A weekend of running and vegan food

I know, vegan food and me. I’m like the biggest meat-eater and meat-lover alive…but first let’s start with parkrun.

I was back at Netley parkrun this Saturday which was nice. The weather was lovely, though there were some loitering dark clouds overhead which thankfully didn’t come to anything during our time there.I helped with set-up as usual. We were on the summer course…three laps with three hills, oh joy. I actually don’t mind this course as it breaks up the running monotony that can come with a flat course.I’ve recently been sent some SIS products to test out so I thought it the ideal occasion to test out their new caffeine shots. I gave one to my friend, Mike, as well for him to try. We toasted to a good parkrun and downed the 60ml shot.I had the tropical flavour, which has a very sweet and sour flavour to it. It contains 150mg of caffeine so a hefty dose for such a small bottle. I really like the taste of these (though they are quite sour) and I’m keen to test it out in other scenarios, like pre-races and pre-early morning gym sessions when I need a kick up the backside.

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

I did feel, whether psychologically or physically, ready to hit the ground running at the start. I gave it my best but it was tough having become so used to the flatter courses. The hill kind of breaks your flow a bit but I do prefer a three lap course and mentally it’s a lot more interesting.My time was 21:30. I gave it a good effort and with the hills I’m quite happy with this time. Though looking back the last time I was on the Netley summer course I got 21:38 so the progress isn’t that great! I’m not too bothered about parkrun times in general but it’s nice to keep track of my times and see progress being made. I do feel that my running has become somewhat lazy recently though. I will run the majority of my runs all the same pace. I need to get back into doing some speed work if I do want to get a bit faster. Maybe once every two weeks? That’s the intention anyway.After parkrun, and scoffing down half a large slice of cake that my friend’s daughter was eating (she needed help, I was more than happy to assist!) I headed home to get ready to head out to have coffee with my mum, dad, sister, her fiance and my nieces.We had a lovely coffee and then mooched around the shops. I got some nice pieces from H&M, including a £7 leather jacket! I don’t actually understand why it was so cheap and thought it was marked up incorrectly. There’s nothing wrong with it but I won’t argue with the price! I now have a good outfit sorted for my birthday trip to London next month with my girlfriends. Whoop whoop!

I’d planned to do a long run from my parent’s house the next day, around 10-13 miles, but then via my running club Facebook group I heard a couple of people heading out at 9am for around 10 miles which sounded perfect. It’s always nicer to run with other people so I tagged on with them.

I’m so glad I did as the miles just fly by when you’re with company as you’re chatting away. Also I didn’t have to think about the route as they already had something planned. It was a lovely route through Manor Farm, which is a local park/woodland area with lots of off-road trails and a couple of hills.

Unfortunately one of the guys felt ill and decided to stop at 4 miles. After checking he was OK and him pushing us to carry on, we continued on. It was just the two of us then, a lovely lady from the running club and myself, and it was just such a nice run, both in company and the route.

After the run I rushed back home to shower and get ready to head out to meet my lovely friend, April. She’s a fellow blogger who’s mum lives in Southampton so was down for the week. We’ve been meaning to catch up and she knew of a very cool-sounding vegan restaurant, Off Beet in Wickham. I’ve seen her numerous Instagram posts for this cafe but have never been myself so it seemed like the opportune moment.Located in the old mill, it’s quite hidden away. It’s a small set-up, with only a few tables so booking is necessary, and the menu is quite small but everything is home-made and beautifully presented. I was quite hungry by this point so I was won over by the beetroot burger with polenta chips.

It was really tasty. The burger was made up primarily of beetroot with lots of vegetables and salady bits in a portobello mushroom “bun”. There was also cashew cheese on the burger! The sauce was a home-made sugar-free BBQ sauce with polenta chips.It was very tasty (like like the plate tasty) but I wasn’t quite full afterwards. You know me, big appetite and all that. Thankfully April is the same so we decided pudding was a necessity.

We both had the brownie cheesecake (yes, still vegan!) and I went for a 70% hot chocolate made with almond milk. WOWZA. Rocked. My. World.It was so creamy and tasty. Not hugely sweet like a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake but sweet enough to be very yummy indeed. This certified meat-eater approves! See, I can forgo meat occasionally 😉

It was a lovely afternoon catching up with April (both of us discussing all things running and our wanderlust desires of travelling and seeing the world…). And the sun was shining which just made it perfect.

