Southwark parkrun – my fastest parkrun in AGES

On Saturday I got up at the ridiculous time of 5.55am to get the 6.39am train to Waterloo. Normally I tend to get up earlier in the week if I go to the gym (*cough* an hour earlier than this) but at the weekend getting up super early just feels SO much worse. I do like my sleep!

But anyway I was off for a fun day in London so once the initial “oh my God it’s so early” feeling had passed and I was up and ready to go, coffee in hand, I was fine. I was going to meet up with my friend James (a fellow Marathon Talk lover whom I’d met at the Skidrow Marathon film showing in London a few months ago).I’d downloaded Hunt for the Wilderpeople on my iPad and once I was set up on the train I just eased into a nice relaxing journey (after loving Thor so much I was keen to see other films by Taika Waititi – by the way, Hunt for the Wilderpeople was BRILLIANT).

I got to Waterloo and met with James (he’d come from Birmingham) and we headed to the tube to get to Southwark parkrun. My train had arrived at 8.25am so we were needing to be fairly speedy about getting there, bu the tube journey wasn’t supposed to take long at all thankfully. Though we would have been fine had we not have randomly gotten out at the Southwark station and then realised we were still three miles from Southwark park. Oops. So we had to quickly dash back down to the tube and then get off at the RIGHT stop (Canada Wharf). I’m so glad I’m not the only person who does these sort of silly things – or maybe it’s my presence that causes it?We arrived at the park with literally less than 10 minutes to spare. We both lamented the fact that we needed a wee but just had no time. We found an ideal tree to dump our bags (I tried not to worry that I had my iPad in there and we were in London…but it was amongst loads of other bags so I just hoped for the best!)James and I had talked tactics beforehand, discussing what kind of times we were aiming for. He’s super fast (we’re talking a sub 19 minute 5k’er) so was aiming for sub-19. I was thinking I wanted to see how fast I could do after some really consistent running and speedwork lately. I haven’t done a flat parkrun in ages and I knew Southwark was supposed to be a good one. I said to James I hoped for a 21:30 as I was recently doing 21:40ish for fairly flat parkruns. He told me I couldn’t have brunch if my time had 22 at the start. He was joking ūüėČ but I knew I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t close to 21 minutes… maybe sub 21:20.Very soon after we’d arrived we were lining up and off we went. The course at Southwark is lovely. It’s all on concrete (which I don’t mind at all – no tricky areas underfoot) and it is indeed very flat. It goes around a lovely pond and it’s beautiful with lots of trees and foliage. It’s three laps, which I was slightly disheartened by as I find them mentally tough, but actually it was quite nice. Though it was somewhat amusing to see a guy in front of me try and finish on his second lap and the marshals explaining to him that he had another to go. Maybe he regretted his sprint (fake) finish…

What’s also nice about the course is that you can see other parts of the course while you’re running so James and I could shout over to each other at different parts as we ran. I saw my Garmin was hovering around 6.45min/miles and I decided to cling on to that for as long as I could. I didn’t feel terrible and I wasn’t dying so I felt like I could maintain that speed (at least for 5k anyway!). My only main worry was the fact I still needed a pee…it was dangerous territory to push the pace any more! I’m not sure I could have gone much faster though.I felt very much in control of the run though which was amazing. I remember thinking, “this is the best feeling in the world; to be running the fastest I’ve run in AGES and feeling everything working as it should and feeling strong”. I might have cursed myself with such thinking, who knows.I sprinted to the end, stopped my watch and promptly bent over next to a tree thinking “this is the WORST feeling in the world”. That horrible sprinting, lactic acid, everything hurts kind of fast running induced feeling. But it disappears quickly and I glanced at my Garmin.
IT STARTED WITH A 20. WHAT! And not just sub-21 minutes… actually well into the 20s. SUB 20:30! I was OVER THE MOON. 20:27, third female and 40th overall. I will damn straight take that!I saw James who’d finished already of course (thanks, James, for the pics!) and he told me he’d PB’ed! 18:47 – amazing time!! So fast. So we were both very pleased.
Randomly a lovely chap came over to us and gave us a leaflet about a running event and then offered us some banana bread. I will take any cake that is offered to me, regardless of who it is. You might be a full-on stranger, but I will take your free cake, thank you very much.Sadly it was a little dry though! But hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Especially when your friend also brought cake ūüėČVery tasty white chocolate chip brownies! Well, you absolutely can’t beat a bit of homemade cake after a very successful parkrun. My smile couldn’t have been wider.

