Running to Havant parkrun and double breakfast

This weekend gone was a busy but good one! Through work I’d gotten a place at the New Forest 10k for the Sunday, but as I’m currently marathon training I still needed to get a long run in so I decided to run to parkrun on the Saturday to make up to 16 miles.

I haven’t done Havant before and after checking how far away it was from my house it was an almost perfect 13.5 miles away. So I could run there and do the parkrun and get the 16 miles I was after. Kyle very helpfully offered to cheer me on and then drive me back afterwards. He’s sadly not running at the moment as he’s being super sensible and giving his leg some time to get over its annoying niggle. But it was nice to know he’d be there and as he’d done that parkrun before he was able to give me some pointers and inside knowledge on what the course was like.

My alarm was set for the delightful time of 6.20am and at about 6.50am I headed out into the rather chilly morning to begin my journey. Though I’d sensibly put the route on my Garmin the day before I forgot to start my run using the route…and only realised about a mile in. I didn’t want to stop and restart my watch so I decided to wing it. The majority of the route I knew but it was the last bit when I’d get into Havant that I was a bit hazy about but I could work that out later (the confidence I have in my ability to find my way is probably unwise I know).

My legs felt tired and heavy as I set off…having been asleep not that long ago! But it was nice to be out in the cool fresh air and see the sun rising. It was very peaceful. I listened to a podcast which embarrassingly actually made me laugh a lot out-loud as I was running (a review of the new Nun film… “quiet, quiet, NUN” is basically how the film goes apparently).The temperature was perfect for a long run. Started chilly and then I felt fine.The nice thing about these sorts of runs is that because you have a destination to get to it doesn’t feel like too much of a slog. You’re running with a purpose to get somewhere, rather than just a loop.I did have the dreaded Portsdown Hill to go up though, which I knew would be a bit of a grind. It lasted for a delightful two miles but the views at the top were worth it. You can see straight over to Portsmouth (some might say that’s not a great view but ehhh).I did have to take a lot of care though (selfie taking aside…) as there wasn’t a consistent pavement along the road and the cars do come quite quickly down. But thankfully they all gave me a lot of space and didn’t make me throw myself into the ditch.When I got to the top of Portsdown Hill it then became more of a gentle decline which was nice for the legs! As I ran down the other side to Havant I then had to start whipping my phone out for directions. There weren’t too many roads to turn down so it wasn’t a stretch on my ability to follow directions. I passed a little girl riding her bike in full princess regalia and her dad and her both clapped me on as I ran passed which was quite nice.

Then I finally arrived at Staunton Country Park, which is where Havant parkrun is located. As you get closer to a parkrun around Saturday morning more and more runners start appearing, which is always comforting when you’re trying to find your way! Just follow the Lycra.Kyle was already there which was nice. He’d also packed me a water which I fully appreciated! Lots of brownie points 😉
I had about ten minutes to stand and chat before making my way to the start. I really wasn’t looking forward to this. I was feeling quite tired and I knew this parkrun was a tough one. One mini loop, then two big loops with a steep decline and a fair amount of undulation all on rocky trail. Okaaaay.We got going and my legs loosened up again after the standing around and I instantly felt a wave of tiredness. Ahh three miles really wasn’t that long…but then actually, it was in reality to my now very tired legs.

Photo credit: Martyn Garvey

I got to the very steep decline (it even had a sign beforehand warning runners) and tried to just let myself go but it was a tough ask. Bit of crazy pounding on the legs and feet… eesh. Just have to relax into it and not try to brake too much.

The first big loop really was a grind. It was nice seeing Kyle as I finished the first loop but it felt like such a slog to think I had to do that loop again – including the decline. I felt very much on the struggle train in terms of my legs. The ground was quite uneven as well which wasn’t comfortably underfoot. The marshals were lovely though, cheering everyone on and smiling away.

