Upton House parkrun and so much food

This weekend I managed to tick yet another parkrun letter off my parkrun Alphabet Challenge. I went to Upton House parkrun to get my U. It’s down in Poole, which is just over hour away from me. I few of us from my club decided to make a pilgrimage down there for some parkrun tourism and a spot of brunch.

On Saturday morning I got up at 6.20am to walk Alfie (a good test of seeing what the weather is like and how my leg felt). It was beautiful outside. Cold, but clear and still. Perfect running conditions. It was getting light as well which just makes me so happy. Spring is definitely on its way! Then I got myself together and drove to my friend’s Mike house so he could then drive the rest of the way.More chance of us actually arriving at the correct place that way, let’s be honest.
We did actually arrive a little too early at 8.15am. The others who we were meeting had arrived too so we sat, car side by side, in the car park (which is huge FYI and only a £1) keeping warm.Upton House parkrun is located in the Upton Country Park, a National Trust spot.It was such a lovely location and the sun was shining which made things very pleasant. There were toilets there as well so that was handy for a pre-parkrun wee.After the briefing, we headed to the start which was really narrow. Mike, Jim and I decided to move a bit closer to the front as it was so packed (not with the numbers of runners really, as there were only just under 300 people) but because the path was fairly narrow.We still had to wend our way around people when we started but after a few hundred metres it spaced out and we had enough room to pick up the pace a bit. Happily my leg felt fine and I just felt so happy to be running again.The course is one big loop, one smaller loop and then the first big loop again. I love this style of parkrun because it means you don’t get bored and having the break between the same two loops means it’s not as repetitive. It’s run on trails – a compacted stony trail which is great to run on.The route is very pretty and scenic. It starts within a woodland area then stretches out onto some grassland area where you run past some cows (within an enclosure) and then past a beautiful lake.It was lovely, really lovely. It’s mostly flat but there were a couple of undulations but really nothing crazy. In fact the start is very much downhill so you can gain some good speed.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Somers

Mike, Jim and I kept together as we ran and kept up the odd bit of conversation but I could feel that I’ve lost a lot of fitness. But to be honest, I don’t care because running without issue is my main goal right now. I could feel my hamstring crop up a little but I didn’t mind that as I’d rather it be my hamstring than calf as I know how to help my hamstring, whereas my calf has been a bit of a puzzle.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Somers

I slightly pulled ahead of the two fellas and stretched my legs a bit, everything still feeling reasonable. But as we hit the final hill to then head to the finish Jim stormed past me. Apparently he’d realised I wasn’t as strong on the hills and decided to use it to his advantage at the end. Crafty but fair play! I couldn’t have caught him if I’d have wanted to.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Somers

In the end I finished with 23:13 feeling very happy. All my bits and pieces felt fine and I’d gotten my U! The others all said the same thing: Upton House parkrun is a beautiful and friendly course. I really wish it was closer as honestly I’d do this one all the time if I could. I loved it. OK perhaps the good weather helped but it just seemed like such a great set-up with how the loops worked. I signed the guest book (another nice touch at a parkrun) and chatted to some of the local runners. I mentioned about the parkrun Alphabet Challenge and they were quite bemused. Clearly not a very well known thing perhaps!Then we headed to the tearoom literally a stone throw’s away and had a nice cup of coffee and a natter.Sadly the tea room didn’t do anything more elaborate than toast or cake for breakfast so Mike and me decided to hunt out something more substantial on the way back home. Brunch was definitely in order!

 

We found a Haskins Garden Centre not too far down the road with a fantastic restaurant serving a good selection of hot and cold breakfast material. We went for the “8 piece” breakfast (you could pick the items you wanted).I loved that they had black pudding (a weakness of mine) but the scrambled egg was rather rubbery and tasteless. But otherwise it was a very yummy and sustaining breakfast.A very lovely morning indeed. I spent the rest of the day doing some deep cleaning in the house. I was just in one of those moods where I needed to busy myself and expel a load of energy. I do quite enjoy cleaning so it was nice to just put some music on and do some cleaning that doesn’t get done that often (like cupboards and hard to reach places…with dogs it’s hard to keep everything pristine!)