Do you enjoy vegan food?

Have you ever tried a caffeine shot?

Do you do intervals or speed work regularly?

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?

All the puddings

This weekend was full of highs and lows. Let’s get the lows done quickly, shall we?

I ran on Monday night and my shin/calf was really niggly. It had niggled slightly at parkrun a week ago but I put it down to it being really cold and my muscles not being warm enough. But Monday clarified things. It didn’t feel right and afterwards it felt pretty crappy. I’ll go into this in another post but basically this is rubbish.

Anyway, I didn’t run again until deciding to try a few miles before parkrun this weekend (because I was panicking I hadn’t hit the 8 mile long run I needed to for Tokyo). Though I knew I was lying to myself. I knew the run wouldn’t go well really and this was just to avoid me going to parkrun believing I could run and having to DNF. So on my pre-parkrun walk with Alfie I ran up the road with him and decided it was a no-go. I got back home, wrapped up in warmer clothes and headed to parkrun to set-up and volunteer.img_6900It was very cold and despite having several layers on and a hat I was cold. I was grumpy as I was overthinking about my leg, running and marathon training…but I was eventually cheered up by the lovely parkrun crew. You can’t be too sad at parkrun!

After parkrun and a hot bowl of porridge, I headed to the gym to take out some of my frustrations. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine which made me feel a little better about not running and then did a fantastic glute workout which I’m still feeling today. This included:

• Squats
• Landmine squats (these are great for really working on your depth)
• Monster walks with a resistance band
• Cable pull-throughs
• Leg press burnout
• Single leg deadlifts

I left the gym feeling accomplished and far more happy. Sometimes you just need to sweat it out!

I was also feeling good because I was going out for a Christmas meal with my friends. It’s always so nice to dress up. I wore a very sparkly dress with sparkly shoes and felt really happy 🙂img_6924

We went to the Cams Mill pub (where the Fareham parkrun starts at). It was very nice!img_6935We’d made our menu selections a while ago and I was disappointed with myself for choosing trout as my main rather than turkey (who does that!??!). I think my rationale was that I didn’t want to over-do turkey before the big day. I was very jealous when the mains came out though. However, my trout was delicious (and I got some leftover turkey from one of my friends so it was a win-win!)cams-mill-pubAnd again I was annoyed that I’d selected a pear tart for pudding… but then realised I’d chosen it because the cheesecake was chocolate orange which I don’t really like. I’m not a Terry’s Chocolate Orange fan at all! And Christmas pudding is a bit too rich and alcoholly for me.

The pear tart, however, was really really good. The ice cream was lovely and creamy and the tart was lovely and (dare I say) moist. No big nasty chunks of pear in which I was fearing. As nice as it was, I got serious food envy when I saw the cheesecakes. They looked so good! My friends laughed at me for ordering the inferior pear tart and I grudgingly watched them enjoy their cheesecakes (the far more popular pudding choice). Isn’t it the way when even though the meal you’re eating is nice but you see something that looks more appealing suddenly your meal isn’t as good…just me?

However, I was very lucky that two of my friends didn’t finish their cheesecakes and passed them down to me! Now, on reflection, I can say the pear tart was the better pudding. I’m still not a chocolate orange fan and who serves cheesecake with orange sorbet?? But I can’t say I complained too much 😉 Though I felt very full afterwards!!  Just call me the human dustbin…

I did have a few gin and tonics as well, because it’s Christmas 😉 Though amusingly my first G&T didn’t actually contain any gin and I was sipping away thinking “this is lovely!” until the barman ran over to me and said he needed to put the gin in as it got taken before it was ready! Oops. Shows how much I drink!img_6940Anyway the evening was good. Nothing like good friends and good food to make you feel 100 times better.

Christmas meal number two this week 😀

Are you going to any Christmas parties or meals this year?

Will you be dressing up?

What would you normally order on a Christmas menu?

parkrun, a date and THOSE pancakes

Why is it weekends fly by so quickly? I was quite busy so this is probably why I guess!

Saturday morning saw me back at parkrun at Netley Abbey after a couple of weeks off of running. I hadn’t seen Mike, or any of the Netley parkrun crew, in ages so it was nice to catch up with everyone. I basically chatted the entire way round parkrun! I wasn’t interested in a fast time and just wanted to have a nice enjoyable run. I also got to showcase my Chester Marathon long-sleeved technical tee and my parkrun cow cowl.img_5974This photo made me laugh so much as I literally had no idea that Jim, the photo bomber, was behind me doing that. It was only when I looked at the photo I saw. Hehe.