After collecting ourselves and putting some clothes back on (hilariously James threw on a “I hate running” t-shirt) we headed towards the river to eventually get to some brunch. The walk was lovely to stretch our legs after a speedy run and we took some photos and chatted away.The views were beautiful. It really was a fantastic walk. It was chilly but I was OK in my shirt, jacket and coat while my legs were fine weirdly enough.James did laugh a little at just how many photos I take… I know I’m ridiculous sometimes but I just love having the photos to keep as memories later on (and of course for my blog). Now that I have so much memory on my phone (I used to have 16GB, I now have 128GB) I can keep them on my phone without having to delete any. I like to look back at them ūüôā We also found Paddington!Ahh how cool is that! I want to see Paddington 2 at some point as I so much enjoyed the first one.

Finally we got to The Breakfast Club, where we were going to get some brunch, but I was so dismayed to see such a giant line outside it!James made the executive decision that we’d wait – and I was grateful he did that because I have no patience and would have just wandered off elsewhere to somewhere not as good. I mean, all it meant was standing and chatting for a bit which, considering we’d met up to catch-up, seemed like a fairly decent way to spend some time! It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too cold. And the nice hostess from the restaurant brought out hot chocolates for everyone in the queue!
I mean, how good is that? They even had marshmallows in them. Delicious. Around 40 minutes passed very quickly and we were inside picking from some delicious options. I decided to forgo my usual fry-up and decided instead for Beer Cheese Benedict (with a side of bacon). It was INCREDIBLE. To save on calories I went for roasted butternut squash instead of the breakfast muffin though (ha I’m fully joking here, I genuinely liked the sound of the butternut squash better). James got the chorizo burrito (I had a little bit of food envy it must be said). We also ordered a serving of banoffee pancakes to share (without the banana as we’re both not big banana fans). Basically big fluffy pancakes with salted caramel and chocolate sauce with vanilla cream.My god it was good. The Benedict was rather rich but it was fantastic. We we were both full to the brim by the end. So obviously the next thing to do in that sort of situation is to head to the Borough Market and walk round food stalls…¬†There was so much good food on offer… stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, SO much cheese, mushrooms, condiments, Prosecco, bread. But I couldn’t see any sweet stalls or cakes. We hunted around for ages until we eventually asked one of the cheese stall guys (I reasoned that he wouldn’t be offended as it wasn’t like we were asking about other cheese stalls). He pointed us in the right direction. The cake stalls were indeed very good but there still weren’t that many which I was surprised about (though there were a few tasters!). We both really fancied buying some cake but nothing looked that good (and at ¬£3 a doughnut, quite expensive!).

I’d previously done a bit of research before this trip to find decent food spots (one of my favourite things to do before a trip) and I remembered seeing a bakery that looked amazing called Konditor & Cook. The cakes looked AMAZING and were reasonably priced. There were also samples so I was very happy.I went for a Fudgepacker brownie (as named because 20p goes towards a gay right’s charity), which was salted caramel…omgawwd and a slice of the red velvet cake. I could have bought so much more though.I was so stuffed though that I packaged them away into my bag to go promptly into the freezer at home for another time. I CANNOT WAIT. And then James and me headed back to Waterloo to say our goodbyes. Such a fantastic day. I mean, good company, parkrun, brunch and cake. Can you really do better?

