Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 2021

Sooo it’s been a while since I last blogged!

I wont lie, the desire to blog has been very low. Time is very precious right now and when I have a few moments to spare I don’t really fancy blogging. I do a lot of updates on Instagram but it’s just not the same as having a bit of a ramble on here. And what better time to have a little ramble than post marathon! My favourite blogs to write are race recaps and I love to keep the memories of the race, while they’re fresh, alive on here (even if no one cares or no one reads!).

I came back to running after 12 weeks of giving birth to Isaac and I did it sensibly, but I also did it with the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in the back of my mind too. From starting running to that race it was about 12 weeks… which could be doable for an “easier” paced marathon. A marathon that I really enjoy for its festive and fun atmosphere, it’s literally on my doorstep, just before Christmas and one that isn’t about PB attempts (at least for me).

My comeback to running went well – nothing felt off, my pelvic floor held out and I slowly built up the miles. I hope one day to write a bit more about this journey but for now the Sparks Notes is that I built the long runs up, did supplementary strength training to keep my body strong and just ran consistently 3-4 times a week.

I’d managed to (gently) coerce my good friend, Mike, to run the marathon too. We’ve run another marathon together before – the New Forest marathon – when I tried to help him get a sub-4 hour.  This time though it wasn’t about me pacing him, just about us running together enjoying the race and each other’s company. I wasn’t aiming for any sort of fast time and Mike just wanted to get round, which sounded perfect as that would roughly be around an “easier” pace for me considering the long runs I’d managed to do beforehand.

I had a Papa Johns pizza and some chicken wings (sage and onion festive flavoured – they were incredible!) the night before. And my usual porridge in the morning. Kyle’s lovely mum had Isaac the night before so we could get a good night’s sleep before the race, which was just so helpful! He’s waking 2-3 times a night still… So Sarah came over in the morning with Isaac and to drive down with us to the start.

It was so so lovely. Kyle’s mum, sister and brother were coming to support Mike and I as well as my parents. It was really lovely of them and it meant so much to us to have those cheers throughout the race. I’m very lucky to be part of a family who are so supportive.

Yes it wasn’t a goal race but it was my first race post baby. The Portsmouth Coastal isn’t a big race in terms of numbers (less than 1,000?) and while the marshalls are incredible there isn’t a huge amount of consistent support round the course. So knowing we’d see my family 4 times around the course was such a boost.

I met Mike down at the start area about ten minutes before the start. I had a quick pre-race pee and then we were off. The weather was fantastic. No noticeable wind. Not too cold. No rain. It was perfect.

For the first seven miles (before we first saw my family) Mike and I had a nice relaxed start, chatting away and catching up on life. The miles flew by! We also saw a few people we knew from Hedge End Running Club as well as some other familiar faces. It’s such a local race that you just see so many people, which is great.

The annoying bit where you run across the shingles wasn’t too bad. There hadn’t even been a bottleneck to get onto it like there had been the two times I’d run it before. So it was just a quick amble across – try not to break your ankles! – and we were done. Whew.

We did go a little too quick perhaps as we bumped into people we knew and without realising we were speeding up. We all laughed and realised this could be problematic and that none of us wanted to go too speedy! So we slowed down again. It’s always dangerous during a marathon to go too quickly at the start because you feel so good. You’re so fresh and the miles haven’t really hit you yet. But it’s a long race and you have to be cautious because you have literally hours to go!

I was feeling really good though. Nice and comfortable and like I said the miles seemed to fly by. Suddenly we were at Farlington Marshes where our support crew were waiting. We got a big cheer which was lovely, Mike picked up his Lucozade which Kyle was holding for him (handy having supporters for this!) and we were on our way again. Isaac was having a nap in the car so I didn’t see him then, but he was in excellent hands of course.

The course had slightly changed from the previous races but it was still mostly familiar to me and I’m sure I bored Mike to tears with “when I ran this a few years ago…” conversations we had. I’m a broken record!

Both Mike and I were feeling good and enjoying ourselves. The miles were ticking off and around 10 miles (I think) we started seeing the front runners of the marathon heading back. Wow!! We cheered them along – it’s amazing how fast they were! I love and out and back race because you get to see the faster runners coming back and it helps pass the time.

