Ah what a shame it’s all over! Christmas is done and dusted.
I had a fantastic festive time, despite only getting the bank holiday days off (my own choice, granted). But otherwise it was brilliant. I spent it with my family, Kyle and Kyle’s family and it was honestly so lovely.
We all spent Christmas Eve altogether and it just made me feel all the warm and fuzzies. I’m a very family-centred person (how could I still live at home being the age I am if I didn’t get on with my parents so well??) so it’s important to me that Kyle gets on with my family and I get on adore his family, and the fact that they all get on together is just the cherry on top.
And of course over the Christmas period, I enjoyed so much good food… Christmas dinners, buffet fodder, chocolate (damn those chocolate sprouts from Fat Face were incredible), cheese (so much cheese) and everything between.
Kyle and I had a fantastic Christmas party with work – about one of the only times I drink and get a bit merry.
Meaning our fry up the next day at the local café Breezes in Hill Head was SO necessary.
And then we saw Star Wars (we enjoyed it but there are a few niggles). A perfect day off!
Christmas Day itself was lovely. Kyle and I headed to Christmas parkrun. I’ll do a more thorough post on my knee, but it felt OK beforehand so I thought I’d risk it as I so wanted to do the Christmas Day parkrun with Kyle.
We dressed as festively as we could be bothered and went to Lee-On-Solent parkrun rather than my usual Netley purely because it’s literally 5 minutes down the road whereas Netley is over 30 minutes away. Time is precious of Christmas Day, especially when the families are waiting for us!
We took the run quite easy. My knee is still not perfect but it didn’t hurt. My time was 25L50. Kyle forgot his barcode which pained my soul SO MUCH. He wouldn’t get his Christmas Day challenge! He’s also only two away from his 50…how frustrating!
Then we quickly headed back to my house to spend Christmas morning with my family. We opened presents, had Buck’s Fizz and it was lovely. Then Kyle headed back to his family and I cracked on to help my dad with the cooking, something we both really enjoy.
We had the usual roast turkey and all the trimmings which is just so good.
And then enjoyed a lovely post-food family walk before I headed off to Kyle’s to spend the rest of the day there. We played lots of games, watched Gavin and Stacey (BRILLIANT, fingers crossed for Series 4!) and ate a lot of chocolate and leftovers. Lovely 🙂
Boxing Day we went to Kyle’s dad’s house and I ate FAR too much cheese. Camembert, brie, goat’s cheese, stilton, cheddar… oh god I was pretty much 80% cheese afterwards. Loved it though.
Then I was back to work which royally sucked. But it was nice and quiet (although very dull) so it wasn’t too bad.
Unfortunately I did not do New Year’s Day double parkrun. I wanted to, don’t get me wrong, but it was the most sensible thing to do. My knee has good days and bad days. The good days are definitely outweighing the bad days but it’s just not ready to do two 5ks back to back.
Sure I could have done one but in the end we decided actually we’d just prefer a lie-in and laze about a bit – something we rarely do when I’m fully into my running. While it has been very sad not running, it has been nice enjoying these lazy weekends. We did however go to the gym instead. Not for any reason other than get a good sweat on and then justifiably laze about more 😉
And now it’s back to the grind, back to business and hopefully on to a stronger, healthier 2020. Running, I will be back!
Despite my frustrations and venting in my last post and feeling down about my knee, I do have a very happy post now recapping what was a rather lovely trip to Brighton.
Honestly, it was possibly one of my favourite trips – and favourite trips away with Kyle. I mean they’re all good of course, but this one was really special.
We had the Friday off of work and after a quick gym visit (yes, Kyle now goes to the gym as well) we had a Harvester breakfast with Kyle’s mum.
It’s definitely quantity over quality but it did the trick. I even chose vegan sausages in the hope they might be Linda McCartney (no such luck).
Then we headed up to Brighton on the train (to avoid any car clamping issues like last year…). We stayed in the same Airbnb which was right in the heart of the lanes and so made everything super accessible. The only thing that wouldn’t have been that accessible would have been parkrun but as I’m not running it wasn’t an issue (sadly – we all know the distance of a parkrun would never put me off going).
After settling in we went for a walk around the lanes and the eclectic mix of independent shops. It was a shame to see that the Choccywoccydoodah shop had closed down!
Luckily the rain held off and as the darkness came in and the Christmas lights came on, it looked very magical. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed myself. There’s something so lovely about Brighton. I love how unique it is, how it’s near the sea, how colourful everything is and how many food and coffee places there are.
