Superheroes everywhere

I do love a bit of fancy dress, you might have noticed. I don’t know why, maybe because it’s good fun and a laugh. So when it was announced (though not too widely it seems) that for Netley Abbey parkrun’s 5th birthday they’d be a superhero fancy dress I was all game.

My friend Mike decided to go as Robin and my friend Geoff decided to go as Batman. Well, I’d been Batgirl before so I hunted online and found that superhero females were somewhat limited. I could be Supergirl or Catwoman it seemed. Catwoman’s outfit looked far easier to run in (streamline if you like) so I went with that.My friend, Tom, was also joining me for parkrun on Saturday so I skipped setting the course up and picked him up at 8.15am. So I had a bit of a longer lie-in which was nice. Tom is a fairly new runner and had been doing Lee-On-Solent parkrun so I was chuffed to be able to show him Netley. Though Netley is a harder course than the lovely flat LoS!We got there to find not many people had embraced the superhero theme, which was a shame but kind of understandable as a few people had asked where the notice of fancy dress had been posted as they weren’t aware. *Sighs*

Photo credit: Sheryl James

But I didn’t mind. I love fancy dress regardless. I was going to run with Mike as we’re kind of around the same speed at the moment, though I’m perhaps a little faster. I didn’t want to go to speedy so it would work out well. All week I’ve been being very careful with my ankle and though it was feeling pretty much back to normal I didn’t want to risk it. I say this, but really I didn’t fancy running fast and the ankle was a good excuse 😉

Catwoman, Robin and Batman

Anyway as we lined up I lost Mike in the crowds. Tom stayed with me and was planning on “hanging on” for as long as he could. His PB is around 25 minutes.

As we started I just decided to run as I fancied, which turned out to be a fair clip in comparison to what I’d intended. My other friend, Mark, caught me up with his buggy and ran with me which was nice. He’s a lot faster so running my speed with his buggy was probably a walk in the park for him.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

It was nice running with Mark as we could chat and I could take my mind off the fact that I was running faster than I’d planned.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

The final lap I stepped it up a gear… I was thinking of all the cake at the end. As it was Netley’s birthday a cake sale had been organised (that info had been far more widely circulated…) and I was keen to get a few pieces.

I finished in 22:43 which I was pleased with considering how windy it was. I scanned my barcode pronto and then headed to grab some cake.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

I love this photo because it shows me in my happy place 🙂 The cake sale was to raise money for the defibrillator that we’re trying to buy, so I was only doing my good deed of the day really.I had a slice of Victoria Sponge (exceptionally tasty I must say. I had spotted this cake on Twitter beforehand and was glad to be able to grab a slice!), a white chocolate fudge slice thing and a white chocolate cookie. Pretty good haul! Though nothing like the five slices of the week before. The cake sale raised just over £366!! This is fantastic. Well done to all the bakers! The real superheroes of the day.

Tom did really well, coming in around 27 minutes which he was pleased with given how much more hilly Netley is compared to LoS and how windy it was. He showed me the bottom of his trainer afterwards; the sole was coming off! I told him off for wearing such old trainers, tsk!

After parkrun, showering and all that jazz I met up with my dad later in the day for a spot of Nando’s and a cinema trip to see Logan. I decided to change my usual whole chicken order at Nando’s and be slightly more healthy and opt for half a chicken and a Mediterranean salad.The salad was delicious. It had huge juicy olives, lots of sundried tomatoes and good chunks of feta. But I was a bit disappointed with the size of the chicken (I KNOW, I told you I’m greedy). My dad had gotten half a chicken with a side salad and a cob so we both felt we could share five wings between us 😉

And then we headed to the cinema…where I met a few more superhero friends.Logan was fantastic. Very violent but really different to the normal superhero films. I mean, I love X-Men anyway but this was very different.

The next day I met up with Robin Mike and we headed out for a long run together. I’ve become such a fan of running with other people again. Normally I’m like a lone wolf but having people to run with is a nice change, especially my long run. Running a long run with Mike is also good because as he’s slightly slower than me it means he keeps my pace in check.

I ran about half a mile to meet him and then we did a 5 mile out and back route through some fairly quiet country roads. The route was quite hilly though so a nice challenge at times. It was a great run and the miles flew by, as they always do when you run with someone else. I must do this more! Then I added a little bit more on at the end as I ran home to get to 12 miles (8:38min/miles overall pace).