That evening my parents and I went to the Chilworth Arms for dinner to celebrate my dad’s birthday which had been on the Wednesday. I always feel sorry for my dad because sharing his birthday with Valentine’s Day always makes going out for a nice meal a bit tricky as everyone else seems to be doing that too and you usually get some generic set menus themed around it, which I always find a bit lame. And plus, because my parents are so disgustingly in love, my dad likes to treat my mum so really he doesn’t get the sole attention he deserves.
I hadn’t eaten since the earlier brunch (though it had been a large brunch of course) I was now really ready for food. Though my parents are still on the Slimming World wagon they decided to just enjoy a nice meal out without worrying too much about Syns and things like that. So we ordered a baked Camembert and a “grazing” sharing platter, which had lots of different meaty bits and pieces like chicken, lamb koftas, chorizo and pulled pork croquettes.

It was all so tasty. And happily the grazing platter had more than two of most things (food anxiety of sharing swerved…ha). I probably ate about 3/4 of the Camembert though. My stomach knows no bounds clearly as I was then very much ready for the main. Although I was initially tempted by the spit-roasted chicken I decided to step out of my standard food choice box and order something different. I went for the pan-friend venison and it was delicious. The gravy (jus? sauce?) was SO good.

A nice change! I should do this more often… Though saying that, I chose a different pudding than I’d have normally gone for too. Instead of being tempted by the brownie (always a safe tho delicious choice for me) I decided on having the apple and berry crumble (with ice cream not custard tho). It was fantastic!

My dad went for something a bit more extravagant with the chocolate orange bomb. Even though this sounded delicious, I really can’t stand chocolate orange together. It came out and the waitress poured molten chocolate sauce over the chocolate sphere thing. It eventually collapsed and melted. It was rather impressive. It left a few big chocolate chunks in a bowl of what looked like chocolate soup. My dad loved it for all of about three spoonful until it started to get sickly and too much. I was so impressed with him. In another life it seems this was the man who was able to eat entire packets of chocolate biscuits. He said he didn’t want to carry on eating it in fear that it would put him off chocolate forever ha.

The next morning I was supposed to run a few miles with Mike. We had both said we’d confirm for definite before 9am if we both fancied it as he had a slightly niggling hamstring and I wasn’t sure how everything for me would feel post-parkrun. Sadly Mike bailed as his hamstring wasn’t good. I’d slept badly that night – you know when you wake up mid-sleep and stare at the ceiling for an hour? Yeah that’s fun. So I was quite glad to roll back over and have a more lazy morning, rather than being on a timescale to get somewhere to meet someone.

In the end I headed out around 9.30am. I didn’t know how far I’d go as I didn’t want to stress my leg out. In the end I decided around 4 miles was good. My hamstring didn’t feel amazing, but it didn’t get worse. My calf felt fine. I’m happy with that outcome because I know how to help my hamstring whereas for my calf I’m literally in the dark. The hamstring is something I’ve had to deal with for a while and know what stretches and exercises to do and trigger points to work on. I just need to not aggravate it too much to mean I need to take a lot of time off to let it calm down, if that makes sense. Trying to keep it manageable for the moment.I went to the gym afterwards to do a bit of what I call “topping up” cardio as I want to maintain a level of fitness for any long runs. It also helps my sanity a bit – it’s standard ‘Anna Behaviour’ to over-worry about things like upcoming marathons, so doing this sort of thing calms those inner demons. Especially when I compare myself to other people doing the same marathon or marathons around the same time. Plus as I only let myself watch Peaky Blinders on the cross-trainer at the gym (to keep me from despising that machine and have positive connotations towards it) it was a fun 50 minutes.

So other than some more cleaning/sorting and usual jobs I needed to do, my Sunday was pretty chilled and relaxing.

Do you have any standard food orders you make at a restaurant?

Have you ever done a parkrun that you wish was closer to where you live?

Do you watch anything when you use a cardio machine at the gym?

