Post Marathon

I’ve had such a blissful week off but now it’s back to reality. It was exactly what I needed. A whole week of no gym and no running post marathon.

After I finished the marathon I was walking along on cloud nine. I was just so flabbergasted at what I’d achieved. I genuinely hadn’t expected it to go as well as it did so I was fairly chuffed and surprised with myself.

As we headed out of the race village we spotted the area where the winners of the horse races go (the race village was situated in the Chester Racecourse). It did look cordoned off from the public…but the gate was slightly ajar and I couldn’t help but quickly grab a few amusing photos.chester-racecourseAs we snuck out of the area a few fellow runners noticed the ideal photo spot and trickled through. We felt a bit naughty but hey ho, it’s got to be done!

As food is obviously a crucial factor in any post-marathon experience 😉 I’d previously hunted a good spot online for lunch earlier that week. This saved us having to walk around Chester hunting while I slowly become more and more hangry. We had a bit of time to kill as I’d sensibly booked the table for 2pm which would give me some time to feel a bit more normal post marathon. For me it goes something like this: ooof don’t show me any food… bleurgh food… can’t eat a single thing… I can’t even look at a cake right now… SHOW ME ALL THE FOOD… I NEED FEEDING. The switch-over happens very quickly 😉

The restaurant was a Turkish restaurant called Meze. It was an ideal spot for me because it was all about the meat but it was actually fairly healthy so it was ideal for my parents, who are trying to lose weight. It had lots of options like grilled meats, hummus, vegetarian plates, salads and rice so it was a good all-rounder. I went for the mixed grill and it was divine.img_5569Very handy that as I got a bit chilly I had this lovely long-sleeved technical t-shirt to put on! The restaurant was really nice and the service was fantastic. The chef even sent over a freebie little plate for us to try – it was some sort of Turkish-style salsa creation. Very tasty.
After eating, we wandered around Chester and had a look at the Cathedral. The bells were going and the sun was shining so it was perfect.chester-cathderalAfter we got back to the cottage and I’d showered, we headed to the hot tub. Honestly I had been dreaming about this moment. And it was FABULOUS.img_5595Well it would have been fabulous had I not dramatically face-planted into the to tub when I got in. I slipped, fell forwards and then knocked my shin on the side. It wasn’t quite the graceful dip I was hoping to achieve and it was rather painful. I now have the most ridiculous bruises on my shin *sighs*. But the bottle of Prosecco we shared helped!

If I could do this after every marathon I definitely would (sit in a hot tub, not the falling in part). Bruised shin aside, I didn’t actually ache that much. I remember after my first few marathons every step was tough, though my calf was definitely feeling unhappy and niggly.

The rest of the week was very low key and chilled. I woke naturally most mornings between 7am and 8am, had a leisurely breakfast in the cottage (the ease of having self-catering accommodation) and then we’d set off to explore nearby places, such as Ludlow.ludlowAnd Powis Castle, which was just beautiful.powis-castleIt was full of peacocks as well, wandering about all casually. The grounds were beautiful and we had a lovely cup of tea in the cafe (isn’t that what National Trust locations are all about??)img_0902Over the week I ate lots of good food of course. Nothing crazily outrageous. Just a few scones here or there, some hearty sandwiches and a few puddings.
post-marathon-foodI did lots of walking and it was just so blissful. We were very lucky with the weather we had as well. Lots of sunshine, albeit a chill in the air indicating that autumn is very much en route.img_5655One of my favourite days was going on a 5 mile hike with my granddad around Longnor.

longnor-hike

We did this on the Tuesday and it was a perfect way to stretch the legs a bit after the marathon. Though during the steepest sections I could definitely tell I’d run 26.2 miles!longnor-hike

It took just over three hours and was fairly hard going but we survived. Not too shabby for an almost 83 year old and a post-marathoner, eh? Both my grandparents are in fantastic shape – heading off for bike rides and long walks.

