What I’m loving lately – December

I’m not stressed that I still have so many presents to buy for Christmas. I’m not stressed. I’m not stressed. Panic is not ensuing…

Anyway while that inner monologue continues, here are some things I’m loving lately and wanted to share.

Date nights: Kyle and I always make it a priority to have at least one date night a week and this usually involves the cinema (though I’m sure everyone has worked this out already, though I’ve not explicitly said it on the blog, Kyle is my boyfriend!).

We both love going to the cinema; the whole experience is just a fun one, whether the film is really good or… not (*cough* I’m looking at you, Robin Hood). We generally see one film a week. Last week we saw Ralph Breaks the Internet which was a good laugh (I loved the Disney princess bit), and a few more standouts were First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s just nice to do something mid-week and as we both work at the same place it’s an easy thing to go straight there. We buy a Subway from work (which after 3pm goes down in price), and a fizzy drink from the cinema (we take our reusable straws because we are super cool eco warriors) and enjoy a fairly inexpensive but fun evening.Not only did we go to the cinema last week but we also went out for dinner and then saw Jurassic Park in Concert. Basically this is a showing of Jurassic Park on the big screen with a live orchestra on the stage below the screen playing the soundtrack as the film played. It was INCREDIBLE.The orchestra were amazing. Like you could forget that they were’t actually part of the film. It was fascinating to watch them play as the film went on (though I imagine they’re so sick of Jurassic Park now having toured around the country doing this!). They were perfectly in sync and it was just so all-encompassing. Dinner was pretty good as well. Before the showing, we went to 7Bone Burger. I had the Triple-D burger (which comes with blue cheese sauce and bacon) and halloumi fries…And a cheeky side of chicken wings. Kyle had a fried chicken burger with halloumi fries and a chocolate milkshake. It was goooood. The milkshake (as I did help Kyle out a bit with it…*cough*) was SUPER thick. Personally I’m not a huge milkshake fan but if I were to have one myself it would be a thick one. It was delicious.Podcasts: I listen to a number of podcasts every week: BBC Five Live Film Review, Marathon Talk, Empire Film Review, TED Radio Hour, My Dad Wrote a Porno – and dip in and out of other ones that take my interest. But I’ve recently been finding myself running out of them (I listen to them in the car, walking Alfie or when I’m doing boring chores around the house). My lovely friend, Emma, recommended Fearne Cotton’s podcast Happy Place and it’s great!I listened to the Gary Barlow one first and found it really interesting. It’s amazing how celebrities who are so famous, earning so much money and seemingly living their “best life” can be taken down by depression or body image issues. I’ve since listened to the interview with Mel C and Stephen Fry and both were just as good. Heartily recommend.

Recovery: I’ve come a long way since I first started running. When I was facing all my injury and niggle woes I’d be foam rolling, stretching and icing until the cows came home. But recently I’ve been finding I only really need to do a bit of light stretching after my circuit workouts, foam rolling on my calves maybe once a week and, when I get the chance, lovely soaks in the bath with some of this amazing stuff.Vie Epsom foot and Bath Salts are fantastic addition to a hot bath. It apparently helps increase your magnesium levels and sulfates, which are quite tricky to get through food but can actually be absorbed through the skin. Both are really good for your joints and muscles in terms of recovery.I add a couple of cups (as you can see above – the cup doesn’t come with the salts FYI) in the bath and just relax and enjoy. I’ve found it can really decrease how much I’ll ache the next day. I don’t know about injury prevention but it definitely makes me feel better anyway.

Blondies: Amazingly I won more baked goods on Instagram again. I just seem to be very lucky (or enter ALL the competitions…). Anyway, the lovely company Fully Loaded Treats sent me six blondies, three different flavours.Oh my god they were good. There were M&M ones, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream ones and another type that I think were Kinder Bueno that were awesome.There’s something about blondies that I so love. I mean I do prefer brownies I think but blondies are a nice change now and again.

Dylan: My parents have three dogs (Lexi, Dylan and Sam) where I have just Alfie. Dylan is probably the most stupid out of them all (in a really cute and lovable way though). I can’t help but share how cute he looked the other morning.He’s very much a “I’d rather sleep than do anything else” kind of dog. Well, actually he’d rather eat than do anything else but sleep is a close second. I mean, let’s be honest, I think we all have a little Dylan inside of us all.