I bought some home-made fudge for Kyle’s dad for Christmas, a tree decoration for Kyle and I for whenever we manage to move out (a saga in itself trying to sell my flat during the current political and economic climate) and some DELICIOUS smelling tea from Bird and Blend, which the lovely Maria from RunningCupcake always raves about.
I bought some Birthday Cake tea (so sweet and vanilla smelling) and some hazlenut flavoured tea for Kyle for Christmas.
We were booked to
see Daniel Sloss, a relatively new comedian, at the Dome at 7.30pm. I’d done my
research, of course, and had a table booked at MEATLiquor before the show. I
was very excited as it looked exactly like the place Kyle and I love (horribly unhealthy,
disgustingly greasy and immensely tasty).
We ordered some
pre-food drinks. I got a gin-based cocktail which was delicious. We never
normally drink but we decided to splash out a bit. One was enough though, we
weren’t quite that adventurous ha.
For food, I ordered
the Ripper, which was a deep-fried bacon wrapped beef frank with lots of
relish, mustard and pickled cucumbers. This was INCREDIBLE.
I used to think I
didn’t like hot dogs but since Chicago (where I didn’t manage to try one) I’ve
been having a craving for one. I’m so glad I decided to go for something a bit
different. Though of course, I ordered chicken wings as well… just in case it was
a fail 😉
The chicken wings
were delicious. Dripping in Buffalo sauce and with a thick creamy blue cheese
dip, I was in heaven. And I also got some Dead Hippie sauce (which is their
speciality)… amazing. It was a mix of tomato ketchup, mayo and Worcestershire
sauce and some other bits. Yum.
Then we headed to
see Daniel Sloss. Daniel Sloss is quite a dark black humour style comedian. He
jokes about quite serious issues – but in a way that’s not offensive or
directly making fun of people or the issue but finding light in darkness, if
that makes sense. I imagine he’s quite divisive but Kyle and I find him very
funny. We first saw him on Netflix and really enjoyed it.
His Brighton show was fantastic. Like REALLY good. He talked about quite hard-hitting issues, like feminism, the “me too” movement, rape (yes, really) and toxic masculinity. As a female it was really good to hear a white male talk about these issues and take ownership and responsibility of certain cultures. Kyle really enjoyed it as well and we left animatedly chatting and discussing what we’d heard. I really recommend!
The next morning, no parkrun, but a lovely lie-in and then we headed to for breakfast. We decided to go a bit healthier and went to LoveFit Cafe which was lovely. I had vanilla protein porridge and a toffee protein shake. Ooh er!
I do love porridge so this was delicious! The texture wasn’t quite my usual stodgy cemet mix style, but it was good enough. Kyle had a grilled cooked breakfast. Check us out being all balanced and health 😉
We had such a lovely time. I don’t think I stopped smiling once. A much needed distraction from my silly knee 🙂
I feel like I haven’t had a proper catch-up post in ages!
I’m still not running but that’s a post for another day as I have a fair amount of uncertainty – which could be cleared up soon (potentially). But anyway, I’ve been busy eating lots of good food and doing fun things so let’s talk about that, eh?
A few weeks ago I went to visit my lovely friend, Charlotte, in Liverpool. Amazingly my plane took off from Southampton and landed in Manchester – which is one step more than I managed the last time I tried to get there!
I got the train from Manchester to Liverpool and arrived safe and sound at her house. Charlotte used to live in Brighton which, from Portsmouth, is a whole lot easier (and cheaper) to get to but it’s nice to go somewhere new and spend time with her, so it was worth it.
I sadly was not able to do the local parkrun but instead enjoyed a rather wonderful lie-in instead (well, after 8am which for me is long). We then headed into town to mosey about.
We went into the largest LUSH in the world (actually the world). It was four stories!
It had its own spa it was that fancy. Charlotte and I actually had a guided tour round the spa and honestly if the lady had said she had availability there and then we would have signed up I think. It sounded divine!
We even had some
vegan cakes on the top floor from the pop-up bakery, Nakery. Very tasty, but
most definitely more healthy than indulgent. Lovely bit of cashew frosting on
What I also loved is there efforts for zero packaging at the Nakery.
For lunch we had an incredible meal in Almost Famous Burger. It was literally on the recommendation from a friend off of Instagram and the fact that it was chucking it down that we made the snap choice to head there. And what a good choice it was!
For lunch we had an incredible meal in Almost Famous Burger. It was literally on the recommendation from a friend off of Instagram and the fact that it was chucking it down that we made the snap choice to head there. And what a good choice it was!
I had the Halloween
special which was a double bacon cheeseburger with a fried chicken burger on
top and on top of that a corndog dipped
in candied bacon. I mean, what even is life?
