Life Check-In

So life lately. Asides from doing idiotic things in my spare time, life has been pretty good, albeit somewhat stressful.

Work

In terms of work, I’m still loving things. Now that schools have started again the traffic is heavier but it’s still nothing in comparison to my journeys to Basingstoke used to be. We’re still talking 30 minutes. This makes me extremely happy. Having more of an evening means I don’t feel like all I do is walk Alfie, eat and then go to bed. I can actually live a little. However this will be changing again as I’ve now moved back home to my parent’s house (more on this in a bit). Though they live closer to where I work, they actually live in a very annoying spot in terms of getting on to the motorway. So the likelihood is that I’ll get stuck in more traffic in the future. However, it still won’t be as bad as Basingstoke was I’m sure.

And the work itself? I’m loving it. So interesting and something I’m so keen to learn more and more about. Working in such a cool and friendly environment helps a lot as well. Not that my last place wasn’t friendly (I have some great friends I made there and keep in touch with) but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be now.

Moving

In terms of moving, I kind of left everything until the last moment. I mean, ehhh, don’t we all work a bit better with some adrenaline and looming, flashing deadline in front of us? I’m renting my flat out furnished so this did make things somewhat easier in terms of physically moving. But I still had a lot of “stuff” to move regardless. And cleaning. I’ve maintained a very high level of cleanliness in my flat (the letting agency commended it when they visited. I was proud) but there were still areas to clean of course. Cupboards, drawers, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

I had Friday and Monday off to master this moving process (while still having quite a busy weekend as well – I never make things easy for myself of course). Friday was literally pack my life away into my Fiat 500, and thankfully my dad’s larger car. I packed about half of my stuff (SO. MANY. CLOTHES. WHY) and then realised actually I had quite a lot of stuff.This giant Next bag and the big blue IKEA bags were my saviour. As everything was to fit into cars, rather than a van, it was all about squashability. Plus I didn’t actually have that many boxes. I’m also going through the very freeing process of becoming more minimalist. There’s nothing like packing to make you consider whether you want to actually move something or not. I’ve gotten rid of (well, donated to charity) a lot of old trainers, shoes, clothes, books, DVDs and random items.I’ve sold more expensive handbags on eBay and given away other stuff to friends (ahh smoothie maker, it’s been quite a while since I used you). So Friday, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were spent packing the last bits. As I had a busy day (mainly eating, it must be said) Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday, it was quite exhausting getting everything done.My flat was scrubbed clean; the fridge, the balcony glass panes, the windows (inside and out!), the oven, cupboards, bathroom, skirting boards…everything!It’s funny because I keep forgetting that it’s still going to be my flat. I can still move back there at some point in the future. I’m not selling it. So the level of sadness is minimal. I will of course miss it and I will miss my lovely cushty lifestyle there but I know this is the right thing to do. But jeeeesus was it tiring getting it all done. My parents helped where they could but they too were busy at the weekend and couldn’t have the time off of work. But I am an INDEPENDENT WOMAN, yes indeed. There is nothing like walking up and down two flights of stairs carrying heavy bags and boxes on your own to drill that into you.Running

By far the most interesting thing to discuss right? 😉 My running since the New Forest Marathon has been pretty good. Weirdly I’ve gone from the lone wolf runner who does most of her running solo, to someone who now regularly does her runs with other people. On Tuesday nights I’ve been running with a guy at work which has been nice. So far we’ve only run two four milers as we’ve both been recovering from high mileage at the weekend. But it’s been good regardless. It’s nice as well to chat to someone outside of work hours about work. I know that doesn’t sound great but for someone who would literally forget about work as soon as I left the building, to have interest and passion about what I do now means I’m genuinely interested in talking about it further.

Thursdays still see me running with my friend Mike. He’s always fun to run with and we often have good conversations regarding dating, life and the universe. It’s a bit like therapy 😉 Our recent run of 10k went by nicely. Though we both wondered how the hell we’d run regularly 7-9miles before. A marathon definitely takes it out of you. However, our splits were nicely around 8.30s rather than 9minutes so that was something.And Saturday is parkrun of couse. Speaking of adulting fails… I somehow managed to register myself TWICE. So when I’ve been scanning my barcodes recently I’ve been scanning a different Anna (it’s still me, but not my usual account, just one I created YEARS ago when I was just starting running outside). I only realised this when I went to see how many parkruns I’ve done and found I’d only done about five, which is wrong! Stupid me. I’ve sent an email to the lovely parkrun chaps but they said it was too time-consuming to change it. It’s fair enough, of course. This is my own error, but I’m still SO annoyed (at myself). This means I’ll be out of count for milestones… OK my next milestone is 250 which is over 100 parkruns away but STILL. And now I don’t have Brighton & Hove on my tourism list. ARGH.

But anyway, parkrun at Netley this week was nice. It was lovely weather and I did a nice negative split as I started feeling stronger as the run continued.

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I so much prefer to build up to speed than go out guns blazing. Though with 5ks if you want a really solid fast time you do need to be on the speed as soon as you start… but my body doesn’t really work like that for parkrun. I guess I could do more miles to warm-up but with helping set-up there’s never time. Plus I’m not too bothered by getting a super fast time these days!