I bought my cow cowl after I had successful done 20 different parkrun courses and am now on the Most Events table. It’s not a freebie thing like the milestone t-shirts or directly associated with parkrun, you do have to buy it yourself (but it’s like £7 so very cheap), but it’s a great way of identifying with other Most Event parkrunners.cow-cowlThe cowl (or buff) was actually really nice to wear as it was quite nippy at parkrun. Winter is definitely on it’s way 🙁 I’m really not looking forward to the cold morning’s of parkrun set-up and then running in the nasty weather. Hey ho.

My pacing at parkrun was all over the place as I was too busy chatting… parkrun-paceNot particularly consistent really and fairly slow in comparison to previous runs (25:39). But my legs felt alright post marathon (well, they would do I guess after almost two weeks off!) andI’m still trying to take things nice and slow. I want to be really motivated when I get back into proper training so I don’t want to ramp things up too quickly now. I probably won’t run a huge amount in the next few weeks if I’m honest as I also have my eye laser surgery coming up this month. (I will blog about that experience.)

Later on I had a date… we’d “met” through internet dating (Plenty of Fish – just that one tiny step above Tinder I think as I’m not ready to pay actual money yet) and after he cancelled on me the other week we finally rearranged another date. He lives 45 minutes away which, if I’m honest, annoyed me more than it should. After lots of nice reassurance from the Twittersphere that that wasn’t that bad I decided to go more positive than I was initially.

img_5975From my Instagram Story

We met at a pub for lunch. It went OK, he seemed nice and we chatted a lot but then it all fell apart when he said he was too full for pudding. Game over.

No, I’m joking (well, there was no pudding which was somewhat devastating after seeing the table next to me get chocolate fudge cake and millionaire shortbread cheesecake). In truth, as nice as he was I didn’t feel a huge connection and there were things that were fundamental no-no’s (who doesn’t like Harry Potter?? <– OK that is sort of a joke but it was one of a few things I found that didn’t work for me).

*Sighs* so much effort wasted. I don’t think I’m going to continue with the Internet dating at the moment as, in my opinion, the effort involved finding, messaging, working out if they’re not a psycho, meeting up, etc. is just not worth it. I’d rather pootle along as I am right now.

That evening I met up with friends for a house warming party and we had a lovely chilled evening of chilling and chatting. The host provided an amazing spread of Slimming World approved snacks (as she’s trying to lose a bit of weight). There were sweet chilli chicken bites, bacon wrapped asparagus, fruit, crudites and dips. It was fantastic!

I’m definitely starting to warm more to Slimming World – not that I’m going to start obviously but what I mean is that it’s not quite the product-pushing fad diet system I thought it was. It’s working so well for my parents (they’ve both lost over a stone each!!) and it seems to have some sound and sensible guidelines and support system.

Then the next day I headed to London to meet with my uni friends for lunch and catch-up. (Side note: I watched Money Monster on the train and it was really good – very tense. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The train journey flew by).

My friend, Charlotte, took us to an AMAZING spot for lunch called My Old Dutch and WOW. Basically the menu was just pancakes – both sweet and savoury. As I had to catch the train fairly early that morning (damn Sunday trains) I’d forgone a proper breakfast as I wanted a bit longer to sleep in the morning and I knew we were going to this pancake place so wanted to be adequately hungry. I had a banana and a couple of apples but by the time we got there I was starving.

Originally I thought I was going to go for sweet pancakes as I’d already checked them out on Instagram and the pancakes looked i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. But because I was just so hungry I thought it would make me feel a bit ill. Bit of a mistake I think but I REALLY enjoyed the savoury pancake I had.img_5983It was full of halloumi, feta, olives and aubergine.img_5978Perfection. I did get enormous food envy though as one of my friends ordered the Willy Wonka Kinda special.img_5982I mean WOW. It looked amazing. She found it got very sickly (as you can imagine) so I was able to help her out at the end 😉 But yes, it was ridiculously sweet. She was in a sugar coma afterwards which was quite amusing (seen as how it’s usually me who ends up that way!).

Apart from a downpour we got caught in, the meet-up was lovely. Though it sucked it was a Sunday and not a Saturday like we normally do as it meant getting home at 6pm and still having chores and food prep to do… worth it though!