Do you prefer blondies or brownies?

Do you have any recovery tips or routines?

What podcasts do you listen to?

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

All the good stuff in life

I love this time of year. Before it starts to get really cold, before the super short days, and all the beautiful colours of the leaves and cool running weather. I’m feeling particularly happy at the moment. Life is good, running is going well and I have some exciting things coming up. Happy days. So things making me smile lately include but not limited to, are…

Bake Off delights: More tasty baking from lovely colleagues at work. Every week we have something new and it really does brighten up a Monday. In ironic celebration of the other week’s vegan week, my work friend, Trystan, brought in maple bacon cupcakes. Yes they may sound weird but they were really tasty. I’m a firm believer that bacon is a good addition to sweet things 😉And yesterday was a very zesty and tasty lemon tart. Genuinely I’ll be sad when this ends. I’ve gotten used to the constant supply of home-baked goodies.And even more on the note of cakes… It was Kyle’s birthday the other week (and his twin brother, Zack’s). His team at work bought him a “unicorn cake” from the CoOp downstairs (we both work at Wiggle FYI) so I was able to have a slice. I’ve wanted to try it for AGES, passing it so many times in CoOp so I was quite excited.If you’re not into ultra sweet and sickly cakes, I’d avoid but for me this was perfection. I’m basically a small child.

That evening, his family, him and I went out to Coast to Coast to celebrate. Before (yes more) cake, we had some really tasty food. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you’ll know just how often I go to this restaurant. It’s a local favourite after a marathon.I went for chicken wings to start and ribs for main (predictable AF).
We had a voucher for “buy one main and get another free” but as there were 7 of us we needed another main to make it work so Kyle and I shared a main chicken wings as a starter so we could get it for free. Happily this meant another portion of chips! Genius 😉 The waiters were really nice -Zack and Kyle got free cocktails.Then for pudding Kyle’s sister, Lucy, had made two INCREDIBLE chocolate cakes. Kyle’s was covered in Malteasers, Dime and Bueno. I had to try both of course!I did prefer Kyle’s though. Usually I’m not a huge chocolate cake fan but this honestly rocked my world. As a thank you to the amazing waiters, we gave them a slice of cake too.New trainers: My trainers have racked up over 400 miles so it was time to swap them out for a new pair. When I originally bought my trainers I bought two more pairs of the same kind because they were so cheap. £35 each in the Nike Outlet! So pleased.I love the colour! And they’re so soft and comfortable. I’m so pleased I’m set for the next 800 or so miles with this pair and my safety stock pair. I do love adidas Supernova Boosts but I’ve found these work for me really well too. They’re Nike Lunarglides. I had them in a lilac purple but I much prefer this bright colour.

Surprising speedy runs: I haven’t done any structured speedwork lately. Track…ehhh it’s just not a priority right now. I don’t have the urge to do it and the motivation is just not there. But I do like to surprise myself some days by just putting a blast into a random run. Actually this run I’m about to talk about was the day after #allthefood from Coast to Coast. I felt amazing going out at lunch and decided to see what I could do.

I randomly managed a 43:30 10k! It was a flat route I often do and the temperature was lovely and cool so really the odds were in my favour (and I was fully powered by cake from the day before).And I’m so pleased that I managed to pick up speed towards the end! Yes it was tough but not impossibly so. I’m just pleased I’m maintaining some sort of speed despite slacking on the track front. I have ideas of maybe “going for it” at the Gosport Half Marathon (November) and maybe the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon (December). Not PB attempts specifically (I think I’d need a lot more work ahead of those races to get under my current times), but just “let’s see where I’m at” kind of runs. Whoooo knows. I haven’t been injured for a bit so that’s probably in store for me soon 😉

What are you enjoying lately?

Do you like super sweet cakes? I’m very much big on icing/frosting.

How many miles do you run in your trainers before changing them? I used to be super cautious and run up to 300 miles but now I can get away with 400-450.