We passed the Lambrook pub where my family and I were actually going to go for lunch after the race. It was funny to think in a few hours it’d all be over and I’d be sat eating a big carvery there later.

Mike and I got to around 11 miles where there’s always a festive aid station (shots of port, cups of mulled wine, mine pies and Jaffa cakes) and where the next location our supporters would be. The last time I ran this I was waving so much and paying too much attention to the cheering that I almost ran into a bollard (a hilarious video was of course captured). As I ran past them this time my dad shouted “mind the bollard!”. Haha I definitely saw it this time!

As the route had slightly changed, we wouldn’t be running too much further on. The turnaround would come sooner. This was a nice thing to do because previously it used to be quite a long run out at this point and the route was quite samey with the terrain and scenery not changing too much. It sort of goes a bit off road (not crazy off road, just on compacted trail and away from the traffic etc.). I needed a wee at this point so was on the lookout for a well concealed bush. Thankfully I saw a fork in the road and ran off there to do my business. A few people shouted I was going the wrong way but I said nature calls and they laughed.

I’d told Mike to keep running so now was the job to catch up with him again. I felt a bit uncharitable picking up speed and overtaking people and (they must have wondered what the hell I was doing suddenly sprinting along). It was also tough going to suddenly be trying to run a lot faster than I had been before, but it wasn’t too long before I’d caught Mike back up and could settle back into a more reasonably chilled pace (and catch my breath!).

Eventually we reached the turnaround point and headed back the way we’d come… all 13.1 miles of it. I love this point of the race because now you know exactly what you’re in for. The route does slightly change from what we ran to begin with but it’s basically the same (we avoid the shingles this time because the tide will have come in).

I sent Kyle a quick voice note on my phone to ask him for some Vaseline as I could feel a bit of chafing happening but as we got to the cheer spot we couldn’t see them. Then suddenly across the road I saw Kyle and his brother Zack race over shouting that they didn’t realise the turnaround was quicker this year haha! Thankfully he had the Vaseline and threw it over to me as I waited for them to cross the road and told Mike to go ahead. Then I had to catch him up again.

As we got to about 16 miles Mike started to slow down a little. But we were still going a nice clip and were in good spirits. We had another annoying bit of shingle which wasn’t nearly as fun to cross this time with all those miles in our legs!

At mile 19 we saw my family again and they gave us a lovely cheer. I gave Isaac a quick kiss as he was now awake. It was just so lovely to see him mid-race. Something I would never have dreamed about in a million years!

And then we were off back towards Southsea seafront. Things were getting trickier now. We were starting to slow down more and more now. I wanted to keep Mike’s spirits up so kept talking rubbish to him (which I’m sure he really appreciated…) and hopefully helped him. We stopped at an aid station and I decided to risk it and have a mulled wine. It’s Christmas why not eh! It was delicious.

The changes in terrain as we headed over some grasslands didn’t help Mike’s twinges that he was starting to feel in his quads. I wish I could have helped him but there’s nothing really you can do but keep encouraging. Our pace wasn’t descending too badly and we were still trucking along so this was good.

I needed another wee and knew there was a toilet ahead so I told Mike I’d dash in and catch him up. And now we were on the Southsea prom, just one long stretch to the finish along the waterfront. We had slowed a bit more now and Mike needed to do some run walking to help with his painful quads. I knew he felt frustrated and just wanted to get to the end now.

Mike said he was happy though as this had happened a lot later in the marathon than he thought and we were actually on for a faster time than he’d expected. We literally had only a couple of miles left and despite the long straight dragging out in front of us, we’d be done soon.

We saw my family again right at the end and we got ourselves together and ran to the finish. Ahh it felt so good! My time was 4:13:19.

Despite Mike’s painful legs, he said he was really happy with the race and the time we’d done. I think we’d both expected to be around 4.30 so to be so much faster was a happy surprise. Our intention was never to smash out a fast time or go for a sub-4 but to get so close to his PB (around 4:08) this was such a decent result!