Happily my ankle felt absolutely fine (as it did the day before) and I enjoyed a normal run without issues. Ahh what a novelty eh!

As long as I remain running injury-free I’ve decided to do the London Marathon. I have a Good For Age place and was wondering whether to defer until next year as it was so close to Tokyo. But as Tokyo went well and, ankles aside, my recovery has been good I’ve decided to go ahead and do it. I’ll keep a watchful eye on any niggles that crop up or feelings of over-training but otherwise I’d love to do it. Again, no time goal but just to tick another Marathon Major off the list and FINALLY get London done.

How was your weekend?

What superhero would you choose to be?

Does your parkrun ever try and raise money?

A long run, a not-so-raunchy movie and feeling blue

The weekend just gone was fairly jam-packed. I was off to Reading on Saturday morning to meet my university friends and one of those friends, Charlotte, from Brighton caught the train to stay over Friday night, so we could drive together.

It was nice to drive with someone else to minimise any navigational issues. I’ve driven to Reading many times (I had to work there for six weeks on a customer site for my current job in Basingstoke). But that was a few years ago and well, let’s be honest, it’s me. Anything could happen. This did mean of course we were late by about ten minutes, which my other friends knew was down to me and not Charlotte. I’m the queen of leaving no minute spare and believing everything will go smoothly.

Anyway, rewinding to Friday night. We had a delicious salmon and butternut squash meal. She’s a vegetarian and it was a meal that we used to share back at university the night before an exam (though with the less expensive tuna) . Not sure why, maybe because it was easy and we believed the nutritiousness of the meal and fish would add to our brain power (though tinned tuna doesn’t contain any omega 3…). Happy to report we both got a First in our Psychology degree 😉 Basically you halve a butternut squash, bake it, then add a tomato, fish and vegetable mix on top. Standard easy cheap student eats.

We then watched Fifty Shades of Grey. Both of us knew it would be rubbish and we’d read the books and found them fairly rubbish too, but it was such a girlie, easy film and we could talk our way through it anyway. It was terrible but in a very amusing way. And somewhat cringy with just how cheesy it was. Don’t think I’ll be seeing the next one!

The next morning I got up before 7am to get in a six mile run (my “long” run for the week). 

It went fairly well. Not “fist pump the sky” amazing, but relatively OK. After showering, having breakfast and grabbing a Starbucks for the road, we were on our way (*cough* about ten minutes late…).

Seeing my friends was, as always, lovely. One of them is at the early stages of pregnancy which is just crazy. I mean, I know pregnancy happens but it’s just so bizarre seeing one of your close friends with a mini bump growing an actual baby. Like an actual adult. I don’t feel like we are adults though yet. Well, I’m certainly not!

We had a lovely meal at Las Iguanas. Shockingly I went for something different. I’d been craving, fajitas and I do love an assembly job meal 😉

It was very tasty – and came with sour cream, guacamole and salsa on the side. The chicken and pepper mix was a bit over-oily, but it still tasted really good and, to be honest, dipping my tortilla in the oily sauce might have happened a few times. I fully enjoyed it. No puddings but I was fairly content with my meal. And I had a couple of apples in my bag soo…

Happily I also managed to pick up a couple of bargains in the sale. I got a beautiful soft leather jacket down from £75 to £35 (!) and an £8 cardigan from Oasis. I’m very pleased. I literally went out with the hope to find a casual jacket and it was the first one I saw.

I drove back from Reading on my own (Charlotte headed back on the train) and then quickly wolfed down some dinner before getting myself ready for my next social outing. My friend, Ant, has just turned 30 and was having a sci-fi themed party at his and his wife’s house. It sounds like a fairly easy fancy dress, right? For a guy maybe, but there isn’t a huge amount of choice when it comes to female outfits. The obvious is Princess Leia. But I didn’t think it in the best of taste and after Googling a bit I found a great outfit. It was about £27 but it came with lots of accessories and I could see myself wearing it to a movie-themed parkrun or race at some point…  an investment!It came with an arm gauntlet, necklaces, a feather necklace and the ‘loin cloth’ thing came attached to the blue suit. I added the flipflops, some extra bracelets, blue face paint (a bargain from Amazon) and plaited a few bits of my hair.Not too shabby, eh! I love fancy dress so for me this was great. Though I did feel somewhat naked. Compared to my friend, Sarah, who was dressed up as a unicorn in a very fluffy and huge (self-made!) outfit. But mine was an ideal choice for any running in the future…

