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?

Running lately – snow and long runs

Running has been a little up and down lately. There have been good and bad runs thrown into the mix and I’m less than seven weeks out from the Brighton Marathon. But this is Standard Anna so I won’t stress (too much) over it. I mean, same ol’ same ol’, right?

The calf/hamstring issue is slowly dying away. I know what not to do to annoy my hamstring and my calf niggle seems to be disappearing. It’s a pesky thing and one I’m not sure entirely what’s going on there but the discomfort is definitely easing up on most of my runs now to almost nothing. Progress? I certainly hope so.

So I’m currently running four times a week – two runs at work (usually Tuesday and Thursday “runches”). I tend to run one of those runs with my friend, Kyle, who’s recently got into running. He’s progressing really well, breaking 22 minutes significantly already at parkrun. We tend to do just four easy chatty miles on a Thursday which is nice.

Though I did have probably one of the coldest runs I’ve ever done last Thursday – just before all the snow came down. Literally the coldest, iciest wind in Kyle and my face the entire time. I think we managed one normal conversation between us both swearing and saying how cold it was. It was awful. I’d sensibly packed leggings instead of my usual shorts as I knew the Beast from the East was about and as we were running easy I didn’t want to be absolutely freezing (ha. I was anyway…). It always feels so weird running in leggings though! So used to my shorts – I just feel a bit more free?

Anyway, despite there being no snow on the ground yet (we had luckily gone out a couple of hours before Portsmouth turned into Narnia) I still managed to slip over. We turned round a corner and there was a large puddle iced over and I just couldn’t change my trajectory in time and ended up running straight over it – well, I say running but what I mean is skidding over it and then landing on my leg and bum.It was actually a really painful fall. But thankfully only on a superficial level – like my skin had been torn up and it was a bump on the fleshy part of my ankle rather than any bone. Whew. Kyle helped me up (probably trying not to laugh as it was so ridiculous) and I tested it out walking and, though it felt tender, it was fine to bare weight on. We decided to run for a few metres to see how it was and luckily it was OK so we carried on for another three miles. So actually it was a really good thing I’d worn my leggings! Thankfully they hadn’t torn.And then the snow came down… meaning most parkruns were cancelled on the Saturday. It was a shame but fully understandable. Instead I went out for four miles in the snow.This did mean a nice lie-in and no rush to get out of a lovely warm bed. It was a fun run but SO tough. I mean, it was like running on sand. The snow was really dry and powdery so pushing your feet off and working out where to put them was physically and mentally tough work.It wasn’t actually that cold though so I was happy in my leggings, despite people on social media thinking I’m mental. If anything, in my two layers and a buff I was too warm by the end!The pace was obviously a lot slower because it was harder and to be honest I was just happy to be outside running. The air was still and crisp and it was a very invigorating run if that makes sense?The next day’s run however was a lot colder – not on my legs or body  but on my feet. The snow had melted a little and was very slushy but still everywhere. I wanted to get between 10-15 miles, depending how everything felt. Running on the pavements was the best option because that’s where the good routes were for a longer run, but this meant a lot of running through slush. My feet got soaked and cold VERY quickly. It made them feel like dead weights at the end of my legs.But the run went well. I felt my calf a little bit at the beginning but eventually it disappeared and everything felt fine. I’m SO pleased you would not believe. It was such a solid good run. I felt like I could have carried on. My fitness seems to be in a good place (not necessarily speed, but general endurance). I felt comfortable and at ease running. My legs did feel tired though running through the slush. The extra mechanical process of foot placement and moving them over trickier ground did tire them out. But thankfully it was slippy. There was no ice and the snow wasn’t that nasty slippery kind. It helped going a lot slower of course. Usually I’d do my long runs around 8-8.30 mins/mile but because of the snow I was forced to slow down. This is something I REALLY need to do more of. When I was training with Mike last year for the New Forest Marathon to get him his sub-4 we were training at 9+min/miles and I had my most consistent and strong period of running. WHY DO I NOT LEARN. So my long runs, snow aside, will be a lot slower now. I just need someone to keep pulling me back….So I feel really positive at the moment. I still don’t have any time goals for Brighton but I’ll see how the coming weeks go. The Reading Half Marathon will be an interesting one to test my where I’m at. I’m looking forward to that race as a good tune up and to help me plan for Brighton. Hopefully another solid long run this Sunday and then Reading the week after. It’s all go!

How’s your running going?

Did you run in the snow?

Do you prefer to wear shorts or leggings?

