Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun and a fake long run

This weekend I had a change of plans which meant I was no longer going to Bristol. Bit of a shame but I’ll meet up with my Bristol mates soon.

This meant the world was my oyster when it came to parkrun… which, which to do? My work friend, Kyle, has been getting into running and we’ve run a few times together during lunch and he asked if I fancied joining him at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun. I’ve never done Lakeside and it was his first parkrun so I was definitely game.IMG_2771Lakeside is actually around the lake right next to my office (you can see the office in the photo above) – where I run on a regular basis! It did feel weird driving there Saturday morning and not actually going to work. It was nice it being so close by that I could get up at 7.50am and be there for 8.40am to meet Kyle. Though my alarm was set to silent which wasn’t particularly useful! Luckily I have a well trained body clock and work up at 7.53am. Whew!It was a cold and slightly breezy morning. Kyle was in shorts and t-shirts and just looking at him made me feel more cold!! Though I was in shorts (obviously, #shortsforever) I was in a long-sleeved top but it was very chilly. The Run Director did a great job of keeping us entertained in the chilly weather. He had a good mix of sternness to those parking in the wrong spots and humour – and explained yes he was in fact a teacher. Haha made a lot of sense.

IMG_2814Photo Credit: Connor Eaves

I had warned Kyle of the excessive clapping involved in parkrun (event number 90 *clap*, volunteers *clap*, milestones *clap*). Least our hands were warm… Then we lined up and got ready to start. It’s always tricky to know where to put yourself at the start at a new event. Evidently we were too far back and spent the first kilometre overtaking and trying to politely get past people.Lakeside parkrun is lovely and about 95% flat. You run out to an underpass area where you then turn round to come back (so a slight incline) and then head round the lake (entirely flat), where you then turn around again and head back to the underpass bit and then head back to the finish, where you started. Being flat it is a fast course in that respect but having three complete about turns will definitely kill your stride and flow so if you are looking for a PB be aware of this.

IMG_2815Photo Credit: Connor Eaves

Kyle and I ran together. He’s quite quick for such a new runner (I’m sure he’ll be speeding ahead of me in times to come if he continues). We were around 8 minute miles and chatted as we ran. It was a bit breezy but nothing terrible – happily a nice tail wind on the way back to the finish.

IMG_2816Photo Credit: Connor Eaves

Towards the end I told Kyle if he fancied sprinting off he should. I wouldn’t be as I wanted to be careful with my calf, which was starting to feel a lot better. It still wasn’t 100% amazing but it was definitely on its way. Kyle did indeed sprint off and finished ahead of me. He looked very strong finishing! Brilliant first parkrun indeed. I’m sure he will cut his times down quickly.Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 16.01.10My time was 24:55 and Kyle’s was 24:51. Brilliant! My calf felt good afterwards as well, which I was over the moon about. Whew! I then bumped into the lovely Paul who writes a lot of parkrun tourism blogs and, AMAZINGLY, ran 14 marathons last year!!! Like seriously. What a legend. His blog is great as well, check it out.Kyle said he enjoyed himself which was the most important thing and would be up for doing more! Awesome news, another parkrun convert. Obviously a selfie had to mark the occasion of course 😉 Lakeside has a Starbucks right next to the finish which is always a winner, though I really don’t need to give them any more of my money as it is!IMG_2779I spent the rest of the day doing the usual weekend chores (adulting is so much fun, right?) and then went shopping with my mum. I managed to find TWO pairs of jeans in Top Shop that fit perfectly. I’m definitely a fan of their Jamie range (I no whave three different pairs…). I also spent my £30 Accessorize voucher as well (two necklaces, and sunglasses and a bikini cover-up in the sale!). Definitely a successful trip.I then had to make a decision whether I’d run Stubbington 10k or not the next day. I mean, my calf felt fine and hadn’t niggled a significant amount during the run but I worried that by not letting it rest a day before running again I would stop it on its road to recovery and just prolong the issue. I picked up my bib and t-shirt anyway just so I had the option but ultimately when I woke up on Sunday morning I decided to not do it. If I’m honest, it wasn’t particularly a race I’d be sad to miss. Firstly it’s a 10k, which I hate, and secondly it basically runs around the area I live in (and regularly run round anyway). Yes it would be sad not to run with my club and see the friendly faces but there would be other times.

