Rants and Raves #40

I am in a very happy place right now. Life is good. I mean, a marathon PB does do that to you, but life in general asides from that is going well too. Here are some bits and bobs I’m loving and ranting about lately.

Rave: I had literally one of the best Mondays. My work had organised a bake sale to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer and it just so happened to be on the day after I’d run the Brighton Marathon. Usually the day of the marathon straight after you don’t feel like a whole lot (despite having dreamed of all the food you’ll eat). Though I did refuel well, I was more than ready the NEXT day to celebrate with a lot of sugar.Literally I was the first one at the cakes when the email was sent around and I loaded my plate up. For my first round, I had a slice of Victoria sponge (heavenly. Normally I’m not that big a fan as I find it a bit dull but my god this was a good one), a salted caramel cupcake and a white chocolate cookie.The salted caramel cupcake was very gooey and so delicious. Post lunch I had round two, another salted caramel cupcake (it was just so good the first time), another slice of Victoria sponge and a salted caramel crepe (which I heated in the microwave).Ā And in the afternoon, PURELY to be polite to my friend, I tried his chocolate cake… gahhhh so good.So I definitely think I’ve caught up with what I burnt the day before šŸ˜‰

Rant:Ā Still on the subject of cake… Right each to their own and all that, but it hurts my soul that Victoria Beckham had a watermelon cake for her birthday. Not a cake in the shape of a watermelon but a cake made of watermelon (some may argue that that’s not even a cake).She’s always been rumoured to not eat much and be super conscious of unhealthy food (and is super slim) so I’m not entirely surprised but COME ON. Just have a slice of cake. (Obviously I’m making a snap judgement here purely on what she projected to social media and have no idea if she did eat cake in her own time blah blah blah so this might be an unfair comment, but whatever).

Rave:Ā OK this is one for the ladies predominately. I’ve recently downloaded Clue. It’s a period tracking app.Now I am a big fan of apps that track stuff. I track my running, my steps, my sleep, sometimes I’ll have a mosey on MyFitnessPal if I want to know the nutritional value of something (I don’t track meals or food though – that would probably trigger me to become overly obsessed, which I certainly don’t want to be). But anyway, I like stats and data.

I love this app because you can fill in lots of lovely detail about your cycle (god I hate that word) – I won’t go into the specifics, but you know what I mean. Lots of things are affected by your hormones and period so you can fill out this data and then after a few months it can help forecast and predict things for you. It also tells you when you’re most fertile and ovulating and uses the data you put it to learn and predict. It’s also FREE and someone else can track your cycle too if you share it with them (yeah bit weird but hey whatever floats your boat).

Rave: I love movies. I love food. I LOVE the sound of Taste Film. Basically there’s a monthly film experience where the audience eats the food that’s served within the film (or basically relates to the themes of the film). Oh my god how good does this sound?? Apparently they did Bridget Jones’ Diary and actually had blue soup. The food looks amazing. I would so love to do this at some point. My only issue is it’s only in London… standard.

Rant: The London Marathon have changedĀ their Good For Age Entries. GFA is basically the way that some (UK based only I believe) runners can get into London ‘guaranteed’ by achieving a certain time. I was able to get into London last year through this method as my marathon PB was sub 3:45. Anyway, they’ve changed some of the criteria.Mary wrote a great blog post highlighting the changes and her own opinion on this so check that out as it’s a good read. My opinion is this. OK it’s a very over-subscribed marathon and I imagine they needed to re-asses and readjust the times (well, the men’s time mainly) because of the demand. I personally don’t think the current ballot system is the best approach (it’s not really explainedĀ how the ballot system picks people and some people believe it could be down to the London Marathon wanting a spread of different people etc. etc. so some people who have entered like five times still can’t get in). It’s VERY hard to get a place. So the GFA was one way for certain runners to get in.Now that’s fine. They can set whatever criteria they like – it’s their race. What I object wholeheartedly to is that they changed these timesĀ mid marathon season. It’s like changing where the goal posts are half-way through a football match. For example, James was aiming for a sub 3:05 at Brighton so he could then do London next year. If he’d have gotten 3:04:59 he’d have been super pleased – as of Sunday the GFA still stood that his age group with a sub 3:05 could get in. Then a day or so later, the times changed and suddenly he needed a sub-3. Luckily for him he did get a sub 3…but how devastating for people who didn’t but were momentarily happy thinking they had qualified? Or that they’re entire training had been focused on sub 3:05 and NOT sub 3? Five minutes is quite a chunk!