Birthday celebrations – friends, running and ALL the food

This weekend was a scorcher! I was so pleased the weather was good as I was off to London on Friday afternoon to see my friends to celebrate my birthday (which is today…booo! On a Monday!).

I headed up to London on the train and met my lovely friend, Charlotte, for dinner. We decided to go for a Mexican meal and it fully hit the spot! Charlotte’s just changed from being a veggie to eating meat, and this still blows my mind. She ordered a chicken skewer and chicken tacos, while I ordered chicken wings and chicken fajitas.It was SO good. It fully hit the spot of what I wanted that evening. I even got to finish off Charlotte’s skewer as it was just a bit “too meaty” for her (she’s still adjusting to being non-veggie) and she’s also a normal person who doesn’t eat stupid amounts like I do! And of course, a cheeky frozen margarita was in order.

And what finishes dinner perfectly? Some pudding of course! I was on the hunt for something tasty…and found a lovely little waffle and dessert cafe to satisfy my cravings.From there we headed to some bars for drinks and then met our other friend Laura, who lives in London, and headed to Camden for some dancing. It was such a fun evening. I’ve been feeling a bit stressed and a bit frustrated with a few things so this was EXACTLY what I needed. We got to Laura’s, where we were to be staying overnight, at 2.30am. Pooped!

Now being the running-obsessed person I am, I had my alarm set for 7.30am to head to Wormwood Scrubs to meet our other friend, Kate, for some parkrun tourism. She’d driven down from Bristol and had found Wormwood Scrubs parkrun was the easiest for her to get to and a good spot for her to leave her car without paying a fortune. Also, she spec’ed out the place and found that the local running clubhouse had showers! So she brought me a towel and some shower gel to use, bless her.

When my alarm went off at 7.30am I was a little worse for wear but got myself together to leave by 7.45am and onto the tube. I was a bit of a walking zombie but got there on time and with no issues. Have I finally become a real adult!?Wormwood Scrubs is next to a huge prison (you can see it in the bottom left photo above). I had no idea but it was literally right next to the park. Interesting!Wormwood Scrubs parkrun is all run on grass and is 2.5 laps. It’s a bit uneven underfoot and though it appears flat, does actually have some deceptively sneaky inclines. I was having some serious hay fever issues that morning (damn Stingy Anna for buying Tesco’s own hay fever tablet) so this was giving me problems. Lots of sneezing and my eyes were SO itchy. Being in the middle of a field didn’t help.Nothing huge or could be called a hill, but it does increase the effort level. Considering I was feeling a bit, er, tender and the temperature was already at 23 degrees I made the sensible decision to go easy. Actually, that’s a lie; I couldn’t have gone faster even if I tried!!

I finished drenched in sweat and glad to stop. That was a tough one! I got 23:07 and was happy with that!

Sadly my friend Kate lost her footing a bit and hurt her calf. She had to walk a fair bit of it. But she powered through. Hopefully it’ll heal up quickly – we have another obstacle race soon!Wormwood is a really small parkrun. They regularly get less than 100 people there each week (it was actually a course attendance record on Saturday with 107 people). It was very friendly and felt very welcoming. It was nice to go to such a small one. It gives it a nice community spirit feel.

Thankfully we were able to find and use the showers in the nearby sports area. They were very basic but they did the job! Very grateful for Kate bringing her shower stuff as otherwise we’d have had to have been sweaty all day because we weren’t going back to Laura’s. Instead, after showering, we headed to Covent Garden to meet Laura and Charlotte again. They had had a lie-in (very jealous) and were feeling a bit more refreshed than I did when I woke!

We then headed away from the main Covent Garden area to look for somewhere for brunch. It was now past 11 and we were all hungry. I spotted a nice looking place but it was heaving and had no seats so we headed to a pub across the road. It was empty. I was dubious. But with no other nearby options we decided to go for it. I am SO pleased we did. And, to be fair, it wasn’t exactly peak pub time so you can’t really blame it for not being busy!