I could tell myself I’d run in easy but I know on the final stretch I’d probably increase the pace and the last thing I need to do is encourage the calf to feel rubbish again so close to the Dubai Marathon. So instead I headed to the gym for a purely cardio-focused session. As the Stubbington 10k literally runs near my parents house (the start line is a two minute walk up the road) I did have to be strategic when I left to make sure I got out before any of the road closures happened. Thankfully I had no issues, but I could see that ten minutes later I would have been blocked in.

I spent a solid hour and twenty minutes on the elliptical machine. It sounds ghastly doesn’t it? I won’t lie, it wasn’t exactly the funnest thing I’ve ever done but I watched Black Mirror to help pass the time. I watched the second to last episode (Metalhead) and jeeze it stressed me out!! Then watched the start of the next one which honestly wasn’t much less stressful. I can’t binge watch these programmes, they’re just too close to home and thought-provoking.

I was happy with my cardio session and to be honest it was far better than doing the 10k. I was able to simulate a long run much better (though obviously it’s not the same without the actual pounding on the ground etc. but it’s something). And the calf felt fine, so definitely the right decision to have been made. I hope to run today… I’m just hoping it’ll continue to be as positive as I get closer to Dubai (I leave next Monday and the marathon is the Friday!)

Have you ever done a parkrun with a newbie?

Do you like a post-parkrun coffee?

Do you have a certain shop you always go back to for comfort and fit when it comes to jeans? Top Shop always seems to work for me surprisingly.

A cold Whiteley parkrun

I was meant to go to Brighton this week but sadly my lovely friend wasn’t very well so we decided to give it a miss. It’s a shame but I’m seeing her the weekend after and I want her to get better so it was for the best. That left me with a strangely free Saturday – one I hadn’t had in a while!

I considered joining some running friends to Alice Holt for a bit of an adventure but ultimately decided I’d quite like a bit of a lie-in and a run to Whiteley parkrun when a bunch of my Hedgie run club friends would be whom I hadn’t seen in a while. It was only 4.5 miles to Whiteley and I wouldn’t have to leave until 8am so that was great. The lie-in until 7.30am was much needed as well as I went to the cinema on Friday night and didn’t get back until gone 11pm! A very late night for me (#grandmastatus). I went to see Battle of the Sexes which was brilliant. And ate about 600g of pick ‘n’ mix… whoops.IMG_0978But anyway, back to parkrun. So I was out of the door (amazingly for me on time) at 8am and into the cold wintery morning. I was very much glad I’d put my running gloves on (my handy eGloves which I can use my iPhone with) and a long-sleeve top. I was wearing shorts but my legs are, in general, never too cold (well, let’s see how that continues anyway). The sun was shining and it was very frosty. The route was a lovely one that went past lots of fields and along country lanes, so a photo stop was a must!IMG_0979The day before I’d planned out the route and about 60% I was fine with as I knew the way, but then the rest required looking at road names and not getting lost… I had a piece of paper with a few directions written down. I thought I was doing fine as I got to the right road names but clearly it’s never that simple for me as I felt like I was going further and further from the direction I needed to be going. As it was now 8.30am and I was still about 1.5 miles away I decided to stop and check my phone. Yes that’s right, I was going the wrong way. So I turned around, kept my phone out and headed in the RIGHT direction.