The party was good fun. We played lots of board games, ate lots and just generally had a laugh.Our parties are far more low-key now we’re older but we still love a bit of fancy dress. There was an ewok, a storm trooper, terminator robot, Aragorn from LoTR (strictly speaking I’d say this is fantasy not sci-fi…) and Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (for my shame I was the only one who got the reference…). There was a random nun and Jesus Christ but only because they didn’t have a sci-fi outfit and wanted to dress up. In *some* circles JC might be seen as sci-fi I suppose…

It was a good evening and I was thankful for my friend lending me some baby oil to remove my face paint (the blue had stained my hands and didn’t seem to come off with just soap and water). It came off nice and easily with the oil. Though half way through the removal I did resemble a zombie – noted for another fancy dress option! 😉

I was quite thankful for this as I was meeting a friend the next morning for coffee and I really didn’t want a blue face!

Have you ever used face paint for fancy dress?

What would you go as for a sci-fi themed fancy dress?

Are you good with travelling to different places on your own?

Christmas – family, food and running

I took a bit of a break over the Christmas holidays to chill and reset myself so I’m a bit behind on blog life but here we go anyway…

Christmas is really one of my favourite day’s of the entire year. There’s something about knowing that a huge number of people are doing something very similar to you on the same day. You feel part of something, a collective and a togetherness. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, but a vast majority do and it’s nice to feel part of something bigger.

On Christmas Eve I volunteered at Netley parkrun rather than ran as my leg is still not 100% and I wanted to run the Christmas parkrun and knew I couldn’t do both. The weather was so cold and windy that after helping set the course up and then cheering on two laps of the three lap course I quickly headed back to the start/finish area and then sat in my car with the heating on full blast while watching to see when I was needed to help clear down. I was so cold and, it must be said, a bit grumpy. I don’t think it helped that when I stood complaining about being cold someone said to me, “oh you’ll be warm as soon as you start running”… except I wasn’t going to run! I can understand why they thought I would though as I was in my gym gear (with a coat) as I was going to head to the gym afterwards and get my endorphins that way.

But anyway, I stayed at my parents for Christmas Eve and then got up early the next morning and headed to parkrun once again. But this time with my dad in tow as he was going to do the Christmas parkrun too. It’s funny because we were both feeling a bit nervous about it; me with my shin and him with not having done a parkrun in a few months, and not having done the new hillier Netley either.

The weather was far better though, for which I was eternally grateful for. I’d gone with a Christmas-themed fancy dress and was grateful for the warmer temps.My dad had his new Netley parkrun t-shirt on as well, bless him (oh I also have to make a correction to a previous post where I’d said he lost 20% of his body weight – which wouldn’t have made any sense. He’s lost almost 2.5 stone, which is ten percent of his body weight… stupid Anna).

Two of my lovely friends, April and Jo, also came to Netley which was lovely. We “met” via Instagram and social media and though I’ve met April a few times in ‘real life’, I’ve never met Jo. So it was nice to see them both at such a festive occasion.

April and I ran together, with my friend Mike, but Jo was super fast (despite coming back from a niggle herself!) – she came first at the Southampton parkrun just the day before…naturally. But April and me tend to be around the same speed so it was nice to run and chat. My shin played ball and only niggled a tiny bit so I was quite happy.

But it did still feel hard. When you haven’t run consistently or for any great distances in a while it always feels pretty bloody awful regardless of pace!

The Netley Abbey Running club has festively set-up a table with Baileys shots for anyone who dared, and then set it up at the finish at the end. They were raising money for charity and quite a few people went for the shots!
All in all it was a very festive parkrun, with lots in fancy dress and a band playing. My dad did very well, getting a 5 minute PB with a time of 46:32 minutes, which even beats his Lee-On-Solent time (a vert flat course) and he wasn’t last! He was over the moon.

Then we packed up the course and headed back home to celebrate Christmas. I helped my dad with the lunch prep, we opened presents, ate chocolate (well, my granddad and I did, while my parents were very restrained).

Amongst other bits and bops I got some very nifty lifting shoes for Christmas.