Myself, I was so chuffed. Yes I’ve run faster marathons but I’ve never run a marathon after a baby and to feel so strong all the way through has given me such confidence. To know I can do the distance again and not break has made be very happy indeed. I can’t wait to see what I can do in another marathon now.

I got reunited with my little man which was just lovely. Though he had been fed by my family while I was running, I did need to feed him myself as my boobs were quite full now! So I sat on the grass and fed him while I enjoyed a post-marathon glow 😊

After doing some post race celebrations and chats with Mike, we headed off for our carvery. It was delicious. Nothing like a gigantic plate of roast dinner to refuel after a marathon eh!

So in a nutshell, I’m SO pleased with how this race went. I had a fantastic time running with Mike. He’s a great person to run with and it’s such a festive fun race before Christmas you can’t help but enjojy yourself. I mean obviously it’s still 26.2 miles, but for me during this race they just seem to fly by as it’s so varied and enjoyable. And of course, a huge thank you to my incredible family who just made the race so much more amazing by being there for us. I feel so warm and fuzzy 🙂

Now on to the next race eh! 😉

11 weeks and how it’s going

Blimey it’s been a while!

I mean it’s to be expected I guess – it’s a lot looking after a little newborn (well, let’s be honest he’s not that much of a newborn anymore and he’s definitely not that little). At 11 weeks he’s rather the chunk weighing in over a stone and in the 98th percentile for length!

In terms of how I’m feeling, I have to say, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my maternity leave. As a self-declared “lady of leisure” it’s been quite lovely. Of course it’s super tiring, sometimes stressful, sometimes emotional and the hours aren’t the best, but on the whole it’s so nice to be off and to spend such quality time with Isaac, family and friends without having to worry about work.

I’m not going back to work until April so I’ll have a good few months of this still but it really does feel like it’s flying by. I know I’ll blink and suddenly it’ll be over and then we’ll be juggling childcare and work… scary stuff. But thoughts for another time!

What have I been up to lately? Well, quite a bit! We’ve been back to parkrun – though I’m not running yet. I’m still 11 weeks postpartum and don’t intend on “coming back” until at least 12 weeks. And even then it’ll be a gradual return. To be honest, I’m a little terrified and not even sure it’ll be a success even then. I’m working on my core, my pelvic floor muscles and general strength each week so finger crossed.

But walking parkrun either with the pram or the carrier has been lovely. It’s nice to still be involved in it and of course parkrun is so welcoming and lovely that walking it hasn’t been an issue at all. I get lots of comments about the youngest parkrun being in attendance and Isaac seems to love it. To be fair, he’s very used to going for walks having been on a walk every single day of his life so far!

I also went up to Stoke and North Wales with my mum so Isaac could meet his great grandparents.

It was lovely to see them and for them to see him – we go lots of special memories and photos.

The trip wasn’t too difficult either and we only had one night out of the three where Isaac struggled with sleep (and I’m thinking this is potentially because I had a very large non-decaf coffee – my first since before I was pregnant!).

In general though it’s been a lot easier as Isaac has gotten older. Sleep has been better, though I’m still waking up 2-3 times a night to feed. But Isaac is so easy to feed, change and put back down to sleep that I’m not awake for long. And he even let’s us sleep in till 9am which is glorious!

He’s been for his first couple of swimming lessons as well.  I say swimming, more like floating. But after the initial first lesson which he really wasn’t happy about he now seems much much better in the water. It’s so important for us to get him nicely adjusted to the water because we live by the sea and want to make sure it’s something he’s comfortable and safe with.

Of course it’s still a minefield of confusion, worries and stress with looking after Isaac but we feel a lot more comfortable and at ease with things. We don’t feel like he could die at any moment if we look away for a second. We’ve gotten into a good rhythm of days and know what to do in different scenarios. It’s amazing how from being so clueless you can be to being so much more knowledgeable and comfortable.

But of course we have many more hurdles to get over and more changes to come so no doubt we’ll be back to being clueless and hapless parents once again!

How it’s going – being a new mum

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to write my blog but just didn’t get the chance…  Life as a new mum is quite hectic! I mean, this is probably obvious to everyone of course. I’m just such a newbie to this.

