Brownies, street bingo and running happy

Another week of lockdown living…

Kyle and I are still working from home, sorting out our new house, and staying “alert”… whatever that means. We ventured to Ikea a few days after it opened and thankfully didn’t have to wait in any crazy queues. In fact, we literally just walked in. Of course we had to keep away from other people and you couldn’t go inside one of the “fake rooms” if someone else was. But it wasn’t busy at all so felt all very normal. We got some bits and pieces but as I only have a Fiat 500, couldn’t get the armchair we wanted. But we’re hopefully going to ask a favour from Kyle’s brother who has a larger car to see if he can help us.

Ikea selfie

It’s been a lot easier buying furniture online. We bought a chest of drawers and a matching wardrobe. Unfortunately it required assembling and really wasn’t that simple. Pages of diagrams, parts and screws…

We built the drawers one weekend and the wardrobe the next. It literally took us four hours a piece and we still managed to mess it up somehow. We got the top of the drawers on backwards and managed to nail into the wrong areas in the wardrobe. Ah well, they’re both standing and doing the job intended so that’s all that matters!

Every week we’ve been getting involved with the “street bingo” that happens on our road at 2pm on Sundays. It’s run by an amazing guy who runs an Instagram page called @dontsufferinsilence1 which is all about improving mental health and looking out for each other. He got everyone together (he’s been doing it for like 10 weeks!) and loads of people sit on their doorstep and do the bingo and get involved (social distanced of course).

I’ve never seen anything like it in real life. To be honest it was somewhat overwhelming to begin with because suddenly you’re being introduced to loads of people but everyone is super chatty and lovely.

So we’ve sat outside with Alfie and did the bingo and got to know our neighbours each week. It’s really nice to see how much everyone looks out for each other – like proper old school Britain, you know?

Kyle thinks he’s cool…

What’s also been lovely is more house warming presents from lovely people! And OMG trying the BEST brownies I’ve ever had. Our lovely friend Shell sent us some Gower Brownies and Jesus Christ they were incredible. Perfect texture, dense gooey delicious squares of pure heaven. They don’t look like they’ll rock your world but honestly they were amazing. So moreish as well 😉

Running is still going well, happily! Without having any marathons coming up and not being injured or coming back from an injury has left me in a novel position whereby I can literally run whatever I want and my long runs have naturally just fell in the 15-18 mile region, which I love.

I don’t really set a concrete distance in my brain before I head out but I have a rough range. It’s very relaxed and it’s actually one of my favourite runs of the week.

Last weekend Kyle joined me for 6 miles before heading  home and I carried on to get 16 in total. It was windy and hot – not a great combo, but it was nice to zone out to the MarathonTalk podcast and enjoy the sunshine.

And less getting lost as the weeks go on, winning! I reallly love my long run route because it’s so varied, road, trail, promenade along the beach, coastal paths, and super flat! Perhaps not the greatest training for hills but ehhh I fully enjoy it.

What’s your ideal long run distance?

Do you enjoy putting furniture together? I’ve been surprised at how many people said they love it!

Have you ever been involved in something like street bingo?

What I’m Loving Lately – May/June

Time is flying but also moving so slowly, eh?

So Kyle and I have been continuing to settle in nicely to our new little home and while there is still so much to do (not one room is fully “finished” yet) we’re loving our new way of life.

Luckily we’ve only had to paint one wall, and that was only because we wanted to change the colour. The whole house was left in such pristine condition and the previous owners had only recently decorated so thankfully it’s just furniture and organising that we need to sort out. (But big thank you shout out to the previous owners for their kindness and thoroughness – and the bottle of fizz they left us!)

Though we did have a rather stressful time of lack of internet which wasn’t fun. Ordinarily this would just be annoying but because Kyle and I are working from home we needed something to cover us for the week that our internet wouldn’t be in place. We bought a mobile broadband thing (like a dongle I guess) to cover us but the signal wasn’t great. But after a week or so, we now have proper internet and it’s lovely and fast. Work has become so much easier I can tell you! No more fuzzy stuttering Team meetings or waiting for a webpage to load.

My standing desk is doing well!

Anyway I thought I’d catch you up with some things I’ve been loving lately…House warming gifts

We’ve been really touched and grateful for lots of lovely cards and presents we’ve received since arriving. Kyle’s sister, Lucy, popped round (well, stood outside the door 2 metres away!) and gave us these gorgeous cupcakes she’d made (she’s actually got a baking Instagram that she’s looking into starting as a full-on business –> @dirrty.cakes to check her out).