Photo credit: Martyn Garvey

As we ran round the final bit I turned my foot over which gave a sharp pain in my ankle and made me yelp out-loud. I tentatively  continued running and it felt fine after a few steps. I’ve actually done this a few times in races and it’s never amounted to anything. I must have strong ankles. The only part of me not injury-prone clearly!I found my footing and managed to sprint to the finish. Ooooof that was tough. My time was 24:04 and I felt every single second of it!I finished and sat down, glad to finally stop and chill.
It was nice to get another parkrun ticked off, even if it was a challenging one. There aren’t many nearby anymore that I haven’t done… except the Medina one on the Isle of Wight but that’ll take a bit of organising in order to get a ferry across. I foresee a day-trip in the future…

Anyway, after finishing parkrun I quickly put on some jeans and two layers of jackets ready for my journey home… on the back of Kyle’s motorbike!I mean, the epitome of cool right there yes? I’ve actually never properly been on the back of a motorbike so this was quite the adventure. I was a teeeeeny bit scared when we hit the motorway I have to admit. It was such a crazy experience being in the “open” going so fast (well, not silly fast but fast enough!). Kyle’s a safe driver though and I relaxed as the journey carried on.

After showering and getting sorted it was then on for some much needed refuelling. We went to Josie’s in Bishops Waltham. Now I’d heard great things about this place (there’s actually one in Winchester and Petersfield as well). I probably got a little bit too excited (and my grumbling tummy got the better of me as usual) when I ordered a fry-up……And also persuaded Kyle to share some fried chicken maple pancakes with me.The chicken pancakes were in the ‘savoury’ section of the menu but they were far from it! They were very sweet. The chicken was delicious and crunchy and the thick pancakes were fluffy and dense. SO good but very very sweet.The fry-up, of course, was delicious too. A very happy Anna!

Thankfully we went on a lovely long walk afterwards to help digestion. We went along the Meon Valley Trail in Wickham which was really pretty (and a popular running and cycling route).It was a lovely afternoon and definitely needed after all the food! We actually did quite a bit of walking that day as we headed down the beach to walk the dogs as well.Gotta get out while the weather is still nice!

That evening we went out for more food (I know, I know). My parents had invited us to our favourite local pub, The Osborne View, so we headed for dinner there.I had the chicken wings to start (let’s ignore they were a sharing starter)But balanced this with a lovely chicken and feta salad. All in the name of balance, eh?A solid day’s running, walking and eating! I was feeling good for the New Forest 10k the next day. On to that in another post!

Do you prefer savoury or sweet breakfasts?

Do you run to parkrun?

Have you ever ridden on a motorbike?

Never grow up

I honestly think I’m most happy when I’m training for a marathon. There’s just something about being in good enough shape to run a long way that makes me very happy. Pre-fuelling and refuelling is obviously a great part of the equation too…

Friday was another Wiggle Run day which is always good fun. I’d signed up for the 8.5 mile run with a few other guys and it flew by. It was nice to run with some new people and people who I don’t get to chat too much to during work-time. It was also nice to run with a guy who had done the same gym class as me that morning – so we were both feeling the jump squats and burpees!We ran down Hillsea Lines and then onto Farlington Marshes, which is always quite a scenic run, before heading back again. We followed part of the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon route which felt nice and familiar. I’ve signed up for that race again this year because I enjoyed it so much last year.The brand Lab Series were in as well so we got to try lots of their products (and sweets).I got myself a facial after the run! I did apologise profusely to the guy doing it about how sweaty my face was but he politely said it was fine.
And to end Friday nicely we went for a nice meal to the Meat and Barrel in Southsea for a work friend’s leaving do.I had half a chicken and stupid amounts of frickles and halloumi fries for my main.
Halloumi fries are honestly the business. The person who invented them need some sort of award. And frickles…god I love frickles.I followed this with a doughnut burger. It was good but a little disappointing. It was basically just a glazed doughnut split in two with a blob of ice cream and some strawberries, raspberry sauce, cream and sprinkling of chocolate flakes. It was just okay.I guess I have quite high (greedy) standards for puddings.The next day Kyle and I headed to Netley parkrun again. We were SO close to being late. It’s not like I haven’t been to Netley parkrun over 100 times to know how long it takes to get there. Jeeze I was stressed. But we managed to arrive literally within minutes of the start.