I arrived, happily, not to long after and saw my Hedgie friends assembling (Transformer-style) in the car park. It was lovely to see them all, but they were all very cold. I was nicely warmed-up due to my run but as we hung about hearing the briefing (which included a lovely Hedge End Running Club shout-out) I was soon shivering like everyone else.IMG_0982My friend Mark was there and he’s super duper fast and he, very nicely, decided to run with me. I knew in my head I wasn’t going to run as fast as I had the previous week. I wasn’t feeling in the right frame of mine and I’m not a huge fan of the Whiteley course. Despite it being very flat, it’s very windy and there are a couple of sharp turns and it just doesn’t feel like you can get a good amount of speed consistently going. But anyway, excuses aside, we started running and Mark was chatting away to me. I could chat back at the start but wondered how long I’d be able to maintain the conversation as we started at 7min/miles.

It’s a funny thing as you begin to get more fit, speeds that a few months ago were really tough and barely maintainable were now my “fast but not that fast” speed. It works the same with endurance. At the start of a marathon training cycle, running 4.6 miles to parkrun and then doing parkrun can be quite a feat, but after weeks of solid long runs it now feels like nothing (can I stress how much I love where I am right now with my running and how I know it won’t last forever and it might all disappear in the blink of an eye. I know this all too well).

That said, it was hard to go much faster that morning. My answers to Mark during our conversation became shorter and eventually left to just bursts of random words through gasps. He was breezing along nicely beside me chatting easily about races and things like that (this being his easy pace considering his PB is sub 18 minutes). It made me remember those times I’d had conversations with people I’d been pacing and they said “Just talk to me and don’t expect a reply”… Oh how the tables had turned.

Whiteley is three laps and as we got fully into the second lap I tried to push a bit harder because “it’s only three miles” (a statement reserved for only certain times during the training cycle). There was a precarious moment during the start of the third lap where I couldn’t quite get the turning right and almost careened into a lady. I apologised and carried on, she didn’t seem to bothered thankfully! As we head to the end, Mark went on ahead and I clung onto his heels as best as I could. Then LITERALLY right at the end where the Finish sign points straight on and he decides to veer off left directly in front of me to where the old finish area used to be, almost taking me out in the process. Luckily neither of us tripped up but it was a bit hairy for a moment. It was somewhat amusing after the event and actually as we stood cheering other runners in something not uncommon! It was clear it was confusing.

IMG_0988Awkward selfies for the win

My time was 21:13, a solid fast time for me lately! Considering I was feeling it at the beginning I’m really pleased with that, and first lady. Whiteley parkrun splitsHappy days.Then, after a brief catch-up with my running friends, my dad picked me up (yes, a fantastic perk of living at home).IMG_0993I got ready quickly as we were heading to Chichester for some Christmas shopping – a tradition we tend to do every year. Chichester is just so lovely at Christmas with their decorations and lights. First port of call was brunch though! None of us had had breakfast so we were all ready for something tasty. We headed to The Fat Fig, where I’ve been before and is just so lovely.IMG_0998My dad and me ordered the large English breakfast and my mum had the more reasonably sized poached eggs on toast with bacon. My dad did make the statement that he’d never imagined one of his daughters would be capable of eating the same large fry-up as him. He was proud, ha!IMG_1001I appreciated the separation of the beans from the rest of the meal (I hate bean contamination) but I was sad there was no black pudding. I also don’t like hash browns so they got left behind, but everything else was hoovered up.IMG_1003And then we were off for a spot of shopping!IMG_1008We tend to go to Chichester every year before Christmas as a family, a tradition I really enjoy. I know it’s only November but I do love how Christmassy everything was. And especially free Christmas snacks in shops!IMG_1005Mulled wine and mince pies! Lovely. I believe this was White Stuff (one of my mum’s favourite shops).

And we obviously had to go into Montezuma, the amazing chocolate shop. We were delighted to be offered a free sample as well. Hotel Chocolat however did not give out free samples (which is surprising as they normally do) so we were a bit disappointed 😉IMG_1013It was very cold walking about but nice that it was sunny rather than raining. And then we headed home, glad to be back in the warm car.

That evening I had a solid dinner and watched Bad Moms with my mum (free on Amazon). We wanted to see Bad Mom’s Christmas bit thought we should probably see the first one beforehand. It was alright – a good mum and daughter film, but honestly Mila Kunis looks FAR too perfect all the time to be playing a so-called busy and stressed out mum. It did annoy me a little…even when she was hung-over she looked amazing!