I ordered a Full English (of course) and honestly it ranks as one of my top three Full Englishes, EVER.It came with home-made hash browns. Normally I’m not a hash brown fan but home-made? I thought I’d give them a go. And I’m so glad I did!

The whole meal was incredible. Te beans were homemade and had a slightly spicy kick. Everything tasted amazing. I was definitely well refuelled!

We then walked to Green Park (with iced Starbucks, it was SO hot) and relaxed. We passed through Leicester Square and saw them setting up the premier for the new Transformers film. Very cool (though I don’t actually like the films. Urgh Michael Bay).It was such a beautiful day and so nice to catch up and chat with my friends. We weren’t a full group as one of our friends has just recently had a baby (this blows my mind) but it was nice to see the other girls.

Then we headed back to Covent Garden to indulge in a very tasty treat. This was my only request for our time in London, having seen these bad boys on Instagram and heard about how tasty they are. Freakshakes from Maxwell’s. Oh. My. God.A salted caramel milkshake with a salted caramel donut on top. My gawwwwwwd it was So good.I mean, I was covered in stickiness trying to eat this but it was phenomenal. And yes, I finished it! A perfect end to what was a really lovely, lovely birthday celebration. Even without all the amazing food, it was just so nice to have a beautifully sunny weekend chilling (and dancing!) with my friends. I went home very happy (and possibly in a deep sugar coma).

Have you ever had a freakshake?

If you had good weather, how did you enjoy it?

Have you ever seen a film premier?

Bouldering (Birthday weekend–part 2)

Having the birthday that I have (19th June) means it often falls on or is around Father’s Day. I was actually born on Father’s Day and my dad always says it was the nicest present to have gotten (ha, take that Big Sis Winking smile).

Since I did most of my celebrating the day before and my dad and me had done a dual celebration a few weeks ago (Nando’s and cinema – two of our loves), we hadn’t planned anything concrete for the actual Sunday. My dad and me had a nice walk down the beach with the dogs while we waited for my mum to finish at church (my dad and me aren’t religious). Then, with my mum, we went for a little mosey round the shops and they treated to me to a Starbucks. They also got me a brand new travel coffee cup as well as I broke my last one (I’m notoriously clumsy and dropped it).

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It’s cool that Starbucks sell smoothie drinks now with ACTUAL fruit in them. You just take a plastic cup of the fruit to the till and they blend it up.

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My dad had one of those while I had my usual Americano. My parents each had a slice of cake but I resisted the temptation, which actually wasn’t that hard as I was still recovering from the mammoth meal the day before…

Then I went on my merry little way to my bouldering induction. After my booking fail of last weekend I was really keen to make this one! Though not actual rock climbing (with harnesses) it was the next best thing I could do within a short notice (I’ve got rock climbing this weekend).

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It was based at a place called Red Spider in Fareham. I paid £15 for a one-on-one introduction to bouldering session (lasting an hour). The instructor who took it, a lovely guy named Chris, was really good. Very friendly and thorough, especially with safety which is obvious paramount as you don’t have a harness and you are climbing fairly high!

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Yes there is a cushioned mat underneath the wall but that minimises the impact rather than acts as a safety net. You’ll still get injured or cause yourself damage by falling or dropping incorrectly from the wall.

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Anyway he got me to warm up by following him through the kid’s climbing area which was highly amusing. We were going up and down these twisty passages (which were actually quite narrow!) and then up slides and things like that. Seemed random but I understood the logic – bouldering uses pretty much your entire body and scampering up and down the kid’s play area was working all our muscles dynamically but safely. Then we started on a wall that was standing height so I could get used to the grips and foot placing. I seemed to do alright and he said my technique and strength was good so we moved quickly on.

IMG_2307After the session on my own

The climbing wall has lots of different ‘problems’ (routes to climb the wall) and each problem is categorised between V0-V5, V5 being the hardest and they’re indicated by colours. You then follow (or attempt to follow) the colour of the holds (the things you grab onto and/or put your feet onto). You can only use the colour holds that are for that problem. So obviously we started on the V0s to get used to climbing up and down. I found this quite easy (not to beat my own drum!) and we moved on to harder ones.