There were a lot of sad people on social media who had this exact issue. That said, I don’t think London is the be all and end all of marathons. Yes it’s easy for me to say that having done it, but I only really did it because it was a Major and I’m trying to do them all. Obviously it depends on your experience, but though IĀ didĀ have a good experience I wouldn’t say it was the best marathon – not even top three for me. It’s a faff. It’s super busy. It’s expensive to get to and from (don’t forget, they don’t send out the bibs either so you need to go to London twice). And most importantly, there are SO many other good marathons in the UK and outside the UK – better than London, in my opinion. London IS NOT the only marathon.

What do you think about qualifying times for races?

Have you ever done London?

Do you like health tracking apps?

Things I’m loving lately – February/March

I’m sure I write the same thing every year but it’s so nice to be getting into spring. The lighter evenings and mornings… ahh bliss (well, when it isn’t snowing of course).

Bodum Coffee flask: I get up ridiculously early for the gym as you may be aware. It’s actually not that bad anymore. I genuinly enjoy my super early mornings and going to the gym. It’s part of my routine. I’m verrrry routine based and it just fits nicely. I’m an early bird and get decent sleep so it’s only the initial alarm going off that is tough and then I’m awake and raring to go.One of the things I look forward to is my coffee in the car on the way to the gym. While I take Alfie for a walk (in ALL the layers) I’ve put my coffee on and it’s ready by the time I get back. I take it with me on the drive (I use a straw so it’s easier/safer to drink whilst driving) and it’s just bliss. Especially when it’s super cold. The coffee flask I use is a Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug. It is perfect. It’s never leaked or spilt (even when I fill it to the top) and it doesn’t burn my hand to hold while keeping my coffee super hot.

R8 Roller: This isn’t mine. I’ve stolen borrowed it off a friend after Marathon Talk Run Camp.I would buy one myself but it’s from the States so there’s a high shipping cost added on to the actual cost of the product, making it well over Ā£100. I’ve been wanting to try one of these for ages and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s fantastic for your quads and hamstring. Though it’s a bit more awkward on the calf because it also rolls the shin which is a little painful and the glutes are super awkward to do (I’ll stick to my tennis ball). But it’s SO good in terms of pressure and hitting trigger points. Love this.

Lava-Activ Hydration Belt:Ā I was sent this hydration belt to test out and review. It’s similar to a hydration belt I’ve used before and got on well. The only annoyance about my previous belt is that the bottles are TINY. During the summer I’d have to top them up mid-way through my long run at my “dodgy tap”. These (BPA-free!) bottles however are a bit bigger (2x 300ml), which is so much better.The belt sat nicely on my hips, didn’t chafe and didn’t bounce. The pocketĀ  is big enough for a few gels, coins and keys or your phone (apparently iPhoner 8’s are fine). It’s not a massive pocket but it’s big enough for what you need!Ā Ā There’s handily also a pocket divider to preventĀ items from rubbing against each other. There are also clips to attach a bib, but I’m not a huge fan of doing this.You can wear it either way I think, but I prefer the bottles at the back than the front. It’s predominately black, but the stripe on the pocket comes in three colours (orange, blue or green).Ā You can buy the belt on Amazon.

Cake: OK two things about cake. Firstly, I had the most amazing cake a couple of weekends ago and it ROCKED my world.It was salted caramel flavour and it was divine.Ā The icing was deliciously sticky. Ahhh to have that cake again…

And in other cake news… I’ve won one on Instagram!! I follow the very lovely Nicki Chan-Lam (@Nickichanlam on Instagram) who has a ridiculously huge appetite! And coming from me, that’s big. She posted a competition about a cake giveaway from the amazing bakery Whisk and Drizzle in London and my comment won! I mentioned that it was my mum’s 60th birthday in May. So I win a a Whisk and Drizzle cake which I can pick up when I’m in London (for my mum’s birthday). AMAZING AMAZING. Could IĀ be any more excited?? (said in Chandler’s voice).

Cinema trips: I went to the cinema twice last week. I took my mum to see Finding Your Feet for a Mother’s Day (but not on Mother’s Day as I wasn’t there) treat and she loved it. I mean, it ticked all her boxes of what she loves in a film so I was super pleased she enjoyed it. I enjoyed the night, but the film wasn’t really my kind of thing. I feel for my dad really as that film will probably now be on repeat for the rest of his life. That along with Bridget Jones’ Diary and Mama Mia!

The second cinema trip was with my running friend Joe. Bless him, he cooked me a hearty sausage casserole and then we headed to the very fancy Showcase cinema in Southampton. WITH RECLINING LEATHER CHAIRS. It was epically comfortable. We saw Shape of Water which was so good. It was very dream-like and gentle…you had to let yourself get swept along with it. It was very romantic and I just loved it.

