On to new things…

So I finished my last day at work last Wednesday. It was definitely a bittersweet. I’ve worked there for over five and a half years. I remember joining and being this timid, terrified girl…unsure of everything, so quiet and afraid. I walked out of there on Wednesday confident, self-assured and ready for my next challenge. I’ll miss so many of the people I worked with but I’m looking forward to working with a new bunch of people and hopefully making some friends!

I had Thursday and Friday off, which was just amazing. I haven’t had a proper couple of days where I literally have nothing planned for ages. I decided to do a day of sorting schizz out in the spirit of new beginnings and all that. I also agreed to help my parents sort out their garage and under-the-stairs cupboard (a blackhole for shoes, bags and coats).

My dad took off the Friday as well and hired a skip which helped the situation. I mean, I love my parents but they just seemed to hoard so much junk. I’m not even joking when I say we took FOUR black bags of shoes to charity. Who has time to wear that many shoes?? And their garage is just full of random rubbish and charity-shop worthy items that for some reason my parents thought to keep hold of. NO ONE NEEDS THREE TOOLKITS. This is probably one of the main reasons I’m not a sentimental person when it comes to physical things and mementos. There are few items I’m irrationally attached to. All about that minimalist lifestyle (leggings aside of course. You can NEVER have too many leggings. Honest).

Found some rather hilarious old photos of my sister, mum and I.

AnnaTheApple childI mean, those hair styles…

As I was still not running it meant I could have some lovely lie-ins and then go to the gym at a more reasonable time than I usually would. I was given an Amazon gift voucher from work as part of my leaving present so I decided to buy and download some movies I’ve been wanting to see so I could make time on the elliptical machine far more bearable.

Cardio entertainmentI’ve got through Get Out (really creepy but really good) and the Lego Batman Movie (very funny). It’s actually a really good way to stay motivated on that god-awful machine. It also makes me keen to get back on it as I’ll only allow myself to watch these movies on the elliptical machine. Happy days…

On Friday night I went out to a fantastic burger place for some food. I’d heard that The Rockstone pub in Southampton literally did the best burgers around and so was fairly excited to go and eat stupid amounts of food, and of course spend time with good company.

I ordered the “BBCK” burger which was a 10oz burger with Brie, streaky bacon and a cranberry chutney. I also upgraded my fries to bacon dust fries. I mean, seriously.

The Rockstone BurgerMy partner in crime ordered the “Ban Ki-Mmm” which had Korean pork belly amongst other treats on top. I did get a little food envy on seeing his but mine was SO tasty it was only very brief. He upgraded to sweet potato fries. I have to say, usually I’m not a huge burger fan (I prefer more toppings/protein to carb ratio…), but this was heavenly.

We were both more than happy (and fairly full) on finishing our burgers. By the way, they were impossible to pick up. I did try but failed miserably. 10/10 for effort…not so much for getting covered in sticky cranberry-ness. Though we were full we decided to forgo the pudding on offer at The Rockstone and instead go to the handily located Sprinkles just down the road. Just a small pudding, eh? 😉

Sprinkles sundaeI got a cookie dough based sundae (zomggggggg) and he got a baked skillet cookie with ice cream. Mine contained hot cookie dough at the bottom, chocolate and vanilla ice cream and vanilla gelato as well as cookie pieces and molten white chocolate and regular chocolate drizzled on top. Dear god it was good. I couldn’t quite finish it all. For once my stomach said no. But I gave it my best stab! I prioritised the best bits!

So my time off was pretty damn good. I did manage two miles on Sunday to test the leg out… it felt OK but I’m not entirely convinced. More updates on that soon. Things are going pretty well right now (let’s ignore the small car accident I had Tuesday morning *sighs*, again more on that another time!)

My blogging is going to be a bit off-routine for a bit while I find my footing in my new job and adjusting to a new routine. But in the words of Lego, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME

What’s your ideal burger?

What’s your ideal sundae?

If you use cardio machines, how do you motivate yourself to stay on them?

Stubbington 10k race recap

I’ve been wanting to do this race for about three years. It’s ridiculous because this is a race that literally runs past my parent’s house and the route is one I’ve often used on many a long run.

Finally this year I wasn’t injured (well, coming back from injury but not injured) and it worked well into my marathon training plan (I say “plan” rather loosely). Happily my friends, Kate and Jamie, had signed up too. This was to be their first ever proper road race. They’ve done parkruns and we’ve done an obstacle race together but never a road race.