I ran with Kyle again (to be honest, I wouldn’t have run any faster on my own as my legs were feeling fairly heavy) and we tried to keep the pace slower but ehhh we really didn’t do well. We both got carried away and pushed the pace a bit more than we probably should have.I continually prove to myself that I’m rubbish at trying to run an easy pace – well, especially during shorter runs. It’s something I need to work at. I finished 21:37. I peeled off a little from Kyle towards the end but he sprinted back to finish just behind me at the end.We then helped clear up and went for a coffee with the gang. It had been one of our friend’s birthday the week before so the lovely Carol made a deliciously tasty Dorset apple cake. I had two slices. No one was surprised.Then Kyle and I headed back for a quick shower and then we headed to the Hamble Food Festival for a mosey round. I love a food festival.I rarely ever go to Hamble. It’s a lovely quaint part of Southampton. I’ve run around it a few times but never spent that long there. It was a lovely place and very scenic next to the water. We wandered around the different stalls in the sunshine loving life. There were food stalls cooking local sausages, a Jerk chicken stand, cheeses, quiches, bread, meat, Prosecco, gin…and of course cake.I won’t lie. I was most excited about the face painting. Yes the cakes looked amazing but we were planning on going elsewhere for lunch and I had had two slices of cake for breakfast… I tried to hold myself back a bit!

I’m basically a big child at heart and love face painting and I will unashamedly say that we waited for a solid 15 minutes so I could get my face done. It did give me good thinking time though because I was umm’ing and arr’ing between getting a dinosaur or a glitter design. Glitter won out as I thought that might look better at lunch later…I told the lady I didn’t want pink though. I have some standards 😉It was quite a cool design next to one eye of basically lots of glitter and sparkles. It was hard though trying to remember it was on my face and not keep knocking it and dropping glitter all over myself!

We also spotted the gold post box commemorating Dani King for wining the cycling track women’s team pursuit in the 2012 Olympics.Very cool indeed.

Then, as the two cakes wore off (and Kyle’s fudge brownie that he’d had at one of the stalls), hunger started calling, we headed into Southampton a bit further to go to Baffi Pizzeria for lunch (though it was past 2pm now…).I’ve been following Baffi Pizza on Instagram for a bit now (thank you @AnnaTheCake88) and Saturday seemed the perfect day to test it out. The pizzas are exactly how I prefer them: thin and crispy. I’m not a huge deep pan fan (though to be fair, I’d still eat it if it was there). These were Neapolitan-style and cooked in a fire wood oven.It was really hard to choose a flavour of the menu! The waitress was lovely and gave us some good recommendations and in the end we decided we’d each order one and half it so we could both try both flavours. Handily the waitress told the chef this and he halved it for us, which lessened my anxiety about sharing food A LOT 😉
We went for No. 3 (prosciutto crudo, ricotta, rocket, mozarella and parmesan) and No. 5 (prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and Parmesan). They were both SO good. We were both really happy with the choices.

And because it was so close by… we went to Sprinkles for pudding.Now I never used to be a big waffle fan but Kyle has turned me around on this. Damn him. It also helps that I’ve had the dessert in the jar from Sprinkles FAR too many times. This was delicious. It was a waffle with brownie chunks and melted chocolate with vanilla gelato. It was also supposed to come with banana and nuts but I subbed that for M&M’s. Can’t have it looking vaguely healthy after all… Afterwards we both felt the wrong side of full. Too much… I think I pretty much ate a sharing bag of M&M’s with that pudding!

Eating copious amounts of sugar and getting my face painted… well I’d say that was a good couple of days! I’ll recap my long run in another post…

Do you like getting your face painted?

Are you a sweet or savoury person?

Have you ever had a facial?

Ipswich parkrun – one letter left!

Another recap from a couple of weeks ago…Continuing my parkrun Alphabet Challenge. The letter ‘I’ was always going to be a tricky one for me.

Inverness parkrun would have been a nice option and my initial idea was that I could do the Loch Ness Marathon in September and do the parkrun the day before. However, that weekend my parents need me to dog sit as they’re on holiday. So that scuppered that plan.

Happily though I have friends in Ipswich and I reached out to Ade and Bex (who I’d met on a Marathon Talk run camp and have been friends with since) and asked if they’d be about so I could catch-up and have some brunch after with them. Bex was super lovely and offered to have me stay on Friday night. This was so helpful considering it’s around 4 hours from Southampton to Ipswich. I didn’t really fancy a 4am leave time on Saturday morning.

I took Friday off as I thought driving to Ipswich straight from work Friday evening would probably be pretty gnarly with traffic. So it meant a nice little lie-in Friday morning, a quick gym visit (always nice before you sit in a car for hours), lunch and then I was on the road by 12.