It was, as always, lovely spending time with my grandparents and my family. It was just nice to switch off, sleep lots and rest. I ate whatever I fancied and reset myself basically. On the last day we went back to Chester before heading to pick up the dogs from my other granddad who lives in Stoke and we had a lovely time shopping and then a gorgeous meal at The Botanist.the-botanistI had literally a basket of chicken wings which weren’t amazing but tasty nonetheless (bit too overdone) – though the presentation was amusing. But the showstoppers were the main and pudding. I had a deli board for my main which you could pick lots of different things to have. I went for a baked Camembert with fig syrup, rollmops, honey glazed ham hummus and a fougasse bread (yes, the same as in the Bake Off!). It was delicious.

But the pudding… oh the pudding. It was the perfect end to such a fantastic holiday. A baked cookie with toffee ice cream and salted caramel sauce.img_5843I died and went to heaven. GLORIOUSLY tasty.

Though it’s sad it’s over, I feel very happy and content now I’m back. Exactly how you should do after a good holiday 🙂

What do you like to do after a big race or marathon?

What’s your favourite type of bread?

Have you been hiking anywhere interesting?

Sunny parkrun and I’m long running again!

This weekend was nice and chilled. Sometimes you need a weekend that you don’t do much and catch up on life, you know?

I headed to Netley Abbey parkrun on Saturday morning. I got there early, as usual, to help set-up the course. The chapel is being renovated for the next 18 months so the course has to change due to where the construction is going on. This meant a bit of confusion and rushing around as it wasn’t our standard set-up. Both the start and the finish were in different places and though the general route remains largely the same (still have that hill we have to do three times) it is a bit different and meant that we had to put our 1k markets, cones and arrows in different places.

IMG_3521Photo credit: Ken Grist

I’d brought Alfie with me as I knew my friend Mike wasn’t going to be running and said he was happy to look after him while I ran. I always feel mean if I leave Alfie behind when the weather is so lovely. So it was nice to bring him and give him chance to race around when we set up.

IMG_3498

It was quite warm so the run wasn’t that easy and there seemed to be a lot more exposure to the sun on the new route.

Netley July parkrun 3Photo credit: Ken Grist

I listened to some music for once, which I haven’t done in ages but as I had my Aftershokz headphones I thought it might be a nice change. They still let me hear my surroundings so I don’t feel as ‘locked in’ when I run.

Netley July parkrunPhoto credit: Ken Grist

Each lap I waved to Mike and Alfie. Alfie at first didn’t really notice me and then when he saw me his little face just looked like “where are you going? Come back!”.

image

 

 

 

My time was 23:10 which I was chuffed with as I did put some effort in (it was about a minute quicker than I’ve been doing recently). I think the course is a bit easier than it used to be though as it has less turns but I’ll take it!

IMG_3500

Then I headed back to Mike and Alfie to cheer some of the others in. The weather was just beautiful but I was a sweaty mess!

There were some great milestones achieved this parkrun: a few 50s and a 250th! And course that meant cake…

IMG_3502

Very tasty! Then we headed to the cafe for a drink. I had an ice cold sparkling water instead of my peppermint tea as it was far too warm and I treated Alfie to some dog ice cream!

IMG_3503Whoops, upside down sorry!

Basically it’s frozen fruit puree with a few other relatively normal and human-safe ingredients so we all tried a bit. Not especially creamy but nice enough. Alfie certainly liked it (though I had to ‘mush’ it up for him as he couldn’t be pigged to spend his time licking away it).

IMG_3504

Then it was back home to have some breakfast, shower and then head to my parent’s house. They’re currently on holiday and had asked me to check in on the house and water their plants. As I was also meeting up with some friends that evening who lived in the area I planned on spending the night as well. It also meant my run the next day could be along my favourite coastal route.

I took Alfie down the beach for a nice long walk and it was just bliss.

IMG_3516

I bought an ice cold Fanta Zero from the ice cream van and was in heaven. The walk took about an hour and I listened to a podcast and might have played some Pokémon Go Winking smile Though this absolutely rinsed my battery.

I went to my friend’s house a bit later on and we ordered in some takeaway and had a very nice chilled evening watching the old classic, Wall Street. It was a lovely relaxed evening.