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It obviously helps that I have a fitness background – being a runner means I have strong legs and a high endurance for effort and all my gym work has improved my strength, especially in my arms and core. I also like to think that since my grandad was a proficient climber (he’s written two books about it and is in Wikipedia!) that something may have trickled down into my genes Winking smile

I still found it tough though and on the tricky ones he would explain or demonstrate how to do certain routes, which gave me a range of skills that I could learn and work on. Though obviously I know rock climbing and bouldering has a lot of skill involved, it was fascinating to realise it was a lot more than just having a strong grip and strong arms! There was so much core strength and mental ability required to work out the best way to navigate up. Using your hips as a centre of gravity and twisting your body to get the right balance to get to the next grip. A lot of balance and stability was required.

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Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I got a super pump from it and I was buzzing. It was amazing how quickly it became a tough workout as well when you went from the easy problems to the harder ones. And the genuine fear of falling was always there. After we finished the session I carried on by myself for about half an hour doing the ones we’d gone through.

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What I also loved about it was how social it was. There were lots of other people there climbing and everyone was so nice. When I got stuck trying to get past a problem, someone was always there to help me out and explain the best way to do it.

I left buzzing and wanting to go back as soon as possible. I’m going to try rock climbing as well but bouldering seems a bit more accessible as I don’t need to worry about having someone to help with a belay. But I’ll see what the rock climbing is like. This is something I really hope to continue. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously still love running but for my sanity I need something else I can enjoy when I can’t run. I like going to the gym but it’s not exactly something you can go and do for fun per se. Bouldering is definitely something I can go off and do on my own and enjoy myself on afternoon.

Have you ever done rock climbing or bouldering before?

What are your hobbies?

What’s your favourite coffee shop? I know it’s so commercial, but I do love Starbucks.

Birthday weekend–part 1

And just like that I’m another year older… I turned 28 yesterday. I’d like to think that I’m wiser and have it all figured out but I absolutely don’t. But I’m happy and enjoying life so I’ll take that!

For the Saturday I had a few of my university friends down. Kate and Jamie (I went on holiday last year with them to Orlando) came down earlier so they could join me at parkrun. Now this is a BIG DEAL. This is the couple who laughed at me for going to parkrun when we were on holiday together. They were the least likely out of all my non-running friends to want to do parkrun. But, major kudos to them, they’ve started running and eating better in order to lose a bit of weight and get a bit more healthy. Jamie has lost FIVE STONE and Kate has lost (I think) over two stone. They’ve both also been doing the Couch to 5K programme and Kate had timed it perfectly as to use parkrun for my birthday weekend as her target.

They got to mine just before 8am and we headed down to Lee-On-Solent parkrun. Ordinarily I do Netley but Kate wanted a nice flat course and my dad was going to do Lee as well as my friend, Mat, who was down from Cheltenham for the week so it made sense.

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It was a beautifully sunny day. I was a bit worried about my hamstring but I’d done a quick tester run when I walked Alfie in the morning and it held up OK. Not perfect but alright.

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I’d planned to take the run nice and slowly and stop if at any point it became bad.

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It was quite amusing to see Jamie and Kate’s reaction to parkrun. They tend to run very early in the morning and never with other people. They genuinely thought they’d be about 12 people at parkrun. Jamie said he was shocked that one minute there were a couple of people and then the next there were hundreds. They were literally taken aback by the amount of lycra and colour about.

The start was a little bit hectic I must admit. There was over 300 people and we were all bunched together. It involved a lot of negotiating around people and trying not to trip over anyone else or be tripped up. But eventually it evened out and there was enough space.

I found a nice easy rhythm. I wasn’t pushing it or feeling out of breath and the hamstring felt OK. I was surprised to see I was running around 8 minute miles.

FullSizeRenderPhoto credit: Eileen Bartlett

Lee’s a good course as you can see runners ahead and behind so I could cheer people on and spot people I knew.