I was adequately fuelled for the next day’s 17 miles (which would include the infamous Gosport Half Marathon, which I’ve entered four times and never run).

Would you wait in a queue for a restaurant?

What London parkruns have you done?

Do you lie-in at the weekend?

A long run and cake – what’s new?

This weekend was quite a busy one! I was off to London on Saturday and then Sunday I was seeing my uni friends. And somewhere in there I had to run 16 miles… which would be my last long run before the New Forest Marathon next weekend. Non-negotiable!

I had a bit more time on my side on Saturday morning than Sunday and handily my friend Mark was planning a long run then so it made sense to join him. And as Mark is far more organised and better at adulting than I am, he planned the route and just told me where and when I needed to be. As he only wanted to do 13 miles and I wanted 16 I ran a few miles beforehand – basically just to the meeting point which he’d expertly made the right distance for me. What a star.

Unfortunately that meant leaving at 6.45am to get in Netley parkrun at the end (part of the route). But as I had a lie in the next day it was fine. Plus it would be a lot cooler than running later (yes, Mike, I KNOW. Sometimes you do need to get up early to beat the heat….).

My route to Mark was pretty much entirely uphill so was a bit of a slog. I listened to a podcast and ignored my pace. I was tired in general and my legs needed warming up. I amazingly made it on time and at the right location to meet Mark and we headed off to begin the next section of the run (well, Mark’s first section, my second section). It started with another slog uphill but otherwise was generally fairly flat thankfully.

Mark was great to run with. He’s usually super fast (aiming to break the 17 min 5k soon) but he happily (so he says) slowed down for me. He had a five mile race the next day so apparently it worked well for him (FYI, he smashed the race the next day but he did say he wasn’t sure it was wise to run so far as his legs felt quite tired during the race…).The weather was lovely and cool, though it did get sunnier and warmer as the run continued. I didn’t take water with me as it was cooler but when we got to Netley – 8.45am nicely timed – I was thirsty. I thought the cafe would be open but it wasn’t and toilet taps had a ‘no drinking water’ sign. I’ll drink from a dodgy tap on the beach but when there’s a sign I stay clear away! I spotted a waitress in the cafe though and tapped on the door and asked for some tap water. She happily obliged, taking pity on the sweaty runner, and I drank a big pint of cold water. Bliss! Thank you cafe lady!

Mark, Chris and me

And then it was time for parkrun. Now my legs were tired and I was not looking forward to getting going again. I ran with Mike who was taking it easier due to next week’s marathon.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

Mike’s training has gone superbly for this marathon and I imagine he’ll be the one pacing ME when it comes down to it since I’ve not exactly had the most ideal lead up! We plodded around chatting (I say plodded, this is just my plod speed – everyone is different). I felt better as the legs got going and I finished 25:45. 16 miles done!A lovely lady, Lizzie, who I’d been chatting to on Instagram said hi to me and we chatted afterwards, which was nice. It was great to finally meet her as we’d been meaning to face-to-face meet for a while now but our timings and parkruns had never matched up. She’s recently joined the Hedge End Running Club as well ūüôā

My other friend, Lauren, also brought me some of her own grown apples (eating ones as well!). I was so excited… And then forgot them when I got a lift back with another friend. Damn! Luckily Mike picked them up for me. What an idiot!Netley parkrun has just acquired its first PB bell as well which is cool. Along with our monthly pacing event, it’s really moving up in the world.I’m very proud to call it my home parkrun. But there are still so many nearby I need to do as well.

I also had some fun trying on my friend’s Garmin Fenix 5X to see how it sat on my wrist. I jokingly put my other watches on with as well. I wear two watches when I run because I like to keep a track of my steps with my FitBit ¬†Surge and I like to track my run with my Garmin 220. The Fenix though would do both but it’s just SO expensive (even with a Wiggle discount…). One day.