Unfortunately the weather was predicted to be awful. I mean it’s hardly surprisingly really considering it’s a) Britain and b) January, but us Brits are always so shocked when the weather is in fact terrible. Running in bad weather isn’t so bad but in a race setting there’s a fair amount of hanging around and getting cold before you actually start running and none of us were thrilled at this prospect.I stayed at my parent’s house (it made sense as the race start was a short walk away) and woke up early on Sunday to run two miles before Kate and Jamie arrived after driving from Bristol. I wanted to do the extra miles so I could have a total of eight miles for the day – my longest run yet. It wasn’t ideal having a break between the two miles and the race but I wasn’t going to desert my friends to run the miles just before the race began.

Just one mile out from my parent’s and then one mile back. Fairly easy. The weather was pretty grim but not as bad as expected – a bit drizzly and cold. I wore long leggings to keep myself from getting too cold and as I headed back down the lane Kate and Jamie passed me in the car so it was fairly good timing.

We were all feeling rather grumpy and not up for the race. It also didn’t help that my dad had decided to cook a fry-up for breakfast. Always nice to smell bacon cooking that you won’t get to eat.

We left as late as we possibly could to avoid hanging around in the cold too much. It was only a 10 minute walk, if that, to the race HQ and as we had no bags to drop off (my parents were kindly going to take our coats for us and put them in a big bag they’d brought especially) and we didn’t need the loo, we just huddled inside the community centre.Stubbington 10k is a very cheap race (think it was £16-17?) but it has quite a few of the perks of bigger races, such as a really nice technical t-shirt (which actually fits me!), chip timing, a big inflatable finishing arch with a time-display, lots of marshals and lots of support round the course. It also has waves for the start. As I’m a little faster than Kate and Jamie I wished them luck and headed to my starting area. My neckline felt really tight and I realised I had my black base layer on backwards. Smooth, Anna, really smooth. Luckily, realistically only I could tell.I saw lots of people from my running club which was nice. It’s a very clubby race so there were lots of local clubs from the area. It can feel a bit intimidating because they seem like “proper” runners, as Kate said, but I reassured her that there would be a range of running experience and paces and she wouldn’t be at the back (she wasn’t).

I had the vague time goal of finishing in under 50 minutes, maybe around 46-48 minutes. I didn’t want a hard effort but I did want a sustained effort. I haven’t really done any speed work so I wanted to see what I could do over six miles.

I found the start quite hard going, mentally and physically. I was overtaken quite a lot. And as nice as it was getting lots of hellos from people in my running club and people I knew, it was somewhat demoralising. But I just told myself it didn’t matter, yes I’m not in a great running shape right now and I’m not racing this.

The first mile has a bit of an uphill and then a very steep downhill so it was a mixed bag in terms of pace. A girl I knew ran up next to me and asked what time I was aiming for. I gave her my vague time and she mentioned she wanted to stick with someone. Now usually I don’t mind running with other people or chatting away during a race but I really didn’t fancy it. I wanted to sort of hide away in my mind and just auto-pilot the miles. I didn’t want to offend her though so I slightly slowed down and eventually after some chatter she headed off. It was nothing personal to the girl, she’s lovely, but I just wasn’t in that mood, you know?

There is a fairly sharp incline which seems to go on forever which took a bit of a graft to get up. Then it was plain sailing – I knew this course so well I could just switch off and plan little milestones in my head. A few other people tried to chat to me but my monosyllabic responses discouraged further conversation. I must have seemed grumpy but really I was just wanting to get the race done. 10ks aren’t my favourite, the weather was fairly miserable and the sustained effort was taking its mental toll on me. It sounds like I had a horrible race but in truth I quite enjoyed it; I enjoyed zoning out and letting my legs carry me forward.

The course is fairly scenic, going past lots of farmer’s fields and country lanes and then eventually running along the seafront. It was grim and grey but thankfully not windy. There was a lot of support from the locals and I made sure to smile and thank everyone I could – it must have been so cold for them!

Photo credit: Alan from Denmead Photos 

As the miles ticked off quickly I increased my pace a little and started picking off people in front of me. I managed to pull back some people who had overtaken me at the start and that bolstered my confidence somewhat.

As I reached the last 400m I saw a group of guys from my running club (super speedsters) who were cheering the club in. My running club friend Chris was just ahead of me and they all enthusiastically yelled at me to overtake him (or “chick” him). I tried my best to catch him but I just couldn’t and annoyingly managed to burn myself out before the final sprint. Such a stupid thing to do!