I’ve never had a
corndog and it really was very tasty! It’s a shame it’s not really a British
thing. The burger itself was very good. Charlotte and I also shared waffle
fries with bacon dust and nacho cheese. Why have I also never tried waffle
fries?! These were incredible.
Charlotte had a
vegan burger and it looked equally impressive. She said it was good. What a
On the subject of
vegan food, I also recently saw my friend Michelle for a vegan brunch at the
absolutely wonderful Off Beet restaurant in the New Forest. I’ve been to Off
Beet a few times and it’s never disappointed. Entirely plant-based and with
such inventive menu, it’s such a treat to go there. They change the menu
regularly according to the season and the food always looks so beautiful. The
chefs are so good!
I had the No Eggy Omelette. It was filled with a cashew cream (there it is again!) and a fake smoked salmon made from marinated carrot. Honestly I wondered how they’d get away with that but it was SO fricking tasty. I really enjoyed this!
We also walked around the farm shop next door. Love that they sell ecofriendly detergents in a way that you don’t have to keep buying plastic bottles.
As always it was
lovely to catch up with Michelle – someone who also struggles a lot with
injuries. We had a good old moan 🙂
And then recently Kyle and I went up to Bristol to see more friends and enjoy a rather epic roast dinner. Having been on the carvery train for a bit, I was ready to have something a bit more posh. Quality over quantity I guess (though there is DEFINITELY a place for quantity when it comes to food in my eyes as you well know!). We went to a steakhouse called Pasture and it was INCREDIBLE.
I had pork and beef and it was delicious.
Served with it was creamed leeks and the most fluffy, crispy potatoes. I’m not usually a potato fan (very boring and bland in my opinion) but these were something special.
We were stuffed! But of course you do always have a separate stomach for pudding…
Chocolate brownie with a molten chocolate sauce, honeycomb ice cream and honeycomb pieces. I mean, anything served with molten chocolate sauce is a winner in my book. This was incredible.
So despite the lack of running, I’ve still been enjoying all the good food and fun times as I would normally. I’m of course desperate to get back to running but I’m being patient for now.
Ahh our Chicago trip seems so long away now. But the memories are good 🙂
Staying in three different AirBnb’s helped extend our reach of where was easily accessible to go sightseeing (and eating). I did a bit of research before we went (one of my favourite things to do pre-holiday it must be said) and found a few top contenders for the best deep pan pizzas in Chicago.
Deep pan is a BIG deal in Chicago. One of the top rated was called Pequod’s. It was lucky we stayed in Wicker Park for the first night because in all honesty we probably wouldn’t have gone there otherwise because it was quite far out from our other Airbnb locations. I mentioned this meal a few posts ago, so go check that out.
Another pizza place we tried out was Lou Malnati’s and was actually one of our final meals. This was another high contender on all the lists of “best pizza”. As a chain there were many all over Chicago. It was very similar to Pequod’s in terms of how long the pizza took to prepare and cook (over 30 minutes) but I have to say, I far more enjoyed this pizza. And I don’t want to really as I always prefer more independent food places over franchises, but it is what it is.
I think the reason I preferred it more is because there wasn’t quite as much dough. It still had a thick base but it was a bit firmer and crispier. When we took a slice from the pan it held its shape better.
It was a lot more cheesy as well – in fact, one slice alone had 730 calories. That is crazy. As I always say tho, you’re on holiday and for me it’s part and parcel of enjoying myself out there.
I had two slices and a whole plate of chicken wings (a mix of buffalo and BBQ flavoured). And we had a sharer of mozzarella sticks.
I’m sure I don’t need to point out the obvious, but that’s a lot of food. It was very good though and we both enjoyed it immensely. But we were equally glad we had a 30 minutes’ walk back to the Airbnb to allow a bit of digestion and fresh air afterwards. Oof!
Of course it goes without saying I ate a lot of chicken wings.
Embarrassing really but I just fricking love them and the States do them so well. And not just your standard buffalo or BBQ fodder, but a range of flavours. While my previous favourite was the standard buffalo with a blue cheese dip (it has to have the dip), my new favourite is Garlic Parmesan butter. Hold. The. Boat. It was so good. No sauce needed, dripping in buttery cheesy goodness. Heavenly.
And I have no shame in admitting that I found this out when we ordered Uber Eats to the Airbnb and had an easy lazy dinner in. Out of a polystyrene box, it rocked my world. I’m not a posh person, I have no food snobbery, and I will happily enjoy it.
I did eat more
colourful food during my time abroad of course. I had a very tasty
“bowl” from Chipotle as an easy quick lunch. Tho the length of time
it took to order and get it really questions how much of a fast food this
really was…and it wasn’t cheap. I did double up on meat and add guacamole but
seriously it came to over $10!