Alfie:Ā And because Alfie hasn’t been featured on the blog in a while, here he is in all his cutness.My heart just melts.

Running: I completely forgot to mention this in my last post, but when I was at the Walsall Arboretum parkrun on Saturday I noticed a woman signing the run director’s instructions. How good is that! I’ve never seen that before but I thought it was such a fantastic idea. Typical parkrun eh being so inclusive and thoughtful šŸ˜‰

And this weekend is the Reading Half Marathon! I’m quite excited (despite hearing horrible rumours about how cold it’s going to be…please no more snow).I won’t be going for a PB as I’m not in that shape but I will give it a good go I think. I’m in a good place with my running, no niggles (EVERYONE TOUCH WOOD PLEASE) and I feel strong. It’ll be nice to see where I’m at in terms of putting some faster paces on for a long run. We shall see…

What are you loving lately?

Have you been to the cinema recently?

Do you foam roll?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the belt for free in exchange for a post on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Random bits and bobs about me

Last post before I go to Dubai, I thought I’d do a random one!

The lovelyĀ Allison from Running Princess nominated me for theĀ Liebster Award. It’s basically a fun way to connect with other bloggers and gives you a chance to answer some random questions and get to know the blogger a bit better. Allison gave me some questions to answer so let’s get started. Prepare for some randomness!

What inspired you to start your blog?

I read a lot of blogs back in the day, but not as many anymore. I’ve certainly honed down the list and realised what I actually like to read about as well as other bloggers stopping writing or moving into territories I’m not as interested in. Anyway, I started writing one because I love running and I love writing and I was inspired by these other amazing bloggers. I actually didn’t care if anyone read it or not. I just enjoyed the process and love having a way to track progress, events and basically memories. I can flick back to older posts and, after cringing a bit, relive moments of my life.

Like when I used to upload a photo of my Garmin watch on my wrist to show my run as Strava wasn’t around then… Or when I used to make more exciting breakfasts because I thought people would get bored hearing about how I eat porridge Ever. Singly. Day.When I used to post photos of my outfit of the day (I still do this now, just on Instagram, for my shame #OOTD).And when I used to post actual recipes and upload photos of my meals more regularly.Ā But what has always been consistent is my love for running and my love for cake šŸ˜‰

An elevator pitch for your blog?

Oh blimey… “Do you like running?? Do you like eating?? Come and get them both in my blog! Terms and conditions apply, mainly: running isn’t always sensible, consistent, injury-free or decent. And yes I really do eat everything I say I do, and yes I am that much of a greedy pig.”

If you could have a conversation with anyone (real or fictional) from any time, who would you choose and why?

I found this question really hard. I posed the question to Twitter and it gave me a lot of inspiration: Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, relatives no longer with us, Tony Stark,Ā Eluid Kipchoge, Hugh Laurie, Bill Murray and of course… God.

I feel like I need to answer this in a poignant way but actually I really don’t know. My geeky side thinks having a cup of tea with Dumbledore would be amazing. My foodie side and the fact that I have a weird attraction says Jamie Oliver (he’s bring snacks). Maybe Graham Norton as he’s funny and would have loads of celebrity anecdotes I’m sure.

If you had a theme tune, what song would you pick and why?

Jurassic Park theme music. Not sure why. It’s good theme music. Dramatic and exciting, exactly like my life isn’t šŸ˜‰

Where is your happy place?

Two places. First place: in bed with my super snuggly dog, Alfie, when he’s just woken up and is all cuddly and warm. Second place: the finish straight of a marathon and the walk to get the medal. No better feeling. Cheesy but literally the best.

Who would you most like to go for a run/cycle/workout with?

Weirdly, Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t think she’d be too fast for me to keep up with (she’s not a regular runner I believe, I’m not being mean) and I reckon she’d be hilarious. In this scenario I’m not a weird stalker running after her, but we’re friends šŸ˜‰ I feel like we have a similar love for food and a similar sense of humour.

Flying or invisibility?

Now this will sound creepy… As good as it would be to fly, I’m pretty sure it would be really cold… and I’d get lost or fly into a plane or something stupid. I would however quite like to be invisible. I will unashamedly admit I do love a bit of celebrity gossip and would justĀ love to see what someone like Victoria Beckham or the Queen (granted, not really a celeb) get up to when they’re away from the public. It’s a very creepy thing to admit, but admit it I have.

If you could learn one new skill, what would you choose and why?

