parkrun, long running and a natural body polish review

This weekend was a really quiet one. I had no plans for once and it was a great time to catch up on house chores and jobs and have a chilled weekend.

I went to Netley parkrun on the Saturday morning. It was a warm morning but windy. I took Alfie along again with me. Now that it’s summer it’s so nice to be able to bring him so he can have a good run about while we set the course up. I don’t always bring him with me to parkrun though because I have to have someone to look after him while I run. My running friend Mike has been bringing his daughter, Kelci, to parkrun lately and she enjoys looking after Alfie, which is very helpful.I always feel so mean leaving Alfie at home while I go off running on a Saturday morning, especially when the weather’s so nice. So I’m very grateful for Kelci helping out! They’re planning on getting a dog of their own so it’s good practice.

I headed to the loo for a quick pre-parkrun pee to find a gathering of people and locked toilets. The person who normally unlocks them was late. Suddenly my desire for a wee intensified, purely on the basis that I might not be able to relieve myself! One of the parkrun regulars, an older and lovely lady, stated rather elegantly that she was “off to find herself a bush”. She said it in such a dignified and polite way it made me chuckle. Luckily though it wasn’t that much longer before the caretaker showed up with the keys. Whew!

And then onto the start and a squinty selfie.The sun was shining and I was fancying a time of around 22-23 minutes. With the wind and temperature I knew realistically breaking 22 minutes wasn’t going to happen, especially after having quite a heavy week of running for me (the intervals on Tuesday and a nine miler with my friend on Thursday evening). As soon as I started running I knew I should have had a warm-up. Why don’t I ever learn? Trying to run fast straight from the start never works and I feel terrible on mile one. It wasn’t hugely busy as the Endure 24 event in Reading was on and a lot of my club and other local clubs were doing it. The Isle of Wight Festival was on as well.I got stronger and felt better as the run continued thankfully (which is why I should warm up!). I waved to Kelci and Alfie on the way round, not that Alfie took a blind bit of notice as he was having far too much fun sniffing and playing with Kelci.The photographer, Chris Stapleford, took all the running photos this week so a big thank you to him. He said to me afterwards that I was one of the few runners that consistently smiled all the way round. Well, I don’t know quite about that as every photo I seem to be looking very serious!!In the end I got 22:05 which I’m chuffed with (damn those 6 seconds though…).Netley parkrun always seems to be a bit short on the Garmin because we go into the trees for a bit of it and it messes with the satellite. We’ve been reassured it’s accurate after several times measuring the course but it does annoy me when Strava thinks it’s 3 or 2.9 miles.

My running friend, Kate, was running with a buggy and she mentioned afterwards how she finds it annoying when people overtake her, cut in front and then slow down right in front of the buggy. I never really considered what running with a buggy would be like and it was interesting to hear Kate’s perspective. I always tend try to get past buggies as it can be annoying to get stuck behind one but Kate’s a fast runner so it must be very frustrating when people will assume she’s slow and just hurry past and then slow down again in front of her simply because she has a buggy. I know it bugs me when people do it to me on the motorway. If you’re going to overtake, maintain that speed afterwards!

I munched on two cookies afterwards (I do love it when it’s someone’s milestone!) and helped clear the course. Another solid parkrun complete.

The next day I had a long run planned with Mike and Kate, aiming for around 13 miles. As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying running with others and obviously running with Mike is good training as we’ll be running the New Forest Marathon together eventually (me pacing him).

Happily we met at the very socially friendly time of 9am (I like my 8am lie-ins on a Sunday!). It was a very warm morning so we all took water with us. We stuck to around 9 min/miles which felt comfortable but not as comfortable as it might have felt on a cooler day.Annoyingly I stopped my Garmin and saved it again when we crossed for some lights. SO annoying. The route we took is a really boring and annoying route, one I only do if I’m running with others. It becomes more undulating in the later part of the run which is never fun. But it did the job. For Mike to get a sub-4 we need to be running around 9 minute miles for the marathon, though the plan is to start a bit slower than this and pick it up later. I think he found the run quite tough but we’ve only really just started marathon training and it was a very hot day. Plus I think we’re both conscious of how we run the day before at parkrun will definitely have an effect on the next day’s running, so that’s something to bare in mind going forward.