There were some lemon flavoured ones and some chocolate flavoured ones. And they were INCREDIBLE. I’m not usually a big chocolate cake fan but damn these were so good.

So fantastic detail!

My lovely friend Emma made us some DELICIOUS rocky road as well and had it sent to us. This was amazing!

We adore rocky road and honestly it really didn’t last long… Such a thoughtful and lovely gift.

Marshmallows, cherries, biscuits… so good

And Kyle’s dad gave us a selection of Tony’s Chocolonely.

This was incredible! So many flavours I’ve never tried. My favourite is the dark chocolate and pretzel one, but the almond and honey was SO good too. A bit like Toblerone. Trying to pace ourselves and not eat them all at one.

FourfiveCBD Immunity Bundle

I was also recently sent the fiveCBDd Immunity Bundle, which contains a whole host of cool products:

  • CBD Effervescent Multivitamins (containing 5mg/0.13% Broad Spectrum CBD, vitamins, minerals and amino acids
  • Advanced Daily Biotic
  • Raw Organic Cacao Powder
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Vegan Vitamin D3 2000iu supplements
  • Peanut Choc protein bar
  • Food-Grown KSM-66 Ashwagandha supplements

What’s cool is that they have a charity partnership with Compassion London who are supporting those most in need during the pandemic – which is just such a fantastic scheme. When you purchase this box, £5 is donated to help provide three meals to vulnerable people, the homeless and key workers.

The CBD multivitamin is easy to take – you just drop a tablet into water (like the nuun or High 5 hydration tabs). It has sweet organge flavour and 5mg of CBD per tablet.

The cacao powder which is untreated, high in magnesium and iron (good against fatigue) and can be used in protein shakes or baking (a great addition to porridge too!).

I didn’t know what Ashwagandha was before getting this box, but apparently it’s clinically proven to reduce feelings of anxiety and lower cortisol, as well as aid muscle recovery. It’s also supposed to help optimise libido in men and women, wahay 😉

The Daily Biotic provides Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, which is apparently the most scientifically studied strain of beneficial bacteria. This helps to support general wellbeing and keep you healthy.

I really like this selection box as it has a bit of everything. And to be honest, recently it’s been a big help what with all the stress of moving house, sorting things out and what with one with and another… it’s been a nice boost to my health I feel.

33 Fuel Ultimate Daily Greens

And to top  up my health even more, I’ve also been sent the Ultimate Daily Greens from 33 Fuel. I’ve tried other products from 33 Fuel and really like them (their chia seed energy gels are fantastic – I did a review of them a while ago).

The Ultimate Daily Greens is like a power drink for your health, containing good stuff like wheatgrass, barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, kale, spinach and without sugar, sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings.

Also what I love is that they don’t give you a plastic scoop – the world definitely needs less plastic (side note: MyProtein should really get on board with this as people who regularly buy protein powders have no need for more scoops! Just buy one separately if you need it). For this you only need a tablespoon so you can work that out yourself. You just add it to water and guzzle away.

I add it to squash and it’s perfect. You can add it to your porridge as well if you so desire. It’s an easy mix-in.

So things are very good round here at the moment. With lots of fantastic (and super tasty!) stuff from lots of lovely people and cool companies 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

Do you add anything to your porridge?

Do you have a favourite Tony’s Chocolonely flavour?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the immunity box and daily greens for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

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 Bournemouth – running, food and cats

I feel like I’m so behind and so out of touch with my blog at the moment and it’s really making me sad.

I love my blog. It’s like a diary. I like documenting things, putting photos up and rambling. And if people read it (and thank you if you do :)) it’s a huge bonus.

Work has been taking up my mental capacity to write. It’s not just that it’s busy, but it involves a lot of brain resource that leaves me dwindling at the end of the day. And weekends are packed with everything that doesn’t get done in the week.

And not just work, but life in general. It seems to be moving 1,000mph. It’s good – really good. I’m very happy and content and life is moving in the direction I want, but my blog has unfortunately taken a back seat.

But there’s so much I want to talk about! So I’ll do my best…

A couple of weekends ago Kyle and I went to Bournemouth. Bournemouth is about an hour from us and to be honest we had no real reason to go other than it would be nice to go somewhere and there were a couple of foodie/fun related things we wanted to try.

So we booked a very inexpensive Airbnb for the Friday night and went straight from work. We’ve been so lucky with Airbnb’s in the past. We’ve had one that was strange but not unpleasant but every other one has been absolutely fine, which is obviously why we keep doing it.

