Marwell Zoo 10k race recap

Hello! How was your weekend? Mine went crazily slow (Saturday) and then crazily fast (Sunday). We survived our 10k Marwell Zoo race, hurray!

Saturday Ben and me did an easy ‘shake-out’ run in the morning to loosen us up ready for the race the next day. I know some people like to leave a couple of days before a race and not run at all but I’m in the boat of tapering down during the week but always doing a really easy 2-3mile run the day before. Maybe it’s psychological, but I find it helps.

Then we pretty much did nothing but get all the chores done, walk Alfie on a lovely sunny walk (an hour later it tipped it down) and watched Grey’s Anatomy (series 8). On a side not, we finished House of Cards. So. Good. Watch it immediately.

For lunch Ben and I don’t usually have the same thing at the weekend (though for dinner we do). This is because Ben loves having either a corned beef sandwich or an egg mayo sandwich. Neither of which I like. I mean seriously, why ruin perfectly good egg with mayo?? Winking smile He’s stopped eating corned beef though after the horse meat scandal. Gross.

I was umming and arr-ing and really didn’t know what I fancied. I knew we had mozzarella that needed using up and as I’m currently addicted to BBQ sauce I thought I’d just have BBQ chicken with mozzarella all mixed together.


Excellent random meal if I do say so myself! Really simple: chopped chicken breast, random veg (zucchini, mushrooms, onion), BBQ sauce (any would work but I love Heinz) and then a whole ball of low-fat mozzarella chopped into chunks. Fry the onion, then add the veg, then the chicken and some spices (I used a random chicken mix), big squirt in the BBQ sauce and then add the mozzarella.

For dinner I had my favourite (and now standard pre-race night tradition) make-your-own pizza (chicken, veg, no cheese).


And then we had an early night, bless our old-married-couple cotton socks.

In the morning we woke up naturally bright and early before our alarms (which felt really nice actually) and took Alfie on a quick walk and then proceeded to spend the morning being nervous.

Does anyone else get stupidly nervous before a race? I just had butterflies in my stomach the whole morning (which was longer than planned as we had woken up earlier than expected – we had time to ruminate haha). We had breakfast and then Ben’s mum and my parent’s arrived and off we went in convoy to get there. It wasn’t far away at all so we were there in no time.


The race starts in the zoo and we had free entry because we were running but the parents would have had to pay to see us start (which was quite expensive per person). Bit cheeky really but I hey ho. So they waited outside with other spectators to wait until we ran out of the zoo (only the first mile was actually in the zoo).


It was quite busy and we were both still very nervous. After being delayed for 20 mins, we finally said goodbye and stood by our respective pace markers. We weren’t going to run together as we have different paces, but both of us had a time in mind to finish.

I saw someone I knew at the start which was quite nice so chatted away to them before beginning. I was a bit worried as we weren’t allowed to wear headphones as the roads wouldn’t be closed. I don’t usually run with nothing.

And then we were off! The first mile was uphill and through the zoo, which was quite fun as we got to see some animals. Though I only actually remember seeing ostriches (and then that Family Guy quote came into my head “why are there so many ostriches??” and made me laugh).

The first mile was TOUGH. I had a game plan of each mile pace I wanted to stick to to get my time. I stupidly went faster than I should. My first mile should have been 7.30mins but I did it in just under 7mins. Whoops.


Coming out of the zoo seeing my parents and Ben’s mum, blissfully unaware of the pain to come

And by mile 2 we were still hitting the hills. I couldn’t believe how tough I was finding it. So I brought my pace back down (who am I kidding, the hills brought it down!)

Mile 3 to 4 are a blur of pain and mental determination. I had heard the course was “undulating” but seriously it was killing me. I remember thinking how much I enjoyed the Reading Half-Marathon and was able to zone out. There was zero enjoyment in this run. ZERO zoning out. It was pure psychological concentration and determination to Just. Keep. Running.

The sun was shining and I was hot. I even grabbed water from the water stations TWICE which I never do. Though I only really manage to throw it over myself. How the hell do you run and drink from a plastic cup?? Mile 4 also welcomed the beginnings of a stitch which followed me to the end.

Mile 5 I remember there being less hills. More down hills. Thank God.

I also saw my parents and mother-in-law again and they cheered me on. This was much needed at this point.


They were able to take a photo

And then we were back in the zoo for the last dregs and finished!

