A long run and cake – what’s new?

This weekend was quite a busy one! I was off to London on Saturday and then Sunday I was seeing my uni friends. And somewhere in there I had to run 16 miles… which would be my last long run before the New Forest Marathon next weekend. Non-negotiable!

I had a bit more time on my side on Saturday morning than Sunday and handily my friend Mark was planning a long run then so it made sense to join him. And as Mark is far more organised and better at adulting than I am, he planned the route and just told me where and when I needed to be. As he only wanted to do 13 miles and I wanted 16 I ran a few miles beforehand – basically just to the meeting point which he’d expertly made the right distance for me. What a star.

Unfortunately that meant leaving at 6.45am to get in Netley parkrun at the end (part of the route). But as I had a lie in the next day it was fine. Plus it would be a lot cooler than running later (yes, Mike, I KNOW. Sometimes you do need to get up early to beat the heat….).

My route to Mark was pretty much entirely uphill so was a bit of a slog. I listened to a podcast and ignored my pace. I was tired in general and my legs needed warming up. I amazingly made it on time and at the right location to meet Mark and we headed off to begin the next section of the run (well, Mark’s first section, my second section). It started with another slog uphill but otherwise was generally fairly flat thankfully.

Mark was great to run with. He’s usually super fast (aiming to break the 17 min 5k soon) but he happily (so he says) slowed down for me. He had a five mile race the next day so apparently it worked well for him (FYI, he smashed the race the next day but he did say he wasn’t sure it was wise to run so far as his legs felt quite tired during the race…).The weather was lovely and cool, though it did get sunnier and warmer as the run continued. I didn’t take water with me as it was cooler but when we got to Netley – 8.45am nicely timed – I was thirsty. I thought the cafe would be open but it wasn’t and toilet taps had a ‘no drinking water’ sign. I’ll drink from a dodgy tap on the beach but when there’s a sign I stay clear away! I spotted a waitress in the cafe though and tapped on the door and asked for some tap water. She happily obliged, taking pity on the sweaty runner, and I drank a big pint of cold water. Bliss! Thank you cafe lady!

Mark, Chris and me

And then it was time for parkrun. Now my legs were tired and I was not looking forward to getting going again. I ran with Mike who was taking it easier due to next week’s marathon.

Photo Credit: Ken Grist

Mike’s training has gone superbly for this marathon and I imagine he’ll be the one pacing ME when it comes down to it since I’ve not exactly had the most ideal lead up! We plodded around chatting (I say plodded, this is just my plod speed – everyone is different). I felt better as the legs got going and I finished 25:45. 16 miles done!A lovely lady, Lizzie, who I’d been chatting to on Instagram said hi to me and we chatted afterwards, which was nice. It was great to finally meet her as we’d been meaning to face-to-face meet for a while now but our timings and parkruns had never matched up. She’s recently joined the Hedge End Running Club as well 🙂

My other friend, Lauren, also brought me some of her own grown apples (eating ones as well!). I was so excited… And then forgot them when I got a lift back with another friend. Damn! Luckily Mike picked them up for me. What an idiot!Netley parkrun has just acquired its first PB bell as well which is cool. Along with our monthly pacing event, it’s really moving up in the world.I’m very proud to call it my home parkrun. But there are still so many nearby I need to do as well.

I also had some fun trying on my friend’s Garmin Fenix 5X to see how it sat on my wrist. I jokingly put my other watches on with as well. I wear two watches when I run because I like to keep a track of my steps with my FitBit  Surge and I like to track my run with my Garmin 220. The Fenix though would do both but it’s just SO expensive (even with a Wiggle discount…). One day.

I handily got a lift back with my friend as I was carless due to running to parkrun (I had arranged a lift before running there. I’m not quite that slapdash with all things in life…).

I had to get back fairly promptly to catch the train to London. I was heading to the Marathon Talk event to see the running-based film Skid Row Marathon. It’s a documentary about a criminal court judge who starts a running club in LA for ex-convicts and addicts, called the Midnight Mission, and how they train for a marathon. I was quite intrigued about the film but if I’m honest I was more excited about meeting up with fellow Marathon Talkers. There were quite a few of the guys I went on the Austrian Run Camp earlier this year and a few other people I knew going (including Maria from Maria Runs blog!).

