Daventry parkrun – another one off the Alphabet list!

These past few days have been a bit crazy busy. I had a work conference in Birmingham on Wednesday so headed down to the NEC stupidly early that morning.

The conference was great. Really interesting and genuinely insightful for my job. I got to see s lot of talks, take a lot of notes and just generally get my geek on. I was like a sponge. What was nice was that Wiggle were a VIP company so that meant free beverages all day, an area to chill in and free buffet lunch. Well, if you know me at all you know buffets are a nightmare…the fear of food running out means I over-compensate and just eat far too much. It was worth it though, very tasty!Handily James (fellow Marathon Talker) lives in Birmingham too so I took Thursday and Friday off and so we could hang out a bit. We planned to get some good running and eating in, which made the trek up norf so much more worthwhile.

On Thursday we had a solid eight mile run. James kindly slowed down for me as normally he’s rapid. It was an “easy” day for him – he trains properly, not like my randomness. The run was great, I felt strong and it was nice running with James as he obviously knew the area and I could leave the navigations to him (essential, I’m sure you agree).After the run we freshened up and then went to Birmingham city centre to play mini golf at a place called Ghetto Golf. Birmingham just seems to have so many cool places and just the walk there from the train station was cool with all the cool shops, restaurants and graffiti. So much more exciting than Southamptom ha!Ghetto Golf itself was so good. I mean, it was bat shit crazy but it was such a laugh.The different holes had crazy themes and were just a bit mental. Lots of old school themes like a Blockbuster video shop, a pool table and inside a bus to name just a few (as well as some rather risqué objects to navigate round!).I lost, though I’d like to stress, just but it was just such a laugh I didn’t care. I allowed my competitiveness to cool a bit 😉We even treated ourselves to a few beers. Neither of us are huge drinkers but the odd one or two now and again is quite nice. I’m quite liking beer as well…albeit only the lighter stuff.
Then we headed to the Meat Shack for some incredible burgers and sides. I had one with blue cheese and bacon with some cheesy fries and then shared halloumi fries and frickles. Oh my gawwwwd so good.It was a great restaurant – super friendly and great service and the food amazing. I’m never normally a burger person but when a restaurant just does burgers you know you’re in for a treat.I mean, ideal pre-parkrun food right? Easily burnt off after 5k…ha. James was kind enough to take me to Daventry parkrun to get my ‘D’ for the parkrun Alphabet Challenge.It was drizzly and cold but finally t-shirt temperature. Though annoyingly probably not warm enough to not wear gloves as I found out during the run and finding my fingers very chilly indeed.The parkrun is fairly small with under 200 people. It had a clever line-up area at the start with the paces lined up (35 mins, sub 30, 25 mins etc.) so people could position themselves nicely at the start without having to overtake a lot of get overtaken. The course is a mix of compacted trail and mud. It was good during the times on the compacted trails where I could stretch it out a bit (for me anyway) but in the mud and on corners it was a bit precarious. I could only imagine James finding it all too funny if I’d fallen over and was covered in mud…The course was a one lapper which is quite rare in the grand scheme of parkrun. Usually there are at least two laps as generally parks aren’t big enough to have 5k’s worth of running available. The course was pretty, running through lots of trees and scenic paths as well as a nice stretch alongside the lake. It was lucky that it wasn’t that windy but I can imagine that stretch being quite hellish in the wind. I was trying to push the pace as much as I could and managed to overtake all the females bar one in front of me, who was running with a dog. (Photos from Daventry parkrun Facebook)At mile three I felt myself flagging a bit and as I came round the corner to the finish it was a steep short incline that just killed my legs at the final push.I got 20:52 and 16th place (2nd female) and I am more than happy with that! I wanted to see a 20 and I’m glad I managed it, even if I did just squeak it. James smashed his PB with 18:17 which just makes me wince thinking about it. So fast.So I now only have J (which I’ll do in June in Jersey), Y, I, V and Z left! All the hard ones really! Yeovil will have to be a bit of a day-trip I think 