I handily got a lift back with my friend as I was carless due to running to parkrun (I had arranged a lift before running there. I’m not quite that slapdash with all things in life…).

I had to get back fairly promptly to catch the train to London. I¬†was heading to the Marathon Talk event to see the running-based film Skid Row Marathon. It’s a documentary about a criminal court judge who starts a running club in LA for ex-convicts and addicts, called the Midnight Mission, and how they train for a marathon. I was quite intrigued about the film but if I’m honest I was more excited about meeting up with fellow Marathon Talkers. There were quite a few of the guys I went on the Austrian Run Camp earlier this year and a few other people I knew going (including Maria from Maria Runs blog!).

Marathon Talk is a running podcast and organise the annual Sandy Balls running camp and I’ve met so many fantastic people through these events. So it’s always great to meet up with them and meet other like-minded people. Runners really are a lovely friendly group of people (provided they’re not injured… ;-)). ¬†Anyway I’ll do a proper post about that as it deserves its own. The film BLEW me away.

The next day my university friends were coming down to Portsmouth for a meet up. As I always say, they’re such good friends and it’s always a lovely day when I see them.

Unfortunately the weather was pants. It was cold and drizzly. Despite the weather though we headed to Southsea and met in the amazing Tenth Hole tea room. If you’ve never been, please do go. It’s BRILLIANT. The cake selection is second to none.We got some hot drinks and caught up first. The hot chocolates that Shell and Kate had looked phenomenal.Then we ordered lunch. I went for the Lardon Salad which was, unlike so many other salads from British restaurants, huge and full of all the good stuff. It had chunks of bacon, new potatoes and a hard boiled egg. It was delicious.I also shared some sweet potato wedges with the girls. Well, I probably ate most of them! After filling ourselves with sensible and adequate nutrition, we then proceeded to order the more fun and exciting food. The cake.The choice was a toughie. The options were just so good. As I’ve been to the Tenth Hole a few times I felt I needed to try something different (the carrot cake is amazing, the honeycomb pie is good but maybe too much cream, and there was sadly no toffee apple cake). So I went for the cherry cheesecake chocolate brownie. What is this strange concoction you might ask? Well, let me tell you.It’s a dense chocolate brownie topped with a good layer of cheesecake goodness and then cherry compote¬†on top. Now normally I’m not a fruit and pudding kinda gal. I like fruit. I like pudding. But together? Hmmm, not so much. I do like a crumble but it’s not top of my list. Cherry is also not my favourite. Anyway, I digress. BUT let me tell you, it rocked my world. The flavours went together perfectly. The cheesecake creamy bit helped balance the rich chocolate and the textures were fabulous. The whole thing was, well, just a delight. Ten out of ten.

Then we did a bit more catching up and chatting before everyone parted ways and headed home. I had a three mile run in the plan. I would have done this in the morning but due to events concerning my idiocy the night before I was unable… I mean, running after a fairly heavy cake isn’t always ideal but sometimes you just gotta get it done. It was raining and cold but actually I was feeling ready for a good run. And there were only a few cake burps mid-run. Actually my legs felt amazing. Despite the long run the day before I really did feel pretty good. I expect it was the sugar from the cake and the lower temperature that significantly helped, but I’ll take it! 7:39 min/mile average pace!

Whew. A fab weekend DONE.

How was your weekend?

Do you enjoy documentaries?

Do you like to break long runs up with parkrun and running with friends?

My favourite B’s – brownie and BBQ in Bristol

This weekend was my annual uni friends BBQ. We’ve been doing this for¬†11 years now, which just blows my mind.

It hasn’t always been a BBQ (one time we did a picnic in a park, though I didn’t listen properly and still brought raw food much to everyone’s amusement. Another Anna Stupid Moment), but invariable it is.¬†The weather is usually always good, but annoyingly this year it rained. Ah well, can’t win ’em all.