They’re for the gym and specifically for lifting. They should help my form a bit more and basically keep me planted nicely on the ground and support to help me lift. I love the colour personally 😉

Then after cooking we got down to the main event…

I had a couple more plates of the main dinner…so tasty. I’m all about the stuffing and honey roasted parsnips. And the turkey of course 😉 I was in charge of pudding so I went for an M&S Chocolate and Orange Melting Middle Pudding (*cough* maybe two of them…because having too much is always better than not enough!). I actually didn’t realise it was chocolate orange until I was eating it and wondering why it was so zesty. I’m not a big chocolate orange fan so it wasn’t the “rock my world” situation I’d imagined. However it was obviously very good and though we didn’t eat both puddings we did crack into the second one.

Then we went for our annual walk down the beach. Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it was cold, wet and windy and we really just wanted to get it over with. It was nice to then get back home and curl up with a good movie. We watched It’s a Wonderful Life, which I’ve never seen before. I was a bit dubious about it thinking it was going to either be boring or ultra cheesy. I was pleasantly surprised at just how good it was and I was fully moved at the end, sobbing away at just how lovely it was. After another mini portion of leftovers and Christmas TV I was ready for bed! A really lovely Christmas 🙂

How was your Christmas?

What’s your favourite part of the Christmas dinner?

Burgess parkrun Review

Another week, another parkrun review. I hope you’re enjoying these and/or find them helpful! I love parkrun so for me I love hearing about other ones around and I hope people find the information helpful – especially as they’re written from runners who have a good knowledge of that particular parkrun.

Anyway, this one, Burgess parkrun, is written by the lovely Gemma (@peeriegemgem), an avid runner and Twitter friend.m
Location: Burgess Park is in Camberwell, South East London and is the Southwark boroughs largest park. Along with Southwark parkrun it can claim to be the most central of London parkruns.  The easiest way to get there on public transport is to head to Elephant & Castle tube station (on Bakerloo and Northern lines) and walk about fifteen minutes down the Walworth Road or get a bus.  On bus, locate Citymapper to stop on Camberwell/Albany Road as this is the nearest entrance to start/finish of the run.  (pic shows entrance)

Parking: Being in Central London, parking is on the limited side although the website does note there is some spots available in Addington Square and on Albany Road and this is free for up to four hours.

Amenities: There are toilets available in the tennis court centre which should be open just before the run begins.  These are just as you head into the park on the right hand side.img_8078After getting an absolutely drenching visiting a friend for their 50th parkrun (see Wally – dressed for the occasion!) we headed over for warm mugs of tea and avocado on toast where the results are processed at Fowlds Café, Addington Square.  It is very small on the space front so head over promptly once you’ve finished your run to get a seat!img_8083Course/Elevation: The course is an out and back with two laps of a lake in the middle.  (See pic)  Note the start and finish are not at exactly the same point as the start was moved further back to ease congestion. Most participants wander up, leave their belongings at the finish on a waterproof sheet and head to the start. img_8072The course starts with a long straight of about a kilometre before turning back on itself, out towards the lake, twice around, and then heading back to the finish (but cutting short the full kilometre straight!).  It is well marshalled at each turn so the only thinking required is remembering two laps of the lake!  There is a slight dip where you go through the underpass on the final straight and this is about the point where you want to consider kicking in for that final sprint.

I may be slightly bias as this is my first parkrun and where I have done the most runs, but it remains one of my favourite runs.  It is a very friendly parkrun and I have made many friends after running Burgess over fifty times.

It is a fast flat course (see elevation!) that doesn’t get too congested once you are out of the start.burgess-elevationIt is ideal for pram/buggy runners – one flew past me as I headed onto my second lap of the lake. The volunteer team are very enthusiastic and there are usually post run goodies on offer.  I tucked into fruit and homemade brownies as post run fuel – yum!

Number of participants: This parkrun has really grown in size since my first days of attending two years ago.  Back then a hundred was average but the record attendance has now hit nearly 300.  As the Saturday I picked to return was the worst monsoon rain I’d ever done a parkrun in, there were 149 brave souls facing the rain.

Other: Check out the Burgess Park Facebook/Twitter as they post updates fairly regularly.  Sometimes people take photographs which will appear on social media and there tends to be socials organised a couple of times a year.

Do you enjoy doing parkrun in fancy dress?

What’s the funniest fancy dress you’ve seen for a runner?

Are you a fair-weather parkrunner?

Eye update and Halloween adventures

So my eyes are five days out from having had LASIK laser eye surgery.