Then I was off to bed ready to get up the next day for a long, long run at the On The Whistle Festive Frolic event.

How was your weekend?

Are you feeling Christmassy yet?

Do you have any Christmas traditions for where you go shopping?

Running, family time and fro-yo

How nice was the sunshine this Bank Holiday weekend?? Normally when there’s a long weekend we get a lot of rain. I realise not everyone gets the Bank Holiday in August (sorry Scotland) but hopefully everyone had a nice weekend anyway.

I had a really good one. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything too crazy but it did feel a bit jam-packed.

On Saturday morning I was finally back to my home parkrun, Netley Abbey. I went down early as usual to help set-up and jokingly re-introduced myself to everyone as I haven’t been there in over a month! A couple of weeks before I went to Austria… and then I got injured and last week went to Lee-On-Solent parkrun, so yeah quite a while!

A few days earlier I’d been suffering with a random flu-like illness (I had stomach cramps, was hot and cold, achy and super tired). I had to skip my run on Thursday night annoyingly but this was clearly the best thing to do because by Saturday morning I was fine again (whew!). It was very warm and the sun was shining but I was looking forward to running.

Photo Credit: Glen Tyreman

I felt myself get stronger as the run continued and gave my legs a bit of a turnover on the final lap. I saw a few of my running club friends ahead and tried to catch one of them but they got away at the end. It was nice though to have a burst of speed! My knee felt fine as well which was great.

What was not great was my friend Terry, who was celebrating his birthday, grabbing me in a big bear hug and drenching me in his sweat. I was rather disgusted but let him off because he said it made his day, ha! He’s a lovely guy, but yes rather sweaty post-run. I had to take off my top and let it dry on a tree!! Thank you very much, Terry! (I had a jacket with me)Afterwards I grabbed a cold drink in the cafe with my friends and we chilled outside in the sunshine.

Later on I met with my sister, Rachel, for Nando’s and a cinema trip. She’s 2.5 years older than me and we don’t get to see each other as much we’d like as she often works weekends. It’s nice to see her one-on-one as, though we’re SO different, we just slot into place and have a good natter and a gossip. She has so much more common sense and adulting skills than I have so it’s always nice to hear her take on something or just to have a laugh and a giggle.

We enjoyed some Nando’s chicken (she’s not quite a glutinous pig I am and had a far more reasonable order of a half chicken with some sides compared to my whole chicken and salad…).Despite eating stupid amounts I really fancied some pick ‘n’ mix for the film. It’s been a while since I’ve had some. You can’t beat some super cheap sweets in my opinion. Yes they’re full of awful ingredients and so much sugar, but sometimes you just need something basic.The film we saw was Logan Lucky and it was brilliant. If you like Ocean’s 11 then you’ll love this. It was quick, quirky and hilarious. Daniel Craig is fantastic. It’s one to see twice I think.

Sunday morning I had a lovely lie-in until 8.30am before meeting my friend Mike at 9am for a long run. I’d managed to persuade Mike to go a little later as I knew I’d have a late on the night before. Yes it’d probably be a little cooler an hour before but not hugely. It’d probably been best to go at 6ish if we’d have wanted to have beaten the heat but sometimes sleep wins!

The plan was to run 12 miles together and then I’d go on and run four on my own. Mike is now tapering down for the New Forest Marathon (that we’re running together) but I’m building up again as I missed so many runs when I was injured. It’s not ideal but it is what it is!

We both sensibly took water as it was so warm outside. Mike wanted to do the first six miles around 9.20min/mile pace and then the last six 9min/miles. I was happy with whatever! I was glad we weren’t going to be running much faster than that as my fitness isn’t in it’s best and I had a long way ahead of me to run.

