Kingsbury parkrun and The National Running Show

So when you’re reading this I’ll be on my jolly way to Dubai. Exciting stuff! I didn’t think I’d write another post before I left but after such a fun and eventful weekend I couldn’t help myself.

I had Friday off of work as I was catching the train to Birmingham to see friends and go to the National Running Show (which I only found out was actually the first one they’ve done!). I did a quick gym session in the morning and some pre holiday jobs before my train left just before 1pm. Happily my dad was working from home and said he could drive me to Fareham station. My train was 12:47 and at 12:10 my dad said he was just going to take the dogs for a quick walk and we’d leave after that. Sounded good to me. I mean I the queen of last minute so I didn’t think anything of it.

By 12:30 he still wasn’t home and I was now very worried. I rang him a bit panicked asking where he was – it would take just about 10 minutes to get to the station and I needed to pick my ticket from the machine. It was very very close! He replied saying he thought my train was 1pm… Erm nope! He rushed home but by that time it was 12:40 and we’d never make it. In the end we had to zoom to another station down the line (Southampton Airport). To say I was stressed was an understatement, especially as I could only get that train and it cost me £72!!! Sweaty bum indeed.

Thankfully we arrived in time. And funnily enough it worked better for my dad as it was on the way to his work where he needed to drop in for the afternoon. We both wondered why we hadn’t done this in the first place… Yeah I don’t know either. I got to Birmingham without any more issues and met with my lovely running friend, James (@runeckers on Instagram). We had a nice time catching up – actually only the third time we’ve met in “real life” but we just get on so well.

We went out for a few drinks in Birmingham. We went to a bar called Bacchus and then the Postal Vaults. Very cool places indeed. I kept trying to perfect my Brummy accent but apparently I’m not there yet. More Peaky Blinders required! After that we headed to The Rub Smokehouse and met with our friend, John, who we both knew from Marathon Talk. James knew John from one of the Sandy Ball run camps and I knew John through the Austria run camp… Weird how connected it all is.

We had a couple of cocktails to start. James had a “Walking Dead” and I had an “Afternoon Tea” (which I originally poo-pooed for sounding weird…). It came out in a teapot (but wasn’t warm thankfully!) with a tiny glass of prosecco to add (like the milk I guess?). It was very tasty. I love how funky the cocktails were. Nice to have a bit of fun with that sort of thing.For my main I went for a full rack of ribs, half a chicken and pulled pork cheesy chips. I realise how disgustingly greedy this is. But it tasted amazing, and I don’t waste food. The food was epic… I mean there was a “pizza taco” on the menu – basically a 16 inch pizza folded up full of pulled pork chicken and battered prawns.John had a far more restrained steak and James had a monster burger with a corn dog on top. It was that kind of place… epic.My ribs were very tasty and the chicken was SO GOOD (as someone who regularly eats a lot of Nandos I can say this was top notch).For pudding I went for a white chocolate brownie with ice cream. Their sister company Brownie Heaven makes the brownies and I’ve heard they’re amazing.Don’t get me wrong, it was incredible, but TINY. I looked enviously at James’ pudding choice… Two doughnuts stacked on top of each other with Nutella, peanut butter and ice cream. Fortunately (for me) he struggled with the second doughnut so I got to help him out. But it left me very full indeed!It was such a lovely evening. The three of us get on so well and could probably talk about life, the universe and on for hours. It was a great evening. John headed back to his hotel (he’d been there for work) and James and I went back to his flat, where I was staying on his sofa. My night’s sleep though was terrible. Nothing to do with the comfort of the sofa (it was lovely) but I kept waking up and my heart was racing (usually I’m around 49-52 bpm at night but it was close to 75!) and I had a lot of hot flushes (meat sweats I guess…). My own fault I’m fully aware!