They’re feeling pretty damn good I have to say. My vision is clear and I can see perfectly. The only thing I’m noticing is a bit of dry eyes, which is normal and probably exacerbated by having to stare at a computer screen for eight hours a day. I also still have very bloodshot eyes.

I take three different types of drops four times a day (5-10 mins apart) which is annoying to remember but I have an alarm set on my phone (always funny when you forget about that and leave the office to go to the loo and get back and everyone is staring at you as your phone has been going off for the past five mins…).

I managed to solve the hair washing conundrum as well. As I’m not allowed to get my eyes wet at all, washing my long hair is a bit of an issue. I’ve been using goggles for non-hair washing days but really my hair can only last three days before it really needs a wash. There’s only so much dry shampoo can do when you go to the gym as often as I do.

Instead of goggles (as that would have been impossible) I decided to use my eye guards that I have to wear at night. I attached them to my face using the special medical tape and jumped in the shower. I was very careful to not fully submerge my head as the guards aren’t that secure and have holes in them for ventilation but it protected them enough for me to get the job done. Whew!

Also, wearing sun glasses outside has been somewhat embarrassing when it’s not sunny at all and rather overcast. I look like I’m avoiding the paparazzi and am about to screech, “no photos!” at any moment. And it’s very tricky walking Alfie in sun glasses in the evening when it’s pitch black. But only a few days left to endure this – and it’s fully worth it.

It still stands that the worst day post-surgery was the few hours after surgery. I never did fully recap that evening…It was Halloween weekend and I’d planned on going out with my friends for some pub crawling adventures and as I originally thought the surgery was Friday I thought I would be fine to go Saturday night. But as my surgery was actually Saturday this did make me wonder if going out was a good idea…

But I wanted to go. I’m trying to be more of a “yes person” rather than the more comfortable hermit I’m inclined to be. Plus I hadn’t gone out drinking for months. It’s not something I fully enjoy doing, but once in a while it is good fun (and enough to remind me why I don’t do it more often). Plus I love fancy dress.halloween-witchI was going for witch fancy dress… It was such an easy costume. All I did was buy some cheap striped tights from Amazon and then spruced up a black dress I already had with a black sparkly tutu I found in the children’s section in Sainsbury’s (elasticated waists for the win – and only £11!).img_6067I had some black sparkly heels (not too high thankfully) and then added a black belt and boom! Done.

The night out was fun. My friends all dressed up too and we did a pub crawl along Albert Road in Southsea. It was all going well (a few cheeky shots here, a few G&Ts there) until we got into a place called The Wedgwood Rooms, which is a club/live music place. It’s a bit more of an indie/rock scene which I don’t mind but what I did mind was that we were the oldest people in there by quite a few years. The average age must have been 20. Nothing makes you feel old than being in a university drinking scene. Also, annoyingly, it was very smoky in the room with the aggressive use of a smoke machine. This was really not good for my eyes. I avoided the main room where the smoke machines were and hung out in the bar. My eyes were not feeling great in this place and I was starting to feel nervous. A couple of my friends who hadn’t just got drinks decided to move on with me to the next pub instead and we’d meet the other guys there when they finished.

My friend casually mentioned that a Scoops Gelato place was nearby and this peaked a bit of interest. Oh reeaally?? Important question: Would they still be open?  It was half 11 and amazingly they closed at midnight. We ditched the pub and hightailed it to Scoops as fast as we could and got there with 10 minutes to spare. Sadly the were only offering ice cream and not the waffles and pancakes on the menu (obviously as they were just about to shut shop) but this was good enough for us.img_6213I chose white chocolate Oreo (I’m so into white chocolate at the moment) and mint Oreo. A stellar selection if I do say so myself. As we headed back to meet the others at the next pub while munching happily away at our ice creams we agreed that we kind of felt a bit old for this “going out” business now. We much prefer house gatherings with hot beverages, snacks and movies. The rest of the evening was good but my drinking enthusiasm had now diminished and my bed was calling me…

It was a fun night and quite handy that it was Halloween as my bloodshot eyes and weird sunglasses-wearing tendencies fitted nicely in with all the other people in fancy dress. Fortuitous you might say!

How did you spend Halloween?

Do you like fancy dress?

What’s your ideal evening with friends? Mine probably involves getting food and then going back to someone’s house and chilling out there.