Overall, yes it was hugely tough. I remember looking at my watch quite a bit and wishing the miles away. I remember not looking up at hills and looking at the ground because I knew it would knock my confidence if I saw for how long the incline went.

However, I also remember the exhilaration of finishing. I remember being cheered on by random spectators and my running club members. I remember being amazed at how I could maintain my pace despite the hills.


My official time was 43mins 34secs. 9th female, 64th overall out of 917. I’m very pleased Smile I was aiming for 45mins and wasn’t even certain I’d get that with the hills. Here are my Garmin times:


Ben’s time was 57mins 15secs. A full 8 minutes faster than he had planned!! I was over the moon for him and he was very chuffed.

And do you know what topped off the race finish? They were giving out apples with the goodie bags. Seriously. They knew I was coming Winking smile

So what comes after running? Food! Obviously Open-mouthed smile Well actually, a quick hop back home to shower and then FOOD. Again in convoy with the parents.



Good food with the husband and parents. You just can’t beat it.

And Ben made it 8 weeks without drinking!! So he had his celebratory pint with the meal. He thoroughly enjoyed it obviously hehe.


I’m so proud of him!

For the first course…This is getting seriously predictable. But Ben and I shared a mezze board to start. I know, I know.


I just love them.

And for mains I went for BBQ chicken (oh God, I really am becoming a boring broken record) with avocado and bacon salad.


Heavenly. Ben got the same and asked me what the ‘green things’ were. That’s avocado, Ben…*sighs* I love him regardless though Winking smile

Then we parted ways with the parents, got home and collapsed on the sofa. That’s where we pretty much stayed.

All in all, a perfect weekend I’d say!

I definitely think that 10k races are pushing my boundaries of what I prefer to run. I enjoyed running the half marathon far more than the 10k. I’m definitely more of a distance runner and 10k is just on that cusp I think. Saying that, I should be doing a 5k Parkrun this Saturday!! I just know it’s going to be painful…

What did you get up to this weekend?

What’s your perfect post-race meal?

What’s your favourite running distance? I think mine is a half-marathon (though 10 miles is my favourite running distance, but I’ve yet to run a 10mile race)

Hills – are they the bane of your running/cycling life? I hate hills. I hate wind as well. Wind and hills = Anna goes home.

Day Trip to London

Happy Monday everyone! I had a great weekend, though it flew by far too fast as always.

Saturday morning I got up stupidly early and did my usual long run. I didn’t even mind getting up early, it was such a crisp clear morning and I felt energised.


Then after getting ready and quickly eating some oatmeal, Ben dropped me off at the station and I headed off to London to see my lovely friends from university to celebrate one of their birthdays.


I was worried the weather would be rubbish but thankfully the rain stayed away and, though it was chilly, the sun was out and it was a clear day. I enjoyed the journey by just chilling out and reading my Kindle.

We were all meeting in Camden. London and I tend to struggle at times as I am so bad with navigating my way around and catching the tube. Luckily it was just one journey on the Northern Line from Waterloo. Whew.


Then I met up with the girlies in Nero coffee shop where we caught up. And then one of my friends announced she’s engaged!! This is so exciting, I’m so pleased for her Smile

Then after fuelling ourselves with caffeine we headed off into the crazy world of Camden.


I’ve only been to Camden once before so I was somewhat prepared. The shops are just full of crazy outfits and gothic paraphernalia… Really unique stuff. And there are lots of, erm, interesting looking individuals. One guy was walking around topless with just a kilt on.

We walked around Camden Lock Market, which was full of really strange and wonderful market stalls. Including a little café which sold liquid nitrogen ice cream!

Ice cream

We didn’t try any as it was quite expensive, but I was fully impressed!

And then went into the Stables Market. The Stables Market apparently used to be an old stables and it really felt that way.


Again there were loads of little individual market stall-type shops selling everything you could imagine. Antique trinkets, vintage suitcase, old comics, crazy hand-made outfits.

Horse Tunnel

And I managed to haggle two dresses! I had taken £30 out of the cash machine before getting the train so buying lunch would be easy. But walking through the market I found a dress shop which was just full of pretty dresses all £20. I couldn’t decide between two dresses so I asked the man if he accepted card and he didn’t and I said “well I only have £30” and he let me have them! He tried to get me to pay £35 by I literally only have £30. I felt like I got a good bargain.


