Last long run before the marathon and some SUP

Well I’m just sat here waiting for the Goodwood Marathon to get cancelled…

I won’t be angry because I do understand but it’s frustrating. I mean, who knows it might still happen. The New Forest Marathon happened, though with no spectators. Originally my parents and Kyle’s mum were going to come to support me at Goodwood (this Sunday *gulp*) but obviously this was far too optimistic. Understandably they’re encouraging minimal supporters. The likelihood will be that it’ll just be Kyle and I going. I feel a bit bad for Kyle as it is such a boring  marathon to spectate (let alone run) but he has an iPad and his Switch so he can amuse himself quite happily with minimal effort to hurry to meet me on the course in different places.

(Side note: we always joke that I’m very much a “Hoff” and he’s a “Homer” in our relationship – MarathonTalk reference – I love to be moving and exercising and get itchy feet very easily, whereas Kyle’s default is not to move, to chill and do as little exercise as possible. We balance each other well. So this marathon is ideal that it involves minimal running about for him.)

I did my last long run this weekend gone. I quite like to do 13-16 miles the week before a marathon. It just works for me. And as I haven’t done quite as good a marathon lead-up to this race as I would normally (because I’ve been training for a moving target due to COVID) so I did 16 miles.

It wasn’t as good as my 18 miler the week before. I felt a bit meh and that it was hard work, but it is what it is. It was quite windy along the coast and I planned my run to try and have minimal headwind but there were times I was running straight at it which was tiring. No idea what this will mean for Sunday. I think I’m just going to see how I feel – which, let’s be honest, is no different to how I approach most races! The first mile will be telling. At least if there’s a headwind somewhere on the route I’ll get a tailwind too due to the course being basically a ring.

After my 16 miles I headed to Winchester to meet my lovely friend Bhuvana. Due to one thing and another, we hadn’t seen each other for far too long. It was just so lovely to catch up with her. We had so much to talk about.

We went to our usual lunch location where we’ve  been a few times before. I had the vegan BBQ salad (which I promptly de-veganised by adding smoked cheese and chicken) and we nattered away about everything.

We had a lovely walk along the river and then decided to head back to the train station. At this point I realised I had about 10 minutes to catch my next train (otherwise I had to wait an hour) so we picked up the pace and run-walked quickly to the station. With seconds to spare I leapt onto the train. But Bhuvana (who was heading to Basingstoke) shouted that it was the wrong train! She’s checked with the train guy and it wasn’t my train. So I quickly leapt off again practically just as it left the station. Whew!

Bhuvana said she thought she’d double-check for me (always safe – I’m just a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal – definitely stung me a few times). She told me it wasn’t going to Southampton. Ah no! I wasn’t going to Southampton, I was going to Portsmouth! The train guy overheard and confirmed, yep that the train I jumped off of was indeed the Portsmouth train. Haha what a farce! To be fair to Bhuvana, all the times we’ve met up previously I’ve always come from Southampton where I used to live. It was fine in the end – I mean, I really should have checked before jumping on blindly. It just meant we had a bit more time to chat 🙂

Sunday after a gentle 3 mile run, Kyle and I met up with his family to do some stand up paddle boarding in Chichester (a lake not the sea thankfully). I was adamant that I didn’t want to fall into the water because, rather vainly, I’d washed my hair the day before and didn’t want to deal with the faff of washing it again so soon (#longhairproblems). But this was the first time Kyle and I had ever done this so we were nervous. It was a warm day and I was wearing clothes I was happy to get wet but still.

Anyway we were given life jackets, were quickly taught the basics then off we went! Surprisingly I didn’t find it too tricky.