Marathon Talk is a running podcast and organise the annual Sandy Balls running camp and I’ve met so many fantastic people through these events. So it’s always great to meet up with them and meet other like-minded people. Runners really are a lovely friendly group of people (provided they’re not injured… ;-)).  Anyway I’ll do a proper post about that as it deserves its own. The film BLEW me away.

The next day my university friends were coming down to Portsmouth for a meet up. As I always say, they’re such good friends and it’s always a lovely day when I see them.

Unfortunately the weather was pants. It was cold and drizzly. Despite the weather though we headed to Southsea and met in the amazing Tenth Hole tea room. If you’ve never been, please do go. It’s BRILLIANT. The cake selection is second to none.We got some hot drinks and caught up first. The hot chocolates that Shell and Kate had looked phenomenal.Then we ordered lunch. I went for the Lardon Salad which was, unlike so many other salads from British restaurants, huge and full of all the good stuff. It had chunks of bacon, new potatoes and a hard boiled egg. It was delicious.I also shared some sweet potato wedges with the girls. Well, I probably ate most of them! After filling ourselves with sensible and adequate nutrition, we then proceeded to order the more fun and exciting food. The cake.The choice was a toughie. The options were just so good. As I’ve been to the Tenth Hole a few times I felt I needed to try something different (the carrot cake is amazing, the honeycomb pie is good but maybe too much cream, and there was sadly no toffee apple cake). So I went for the cherry cheesecake chocolate brownie. What is this strange concoction you might ask? Well, let me tell you.It’s a dense chocolate brownie topped with a good layer of cheesecake goodness and then cherry compote on top. Now normally I’m not a fruit and pudding kinda gal. I like fruit. I like pudding. But together? Hmmm, not so much. I do like a crumble but it’s not top of my list. Cherry is also not my favourite. Anyway, I digress. BUT let me tell you, it rocked my world. The flavours went together perfectly. The cheesecake creamy bit helped balance the rich chocolate and the textures were fabulous. The whole thing was, well, just a delight. Ten out of ten.

Then we did a bit more catching up and chatting before everyone parted ways and headed home. I had a three mile run in the plan. I would have done this in the morning but due to events concerning my idiocy the night before I was unable… I mean, running after a fairly heavy cake isn’t always ideal but sometimes you just gotta get it done. It was raining and cold but actually I was feeling ready for a good run. And there were only a few cake burps mid-run. Actually my legs felt amazing. Despite the long run the day before I really did feel pretty good. I expect it was the sugar from the cake and the lower temperature that significantly helped, but I’ll take it! 7:39 min/mile average pace!

Whew. A fab weekend DONE.

How was your weekend?

Do you enjoy documentaries?

Do you like to break long runs up with parkrun and running with friends?

Food, fitness and finally RUNNING

I don’t think I’ve ever woken up on a Saturday and looked forward to Monday morning at work before. This is very strange to me! I mean, I didn’t hate my last job or dread going in but I never felt the excitement and genuine interest that I currently feel. Long may this last!

As I said, my posts are a bit few and far between right now as I find my new schedule and get my life in order…but for today’s post I’ll recap the weekend as it was a pretty good one!

I spent Friday night with my parents and had a very much needed long sleep and lazy morning with them on Saturday morning, walking the dogs down the beach and catching up. They wanted to know how my new job had gone and all that jazz. Though I obviously missed going to parkrun it was really nice to spend this rare Saturday morning with them for once.

A bit later I headed to the gym and had a really good session, if I do say so myself. I came up with a circuit-style workout that I did four times, and it definitely got the blood pumping and the endorphins racing.

  • 5 minutes on the rowing machine
  • 20x step ups
  • 20x lunges (w/barbell)
  • 20x squats and barbell overhead raise
  • 20x Swiss ball hamstring curls
  • 20x Swiss ball jackknives
  • 20x bench bunny hops

I then followed this with 25 minutes on the elliptical machine watching Iron Man 2. I’ve seen barely any of the Marvel films so I’m using my cross training time to catch up. So far I’ve done Iron Man and half of Iron Man 2 – only 9,000 more films to go 😉

That evening I headed out for another burger and ice cream-full evening with Andy. This time we were testing out 7Bone Burger Co., which is another Southampton burger-based restaurant (I believe there are a few around the place). This was a bit more low-key but very busy. It was literally packed! We luckily found a nice table and surveyed the menu.