I drove to Bristol on the Friday evening. It also happened to be the worst time to drive anywhere because there were so many family’s who’s kids had just finished for the year and were off on holiday. So my hour 40 minutes drive turned into 2.5 hours. Joy!

The evening was lovely. We had burritos (steak¬†and chicken). Then followed by our amazing brownie.We’ve been making this brownie since our university days. It’s basically our way of throwing out the rule book and eating pudding exactly how we want (i.e. being a bit piggy and greedy). Straight out of the oven, with a spoon. I blogged the recipe before if you’re interested… this time we added lots of white chocolate and a KitKat Chunky. The KitKat didn’t really work, but it was still AMAZING.

I promptly went into a food coma. We then watched Naked Attraction (if you’ve never seen this programme it’s hilarious but also unbelievably cringey; people choosing dates based entirely on their naked bodies). There was actually a really sweet couple who got together and are¬†still together post-show. Normally they never really work out but this was really cute how well they got on and liked each other. Ah romance ūüėČ It was a full-on rock and roll evening clearly!

Normally Saturday morning Kate, Jamie and I would go to one of the Bristolian parkruns but as I’m still ¬†injured and Kate and Jay haven’t been running much we decided to have a lie-in instead. I did attempt a little run to see how the knee felt but it still pulled so I turned back after half a mile. Frustrating. Instead I walked to Starbucks with one of the others, Charlotte, and we enjoyed the nice weather (which was soon to turn) and a good old natter.

Then our other friend’s arrived with their newborn baby and the BBQ could commence! It was WEIRD seeing my friend with a baby. She’s the first in the group to have had one and it was just bizarre. She’s a proper grown-up now! The baby, Eloise, was very cute (that’s all you’ll get from me on babies). It didn’t change the dynamic of the group at all, which was nice. Eloise just slotted it like the new addition she is. Though babies do, in general, terrify me.I just don’t know what to do with them or how to speak to them… I held her once and then quickly gave her back. Whew. We survived. It was great hearing¬†all the gory details of the birth though. You do need a close friend to tell you the truth about these things I think. Like I said, terrifying.

Then Jamie got ready with the BBQ. Check out the bag of meat!So. Much. Food. This is why I love going to Bristol. They feed me so well ūüėČThere was a selection of chicken thighs and drumsticks, peppered steaks, lamb ribs, pork ribs, pork belly, sausages and burgers. Pretty damn good!Though the weather wasn’t great it was still a fun BBQ. We ate inside around the table which was nice, so we could all easily chat.¬†And they no longer laugh at me when I take photos of food ūüėČ

Obviously I ate too much, but what’s new? We followed the BBQ with Victoria sponge and salted caramel cake (it was recently Shell and Charlotte’s birthday – yes I had a slice of both…and maybe another later) and then BBQ bananas with chocolate sauce. YES.I’m not a huge banana fan but this was really tasty. The banana had gone all gooey and sticky and the chocolate sauce melted into it. SO good. Just slice a line into a banana, roll it up with foil and pop it onto the coals for 15 minutes).

I went home later that day very happy. I mean, ridiculously full but very happy.

The next morning…ah how I’d loved to have joined my friend Mike in his 20 mile run (I’m trying not to panic, trying not to panic) and instead went to the gym where I did 65 minutes on the cross-trainer at a quick clip. I was a sweaty mess by the end and somewhat satisfied with my workout. But not as happy as I’d have been having just done 20 miles! But hey ho, it is what it is.

I’ve found the perfect way to keep entertained on the elliptical machine; watching YouTube and films. I watched To The Bone on Netflix which was interesting. I’d heard about this through the Blogosphere and also on a film podcast. It’s about eating disorders, which isn’t an entirely fun subject but it was actually really good in a weird way. An interesting take on the subject and I thought Keanu Reeves in it was really good. The main female did annoy me a bit but I don’t think she was meant to be entirely likeable. I thought it addressed the issues well but it’d be interesting hearing from someone with more experience on the matter.