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I’d say the hamstring felt 80% OK. It niggled slightly towards the end but there was no pain, just felt uncomfortable. It just annoys me though as it doesn’t make for a great run as I’m constantly thinking about it and not wanting to push myself to go fast because I don’t want to annoy it. But least it was better than it has been! I finished in 24:15 which felt nice and comfortable.

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Mat had already finished in a great time of 20:50 so we walked together to walk my dad in. He was power walking the course and desperate to beat his last time of 51:12. He was finding it tough but the tail runner was apparently really good at keeping him going.

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Towards the end, he picked up speed, overtook another guy and sprinted to the finish. Everyone cheered him in and it was lovely.

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And he completed it in 50:16 so almost a minute off his time! He was made up Smile Kate squeaked under her goal of sub-35 by getting 34:57 and Jamie got 33:58. The absolute best part was hearing how much they loved it. Kate and Jamie are now full-on parkrun converts. On the way home they were already planning their next one (depressingly their local one was Little Stoke so now their nearest one is about 20 minutes away). Jamie was already commenting how he felt he could run further when he finished as well. YES!!! Converting my non-running friends one person at a time Winking smile

We got back to mine, showered and then my friend Shell and her fiancé, Rob, showed up to join the fun. Again, hearing them tell Rob and Shell how good parkrun was just made my day. A year ago there was nothing I could say that would persuade them that running could be enjoyable. People have to find out for themselves.

I had booked my latest favourite restaurant for lunch and we were all pretty excited. After catching up and walking Alfie and Kate’s pug, Doug, we headed to Sadlers in Southampton.

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As I’ve mentioned before, Sadlers is THE restaurant for meat (though they also have a strong vegetarian section of the menu too). The last time I went was INCREDIBLE. My friends love BBQ food too so it made sense to go here. I decided to go for the ribs rather than the platter this time as, though the platter is amazing, I was really craving ribs. And they did not disappoint.

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HUGE chunks of meaty ribs on top of chips, salad, coleslaw and cornbread. I didn’t even touch the chips. There was just too much meat (which, by the way, is not an issue).

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So tasty. Shell and Rob also went with the ribs and Jamie and Kate shared the platter.

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Ridiculously (and foolishly) Shell, Rob and I ordered sides as well. Shell and Rob went for some pulled pork and I went for some chicken wings and we ordered the bourbon BBQ sauce to go alongside. (Greed took over sanity here as you can probably tell…).

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Yeah I didn’t even touch those wings. There was just far too much going on my plate. And, amazingly for me, I couldn’t finish the ribs. I was beaten! Everyone was. Happily Kate and Jamie said I could take their leftovers home so I took a swan of shame back with me.

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Needless to say my freezer is now joyfully stocked with some smoked turkey, gammon, wings, hot link sausages and pulled pork. Happy days!

As we sat there afterwards chatting and basically recovering from the meal, the waitress appeared with a cake with lit candles and they all started singing happy birthday to me. It was such a surprise and so lovely!

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To be honest, I think the last thing we all wanted was a slice of chocolate cake. But you gotta take one for the team right?? Winking smile

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The chocolate cupcakes on top were filled with delicious buttercream. We were literally DONE after having a slice.

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We spent a long time at my flat just laying around chatting and digesting. We probably could have napped! It was such a great day. And to top it off they got me some super cool Superdry workout gear.

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Because what else would you buy me?? So, an absolutely perfect Saturday.

What is your perfect way to spend your birthday?

Have you converted any non-runners to runners?

What’s your perfect birthday gift?

Conwy parkrun and family time

And I’m back in England again after a flying visit to Wales this weekend. I travelled up to North Wales, Llandudno, with my dad to see my grandparents. Originally my mum was meant to come too but for various reasons she couldn’t unfortunately.

My dad and me drove together straight from work on Friday evening and got to Llandudno just after 10pm. After a quick catch-up with my grandparents I headed to bed – after over four hours of being in the car! The next morning the plan was to head to the very local Conwy parkrun. As it was just a five minute drive from the house it meant we didn’t need to leave until 8.20am and even then we when arrived we sat in the car for a little bit to keep warm. It was such a luxury to not have to get there early to set-up the course! (Though I did miss the social side of Netley parkrun).IMG_8338

The parkrun is located just next to the RSPB Nature Reserve (which I visited a few years ago on a different visit). It was easy to park (for free!) and the views were fantastic. It was a beautiful crisp and clear day and you could see out to Conwy castle and the surrounding areas.