After parkrun we headed to the nearby American diner-themed restaurant, Buddy’s, for brunch. The restaurant was really retro and had lots of crazy decor, like retro signs and posters. It was really quirky.We both ordered the Seattle breakfast (they had lots of American themes). I swapped the hashbrowns for toast and added black pudding. It came with grilled gammon, beans, eggs and mushrooms. I was going to share the pancakes with James but in the end I didn’t fancy them. I’m not a huge pancake fan unless they’re covered in ice cream and chocolate… 
Anyway it was delicious and served with unlimited tea. Perfect post a soggy run! I was covered in mud and felt a bit gross but to be honest the need for food won out of social etiquette. It always does for me 😉

That evening James had worked his magic and found a local half marathon race for us to do the next day. We’re both training or the Brighton Marathon so we’re in the market for a long run. Having a half would be a great way of getting in some solid miles – we could run before and after to make up the distance we needed.

However the half he’d found, the Ironbridge Half Marathon, was sold out. But James emailed the race organiser to ask if anyone was dropping out and if there were two places available by any chance. Amazingly there were! After some back and forthing he secured us two places. We’re super grateful to the organisers for letting us slip in last minute! I was super chuffed because I’d been gutted about Reading being cancelled last weekend and I’d been to the Ironbridge quite a few times as child with my grandparents and parents as my grandparents live in Stoke, not too far from there. It was going to be a blast from the past! And having s race to do is always a nice way to mix up the drudgery of long run training.

So an early night of solid sleep and up early bright eyed and bushy tailed for the half the next day!

Have you been to Birmingham before?

Have you ever entered a race last minute?

What’s your essential item in a fry-up/breakfast?

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?

Queen Elizabeth parkrun and cold running

Yet another spot of parkrun tourism this weekend… Saturday morning saw me heading out to Queen Elizabeth parkrun. It’s about a 30 minute drive away (quite substantial round these parts due to the plethora of parkruns available along the South Coast) so I was up and out by 8am.The weather, as I was expecting, was pretty rubbish. It was raining and dark. But this barcode won’t scan by itself so off I toddled in my car to the very beautiful Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Amazingly I didn’t get lost and remembered money to take with me (though the car park ticket machine does accept card as payment as well). I think these tourisms are helping evolve me into a more rounded and able human being… getting from one place to another without issue. These are my goals in life really.Anyway, I parked up and met up with my friend Joe (the lovely guy I ran Bournemouth Marathon with a good few weeks ago who was also celebrating his 200th parkrun) and his friend Matt. Happily another running friend, Karila, (whom I’d met on the Austria Run Camp earlier in the year) was also going to be there so there were friendly faces all round.Queen Elizabeth parkrun is known to be quite a tricky one. There’s a lot of undulations and it’s on compacted trail so it’s not easy underfoot. I wasn’t expecting to do any great time, and now with the weather being utterly pants I was just happy to finish. I’ve run round QECP a few times. One of those was fairly recently when I went out on my first ever Wiggle Run Out in October – a very sociable and fantastic run, but yes very hilly!We decided to do a mini-warm-up (and I do mean mini) because we were just stood in the rain getting colder and colder. At 8.55am the running brief happened (God bless those kind-hearted volunteers – not a particularly great day for them I imagine!). Then we headed up the hill to the start-line. There weren’t many people at all, but there were a lot of dogs who were getting very excited. You could barely hear for the dog’s barking! And then one little dog managed to escape off from his owner before they could put a lead on him and we all watched as the dog ran between our legs, dashing all over the place, away from his owner. It just needed some Benny Hill music really. Eventually the little guy was caught and we could get outside ready to begin.The good thing about this parkrun is that the first 100m really does separate the group out. It’s a tough uphill beginning and within 30 seconds my legs were like “oh hey this isn’t fun!”. But it was fantastic at getting you warm quickly! And for that I was grateful. Kindly Joe had also let me borrow his gloves as I knew my hands would struggle to get warm (though the rest of me was fine, even in shorts and a t-shirt – albeit soaked through).