The next morning John, James and I headed to Kingsbury Water parkrun. This was handy for me as I needed a K for my parkrun Alphabet Challenge. It was quite the miserable morning, drizzling with rain and very cold. All three of us were happy to run round together at no great speed (relatively speaking). I was keen to not stress my calf out which was feeling good, John’s on his way back into running after some time off and James is semi-injured. Normally James and John would be roaring ahead of me!The parkrun was lovely and scenic. It goes round a lake and is a two lapper (my favourite). It’s a very picturesque and of course friendly parkrun. Though it was flat it was also very muddy underfoot. I doubt I could have blasted a super fast time if I’d have been fit enough to do so anyway. It was quite slippy. We chatted as we ran and enjoyed the views. A lovely social run.We got just over 24 minutes and significantly muddy! I felt very bad getting back into James’ car as we didn’t have any towels.When we got back to the flat (John joining us this time) we took turns showering and got some breakfast before heading to the NEC for the Running Show.The Running Show was good. It was basically like a race expo with lots of stands with brands representing their gadgets, clothes, races, nutritional products, foam rollers and more.It was nice to wander round and see different things, try out a foam roller and try some “vitamin coffee”.It was ridiculously busy and very hot though.It was a great event with a lot of potential to grow. The bigger brands like adidas, Nike and Brooks weren’t there surprisingly but I imagine after the popularity this year they’ll be there next year. I will say though that had I travelled 2.5 hours on a train by myself just for the event I might have been a bit disappointed because it did feel very much like an expo. Though to be fair I didn’t sit and watch any of the talks… So I guess I can’t judge entirely fairly. We just didn’t fancy sitting watching anyone as nothing took our interest.I saw lots of friendly and family faces, like Mary from A Healthier Moo blog (bless her, I don’t know how she does it with her crazy long distance running, night shifts and looking after her adorable son, Oscar). I also saw numerous Instagram legends, like Carl from @BigCarlRunning as a guest expert inspiring everyone around him. And of course Marathon Talk friends and friendly faces from my club. And of course the lovely Anji from @Enigmagirl81 who I’ve never met in real life but chat through social media regularly.It was a very friendly place. We gained Michelle in our group (a super fast and lovely girl originally from my running club but now living in Bister – she came to Austria too so knew John as well. All four of us will be going to Sandy Balls run camp in February).After a few hours we headed to the outlet shopping centre, Resort World, where we checked out the Nike shop (I got myself a £14 top!). Then a late lunch/early dinner in Nandos. I can only get one thing from Nandos really. I do feel bad for the sheer amount of meat consumed over the weekend but it was an out of the ordinary thing…And then it was time to part ways and head home. Always a sad thing when you’ve had such a good time together. I wish we lived closer!

Have you ever been to Birmingham?

Did you go to the National Running Show?

What would you like to see at a running show?

Random bits and bobs about me

Last post before I go to Dubai, I thought I’d do a random one!

The lovely Allison from Running Princess nominated me for the Liebster Award. It’s basically a fun way to connect with other bloggers and gives you a chance to answer some random questions and get to know the blogger a bit better. Allison gave me some questions to answer so let’s get started. Prepare for some randomness!

What inspired you to start your blog?

I read a lot of blogs back in the day, but not as many anymore. I’ve certainly honed down the list and realised what I actually like to read about as well as other bloggers stopping writing or moving into territories I’m not as interested in. Anyway, I started writing one because I love running and I love writing and I was inspired by these other amazing bloggers. I actually didn’t care if anyone read it or not. I just enjoyed the process and love having a way to track progress, events and basically memories. I can flick back to older posts and, after cringing a bit, relive moments of my life.

Like when I used to upload a photo of my Garmin watch on my wrist to show my run as Strava wasn’t around then… Or when I used to make more exciting breakfasts because I thought people would get bored hearing about how I eat porridge Ever. Singly. Day.When I used to post photos of my outfit of the day (I still do this now, just on Instagram, for my shame #OOTD).And when I used to post actual recipes and upload photos of my meals more regularly. But what has always been consistent is my love for running and my love for cake 😉

An elevator pitch for your blog?

Oh blimey… “Do you like running?? Do you like eating?? Come and get them both in my blog! Terms and conditions apply, mainly: running isn’t always sensible, consistent, injury-free or decent. And yes I really do eat everything I say I do, and yes I am that much of a greedy pig.”

If you could have a conversation with anyone (real or fictional) from any time, who would you choose and why?