And now onto a review of a body polish I’ve recently been using. When it comes to cosmetics and skincare I’m somewhat…lacklustre? I don’t really have a “routine”. I used to be really good about cleansing and toning, but now? Eh…not so much. I just can’t be bothered. I’m lucky to have good skin (asides from the occasional spot now and again) and I don’t wear make-up so really I don’t do much else than wash with water. When it comes to the shower I just use a shower gel.

I find though I do get a bit of dry skin on my legs so moisturise those after showering. So when I heard about the Beauty Kitchen’s Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Polish I was quite intrigued. I’ve found in the past exfoliating can help with my dry skin and this sounded like a really nice product. It contains minerals and naturals oils for detox, exfoliation and rejuvenation. It’s also never tested on animals and suitable for vegans.I use a scoop of it when I’m in the shower and basically rub it all over my legs in a circular motion. You can feel the grainy texture of it working with (against?) your skin as you do so. Then I shower it off. It does take some showering to get it off though as it is quite oily but afterwards my legs felt so silky! And the smell is heavenly. I don’t use it every time I shower because who has time for that!? But I try and use it once every two or three days and honestly it feels quite indulgent.My only annoyance is that it leaves little black flecks in my shower that I then have to use the shower head to wash away. But it’s worth it as my legs are super shiny!  It’s available from Holland & Barrett at £14.99, which is quite pricey (especially for someone who leans towards the cheaper shower gels…). But you only need a small scoop each time so I can see this lasting me a while. I love how natural the product is too. Thumbs up!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a skincare regime?

Do you have routes you’ll only run with other people on?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the body polish for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Long running and being forgotten

The second part of my bank holiday weekend was just as full of running and eating as the first part.

On Sunday I met up with Mike for a long run. I’ve become quite used to running with other people for a long run that I tend to not look forward to running on my own as much. It’s weird because I used to love long running solo so much more. I think it’s just perhaps because I’ve been training for marathons so often that I need to change things up.

I’ve also found when I run with others I run a lot slower, close to 9min/miles rather than 8min/miles. As I won’t be running on my own for the New Forest Marathon and will be running slower than I normally would (as I’ll be pacing Mike), this does make sense. Plus it makes the training a lot less intense and more enjoyable right now. Perhaps this is why I’ve managed to remain uninjured…who knows (*cough* let’s be honest, this is the way it’s normally done during marathon training and I definitely do need to slow down long runs). That said, I won’t be running all my long runs with others as I know mentally I need that time by myself running.

So anyway I ran 1.5 miles to the location I was meeting Mike. He was nice enough to meet closer to where I was (I was at my parent’s – they live about 15 minutes from Southampton) as I had a good route for about 11 miles that was quite pretty along the coast. It was fairly warm but not as oppressive as the day before. It was nice doing my usual route with someone else and the miles flew by as we chatted away.

I will explain why those mile splits look weird and actually further than 12.75 miles! The first reason is that I stopped my watch when I got to my parents so I could throw my water bottle on the drive after I decided to run back to Mike’s car…but I then accidentally saved the activity. So then had to start my watch again to record the last 1.5 miles recorded as we got going again.

For Mike to get a sub 4 hour marathon we need to be running around 9 min/miles so this kind of training is good. I ran back to Mike’s car so I totalled almost 13 miles whereas Mike did over 11. A good solid long run. Mike kindly drove me back to my parents and we waved goodbye. As I knocked on my parent’s door I realised both cars weren’t there…and I didn’t have a key. Hmmm. I decided to just chill outside on the grass as I’d said I’d be finished at 11am and it was just that now. As time ticked by I realised perhaps they weren’t coming back for 11 and had forgotten I didn’t have a key.

As I’d run 11.75 miles I decided I might as well run 1.25 miles to get up to 13 as it meant I could run along the pavement that I knew my parents would drive along if they were to come back and then I could hop in the car with them. Nope, still not back. Then I walked to the shop and bought a drink as I was now really thirsty. I was lucky that the weather was so nice as if this had happened in winter I might have been huddled in the garage instead!Eventually my dad arrived back at 12. He looked surprised to see me. As well he might!! Ah well. My time for any sort of breakfast had disappeared as we were planning to have a BBQ at 1pm so I had a shower instead.