Ideally I wanted to have left by 11am but I’m always late so 12 wasn’t too bad. What was bad was the then 5.5 hour journey that I endured to get to Ipswich. Oh the M25 is just a joy isn’t it? I also managed to plan a very badly timed service stop at South Mimms which proved to be a nightmare leaving the motorway for and then joining the motorway after. But it was an absolute necessity considering that I was absolutely bursting for a wee. My water bottle was getting dangerously tempting let’s put it that way!

I’d planned to meet Ade and Bex at Pizza Express in the middle of Ipswich as Bex had the Twilight 10k that evening and it seemed like an ideal early dinner location to meet-up. I could also then support her at her race. Unfortunately, being the idiot that I am, when I got back onto the motorway from the services I had unknowingly put Bex’s address into my SatNav rather than the car park near Pizza Express. So instead of arriving there I ended up outside her house… I therefore missed dinner at Pizza Express (I urged them to carry on as I was now going to be later and I didn’t want her eating too late to her race). I managed to get into Ipswich, buy myself a Subway and then meet them just before her race. Ah well! As Anna’isms go, it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.I enjoyed watching Bex’s race. She did really well, though missed her PB that she was aiming for as it was quite humid. It was a two lapped flat course going through the centre of Ipswich. Ade and I stood and cheered outside a bar enjoying the fact that we weren’t running (I hate 10ks). The lead guy was miles ahead of everyone else and finished in an impressive 30:xx time. I mean whaaaat.The next morning we headed out to Ipswich parkrun. It was a very warm morning and I knew that the course wasn’t a flat one so I decided to just see how it went. To be honest, I’m not in my best shape having let the speedwork decline a bit for a while to give myself some time off intense training before my New York marathon training ramps up. My calves have intermittently been a bit tight as well so I’m trying not to aggravate them into a full-blown niggle.Ade was timekeeping as he had suffered a probable calf strain earlier in the week, so it was just Bex and I. As we got started from the cricket pitch I felt my legs responding and finding myself sitting nicely at 7min/mile pace. It was mostly on grass but easy underfoot.It was an undulating course but not hilly, and a one lapper which is always novel, with lots of windy turns. We also ran past Chantry mansion which was a very beautiful and old-style building.

(Photos from Facebook)

I kept pushing the pace and as I ran past a marshal they told me I was first female. I didn’t think I was but after a couple more said the same I decided to believe it. I wasn’t running full-out though so this was a nice surprise. There is a nasty hill towards the end which I pushed up and then it was back round the cricket pitch to the finish. I finished in 22:03 and in 18th position (1st female) which I was quite surprised about. I think there were a lot less runners though due to the 10k race the night before. Bex did well considered she ran the race!
The parkrun was lovely and friendly and offered teas, coffees and cake in the pavilion house for a small donation. I love this! They didn’t have a cafe nearby so this was perfect for keeping the community feel going. I also got to meet the lady behind the Twitter handle which was quite amusing as she’d commented on one of my Tweets not long before the start of the parkrun.

Afterwards we headed for a ‘parkrun fresh’ breakfast in the Suffolk Water Park, a proper greasy spoon affair. We sat on the benches outside overlooking the fishing lake and it was very peaceful. I went for a full English (of course) and swapped the fried potatoes for black pudding #winningIt was very tasty!

After showering I parted ways and began my next part of the weekend, driving to Hatfield to see more Marathon Talk friends, Chris and Kate, who were also lovely enough to let me stay at theirs that evening. Kate works for the National Trust and it was an event she was organising, single-handedly I hasten to add. What a superwoman, eh?

I got to Kate’s and then we headed out to Hatfield Forest to get cracking on setting up some last minute event bits, such as the goodie bags and the course signs.They got an assembly line of volunteers together to fill the bags with a banana, a KIND bar, leaflets, medal and water. It was cool to see the behind the scenes stuff.
Chris, the ranger Ben and I headed out to the course (the forest itself) to set the signs up for the race. We packed the Jurassic Park jeep (my name for the little off-roader car) with all the signs we’d need (“Keep left”, “mile X”, “Water ahead”, etc.). It was a hotAt first this was good fun. The off-road vehicle was so much fun to be driven around in. It just cruised along nicely over the uneven surface and the (albeit warm) breeze in our faces was nice as we got to the first point we needed to mark out with signs. It was nice as well for Ben to be with us as he gave us inside scoops of the area (where Roman roads used to be, where a plane crashed…).

We were using the course map with Kate’s annotations of where and what signs should be used. The course was a two lapper so at least that meant we didn’t need to travel 13.1 miles about the place but it still took a very long time. The fun soon wore off. We were all hot, tired and a bit frustrated.