After the first brutal uphill we were then flying downhill. This was rather precarious. It was so slippy – grass, mud and, the worst bit, clay. Wet clay is like glass, you just cannot get a grip on it even with trail shoes (of which I was of course wearing!). But I let myself go a bit and flew downhill. I managed to catch up to Matt, who’s usually faster than me, as he was taking things a bit more sensibly due to the fact that he wasn’t wearing trail shoes and had taken his glasses off due to the rain. But I grabbed those weaknesses and took no prisoners 😉

QE parkrun is two laps: one smaller one and then one bigger one. As we finished the first one (I dared not even look at my watch as I was so concerned with where my feet were going) we then headed back up the hill we started on (such a grind) for the second loop. It was tough going and Matt overtook me, being the stronger runner (by the way Joe was far ahead). After what seemed to be forever we then reached the top and there was another crazy downhill. In effort to get past Matt I let myself go once again and got past him. Every downhill I went for it to gain some distance from him (I’m pretty sure he was entirely unaware that I was racing him…).

While trying to be speedy I was also trying not to fall over or get injured. I have ONE week until the Gosport Half Marathon and I am desperate to do it. Not because I want a good time or anything like that but because this is the fifth time I’ve entered and I’ve never run it due to injury! It would be rather fitting to get injured one week before…but no I remained on my feet and clocked a speedy last mile before grinding the final incline to the finish… ahead of Matt! (I will stress though, I was racing him and he was taking the downhills sensibly so really the victory is entirely fake).My time was 23:05 (with a 6.30min/mile for the last mile due to the insane downhills!). I was happy with that. I managed to get 12th place overall (third female) which is one of my top positions I think. There were only around 60 people. Apparently they usually get around 70, and it peaks to 100 in the summer. So a very quiet one. And what’s nice is that the start, because it’s so uphill, does separate everyone out nicely.

We were all rather muddy after the run so we did a fun photo of the backs of our legs (and bums!). It was quite an awkward photo as I had to ask someone, who I didn’t know, to take the photo. I said it was going to be of the backs of us to show our muddiness and he laughed. Runners are a little crazy I guess!We’d all had a fun run – Joe came third in the end!We decided to head to the cafe and wait for Karila there as it was still tipping it down and we were getting cold. Bless Karila, she managed to fall over on one of the downhills but she was OK and enjoyed herself. In the cafe I clocked the cakes but ultimately decided to have a Full English Breakfast instead as I was a) hungry and b) really cold. Warm food would serve me far better! And you got a free hot drink with it – for £5.95! When Karila arrived we all ordered the same and then tucked in to a delicious big plate of goodness (OK “goodness” is probably a lie).Annoyingly though as Karila had been one person behind us in the queue her breakfast took AGES to come. Like literally 20 minutes after ours. It was a bit ridiculous. But it was nice to all chat about running, parkrun challenges (Karila and I are both doing the alphabet challenge and had both just gotten our ‘Q’).Karila is wearing the new Marathon Talk buff made by our lovely and very talented friend, Sarah – love the design! I also met the famous Wonky Bear who travels all over the UK doing different parkruns. He’s made from the old sponsor high-vis kit, which is such a cool idea!And then we said our goodbyes and I headed home to have the longest, hottest shower known to man. Ahh so good.

That evening I went and saw Thor Ragnarok with a rather large bag of pick ‘n’ mix sweets. I do love eating ridiculous amounts of sweets sometimes. I know there are people in the world who aren’t nearly as greedy as me that are content to eat a few sweets and then save them for later. Well, I’m just not that person. I’m an “all or nothing” kinda girl and those sweets didn’t stand a chance.The film was really good. Really funny. I’m not a die-hard Marvel fan if I’m honest, or superhero film person in general, but I do like the Thor films (as well Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men series). I really like how lighthearted the film was and that the final third, which is usually the “smashy crashy” section of action-films, was still just as good as the other bits.