I found this question really hard. I posed the question to Twitter and it gave me a lot of inspiration: Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, relatives no longer with us, Tony Stark, Eluid Kipchoge, Hugh Laurie, Bill Murray and of course… God.

I feel like I need to answer this in a poignant way but actually I really don’t know. My geeky side thinks having a cup of tea with Dumbledore would be amazing. My foodie side and the fact that I have a weird attraction says Jamie Oliver (he’s bring snacks). Maybe Graham Norton as he’s funny and would have loads of celebrity anecdotes I’m sure.

If you had a theme tune, what song would you pick and why?

Jurassic Park theme music. Not sure why. It’s good theme music. Dramatic and exciting, exactly like my life isn’t 😉

Where is your happy place?

Two places. First place: in bed with my super snuggly dog, Alfie, when he’s just woken up and is all cuddly and warm. Second place: the finish straight of a marathon and the walk to get the medal. No better feeling. Cheesy but literally the best.

Who would you most like to go for a run/cycle/workout with?

Weirdly, Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t think she’d be too fast for me to keep up with (she’s not a regular runner I believe, I’m not being mean) and I reckon she’d be hilarious. In this scenario I’m not a weird stalker running after her, but we’re friends 😉 I feel like we have a similar love for food and a similar sense of humour.

Flying or invisibility?

Now this will sound creepy… As good as it would be to fly, I’m pretty sure it would be really cold… and I’d get lost or fly into a plane or something stupid. I would however quite like to be invisible. I will unashamedly admit I do love a bit of celebrity gossip and would just love to see what someone like Victoria Beckham or the Queen (granted, not really a celeb) get up to when they’re away from the public. It’s a very creepy thing to admit, but admit it I have.

If you could learn one new skill, what would you choose and why?

To speak more than one language. I’d love to be able to go to different countries and just speak their languages. It would be so useful. The world would literally be your oyster. I feel like it’s such a good skill to have. As a country, the UK are pretty rubbish at this – probably because we start far too late learning languages that it’s just very difficult.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?

Just general continued happiness would be nice. I’m a happy person and I’d like that to continue. Running-wise…another Marathon Major (New York), more letters for my Alphabet parkrun challenge and solid running consistently with few injuries.

What made you smile today?

People being nice. The world needs more niceness. Nice might be boring but I think we need more of it in our lives. Just a smile from someone at the gym. A nice comment from someone. Simple things like that.

Go on, answer a few of the questions too!

Dubai Marathon Goals

Having missed the Stubbington 10k on Sunday because I was being sensible, I decided to try running at lunchtime on Monday instead.

When I woke up Monday morning and headed to the gym (for strength-based training – not to run) the weather just looked awful. It was tipping it down. Even Alfie was not amused on his early morning walk! But I was resolute that I would run, come what may (dependent only on my calf feeling good of course).Thankfully come lunchtime my calf was feeling perfectly fine and the rain had stopped. I quickly got myself together and headed out. My plan was run the 10k distance I’d missed the day before. Not race it of course but just cover the distance. I was prepared to cut it short if necessary and had a good route for this with several points to turn back around.The run felt great. Well, my calf and other body parts felt great. My fitness…ehhhh. That said, I was running around 8 minute miles and my shiny new watch (well, “new” since Christmas) was telling me that according to my heart rate (around 140 bpm) I was running at an “easy pace”. I mean, it didn’t feel tough and I wasn’t out of breath – I could have chatted to my imaginary friend if I’d have fancied 😉 I guess I was just aware of how far a mile is… and how far a mile followed by 25.2 more would be. I’ve only run 10.6 miles since the Portsmouth Marathon so we’re talking three weeks of no long runs.

Without sounding arrogant or complacent though, I’ve run enough marathons now to know I can complete one (providing I don’t have a show-stopping injury or problem during the race). I’m not worried I won’t be able to finish and I’m certainly not questioning whether or not to do it. I’m going to Dubai for goodness sake – even if it takes me six hours, I’m doing the marathon!

It’s kind of like knowing that your car can get you to a far away destination. It might not be the smoothest drive, the weather might suck, the roads might be tough, the car might not be a race car but instead a little Fiat 500, but you know the engine can cope as long as it’s got the fuel. You can never guarantee, of course, that something won’t happen along the way outside of your control but in theory the car should be OK to complete the journey.

