A whole lot of food and not as much running

Well done to anyone who ran the London Marathon, the Southampton Half or Marathon and everything in between! After the crazy Brighton Marathon weekend, this weekend was set to be a lot more chilled. Less running, more chilling, but still good fun and good food.

Saturday I was back at Netley parkrun for the first time in ages. Though Netley isn’t as close as some other parkruns near to where I’m currently living (Lee is just down the road and Fareham is about 10 minutes away), it’s my “home” parkrun. It’s where a lot of my running club and running friends go and as parkrun (and running really) is such a social thing for me, I’m happy to go that bit further. This time I was able to take James as well and show him how we do it daaaaan Saaaath (down South).

Happily it was the summer course – so instead of six hills on the winter course there are just three. It’s still a fairly tricky course though because you go over the grass a lot and it was quite damp and slippy. But I wasn’t aiming for a speedy time so it didn’t bother me. It was a lovely warm morning and the sun was shining. It’s so nice when you get days like this, though it’s always going to be a more sweaty run.I got to meet my friend Mike’s ADORABLE new puppy as well, Luna. Oh my god she was cute. Her fur is so so soft. It was her first time at parkrun (not running, supporting) and she’s only just been allowed outside for walks, so as you can imagine she was quite excited. I look forward to Alfie meeting her! I only managed to snap this photo of her… Anyway, it was nice to see lots of my running friends and catch up briefly. My friend, Mark, had recently had a knee operation so was easing slowly and sensibly back into running. His plan was to run 15 minutes and then walk the rest. He’s also one of the casualties of the change in GFA times for London, having got 3:04 at Chester in order to do London next year. I’m gutted for him.

Mark and I ran together. He’s a lot faster but as he’s coming back from the op my pace suited him and it was nice to run round together catching up. James was steaming ahead at the front – by some significant distance it must be said (I had anxieties on his behalf that he wouldn’t know where to go, despite knowing just how many flags are put out on the course having set it up many times myself.

The legendary Carlo (who raises so much money for charity running as the Cookie Monster and just being a general legend above next to James)

But still, part of my is very glad that I’ll never be in that situation where I’m leading the way and having to know exactly where to go rather than just follow those ahead!).My legs felt good post marathon (SOMEONE TOUCH WOOD IMMEDIATELY). Just a bit tired and heavy, but no niggles and no issues. Jesus, who even am I? It felt tough though running at a less than comfortable pace and I wondered just how the hell I managed the time I did at Brighton. Mark, precisely to the minute, stopped to walk and I carried on. I managed to get faster as the run continued and finished in 21:35 and second female.
James smashed it and came first (18:24). His first ever first position so he was chuffed. Six days after a marathon PB, not too shabby eh.New Brighton Marathon t-shirt – an actual female small that looks good and fits nicely. Happy days.

After Netley, we headed back to shower and eat breakfast before doing what any self-respecting seaside living Brit would do when there’s a tiny HINT of sunshine… head to the beach! We walked along from Hill Head down to Lee-On-Solent where we stopped for a lovely cup of tea and slice of cake in the Penguin Cafe. I don’t know why it’s called the Penguin Cafe but inside there are loads of penguin pictures and penguin themes. It’s random but lovely and friendly and the cakes and food well priced and delicious. How I’ve never actually been there in all the years I’ve lived on the coast I don’t know. But it was nice to pretend I was a tourist for a bit with James.It was hard though to choose just one piece of cake. The lure of chocolate won me over and I had a chunk of rocky road. Omg it was good. Big chunks of biscuit, cherries, marshmallows. Gooey, sticky, melty… heavenly. James had a slice of crunchy chocolate cake which was apparently delicious too (we rarely share food. This is a rule I’m very happy with).The towering many-layered lemon cake looked immense though so we both got a slice of that to take home of course. We decided though that as it was pretty much summer (let’s ignore the bit of rain we had on our walk…*cough*), ice cream had to be done too. I got a scoop of white chocolate brownie and a scoop of rocky road (obviously the chunk I’d just eaten wasn’t enough). Ahh exceptional.I’m such a sucker for anything white chocolate really. To think I used to not like it. I mean, what!?

OK now withhold your judgement here please… In the evening we headed to 7Bone Burger for dinner. In fairness we didn’t have lunch (just all the ice cream and cake…). But anyway, we both ordered the blue cheese and bacon burger and I had frickles (fried pickles) and we shared halloumi fries. Daaaaamn it was good. I mean, yeah probably horrendously bad for you blah blah blah but I don’t do this every day (God I just couldn’t. I’d die). *Cough* we then headed to Sprinkles. In retrospect, this was unnecessary.I got the “Sticky Situation”, which is essentially a whole lot of cookie dough, ice cream, white chocolate and cream. I couldn’t finish it. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME. It was just too much sweetness. My body rebelled and said no. I enjoyed what I ate (which was probably 75%) but it really pushed me over the edge and I needed a little lie down and a quiet word with myself. Why do I do this to myself? No regrets though because I’d been craving one of these for ages. I think I’ve had my fun though… time to get a bit less piggy. At the weekend I do enjoy my treats but this weekend was a little bit overboard.