I got my balance and managed to stand up. I enjoyed how peaceful it was just floating and paddling away. And AMAZINGLY I didn’t fall in! Even when the waves picked up after the speedboat zoomed by. Kyle did fall in a few times but I put this down to him being rather taller and bigger than me. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour we were out on the lake but it was quite the upper body workout. I was actually quite envious of the others having had nice cool dips in the lake – whereas I was bone dry but sweating! But I was happy for my hair 😉

Then we headed into Chichester where we had lunch at Trents. I, of course, went for a giant platter of wings. The waiter was both shocked and impressed at my chicken wing eating capacity. The wings were good but a little plain…and humongous! I sadly didn’t manage them all.

It was a lovely weekend all in all. Now just creeping towards the marathon, nervous, apprehensive but excited. Please still  happen!

Have you ever done stand up paddle boarding?

Do you like water sports?

Old favourites and getting some structure into my running

A lot to catch up on recently…

So firstly, I’ve become a bit green fingered in our new house (and garden). I never thought this day would come. I’ve never been interested in plants or flowers before but now I’m loving that we have a beautiful little garden. I’ve planted some flowers, got some lovely little house plants and I’m carefully looking after them.

I’m trying really hard to not let them die, reading up on how to care for them and watering them as often as they should be. Who’d have thought some don’t like too much watering and some get very sad without it (my temperamental little peace lily drooped significantly when I forgot about him for a bit).

Well anyway, it’s bringing me great joy, much to my parent’s and Kyle’s amusement as I’ve never shown such an interest before.

The other weekend we also had a very lovely visit from my friend Emma. She popped down from Reading for a run and some brunch. Originally we’d planned 14 miles but when it came down to it neither of us were feeling it and decided to bump it down to 5 miles instead.

It was a lovely relaxed run and we were able to catch up whilst seeing the sea and enjoying some trails nearby to where I live.

Chicken, bacon, potato, cheese, coleslaw, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, onion, salad, berries

We then walked with Kyle down to Southsea for brunch at The Parade Tearooms. I had the rather un-brunch-like Jayne Salad which was, as always, ginormous but so tasty.

We then walked to The Tenth Hole to pick out some cakes – it had to be done of course! The Bakewell slice was particularly delicious I must say. We are so lucky to live within walking distance to these places – though not close enough to be a real danger thankfully 😉

This weekend gone Kyle and I house sat/dog sat for my parents while they visited my grandparents in Wales. At first we were very happy because my parents have a hot tub (!!) and we were able to get a takeaway from our favourite Indian restaurant (honestly, I’ve never found as good an Indian as the Stubbington Tandoori).

But then during the middle of the night the happiness drained away as their dogs barked several times during the night and I had to stand in the garden at 3am while they did their business. This happened every single night we were there… it was exhausting. How my parents live with this I do not know. I couldn’t remember them being that bad when I lived there so perhaps they were sad my parents weren’t there, who knows. Either way it was ANNOYING. It also meant one morning we didn’t wake up until 10am!!

Anyway, despite these problematic sleeps, Kyle and I had a lovely 6 miles walk along the Titchfield Canal and Hill Head seafront. Thankfully we were sensible enough to put on suntan lotion as it was very sunny and warm. It was a lovely walk. Asides from running, I just really love to walk, explore and be outside (you might already know this I expect).

Sunlight making us squint

We also enjoyed a lovely 4 miles run down to the beach followed by a huge full English fry-up at the Penguin Café (another of our favourites in the area).

It was delicious. It was lovely to sit outside in the sunshine with the sea breeze and eat a ridiculously large breakfast. Then we walked the 2.5 miles back – which certainly helped the full stomach I can tell you!

Then the next day I got up and headed out for a solo long run. I really didn’t know how far I fancied going or where I wanted to go so just went with enjoying some of my favourite routes at random.

I listened to the new-to-me podcast RunPod which I’m really enjoying. Lots of good interviews with people about running and in the end did 10 miles. It felt exactly like what I needed. Not too hard, or too far, or too fast… just a nice gentle plod. I’ve started paying attention a bit more to my heart rate. I won’t say that I’m specifically training using my HR, but I definitely want to keep an eye on it. When I say I’m going to go and do an easy run I want to make sure this actually happens.