The madness of a looming marathon

There’s nothing like an impending marathon to get you going. Even when it’s chucking it down with snow…

I must have been the only person in the UK who was unaware it was supposed to snow on Thursday evening. Sure I’d heard about the “thundersnow storm” but I hadn’t really connected it with reality – I mean surely that’s just in Scotland, right? So when I packed my gym bag in the morning to take to work I merrily threw in my usual pair of shorts and didn’t think twice. I normally wear shorts, I normally warm up. Totally fine.

Then I got to work and everyone was talking about how at 4pm snow was going to start. Er, what? And lo and behold, as 4pm hit so did buckets of snow. But when you have a marathon very soon (February) and you’re hugely under-trained (longest run 6 miles at this point) and you need adequate spacing of runs to not re-niggle the injury you’re only just getting over…well, you have little choice but to put those tiny shorts on and get out there and run.

It was fully throwing it down as I headed out, to the point I couldn’t really see as I had to blink so much due to the big fluffy snowflakes hitting my eyes. And the floor was already coated in a a thick dusting of snow. So foot placing was precarious, as were corners. I was soaked and cold very quickly and this encouraged me to run a bit faster, but not too fast to risk falling over.

I got several odd looks from people sheltering under bus stops waiting for their bus and commuters in their cars. But I strangely quite enjoyed it. I felt like a warrior. My legs were freezing, which is never happens to me, but it wasn’t terrible. I was only going three miles so I knew it would be over soon.When I finished and walked the last bit to get to my office, a guy sheltering near the door stared at me incredulously and said, “you’re absolutely mental”. I pretty much agreed.
People left in the office laughed at me when I said it was a bit nippy out. My legs were so pink and I was drenched! It took pretty much my entire commute home (an hour’s journey) to warm up again. I stood in my shower on full blast and full heat basically searing off a layer of my skin to get warm again. But I’m glad I went out. It was a good run. I felt strong, my shin felt good and it’s all miles towards Tokyo (albeit only three but hey it’s all relative here for me!).

There’s nothing like a big goal or deadline to get you motivated and focused. And I’m being really sensible (I think!). I’m only running three times a week, and two of those runs are three miles. I might bump one of those up to four (ooh go crazy, eh!). And then I have a longer run at the weekend, and no consecutive running days. It seems to be working.

I go to Florida with friends in two weeks and I really have no idea how the running will go but I’m going to aim to do two big runs out there. I say “big” runs but we’re talking 13-16 miles, though it could all change. Basically I’m fully winging it. I hope to do the parkrun in Orlando again as well. The two friends I’m going with are the friends who have just got into running and parkrun. And incidentally they are the friends that laughed at me for doing the Orlando parkrun the last time we went. Ha! How the tables have turned now 😉

But I’m still feeling positive – if not maybe in denial? Either way it’s all good. At least when I’m running Tokyo I can look back fondly on this 3 mile snowy run and remember what I warrior I am 😉

Have you ever run in snow?

What’s the worst weather you’ve ever run in?

What do you wear during winter exercise?

Distorted thinking

Hi guys. So the snow is melting but apparently a cold spell is going to hit the UK this week. I’m sorry, isn’t it cold enough as it is?? Hope everyone is coping well and the snow didn’t cause too many issues.

I mentioned in my last post that I was really fed up because not only did our trip to Wales get cancelled due to the weather but I also missed my 5.5 mile run. I know missing this run isn’t a big deal in the great scheme of things. I know it isn’t going to affect the half marathon. I honestly know this. But it still worried me. How ridiculous is that?

Anyway, so I was determined to run on Saturday as I didn’t want to miss another run, and especially the longer run of the week: 7 miles (not hugely long to all you running pros out there but long for me).


So I put my trail shoes on as they have the best grips and set off to our little local country park: Manor Farm.IMG_3508

I decided to go with a trail run because honestly the pavements were a nightmare. Seriously icy and slippery. So I figured that more fresh snow was needed to help keep me balanced. The scenery was beautiful but it was a hard run. Like running on sand. My pace was forced to slow down to around 9 minutes/mile. But I enjoyed it immensely.


The beautiful scenery helped clear my mind and let me just run without focus.


And without so much as one falling over incident (which is good for me considering how clumsy I am) I got my 7 mile run in.