And on the same Mexican note, we had a lovely Mexican street food style lunch in a lovely little spot in Little Italy called Chilango. I had a steak rice bowl with lots of salad and salsa.
The post marathon lunch was of course epic as well. We walked the not-very-far way back to our apartment, I showered (best shower of my life, it always is after a marathon) and then stumbled into the very close Bar Louie and proceeded to order far too much food, of which we of course ate most of.
nachos to share, chicken wings and pork “wings” (kind of ribs on a
stick) for me, Pretzels and a burger for Kyle. The waitress was impressed.
The nachos were incredible. I think Kyle humoured me by agreeing to order them because he only had a few while I hoovered them up like nobody’s business. The wings were good and the pork was delicious.
I mean, it all tasted like I’d just run 26.2 miles and there is no better seasoning than that! (Edit: you don’t have to run a marathon to eat all this. I have eaten like this many times and not run a marathon, but the fact you are so hungry and your muscles are so tired and in need of a refuel makes it taste that much more satisfying).
We tried many treats throughout our holiday too like cinnamon sugar pretzel bites at the Navy Pier.
We had Insomnia cookies after we visited the Lincoln Zoo. We loved how they also sell milk along side them and that the cookies were WARM.
And of course fro-yo as a mid-afternoon snack… with all the toppings.
Chicago was a fantastic place to mosey around, shop and enjoy the sights.
I think I enjoyed it a bit more than New York because it felt less hectic, less busy, less noisy and dirty. The weather was cold and sunny, and of course windy. We were lucky to have one rain day at the start but the rest was beautiful.
And to take home (and one evening’s snack of choice) I bought far too many M&M’s.
The different flavours were amazing! White Chocolate Peanut?! Almonds! Pretzels! Ahh it was such a good haul. Now just to pace myself with them…
What do you love eating in America?
Are there any foods you just have to try when on holiday?
Are you a sweet or savoury person? I used to think I was definitely sweet but I think I’m steering closer to savoury (though of course cake is always a winner for me).
The Chicago Marathon… my last Marathon Major. Jeeze it was stressful.
The week leading up to the race was honestly one of my worst pre-race weeks. Despite feeling fine (albeit tired) during the Bournemouth Half, the days afterwards my knee suddenly felt really stiff and not right. I was VERY confused. It had felt absolutely fine during the race and now it was swollen and sore.
And so the days leading up became project recovery and repair. I iced every night, elevated it, took ibuprofen and didn’t run at all. I was in panic mode. Luckily my very lovely physio had offered to give me a free hour session before I flew (he’s literally a legend) and so I could see him before I flew.
Actually I was supposed to see him Saturday but I’d gotten the date wrong, idiot that I am, so we’d rescheduled for the Wednesday night, the day before Kyle and I were flying. This was fortuitous because Saturday I was fine, but post-Bournemouth I was not!
He worked his magic and I prayed for the best. It’s funny because I’d been so worried about my hamstring and now I had me knee. My hamstring, ironically, felt normal. I was worried about the long flight aggravating it but it felt absolutely fine. I stood up and walked about a number of times but generally it was OK.
So many people on the flight were also going for the marathon which was cool. Spotting people with the Garmin’s and the race tops.
We arrived in Chicago midday, caught the train to Wicker Park, where we were staying for one night in our first Airbnb. Wicker Park was really cool. Very hipster.
We had dinner in the raved about Pequod’s pizzeria. I’d done my research, it had been consistently rated as number one in the deep pie lists.
I’m actually not a big pizza fan but Kyle would eat it every day if he could. He really loves a deep pan as well. I definitely prefer a thinner more rustic base, like sourdough but I was of course going to try it.
We were quite hungry and being the greedy couple that we are, ordered a medium and an order of chicken wings for me. I’d have a slice or two of the pizza but I was there for the wings really. The waitress was sceptical of our eating ability but I was like “lady, American portion sizes were made for us”.
The pizza took a solid 40 minutes to get to us – as the deep pans tend to. By the time it arrived with the wings I was about ready to eat Kyle’s arm. The pizza came in a giant dish and the waiter served us up a slice each. Now a normal human would probably fine with one of those slices. They were THICK. And the cheese pull (a new phrase I’ve only just become acquainted with) was Instagram worthy.
It was a sausage and mushroom cheese pizza and it was a monster. The base was so thick and doughy. The crust was caramelised burnt Parmesan, as they’re known for.
My wings were good… a mixture of buffalo and BBQ with the blue cheese on the side. I mean, they weren’t anything crazy. Decent wings, I was happy.