Anyway, it’d be nice to run again. My knee does seem much better so it’s frustrating that when it comes to running this isn’t translated. It feels fine in every other aspect but running. So who knows. Cross training is the way forward right now!

How was your weekend?

Do you have any annual traditions with your friends?

Have you watched To The Bone?

Brighton Hove Prom parkrun and lots of food

So after I said goodbye to mum in London (continuing on from Monday’s post), I headed to meet my good friend, Charlotte, to¬†go to Brighton to spend the evening and Saturday with her. I hadn’t seen her in a few months (far too long) and I’ve always been meaning to do a Brighton parkrun so it seemed a good time to do.

Let’s ignore that I also had the London Marathon on the Sunday… London, to Brighton, home, to London again. It was all rather complicated and dependent on me getting my train tickets correct and adult head on. Spoiler: I adulted well!

I love Brighton. It’s like London but better because not only does it have the sea but it’s less crowded and busy but still has the cool factor, funky shops and GREAT places to¬†eat. Technically, Charlotte lives in Hove but it’s all walkable (as my dad and I¬†found for the Brighton 10k…we parked at Charlotte’s so we didn’t have to pay ridiculous money).

And what’s immensely cool, but would be seriously dangerous for me if I had such an advantage, is the fact that their house has lots of Deliveroo options within the area. So that night we got some tasty burritos and chicken salad delivered from the Mexican restaurant, JQ’s Kitchen.I had smokey chicken and it was delicious. My friend also blew my mind by eating a pork burrito. Ever since I’ve known her (we’re talking over 10 years here) she’s been a veggie. And there she was, nonchalantly eating PORK like no big deal!

The next morning we had a glorious lie-in until 8am and then made a gentle amble (a leisurely 20 minute walk) to the nearest parkrun, the Hove Prom parkrun (Brighton actually have four parkruns!).¬†She’s not a runner so she was there to support me, bless her, but I was still blown away by how close she lived to a parkrun! How convenient.I wore my Boston Marathon jacket and it contrasted nicely with the beautifully coloured beach huts. The weather was gorgeous. Barely any wind, lots of sunshine and just a very slight chill. Perfect parkrun conditions.

Hove Promenade parkrun is quite a simple course. You basically run up and down the promenade (surprise, surprise). Because of this, it’s very flat. There are four turnarounds though which can break the flow, but really it’s a very good PB-potential course I’d say. Not that I was aiming for that the day before a marathon!There was a lovely happy buzz about the place as the Brighton & Hove Albion football team had recently got promoted to the premier League (the first time in a LONG time apparently) so lots of people had worn the blue and white colours to celebrate. The Run Director was very funny as well so made the start an enjoyable experience. It’s always nice when it’s a bit more relaxed and jovial.

I had intended on aiming for the 24 minute mark but on a flat course and feeling good, I realised I would be aiming for a faster time. I wasn’t going to bust my lungs or ruin my legs, but I did want to blast it out. I’ve done this before marathons previously so I didn’t feel in danger of doing anything too stupid (or at least, stupid relative to my usual Annerisms).Charlotte stood on the sidelines cheering us on and snapping some photos. It was nice to see her a good number of times as we ran up and down the prom (you basically run up and down twice, with the start/finish in the middle).If I’m honest, the course is a little dull. The sea views are beautiful but it’s all on the flat concrete path of the promenade and you’re running up and down… which after about 10 minutes can feel quite monotonous. That said, the final finish bit is quite cool. Once you turn around for the final stretch, it’s about a quarter of mile to the finish. It’s¬†a fair way¬†but I had enough gas in the tank to power past several people and keep working until I reached the end. That final push really did take it out of me though and I had that horrible “oof feel a bit sick feeling”.

I got 21:40, which I’m so pleased with. I’m loving seeing these 21:xx’s at the moment. I feel in a good place. I know when I’m super fit when I’m hitting 20:xx’s though, but I can’t see that happening soon without extra speed sessions.