So much of my running is just one pace. I feel a bit of a fraud compared to other runners who do specific sessions. They run their easy runs easy and their hard runs hard. Whereas I just…run. Sometimes I go a bit faster, sometimes a bit slower. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. And while I like to have a bit of freedom with my running and never want to go back to when I was going to the track every week, I do think a bit of structure would help. My motivation to run is never based on times or PB’s, but to some degree I know I need to have a bit more structure to at least keep me motivated and interested. With no races around the corner, my running is becoming a bit stale.

And on the subject of races… I was half-way through writing this post, about to say “guess what! I’ve just signed up for the Reykjavik Marathon – in like two weeks!” and was super excited. And then literally just got an email to say it’d been cancelled. That email came through mere hours after signing up.

I know I was probably too hasty to sign up with everything going on but it seemed like Iceland was fairly safe and they seemed pretty confident. *Sighs* guess not. I think Kyle and I will still go to Iceland (I was so super organised I’d booked flights and an Airbnb – yes, I KNOW, super keen). We’ll only go for a few days but hopefully it’ll be nice. I’ve been to Iceland on my own ages ago so it’ll be lovely to go back with Kyle 🙂

Are you going anywhere on holiday?

Have you got any races planned that are still going ahead?

Well that escalated quickly…

Life has really taken a dramatic twist hasn’t it?

Since the last time I posted (blissfully happy in a bubble of long running and marathon hopes), well, everything has changed.

For us in the UK things have really ramped up quickly in the last week. From advice of washing hands regularly to now schools closing and instructions to work from home, avoiding social spaces and parkrun cancellations.

It’s undoubtedly a scary and uncertain time but I don’t want this post to be all about that because let’s be honest we all know what’s happening and it’s pretty overwhelming and consuming. I’m actually quite glad to now be working from home because it’s all everyone talks about in the office. So I’m at home with a little set-up in my room adjusting to this new way of life.

Anyway, on to what this blog is about: RUNNING. Of course all the races I’d signed up for have been cancelled or postponed. I had the Eastleigh 10k this weekend, of course Rotterdam, and then I’d optimistically signed up to the Southampton marathon as a back-up, but that too has been postponed. Rightly so. And parkrun being cancelled.

Of course this is all the right thing to do. Not going out to social areas, not mixing unnecessarily, limiting chance of exposure. My dad has a heart condition so I’m worried. But we can only control what we can control and there’s point wasting emotional energy on things outside of that. Obviously easier said than done, but I’m trying.

So no marathon in the near future and a bunch of long runs and weeks’ of trainings that seem worthless now on paper. However, for me I really enjoy the process of marathon training so personally it’s not a waste. It’s just a shame there’s not a big shebang of a race to celebrate those long runs.

That said, I’m almost certain I will run 26.2 miles in April. My plan is to run the distance around where I live. I mean, it’s going to be ridiculously tough – so much harder than if it was a race as it’ll just be me on my tod running along. But part of me is curious as to whether I can actually do this… We’ll see. My plan would probably be to run it over the Easter weekend. I’d properly plan a route, maybe get my family out to support me, do everything I’d normally do. Well, watch this space!

Last weekend Kyle and I ran 18 miles together. We both knew Rotterdam had been cancelled and potentially the miles were “pointless” but we wanted to do it anyway as we’d planned it and had mentally geared up for it. Kyle is not a huge long distance fan and now that Rotterdam isn’t happening he’ll drop his mileage back down. It makes sense.

It’s such a shame for him because he did so well with the long runs – far better than last time when he trained for the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon and got injured halfway. He was very much on for a solid race. But such is life right now. He’ll be able to train up again if he wants to (Rotterdam is technically postponed until later in the year so this is real possibility all being well in the world, of course).

The 18 miler we did around where I live, my usual along the coast style long run which I love so much. We reversed the route and set off Sunday morning. We had a more relaxed start as no parkrun to get to (this was to be a “true” long run in the sense we wouldn’t be stopping or sandwiching anything in the middle). The wind was a bit blustery which was somewhat annoying  but generally the run went really well.