I had a couple of slices of the pizza… it was good, big chunks of sausage. Kyle really enjoyed it. It was a little too doughy for my tastes though. It was delicious but I wouldn’t go for it again. I’m more about the toppings!
The next day we headed from Wicker Park to downtown Chicago. We made a little coffee stop in a very cool place called The Wormhole which was full of retro gaming and film memorabilia.
Star Wars lifestyle cardboard characters, a DeLorean car and even an old school Nintendo with all the games. It was good fun.
Then we headed to our next Airbnb. SO fancy, we had the entire apartment. A great view, it’s own kitchen, bathroom and living area. It was very nice indeed. And literally 10 minutes from Grant Park and the Marathon start.
We had a lovely breakfast in Eggy’s Diner, which was just delicious. I had a turkey and goat’s cheese omelette with home fries.
We then headed to the Expo to pick up my bib and Kyle’s bib for the Chicago International 5k.
I was supposed to be running the 5k too but after some hard thinking (and excessive worrying and flustering) I decided not to risk my knee. I could support Kyle, who was going for a PB… and not just any PB, a sub-20 minute 5k! His PB currently stood at a few seconds over, so it was time to give it a blast.
The expo, like all the Majors’ expos, was impressive and big. A giant hall full of running-related vendors, race organisers and cool things to see. It was very busy though and in the Nike clothing area (the official sponsors) there were barely any small sizes. Luckily I picked up a long-sleeve top in small but it was by sheer chance!
I won’t lie though, I was honestly not that excited and feeling very nervous and a bit down. My knee was still swollen and stiff and I had a lot of doubts as to whether I’d get to the start line let alone finish.
As I hadn’t run at all since it had started feeling stiff I had no idea how it would feel when I started running. Would there be pain straight away? Would the pain happen later? I had no idea.
I became even more superstitious, finding wood and touching it every time we talked about each finishing or running.Numbers became weird,g important… the number 13 kept appearing for us. We noticed it appearing in all different places – the number of the booths was to pick my bib up from, the number of our apartment, the price of something we bought…the date of the race. Honestly I became a crazy woman. I don’t know how Kyle didn’t kill me.
What was cool though, in my bib packet it had instructions of how and where to pick my Six Star medal up from at the end of the race. I had a special QR tag on my bib and, if I so desired, I could wear an extra bib on my back to say I was running for my six star. Ha! Like I’d risk such am assumption. No way would I wear that. Tempting fate much, eh? All I could see was me stood at the side of the race, with that bib on my back as I hobbled with a dud knee trying to find Kyle. Nope.
That night to make life easy we decided to Uber Eats some good. We’d walked a lot and couldn’t be bothered to go out again.
Instead I ordered a very large portion of chicken wings (don’t judge me) and Kyle ordered a Philly cheesesteak AND a burger. In fairness, we hadn’t had lunch…I have to say that the wings were incredible. A mixture of BBQ and garlic Parmesan, oh my lord they were amazing. The garlic Parmesan were a new flavour to me and one I want to find again!
The next morning we were up early (a theme for the entire holiday really), ready for the 5k race.
We had to walk about 20 minutes to the start and it was bitterly cold. I was wearing ALL the layers as I wasn’t running, but Kyle just had his hoodie which he’d be handing to me before the start.I’ve never supported at a race on my own before and it was quite stressful for me.
I wanted to get to a good spot to cheer him on… but I wouldn’t have long due to the shortness of the race and his speed. So I headed off before he started.
Hilariously later on when I showed him a cool picture my friend had gotten with Paula Radcliffe Kyle said “oh wow is that Paula? I thought she was mixed race? I had a conversation with that lady at the start of the 5k.” WHAT. So Kyle had no idea he had been stood next to Paula Radcliffe and spoke about the weather with her!
Happily, Kyle did indeed break 20 minutes in the 5k. He got 19:56. Absolutely over the moon for him! I am so proud of him. We the headed quickly back so he could shower and then we headed to meet my lovely friends, who were also running the 5k and the marathon, for brunch.
These were the friends I’d made from the New York Marathon trip last year. It was great to see them but I did just further increase my nerves. In fact the entire day really was me being a bag of nerves and not much fun. Kyle did a fantastic job of looking after me and calming me down.
We did a lot of walking and sight seeing and then eventually it was time for my pre-race dinner and wind down. We went for a takeaway Blaze pizza which was just down the road from the Airbnb.
I got a chicken bbq pizza and we shared a side of garlic dough bites. Perfect!Then off to bed… I was definitely going to start the race, but I wasn’t sure at all how it would go.
Do you usually run the day before a marathon or big race?