Luckily where we ran there was a spot to refill our water bottles up as it really was a hot one. And Mike’s route (yes I’m fully blaming Mike here) was quite undulating as well. Oof the run was not an easy one at all!We struggled a little at the end. Mike was starting to feel a bit dizzy. I was now dreading my four solo miles, wondering if I should just call it quits after 12. It was very tempting. But I decided that when we stopped I’d run up to my flat, drink some cold water and grab my phone and headphones so I could keep motivated by listening to a podcast.

When we stopped Mike looked a bit concerned about how the run had gone. But I tried to convince him that it was ridiculously hot and he’d run TWENTY MILES the week before. Marathon training really does play with your head. When you’ve had good solid training, like Mike has over the past few months, it will catch up with you when you start to taper down. You just have to remember you’ll feel a bit more fresh come marathon day and everything you’ve done before will come into play on the day.My four miles went well. I suddenly had a second wind and was able to zone out to my podcast and focus on just getting the last bit done. I told myself just do three but went a route that meant I had to do four (oh the games we play to get through tough runs). I felt really good when I finished. Gave me a bit of confidence for the marathon!

I quickly got showered and sorted (how I DETEST blowdrying my hair when I’m still super hot from a run) and then grabbed some porridge to eat while my mum drove us to Southampton West Quay for a bit of retail therapy. I must admit, I felt shattered after sitting down! You forget how hard long runs are when you haven’t done one in a while. This is why it’s so important for me to do a couple before the big day.

We had a lovely day shopping (though a big disappointment when we found that the West Quay Starbucks had disappeared!). I got some nice things from H&M, my favourite clothes shop, and we had a cheeky frozen yogurt to finish the day. By this point I really was drained and had a terrible headache. I was staying at my parent’s house that evening (I haven’t moved in yet) and couldn’t seem to work out if I needed a nap, food or water. I was probably quite dehydrated. I camped out on my parent’s outside furniture with a Starbucks I’d bought on the way over, but also made sure to drink water as well.I text Mike and he said he had a bad headache too. I reckon we both caught a bit of sunstroke, being out in the sun for 2.5 hours. I’d never sunbathe for that long! Even after taking some headache tablets the headache still lingered. The next morning it had thankfully disappeared but god my legs ached. I am definitely not in peak marathon running shape!

That morning I headed to the gym for a bit of strength work and then my dad and me walked to the butchers to get some BBQ meat. We thought it’d be about a mile and a bit but it turned out to be almost 3 miles! And it was really warm. But it was a nice walk, and it helped shake my legs out a bit.

So I finished Monday up with a lovely family BBQ and feeling a little more confident for the marathon…in two weeks!

What did you get up to over the weekend?

Do you ever get headaches after a long run?

What’s your favourite clothes shop?

Brighton Hove Prom parkrun and lots of food

So after I said goodbye to mum in London (continuing on from Monday’s post), I headed to meet my good friend, Charlotte, to go to Brighton to spend the evening and Saturday with her. I hadn’t seen her in a few months (far too long) and I’ve always been meaning to do a Brighton parkrun so it seemed a good time to do.

Let’s ignore that I also had the London Marathon on the Sunday… London, to Brighton, home, to London again. It was all rather complicated and dependent on me getting my train tickets correct and adult head on. Spoiler: I adulted well!

I love Brighton. It’s like London but better because not only does it have the sea but it’s less crowded and busy but still has the cool factor, funky shops and GREAT places to eat. Technically, Charlotte lives in Hove but it’s all walkable (as my dad and I found for the Brighton 10k…we parked at Charlotte’s so we didn’t have to pay ridiculous money).

And what’s immensely cool, but would be seriously dangerous for me if I had such an advantage, is the fact that their house has lots of Deliveroo options within the area. So that night we got some tasty burritos and chicken salad delivered from the Mexican restaurant, JQ’s Kitchen.I had smokey chicken and it was delicious. My friend also blew my mind by eating a pork burrito. Ever since I’ve known her (we’re talking over 10 years here) she’s been a veggie. And there she was, nonchalantly eating PORK like no big deal!