Eventually Kate rang and suggested I come back with her and her kids while Ben and Chris continued. I was the only one running the race the next day and probably needed to come back and eat something for dinner. Ben and Chris were absolute troopers though finishing it off (it took until well after 8pm!).

Kate and I ordered some Domino’s Pizza for want of a better idea. We were all too exhausted to go out anywhere and that seemed the perfect option. I went for a medium Meteor pizza with mozzarella meatballs as a side and, as always, am ever surprised by my seemingly insatiable appetite. I rarely ever order takeaway pizzas (Indian being my takeaway of choice) buy I polished it off quite easily. But it was a solid (wellll, fairly solid) pre-half marathon meal choice and I went to bed feeling well fueled and with a very good idea of what the course would entail in the next day’s race!

I’ll recap the race in another post!

Have you ever set up a race course? I’ve done parkrun many times but this was another level!

Have you ever had a takeaway pizza as a pre-race meal?

How far would you drive for a parkrun?

Yeovil parkrun – getting my Y

The parkrun Alphabet Challenge has genuinely been something I’ve loved doing. Like I’ve said many times before, ticking things off a list and “collecting” things is something I really enjoy (weird? Maybe. But I know I’m not alone in this). So I had three letters left… Y, I, and Z (X doesn’t currently exist). So it was time to crack on with getting Y.

There aren’t many Y’s about in the UK sadly. As much as I’d love to have gone all the way to the beautiful city of York to do it as everyone suggested, it was just a bit too far for a quick day-trip. I’m trying to not spend stupid money doing this (bearing in mind that I have a small trip to Poland to do soon to get Z…). Living in Southampton made York a slightly unrealistic quick day-trip option. Instead, I settled with going to Yeovil. This was still about two hours away so not exactly a quick trip and the very ‘lovely’ early morning leaving time of 6.30am.

Happily I didn’t have to go solo as Kyle joined me. I had previously warned him about my driving skills and navigational ability so it was no surprise to anyone when I missed a crucial turning and added 10 more miles to the journey making our ETA somewhat dangerously close to the start time. Remember, I never add contingency time. I live in Anna La La Land where everything is jolly and nothing goes wrong.We did actually arrive in OK timing (well, we got to the car park in good timing). There were marshals to direct us in to park which I’d never seen before at a parkrun. But I guess made sense as it was located at Montacute House, which was a National Trust location, and the parking was a bit all over the place.Anywho we parked, went to the loo (absolutely crucial for me and my tiny bladder) and walked to the starting area. It was right in front of the Montacute House and I started taking some photos as it was so pretty. Oneof the marshals gently told us perhaps we’d like to get ready rather than take photos and were we tourists? As we replied we heard “go!”. Blimey!! We were off already! We just hadn’t noticed the time fly by. We raced after the other runners, frantically starting our watches, and cracked on.Yeovil parkrun course is all on grass and the start is a bit of a free-for-all as you leg it off in a big group away from the house. Then it narrows up as you join a rough path, still on grass. There are a lot of sheep about so you do have to be mindful of them and the copious amounts of sheep poo everywhere. It was mostly out of the shade and as the sun was beating down already it proved to be quite a sweaty run.Kyle and I were able to overtake a fair number of people as we caught up with the pack and get ourselves into a comfortable position amongst the other runners. A herd of sheep ran across the path of the runners at one point which was quite amusing. And you had to watch your foot placings quite keenly because it was rough underneath, meaning ankles could turn quite easily. Basically it wasn’t a parkrun to switch off from and enjoy the views, you had to be aware of your surroundings.I felt like the first half dragged on and I felt quite unfit. But by mile two I got a second wind and found myself stretching on and starting to overtake more people as I gained speed. The course isn’t hilly but it’s fairly undulating, with little hills and dips, which gave for good downhill surges. There’s a final significant incline at the end and then it’s round the corner to the finish. I was happy to finish as second female with 22:42. Not too shabby!After quickly freshening up in the toilets (which were lovely by the way) and getting changed, we headed off for some breakfast. A friend at work had recommended the Cow and Apple in Yeovil itself so we headed there.We got a table outside and sat in the blazing sunshine sweating away. The food was good though. A good spot – and lots of people watching opportunities (there are some funny sorts out and about on a Saturday morning aren’t there!).From Yeovil we drove to Dorchester. It seemed silly to not make a day of it driving all that way and people had recommended Dorchester as a good place to mosey about. And it has a dinosaur museum! With my strange love of dinosaurs this seemed perfect. It was quite an amusing experience though. Clearly more geared towards children…though it was a fun way to spend an hour or so. It was quite interactive in places and we both made the mistake of “smelling a t-rex’s breath”. URGH. It was VILE. It was a good giggle tho.We grabbed a quick rocky road snack to share (just OK, not the best I’ve ever had) and then headed off for pit-stop number three, the Sculpture by the Lakes, just outside of the main area of Dorchester in Pallington Lakes. We weren’t really sure what to expect but it had lots of really good reviews and the weather seemed ideal.It was VERY posh. Like you could tell straight away it was a “nice” place. Located in the back-garden (I use this term VERY loosely) of the artist’s house was this incredible set-up of lakes with beautiful sculptures located in different spots around and a posh café (well restaurant really) to sit and enjoy food and drink at. We paid for two tickets (£10 each, not too bad considering you could stay all day and just enjoy the scenery and have a picnic if you fancied) and then wandered around the lake. It was beautiful and the sculptures were amazing. There were birds, words and sentences and fruit… it was very diverse but all impressive. There were a number of people just laying about in the sun or having a picnic but you could tell this was not a place for, as my dad says, the great unwashed! And children and dogs were strictly not allowed.We spent a good amount of time walking around and sitting by the water before deciding that the call for food might be coming as our earlier fry-up wore off. Our next stop was Bournemouth where I knew an amazing burger spot was and had wanted to excuse to try it out for ages. I’d been following Monty’s Lounge on Instagram for ages…oh the food porn! Kyle told the waitress I was a bit of an obsessed customer and she laughed – she also gave us some extra special burger sauce as well so hey it helps to be keen in these scenarios! We both ordered the same… chicken wings to start, a pulled pork topped burger with fries (I went for sweet potato) and a very tasty brownie with ice cream for pudding. A pretty damn tasty meal! I’m both sad and happy that this place is just that bit too far from me…