When I’m not running I’m usually eating…

It’s amazing how quickly you can forget how hot it felt during the summer. Autumn has well and truly hit us with dark mornings, cold winds and hammering rain.

I live fairly near the sea so I often get woken up by fog horns going off. They’re not hugely loud or abrasive sounds, but I’m quite a light sleeper so will often hear them. But anyway, autumn is here and cooler running is happily happening! I’m four weeks away from the New York Marathon which at the moment feels quite surreal. I think it’s because I’m only going Friday to Monday so it doesn’t feel like a “proper” holiday (or at least not a proper long-haul one). My training is continuing to go well, and by that I mean I’m suffering from no injuries and I’m managing to get the long runs in that I’ve planned. Happy days. More on that in another post.

Work is also tootling along nicely and I’m still enjoying the numerous cakes and baking exploits inspired by the Great British Bake Off. I swear not a day goes by that I don’t have some sort of baked item to scoff. It’s very much happy times right now. I’ll be sad when this is over!

I’ve enjoyed banana cake…Cookies…
White chocolate brownies…Lemon and mojito drizzle cake…
And Malteaser brownies.I don’t know about you but I quite like having something sweet during the day to perk me up. Between my team (there are three of us) we have a snack box that we keep topped up with biscuits and chocolate. I’ve only recently discovered my new favourite obsession: M&M Caramel Crunch.From speaking to other people (understand that this is a high topic of conversation for me) you either CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF THEM, or you’re absolutely not fussed. There is no middle ground. It gives me slight anxieties to know that they’re “limited edition” and could disappear at ANY MOMENT. It’s taken all the will power in the world to not buy 17 packets in Tesco when they were on offer for £1. That said, I probably have bought that many over the past few weeks. It’s becoming a problem.

And after a month off, Kyle and I went back to Sprinkles. We recognised we were going too often and decided September would be a Sprinkles (and similarly Scoops) Free Month. Now we’re out the other side and decided to treat ourselves for our hard work. We popped in there on Saturday… still as filling, sickly and ultimately amazing as usual.I am well and truly a fan of waffles now.

And just further on the note of food (my favourite subject other than running)… I won a box of brownies on Instagram the other week! It was through my @AnnaTheCake88 account where I follow a million different restaurants and foodie accounts and someone was doing a giveaway of The Funky Brownie Co. and I got involved and somehow won.They very kindly posted me six different brownies for free!How good do they look? I haven’t yet tried them but they look to be a mix of blondies and brownies. They’re safely tucked away in the freezer for the right moment (i.e. a random Tuesday night…).

And I’ve realised that through Instagram you can pretty much buy any sort of baked good you want. Knowing Kyle liked fudge I bought some homemade fudge for a very reasonably price from a lady who lived literally 10 minutes from me. What a time to be alive eh! But please, someone take my cards away from me because knowing how easily this can be done I feel I’m in danger of going bankrupt very quickly…

I got him peanut butter fudge…And vanilla fudge, both from Vanilla Lace Cakes in Fareham.I’m actually not a huge fudge fan (surprisingly I know) but I did have a nibble. Very melt in your mouth sweet and smooth. Kyle loved them!

I do eat other food than cake of course, but this stuff is far more exciting, no? 😉

What’s your favourite fudge flavour?

Who’s your favourite on Bake Off?

What would be your signature bake?

Things I’m Loving Lately – June/July

My blog has gotten so behind. I’ve just been a bit mad busy lately and haven’t had the chance to actually sit and write about life… I have a lot of notes on my phone and posts that I’ve been intending on writing but ehhhh just time has gotten away from me. Excuses aside, here’s some stuff I’ve been loving.

Football: I was really enjoying the World Cup. Handily at Wiggle we had the TV on all the time so we could watch (while working) the matches that went on throughout the day so I felt quite on top of what was going on.And it was so much fun watching the England game against Croatia in a packed out pub. I’ve never watched a match like that before and hearing everyone chanting was just such a thrill. I’ve never felt so emotionally invested in a World Cup before and that match was both a fantastic and devastating experience. It was sad that England got kicked out but I’m so proud for how far we got.
What really made me laugh though was in the pub two girls were doing their nails. I mean, seriously.