The next morning we had a glorious lie-in until 8am and then made a gentle amble (a leisurely 20 minute walk) to the nearest parkrun, the Hove Prom parkrun (Brighton actually have four parkruns!). She’s not a runner so she was there to support me, bless her, but I was still blown away by how close she lived to a parkrun! How convenient.I wore my Boston Marathon jacket and it contrasted nicely with the beautifully coloured beach huts. The weather was gorgeous. Barely any wind, lots of sunshine and just a very slight chill. Perfect parkrun conditions.

Hove Promenade parkrun is quite a simple course. You basically run up and down the promenade (surprise, surprise). Because of this, it’s very flat. There are four turnarounds though which can break the flow, but really it’s a very good PB-potential course I’d say. Not that I was aiming for that the day before a marathon!There was a lovely happy buzz about the place as the Brighton & Hove Albion football team had recently got promoted to the premier League (the first time in a LONG time apparently) so lots of people had worn the blue and white colours to celebrate. The Run Director was very funny as well so made the start an enjoyable experience. It’s always nice when it’s a bit more relaxed and jovial.

I had intended on aiming for the 24 minute mark but on a flat course and feeling good, I realised I would be aiming for a faster time. I wasn’t going to bust my lungs or ruin my legs, but I did want to blast it out. I’ve done this before marathons previously so I didn’t feel in danger of doing anything too stupid (or at least, stupid relative to my usual Annerisms).Charlotte stood on the sidelines cheering us on and snapping some photos. It was nice to see her a good number of times as we ran up and down the prom (you basically run up and down twice, with the start/finish in the middle).If I’m honest, the course is a little dull. The sea views are beautiful but it’s all on the flat concrete path of the promenade and you’re running up and down… which after about 10 minutes can feel quite monotonous. That said, the final finish bit is quite cool. Once you turn around for the final stretch, it’s about a quarter of mile to the finish. It’s a fair way but I had enough gas in the tank to power past several people and keep working until I reached the end. That final push really did take it out of me though and I had that horrible “oof feel a bit sick feeling”.

I got 21:40, which I’m so pleased with. I’m loving seeing these 21:xx’s at the moment. I feel in a good place. I know when I’m super fit when I’m hitting 20:xx’s though, but I can’t see that happening soon without extra speed sessions.

And EVEN better than the short walk to the parkrun was the short walk to the nearby Starbucks. What a luxury! I had a delicious SF hazelnut Americano as we walked back to Charlotte’s house. We stopped in a couple of shops en route where I clocked a pair of Nike leggings that began a mental battle in my head about whether to buy or not (I did not) and we overheard a bunch of runners talking about London, which made me rather nervous!

I quickly showered and we headed out again (skipping breakfast as it was now past 11am) and walked into Brighton. We were aiming for lunch at Food For Friends, which I’d heard sooo many good things about (especially from Maria). We got there in perfect time for lunch and they thankfully had room for us (apparently they get very busy).

We were both quite hungry by this point so decided on having some starters as well. The majority of our choices were influenced by what we saw other people ordering.For starters I had Goat’s curd, caramelised pear and hazelnut praline (yes I did copy that from the website). We also shared some paprika halloumi bites which came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, which were incredible.We both went for the crispy sweet potato cakes for our main but we agreed we may have made the wrong decision. We saw so many delicious and varied plates go past us to different tables, so when our three potato cakes came out they looked a little bit…well, boring. Don’t get me wrong, they tasted really good and they were lovely and filling but there wasn’t much variety to the meal and a whole lot of sweet potato. I wish I’d have chosen a salad or something a bit more exciting. I did enjoy it though and the carbs were very welcome pre-marathon.