Then we headed home. I was planning a long run the next day and was already dreading it. I’d have to get up early to beat the heat and after an early morning on Saturday I was a bit miffed to lose another one. But if I laid in then I’d be running 15 miles (my planned run) in the heat at peak times. I walked Alfie when I got in and despaired at how cool it felt that evening. Why couldn’t it be like this tomorrow? As I walked around I actually found myself not feeling too tired… what if I just went out for a few miles tonight and subtracted them from my run the next day to make things easier?

 

Before I could change my mind, I dropped Alfie back off at home, got back into my running gear and headed out. Ok first mile felt…OK. Asides from the fact that I was super full and could feel brownie bouncing around the place, I felt energised and comfortable running.

In my head I planned three miles but as the run went on I just felt better and better. I decided to just go with the flow and see how far I could go. It was now about 9pm and the weather was SO nice. It reminded me of the runs I’ve had during autumn, that blissful time of cool weather running. Yes I did feel a little sick and a little like I might be revisiting my dinner, but otherwise it was a FANTASTIC run. I ran down the seafront and just thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was one of those runs where you could go forever. A run that reminded you why you loved running.As I got back towards my house I added another mile on, embracing my enthusiasm, and totalled 12 miles in the end. I was ecstatic!A solid run at a solid pace feeling amazing, with the bonus of not being sick. Hurrah!

Have you ever done a long run quite soon after a big meal?

Do you enjoy going round museums?

Do you like to do day-trips to visit different places?

 

Jersey parkrun

I’m so chuffed I can finally say I’ve done the Jersey parkrun! Since I found out the parkrun Alphabet Challenge was a ‘thing’ I’ve been trying to do different parkruns hitting all the letters (apart from X – there isn’t one yet). It’s silly but I find it really good fun.

There are so many parkruns all over the UK (and the world) so it gets you to different places, meeting new people and just having a laugh really. Over this year I’ve managed to tick off quite a few letters. I’m strangely very proud of myself.Anyway this weekend saw my friend Mike and I getting a flight from Southampton to Jersey so I could tick off ‘J’. Mike loves parkrun too but isn’t quite as mad as me with the Alphabet Challenge – though he’s now becoming more persuaded!