I chose the Prince Charles is Overrated burger which came with a 10oz beef patty, bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles and dirty spread (mayo-based yumminess sauce). I ordered frickles to come with it (fried pickles – ABSOLUTE dream).

And I think Andy ordered the Ronald’s Revenge (mustard, double cheese, fried onions) and chilli cheese fries. We also shared some halloumi fries.

So comparing these burgers with the burgers from last week at The Rockstone… I can say that the burgers themselves were better at The Rockstone – a bit more “meaty” and substantial. The 7Bone Burgers disappeared very easily and very quickly. However, the meal itself was better at 7Bone because of the entire package. The frickles and the halloumi fries were literally heaven.

Andy kindly shared his fries with me and they were AMAZING. I mean, I’m not really a processed cheese fan but my God these were another level.

We let things settle before walking over to the handily located Sprinkles for a deja vu moment of finishing off the meal with ice cream again. This time I decided not to go for the behemoth sundae that I went for last time and stuck to a slightly more modest pudding in a jar.

I had the Guilty Pleasure, which contained gelato, melted chocolate, strawberries, brownie bits and caramel popcorn. Actually it was a little bit of a disappointment as quite a chunk of the jar was just cream and strawberries. I got major food envy of Andy’s jar which contained freshly baked cookie bits. Ah well, you live and learn.

Ooooof, what a meal! I was stuffed (again). Enough burgers and ice cream now for a while please!

The next morning I headed out for my first “long run” in a while. I’d run twice in the week to good results – minimal knee discomfort and nothing getting worse post run. So I decided to up the ante and go for the big one. SIX MILES. Jesus, calm me down. Six whole miles. Only five weeks to the marathon… PANIC.

Not quite. I’ve been here before where I’ve been injured and my well-laid marathon plans have been scuppered. So I’m familiar with this process. Inverse taper to the big day is the way forward. The only thing that will hold me back is if my knee decides to not play ball.

I’m quietly confident at the moment though as it felt pretty good during the six miles. The first mile was a bit uncomfortable but then it was absolutely fine. I was tempted to go further but thought NO ANNA, don’t over-do it. Keep calm and level-headed and just build those miles up slowly again until the big day.

What really made me happy was that I felt very comfortable running at a good pace. I don’t appear to have lost any major fitness in terms of cardiovascular-ness (technical term there). I just need my body to get used to the impact and pounding of running on pavements again. The elliptical machine is all well and good keeping my fitness in tune but it does nothing for allowing the ligaments etc. to adjust to that ground force.

After the six miles I headed quickly to the gym to top this up with 35 minutes on the elliptical machine to kind of replicate a longer run. I felt a bit weird turning up to the gym already sweaty but hey ho. Needs must. Then it was a quick dash home, shower and head to my parents to go over on the ferry to Gunwharf for a mosey round the shops and then a walk into Southsea for lunch.The Southsea kite festival was going on which was really cool as well. So many crazy kites!SouthseaI love the photo of the man behind me wearing his very cool purple sparkly cowboy hat.

We then found the delightful Algarve Grill restaurant and had Portuguese-style tapas. Oh god, ALL THE FOOD.I was actually looking for something a bit lighter after the big meal the night before… but these things happen. I had sardines, meatballs, chicken skewers, these meat breaded pouch things and a pork dish (pork pieces cooked in a very delicious butter sauce). I was STUFFED. Happily we had quite a walk to get back to the car (all the way to Gunwharf, then over on the ferry and then to the carpark from there) so it had time to go down! Though I was shattered by the time we finally got back to the car. I’d done almost 30,000 steps!

Whew, that was a big post! Hopefully going to get back into some regular posting so watch this space 😉

How was your weekend?

What’s your favourite burger side?

What’s your favourite Marvel film, if you have one? I really like Thor but I’ve heard Captain America is really good.

Eye update and Halloween adventures

So my eyes are five days out from having had LASIK laser eye surgery.