Isaac is almost eight weeks old. And as everyone says in that cliché way, it has gone by so quickly. He’s no longer the tiny little newborn. He’s now quite the unit at 12lb 5oz! I mean to be honest he was never teeny tiny to begin with being 8lb 4oz, but he is so big now, and so LONG. Probably because Kyle is 6ft 2 (and his whole family are on the tall side).

We probably got a few days’ worth of him using his newborn clothes. Now he’s barely squeezing into the 0-3 months. This is a bit sad as there were so many cute outfits he never got to wear.

So how have things been? Well, the first weeks was a complete whirlwind of not knowing what the hell we were doing. I second guessed everything I was doing – from feeding to burping to sleeping. Not being a hugely maternal person or baby person in general, I literally knew squat about caring for a baby. Everything was pretty scary to begin with.

It’s funny because I’m surrounded by so many of my friends who have had a baby/babies and yet I was never keen to find out more about how things were going. You know, the details. The nitty gritty. My own fault entirely and probably quite selfish of me. And now I’m deep in the trenches and finding out about the sides of my friend’s lives that I never asked about.

Cake and boob – perfect combo

I’m still breastfeeding and it’s going very well. I actually can’t believe how well it’s gone. Isaac latched on straight away from the get go and we never had any issues there. Right at the beginning I had some soreness and amost a blister on one nipple, but then after that it just got easier and there were no issues. After listening to podcasts, friends and family hearing about how hard it could it be I was prepared for the worst. So to find it so easy almost feels like I’m cheating. But I am so so grateful.

The only problem I have with breastfeeding is that I don’t know how much Isaac is actually getting. I worried (and to be honest still do) about how often to feed and if he’s getting enough. But as people  keep stressing to me, if he was going hungry I’d know about it. He’s a very content and happy baby and we feed on demand.

It used to be every hour, then every two. And now we’re 2.5-3.5 hours and that seems to work perfectly. I thought I’d be on the sofa for hours at end breastfeeding but actually Isaac is a super quick eater and on average is done within 10 mins.

While we’ve been super lucky with so many aspects of the pregnancy, birth and Isaac himself, sleep has been the one thing that hasn’t been that great. At first he was waking up every our in the night. And we really struggled to get him to fall back to sleep. It was exhausting. Rocking and shushing in darkness and lowering him into his moses basket with the precision of a bomb disposal unit, it was relentless.

We were staying awake in shifts so Isaac could sleep on one of us or on the bed next to us in one of those sleeping pod things (which are unsafe to for a baby to be left sleeping unassisted). But eventually we got out of that and he would sleep in a crib next to us thank god!!

Getting four hours sleep a night was classed as good. However now we seem to be in a better place. It’s sort of a predictable lack of sleep… but we’re averaging 7-8 hours on a good night and 6 on a bad night so can’t complain! Isaac will usually wake up at least twice in the night and then in the morning. It’s relatively easy though as I just feed, change and he goes back down straight away.

And through the day I’m just led by him. We tried to dictate a bit of a routine but that didn’t end well. So now we just follow his lead. He sleeps when he wants and I feed every 2-3 hours depending on what he’s doing.  Reading back this sentence, old Anna would be aghast at such a baby-dictated schedule but honestly it’s the best for us. I don’t want to stress about “awake windows” and nap times. Isaac doesn’t sleep a huge amount in the day despite us trying. He’s a “wakeful” baby. If we take him out in the car he’ll sleep and it’s 50/50 if he falls asleep in the pram. But he seems very content so we’re happy with this.

As much as a routine and strict times would work well for us to plan our day, I’m much more relaxed with how we’re doing it at the moment. In the future I might change things up but I enjoy our days much better when we have a general rhythm rather than a strict timing situation. It’s so funny because pre-pregnancy I was so set on making sure we’d have a routine. Funny how things change!

In terms of what I do through the day, Isaac and I are doing a lot of seeing friends and family. Going for coffees, going out for lunch or brunch. It’s actually quite wonderful. Usually every week I might have one day completely free of plans but every day tends to have something in it, seeing someone or going somewhere and I love it. I’m very lucky to have a strong and large network of support around me to help – whether that’s help with looking after Isaac or just being there for me so I can mentally unload.