Knowing I can complete the distance isn’t my worry. It’s how tough it’ll feel and how bad my legs will feel after the marathon. The worse the training the worse the recovery. I’m not so stupid to assume that because I’ve run 12 marathons before will mean it’ll be a doddle. A marathon is NEVER easy. It’s a physical and mental battle however many you’ve run before. It’s not a walk in the park or indeed a parkrun. Those miles can tear you apart and laugh in your face. Hours of running. HOURS of mental and physical grit required.

Initially my goal was to be somewhere near my 3:24:06 PB but that realistically is not going to happen. I’d need to set out with that intention to hit that time and I’m not going to (I’m not sandbagging here I assure you). To be thoroughly boring and same old same old I’m going to hope to get around 3:45, anything under that would be marvelous. I’d absolutely love to get sub 3:30 but again realistically this is going to be a tough ask fitness-wise and I don’t really want to cause any further issues for my calf now that it’s on it’s way back to normal. The closer to 4 hours I get the bigger the issues I’ve had, I imagine, but we’ll see. Heat and humidity could play a factor here. It should be around 25 degrees during the day but the marathon starts 6am so it should be 10-15 degrees hopefully for a big portion. The course is entirely flat with few major turns (joy of joy, I can almost feel my mind melting in boredom). So it’s anyone’s guess really. I’ll decide how I feel closer to the time.

Happily the marathon is on the last day of the holiday so I can enjoy Dubai without issue beforehand. Oh sure I probably need to be a bit careful what I eat the day before and get a good night’s sleep but I can’t see this being an issue. I suppose ideally having the marathon at the beginning would be best but actually I’m happy with how it’s planned. After the marathon all I need to do is eat (which I’m pretty good at) and then later get on a plane to go home. It’ll probably be a super uncomfortable journey home but least I can just chill to some degree.

**Just going to add the necessary disclaimer right here: I’m fully aware I’m probably jinxing things here by saying all the above. Famous last words and all that…Fingers crossed it does turn out OK.***

Excitingly before I head to sunny Dubai, this weekend I’m heading to sunny Birmingham to meet up with some running buddies. Also, now brace yourself as this is super exciting, I’ll be getting another letter for my parkrun Alphabet Challenge! (Yes OK it’s not that exciting, but it is to me). I’ll be doing Kingsbury parkrun, whoop whoop! Following this I’ll be going to The National Running Show. I’m only staying for the Saturday but I’m quite excited. I’ve never been to one before. I’m imagining it to be a big running expo type thing. Exciting stuff.

Have you ever been to The National Running Show?

Are you confident with your running ability when it comes to races?

If you could be any car, what would you be? I’ll stick with my Fiat 500, cute and dinky 😉

Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun and a fake long run

This weekend I had a change of plans which meant I was no longer going to Bristol. Bit of a shame but I’ll meet up with my Bristol mates soon.

This meant the world was my oyster when it came to parkrun… which, which to do? My work friend, Kyle, has been getting into running and we’ve run a few times together during lunch and he asked if I fancied joining him at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun. I’ve never done Lakeside and it was his first parkrun so I was definitely game.IMG_2771Lakeside is actually around the lake right next to my office (you can see the office in the photo above) – where I run on a regular basis! It did feel weird driving there Saturday morning and not actually going to work. It was nice it being so close by that I could get up at 7.50am and be there for 8.40am to meet Kyle. Though my alarm was set to silent which wasn’t particularly useful! Luckily I have a well trained body clock and work up at 7.53am. Whew!It was a cold and slightly breezy morning. Kyle was in shorts and t-shirts and just looking at him made me feel more cold!! Though I was in shorts (obviously, #shortsforever) I was in a long-sleeved top but it was very chilly. The Run Director did a great job of keeping us entertained in the chilly weather. He had a good mix of sternness to those parking in the wrong spots and humour – and explained yes he was in fact a teacher. Haha made a lot of sense.