The next morning we were up super early to get in a long run before the London Marathon coverage started on the TV. I say long run, but 10 miles doesn’t really sound “long” anymore since marathon training. That said, it did feel long. A strange oxymoron really because during marathon training 10 miles would have been easy peasy.

It was lovely and cool when we set off. James had forgotten his Garmin so I was the one to keep an eye on the pace… hard going when one of you is a lot faster than the other and you feel a bit like you’re dragging them back when you say “slow down a bit”.

It was a lovely morning, not too hot but still sunny. In fact it was perfect temperatures to be honest (if only the London Marathon and the Southampton half/marathon had started as early as we had it might have been a bit easier as it really heated up later for them).Happily for us we didn’t get too hot. My legs felt good, still a little heavy and tired, but no niggles. In fact it was a nice run to just zone out and enjoy. We followed the Stubbington 10k route for about five miles and then ran along the coast from Hill Head to Lee-On-Solent and back round to Stubbington again. It was a nice quiet run.Then it was action stations to shower, have breakfast and watch the London Marathon. It was a good watch but I truly felt for the mass runners who had to endure such hot temperatures and sunshine. What troopers. We were so lucky with Brighton and how cool we had it. I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have done as well as I had if it had been as hot as London was.

Didn’t Mo do well, eh! Very pleased for him to have gotten third. But how cool is Kipchoge – smiling and looking cool as a cucumber as he smashed it out for first place. And in the interviews before and after he just sounded like such a nice guy. Really down to hill and humble. Mo did make me laugh a little in the press interview with the top three men…taking selfies and messing around. A little disrespectful to the interviewer but let’s be honest, he was probably quite chuffed with himself and deserves a bit of fun.

For lunch I made cottage pie with sweet potato mash and it turned out quite well I think! Not a particularly summer lunch granted…but it filled a hole.So another solid weekend with a bit less running but lots of food. And time to think about some new running goals I think…

How was your weekend?

Did you watch the London Marathon?

Is your home parkrun based on location or something else?

A weekend of cancellations

So despite the spring-like temperatures and beaming sun during the week, the weekend didn’t look good. Cold temperatures, bitter winds and potentially snow. Again.

I had the Reading Half Marathon planned for the Sunday but before that parkrun and afternoon tea with friends. I was originally going to go to Queen Elizabeth Country Park for a friend’s 100th but I’d forgotten it was Netley parkrun’s 6th birthday and I hadn’t been there I ages and wouldn’t be back there in ages so it only felt right to go there instead. I headed there early Saturday morning to help set-up the course, as I always used to, and realised I might have misjudged the shorts weather. It was COLD. The wind was so icy and as Netley is right next to the waterside, you really felt it.I was in my biggest coat and scarf, but yes shorts. My hands were cold despite their gloves. It was a rather miserable setting up process indeed. Despite the weather, it was nice to be back and see everyone again. There were several jokes made about who I was because I hadn’t been there in so long, but it was all in good fun.After we set-up I decided to be very anti-social and sit back in my car. I was just so cold. Eventually Mike pulled me out and we went for a quick warm-up (me still in my coat) and neither of us felt any warmer afterwards. Ah well. We then headed to the start.I was a little sad that the run director didn’t actually mention that it was Netley’s 6th birthday (or at least I certainly didn’t hear a mention). It was a shame considering I’d been to such a good 6th birthday the week before…ah well. There was still lots of cake afterwards. Avtually it was probably a good thing not to have a lengthy pre-run brief because it was so bloody cold!

I started running with Mike but he sadly had a hamstring issue so I ran ahead while he played it safe. I decided to push the speed as I was just so cold. I had planned on running an easy run but when it came down to it, I couldn’t bare to plod along in the cold. I felt like the effort level was quite high, despite my pace not being my fastest. The wind along the front and the two hills you have to do twice just dragged my pace down. That said, I do think it was one of my fastest Netley parkruns on the winter course so I’ll happily take that!