Love Island: Yes, yes judge away. I’m aware it’s potentially showcasing everything that is wrong with our society and it’s vacuous and pointless. That said, I enjoy watching it. I’m not ashamed and happily admit I tune in for every episode. I assume it’s why people enjoy watching horror movies. They obviously don’t want to be in a similar experience but they enjoy watching it. I don’t need to engage my brain, I can switch off and just let the ridiculousness play out in front of me.

My mum watched an episode with me and it was beyond hilarious. The comments (“Anna, do they have nookie on TV? In the same room?” and “Are they wearing bikinis or knickers?”) just made the whole experience another level of entertainment. It was like my very own version of Gogglebox. She quite got into it by the end – Team Danni and Jack all the way!

Cinema Visits: Speaking of horror movies, I saw Hereditary the other week. Why oh why did I do this to myself? In my mind the rationale went like this: I’ve never seen a horror movie in the cinema and people say that it’s a thrill to watch it amongst lots of other people reacting similarly to you… plus I knew I’d never watch it at home and it had had some good reviews (Mark Kermode aside). I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever felt so stressed, terrified and unhappy in the cinema before. I spent a vast chunk of time trying to embed myself into the seat, trying to escape, and then hiding my face with my hands. I’m not lying when I say that that night I had to sleep with a light on. GENUINE levels of fear. The movie Tag however was very funny and I enjoyed it immensely. There was one joke that was a bit distasteful but otherwise it was genuinely laugh out loud. I really enjoyed it.

Nachos: I have quite a weird obsession at the moment with nachos. I literally can’t stop craving them. I don’t know where this has come from but I just keep wanting them. I go through these weird food crazes where I obsess over a certain type of food and eat it to death (though apples, cake and porridge are long-standing fixtures in my life and have never grown old to me).The standard would be tortilla crisps covered in melted cheese, a sprinkling of jalapeños, a bit of sour cream and some salsa. The pinnacle of heavenly nacho experience however is added pulled pork/beef chilli, big blobs of guacamole and maybe some refried bean action. But this is just me being extra picky. God I love it.

Paul Sinton-Hewitt’s parkrun talk: I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this on the blog yet! So PSH, the parkrun Founder, came to the Southampton Solent University to do a talk on how parkrun got started. I was on it like a car bonnet. Obviously I love parkrun so this was right up my street.My friend Joe and I went together and we met up with the lovely Rebecca (from Lee-On-Solent parkrun fame) and her husband and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening hearing all the inside scoop on parkrun.I had never properly heard how it had started – and never knew it had been originally called Timetrial before someone advised him to change the name. And I never knew that Coca-Cola have attempted three times to sponsor them (with an “open chequebook”!) and they’ve turned them down each time because the ethos of the company doesn’t mesh well with parkrun. How cool is that??PSH was very inspiring but I also saw a side of him I didn’t really know about before (not that I know him properly at all… just bits and pieces I’ve heard). He’s quite ruthless and has a steely determination. I mean, I guess he had to be in order to keep it going and to make the hard decisions that needed to be made. But still, what a guy eh!

Frank the plant: And finally… I now have a desk plant. I’ve wanted one for ages weirdly (mainly gorwing out of a dinosaur plantar pot if I’m honest) and then our office building had some plant people in and they were giving away free plants. I hot-footed it quickly to grab myself one and I named it Frank.Apparently it’s a jade tree plant, which is essentially a “starter” plant for idiots. It’s tough to kill it basically. This is ideal for this gardening novice!

Do you enjoy gardening?

Do you have a current food obsession right now?

Do you like horror films?

Things I’m Loving Lately – May

It’s almost June. How did that happen?

Aftershokz: So. The saga of my Aftershokz. I’ve mentioned it a few times, but after the Brighton Marathon I lost my beloved Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones (they did so many races and long runs with me…devastating). I either threw them away accidentally with my foil blanket (standard Anna move) or I left them on the beach. I was really upset about losing them because honestly they’re so good for running outdoors. As someone who is generally an idiot, hearing the outside world while I run is a help. But I do love listening to music and podcasts so with Aftershokz it really is the best of both worlds. Good sound quality while also allowing you to hear the surroundings. It basically uses “bone technology” to transfer the sound to you, rather than through your ears. Your ears are therefore left unobstructed.