On the subject of necessary carbs, after lunch we moseyed about the cool vintage and unique shops while keeping our eyes open for a potential pudding opportunity. And lo! and behold, in the middle of one of the streets we spotted a beautiful array of delicious-looking treats.Straight away I knew I wanted the peanut butter and salted caramel cookie. It looked incredible. I’m actually not a huge peanut butter fan, but mixed with the salted caramel intrigued me. Plus walking around eating a cookie would be easier than trying to cram a slice of cake into my mouth (don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t necessarily hinder me, but for the benefit of all those around me I thought it would be a nicer experience to just attempt to eat a cookie). Charlotte got a brownie, which had chunks of Oreo cookie inside (an “Oreo Mosaic” apparently). Usually I’m a big brownie fan, but I prefer them warmed up with ice cream (I know, such a cake diva). I also managed to persuade Charlotte to share a chocolate “crinkle” cookie as well. It was only £2 and it practically jumped into my hands I swear.

The cookie was really dense, soft and crumbly (the ideal cookie consistency in my humble opinion). Very tasty. The chocolate crinkle cookie thing was very dense and soft. It wasn’t dry but it did suck the moisture out of your mouth. I also tried (and then later finished off…) Charlotte’s brownie, which had a great texture of soft and crunchy. Basically I was in cake munching heaven.We walked around a bit more, saw some cool graffiti, and then after grabbing another Starbucks because wellllll, one must when with fellow Starbucks lovers, I headed to the train to go back to my parent’s house. I’d walked far too much and eaten far too much sugar, but I was very happy indeed.

What’s your favourite kind of cookie?

What would you choose as a vegetarian meal to eat?

Have you done any of the Brighton parkruns?

A trip to London and Highbury Fields parkrun

Happy Monday! Back at it with another week. This weekend was a bit of a mad one.

I was sent an email invitation midweek to a blogging event in London on Saturday and made the snap decision to go. It sounded really cool and, though London is such a faff to get to and get around, I’m trying to be more of a “yes” person. I also wondered if I could squeeze in a London parkrun before as the event didn’t start until 10am.

I almost gave up on the idea as it seemed all the parkruns were about 40 minutes from the location of the event and just not doable… until I had a look at Highbury Fields parkrun and realised it would take about 15 minutes on the tube.

I’m terrible at anything to do with public transport or being organised in general so I was a bit worried of all the pieces falling into place. I jokingly said to my dad he should come with me to help and he said that him and my mum had been wanting to go to London for ages so they’d be happy to come. The plan was we’d get a very early train (6.40am) and then get the tube to parkrun from Waterloo, do parkrun, then go to Oxford Street where my event was going to be near and they’d go off shopping while I did my thing. Then we’d meet up later for lunch.

We had enough buffer time to get to the parkrun thankfully so that wasn’t too much of a rush. The tube station is very close to the park and we saw the familiar fluorescent jacketed people setting up the finish funnel as we got into the park. We headed over and they explained the course and start to us and pointed me in the direction of the toilet as well.

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The course was five and a bit laps around a smallish park and fitness centre (side note: I saw people running on treadmills which blew my mind as it was a beautiful day and there was a lovely park outside!). There was a slight long incline up one side of the parkrun and a gentle decline the other. I’d been previously warned about this by the lovely Helen that though the incline wasn’t steep it did become wearing as the laps went on.IMG_4275

I started off way too fast and the first stretch was going up the incline. My legs felt drained almost immediately. Today was not my day, I thought. My parents (my mum’s first parkrun experience) stood on the side-lines to cheer us on. My dad had brought his GoPro so got some cool photos.

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After one lap my only thought was, “I have to do this four more times?”. I really wasn’t in the zone and was finding it quite tough.

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I fell into step with a guy running a similar pace to me and that really helped. He was probably running slightly faster than I would have if I’d have run on my own so it was good to stick with him. We overtook people which felt encouraging.

IMG_4254One more lap

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My pace master friend was the guy in blue in the above photo. He encouraged me to keep going on the last mile and I gasped, “I’m trying!”. He helped me pick up the pace.

I finished in 22:06 which was quite surprising (though my Garmin has measured it as 2.9 miles so maybe that’s why!). It wasn’t the best parkrun experience (in terms of actual running) and that incline DID feel more and more horrific as the laps went on. I hugged the guy and said thank you to him as honestly I probably would have gone a lot slower otherwise!