It’s funny though because when you’ve been doing a run route in one direction for so long, when you change it suddenly it makes everything different and you notice all these hills that you previously hadn’t!

However, we maintained a decent pace and then towards the end I stretched it out a tiny bit just to get my legs going. It’s my usual way of running long runs that I like to speed up a bit towards the end if I have the energy. Kyle wasn’t far behind at all though.

When we got back to mine my parents handed me a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that a lovely friend had dropped off after I’d done a favour for him. What a fantastic way to finish a run, I tell you! We didn’t eat them straight away 😉

Instead we showered and then celebrated with an almighty carvery. Honestly, so satisfying and extra delicious after all those miles!

I had roast gammon with all the trimmings. It was glorious. The doughnuts were had later when we were chilling. Perfection!

Delicious Lotus Biscoff

Anyway, stay safe and healthy everyone!

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?

Are still long running if you’ve had a race cancellation?

17 mile parkrun sandwich

So marathon training for Rotterdam is still going well.

I mean it could all be for nothing if it gets cancelled though. Races and events are dropping all over the place. Europe doesn’t feel a particularly stable place right now – and who would have thought the problem would be a virus and not Brexit eh.

And not only this but FlyBe went bust which scuppered our plans a little. We were heading out from Southampton Airport which is so easy for us being local. It meant we could go after work on the Friday rather than take that day off. Alas, we’re now flying from Gatwick.

We managed to save some money so that’s something! And we will get our money back apparently (after the legal dust has settled) so it’s not a terrible outcome (for us at least).

Anyway, with all that in mind, we’ve decided we’ll still go to Rotterdam even if the marathon is cancelled. It’ll be a nice trip as we’ve both never been to The Netherlands and though perhaps crazy for me, it might be nice to go on holiday for holiday’s sake rather than a run 😉

That said… amazingly there’s now a Z parkrun nearby too! Well, I say “nearby”, it’d be about an hour’s journey I think but if the marathon isn’t on we’ll definitely do that on the Saturday instead of doing the much closer parkrun to where we’re staying. Either way, a parkrun will happen! This is very exciting. They only just started up in The Netherlands so I am STOKED.

So the training. Kyle and I had a 17 miler in the plan for Saturday. We decided to combine it with parkrun to break it up a bit, at least mentally. While I don’t mind the long runs (in fact, I really do love them most of the time) it was something Kyle wasn’t looking forward to. And 15 miles to 17 miles is a large step.

So to help ease us into it we planned a 10 mile route to Lee-On-Solent parkrun, then we’d do the parkrun, then run four miles back. By chunking it like this it was easier to digest.

We started off running at around 7.30am (ish… we were a tad late) and in our heads it was just “let’s run 10 miles”, which is a far more manageable distance. Unfortunately due to my very “fine-tuned” planning (ahem…) we got to about 8.5 miles and it was almost 8.50am. Right, we needed to pick it up a bit.

We started discussing strategies. If we got close (and happily because we were running along the coast we would eventually be able to see parkrun in the distance) we could make the decision about whether to do parkrun or just run on and find some more miles as we headed back to mine.

Very luckily it started about five minutes late and by the time we arrived they had literally just started. So we ran to the start line, turned around and began the parkrun course (basically back to where we’d come from).

The only snag in the plan was that because Lee-On-Solent parkrun is quite narrow it meant that we had to navigate our way through runners who were running a bit slower than us. This was easier for me as I’m a little person whereas Kyle is a bigger person so the gaps I could meander through, he could not.

Kyle mentioned it was somewhat frustrating (our own fault though of course) but actually it probably helped keep his pace consistent. I increased my pace a bit more as I wanted to get a bit of a tempo on and it worked nicely for us both in what we wanted from the  long run.

It was hardwork and I felt like I was putting in a lot of effort for a pace that wasn’t, when all said and done, *that* fast (relatively speaking). A bit like when you “sprint” the final 0.2 of a marathon when realistically you’re crawling along.