Though I loved it and felt so good afterwards I still felt angry I’d missed the other run – like I hadn’t done enough for my training. I realise this is absolutely ridiculous thinking. After feeling down about it while I was getting showered and sorted for the day I realised how stupid this thinking was. I should be proud of the run I just did! And in snow no less! I don’t know why I had that ridiculous mind-set about the ‘lost run’. I think I’ve just become so focused on running and hitting certain targets I’ve missed the bigger picture. Why do I run? Not just to hit PBs and feel a sense of achievement. No. I run because first and foremost I love it. And I loved that 7 mile run. I need to focus on the achievements not the failures.

And I need to know that every run doesn’t have to be amazing. I need to slow down on my longer runs. Take it easy or I will injure myself. 9 minutes/mile is the perfect pace for me to run longer miles.

I’m sorry if this post has made you want to shake me – I want to shake myself!! If anyone else gets like this, please tell me! I can’t be the only one out there who sets themselves such high standards and gets angry when they don’t reach them – even when it’s due to logical and rational reasons!

What high standards do you set yourself?

Do you have a routine you always follow and hate it when it gets messed up?

Snow day

So I didn’t get to North Wales. Snow hit Southampton (and pretty much every place we would have driven through to get to North Wales) which just made it impossible to go. It was a real shame as we were looking forward to heading up there and celebrating my granddad’s 80th birthday with him. But the weather was just ridiculous.

Ben was able to quickly change his holiday into a day working from home but I wasn’t so lucky. Well, it depends on your perspective. I got to chill and do what I wanted all day whereas Ben had to be on his laptop working. It also means that I’m not off tomorrow either. Ho hum!

But back to the snow. It started snowing a little bit as I left work on Thursday night.


And then by the time we woke up in the morning on Friday there was a beautiful blanket of snow covering everything.


This was the view from our bedroom window. It became clear quite quickly we wouldn’t get to Wales Sad smile

I took Alfie out for a walk first thing and had my running gear on as I foolishly thought I could go for a run afterwards.


Alfie absolutely loved the snow. Bounding through it like a happy puppy. I quickly came to realise I wouldn’t be going running. It was just too risky to fall over and break my ankle or something similar.IMG_3478

I felt so annoyed. Not only could we not go to Wales anymore but I couldn’t do my planned run either. I was really frustrated. I know it’s silly but I hate it when my plans are ruined. It also meant I didn’t know what to do with myself at home. I couldn’t run, couldn’t chill out with Ben as he was working…So what does any normal person do? Watch TV. What does Anna do? Start a big clean of course!

I cleaned the fridge completely.


Not much in there as we didn’t expect to need much as we were away for the weekend. Perfect timing considering the snow and not being able to get to the supermarket. Confused smile


I cleaned all our cupboards out and rearranged them. OK it doesn’t look that organised but it’s better than it was. Don’t you just hate it when herbs and spices just cover the cupboard in herby/spicy dust?? (Just me?)

After my mad cleaning dash, I had a really delicious lunch of a turkey omelette with cranberry sauce on the side. So good! That’s officially all the turkey from the freezer gone no. Sad times.


At the moment with food Ben and I are having to be quite creative and thoughtful about our meals as we don’t actually have that much in! We walked to the mini Tesco’s down the road but obviously everyone else had the same plans and we couldn’t get a huge amount. Just fresh vegetables and fruit really. So we’re eating out our freezer!

Though I missed my run on Friday, I’ve been loving listening to the Marathon Talk podcast and basically immersing myself into all things running-related, like websites and magazines. I read a great post by this lovely lady that really struck a cord with me.

I’ve been dreading the longer runs that I have coming up. Not dreading, maybe just feeling quite anxious as I don’t usually run 6+ miles on a regular basis. But this post and the article Ashley mentions really honed into my head that I should make my pace a lot slower for longer runs. I think I’ve just been so concerned with maintaining a certain pace that it’s been so tough. OK I know I haven’t done any ‘proper’ long runs yet but it’s all relative I suppose as to what you call a long run. It didn’t made me feel a lot less anxious about it. I really need to stop over-thinking things and getting myself all worked up. So what if I don’t get an amazing time at the half-marathon! I need to set a stake in the ground for this one to then beat next time around anyway Winking smile

Despite the snow, Alfie still got his run in though. He ran around the garden like a crazy dog! I videoed just a segment of it. Apologies for my clearly inept videoing skills!!

Alfie in the snow


And then after his mad dash around in the snow…


Alfie was quarantined to the kitchen as he was soaked. Those big old puppy eyes no longer work on me anymore!

Right, I’m off for some lunch and maybe a cheeky episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians!

Have you been affected by the snow?

Do you enjoy long runs? Any tips?