Photo source: Netley Abbey Runners

Anyway I finished strong. I worried I might have pushed it a bit too hard (and at the same time wondered how I managed to pull any of those paces for my last marathon…!).My official time was 46:26, which I’ll happily take! I’m around four minutes off my PB but in reality I’m a million miles from that sort of speed! I’m just happy that my calf/shin felt good (not perfect but decent) and I was able to put in some effort towards the end. A very happy result indeed.There was no medal but we got a lovely technical t-shirt so I’m happy enough. My parents were waiting at the finish line to cheer us in (they’d had a nice coffee in the village while we were running) so it was nice to get my coat quickly back on and to grab a takeaway Costa coffee which was right next to the finish while I waited for Kate and Jamie.Kate finished (1:05) before Jamie (1:05:22) which no one expected – only because Jamie normally beats Kate. Jamie said he didn’t have the best race while Kate said it’s helped re-motivate her for her training for the Bath Half.And then we quickly headed off back to mine where we showered and got ready and headed out to a lovely local pub called the Fox and Hounds in Burseldon. I’ve recently been and had the most amazing sundae when I went out for dinner there (some things are not always blogged about… ;-)) and wanted to recreate the experience with Kate and Jamie, who I knew would appreciate it. I also really wanted something that wasn’t available on the menu the last time I was there.I went for a sharing platter with Jamie (very tasty) and then a hog roast burger topped with gammon and pulled pork. Oh my good Lord this was amazing. Now normally I don’t get burgers as I always feel that the ratio of carb:protein is not at my preference. However, this was a fully stacked burger. My bun could barely contain it. And it fully rocked my world. And of course, the salted caramel sundae for pudding (containing bits of brownie and cheesecake).

Kate and Jamie also enjoyed theirs and ordered the sundaes as well (Jamie refused to give a normal face for this photo FYI).

We had this at 1pm and honestly I could not eat a single thing for the rest of the day (OK that’s a lie, I had two apples). I actually felt a little unwell in the evening and my stomach was making all kinds of crazy noises that night. But it was worth it.

So like old times, a good race and good food!

What do you never normally order at a restaurant?

What’s the best sundae you’ve ever had? Hands down, this one was probably the best I’ve had. The cream on top was proper whipping cream and not from a can.

Do you enjoy chatting to people during a race? Normally I do!

Pudding stomach

This weekend fully proved to me that I have two stomachs: a normal food stomach and a pudding one. But more on that in a bit. First, as usual my weekend started with parkrun.

My two newly converted parkrun runners came down from Bristol for the day. They were keen to test out their 5k times on a flat parkrun course. Pomphrey Hill parkrun in Bristol has been good fun but ultimately a flat course is always nice to do to see where you’re at. Originally we were going to meet in Swindon where another friend wanted to do their first parkrun but that fell through so they came to me.

We chose Lee-On-Solent parkrun as it is super flat and also very close to my parent’s house so they could meet me there, drop off their pug, Doug, to hang out with Alfie and my parent’s dog and we could convoy together. My dad was joining but decided to forgo doing it as he hurt his shoulder.

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:Look at that blue sky (and the Isle of Wight behind)! Beautiful. No one wanted to say what their targets were really…we all felt quietly confident that we’d do better than Pomphrey but we didn’t want to vocalise it and put silly pressures on ourselves.

I saw a few people from my running club which was nice and also finally got to meet the lovely Kerry, who I’ve been chatting with via Twitter and Instagram (aka UKRunGirl).

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After the briefing (which made me chuckle when the run director told the under-11s to firmly supervise their adults), we were off. I found it quite busy and hectic as it’s a fairly narrow promenade for us all to bunch together on but it helped slow me down. Another point that was made during the briefing was that there were lots of foot traffic from non-runners this morning and that we were to give them right of way and be courteous as we didn’t want any complaints to the council or reasons to cancel the parkrun. I noticed throughout the run that all the runners I saw took this to heart and gave walkers wide berths and moved out of the way quickly. It’s true, parkrun is a run not a race, as much as we’d all like to get fast times we still want parkrun to continue without issue!

My dad stood on the side-line cheering us on and testing out his new GoPro. He’s such a gadget-lover. I’m considering getting one myself but I want to test out using my dad’s first before I commit.

LoS parkrun AugustScreenshot of GoPro filming

I gave it my all and hilariously did not achieve a negative split after blowing my own trumpet last week about how good I’ve suddenly become at managing my pace, ha! But I did notice a wind against me during the second (and hardest) mile.

IMG_4023Photo credit: Ethan Gee

The last mile I was able to put the peddle down as it was a straight run to the finish.

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I finished in 22:08 which I’m really pleased with. Yes it would have been fantastic to dip under 22 minutes but for where I am in my training and coming back from injury (yes, excuse excuses) I will happily take that!

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Kate and Jamie smashed their previous Pomphrey times and their last Lee-On-Solent time too. Jamie got the sub-30 minutes he’s been aiming for too (Kate missed out soo narrowly!). We were all very pleased with ourselves!