What would you choose: savoury pancakes or sweet?

What would be deal-breakers for you for relationships?

Do you judge people on what they order at restaurants? 😉

Netley Abbey parkrun Review

So I thought I’d start a blog series on different parkruns. Though of course the parkrun website is always the best and first place to look for information about where the course is, parking etc., it’s always nice to have someone give you a first-hand account of what a parkrun is like. Obviously I haven’t done a huge number so this will hopefully be a growing list (one more until parkrun tourism #20!). And if anyone fancies contributing or doing a post, that would be fab (or pointing me in the direction of other people’s posts so I can link to so there can be more than one view). I thought I’d start with my home parkrun, Netley Abbey parkrun.img_1762Location: It’s set in the lovely Royal Victoria Country Park. It’s not that hard to find and once you arrive at the park you can usually see the signs and flags. The scenery is pretty with lots of trees, foliage and a view out to the sea.

Parking: There are lots of car parks in RVCP. It’s £1.50 to park if you buy a one hour ticket and leave a spare parkrun barcode printed next to it on display (and can park from 8-11am). Otherwise I think it’s £3. There are places outside of RVCP but they’re residential areas and, understandably, people can get a bit annoyed with lots of cars parking up and down their road. But usually parking isn’t an issue.

Amenities: There’s a lovely little cafe on the grounds and this has toilets (just outside of the cafe). The cafe serves hot drinks, cold drinks, cake, crisps, ice cream and snacks and lots of hot food options. It’s great!

Course: There are quite a few different course options at Netley due events that happen throughout the year and due to the weather. The usual course is a three lapped course that starts along a stone-tracked path (not horrific to run on as the stones are quite compact and small, but not as nice as flat ground).

img_5532The start area on the stones

Then you head up into Bluebell Woods. There’s a small hill that is neither very steep nor long lasting and then you head off to do a quick loop round the wood bits on a dirt/road track.

img_9264In the woods

You then come back down the small hill (keep to the right!) and swing round to go along some road for about 30 seconds before heading onto the grass. The grass is fairly even though there are some sneaky potholes to be wary of.img_9863You go round a few trees to finish off the lap before starting on the stones again. During the winter there can be many puddles on the stone track and you’re likely to get muddy and wet.netley-abbey-parkrun-courseUsually during winter we switch to the winter course which is tougher. It again involves three laps but instead of running straight to Bluebell Woods it goes down a decline towards the nearby coast and you run alongside the water for a bit. This can get very windy and if it’s raining can be hard-going. You then run back up another path, but this time at an incline which though isn’t that steep does seem to go on forever. The rest of the route is fairly similar though instead of going along the grass you just head back down the stone path to repeat the lap.netley-winter-courseOccasionally, due to summer events, we’re moved to the cricket pitch. This is called the “Marmite Course” because it’s five laps of the pitch which are very flat but quite dull. It’s a great way to get a PB but it does drag on. It’s also tough remembering how many laps you’ve done!

netley-abbeyThe cricket pitch on a misty morning

Elevation: Like I said, one small hill you do three times. You get to run back down it so it kind of evens up.netley-abbey-parkrun-elevationElevation gain is 70ft over the entire run.

Number of participants: This parkrun isn’t hugely busy. We normally get 200-250 participants. It gets busier if other parkruns in the area have been cancelled for whatever reason. Though it isn’t that busy it can feel crowded at times because of the switchbacks. We have a lot of “Keep Right” signs on the course to try and ease this but it doesn’t always helps as faster runners want to overtake and if there are a lot of runners with running buggies. Running with dogs is also allowed and a couple of people do it regularly but the dogs are usually well under control.img_2483It’s a very friendly parkrun and I fully recommend it. No it’s not a PB course but it is pleasant and pretty!

  • Tamsyn Smith from Fat Girl to Ironman blog wrote a recap of the winter course HERE. You can also see more information from their Facebook page and Twitter.
  • Emily writes a fantastic blog reviewing different parkruns and she wrote a recap of the winter course here.

If you’d like to write a parkrun review for this parkrun or any other one you’ve been to, please contact me: annatheapple@gmail.com I’d love more input!

Have you ever been to Netley Abbey before?

Do you like big parkruns or small parkuns in terms of number of participants?

Do you like to go to a cafe after parkrun?