Sunday morning I had a lovely lie-in (until just after 8am) and then I met with my friend Mike for a long run. Mike isn’t training for anything in particular (and the jammy sod is off to South Africa in a few weeks on holiday!) so was content to run “just” 10 miles, whereas I was looking more for 15. But running the 10 miles with him was far more preferable than running the entire 15 miles on my own. It was a cold run, with cold wind blowing at us and I was glad to have remembered my gloves. Especially as I tripped over during the run and as I landed I put my hands out in front of me and they scraped along the tarmac. I would have lost of a layer of skin had I not been wearing my gloves! Luckily I only grazed my knee slightly and bumped my elbow so there was no real damage (THANK GOD). I don’t usually fall over on runs (surprisingly considering how clumsy I usually am in life) so this was quite a shock.15 milesAfter the 10 miles Mike headed back to his car whereas I put my headphones on and headed for another 5 miles. I listened to a podcast and just zoned out. Thankfully it didn’t feel like a slog and I found the miles flew by quickly. I got back to my car and just as I got inside it started pelting it down with rain. So lucky! I was only wearing a t-shirt and shorts and I’m sure I would have been really cold if I’d have gotten wet.The rest of Sunday was an easy-day of doing chores, walking Alfie and visiting Westlands Farm Shop with my dad. My dad and me love cooking and all things food so it was a fun thing to do in the afternoon. I love buying meat from places where you know the animals are treated well and it’s sustainable. Yes it’s more expensive but considering this is what you’re putting into your body it’s worth it!I got myself some beef meatballs that were “infused” with lemon and garlic, rolled in paprika and stuff with cheddar. I mean, yum! I also got some black pudding, which is literally one of my favourite things (and I was sad that my fry-up the day before didn’t come with any).

And so that was my weekend. Marathon training is looking good so far – touch wood!

Have you ever done Queen Elizabeth parkrun?

What does your ideal fry-up contain?

Are you layering up for winter yet?

Chichester parkrun, brunch and long running

Saturday morning was another morning of parkrun tourism, followed by a catch-up brunch and cake with my lovely university friend Charlotte and her husband Paddy.

They live in Brighton and I live in Fareham (between Portsmouth and Southampton) so Chichester is sort of half-way point. I had a TV I no longer needed and they were in need of one so I offered to sell it to them. But then I felt mean selling it to them as they’re my friends, so I suggested they just buy me brunch instead (food is always a winner in my book). As we were meeting in Chichester on the Saturday I figured it would be a great time to do Chichester parkrun, which I’ve never done. No it doesn’t count towards my Alphabet Challenge as I’ve already done so many “C”‘s (Cardiff, Conwy and Chelmsford) but it was one sort of within the area that I needed to tick-off.

I headed down at about 8am and as it would take about 30-40 minutes I made up a nice hot coffee to take with me, as I knew there would be toilets there. The parkrun begins very close to the Northgate car park that I was very familiar with, having been to Chichester a number of times. My mum always says that those public toilets are the nicest public toilets she’s ever been too. So I wasn’t concerned.I arrived in more than enough time and paid for parking and headed to the loos. On the sign it said they’d be open from 7am…but they weren’t. I jogged over to the starting area of parkrun and asked one of the volunteers if they knew of another toilet. They said it was odd the other ones weren’t open. I jogged back to check again as I really did need to go. It was very cold so it was a nice warm-up anyway. But no they were still locked.Hmmm. I jogged around and tried to find somewhere else but to no avail. Eventually I jogged off round the corner and found a secluded, albeit not entirely hidden-away bush. A man was jogging towards me and I mentioned I was about to have a cheeky wee and he kindly headed the other way. So I quickly crouched down, as you do as a female, and in my panic to wee as quickly as possible without being spotted didn’t realise (until too late) that I put half my bum straight into stinging nettles. GAH. Luckily it was only one cheeky (I daren’t even imagine other possibilities, *shudders*) but damn it was uncomfortable.
Anyway, I was glad to have gone anyway. Then I listened to the newbie briefing. It was VERY cold but I’d done a bit of a warm-up so it wasn’t so bad…until I had to de-layer. Then we lined-up and we were off. It had a very odd start running across a field and then after about 200-300m turning completely around on ourselves to go round a post and back the other way. Bizarre. Then we did a sort of zigzag course up this field before heading down a tarmac path to do it all again. It was an odd course in this respect, and mostly on grass so it was quite slippy. Especially as there were so many points to turn and go a different direction. I’m not sure I’d like this to be my home one it must be said. There were only 220 people so it felt quite small and un-busy which was nice. The leader of the pack was a young female who really was right out front. I think she did it in just over 19 minutes so not crazy fast but still way ahead of anyone else.My legs felt very tired as I’d run nine miles the day before so I wasn’t going for any great speed. I also don’t think it would have been a great one for speed due to the zigzags and the slippiness, but the downhill bit along the tarmac was great to stretch the legs. And to head to the finish on! On lap two though there were a bunch of runners who were running and they headed straight on instead of turning left to do another lap and this confused me a lot as I wondered if I was going the wrong way, but turns out they weren’t doing parkrun at all (which always baffles me as surely you’d just join in if you were in the area running at that time?).
I finished in 23.08 which I was happy with as it felt fairly easy and I wasn’t out of breath at all at the end. As soon as I’d finished I got a message from my friend saying they were five minutes away. What perfect timing! I jogged back to my car and saw them arrive. I quickly put some trousers on as it was so cold and we walked into Chichester proper to find some brunch. I’d done a bit of research beforehand to find the perfect spot. Though Bill’s is always a good shout and they do do nice breakfasts I’d found a place called The Fat Fig, which looked really different and tasty.We all ordered the Turkish fry-up which was delicious! Feta, halloumi, eggs, Turkish sausage, a filo pastry thing full of feta, olives and toast. So good.It was nice to have something a little different. The Fat Fig was a lovely place – lots of pastries and cakes as well.After food we headed for a little mosey about round Chichester (such a lovely place to wander round). Obviously we went into Hotel Chocolat of course, my favourite chocolate place. And then we decided breakfast pudding was in order. We evaluated all the cake options and decided on a cafe which used to be The Swallow Bakery but now is something else, though it didn’t have a name over the door (or maybe it;s the same but just getting a re-vamped sign? I don’t know…). I had a raspberry cake which was delicious and looked amazing in the middle.I also shared a Halloween cake pop with Charlotte (because I’m greedy remember). They each had a cupcake – I can’t remember what but they said it was like a fruit crumble inside! Delicious.

