromise. Though it is more expensive, so I’m looking into getting some unflavoured protein powder and playing around with that.

Woofins: These are adorable…even if I was disappointed when I first saw them as I thought “oooh cake” and then realised they’re actually for dogs.img_5987

Alfie isn’t a huge treat lover or chewer. For example, if I give him a dentist stick to chew on he puts it in his mouth then wanders around whimpering until I take it off him and cut it into four pieces for him (what a princess…). Although he will easily eat them normally when he’s around my parent’s dogs – but I think this is due to the fear that if he doesn’t they’ll eat it for him. Anyway, I digress, he wolfed down this mini cake – he loved it!

New car: OK it’s pretty much identical to my old car, just new.img_5968I love the Fiat 500 and wanted to stay with them. Unfortunately I did want a different colour (I quite like the mint) but they didn’t have it in stock for when I wanted it so I had red again. As someone who is rubbish with adulting, having a brand new car with no MOT or service to worry about for a while is a huge weight off my mind (especially as I was late with my last service by about 10,000 miles as I got confused <– story of my life).

But things making me nervous: A 10k obstacle course race (Chepstow Stampede) with my friends, Kate and Jamie, that’s happening Saturday. I did that obstacle course in Spain but I don’t think it can quite compare to a muddy obstacle course race in Britain during a rather wet autumn. I’m stressing a bit with what to wear as I don’t really have anything I’d happy to never see again if it got ruined… and I’m scared about being really cold and wet. But other than that, it should be a laugh. We’ll see…

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

What kind of car do you have?

What non-workout shoes do you normally wear?

Last long run and dating frustrations

This was my last weekend before the Chester Marathon. I had one last long run to do and decided on 12 miles, an arbitrary number based on the fact that I had a good route for 12 miles.

I would have done it on Sunday morning but I was going to be marshalling fairly early at a local race so I decided to do it Saturday…But this also meant a very early morning and sadly not being able to do parkrun as my dad and me were heading to the O2 at 9am. We had gotten tickets to Empire Live, which is an event done by the Empire film review magazine. I’m a huge fan of their podcast and we had tickets to watch the it being recorded live. We also had tickets (it came as a package) to see some old and new films at the cinema there but the timings didn’t work out (we’d have had to have left super early or stayed there later than we fancied) and really we were only interested in the podcast, having a nice meal and a wander around.

Anyway, so Saturday morning saw me up again at 5.45am to be running by 6.30am. I felt very tired in general and like I should be in bed during the first mile but then I woke up a bit and got going (basically woman’ed-up). I saw a gorgeous sunrise over a farmer’s field that was growing pumpkins and it really was a beautiful sight. I wished I’d have taken a photo but I couldn’t be bothered with the faff. A bit later on though I did decide to snap a photo as I was a bit more compos mentos…img_5306The run seemed to fly by quite quickly. The temperature was lovely and cool and only started slightly warming towards the end. I did have a near miss moment with a squirrel that I almost ran over. I don’t know who was more shocked, the squirrel or me! He (she?) lept out of the bushes and in a comedy-esque moment stopped dead-still wide-eyes when he (she?) saw me. Then ran away.

capture

And my last long run was done! Woohoo! It’s funny because this twelve mile run was exactly the same as one of the first long runs I did when I started this marathon training. I did that run in an average pace of 8.20min/mile and for this run I did it in 8min/miles. Good progress I think!img_5329Then I got showered super fast and we were on the road to London. I decided to just have two apples for breakfast en route as I wasn’t that hungry to have anything bigger straight away and we were having a big early lunch as soon as we got there that I didn’t want to spoil.o2I’ve never been to the O2 before so it was quite cool seeing it – it’s huge! We’d booked a table at a Brazilian restaurant called Rodizio Rico which was fantastic.rodico-o2It was the usual Brazilian-style cuisine with a huge salad bar and the waiters offering different meats on skewers. I was in heaven. I was so proud of my dad who was very restrained and careful about his choices (he’s trying to lose weight). In fact, I think we were both quite good. I ate a lot but not so much that I felt uncomfortable (like I do so often!). It was very tasty but it did start to get really busy as a Marvel event finished and about 20 families with little children came in. Our cue to exit fast 😉img_5341The live podcast was fantastic and really showed how good the guys who run it are as they’re exactly the same on and off mic. They’re so charismatic and knowledgeable about films. There were two guests interviewed as well, Tom Bennett (from Love & Friendship and the Ricky Gervais film) and Mike Colter (he’s in the new Luke Cage series – I didn’t really know who he was but he was a really nice guy and built like a house). It was a really fun thing to watch. We then had a mosey about and a (free!) drink in the Empire Hub (which was like the main congregating area) and then we headed home.

The next morning I was up at 7am to help marshal the Perform 5 race, which is very local to me and is helped run by my club. I took Alfie with me and we walked to the cricket stadium, the Ageas Bowl, which is just up the road and we collected our bibs, signs and instructions.img_5348My instructions were so confusing about which side of the road needed to be closed and for how long. It was really quite stressful. I would have to stop traffic but it wasn’t clear from which way! I was so worried about telling cars to stop but not knowing if I actually should be telling them to stop. In the end another marshal came and joined me on my spot to help out as no one could work out what the instructions meant.img_5354

We worked it out thankfully after coordinating with the marshals up and down the road and could relax a bit until the race actually began. We were around 4ish miles so it would be a while until the first runners got to us. We were right next to Burger King so we used their facilities and bought some coffee 😉

img_5359The lovely Louise and me

I think our position is now a coveted one due to how convenient it’s location is 😉 As the runners started passing through I really got into cheering them on. I started yelling silly things like “Pain is temporary! Glory is forever!” and “the incline is a figment of your imagination!” and got a few laughs and wry smiles. I really enjoyed myself. Alfie even got a few quick strokes.

After my marshalling duties I then headed out for my own run. Four miles round the block. It was windy but lovely and sunny. The run started fairly sluggishly but then I got faster as I went on. The route was a new one to me and nice because it was literally two miles away from home then swinging back for two miles home again so it felt quite satisfying.4-miles

 

 

 

I then got showered super quickly and made some lunch. I had a date planned (met through Internet dating, God help me) for a coffee in Winchester at 2pm so I needed to have an early lunch. I’d luckily had an early breakfast so this worked out nicely…Until the prospective date cancelled at the last minute saying his mum wasn’t well and her partner had asked him to look after her at the last minute as he wasn’t there. I’d practically given myself indigestion trying to eat as quickly as I could to make the time. *Sighs* I’d washed my hair, put a nice outfit on and made some actual effort…for it to be wasted. Oh well! I went shopping with my mum instead. Hey hum.

Do you do any marshalling at races?

Have you been to the O2 before?

Have you ever had a date cancel on you?