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I look very much “in the zone” in that photo above – this was on the finishing straight. So my time was 22:19 which is not too shabby!I think we’ll be moving onto the dreaded winter course soon (which feels so much harder). I had to dash off quickly after finishing as I needed to get a bit more packing done before meeting my friend for lunch. I did get a cheeky photo though with our new sign. Very fancy shmancy indeed! My friend, Joe, decided to photobomb it which was quite amusing.I’ll do a recap of the Solent Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday in another post…

Basically, the Cliff Notes of the post is, my life is going well. I’m a very happy apple right now (yes I did just refer to myself as an apple). Things have slotted into place and life is feeling good.

Do you enjoy cleaning? This is a random question, but I actually love cleaning. I get so much satisfaction from it.

Do you like the people you work with? And the environment you work in?

How’s your running/exercising going?

Finally a sub-21 parkrun and the Lavender Tea Rooms

On Saturday morning I headed to Netley parkrun as per usual. For the second week in a row it was the cricket pitch course.

The cricket pitch is only used when the other field has an event going on. The course is 5.5 laps of a cricket pitch so has been named as the “Marmite Course” because though it’s super flat, it’s very dull and mentally a tough run. It’s great if you’re going for a fast time, but the enjoyment factor is low because it’s so monotonous. It’s also actually quite tough to remember how many laps you’ve done!

It’s recently been slightly amended to ensure it’s an accurate course as previously it’s measured about 130 metres short. I intended on giving it my best that morning but when I ran across the field to the store cupboard to help with getting the signs and cones out to set the course up (I was running late…) my legs felt heavy. I felt myself immediately back-tracking on my desire to beat last week’s time (21:38).The good thing about the cricket pitch is that it takes far less time to set everything up so this gave me a bit more time to actually do a proper warm-up (well, one lap of the cricket pitch) and get me more in confident frame of mind. The weather was also fairly cool and sunny but with a slight breeze. So conditions were good!

My friend, Mike, also wanted to aim for a good time and though we’re around the same times at the moment I decided to run with my music. I know Mike likes to go like a bat out of hell at the start whereas I’m now more of a “builder upper”. I didn’t want to toast my energy right at the start. There were pacers as well which was good but I knew I needed to run my own game rather than depend on someone else.

Though I’d had limited confidence earlier that morning, as soon as we started and my music got playing it was like I had an injection of energy. I no longer felt heavy or slow. At around half a mile I checked my pace and saw I was running around 7 minutes. To beat last week’s time I knew I needed to stay there abouts around this speed to get under 21:38. The pace felt tough but not impossibly so so I just hung on and kept going. I saw the sub-22 pacer ahead and slowly pushed ahead of him as the laps went on.

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

This photo makes me laugh because it looks like I’m side-eyeing the photographer. I really wasn’t in a “let’s wave and smile” kind of zone!

I started confusing myself with how many laps I’d done, despite keeping count on my fingers. I didn’t know whether I needed to do 5 laps then finish or 5 laps then another to finish. Basically my brain felt a bit addled with the exertion!

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

OK I lied, I did do a bit of smiling. Sort of! I felt myself gaining in confidence as I overtook people. Sadly I overtook my friend Chris who is usually so much faster than me who wasn’t having a good run. He’s been aiming for a sub -20 for a few weeks and by rights should be there but it just hasn’t panned out yet. I also noticed Mike a fair way behind me – I wondered if he was having a “bad” run like Chris (it turned out he too didn’t have the parkrun he wanted unfortunately).

Photo credit: Chris Stapleford

And the pain was setting in now… I worked out from my time and who was in front when I’d be heading to the finish and just pushed through the last bit. As I crossed the line and stopped my watched I was shocked to see 20:57. A 20!!! I haven’t seen one of those in a good long while.And a negative split! I just prayed and prayed that my official parkrun time would be sub-21 too…After finishing I immediately laid down to catch my breath. I gave everything and I’m really proud of myself. I feel myself getting more and more back in good shape. I just hope I don’t get injured. To be honest though, I’m just loving running at the moment. parkrun times naturally coming down is such a bonus, but just running without issues is literally the best thing ever right now. And the email later from parkrun confirmed that I did indeed get 21:57, and second female! Not too shabby 🙂 Injury free and a speedy time (for me)!

I felt buoyed for the rest of the day and fully enjoyed some tasty treats for lunch at the New Forest Lavender Tea Rooms with my parents.I ordered a cheese scone with a salad, followed by a Mint Aero rocky road slice and a pot of tea. It was divine! If you’re ever in the New Forest area, you must go to the Lavender Farm as it’s such a beautiful place. A small garden centre with an absolutely fantastic tea room serving home-baked treats and delicious light bites.My cheese scone was absolutely SUPERB. Warm, crumbly and delicately cheesy without being overwhelmingly so. My Mint Aero rocky road was obviously divine as well. My dad ordered a Lavender scone with cream and jam and only ate half (he’s being so good with his healthy eating) so I got to nibble on the rest. You could taste the lavender but it was a nice subtle taste rather than being overpowering or strange. All round delicious!We had a mosey round the garden centre and then headed off to Beaulie for a little walk and more moseying round another garden centre and little shops (so quintessentially British right? Looking round garden centres in spring after tea and cakes).It was a lovely way to spend a sunny day! And to prepare me for Tough Mudder the next day which I had only found out I was doing only on Thursday…

Do you prefer a savoury or sweet scone?

What’s your parkrun goal?

How did you spend your weekend?

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?