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We headed back to mine (quick stop at Starbucks of course) and got showered and sorted before heading to Casa Brasil for lunch.

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Casa Brasil is an all-you-can-eat Brazilian Rodizio restaurant. Basically the waiters come round with skewers of meat and slice it up in front of you.

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There’s a fairly decent salad bar as well. The staff are so friendly and attentive there and it was all decorated with Brazilian flags which felt very appropriate considering the Olympics has just started. Though I did say to one waiter if he was excited about the Olympics being in Brazil and he replied “I’m Portuguese…”.

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It was amazing and right up our street, as you can imagine. When we were finished we were all very full. We didn’t fancy pudding per se but we did fancy just something sweet, you know? I was trying to think of nearby ice cream or frozen yogurt places… hmmm. Then I remembered so many people going on about Sprinkles, an gelato cafe in Southampton of which I’d never been to. It was only 10 minutes away and we had some time before we were going to see Suicide Squad at the cinema.

SprinklesYes that is a Jammie Dodger flavour!!

Well, we walked in and were greeted by so many different ice cream flavours and cakes it was ridiculous. We grabbed a menu and sat down. Oh dear. Sundaes, waffles, crepes, ice cream milk shakes… this was not a place for a small something sweet. None of us could bring ourselves to just order one or two scoops of ice cream. Feeling fairly greedy, I ordered a brownie sundae (as did Jamie) and Kate ordered a Nutella waffle.

Sprinkles (1)

To be fair, we didn’t think they’d be that big. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I’m not usually a big ice cream (she says after ordering the biggest sundae of her life). I like ice cream to have stuff going on, like Ben and Jerry’s with chocolate bits in etc., so this was perfect. It was chocolate, vanilla and caramel ice cream with brownie chunks (and I mean chunks), cream and hot fudge sauce to pour over. I couldn’t finish it. I was so full and feeling rather sick. But I bloody loved it. We all did.

It was a good job we literally just had to watch a film after this because we were so stuffed. Suicide Squad was really good. Yes it’s been slated by the critics but I genuinely enjoyed it (apart from Cara Delevingne who I found cringingly bad). We laughed all the way through and just thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were fairly surprised that quite a few people didn’t wait for the end credits to finish for the sting at the end though – don’t they know!?

Thankfully post-film we all felt a lot better having digested a bit! Then Kate and Jay headed home with Doug. It was a fantastic day! I then popped over to my friend Lou’s to see her week old baby. I’m not a baby person so I always feel a bit awkward with what to do but Tom, Lou’s husband, literally handed me the baby and was like “chill out, Anna”. PANIC. But no it was fine and their baby, Henry, is adorable.

Ehh, the next morning I had to run 15 miles. I was seriously dragging my heels. I woke up at 8.45am (already a bad sign), walked Alfie and just faffed about…I almost decided not to go. I just had no desire to go out running for over two hours. I’ll talk more about my marathon training and plans in another post but this training has been really tough as the ramp up has been quite sharp due to my injury and lack of running.

Just before 10am I was out of the door and actually felt surprisingly good (must be all that glycogen flowing around my system…). I took my dad’s GoPro and had some fun filming bits and bobs (lots to learn though, especially angles. When I tried to film myself I literally just filmed my boobs as I hadn’t quite got the angle right.!). I’ve also not mastered smooth filming so watching it back made me feel a bit sea-sick.

I wore my hydration belt this time so happily had some water to sip on as I went as though it wasn’t sunny it was very humid and warm. As my two hydration bottles are quite small (like 250ml each) I made sure to drink them both before I got to my favourite Dodgy Tap so I could then refill. The Dodgy Tap was exactly half way so this was perfect.

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I took a photo of the tap when we took the dogs for a walk so I could show you and see what you thought… would you drink from it?

Anyway the rest of the run was a slog. A real slog. I was counting down every mile. I felt tired and hot. I reached 15 miles about 0.5 miles from home and ordinarily would have just run that extra bit but I stopped straight away and rang my dad to pick me up (I’d run from their house and I knew they were in). My dad didn’t mind thankfully, part of his “coaching duties” apparently Winking smile.

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Then I spent some time in the garden stretching with an ice cold drink…and the dogs licking me because I was so sweaty. Nice.

IMG_4034My parents were building their swinging chair at the time, hence the stuff behind me

Then I spent the rest of the day doing the usual Sunday schizz. It was 1pm by the time I had breakfast…but this just meant I could eat lunch sooner Winking smile

Would you drink from that tap?

Have you seen any parkrun/non-runner clashes? We’ve occasionally had the odd complaint at Netley from dog walkers.

What’s your all-time favourite ice cream flavour or sundae combo?