The next morning I got up and headed out for my first longish run in a while. I planned to do eight miles as I’d run five miles previously and if I’m planning on doing Chester marathon in the beginning of October I need to be increasing my mileage. I didn’t want too big a jump but I felt eight would be good.

Though it was overcast the run was still hot. I felt fairly comfortable though and the miles ticked by. I briefly thought about a tap that I knew was at the beach and would be at mile 6ish. I probably could have survived the run without water but I couldn’t get it out of my head. When I got there I couldn’t see anywhere that it said drinking water (nor that it wasn’t drinking water). But I knew people used the water for their beach huts – though I wasn’t sure if they boiled it first or not. In the end the desire for water was too much and I decided to risk it. It was nice and cold. Finger’s crossed I’m OK!

Somehow I’d gotten my route wrong (how do I always manage this?) and ended up going passed 8 miles. I decided to continue on to 8.5 miles then walk home. But then when I reached 8.5 I still felt good so pushed to 9. Then I stopped and walked home, which was about less than half a mile. I felt good though definitely like I’d run 9 miles, of which I haven’t done in a good few weeks!

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was so nice to have a run that felt good. My hamstring is pretty much back to normal. After seeing my physio a couple of times and, as I’ve said before, he didn’t think it was my actual hamstring that was the issue. He worked on loosening my back (which was probably tweaking my sciatic nerve) and realigned my pelvis. So things have been a lot better. I’m back to squatting and deadlifting at the gym again (though not stiff-legged deadlifts just yet).

The rest of the day was life admin and chores. I also had a wonderful nap in the afternoon, perfect Sunday chill time. So basically my weekend was quiet but lovely Smile

Did you go to parkrun this weekend?

Would you drink from a suspect tap if you were thirsty?

NY’s resolutions, parkrun overload and the National Trust

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions I have to be honest. I think the only thing I’d like to do better this year is not be late All. The. Time.

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog I’m sure but I just don’t leave myself enough contingency time. In the morning I won’t add in time for my ‘faffing’, i.e. tidying, swapping shoes at the last minute, forgetting stuff, spilling stuff… I’m a nightmare. I literally arrive everywhere at least 5 minutes late. So there we go, New Year’s resolution: be on time.

In terms of what I hope for the year, like I said in a previous post, I don’t really know. I just want to be happy. I’m not sure how that happiness will look though. I’m at a strange point in my life as everything I thought I was working towards changed very quickly. Basically my motto is “just keep swimming” (or I suppose in my case, just keep running). I have a lovely flat, Alfie, good friends and a very loving family so things are pretty good. I also have no real PB ambitions for the year, just healthy happy running. I’m still loving the gym so hopefully continue on with that and keep getting stronger.

On the subject of running… After the double parkrun on New Year’s Day I was starting to feel a tad parkrun’ed out. So many parkruns within a short amount of time! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret them and I’ll always love parkrun but the weather on the Saturday just gone was awful and for once I just fancied staying in bed.IMG_7163

It was cold, windy and very very wet. I didn’t really want to be there but life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows (especially not in Britain) so I got myself out of bed and down there.

At the start, after jokingly debating with a friend about sitting back in the car with the heat on, I de-layered and got ready to run. At least it made me want to run quickly (well, as quick as I can lately and with that wind). The winter route goes down along the seafront bit which was just horrendous with the wind. It comes straight off the water and hits you sideways. I ran with (well, held on to!) a running club friend, Jim, and he helped pace me until I was able to push on on the last lap, after having gotten a second wind (no pun intended…).

Netley parkrun pace

A fellow blogger, April, was there as well which was nice – she almost out-sprinted me at the end but she was too polite, bless her. Take no prisoners I say! 😉

I got 23:59 which I was happy with. Straight away after finishing I grabbed my coat. Normally I’m really hot after running but I was quickly back to being cold. We were a miserable lot packing parkrun up, soaked, cold and wind-swept. Come on springtime!