And EVEN better than the short walk to the parkrun was the short walk to the nearby Starbucks. What a luxury! I had a delicious SF hazelnut Americano as we walked back to Charlotte’s¬†house. We stopped in a couple of shops en route where I clocked a pair of Nike leggings that began a mental battle in my head about whether to buy or not (I did not) and we overheard a bunch of runners talking about London, which made me rather nervous!

I quickly showered and we headed out again (skipping breakfast as it was now past 11am) and walked into Brighton. We were aiming for lunch at Food For¬†Friends, which I’d heard sooo many good things about (especially from Maria). We got there in perfect time for lunch and they thankfully had room for us (apparently they get very busy).

We were both quite hungry by this point so decided on having some starters as well. The majority of our choices were influenced by what we saw other people ordering.For starters I had¬†Goat‚Äôs curd, caramelised pear and hazelnut praline (yes I did copy that from the website). We also shared some paprika halloumi bites which came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, which were incredible.We both went for the crispy sweet potato cakes for our main but we agreed we may have made the wrong decision. We saw so many delicious and varied plates go past us to different tables, so when our three potato cakes came out they looked a little bit…well, boring. Don’t get me wrong, they tasted really good and they were lovely and filling but there wasn’t much variety to the meal and a whole lot of sweet potato. I wish I’d have chosen a salad or something a bit more exciting. I did enjoy it though and the carbs were very welcome pre-marathon.

On the subject of necessary carbs, after lunch we moseyed about the cool vintage and unique shops while keeping our eyes open for a potential pudding opportunity. And lo! and behold, in the middle of one of the streets we spotted a beautiful array of delicious-looking treats.Straight away I knew I wanted the peanut butter and salted caramel cookie. It looked incredible. I’m actually not a huge peanut butter fan, but mixed with the salted caramel intrigued me. Plus walking around eating a cookie would be easier than trying to cram a slice of cake into my mouth (don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t necessarily¬†hinder¬†me, but for the benefit of all those around me I thought it would be a nicer experience to just attempt to eat a cookie). Charlotte got a brownie, which had chunks of Oreo cookie inside (an “Oreo Mosaic” apparently). Usually I’m a big brownie fan, but I prefer them warmed up with ice cream (I know, such a cake diva). I also managed to persuade Charlotte to share a chocolate “crinkle”¬†cookie as well. It was only ¬£2 and it practically jumped into my hands I swear.

The cookie was really dense, soft and crumbly (the ideal cookie consistency in my humble opinion). Very tasty. The chocolate crinkle cookie thing was very dense and soft. It wasn’t dry but it did suck the moisture out of your mouth. I also tried (and then later finished off…) Charlotte’s brownie, which had a great texture of soft and crunchy. Basically I was in cake munching heaven.We walked around a bit more, saw some cool graffiti, and then after grabbing another Starbucks because wellllll, one must when with fellow Starbucks lovers, I headed to the train to go back to my parent’s house. I’d walked far too much and eaten far too much sugar, but I was very happy indeed.

What’s your favourite kind of cookie?

What would you choose as a vegetarian meal to eat?

Have you done any of the Brighton parkruns?

Shrewsbury parkrun – number 20 parkrun tourism

I finished work on Thursday night and was on holiday for a week and a day, woohoo! On Friday I was driving up to Bishop’s Castle with my parents (it’s just under an hour from Shrewsbury). One of the reasons Chester Marathon worked so well for me was because my parents were going to see my grandparents for the week and stay in a holiday cottage (they had the upstairs apartment and my parents had the downstairs one) and they’d invited me to join. The locations and timings worked perfectly.

What also worked perfectly was the fact that I could do another new-to-me parkrun as well on the Saturday. Though there wasn’t one in very close proximity to Bishop’s Castle, Shrewsbury wasn’t too far away. My dad was happy to drive and support me (as always, bless him). It wasn’t too early a morning either which was nice. Up at 7am and on the road by 7.30am. We got to Shrewsbury in enough time to find a car park just across the road from Quarry Park where the parkrun was located.