But it was good to get the legs working hard. All good training.

After we finished we scanned our barcodes quickly then immediately carried on with the run. It was so nice to know we just had to run home. We picked up the pace on the final two miles and we felt like we cruised home. 17 miles, done and dusted.

A real confidence boosting run for us both. And really helps bolster Kyle for the coming 18 miles we have planned for this weekend…

To celebrate of course we needed something epic. So we headed to 7Bone Burger in Portsmouth that afternoon (after a proper refuel of porridge for me and scrambled egg on toast for Kyle of course #health). It did not disappoint!

I had a chicken burger with an added halloumi patty (ABSOLUTELY A MUST IF YOU GO THERE), with a side of halloumi fries and a portion of chicken wings. I mean, it was truly magical.

#health

Do you like to celebrate long runs?

Do you like a parkrun sandwich long run?

Have you ever been late to a parkrun? I was once 10 minutes late to Eastleigh which was a bit stressful!

Our trip to London and all the food

I’m so behind on my posts. I have so much to talk about as well!

I’ll start first with an incredible weekend I had with Kyle that as just SO good. Kyle and I were super excited about it. It was literally all our favourite things, but sadly without any running.

We planned to go to London for my Christmas present, which Kyle had gotten me. A chicken wings tour! I mean, this was a perfect gift and a perfect excuse for us to spend a night in London and enjoy ourselves.

Originally we’d planned to do the tour on the Friday, stay over and then do parkrun and brunch Saturday. However it turned out that the chicken wings thing was only available Wednesday or Sunday… ehhh. So no parkrun for us sadly as we’d be travelling up Sunday morning to get there for the wings at lunch, then head home Monday after brunch.

It’s funny because after we got there we wondered why we hadn’t brought our running kit so we could do a cheeky run Monday morning. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but I think we were both just too focused on the food.

We did Lee-On-Solent parkrun on Saturday though and ran 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles back to the car so we could get in a “long run” of just over 6 miles. Obviously 6 miles isn’t that long in comparison to previous runs I’ve done but I’m being super sensible about this comeback and I don’t want to just jump into a 10 miler and bugger everything up.

Anyway, parkrun was good. I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice and had a nice run with Kyle. We took it relatively easy and had a very enjoyable run. We made sure not to stand too close to the back as we have done in the past as it gets crazy busy at Lee and it’s a fairly narrow start.

Sunday we woke up early without an alarm – which is always nice. We got into a bad habit of sleeping very late a few weeks ago which made us feel terrible. I say late, it was about 9am, but this is late for us. We just felt so groggy and like we’d had too much sleep. As lovely as lie-ins are I’d rather naturally wake up earlier and feel refreshed. We relaxed in bed for a while as our train wasn’t until 10 and I decided to go for another short run.

I wanted to be running two days in a row again and adding another 3 mile run to the weekend would help me gently transition into this. The run went really well. No issues and it felt OK (asides from it being around Clanfield which is so fricking hilly!).

It was a fantastic Airbnb!

After the run we got ready and headed to London on the train. It was very tight on timings to get to Shoreditch, check in at our Airbnb (we love an Airbnb) and then meet our tour guide for the wings experience. But we made it bang on time!

It was just us on the tour which was really nice (the tour can have up to 15 people I think). The woman who was our guide (I’m embarrassed to say that while we did get her name I don’t think I’d be able to spell it correctly) was SO lovely. She was friendly, knew so much about the local area and just the right amount of involved. (If you’re interested it’s THIS experience).

She took us to Orange Buffalo to begin with an we got to try two different heat levels. Both flavours were fantastic and it came with a thick blue cheese dip. Honest to God, I could bathe in this stuff. One of my absolute favourite things in the entire world is a buffalo chicken wing with a thick cold blue cheese dip. NOTHING beats that texture and flavour combo for me. I am a simple creature I know.