So almost eight weeks on and things are going well! I think we’re out of the initial haze and panic of the initial stage thankfully. However I know we have many more hurdles to come. But at least we now have the foundations set inplace. Like, I can keep a baby alive for a few days at least 😉

Postpartum nutrition – all the good stuff

Finding the time to blog is becoming somewhat tricky (as you can imagine with a brand new baby), but I want to continue to write as I find it very cathartic and I also want to document memories of this crazy time.

Isaac is now 4.5 weeks old and honestly I can’t imagine life without him right now… and I also can’t imagine what over 6 hours of sleep feels like either! I always knew that having a baby would mean sleepless nights and an abundance of chaos… but actually living through it is something else I tell you.

That said, maternity leave is lovely. Amongst the crazy tiredness and constantly being on my toes looking after the little man, I do get to spend lots of time with family and friends doing fun things like going for walks, coffee and lunch.

It really is quite fabulous. My mum has two days off a week and Kyle’s mum doesn’t work Fridays so I get to see them a lot, which of course they love because they adore being grandmas.

My mum and I went to the Parade Tearooms and I had my favourite Jayne Salad followed by cake

Spending time with Isaac as a grandma must be amazing – you get all the fun without the hard sleepless night, eh!

So my week is very different to before, obviously. No work emails, no meetings – which is wonderful. But confusion, anxiety, stress and tiredness in abundance. Not exactly a holiday but not exactly like being in a proper job either. Very odd.

One of our many cake and coffee trips

The two weeks that Kyle was able to have as paternity leave was really lovely. Obviously it was hard and we were like deer in the headlights, Googling everything, ringing parents every hour asking questions and just wondering what the hell we’d gotten ourselves into it. But we also got to spend quality time as a threesome (well foursome with Alfie).

Kyle and I managed to get to 7Bone with Isaac which was fabulous

And I won’t lie, I’ve been having some fantastic meals and food lately, which honestly is quite surprising. I was told I wouldn’t have any time for myself to make sure there were lots of meals in the freezer.  I mean, I did prepare well and we do have a lot of food ready to go in the freezer but with all the meals out and people coming over bringing food and wanting to cook for us, we haven’t been starving!

Recent trip to Breezes for brunch

But amongst all the cake, doughnuts and lunches out I have been watching my nutrition carefully as I’m breastfeeding. While I know I need to be upping my calories to keep my supply decent, I also want to make sure the calories I’m eating are of a good quality as well. I mean cake IS good but it’s not the most nutritiously dense!

One of my favourites: Bakewell atrt

Handily I was recently sent some protein powder and collagen powder to try out from Naked Nutrition. And I’ve been making some mean smoothies to get some fast and tasty nutrition in me fast. It’s not always possible to grab the healthiest snacks on the go but having a smoothie is perfect.

I really like these products because they’re not full of any unnecessary nasties. I tried the Naked Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder and add it to my porridge in a morning and my smoothie in the afternoon. It’s made from whey source from grass-fed cows raised without growth hormones like rBGH or rBST. Each serving contains 25 grams of protein and 5.9 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). There are no additives or artificial sweeteners. Perfect!

The Naked Collagan Powder also has a similar “clean” profile, with no added nasties. It’s also flavourless so easy to add to anything like porridge or even soup. And each serving has 9 grams of protein and only 35 calories.

My smoothie recipe:

  1. One scoop of Naked chocolate protein powder
  2. One sachet of collagen powder
  3. A handful of spinach
  4. One frozen banana
  5. Handful of frozen blueberries
  6. Soya milk (or any milk you fancy)
While breastfeeding, smoothies are so easy to drink!

It’s delicious, filling and packed full of good stuff! Protein is so important in general to keep your muscles strong and your body healthy, and while I’m not training per se I am breastfeeding and it’s still super important to keep my protein solid. And collagen powder is SO good for you in terms of your hair, nails and bones. I’m giving so much physically and mentally to Isaac that it’s so handy to throw a smoothie together with all this good stuff to keep me healthy so I can keep Isaac healthy.