IMG_2814Photo Credit: Connor Eaves

I had warned Kyle of the excessive clapping involved in parkrun (event number 90 *clap*, volunteers *clap*, milestones *clap*). Least our hands were warm… Then we lined up and got ready to start. It’s always tricky to know where to put yourself at the start at a new event. Evidently we were too far back and spent the first kilometre overtaking and trying to politely get past people.Lakeside parkrun is lovely and about 95% flat. You run out to an underpass area where you then turn round to come back (so a slight incline) and then head round the lake (entirely flat), where you then turn around again and head back to the underpass bit and then head back to the finish, where you started. Being flat it is a fast course in that respect but having three complete about turns will definitely kill your stride and flow so if you are looking for a PB be aware of this.

IMG_2815Photo Credit: Connor Eaves

Kyle and I ran together. He’s quite quick for such a new runner (I’m sure he’ll be speeding ahead of me in times to come if he continues). We were around 8 minute miles and chatted as we ran. It was a bit breezy but nothing terrible – happily a nice tail wind on the way back to the finish.

IMG_2816Photo Credit: Connor Eaves

Towards the end I told Kyle if he fancied sprinting off he should. I wouldn’t be as I wanted to be careful with my calf, which was starting to feel a lot better. It still wasn’t 100% amazing but it was definitely on its way. Kyle did indeed sprint off and finished ahead of me. He looked very strong finishing! Brilliant first parkrun indeed. I’m sure he will cut his times down quickly.Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 16.01.10My time was 24:55 and Kyle’s was 24:51. Brilliant! My calf felt good afterwards as well, which I was over the moon about. Whew! I then bumped into the lovely Paul who writes a lot of parkrun tourism blogs and, AMAZINGLY, ran 14 marathons last year!!! Like seriously. What a legend. His blog is great as well, check it out.Kyle said he enjoyed himself which was the most important thing and would be up for doing more! Awesome news, another parkrun convert. Obviously a selfie had to mark the occasion of course 😉 Lakeside has a Starbucks right next to the finish which is always a winner, though I really don’t need to give them any more of my money as it is!IMG_2779I spent the rest of the day doing the usual weekend chores (adulting is so much fun, right?) and then went shopping with my mum. I managed to find TWO pairs of jeans in Top Shop that fit perfectly. I’m definitely a fan of their Jamie range (I no whave three different pairs…). I also spent my £30 Accessorize voucher as well (two necklaces, and sunglasses and a bikini cover-up in the sale!). Definitely a successful trip.I then had to make a decision whether I’d run Stubbington 10k or not the next day. I mean, my calf felt fine and hadn’t niggled a significant amount during the run but I worried that by not letting it rest a day before running again I would stop it on its road to recovery and just prolong the issue. I picked up my bib and t-shirt anyway just so I had the option but ultimately when I woke up on Sunday morning I decided to not do it. If I’m honest, it wasn’t particularly a race I’d be sad to miss. Firstly it’s a 10k, which I hate, and secondly it basically runs around the area I live in (and regularly run round anyway). Yes it would be sad not to run with my club and see the friendly faces but there would be other times.

I could tell myself I’d run in easy but I know on the final stretch I’d probably increase the pace and the last thing I need to do is encourage the calf to feel rubbish again so close to the Dubai Marathon. So instead I headed to the gym for a purely cardio-focused session. As the Stubbington 10k literally runs near my parents house (the start line is a two minute walk up the road) I did have to be strategic when I left to make sure I got out before any of the road closures happened. Thankfully I had no issues, but I could see that ten minutes later I would have been blocked in.

I spent a solid hour and twenty minutes on the elliptical machine. It sounds ghastly doesn’t it? I won’t lie, it wasn’t exactly the funnest thing I’ve ever done but I watched Black Mirror to help pass the time. I watched the second to last episode (Metalhead) and jeeze it stressed me out!! Then watched the start of the next one which honestly wasn’t much less stressful. I can’t binge watch these programmes, they’re just too close to home and thought-provoking.

I was happy with my cardio session and to be honest it was far better than doing the 10k. I was able to simulate a long run much better (though obviously it’s not the same without the actual pounding on the ground etc. but it’s something). And the calf felt fine, so definitely the right decision to have been made. I hope to run today… I’m just hoping it’ll continue to be as positive as I get closer to Dubai (I leave next Monday and the marathon is the Friday!)