IMG_4168Always smiles when you’ve finished!

Then it was a mad dash back to the tube to get to Oxford Street. On the tube I had to baby wipe myself and freshen up as best as I could. I took my trainers off and put my flip flops on and attempted to sort my hair out. I was sat there doing all this next to a seriously elegantly dressed lady and felt like a right mess! But needs must.

I got there just five minutes late and they were fine thankfully. The event was a Secret London event (partnered with Collective Two) and was to involve getting your hair done by Headmasters, then yoga on a stand-up paddle board (!) followed by some smoothies from Alpro. But I’ll talk more about that in another post. Thankfully I was able to properly change and freshen up.

IMG_4173Bathroom selfie for the win Winking smile

The event lasted around two hours and was super fun. I then caught the tube to meet my parents for lunch at Barbecoa, Jamie Oliver’s London steak house. I adore Jamie Oliver so was really excited about this!

I was still in my yoga gear so felt a little dressed down but my hair looked cool soo…IMG_4273

The restaurant was fantastic. It had beautiful views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the service was incredible. Out waitress was so friendly and so helpful and made us feel very welcome and relaxed.

IMG_4274Top left picture is the view from the window

For starter I had chicken wings (I know, I know, so boring and predictable). They were very tasty. Though there were ribs on the menu I decided to try something different for once. I chose the pit beef which, if I’m honest, I didn’t really know what it’d be!

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It came with half a romaine lettuce, bacon crumbs and bacon jam. I also ordered a side of charred broccoli with almonds and some parmesan-y sauce.

The meal was incredible. Literally every mouthful I was like, “this is so tasty”. It was very rich though and by the time I’d finished I was really full. I’d fully intended to have a pudding but I just didn’t fancy it. Who even am I, right?? I didn’t want to spoil the meal by feeling overly full so I decided to give it a miss (and hopefully find something sweet a bit later).

Then we headed to Covent Garden for a bit more shopping. Can we just talk about those stairs though at the Covent Garden tube station?! I saw a big queue at the lifts and then saw the sign for the stairs and thought that’d be quicker. I didn’t actually see the warning that there were 192 stairs (!!!). It just kept going and going and I thought I was in some weird tube station nightmare. Everyone around me was puffing and panting (as I was) and I was like “will this ever end!?”. There were two guys behind me and I kept thinking, don’t let them overtake you!

As I got to the top the security guard was congratulating everyone saying we were champions which was amusing. I assumed my parents had taken the lift. I waited for ages, seeing the people who had taken the lift all fresh faced and happy and the people who had taken the stairs on the brink of collapse.

Finally I saw my parents and they fell into the latter category. They looked like they were about to die. My mum, bless her, couldn’t even talk. I couldn’t stop laughing (I know, I’m very mean). I mean I was very proud of them of course but I couldn’t believe it – I’d found the stairs tough and I’m fairly fit!

I only had one shop I wanted to go into… Lululemon. Walking round that shop is DANGEROUS. Honestly I could have bought everything. I do find the whole Lululemon experience a bit odd though as all the staff are very American. NOTHING against them but American retail sales people are a lot different to British. They’re very chatty whereas Brits kind of leave you alone and don’t engage much in random conversation. But anyway, they were very helpful and in the end I bought a tank top, a gorgeous pair of leggings and a long-sleeved top. My credit card needed resuscitating thought afterwards!

FullSizeRenderMe in my leggings and top at the beach walking the dogs when we got back to my parent’s

Then I topped off my happiness quota by getting a giant tub of fro-yo with strawberries, raspberries and brownie pieces.

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It was delicious and perfect to finish the day with!

It was such a good day but it was a very tiring day. I was exhausted when I got to bed that evening and fully dreading my 17 miler planned for the next day…

What do you like to do in London?

What’s been your favourite blogging event if you’ve done one?

Have you done any parkruns in London? I’d have loved to have done Bushy parkrun but it was just too far away to have been feasible.