So in terms of food and nutrition I’ve been doing evry well. Just got to get my sleep as good eh? 😉

Do you like smoothies?

Have you ever had collagen?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the products for free in return for a blog review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Healthy Living 101: 8 Important Body Parts that Need More Care

Keeping yourself healthy – so important in all satges of life. As I’m currently breastfeeding I’m trying my best to keep right on top of my health. I mean this is a bit of a continuation of my pregnancy too – it’s no longer just me I’m looking after! Here is a great post to remind you to look after yourself.

Every part of your body needs special care and attention. Therefore, there are many routines that you should follow to ensure every body part is in top shape to improve your overall health. So, here are important body parts that need more care.

Pixabay – CC0 Licence  

Skin

Skin is the largest organ in your body and is the first layer of defence against any harmful and foreign substances. Every time you walk out of the door, you expose your skin to a barrage of potential hazards, such as germs and bacteria. The good news is that your skin has a mechanism to protect itself against most of these substances and prevent you from getting sick. This is an excellent reason to give special care to your skin. Failure to do so will expose your first line of defence to harm. Skincare is a good way to get started.

Eyes

They say the eyes are the windows to the outside world. Like most parts of the body, your eyes are constantly exposed to harm. Additionally, you have to deal with light emitting from various sources, such as your computer and phones and ultraviolet rays. This may result in irritation and, ultimately, infections.

Ears

It is advisable to listen to ears also. The human ears take a lot of sensory overload from the environment. And like other special body parts, your ears need care. The chances are that you expose yourself to high decibel sounds that can be perilous to your hearing ability.

The most basic ear care is ensuring you do not get exposed to too much noise by avoiding using earphones with high volumes or standing next to speakers in a concert. Additionally, you can take care of your ears by using earbuds when working in noisy environments. Lastly, keeping your ears clean and dry helps you prevent infections and irritation.

Teeth

Your teeth are the reasons behind your fantastic smile. Additionally, they allow you to enjoy the pleasure of various foods. Failure to take proper care of your teeth can be detrimental to your dental health and facial beauty. The good news is taking proper care of your teeth is easy. It is a matter of avoiding too much sugary food, flossing, and brushing at least twice a day. However, reports indicate that a majority of people do not take proper care of their teeth.

Apart from brushing and flossing, regular visits to a dentist help you prevent and manage dental problems. There are many health benefits of taking good care of your teeth, and you should not miss any of them.

Lower abdomen

Your lower abdomen comprises your belly and belly button. This part is another that requires special care because it contributes to your physical appearance. For starters, planks and sit-ups can help you get a 6 pack and make your lower abdomen more attractive.

When it comes to your belly button, you must have realized that it stays dirty even after hours in the bathroom. This may be scary because there are many types of bacteria in the human belly button. Proper care includes cleaning and consulting your physician if you have issues around this region.

Back

Your back makes up your core, an important body part that helps you do so many things. So, you have to ensure that you give special attention to your back. Chronic back pains can be debilitating and prevent you from going about your daily routines in peace. If you want to avoid this, make sure you sit in the right posture and avoid exerting too much pressure on your back. Physical exercise can also be an excellent way of taking care of your back.

Genitals

Do you find it challenging to spare a thought for the well-being of your genitals until there is an infection? You are not alone. Many people ignore their genitals until it’s late. Your genital area is always covered most of the time, making it prone to infections and irritation. Without enough air circulation, your genitals tend to be damp, and this is perfect for bacteria to thrive. Ensure you wear clean underwear and change them as frequently as possible.

Hair

This may be a surprise inclusion, but vital. Your hair may not contribute much to your health, but they are crucial to your physical appearance and personality. Additionally, your hair can be an indicator of your overall health. Taking proper care of your hair includes frequent washing using shampoo and cutting, if necessary. Avoiding too much heat treatment can also be an excellent way of taking care of your hair.

The bottom line

There you go; these are the most important body parts that require special care. Follow a healthy lifestyle and these tips to protect your body against diseases and improve your overall health today and every day.

Are you “on it” with your health?