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

A lot of people were volunteering because of the Eastleigh 10k the next day (quite a popular flat 10k amongst the local clubs – I’ve never done it as I hate 10ks) so I managed to scrape first female. But like I said, a hollow victory considering so many females weren’t running. Hey ho! 21:42 and 18th place – high positioning due to lack of numbers!I finished, grabbed a cake and a photo and then it was quick time to put my coat and scarf back on! Brrr!I had a slice of rocky road which was delicious. Rocky road has to be up there with one of my absolute favourites. Not technically a cake I guess but just SO good. I could eat an obscene amount of it quite easily. After we packed up the course (how quickly you get back to being cold despite having run a 5k) we headed to the cafe for a hot drink. It was so nice to be back chatting away to the usual gang with a hot peppermint tea. But parkrun tourism is still a big priority for me right now! Gotta get those letters 😉

After parkrun I headed home, showered and had a lovely stodgy bowl of porridge. I was meant to be going to afternoon tea with some friends but sadly a couple of them had to cancel so we called it off. I was a bit down about this as it would have been nice to have seem them but they have kids so different life priorities. Fair enough. My sister was coming over that afternoon to see my parents so I asked if she wanted to go instead. Happily she was keen. And she’s NEVER been to afternoon tea before. I mean, what kind of a life is that??

We went to the Vintage Tea Rooms in Fareham and it was fantastic. I had brie and chicken sandwiches, a fruit scone with clotted cream and jam and a slice of salted caramel cake. This cake was the SAME cake I’d had the other week! I was chuffed because I knew how amazing it was.It was lovely to catch up with my sister, who I don’t get to see that often due to our working schedules and just life. But it was nice to swap gossip and have some serious girl talk… nothing beats girl talk like it does talking to your big sis 😉I actually thought she’d struggle with the afternoon tea. She doesn’t have a crazy appetite like me, but she polished the lot off! I was genuinely disappointed as I thought I might get half her cake…but alas, she hoovered it all up. I was very proud indeed. That evening I set my alarm for 7am… the plan was for my dad and I to leave for Reading for the half marathon at 7.30am ish. We were to be parked in a car park about 3 miles from the start. I was going to run a gentle warm up to the start so I wouldn’t be so cold at the start (the temperature was looking to be very chilly) and then my dad would see me at mile 5 and mile 11. Despite so many other races around the country being cancelled Reading Half was still saying they were going ahead…and then later that evening that they’d update us closer to the time.They were getting a lot of stick from people saying that they needed to know earlier to know whether they should travel there or not as they were coming from a far distance away (quite understandable). I checked my phone several times during the night and then when my alarm went off at 7am I saw they’d Tweeted that it was cancelled because of the heavy snowfall during the night. I checked my dad had seen it too and then promptly headed back to bed for another two hours sleep. I was disappointed yes but at the same time it made sense to cancel it.It was very snowy outside here in Fareham so it would have been unsafe for us to have tried to have traveled. I still needed to get my long run done so I walked Alfie to check the temperature and the ground… snowy but not slippy, very very cold with an icy wind. I forwent my original choice of shorts and decided to be sensible and wear leggings. Not only to keep my legs warm but also if I did slip over to save my skin. I don’t need more ugly scratches over my legs!
I went out with the ambition to run at least 13 miles. It was tough underfoot to begin with but otherwise I felt good. My legs didn’t feel that tired. I had a podcast on and just zoned out, stopping a couple of times to take some photos because everywhere looked so pretty. It was tough going though mentally… I’ve become used to running with other people so running solo for so long was a bit tough. But to be honest, I needed to do this as I won’t be running the marathon with anyone so.As the run continued I felt better and decided to go with 14-16 miles. I had a good long run route where I could add or take away miles as I went so I didn’t stress. Along with it being mentally hard work, I found the icy wind hard work as it pushed against me all along the sea front – where quite a chunk of my run was and also cold. My hands, despite the gloves, were cold. As I got to about 9 miles I decided to make it 17 miles so added on another loop and then headed on the road back. I felt good, though cold. Imagine if I’d have worn my shorts eh!As I got to 13 miles I decided to speed up. I wanted the run to be done and the road I was on was a good one to get the legs turning over. I amazed myself by hitting 7.29min/mile and then 7.22…and even 7mins! But then I turned the corner and hit the wind. But my effort level remained the same so I felt strong finishing despite my pace creeping back up to 7.19. I was certainly glad to finish though. I know had I run Reading I’d have probably run the 13 miles at a faster pace but I was happy to have added some solid tempo miles at the end of this run. I got home and decided immediately I needed a hot bath. My lovely mum made me a cup of tea and enjoyed a glorious hot and relaxing bubble bath. I massively overheated but after being cold for so long it felt like BLISS. I haven’t had a hot bath in so long. In fact, I made it so hot that when I stepped into it I immediately had to jump out as it was the temperature of lava. I’m clearly very rusty at running baths. I must have stayed in there for a solid 40 minutes. I was a bit light-headed as I got out though and suddenly ravenous. A hot bowl of porridge was exactly what I needed 😉
It was sad to not have run Reading but it was just unfortunately one of those things. I was excited about running a slightly different course and seeing where my fitness was at but at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be. I feel for the organisers as it must have been such a stressful time and they now have 15,000 medals that are essentially worthless. What a shame. But, for me, I managed another solid long run! Mentally and physically tough with the conditions.