IMG_8341The gate is where the parkrun begins, Conwy castle in the distance

My grandad and dad had come to support me which was lovely. I think my grandad was a little shocked that I wasn’t wearing warmer clothes but I assured him that within a few minutes of running I’d be lovely and warm – especially doing a 5k! He used to be a mountain climber and guide so proper equipment and clothing is vital to him.

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My plan was to give it a blast but not be stupid due to my long run planned tomorrow. But I did want to make the most of the flat course to see where my fitness was sat.

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I also had my music with me for a change to help motivate me to run fast. After a gentle warm-up and the race brief we off. Annoyingly I should have started a bit closer to the front as I had to weave in and out of people. It’s always tricky to judge where to start at a new parkrun!

The route is very simple, you head out alongside the Conwy River on a compacted dirt track, have a brief moment of pain as you go over the footbridge over the main road, then turn left to do a quick out and back to the Conwy Castle, then continue alongside the river before turning around and going back over the footbridge and back to the finish. It’s super flat (bar the bridge) and great to stretch the legs on. It was a little windy but nothing major. I’d say I felt comfortably steady for 80% of the run but had to dig deep and ride the pain train for the last stretch.IMG_8387

Photo credit: Steve Jeffrey Photography

I knew I was second female as I’d seen the first female ahead of me on the out and back but I managed to catch her up a little bit and she finished 20 seconds ahead. She was wearing a hoodie which leads me to believe she might have been taking it easy!

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My time was 21:40 with an overall place of 17/202 (one of my best finishes!). I also managed another royal flush negative split which continues to surprise me!

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The Conwy parkrun was very friendly and welcoming and had a fantastic course really showing some beautiful scenery. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the area. There’s also a lovely cafe at the Nature Reserve to go afterwards (we didn’t, we went straight home as we were cold).

The entire weekend’s weather in Llandudno was really good. Beautifully sunny though very cold. Conwy parkrun wasn’t that windy (though the next day it was), whereas at Netley, my usual parkrun, it was cold, wet and miserable. Apparently it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Very odd that for once Wales had the better weather!

The rest of the day we spent doing some odd bits of shopping and walking around Conwy. Conwy is known for its mussels so I had to take a photo of the HUGE bag I saw next to the water. They’re sustainably hand-raked.IMG_8356If I lived in Conwy I think I’d be eating them all the time! Anyway, it was a nice relaxed day.

That evening, as a normal tradition when we visit my grandparents, we went to their favourite Indian restaurant. Perhaps not the wisest choice before my planned 18 miles the next day but I know exactly what to order that won’t upset my stomach.IMG_8357

Tandoori chicken and an onion salad – my usual! With poppadum and a mixed kebab starter. Half way through the meal the owner of the restaurant came over and presented us with a bottle of champagne. We all looked at each other a bit confused as we hadn’t ordered it. He said it was because we were celebrating a special birthday. Well, we were – it was my dad’s birthday the next day, we were just confused as to how he knew! And then at the end of the meal he brought over a chocolate cake with candles and they sang him happy birthday. Though it was obviously very nice, we were still confused as to how he knew.

My dad then received a phone call from my mum saying she’d planned it! How lovely! My dad was so touched. Strangely though, my mum hadn’t paid and when my dad tried to pay they refused. How bizarre!

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Obviously we all had some chocolate cake to finish off the meal.

I’ll do a recap of the next day (well, the long run I had planned) as this post is getting quite long and I have a lot to say about the run. But as a synopsis for the entire weekend, it was fantastic. I love seeing my grandparents. My grandad is very similar to me in his personality and how much he enjoys staying active and being outside. He’s 83 years old but he’s not stopping yet!

Have you been to Wales before?

Do you enjoy seafood?

Have you ever had a birthday surprise?