OK they do look slightly similar but I couldn’t choose between them. Perfect for summer or with a cardigan and woolly tights or leggings for winter!

Then we started getting hungry so headed to a quaint little Italian restaurant aptly called Little Italy. We could see the chef making the pizzas and doing the crazy throwing-them-around thing which I desperately tried to get a photo of.


Sort of worked…

I ordered a roasted vegetable and goat’s cheese pizza with added chicken.


This was sublime. Absolutely delicious. The base was very thin and the toppings generous which is the perfect ratio I think! I hate overly doughy thick pizzas. Very authentic. They were all Italian in the restaurant as well which added to the experience.

Unfortunately though my friend Charlotte (who reads the blog, Hi Charlotte!) ordered a veggie version of a sausage calzone but it came choker full of sausage, but they were very apologetic and changed it straight away.

After finishing the entire pizza I was stuffed. And we all needed a good walk. So we headed to a park (Highgate Park) close to where the birthday girl lives for a nice bit of walking.


Check out how beautiful that park is! And the view of London in the background is fantastic.

Highgate park

So lovely, I couldn’t believe we were still in London.

The houses round there were HUGE.


They must cost an absolute fortune. Most of them weren’t broken into flats…

And then it was eventually time for home.


I could just see the Shard in the distance as I was sat on the train going home

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my friends; it’s always so great to see them and catch up. It only seems like yesterday we all graduated from Cardiff University but it was like four years ago now! I wish I could see them more but we all live in different places in the UK now. But we try to see each other every few months.

Sunday I just chilled and did some boring housework, including cleaning the dreaded oven. But a great weekend regardless!

What did you get up to this weekend?

Do you have friends who live far away? I have friends from before and after uni who live nearby and friends from uni who live a fair distance away.

What’s your favourite place in London? I don’t think I really know! I like the tourist bits and the shops hehe.

Snow day

So I didn’t get to North Wales. Snow hit Southampton (and pretty much every place we would have driven through to get to North Wales) which just made it impossible to go. It was a real shame as we were looking forward to heading up there and celebrating my granddad’s 80th birthday with him. But the weather was just ridiculous.

Ben was able to quickly change his holiday into a day working from home but I wasn’t so lucky. Well, it depends on your perspective. I got to chill and do what I wanted all day whereas Ben had to be on his laptop working. It also means that I’m not off tomorrow either. Ho hum!

But back to the snow. It started snowing a little bit as I left work on Thursday night.


And then by the time we woke up in the morning on Friday there was a beautiful blanket of snow covering everything.


This was the view from our bedroom window. It became clear quite quickly we wouldn’t get to Wales Sad smile

I took Alfie out for a walk first thing and had my running gear on as I foolishly thought I could go for a run afterwards.


Alfie absolutely loved the snow. Bounding through it like a happy puppy. I quickly came to realise I wouldn’t be going running. It was just too risky to fall over and break my ankle or something similar.IMG_3478

I felt so annoyed. Not only could we not go to Wales anymore but I couldn’t do my planned run either. I was really frustrated. I know it’s silly but I hate it when my plans are ruined. It also meant I didn’t know what to do with myself at home. I couldn’t run, couldn’t chill out with Ben as he was working…So what does any normal person do? Watch TV. What does Anna do? Start a big clean of course!

I cleaned the fridge completely.


Not much in there as we didn’t expect to need much as we were away for the weekend. Perfect timing considering the snow and not being able to get to the supermarket. Confused smile


I cleaned all our cupboards out and rearranged them. OK it doesn’t look that organised but it’s better than it was. Don’t you just hate it when herbs and spices just cover the cupboard in herby/spicy dust?? (Just me?)

After my mad cleaning dash, I had a really delicious lunch of a turkey omelette with cranberry sauce on the side. So good! That’s officially all the turkey from the freezer gone no. Sad times.


At the moment with food Ben and I are having to be quite creative and thoughtful about our meals as we don’t actually have that much in! We walked to the mini Tesco’s down the road but obviously everyone else had the same plans and we couldn’t get a huge amount. Just fresh vegetables and fruit really. So we’re eating out our freezer!

Though I missed my run on Friday, I’ve been loving listening to the Marathon Talk podcast and basically immersing myself into all things running-related, like websites and magazines. I read a great post by this lovely lady that really struck a cord with me.