And then we eventually parted ways. My brunch very much lasted me until dinner that evening – I was stuffed!

The next morning (after a gloriously long sleep due to the extra hour) I headed to Hedge End (where I used to live) to meet my friend, Mike, to do part of a long run with him. He’s not training for anything in particular anymore so really didn’t want to do a long run so I was going to run with him and the continue on my own for the rest of my long run. I definitely needed someone to run part the way with though as I’ve been feeling so demotivated in my long runs lately. I much prefer to be running with others right now, weirdly enough.

The run was tough though. I could really feel the miles from the previous two days so I was glad we kept the pace to a conversational one (around 9 minute miles). Mike wasn’t feeling it much either. It’s tough when you don’t have a marathon within the next month to get really motivated!I did seven miles with Mike and then headed off to do three on my own. Let me tell you, those three miles really felt like a slog. I listened to a podcast and just felt exhausted. I was glad to get back to my car and head home. There was no way I could have run a mile more! I’ve definitely run too much this week (five times! I normally only run four times). I felt so drained.After re-fuelling on breakfast and a hot coffee my parents and I headed out for a lovely hour long walk along the Farlington Marshes in Portsmouth (which is near where the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon goes). It was cold but lovely and sunny.

At the start of the walk they have a board where people can write in chalk what birds have been spotted that day. I mean, I know nothing about birds so hadn’t a clue but it was interesting nonetheless (I jokingly said to my parents that I should have written “duck” on there…probably wouldn’t have gone down well! Bird watching is serious business).We did see a lot of birds (bird watchers) but nothing that I could have identified.Then we headed to Emsworth for a lovely coffee and a cake. It was a fabulous way to end a walk! I still felt very drained and wondered if I was coming down with something – or at least fighting something off. My mum has been ill for a week now with a cold so I wonder if it’s that… but anyway, a good weekend regardless!

Do you know different birds?

How do you stay motivated with long runs when you don’t have a race close on the horizon?

Have you ever been to Chichester?

Whiteley parkrun and a big breakfast

So this weekend was quite the busy one! Lots of running, eating and sleeping. Though I could have done with a lot more sleep it must be said.