This one in Bournemouth though wasn’t great. It was described as a “quiet family home” but on arrival it was clear it was more a “chaotic family home” with children racing around the place and dogs barking loudly. It was a tricky to find out from the host where we were allowed to go, where the bathroom was, did we need a key and trying to explain to them what our movements would be (if we meet the host we like to explain our plans so we’re not just coming and going through their house – especially as we were going to be off early for a run in the morning). She didn’t seem interested at all or like she knew what was even going on.

In the later evening (past 10pm) the children were still running about and playing (they were very young children) and to top it off at 6am we were woken by a loud argument outside our door (lots of “you need to f****** get out”) which was VERY unsettling. To the point that we left ASAP and didn’t even shower after our run. You win some, you lose some!

But anyway. We had a fairly good dinner on Friday night in a place called Mokobo Burger (we still don’t know how to pronounce it).

I had three different types of chicken wings which were really good (though one lot was super spicy) and Kyle had a burger and loaded fries. I have to say that while my wings were good, Kyle’s burger was a bit disappointing (it was slightly burnt) and the “loaded” fries were just insipid fries with a small lump of pulled pork on top… which came out about 10 minutes after our mains.

It was a shame because originally we were going to go to our favourite burger place (Monty’s Burger Lounge) but decided to try somewhere new. Sadly it was loud and hard to talk to each other and just a bit “meh”.

So far, not great for our trip! We woke up early to get in five miles before Bournemouth parkrun as we wanted to get eight miles total for the day. We had grand ideas of running 2.5 miles before and after but in the end it just seemed simpler to get out and do the 5 miles and finish with parkrun.

It was a nice 5 miles, though somewhat unsatisfying because we didn’t really have a route planned so decided to run 2.5 miles towards the sea, and then back again. We could just see the sea a few 100 metres in the distance before heading back.

Obviously I know this already but I really do prefer longer distances. My body just gets into the groove after about three miles and feels nice and in the zone. So by the time we got to parkrun I was ready to go.

Bournemouth parkrun is literally right next to the football ground so getting there felt very much like I had a half marathon or full marathon to run as this was always where the portaloos were for those races in October! But no, just 5k left today.

We lined up in a big huddle and then we were off. It was a bit chaotic to begin with as we were literally just running across a field. It bottlenecked in slightly but was still rather crowded as we got onto the first loop. I found the first mile tough – not because of how I felt running but because of the crowding. It was hard to overtake people and I got wedged in to lots of people. I was scared to knock fellow runners or step on their heels. Eventually though we spaced out and I was able to get past people running slower than myself.

Then I got into my stride. It was like I was suddenly unleashed and I was off. I checked my watch – woah where had that pace come from? And I felt fantastic! Yes it was hard but it was hard in a very manageable way. It felt gooood!

We finished the loop for the second time and then headed off onto another loop for the half (ish?) of the run. I found myself picking runners off and running past. Grimacing but in a good way, I pushed the pace and finished strong.

My time was 22:43, which I’m super pleased with! And eight miles in the bag.

And it was Kyle’s chance to rock his 50th parkrun t-shirt for the first time! (Super impressed how quickly it had arrived).

After parkrun we walked back to the Airbnb and then took our stuff and left sharpish. We then headed to the centre for breakfast at the lovely South Coast Roast. It was very “hipster” and I mean that in the nicest way. Lots of milk options, environmentally friendly and all the avocado options on the menu.

We went for the Bondi breakfast which had avocado toast, tomatoes, poached eggs, chilli jam, pickles (I LOVE pickles!) and then you could add extras. So I added halloumi and Kyle had chorizo. It was delicious.

From there we walked to the nearby Cat Café. Yes, you read that right. It’s a cat shelter but built as a café so you can go in and spend time with the cats (on their terms of course…) and order drinks as well.

We were introduced to the cats and told the rules (no picking them up, no stoking while they’re asleep, being respectful to them etc.) and then ordered some coffees.

Well, I have to say that while the cats were beautiful and the café was friendly and lovely, I happened to meet the most grumpy cat who when I tried to stroke lashed out at my hand and made me bleed slightly. I mean, I am a dog person and I’m not quite as savvy with cats so it was probably my own fault…  but it was a bit of a shock.

A tiny wound to be fair

The other cats were fast asleep so in the end it was a bit of a dud experience. It very much felt like we were there because the cats had allowed us there and we were blessed to be in their presence… As a dog person this is a strange concept to me as dogs tend to just love you and want your company regardless. Cats are definitely more picky and temperamental. They were gorgeous though and well looked after.

Then we headed home! Definitely a weekend of ups and downs – though we enjoyed ourselves regardless.

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Do you need a decent warm up before you get into a run?

Have you ever had a bad experience with a hotel or Airbnb?