Have you had a race cancel before?

Do you like baths or showers? I prefer showers because my hair is impossible to wash in a bath.

Can you finish afternoon tea easily?

Raving time

Now normally I’d be having a few rants but actually I can’t think of anything lately that’s been bugging me. I’m pretty solidly in the rave camp at the moment!

Rave: I’m really busy. I love it when my diary is chockablock full of fun and exciting events coming up. I’m off to London on Saturday for more parkrun tourism and brunching with my lovely friend, James. Then it’s the Gosport Half Marathon on Sunday (pacing another lovely friend, Martin). And then the following weekend heading to Brighton to visit even more lovely friends (all my friends are lovely!)… Christmas meals at work and with friends, heading to London again for a Harry Potter escape room… Secret Santas. Ahh I’m just in a very happy place right now.

Rave: And continuing on this theme… having an already jam-packed 2018 planned! I have quite a few exciting events/holidays I’m (hoping) to be able to do next year. I mean, who needs money right…? Most of them in some way running-related 🙂 I say hoping because who knows what my legs will be like next year, but I hope to do most of what I have planned. If all goes to plan (and I don’t bankrupt myself) I should be going abroad FIVE times. Not for massive holidays I stress, but mini-breaks and trips.

Rave: Passing my three month probation at Wiggle. I can’t believe I’ve been here for over three months! It’s mental. And, as I’ve said so many times, I really do love it. And, as far as I can tell, I think I’m doing OK.

Rave: Now THIS is one of my biggest raves at the moment. Do you remember a while ago when, the idiot that I am, I took the wrong barcode to parkrun for a number of weeks? I tried to get the parkrun support HQ people to help me out but, understandably, it wasn’t something they were willing to amend because, let’s face it, it’s my mistake and would require a lot of faff on their side.

Anyway, after speaking to my friend, Joe, who’s been a run director at Netley parkrun, he mentioned that results for individual parkruns could be retrospectively changed. Like when people forget their barcodes and then email them afterwards they can be added. So, I emailed Netley (where I had three parkruns under the wrong barcode) and explained what I’d done. I mean, I do know the main run director, Peter, at Netley so I guess that makes it easier, but he was more than helpful (incidentally the same Peter who sold me his Portsmouth Marathon place – so hugely grateful to him!). He changed the results and lo! and behold I got three emails through congratulating me on my result!I also emailed Brighton & Hove parkrun where I’d also used the wrong barcode (and the one I desperately wanted adding to my account as I’ve only done it once and really want to do a different Brighton parkrun when I visit next). And they too have changed my result over. I am BEYOND pleased. Thank you, Brighton & Hove parkrun! The email they sent to me as well was lovely. They said they don’t usually make changes so long after the event but they like to look after their tourists. Well, I am certainly feeling the love. I know this might sound really sad but I’m literally over the moon about this now. I’ve now done 151 parkruns (and 30 different UK ones and one US). Only 99 until my next t-shirt…Rave: Running at lunchtime (runching if you will). It’s so much nicer to run at lunch than it is after work. I’m so much more motivated to run when it’s not as cold and definitely not as dark. It also means I can toddle off home quicker after work.

Wiggle has great shower facilities and also a great number of routes around the office. It’s especially good for when I do speed work (I’ve done two speedworks now!) as the lake I run round is soft underfoot and almost exactly a mile. Ideal! No traffic lights, dog walkers or hills to break the flow of trying to get some solid speedwork in. No excuses basically.

On Tuesday I did one mile warm-up, followed by two miles at 6:50-55min/mile pace, followed by 0.5 miles easy, and then another two miles at 6:50-55min/mile pace and then a cool down. I mean it was slightly awkward as I kept passing the same work friends who were having a walk on their lunch break so I must have looked a bit mad. But it was such a great feeling to hit those paces and get another solid workout in. Plus, with it being soft underfoot I feel like this is better for me (*cough* injury-prone) than doing the workouts on concrete. 2mile repeatsDon’t get me wrong, I find I do ‘fear’ these workouts and begin them with some trepidation. I know it’s going to feel hard and the temptation to sack it off and do a standard 8min/mile run is SO tempting. But I know this is good for me and the feeling I get when I finish is fantastic. I just need to make sure I stay motivated. I need to mix things up as well so if anyone has any good marathon-focused speed workouts for around 6 miles I’d be grateful for the inspiration…

What are you happy about right now?

Are your parkrun stats important to you?

What speed workouts do you do?

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?