To speak more than one language. I’d love to be able to go to different countries and just speak their languages. It would be so useful. The world would literally be your oyster. I feel like it’s such a good skill to have. As a country, the UK are pretty rubbish at this – probably because we start far too late learning languages that it’s just very difficult.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?

Just general continued happiness would be nice. I’m a happy person and I’d like that to continue. Running-wise…another Marathon Major (New York), more letters for my Alphabet parkrun challenge and solid running consistently with few injuries.

What made you smile today?

People being nice. The world needs more niceness. Nice might be boring but I think we need more of it in our lives. Just a smile from someone at the gym. A nice comment from someone. Simple things like that.

Go on, answer a few of the questions too!

Done being sensible

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions or “new year, new me” mantras.Ā But I do think it can be useful for people for motivation and some self-reflection.

I’ve definitely done a bit of self-reflection the past few weeks. There’s nothing like being single during Christmas that can make you think a bit more about yourself, I assure you.

In general, I’m quite a positive person. I don’t allow myself to wallow or sink into dark thoughts. I find other things to focus on and I have a solid family and friends unit who pick me up (or tell me to stop being so self-indulgent). I say this a lot and I truly believe it, I’m very lucky and have a fantastic life. I have a family who I can always fall back on emotionally and financially. My mum makes me feel beautiful, loved and boosts my self-esteem. My dad gives me sound advice, supports my crazy running adventures and will always be honest with me (he’s never afraid to tell me when I look rubbish, am being a pilock or need bringing back to earth). My sister is always there when I need those ‘girlie chats’ – boys, beauty and life, you know what I mean.

But I’m only human. Being single is pants. Granted, I haven’t made a huge amount of effort to “get out there”. I’m not a clubber, I don’t go to bars, I don’t use online the free dating apps and I’m not quite at the point to pay for the more “quality” ones. And in this day and age, you won’t bump into your soulmate at the supermarket. Sometimes in my lowest and most self-indulgent moments I wonder, “what’s wrong with me?”. I know, I know, it’s pathetic and I’m not asking for pity or people to say “oh but Anna you’re lovely!” like my mum would. I’m just genuinely reflecting on the fact that I’m not a complete mess of a person and have a solid life, yet I’m sat watching everyone around me jump on a train I don’t have a ticket for. I don’t even know how to buy the damn ticket.

So this year I’m going to become a bit more of a “yes person” and stop following the straight and narrow road.

Basically, I’m a sensible person. [I say “sensible” here but I know a lot of past events have shown I’m actually not that sensible because I’m quite the idiot. What I mean is I’m not a spontaneous person]. I don’t really do crazy things (New Year’s Day aside…). I work hard and I save, something I’m very lucky to be able to continue to do now I live at my parent’s and have rented my flat out despite being on a smaller salary. I have goals and plans for this year but mostly surrounding running (Dubaiā€¦ New Yorkā€¦ Jersey ;-)). But I think a lot before I plan on going anywhere and over-analyse everything to the nth degree. I cost everything up, I work it into my budget, put it in my spreadsheet, ponder and hesitate.

Above all, I make sure my savings remain solid. Other than my unruly leggings habit, I really hate spending money. My father would call me “tight” but being single means you are your own means. If I lost my job I lose my income (well, not strictly true now that I’m renting my flat out but you know what I mean). I know my parents are there for me, but having a large savings is my safety net and cotton wool.

But I’m fed up of doing everything by the book and being sensible. I need to go and do something a bit “non-Anna” and throw caution to the wind. I don’t mean spend all my money and live life without a thought for the future of course…but I also shouldn’t sit on a pile of money that is essentially doing nothing. I don’t have any plans to upgrade my flat or move out, buy a fancy car, have a baby.Ā  Without getting too morbid here, I could die tomorrow. What am I waiting for? Clearly I have no ties, no children and am armed full of independence. The time is NOW.

Basically what I’m saying is, I want to stop waiting for something that might not happen and just go and live life to the full. On that note (and trying, but probably failing, not to be have a stereotypical “omg need to find myself” moment), I’m off to Bali in April. A non-running, chill my mind out kind of holiday. Go alone but with a group of strangers. Find a bit of peace in my buzzing brain without using running as a distraction. But in general, for this year, I intend to take each day as a precious gift that I’m alive and I’m a strong, independent woman. My life is now and I’m not waiting for anyone or anything.

*Cue Beyonce*

Have you ever felt a bit… lost?

Have you ever been to Bali?

Are you a saver or a spender?

New year new me?