They’re feeling pretty damn good I have to say. My vision is clear and I can see perfectly. The only thing I’m noticing is a bit of dry eyes, which is normal and probably exacerbated by having to stare at a computer screen for eight hours a day. I also still have very bloodshot eyes.

I take three different types of drops four times a day (5-10 mins apart) which is annoying to remember but I have an alarm set on my phone (always funny when you forget about that and leave the office to go to the loo and get back and everyone is staring at you as your phone has been going off for the past five mins…).

I managed to solve the hair washing conundrum as well. As I’m not allowed to get my eyes wet at all, washing my long hair is a bit of an issue. I’ve been using goggles for non-hair washing days but really my hair can only last three days before it really needs a wash. There’s only so much dry shampoo can do when you go to the gym as often as I do.

Instead of goggles (as that would have been impossible) I decided to use my eye guards that I have to wear at night. I attached them to my face using the special medical tape and jumped in the shower. I was very careful to not fully submerge my head as the guards aren’t that secure and have holes in them for ventilation but it protected them enough for me to get the job done. Whew!

Also, wearing sun glasses outside has been somewhat embarrassing when it’s not sunny at all and rather overcast. I look like I’m avoiding the paparazzi and am about to screech, “no photos!” at any moment. And it’s very tricky walking Alfie in sun glasses in the evening when it’s pitch black. But only a few days left to endure this – and it’s fully worth it.

It still stands that the worst day post-surgery was the few hours after surgery. I never did fully recap that evening…It was Halloween weekend and I’d planned on going out with my friends for some pub crawling adventures and as I originally thought the surgery was Friday I thought I would be fine to go Saturday night. But as my surgery was actually Saturday this did make me wonder if going out was a good idea…

But I wanted to go. I’m trying to be more of a “yes person” rather than the more comfortable hermit I’m inclined to be. Plus I hadn’t gone out drinking for months. It’s not something I fully enjoy doing, but once in a while it is good fun (and enough to remind me why I don’t do it more often). Plus I love fancy dress.halloween-witchI was going for witch fancy dress… It was such an easy costume. All I did was buy some cheap striped tights from Amazon and then spruced up a black dress I already had with a black sparkly tutu I found in the children’s section in Sainsbury’s (elasticated waists for the win – and only £11!).img_6067I had some black sparkly heels (not too high thankfully) and then added a black belt and boom! Done.

The night out was fun. My friends all dressed up too and we did a pub crawl along Albert Road in Southsea. It was all going well (a few cheeky shots here, a few G&Ts there) until we got into a place called The Wedgwood Rooms, which is a club/live music place. It’s a bit more of an indie/rock scene which I don’t mind but what I did mind was that we were the oldest people in there by quite a few years. The average age must have been 20. Nothing makes you feel old than being in a university drinking scene. Also, annoyingly, it was very smoky in the room with the aggressive use of a smoke machine. This was really not good for my eyes. I avoided the main room where the smoke machines were and hung out in the bar. My eyes were not feeling great in this place and I was starting to feel nervous. A couple of my friends who hadn’t just got drinks decided to move on with me to the next pub instead and we’d meet the other guys there when they finished.

My friend casually mentioned that a Scoops Gelato place was nearby and this peaked a bit of interest. Oh reeaally?? Important question: Would they still be open?  It was half 11 and amazingly they closed at midnight. We ditched the pub and hightailed it to Scoops as fast as we could and got there with 10 minutes to spare. Sadly the were only offering ice cream and not the waffles and pancakes on the menu (obviously as they were just about to shut shop) but this was good enough for us.img_6213I chose white chocolate Oreo (I’m so into white chocolate at the moment) and mint Oreo. A stellar selection if I do say so myself. As we headed back to meet the others at the next pub while munching happily away at our ice creams we agreed that we kind of felt a bit old for this “going out” business now. We much prefer house gatherings with hot beverages, snacks and movies. The rest of the evening was good but my drinking enthusiasm had now diminished and my bed was calling me…

It was a fun night and quite handy that it was Halloween as my bloodshot eyes and weird sunglasses-wearing tendencies fitted nicely in with all the other people in fancy dress. Fortuitous you might say!

How did you spend Halloween?

Do you like fancy dress?

What’s your ideal evening with friends? Mine probably involves getting food and then going back to someone’s house and chilling out there.