Running in a different world

The world is certainly feeling a bit different at the moment, isn’t it?

It’s crazy and scary and sometimes overwhelming. It feels very odd to be sitting down each evening listening to the Prime Minister. It feels like we’re going through some sort of world war… except the people are on one side and nature is on the other (arguable it’s always been this way I suppose).

I’m trying my best to be sensible in all that I do… if I take Alfie for a walk, I avoid people… if I go to the shop I space myself apart from others, if I run I cross roads or give wide berths to people I pass. I just hope that we don’t get forced indoors completely. I just hope everyone follows the “rules” of social distancing.

Sadly this has meant that Kyle and I are social distancing from each other too. He lives with his family and I live with mine, and we can’t keep seeing each other (physically). One of us could take something to the other. And with my mum being a nurse, it’s just a big risk.

It involved a lot of heart ache and sadness to make this decision. I mean, technically the decision was made for us – this is bigger than us, of course. But it’s hard when you know some others aren’t being as stringent. It’s frustrating and honestly I’ve cried a few many tears and stamped my feet, got grumpy and snapped at loved ones (Kyle very much included) and then realised I can’t change anything and I also can’t risk anything. Other people might be happy to up the risk, but we can’t.

So we’ve been Facetiming, House Partying (well, attempting – I feel very old trying to work this app out) and messaging. Sending photos of silly things like what we’re having for dinner, Alfie, and randomness throughout our day. It helps. It’s tough not having a timeframe on this. Is it weeks? Is it months? Who knows.

I’ve been trying to do some home workouts since this all started (yes, I’m one of those people posting their workouts online). Sharing these things helps me stay motivated and apparently it helps others so I’ll keep doing it.

Trying to do circuits in my living with the small amount of equipment I have is tough but actually quite fun. It’s nice to mix it up a bit. I do four rounds of seven exercises and focus on injury prevention rather than burning calories. So I do a lot of leg and glutes work with my resistance band and core work. It helps wake me up in the morning and get set for the day at least!

Running has still been going on. I’ve basically finished my marathon training plan now as next weekend would have been Rotterdam and I continued with the long runs I had scheduled regardless. I don’t know what to do now really. Just run for fun and enjoyment. I’m happy with that.

Of course I’ve been running solo now. But a couple of weeks ago (before the more strict rules were in place) Kyle and I ran to Southsea together from his house. I did 3.5 miles beforehand and then we ran together to the promenade.

I had originally intended to “only” do 16 miles, but I felt so good on the run I ran a bit more. I just felt like everything had slotted into place and I could keep running. It was just one of those lovely runs, and the sun was shining!

In the back of my mind though I was thinking “this could be my last long run” and that definitely motivated me a bit more.

Last weekend was an entirely different long run. While I felt good running, I felt a bit sad and lonely. No Kyle to run with, the roads so quiet, my route altered to avoid the usual busier promenade on the coast… it just felt very different indeed.

I felt the constant guilt of running as well… should I be running? But I luckily do live in a relatively quiet area and the routes I choose are normally, at the best of times, very quiet and so now are almost dead. And with the roads being quiet as well, it’s very easy to jump onto them if I do happen upon a walker to give enough space.

I listened to my film review podcast from BBC 5 Live while running and lifted my spirits somewhat. Despite there being no films being released, the presenters still managed to do the podcast and talk about movies and just generally keep things going. It was a nice moment of normality in this madness.

So what now? Who knows. But I’m going to continue running and being sensible. Hope you’re all safe and well!

How are you doing during this time?

Are you working from home?

Are you still running?

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?

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?

Such a lovely weekend in Brighton

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.

And black pudding (which they forgot at first)

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.

An oat cappucino in the Plant Room

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.

They threw in a couple of freebies of Eton Mess and Fruit Salad teas too

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 😉

Kyle orderd a chicken burger and cheesy fries with chicken gravy

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 🙂

Do you like hot dogs?

Who are your favourite comedians?

Do you like cocktails?

Chicago Food Recap

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.

A mix of BBQ and Garlic Paremsan cheese

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.

Pulled chicken 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).