Aftershokz amazingly reached out to me through Twitter to ask me what had happened and I explained. They were very sympathetic and offered me a 30% discount code. As they’re £100 to replace my old ones that would be quite a chunk off. However when I tried to use the discount code it wouldn’t work so I messaged them to ask if I was doing something wrong (usually the case, let’s be honest). It turns out they were the US Aftershokz and the discount code would only work for the US site… ah.

Instead they offered me an unboxed test pair of the Aftershokz Trekz Air, the new version, FOR FREE. They wouldn’t be brand new box fresh of course but they would be a working pair with all the bits and bobs working fine, simply just not in the box. Of course I said yes!They arrived a week or so later. And they are amazing. I mean they work just as well as my Titanium’s did (the model before) but they’re a bit lighter and more streamline. I love them. I can’t stress how much I love Aftershokz headphones for running. During races I like to hear the crowds and of course the marshals, and these headphones just give me the option of both hearing my music and still absorbing the race. Not only this but they’re England Athletics approved, meaning they can legally be used in races. I also like that I can keep wearing them when they’re turned off without them blocking sound out. During a marathon I won’t want to listen to music or podcasts all the time, so just having them sat above my ears nice and comfortably means I can still hear properly out of my actual ears. Happy happy.

Obscene amounts of chocolate: I was in Gunwharf Quays on Saturday to see the new Avengers Film (a rave in itself really) and while waiting for the film time, we had a mosey in the Cadbury’s shop. I haven’t been in that shop in ages and thought it would be really over-priced, but actually everything was really reasonable! It wasn’t like dirt cheap of course but it was probably cheaper than the supermarket. And I was SO pleased to have finally found the holy grail of chocolate… the white chocolate Toblerone. I’ve been obsessed about this since my friend Kate got one for her birthday a few months ago. She’d said she got it from the airport and as I hadn’t spotted it anywhere else I was resigned to only seeing it after a holiday (the time when we all want to eat lots of chocolate…hmm).

But lo! And behold! There it was. And under £4 for a decent sized one.I also picked up a big bag of Mis-Shapes. They’re apparently factory rejects of odd shaped chocolates. Well, I was fairly disappointed with my selection. It’s basically a bag of fudges and a few coffee chocolates. I hate coffee flavoured chocolate so really it’s a bag of fudges. Hmmmm! I thought there would be a bit more variety so I feel a bit short-changed. I guess it’s the luck of the draw as well with things like that. Nonetheless, chocolate is chocolate and it was quite cheap for the amount you got.

Supplements I’m taking: I don’t really take that many supplements because I’ve read a lot of articles about how it’s essentially giving you expensive wee as the vitamins etc. just go straight through you. That said, I’ve heard some good stuff about Omega 3 supplements and Magnesium. Through work I was given some supplements to test out for free (how many times do I need to say this… I love my job).They’re from the brand Puori I tried the Organic Whey Protein, the Liquid Fish Oil, the Magnesium and the Vitamin D. I personally don’t think I need to take Vitamin D right now because I get enough sun now with the day being longer. I walk Alfie twice a day, go for a lunchtime walk at work and run outside… so I’m guessing I’m OK on that front. So I’ll save them for the winter months.With the liquid fish oil I was a bit dubious because, well, fish oil. But it’s absolutely fine. It has a faint taste of lemon but it’s not sweet. It doesn’t taste fishy and it’s only a small amount you take. It is a bit greasy if you spill some on yourself though (standard Anna move again).

The magnesium tablets are good but I’m getting through them quickly as you take three at a time. I also had to put them on my bedside table because you take them before bed and I kept forgetting. Though I can’t tell for sure, I do think this is helping with my recoveries. I’ve heard good things about magnesium, especially when combined with Zinc as this supplement is. I’m all about injury prevention!

Do you take any supplements?

Do you use headphones when you run?

What is your favourite chocolate?

**Full Disclaimer: I was given the supplements for free at work in exchange of a review on the Wiggle site. I was also sent the Aftershokz for free but they did not ask me for anything in return.**