I’ve been dreading the longer runs that I have coming up. Not dreading, maybe just feeling quite anxious as I don’t usually run 6+ miles on a regular basis. But this post and the article Ashley mentions really honed into my head that I should make my pace a lot slower for longer runs. I think I’ve just been so concerned with maintaining a certain pace that it’s been so tough. OK I know I haven’t done any ‘proper’ long runs yet but it’s all relative I suppose as to what you call a long run. It didn’t made me feel a lot less anxious about it. I really need to stop over-thinking things and getting myself all worked up. So what if I don’t get an amazing time at the half-marathon! I need to set a stake in the ground for this one to then beat next time around anyway Winking smile

Despite the snow, Alfie still got his run in though. He ran around the garden like a crazy dog! I videoed just a segment of it. Apologies for my clearly inept videoing skills!!

Alfie in the snow


And then after his mad dash around in the snow…


Alfie was quarantined to the kitchen as he was soaked. Those big old puppy eyes no longer work on me anymore!

Right, I’m off for some lunch and maybe a cheeky episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians!

Have you been affected by the snow?

Do you enjoy long runs? Any tips?

Oxford day-trip

Happy weekend all! Hope you’re all having a nice chilled weekend Smile

So far this weekend has been brilliant. Yesterday I caught the train to Oxford to meet up with my friends from university. Usually we go to London or Reading as it’s a nice half-way point for us all as we’re all scattered over the country, but we decided to meet up in Oxford this time for a change. I’m so relieved we didn’t decide to go to Reading because that’s where I’ve been working for the past three weeks and if I’m quite honest I’m sick of it.

I think I’ve been to Oxford once before when I was looking around at universities (in the end the whole interview process and academic snobbery put me off – no offence to anyone who went there but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Plus I’m not sure I would have gotten in! It’s a whole different league of smartness).

Anyway, so I got the train (oh how I loathe trains) and met up with my four lovely girlfriends. Obviously the first thing we did was go to Starbucks for a coffee. Well of course, right?


Americano with a splash of hazelnut syrup thank you very much.

And we nattered on for a good hour I’d say. You know what girls are like…

Then we moseyed about for a while looking around the shops. We went into the Covered Market where there were all these little boutquey-style shops.

And we found a cake making shop where I bought some decorations for our Christmas cake (which is still to be made…).


Check out this amazing cake that was in the window:


Wow, right??

After the market, we meandered around the streets and admired all the colleges and old buildings, which were just beautiful.

Oxford collage 2

It was such a perfect day to wander around. It thankfully didn’t rain! We decided to look around the Deer Park. But when we arrived at the entrance the man told us it would cost us a £5 each. I mean seriously?? To walk around a park! We obviously looked a bit devastated so he said we could have a quick look. So we had a quick look and then moved to leave. The man then said “Oh alright, you don’t have to pay, just go in”. How nice is that? Thank you Mr Deer Park Man!


So we had a lovely walk in the park and saw some deer (albeit from a distance).


And then we started to get hungry and went to find some lunch. One of my friends suggested a pub, The White Horse, that she’d been to before which was 50% vegetarian. I’m not a vegetarian but one of my friends is and none of us are really your steak and kidney pie kinda girls so it made sense.


It was quite small and busy but it was just nice to be in the warm as the day was starting to get very nippy. I decided to go for the hummus and olive salad.


Very yummy. Can’t go wrong with hummus in my books! After we’d finished eating and we’re digesting we noticed the pub suddenly became even more packed. Ah ha, the rugby was starting. So we scampered quickly.

So we looked round more of Oxford.

Oxford collage

It was just lovely. It felt like Harry Potter (yes, go ahead and laugh at me) with all the cloisters and old buildings. I took so many photos! (Hence my collage explosion in this post, apologies).

Oxford collage 3

And finally we visited the Oxford Castle, which is basically just a mound of earth now. The Oxford Castle is also the site of the old prison as well so we had a bit of fun with the props at hand…


And then after another coffee we parted ways. It was such a lovely day-trip. I love our meet-ups. We just slot back into place like we’ve never left uni. I wish I could see them more often but it’s so tricky with us living so far apart. But it was a great day regardless!

Then Ben picked me up from the station and he dashed off for the evening to see his friend. So obviously I watched Pretty Woman on my own with a couple of my other friends.


Perfect day!

What have you been getting up?

Have you been to Oxford before?