In my head I assumed it would look like an actual quarry but it was actually a really beautiful park with lots of trees, grass, lovely winding paths and right next to River Severn.

shrewsbury-parkrun-1The top left picture is where we parked the car just outside the church hall

It was raining and cold. Distinctly autumnal morning. I reminded myself to warm-up and did a few loops round the park. This was mainly because I was so cold and wanted to feel human again.shrewsbury-parkrun-2The parkrun crew were setting everything up and I was getting slowly more wet. I had no time goals but I wasn’t going to hold myself back. A faster paced parkrun has helped previously the day before races so I’m happy to stretch my legs, knowing I won’t be going anywhere near those paces the next day!img_0811

The course sounded a little confusing but better than a five lapper! It was one lap of the top of the park and then an out and back along the river before doing the first lap again and then back along the river to the finishing funnel. Nice and varied I thought.

The first part of the course went down a fairly steep decline which with the wet ground was a little precarious… I was slightly worried I’d slip.shrewsbury-parkrun

Photo credit: Colin Williamson

Then it was off along the flat. I felt quite comfortable with the pace I was going though annoyingly my calf was a bit tight. It seems a recurring thing for me when it gets to high mileage that my left calf starts to grumble. But it was just a mild discomfort rather than pain so I wasn’t panicking (OK that’s a lie, I will always panic when some part of my body feels anything but perfect when I near a big race but I was confident it wasn’t serious).

Then we curved back up to go past the start again. There was a fairly nasty incline (to match the previous decline I suppose) but it wasn’t too bad. It was still raining but I was feeling warmer, though my hands weren’t.img_5517My dad cheered me on and it was back down the decline and off along the river. This was lovely and flat and I gained some speed. It was a nice pace actually. Surprisingly I didn’t feel the “Omg how much longer?” pain but rather a comfortable tolerance of the pain.

It was nice knowing exactly what I had left as I came back down the path from the out-and-back. I really enjoyed the variety of the course.img_5522I’m really pleased with how I felt during this run. Albeit a slightly niggling calf, I enjoyed the burst of speed and didn’t feel like I was dying. Always a plus!img_5425

My time was 21:41 which blew my mind as I haven’t broken 22 minutes since¬†March. The course was good it must be said but I can’t believe how comfortable it felt. A photographer was standing at the end of the finisher’s funnel so the photo he got of me was literally just after I’d finished.photo-credit-colin-williamson

Photo credit: Colin Williamson

The finishing area next to the River Severn was so picturesque, even in the rain.img_5501Then we made quick haste to get back to the car and then to find somewhere for brunch to warm-up.img_5503We found a lovely little cafe/restaurant called The Loopy Shrew (love that name) and we both ordered a English breakfast (subbing the hasbrowns for extra tomatoes because we’re so healthy ;-)).img_5526It was honestly one of the best fry-ups I’ve ever had. I love that they separated the baked beans in a little bowl as I hate beans touching my eggs. The black pudding was to¬†die for. And the service was fantastic. The bacon was super crispy and it wasn’t swimming in a pool of grease. Lovely.

The rest of the day was fairly relaxed. We wandered around Bishop’s Castle, despite it being rather drizzly and cold. I couldn’t believe it was forecasted to be lovely and sunny the next day!img_5529And in the evening we¬†had a nice meal in another pub (I didn’t need lunch after my mammoth breakfast!). I had a very taste starter of sardines (random I know but nice) and a goat’s cheese and sun-dried tomato salad with a side of sweet potato fries because #carbs ūüėČpre-marathon-mealAnd because I needed more carbs I had a brownie with ice cream for pudding. SO good.

And then it was off to bed for an early-ish night before the marathon the next day!

What’s your favourite restaurant starter?

Do you like running in the rain?

Favourite brunch foods?