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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČI 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 ūüėČ
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?

A food-filled trip to London and Oxford

Last Friday, after work, I headed into London on the train to meet with my two uni friends, Laura and Charlotte, for a good catch up. I’ve said this before, but I do like going to London with people who know London. Both Charlotte and Laura are very travel-savvy as well so I ¬†know I’m in good hands and can relax (and not make any Anna Errors).

We met up at Waterloo and then headed straight to Covent Garden to get some food. We had no real place in mind so walked around enjoying the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations – and smelling the delicious food stalls that were selling hot mulled wine and tasty cakes.london-covent-gardenAnd seeing an “Apple Market” just made my evening ūüėČimg_6595We eventually decided on Southern¬†Joe’s¬†for dinner. It was fairly dark inside but looked pretty cool and the menu seemed to specialise in chicken (and you know I love me some chicken).img_6597It was very much Southern American food with lots of fried chicken, burgers and gumbo. I ordered half balsamic honey roasted¬†chicken (after a brief discussion with the waiter who seemed to think that half would be too much for me, but I reassured him otherwise).img_6596Laura ordered a burger and Charlotte ordered the vegetarian gumbo which came with cornbread. She let me try her cornbread and I’m not joking when I say it tasted of sticky toffee pudding. It was literally like a pudding. How bizarre! My chicken was delicious – probably insanely unhealthy with all the honey glazed-deliciousness (and serving size) but satisfaction was left high (as was my blood sugar I imagine).

As we were in Covent Garden and because no meal is complete without a pudding, we headed over to Snog for a frozen yogurt.snog-frozen-yogurtI went for a regular sized original flavour(which was actually quite big Рsays the girl who at a previous time had ordered the large) with raspberries and brownie chunks. It was delicious.img_6600

We then headed to Soho to go to The Piano Bar, where we’d booked a table for drinks. However when we got there we were told that it was full. We were a bit confused because what exactly does booking mean then? The bouncer on the door had no idea and just said we couldn’t be let in because it was full. Well, that’s helpful! So we headed off somewhere else instead – and I’m quite glad we did as where we ended up was lovely and the cocktails were DIVINE (I can’t remember the bar name sorry!).img_6606I had a gin sour which contained sloe gin amongst other ingredients (including an egg white!!). It tasted delicious. After lots of giggles and cocktails, we headed back to Laura’s.

The next morning, a little bit tired, we got up and headed to Oxford to meet our two other university friends.oxfordThe train was ridiculously busy from London to Oxford but luckily the three of us got seats. It was nice to travel on a train with friends rather than on my own.

We met up in Starbucks (“but first coffee” springs to mind) and one of our friends dropped the bombshell that she’s pregnant. We were all squealing and cheering – much to the annoyance of the studious people in there trying to get work done. It’s quite shocking really; having babies is proper adult. She’s the first in our group to be pregnant so it’s all very exciting. I’m very pleased for her and her husband, they’ll make fantastic parents!

We walked round Oxford for a bit and got a bit of d√©j√† vu walking through the Covered Market and seeing the cakes being make and decorated, as we’d previously done this pretty much at the same time (bar one day)¬†four years ago (you can check that post out HERE).cakes-in-the-covered-market-oxfordLunch was next on the agenda and I quickly Googled Oxford restaurants and found a good one through Trip Advisor called Kazbar, a Spanish tapas restaurant.
the-kazbarThe decor was fantastic; lots of low seated tables, big cushions and cool art everywhere (I won’t pretend to have any further knowledge of this sort of thing). Normally tapas isn’t really my thing. I enjoy the food, don’t get me wrong, but the idea of sharing dishes with people is my nightmare (for the Brits reading this, imagine Smithy from Gavin and Stacey). But as I was among good friends they know what I’m like and reassured me I wouldn’t have to share ūüėČ

We ordered some bread and hummus for the table (acceptable sharing) and everyone ordered three dishes while I ordered four (standard).img_6620Tapas is great because you can really have a lot of variety and mix and match flavours. I had slow cooked lamb, a goat’s cheese salad, pork ribs and chicken chorizo. Very tasty (the ribs were my favourite, of course).img_6626After lunch we wandered around the shops. Thankfully the weather was just cold and not wet. We then went into search of something sweet to just top the day off nicely. We found a nice little cafe and had a hot drink. My friend Kate and I had a cream tea. It came with¬†two scones. I suppose normal people would share but Kate and I are quite good at eating (she’s my Florida buddy).img_6629I mean it was a bit of a push but we persevered. I was fully ready for a nap after that! After more walking, we parted ways and I headed back to Southampton. A lovely jam-packed (literally with the scone…sorry, couldn’t resist!) weekend.

What’s your favourite place to visit in the UK? I do enjoy London but only for a brief visit as I find it very overbearing, crowded and stressful.

Do you share food at a restaurant?

What’s your favourite cocktail/mocktail?