The shower I had at home felt so good. It was ridiculously hot and strong so it was amazing. I didn’t want to come out! Thankfully the rain and wind died down and my parents and me met up to go to the National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey and gardens.IMG_7171

I made sure to wear my wellies! The rain mostly held off and we had a lovely time just walking around the grounds and house. It was very quiet so it was nice and peaceful.
Mottisfont Abbey

Bottom right: David Breuer-Weil’s Alien

There was a crazy statue (sculpture? Not sure how to describe it) of what looked like a man with his head in the ground. Apparently it’s of an alien that had landed from space… Random but cool.

We had a nice little hot drink in the coffee shop (I love this about the National Trust, there are always coffee shops!). I forwent the cake as I wasn’t fancying it (shock horror, I know) due to the Christmas excesses I’d been readily indulging in. After eating everything under the sun I’m ready to ease back into normal eating (I suppose cake eating is my normal eating though…).

I’m tempted to get a National Trust pass as it’s such a nice way to spend a day and we have several locations near us (for non-UK readers, National Trust is a conservation organisation that looks after historic buildings, gardens and areas and you can pay to look around them). It’s nice to have somewhere to walk and look around. Something to ponder over anyway for the future!

What weather do you really dislike? Mine is wind. I can deal with rain and cold, but wind is a killer.

What day trips do you enjoy?

What National Trust sites have you been to?

My little holiday in Wales

I’m back from North Wales where I spent a lovely few days with my family. It just goes too quickly though, doesn’t it?

On Thursday afternoon I hopped into my dad’s car, with Alfie, and headed up the motorway to Stoke-on-Trent. My granddad lives there with his two dogs and had kindly agreed to look after Alfie and my parent’s three dogs while we were in Wales. My other granddad, who we were going to be staying with, is allergic to dogs so we sadly couldn’t bring them along.

It was nice to see my granddad in Stoke, albeit briefly. He makes awesome cups of tea and always has some funny stories. He’s also reindeer obsessed and every year he goes to Scotland to spend several weeks helping out with a reindeer sanctuary up there. He used to be a joiner before he retired and is always carving and making crazy creations from reindeer antlers that they’ve naturally dropped.

Reindeer garage

 

On his garage he painted a beautiful silhouette of reindeer too.

We then hopped back in the car for the last part of our journey to Llandudno. We left Southampton at 2pm and arrived at 9pm! I was definitely feeling a bit cabin feverish.

Friday morning we had a lovely walk in Conwy.

Conwy

The weather thankfully was good and we enjoyed a nice coffee sat outside a quaint cafe.

IMG_5388

In Conwy they have an interactive Alice and Wonderland trail for children to follow. There are wooden statues of different characters all over the town.

Alice and Wonderland Conwy

I saw Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Rabbit. I’ve previously seen the Red Queen but that’s all I’ve found so far.

We also did a little bit of shopping and I found an amazing sweet shop where I just couldn’t help buying a few chocolates and marzipan fruit.

Conwy Sweet Shop

 

I had a little mosey in Dorothy Perkins and bought a new top as well…the first non-fitnessitem of clothing I’ve bought in a while!!

My grandparents are keen golfers (and despite my granddad being 82 he’s still a very keen walker and cyclist!) so for dinner they took us to their golf club’s restaurant. I had a delicious gammon steak with fried egg and new potatoes. And for pudding a blueberry Bakewell slice with ice cream. Heavenly!

Golf club pudding

Before getting injured I’d hoped to be able to run the Conwy parkrun on the Saturday but sadly this wasn’t possible. Every part of me desperately wanted to go but I stuck to my initial decision. I’d rather keep on recovering rather than attempt something foolish and delay it longer. It was tipping down with rain in the morning which was some consolation to not running, but I was still grumpy.

Luckily there was the Convwy Taste Festival going on over the weekend so I could take my mind off things by enjoying stupid amounts of food. The festival was just next to the water and down from the Conwy Castle – only a few minutes drive from my grandparent’s house handily!

Conwy Taste Festival

Despite the poor weather, the place was packed! You paid £8.50 for access to the large tents, where inside were loads of food and drink merchants selling their wares. And, importantly, letting you try them!!