She showed us around the local area (an area I’d heard about but never been myself), with all the street art, the food market, Banksy artwork… it was fascinating. It was hustling and bustling and busy with electrically (and far cooler) dressed people. It felt very “hip” (and by saying hip I have now fully separated myself from any form of coolness, I do realise this). She had fantastic tid-bits of information and interesting local knowledge.

Cool street art and a tree with lots of trainers hanging from it

The second stop was in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called Coqfighter. It was very exciting for me because I’d heard about these places on social media (follow my Instagram @AnnaTheCake88 for my foodie loving) and now I was getting to actually go there.

The wings were so different from this location because they were of the fried chicken variety so had a crispy Vodka and sesame coating and came with a soy sauce and chilli dip. Damn they were SO good. So different to what I’ve usually had before. The soy sauce dip, dear lord, was good. And the crispiness of the chicken just rocked my world. I was in heaven.

Then we headed, somewhat sadly, to our last location called the Blue Kitchen. We had double fried buffalo wings and Szechuan wings (pictured above). I didn’t think anything could top what we’d had so far but these were FRICKING AMAZING. Double fried? Yes please. In my excitement I sadly didn’t get a picture of the buffalo…but they were fantastic I assure you.

I think I amused our guide a bit because I was clearly VERY into my wings and did a good job of polishing everything off. She was amazed that we ran as much as we did as well – all the marathons and parkruns. It was fun talking to her about it. I felt like we just bamboozled her with our weird lives of eating and running haha.

After the wings tour, we headed to Doughnut Time for some pudding. I mean I was pretty full to be honest but we wanted to get some of these oh so Instagrammable doughnuts. Kyle was VERY excited. We’ve both had them before and had decided as a treat to get a box (and take a couple home for Kyle’s parents – my parents declined as they’re both on Slimming World).

We got over-excited and bought NINE. I mean, Jesus, they’re not exactly cheap either. I think they are a little over-priced and over-hyped for what they are, but it was good fun choosing and enjoying the moment.

We took a big box back with us to the Airbnb and enjoyed a few there. The ones I’d chosen (Sia Later, Ice Ice Bae and Caramacklemore) were delicious. The Sia Later (red velvet) was the best, Ice Ice Bae (with cookie dough and brownie bites) was VERY sweet but tasty and the Caramacklemore (white chocolate) was somewhat disappointing, but possibly because I was quite sugared out by that point. Yes, I was that greedy and ate three. I fully enjoyed them 🙂

Caramacklemore

The next morning, after a lovely little lie-in, we walked to Covent Garden with a little stop in Starbucks for a coffee. We had brunch booked for 12 at the Big Easy (blows my mind that this was the earlier we could book – surely this is now lunch?). We’ve had brunch here before and it’s all you can eat and it’s just fantastic. I mean, if you’re a big meat-eater of course.

We did have a little stop in ANOTHER Doughnut Time, but this time the Doughtnut Time “World”. You can really tell how much they bank on social media for their notoriety.

The shop was set up specifically for taking photos and promoting to Instagram. While it was good fun and quite quirky, it felt a little odd and, well, clinical.

I imagine when they have events it’s a bit better but just Kyle and I in the shop meant it was a bit weird. And the posters around the shop saying that the props were for photos only furthered this. I obviously fully enjoy social media and taking photos, but it was a tad overkill (tho tbf, it had worked for us right?).

Anyway, Kyle bought another of the OG doughnuts because he enjoyed it so much the day before and wanted to take one home. I refrained – I’d eaten three the day before and had one to take home, so I was happy.

Then we got to the Big Easy in Covent Garden and enjoyed even more excess of food. BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chips, cornbread, coleslaw and beans.

It was fantastic and we left very full! The staff are very attentive and brought out more of what we asked and we enjoyed ourselves a lot, but we were now dunzo’ed on food haha.

So a whole lot of eating and a little bit of running!

Do you like all you can eat experiences?

Are you a doughnut fan?

Do you like social media? Do you use it a lot?