Someone at work asked me what my New Year’s Resolutions were. I jokingly replied, “to run a marathon”. They laughed, they know my marathon addiction well.

But it did get me thinking about my plans for 2018. What would I like to achieve, races I want to run, and ultimately the memories I’d like to make. For me, life is all about those life experiences, good times and memories. So what’s on the horizon for me?

Run some more marathons

What a surprise, eh? I plan on doing threeā€¦ if all is well of course and I’m not injured. I’d love to run more than three but I think I’ve been very lucky this year to run as many as I have and I shouldn’t think this is the norm (I’ve run five marathons this year! For me this is insanely good).IMG_9289

  • Dubai Marathon

This is literally right around the corner of course. Friday January 26th. I’d LOVE to get close to my PB or even beat it (3:24:06) but I really don’t want to stress myself out and put pressure on myself. I’ve said this many times before but I don’t run marathons to achieve a certain time. I run them because I love the whole experience. That said, if I could be the shape I’m in or better beforehand then naturally I’ll be running faster than I previously have anyway so who knows what will happen. I certainly won’t be busting my guts for over 3 hours. That’s not how I roll.

  • Brighton Marathon

A jolly down the beach! This is what I intend for this marathon. Lots of my club will be doing it so they’ll be a fun atmosphere and I love Brighton. I’ve never done this marathon but I know it’s a good one for supporters as the course loops back on itself a few times. Also my best friend’s hubby will be attempting his first marathon so they’ll be there šŸ™‚

  • New York Marathon

Continuing my goal to do all the six Marathon Majors (I’ve done London, Berlin, Boston, Tokyo and still need NY and Chicago). If everything goes to plan I will be joining some other lovely bloggers on a trip to the big apple for this one.

Run a sub-20 parkrun

I say parkrun and not 5k because there really isn’t a chance in hell I’d sign up to do an actual 5k race. My PB currently stands at 20:06 but that’s from 2015. My closest attempt has been 20:18ā€¦ can I crack it? I don’t know. Originally I was hoping to do this before the end of the year but, again, this is putting nasty pressure on myself for what is essentially a superfluous and pointless goal (no one but me cares about, it won’t make me a better runner, etc. etc.). I was on the ball with my speed workouts but then did a marathon and the fire has somewhat died a bit. I’ll have a crack at a few speedy parkruns and get back on to the speedwork next week but I’m not going to ruin myself over it.

Run a few more half marathons

My second favourite race distance. I have a few in the plan already and I’m quite excited. I have the Jersey Half Marathon in June (more on this later) and the Reading Half Marathon in March. I’ve done the Reading Half twice before and hadn’t really considered running it again until I got offered a blogger place, which obviously peaked my interest again. Reading is fairly near to me to make it quite a nice race to get to and it’s relatively flat. But most importantly it has a fantastic atmosphere and great support all round the course. It’s a huge event with I think around 15,000 runners. Yes it is running around Reading (not exactly the most scenic of the British towns) but it’s a great event with a stadium finish. After a few year’s break I’m ready to give it another stab.

As part of the Reading Half Marathon, I’m also taking part in the training day on Saturday 6th January. The training day (which you can be a part of too if you sign up! Check out their Facebook post for more info) has quite the line-up of exciting stuff for the day:

  • A group workout with the Townsend Twins
  • Pacing advice from Reading Half Marathon Pace Co-ordinator and fitness coach Ali Galbraith
  • A group run (to practise those pacing lessons!)
  • An injury prevention talk and cooldown from Jim at Berkshire Physio (I am MOST excited about this)
  • A Q&A at the end for any specific training/injury queries

Reading half training day - Twitter & FB no timetablePlaces are limited though, so you’ll need to be fast if this takes your fancy!

Parkrun Alphabet Challenge

This will be ongoing as I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it next year (due to that pesky Z being in Polandā€¦) but it’s definitely going to be a focus for me. I hope to have ‘K’ ticked off in January and ‘J’ ticked off in June – which is the main reason I’m doing the Jersey Half Marathon, purely to get that J. It’s just time really for me to get around the place. But I do have a few friends to call in on to tick some off!IMG_0142So they’re my running plans for the year. Personal plans? Oh it might be nice to have a bit more success with dating but ehhh who knows. My motivation has dipped to a real low right now regarding that. I’m just busy with life and unless it happens organically (a word I detest) I’m actually going to have to put effort into it…more than I have been. It depresses me when I think too long about this situation, so I shan’t.

I think the MOST important goal is to have fun, enjoy life, run all the marathons and eat all the food.

What are your 2018 goals?

Do you have any races lined up yet?

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?