ConwyTaste Festival

I tried everything, as you can imagine. From chilli jams to sweet chutneys, from Welsh cakes to shortbread… balsamic vinegars, oils, hand-made marshmallows (the choc mint flavour was incredible), curry sauces, BBQ sauces, dried meats, pasties, pies, bread, waffles (best taster ever – a chunk of waffle dipped in caramel sauce…I considered sneaking back to that one to try it again), yogurts, fudge, sausages, meat and, of course, cakes!

Rocky road

I couldn’t not buy a slice of the rocky road…or the peanut butter millionaire shortbread style cake. And then later a large slice of blondie. It took all the effort in the world to not gobble them all up quickly.

After we had all enjoyed so many different foods we decided to head outside of the main tent to look for lunch (I know, because at this point we were soooo hungry ;-)). There were so many different street food options it was quite overwhelming.

Conwy food festival

Thai, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Chinese, English (bangers & mash, fish & chips), pulled pork and BBQ, Caribbean, Moroccan, mussels… I literally walked up and down the street for a good ten minutes having no idea what to have. I did really fancy a large skewer of tandoori chicken but seen as how we were out for an Indian that evening I knew I needed to go safe and not have anything spicy or similar to what I’d eat that evening.

Lobster roll

In the end I went for a lobster roll and fries. I saw it being made and it looked amazing. And it tasted so good. Not the cheapest street food I’d ever had at £10 (compared to the £3.50 hot dog my dad had!) but it was fully worth it. My mum got a sausage roll from a different place to my dad and for the same price as my dad’s they packed in pretty much an entire pack of sausages!! Helpfully, we were all there to assist her 😉

After a quick warm-up coffee we carried on walking around looking at the other food stalls (a few more tasters…) and some of the craft stalls as well. My day was made when I saw a dinosaur walking about – with a fully functioning roar.

Conwy food festival dinosaur

Such a great day. I loved it! We all agreed we definitely wanted to come back next year. It was a lot of fun. I came away with three cakes and a meat pack containing a zebra sausage (!!), a boar burger, pigeon breast, pheasant breast, venison steak, black pudding and a slice of bacon. Amazing.

That evening we went to a local Indian and had lots more food…

IMG_5464

I had a mixed Asian BBQ started followed by my favourite, tandoori chicken with onion salad. Yum.

I had a great long weekend with my family and it was sad to leave on the Sunday. It was nice to not be at home looking at my empty house still not moving and still not running *sighs*. I would have loved to have done some running while I was away, in such beautiful scenery (and apparently my granddad was going to bike alongside me) but it wasn’t to be. There’s always next time I suppose!

How was your weekend?

Would you have enjoyed the Taste Festival?

Do you like street food? What would you have chosen?

Walking and running (and cake of course)

Another weekend gone! And a huge well done to all you marathoners and racers. My social media went mental with it all. I loved hearing about everyone’s story and how it went, but it made me soo eager for my time to come.

I woke up on Saturday morning ready for a lovely run in the spring sunshine. I opened the curtains to find…rain and wind. Oh joy. Even Alfie wasn’t keen to go outside. But something that definitely brightened my mood was waking up to find that I had won the person of the month in Netley Abbey parkrun, which means I get to choose a free pair of trainers from Sweatshop! It was also lovely to find it wasn’t a randomly generated thing, but a committee decision. This made me feel very, very touched – thank you parkrun and Sweatshop!

But yes, the weather. I got to parkrun as normal to help set up and it was miserable.

IMG_0291

I was a bit grumpy and fed up. I even contemplated just going home before the running actually began. But I stopped my whinging and got on with it. The run felt a lot more hard than usual. I had heavy legs from Wednesday’s nine mile run and from the gym on Friday morning, but really I think my heart wasn’t entirely in it. This is clear from my almost minute slower time (21:56). I’m happy though – another parkrun done (49 to go until 100 woohoo haha) and I put in some effort so it was worth it. You can’t have a good run all the time.

Someone that did have a good run was this little fellow, Monty.