Saturday started off with a 6am alarm and me getting out for a solo three miles. I was meeting my friend Mike to run to Whiteley parkrun at 7.15am but I wanted to get a few more miles because my next few weeks are a bit all over the place and I’m not sure when I’ll get a decent long run in. I did 15 miles last weekend so the plan was to get 16 miles in total.My three miles went by without a hitch and probably a bit faster than I was planning. I never give myself enough time for anything (incidentally, I’m writing this on the train up to London today and I had to run the last bit to catch it on time, case and point). I basically leave no wiggle room for if things go wrong. So the last mile I started panicking I’d be late and sped up a bit.Happily I got to Mike just on time and we started our run. Mike had thankfully provided the route (another thing I’m not great at…navigation). We aimed to go a bit faster than his planned marathon pace and the miles flew by as we put the world to right talking about dating, work and life in general. I enjoy running with Mike as he’s such a good friend and he’s always willing to listen to my randomness. These runs are like therapy sometimes!The last mile or so of the run was uphill and I was feeling fairly tired by this point. It was a struggle. However the final stretch was a lovely downhill. We arrived at Whiteley though with enough time for a quick loo visit and a chat with our friend, Geoff, who’s recently moved from Netley to Whiteley as his regular parkrun. I don’t get to see him as much as I used to so it was nice to catch up with him again.The first two miles of the parkrun were tough. Though Whiteley isn’t hilly there is a sneaky incline at the beginning that just sucks your soul. And then as you get more into the wooded parts it becomes quite twisty turny. You do three laps so it’s not a fast course but there is potential if you’re in good shape. I was in no shape really to do anything other than count down the 0.1 miles.By mile three I got a second wind and decided to push on a bit faster – mainly just to finish quicker really! I finished with a time of 23:39 which I’m very pleased with. And 16.5 miles in the bag. We helped Geoff pack away parkrun after he guilt-tripped us into it saying he had a low number of marshals 😉At this point I was desperate for a drink, specifically an ice cold Diet Coke. Mike and I were going to celebrate the long run by having breakfast at Coast to Coast which was in the Whiteley shopping area just a short walk away. But we helped him pack away and it was nice to carry on chatting with him.

Mike, Billy (another running friend) and I

We finally go to Coast to Coast and I had to stop myself downing my Diet Coke within 10 seconds.I ordered a fry-up, though I swapped the breakfast potatoes that would normally come with it for black pudding (I love black pudding) and ordered sourdough toast to go with it. I was quite surprised the fry-up didn’t come with toast to be honest.It was a good fry-up but not up there with the best (the fry-up connoisseur that I’ve now become…). I appreciated them segregating my beans from my meal as I hate a big puddle of beans contaminating everything and the black pudding was delicious. It came with a sweet potato fritter which was OK but a bit soggy and not that crispy (also quite random). But the meal was tasty and did the job. I actually didn’t need to eat again until 6.30pm!

Mike had pancakes, bacon and maple syrup which he enjoyed. I’m personally not a big pancake fan (or a sweet breakfast fan in general) so this didn’t appeal to me. But it was a lovely breakfast and a great way to celebrate some solid mileage. It was also fairly cheap as they had a “two breakfast for £10” offer going on.

My dad picked us up, which was really nice of him. Originally he was going to come and do parkrun but we had a busy day planned for Sunday with lots of walking round London so he decided to save himself – but still offered to bring us home as we were a bit stranded otherwise!

The rest of the day I was very tired. The run had really drained me. I met my mum for coffee and we did a bit of shopping and then I had a cheeky afternoon nap. I needed my energy as I was heading out that evening for drinks with my friends to celebrate a number of our recent birthdays.The evening was great. It was so nice to see my friends and de-stress. This past week has been horrendously stressful and I haven’t felt quite my happy normal self. I definitely needed to see my friends to help me relax and feel better.

Unfortunately I had another 6am alarm the next morning to catch a 7am train to London with my dad so I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I would have liked. But we had a fun day planned of the Great Newham 10k (my dad really enjoys spectating and supporting my races) and then some tasty food afterwards as a delayed Father’s Day and birthday celebration. But more on that in another post!

How was your weekend?

Do you like to run to parkrun?

What’s your ideal post run breakfast at a restaurant?