And then to add insult to injury, I walked with my mum to the Stubbington village to buy a Costa to find their coffee machines weren’t working. And then it started raining. The universe is out to get me!

We decided to have the BBQ anyway as we had all the food, and to be honest we’re British and if you plan a BBQ you DO the BBQ regardless of the weather.My dad manned the BBQ under a large parasol and would run back into the kitchen with plates of cooked food for us to eat inside. We had a lovely spread of chicken skewers, turkey skewers, steak and burgers. Delicious and much needed refuelling!

Monday was a fairly boring day. I went to the gym, I did lots of housework and food prep for the coming week… but it’s always nice to get that stuff done. I met with my parents for coffee but otherwise had a very relaxed day. Sometimes you just need it!

How did your Bank Holiday weekend go?

Have you ever been locked out?

Have you ever BBQ’ed in the rain?

Goals and future races

I’m currently puttering around with my running not really doing much in the way of actual training (though some could easily argue this is no different to normal anyway..). What I mean though is I haven’t mentioned any upcoming races or goals.

Obviously I’m still aiming for the six World Marathon Majors (just Chicago and New York left). This is an ongoing goal and realistically won’t be completed that soon sadly. Though the temptation to book onto a tour company and do New York this year heavily pressed on my mind, I’ve decided to be sensible.

As a side note, in general, I’m quite good with managing my money. I keep an eye on it using my “Money Master Spreadsheet” (basically Excel) which keeps track of all my bills, monthly expenditures and general spending. I don’t tend to randomly buy things or go outside my means (random legging purchases aside). Credit cards are paid off at the end of the month (hello extra Tesco points using my Tesco credit card!) and life is quite easy for me, not having any children or crazy overheads. I know that I’m currently very fortunate.

However, where I tend to be a bit more “laissez faire” is when it comes to holidays. Memories and experiences are always something I’m happy to spend money on. However, as tempting as doing New York this year would be, it’s not entirely sensible in the great scheme of things.

There’s no rush for me to complete the Majors within a certain time period and though I look longingly at people on social media who have achieved that incredible Six Star medal I need to remember my time will come and I don’t need to do everything IMMEDIATELY.

So the New York Marathon is likely to be next year. Or the Chicago Marathon (they’re a month apart). It depends where I’m at in life and money. Either way the intention is to be getting my medal in 2019 (hopefully). So, no rush indeed!

Though obviously I still love marathons and always like to have one coming up… so the plan for this year is to do the New Forest Marathon, September 10th.But I’ll be running it with my friend, Mike, who’s aim is to get a sub-4. He’s missed out twice sadly. By rights he really should get a sub-4 but for whatever reason it never translated on race day. So I’m hoping I can help him out and help pace him to that target.

Obviously a marathon is still tough, whatever time you do it in, so there are no guarantees (well, there are no guarantees I’ll even make it to race day with my track record but wishful thinking and all that). But the intention is to run it with him and help him get there by keeping his pace in check and chatting to him on the way round.To add a little bit more complication to it, the New Forest Marathon is somewhat undulating. But, on the plus side, a lot of our club will be there as it’s where our club championships will be happening. The whole weekend is full of different race distances so hopefully a good crowd will be there to support and cheer.

And if this goes well… I’ve also signed up to do the Bournemouth Marathon a mere four weeks later. The idea for this (blue sky thinking here) is that I will be able to pace Mike to his sub-4 for New Forest and then run Bournemouth however I fancy.

I feel like I have unfinished business after getting injured during this marathon a couple of years ago. So another decent shot at it would put some demons to bed. Bournemouth is relatively flat so attempting a ‘good’ time might be on the cards, though I’d just like to get through that finish line actually running this time!

That said, this is me we’re talking about. I’m probably biting off more than I can chew so what actually happens in the autumn is anyone’s guess. But the intention for now is that I’ll be training for the New Forest Marathon to run with Mike and then judge how I feel afterwards about Bournemouth.

So that’s the plan. I’ll start marathon training proper in June I think but I’m already hovering around 10-11 miles for my weekend long run so I’ll probably keep around 10-13 miles for a bit and then begin to build them up towards the end of June. But it’s all very relaxed right now. Hey, I might even get on that speed training wagon at some point!