IMG_0293Apparently he loves running and had run over nine miles in one go in the week! I mean seriously, look at his tiny legs. Bless him, he obviously loves it. Very cute.

Later I met up with my dad to go for a walk at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (like last weekend). But this time we were going to walk up the very large Butser Hill.

IMG_0302 It doesn’t actually look that bad, but you can see the hill behind me in the photo above. I had Alfie and my dad had one of their dogs (the same breed as Alfie), Lexie. His other two dogs are Cavaliers and preferred to stay at home and sleep (being traditional lap dogs and highly lazy!)

IMG_0341 My dad isn’t in particular good shape and needs to lose a bit of weight but he was keen to get up the hill. He found it quite hard work but he made it and it actually didn’t take him that long at all! I’m so proud of him. The dogs, needless to say, rocketed up and down the hill as we worked our way up. They loved it! Alfie is very good off his lead and continuously looks behind him to make sure I’m still there, as if he’s worried I’ll disappear, and never goes too far away. I’ve only just started letting him off his lead so I was a bit nervous, but he’s very good and a lot more friendly to other dogs (not that he was ever particularly unfriendly, just more wary) when he’s off his lead than on. I think it’s because he’s more in control and knows he can run away if he needs to, bless him.

IMG_0309This is one of my favourite photos of him ever. He just looks so happy and free. I’ve never seen him run so fast!

IMG_0312 We made it!

The afternoon was lovely, though it was very windy at the top of the hill. We did some more walking at the top, where there were lovely paths and stretches of land. And then we headed back down – which obviously was a lot easier!

IMG_0296

We sat down at the coffee shop to relax a bit…and for me to have cake.

IMG_0336I had a slice of bread pudding. I’ve never seen this cake before and it looked absolutely scrumptious. Big plump dried fruits and so moist. Not overly sweet – which means I could probably eat far too much if I ever had access to the entire cake!

The next day I had my usual long run planned, this time 15 miles. I was tossing between 15 and 16 as I wanted to run 17 miles next weekend and don’t want to jump mileage too much but having run nine miles in the week I was dubious. Happily I didn’t need to make the decision really as I got slightly lost and my route turned out to be exactly 15.5 miles in the end! Perfect.

The run was fairly warm with the sun beating down and quite windy along the seafront. I kept things easy paced and towards the end, when I felt like I was really plodding, I was pleased to see I was running 8.10min/miles. I felt like the effort level was right down there and thought I was running a lot more slow, so this is good news I suppose!

image

(8.02mins/mile)

I got back and just laid on the drive and my parents brought me a glass of water, bless them.

IMG_0321 I felt quite windswept and salty. Surprisingly during the run I wasn’t that thirsty but afterwards I was definitely needing hydration. My legs felt good, no niggles or issues. Just general fatigue! I showered and got myself a smoothie (again). Similar to last weekend but this time I added coconut water and yogurt. Yum!

My parents and I then headed out to enjoy the nice weather again by taking all the dogs (Lexie, Dylan, Sam and Alfie) to Stokes Bay, which is a lovely beach area with lots of fields and doggie-friendly areas.

IMG_0342It was actually part of the route I ran in the morning (those stones were fairly annoying I can tell you!) and it was a dog-walking route we used to do when my sister and I were little. We worked out it was 19 years ago since we’d been back together. Mad!

It was very windy though. Far more windy than during my run.

IMG_0334I also noticed several water fountains along the front which I hadn’t seen during the run. Perfect for future runs, meaning I won’t have to carry a bottle with me when it gets hotter and my runs get longer.

Then my parents lovingly stopped at a bakery for me to pick up a slice of red velvet cake (yes I know, I’m addicted to cake). Then I headed back home, ate lunch, enjoyed some ‘lovely’ house work, caught up with a friend on the phone, before finally collapsing on the sofa with Paddington to watch and cake to eat.

IMG_0337 

Both the cake and Paddington were excellent. Feel good comforts in so many ways!

How was your weekend?

How do you enjoy the good weather?

Do you have a dog? Do you let them off their lead?