Have you ever done a parkrun with a newbie?

Do you like a post-parkrun coffee?

Do you have a certain shop you always go back to for comfort and fit when it comes to jeans? Top Shop always seems to work for me surprisingly.

Calf and running update

Let me first begin this with patting myself on the back for getting too cocky about running and basically jinxing myself. I’m well aware of the irony of my posts leading up to the calf niggle, believe me!

As always with niggles and injuries I was running so well. Then the calf became uncomfortable and my running took a nose dive. It’s one of those things. I can’t get too upset because I kind of knew my bubble of good running needed to burst at some point. I am after all still an injury prone runner.ASICSSo, the chain of events as far as I can see was that I changed trainers to ASICS after really enjoying a solid period of good running in my Adidas Supernovas. Both calves became super tight but I continued to run in them despite this and then decided, as they got worse, to quickly re-purchase the faithful Adidas again. But it appeared the damage was already done. This was during my time in Wales with my family and my calves felt tight on each run – the left more so.IMG_1697Then I ran the Portsmouth Marathon… calves not 100% but nothing terrible. Though speeding up at the end probably didn’t help things, nor did running so soon (and up a giant hill) a few days later.

I believe this is what we call a “dick move”. I only have myself to blame. My glorious period of amazing running convinced me I was a new woman and my legs didn’t need the normal recovery. And then the left calf became uncomfortable and no longer just simply tight. It felt “wrong” and almost painful in the back body of the calf muscle.

After a very uncomfortable Christmas Day parkrun where the calf was still unhappy, I took just over a week off. I ran on Wednesday of last week…still a bit grumpy but far better. Then I ran a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday (another dick move). It ached straight after the run on Sunday. A little panic ensued as I wondered, for the first time, if I could do Dubai (don’t get me wrong, I’d still go, I just wouldn’t run the marathon if I still felt the discomfort. I’ve run enough marathons now to care about DNS’s. I want to run long-term not just for a race. I’d enjoy my time in Dubai regardless).

I found a Physio nearby (South Physiotherapy Gosport – I can really recommend) and booked in for Wednesday. I planned on using the elliptical machine in place of running and my mind calmed and I felt quite chilled. Action plan in place. No point stressing. I know I can run a marathon as long as I’m not injured. I would just get rid of any time goals and hope to run an issue-free relaxed race.

By the time Wednesday rocked up my calf felt absolutely fine. I’d previously been feeling it when I walked Alfie or when I’d walk up stairs (pushing off from my toes caused it to feel very uncomfortable). To clarify things in my mind I decided instead of walking Alfie in the morning I’d run with him round the block (a mile). Firstly, Alfie thoroughly enjoyed himself! His very first whole mile of running – I’m so proud! And he only stopped once for a poo (necessary on his morning walk you see) and happily would have carried on after the mile. My calf? Absolutely fine. No discomfort. Now I felt silly.

I still went to the Physio appointment and explained the issue and the fact that it felt better now (who know show it would have felt after the single mile). The Physio examined it and got me doing lots of exercises. Then he massaged the area, cracked my back in different places, massaged my hamstring and did acupuncture all over my legs, glutes and back. He suspects I had a very mild calf sprain a few weeks ago (probably caused by the change in trainers tightening up my calves and then over-exerting my calf while it was still super tight).

He told me I could give attempt an easy run the next day (today). I’ve never had such a positive physio appointment. He was really thorough and super friendly. He also treats the RAF and Army – very cool.

So finger’s crossed for today’s run. The plan, if today’s run does indeed go well, is to run a gentle parkrun on Saturday and then run as normal the week after. No speedwork! In a perfect world I’d get a “long” run done the Sunday before I go to Dubai (21st – I go on the 22nd, the marathon is the 26th)… 10-13 miles maybe. Just to give me a bit of courage! But as long as I’m running discomfort-free I’m happy to crack on with the marathon.

Keep your fingers cross for me please!

Have trainers ever caused you an issue with running?

Do you calves ever get really tight? Mine are usually fine.

Have you ever had acupuncture?