Until those marathons, I have a couple of 10ks *shudders*. I really wanted to do the 5 miles Beer Race I’ve done three times before but I was too slow in signing up. So instead I’ve signed up to the 10k D-Day race in Portsmouth at the beginning of June. I’ve done it before…I didn’t enjoy it because it’s quite a boring course but it’s super flat so might be a good place to get a good speed session in and see where my fitness is at. And then in July I have another 10k (the Newham Great Run). For someone who vowed not to do more than one 10k a year, I seem to be doing a few of them!!

What races do you have planned?

Do you have any unfinished business with any races?

Have you ever paced someone at a marathon?

My goals for the London Marathon

Well, I tell you what if it wasn’t for social media I think I would have just completely forgotten that it’s the London Marathon in a few days. Ha! On a serious note though, it’s so nice to see so many people doing it. So many from my club, so many people I’m friends with on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… just lots of friendly faces. Well, let’s be honest, most people running it are likely to be super friendly because they’re runners 😉I guess this should be the post where I say what my goals are for running the London Marathon. Hmmm. Survive uninjured. No change from usual I guess! I hope to get around 3:45 but under that would be nice. It really depends on the weather, the crowds and how I feel. The Tokyo Marathon gave me the confidence to know I can run around 8 minute/miles without a huge amount of solid training… but then I was fresher and hadn’t run a marathon a couple of months previously.

It’s all a guessing game with a marathon. Nothing is set in stone. There are SO many external factors along with the internal factors. It’s such a long, long way… you only have to look at a whole host of marathon mile splits on Strava to see people doing absolutely fine, running nice and consistently, to then suddenly gain an extra minute + per mile after half-way or 16 miles or whatever. ANYTHING can happen. Nutrition issues, an injury, a niggle, a mental burp, exhaustion due to bad race strategy, pacing or just plain old fitness.Basically, my first and foremost marathon mantra for anyone and everyone is: RESPECT THE MARATHON. Otherwise it will eat you up and spit you out. You could argue that my not-so-great training and clustering of marathons isn’t quite respecting the marathon…but I’m aware of this and aware of my capabilities. I’m not going to take off at the start like a loony. I mean, I imagine I won’t be able to anyway as it’ll be so busy but in an ideal world I have a list of paces I want to target (i.e. not go faster than) for the first 10 miles, the second 10 miles and then the final 10k will be “see how you feel” as to whether I step it up (unless I’m crawling at that point…).

So, even though I’m not entirely “marathon ready”, I do have a sensible plan and some realistic goals:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Have fun (“fun” is questionable here of course, but fun relative to, say, getting impaled on a big stick and/or getting fired and becoming destitute)
  • See someone famous (ideally I’d love to see Adele from the Early Morning Breakfast show on BBC Radio1, she literally makes my 5.30am gym visits bearable and she’s running London as her first marathon)
  • Time of 3:45(ish)
  • If that fails, sub-4.

So there we go. I won’t lie. I mostly want to meet someone famous 😉 I’ll be THAT annoying person wanting a selfie…I just can’t work out if I’d have the guts to do it while running. Maybe sneakily…

Tomorrow I’m off to London with my mum. I managed to convince her to join me going to the London Marathon Expo to collect my bib by postponing Mother’s Day celebrations until then. After a morning Expo visit I’m treating her to lunch at Jamie’s 15.

Then it gets a bit mad as my mum goes back home on the train while I meet a friend to go with her on the train to Brighton. I’ll spend the day in Brighton with her on the Saturday, to then get the train back to my parent’s house that afternoon. Then I’ll be coaching it up to London stupidly early with my dad on Sunday morning with some other local runners. Wahay I must be mad!!

Huge good luck to everyone running London, or Southampton (10k/half/marathon) and everything else going on!

Easter and the last long run before the London Marathon

To think this time last year I was in Boston running the marathon the year has ZOOMED by. It’s mental. This weekend for me, instead, was all about Easter.