I took a half day Friday so we could fly Friday afternoon. The flight was super easy and fast. We also both only packed hand luggage which made things even cheaper and easier. The plane was tiny and barely half full. We quickly arrived in Jersey and found a huge T-rex which was amusing!It even moved and roared! I love dinosaurs (weird I know) so this made my day straight away. We got out of the tiny airport and walked straight onto the number 15 bus. The buses in jersey are fantastic. It’s £2 for wherever you’re going. Handily one was going literally just then to St. Helier where we were staying. Twenty minutes later we arrived at Liberation Station, the main bus station. Super easy even for me! To be fair, neither Mike or I are the most savvy of people so it was highly likely something was going to go wrong on our little holiday… fingers crossed eh.We got two rooms at the Avoca Guest House, which was about a ten minute walk from the station.It was tiny and old school British quaint but it did the job and the owners were lovely and friendly. It was also cheap! It included breakfast but as we would be parkrunning Saturday and then half marathoning Sunday we wouldn’t be partaking.Bless Mike, he offered to take the smaller of the two rooms where the bathroom was shared with one of the other rooms (how weird) and I got the bigger room with an en suite. I was very grateful. Especially as I do always need a wee during the night.

We ditched our bags and then headed for a walk to see the local area and to find some dinner. Unfortunately it seemed like the rest of Jersey also had this idea and most places were rammed. We tried a great looking little Mexican, La Hacienda, but it was fully booked. St. Helier is a small seaside town – very British but also felt a little bit French, which would make sense considering it’s proximity to the country. And the weather was beautiful. Sunny and warm!

Eventually we found a place called the Canteen and Bar which looked reasonable enough. It wouldn’t have been our first choice but by this point we were super hungry and tired. We shared some falafels and chicken “cakes” and I had chilli beef and cheese on nachos (not my usual but after seeing someone with nachos in the Mexican I was now craving them) and it was very tasty.For pudding we decided to drop into a crêperie that we’d spotted on our meanderings. Mike had salted caramel and I had Belgium milk and white chocolate with honeycomb toffee crunch ice cream. Absolutely heavenly! Every bite was like an explosion of ‘to die for’ taste. I’m not usually a pancake or crêpe fan but this was just divine.Then we parted to our little rooms ready for parkrun in the morning. Through the night I was intermittently woken up by thunder and lightning. It went on pretty much the entire night and we woke up to it still carrying on and heavily raining. Uh oh. I’d only packed summer clothes and no coat! This had not been forecasted at all.Luckily I’d brought my umbrella and Mike was able to borrow one of the guest house’s umbrellas and we walked to the bus stop. We’d have gotten absolutely soaked had we not had umbrellas but it was still rather grim. I’d packed two options for that morning’s run (a strappy tank and my parkrun apricot t-shirt) and in the end wore both as I was cold. The bus journey took about 20 minutes and we picked up more parkrunners as we went. One of them told us that it might be cancelled due to the thunder and lightning and they were making a decision whether to go through with it or not. WHAT!!! Noooooo! Imagine coming all this way and not being able to get my ‘J’! Thankfully when we arrived I saw a Tweet that said it was to go ahead as long as the thunderstorm held off. Thank goodness.The parkrun was located next to the Les Quennevais sports centre. [Side note: check out Paul Jeffrey’s blog for some more good info on this parkrun]. We had a quick mosey about before heading back into the shelter of the sports centre. I had a quick wee and then eventually headed out for a mile warm-up. Absolutely necessary as I was quite chilly. The cycle track near the sports centre was exactly a mile which was perfect and gave us a good idea of what a section of the course would be like.We met lots of other lovely parkrunners as we waited about. There were a lot of tourists like us who had pretty much just come to do the parkrun (for the Alphabet Challenge like us) and some also doing the half the next day. There was one couple that had only flown in that morning and would be flying back out that afternoon. I mean that is mental! More mental that us…One woman, Marie, just had Jersey left to do for the challenge – which was super exciting. She also gave me lots of solid information about how to get ‘Z’ (Zary in Poland) and some tips on how to travel there and where to stay. Super helpful. She had a t-shirt made with all the letters she’d done. Very dedicated. Annoyingly I’d made the mistake of not bringing my cow cowl… everyone was wearing theirs!