How depressing that the nights are now drawing in and summer seems to be ending (had it ever begun?) I’ll miss walking Alfie early in the morning when it’s still light, and then I’ll miss running in the morning light. I’m definitely not looking forward to running along in darkness hoping to either a) not run into carefully concealed street paraphernalia, b) run through cold, muddy puddles that I hadn’t spotted, and c) step on slugs – possibly the most disgusting running-related incident. Or a snail…that horrible crunch. *shudders*

But summer is surely not over yet. I’ve had strong words with it over a certain specific date in September where I need a reasonably warm temperate and sunny blue skies (though not too sunny)…specific requirements for good wedding weather! We’re still in negotiations…

So, on the theme of summer: WIAW! Thank you, Jenn Smile


Now prepare yourselves for something a bit crazy (or at least mildly different):

5.08 pancakes_thumb[1]

Yes, that is a plate of banana pancakes that I made on Saturday morning. Not my usual green porridge! I made them using Katie’s recipe. They look a little bit well-done…but they tasted great! A dollop of yogurt and they were good to go. Trying to keep it varied. Baby steps…

So, lunch time over the weekend Ben and I had another salad (we’re going crazy for them at the moment; so easy to prepare and so many possible varieties):

5.08 dinner

We had chicken fried with garlic over a bed of salad (cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, beetroot, & leaves) with a massive dollop of roasted red pepper hummus. So simple but very nice. And! on the side (as I had soo many courgettes to use up) I whipped up a tzaziki side dip, but using Jenn’s amazing recipe.

5.08 tzatziki

Fantastically refreshing. Ben didn’t even realise it was using his least favourite vegetable rather than cucumber (which he has a better relationship with). So a nice summery salad to fit in with the Summer Staples style!

And dinner last night:

4.08 dinner

This was chicken curry. I followed this recipe from BBC Good Food website.

4.08 dinner2

I subbed actual peanut butter with PB2. It wasn’t as creamy as I thought it was going to be, which was a bit disappointing and it didn’t taste overly nutty. So maybe next time I’ll use ‘proper’ peanut butter and that might make a difference. It was tasty though. On the side I made some kale chips and had some steamed veggies. I loved the kale chips. I think it was purely for the satisfying crunch you got when eating them. But Ben didn’t like them at all (no surprises) but a win-win situation for me. Mountains of kale chips! Apparently it sounded like I was burrowing around in a pile of leaves when I was eating. Well, no one said being healthy was a quiet occupation!

Snack-wise I’m loving my green smoothies (I mix it up a bit and have some kale instead of spinach and Alpro hazelnut milk instead of almond – a review of Alpro products to come very soon!) and I’m loving this dark chocolate:

2.08 choc

74% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs in it. It’s soo rich and the small nibs in it are add a lovely texture. I’ve got into the habit of having a square in the evening to savour after dinner. It just hits the spot, you know? When you fancy that something sweet but don’t want to push the boat out too much.

In terms of fitness, the week didn’t start off well. I ran on Tuesday and it was tough. My legs felt heavy, I felt tired…it just wasn’t amazing. I got through it but honestly the fun factor wasn’t there (OK I use the word ‘fun’ loosely here).7.08 run

But hey ho, such is life! I haven’t been sleeping amazingly recently. Lots on my mind with the wedding and up-and-coming hen do. I always have problems sleeping when I’ve got too much to think about. This is usually when my friend G&T comes and gives me a hand Winking smile (to qualify that sentence, as it does sound like I’m slightly alcoholic, I don’t drink every night!! And only a small measure when I do hehe).

On an Olympics side-note, I’m so proud of Britain! We’re doing spectacularly. I can’t believe we’re third! I’ve been watching as much as I can. I’ve found myself screaming at the T.V (scaring Alfie in the process). And the 100m men finals…wow they were stupidly quick, weren’t they? And they all had a certain swagger. Well, I guess you would if you could run that fast!

And Ben has even been influenced by the Olympics…to the extent that we have bought a rowing machine! He is now rowing in the evening. Crazy. I really miss rowing as I used to do it in the gym quite a lot but now I just run so this should be good for me vary things up a bit. However, we don’t really have the space in our tiny little house for a rowing machine!! Ben didn’t quite think about this when he ordered it *sighs* oh well. Our lovely little spare room has been taken over. But with healthy intentions.

Happy WIAW! And happy eating!