Like a lot of people, I had Friday to Monday off which was just perfection. Having not had a lie-in last weekend due to going to Salisbury and Brighton, it was nice to sleep in on Friday. For me a lie-in is anything from 7am really, so sleeping in to 8am was heavenly. I was staying at my parent’s house as in the morning we were off to Salisbury (again). It was so nice last weekend and we didn’t get much of a chance to do much moseying about so we thought it would be an ideal spot for a little bit of shopping and some lunch, this time with my mum as well.We walked to Salisbury Cathedral and enjoyed looking at the lovely old buildings around it. I do love Britain and the fact we have so much history. It’s incredible how old some of these buildings are (some having being built in 13th century!).

I also enjoyed looking round a few different sweet and fudge shops. I got myself some chocolate covered foamy bananas which are such a weakness for me. I love them!I also saw a HUGE Lindt bunny. It was enormous!

Then we headed to The Giggling Squid, a Thai tapas restaurant. There’s one in Brighton that my friend had recommended so I thought it a good shout to try the Salisbury one. That and the fact that I’d been craving Thai food since trying my hand at cooking it.As it was quite a chilly day I had some peppermint tea which was delicious. Fresh mint leaves in the tea pot! I had chicken satay skewers to start and, rather than tapas, I had a main dish. It was a standing sea bass! It was on a bed of salad and very tasty indeed. It had been lightly deep fried in order to make it..er, erect. My dad and me shared some boiled rice and it was a very lovely, and, I must say, light lunch for me! The meal and the service were fantastic.

Saturday morning saw me heading to Netley Abbey parkrun after not being there in ages. It was nice to be back in the fold and to see my parkrun friends again. We were on the summer course which meant no more six hills, just the usual incline three times. I ran with my friends Mike and Mark. Mark ran with a buggy and was recovering from the very hot Brighton Marathon a couple of weeks ago. This photo made me laugh a lot:

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

The runaway buggy! A momentary lapse of control I believe. No one was hurt 😉

I felt quite strong on the run and put some effort in, though trying to talk to Mark and Mike at the same time probably wasn’t entirely wise!On the final stretch I was overtaken by a running club team mate who I thought was pacing someone. I looked a bit outraged as I thought it a bit mean to overtake so near to the finish when he’d been pacing someone. Though it looks like I’m genuinely annoyed, I was actually joking!In the end I got the exact same time as last week’s Salisbury parkrun which was quite amusing (22:36).I seemed to have stepped it up from lap one!
What made the parkrun especially good was the fact that Mike, who had celebrated his 100th parkrun the week before, had brought with him some saved pieces of shortbread that he’d made. I’d been sad I’d missed celebrating his 100th the week before and I was uber grateful he’d put a few pieces to one side for me.I took them to the cafe with me after clearing down parkrun and made it very clear: Anna does not share food ;-P To be honest, I ate them so quickly it’s unlikely anyone saw I had them anyway. They went very nicely with a mug of peppermint tea.

Sunday saw me waking up early(ish) again at 7am to meet some guys from the running club to do a long run. There were quite a few of us and despite not being a huge fan of waking up early when I could be sleeping in a little longer, it was so much nicer to go for a long run with a crowd than muscling it out on my own. Especially as at the moment I’m feeling so tired and a little fed up of marathon training.

The plan was 12 miles but I wanted to get a few more in, purely because I haven’t done that much long running for the marathon. So I ran to and from the meeting point to add on some extra. The longest run I’ve done since Tokyo has been 16 miles. Lord knows what this means for how the marathon is going to go!To begin with it felt quite tough going. Though there were a good number of us we seemed to be clipping along a bit faster than I’d intended. I was looking for 8.30min/miles. I enjoyed listening to people chatter but kind of closed in on myself a bit as I wondered about the marathon ahead. Quite a few in the group were either doing London or the Southampton marathon, which is on the same day. Everyone around me seemed so much more trained.

It just emphasised to me that I need a break from marathon training so that when I target the next one I can be fresh and put in some proper training, rather than struggle along. It would be nice to go in to one feeling confident and wondering if I could get close to my PB again. But it is what it is!

I felt stronger as the run went on and we finished on quite a clip, though it was tough. I ran the last mile back to my house with one of the ladies and was happy to get 14 miles in in total. I’d have liked 16 but it was hot and I felt tired. Best not to push it the week before!

Are you training for a marathon?

Do you like running long runs in a group or on your own? Usually I prefer to run them on my own, but when my motivation is low it’s nice to have some friendly company.

What’s your opinion on people overtaking you right at the end of parkrun?