The first timer’s brief was hilarious because it was pretty much 80% of the field who moved over to hear the briefing. The marshal had to grab the megaphone so everyone could hear. And then we lined up ready to go. Though I’d checked the results for last week and seen over 300 people had done it, this week there was definitely less than 200. The run director did an introduction and then said “three, two, parkrun!” and apparently we were off! It was mental. I started running and realised there weren’t too many females ahead of me and decided to be stupid and throw caution to the wind and try and get first female. Stupid because of the the half the next day but ehhh.

I’d had a fairly rubbish week of running, with every run feeling hard and lethargic, so I was pretty sure the half wouldn’t go to plan, which is why I decided to capitalise on feeling good then and getting something out of the parkrun in terms of placing.

The first mile ran round the sports centre area on tarmac and had a slight, brief incline but otherwise was flat. Then we headed off along the railway line path which was compacted sand/trail and easy to run on. It was also nice and flat but you did have to do some puddle dodging. I managed to overtake the females in front of me and was now first girl. I felt the run was comfortably tough and the gentle rain helped cool me down – wearing two tops had not been the right decision!

After the first turnaround I realised the wind had been behind us and now it was against us… ehhh. Eventually though we ran down a small slope and got to another turnaround. It made me think, what’s better running downhill against the wind or running uphill with the wind behind? It didn’t matter hugely as we were soon heading out from this path and back to the tarmac where the finish was on the grass. I was surprised to get my token and see I’d gotten 7th place! I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such a high placing before. My time was 20:55. Happy days!But yeah, probably not the wisest decision. And my calf, which had been feeling super tight all week, was niggling a little. Of course. I signed the guest book and chatted to the others while I waited for Mike who wasn’t too far behind me (24:09). He too was supposed to be taking it easy but had run a bit harder than planned.We then headed upstairs of the sports centre to have a hot drink with a few of the other tourists. We enjoyed a lovely cup of tea with them, swapping running and parkrun stories. It’s so nice to meet people as crazy as yourself 😉 One of them, Richard, had got a hire car and offered to drop us back at our guest house which was very nice of him.

At this point Mike and I were ready to eat our own arms as we hadn’t had breakfast yet. It was about 1pm by the time we’d showered and found ourselves a cafe to eat in! It was a lovely place called Nude Food Cafe, which was kind of a health food cafe I guess. Lots of Buddha bowls, raw desserts and smoothies. We went for a rather healthified fry-up… poached eggs, pancetta, spinach, mushrooms, sweet potato and sourdough toast. It was delicious but I hoovered it up very quickly.Afterwards we shared a raw caramel shortbread. It was made out of coconut sugar, almost butter and things like that. It wasn’t overly sweet but it was nice.Thankfully it had stopped raining and was starting to brighten up. From the cafe we decided to randomly head north on the bus to go to do a bit of exploring. To be honest, our decision was down to what sounded good on the map and what bus was available within the next twenty minutes. So we headed to Greve de Lecq. It was to be an adventure!It was definitely a good choice though. The sun was out and we were at a beautiful bay.The beach had barely a handful of people on it and yet the sun was beating down. It was so beautiful. We obviously had to dip our feet into the sea as well. Stupidly I did manage to put my hoodie in the only puddle of water on the rocks…what an idiot. But as the sun was out I thankfully didn’t need it anymore.From the beach we then did a two mile hike along a clifftop path. It was a very windy and narrow path and at times very steep – not exactly ideal the day before a half but it was so beautiful and peaceful we didn’t care.This was such a random little excursion. We were so proud of ourselves to have found such a gem of a location and something fun to do that afternoon. I mean we were really just there for parkrun and the race, so everything extra was a bonus. And this was a definite bonus!

Eventually we caught the bus back and headed straight to the Mexican from the previous night, determined to get ourselves seated. We literally rocked up as soon as it opened. Amazingly they had one tiny table available (apparently the restaurant is always booked up for two week’s in advance!).

I’m so glad we got this table because honestly this is one of the best tasting meals I’ve had in ages. Like literally every mouthful was an explosion of taste. It was incredible. I had chicken wings to start (I know, I know, always the same) and then ‘deconstructed’ lamb tacos for main. GOD it was good.Mike had a burger with slow cooked pork on it. Honestly the food was incredible. I never wanted it to end! I had churros for pudding which were delicious as well but really the tacos were the main event. Maybe not ideal food for the next day’s half but it was worth it!

I’ll save the half for another post…

Have you ever been to Jersey before?

What is your Mexican dish of choice? Normally I love fajitas.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever travelled for a race or run?