parkrun Smackdown – Kyle vs. Anna

Bit late on the recap, but the weekend before last Kyle and I decided to have a ‘parkrun smackdown’. (I will quickly preface this by saying I know parkrun is not actually a race, this is just a bit of fun between Kyle and me).

This basically meant we were going to race each other at Southsea parkrun. We had often wondered who would win over a 5k between us. I train a bit more in general than Kyle and have been running longer, but Kyle is far better at sprinting and running shorter distances than me. So it would be interesting.

I ran down to Southsea parkrun (almost 3 miles) as I knew I’d need a bit of a warmup beforehand, especially for a 5k. I struggle to go from 0 to 100 that quickly. Kyle drove down with Isaac and I met him, his mum, sister and my dad there. We were all going to go for breakfast afterwards. Something to look forward to after all that pain!

It was fairly windy, annoyingly, and very warm. Southsea parkrun is an out and back and so you run 1.5ish miles out along the prom and then back again. The wind was coming from the West so the first half of the run would be lovely with a tail wind, but then heading back would be dreadful.

There had been some fun banter all week between Kyle and me. Some good old fashioned trash talk. But in reality I had a sneaky suspicion that Kyle would beat me. He would straight away run ahead and I didn’t think I had enough mileage to catch him up. We would see…

As parkrun begun I was ahead for, oh, all of 5 seconds before Kyle zoomed past me. Then it was basically me desperately trying to keep him in my sights. I looked at my watch and saw low 6 minute miles and thought “oh wow this isn’t going to stay like this!”. But I knew I needed to make as much gains as I could while the wind was in a favourable direction. It would all change when we get to the turn around point.

I managed to keep Kyle in my line of vision but I wasn’t gaining on him. I hoped that maybe after the turnaround he would start to lose his energy but it was a longshot. We got to the turnaround and straight away the wind hit us in the face. Now it was going to get tough!

I never did manage to gain any closer to Kyle but I didn’t manage to lose too much distance either. As I hit 2 miles I started to do the maths in my head… with the pace I’d been running so far could I be in chance of a sub-20?

Ooof it would be a hard ask. I was putting everything into it and my legs and lungs were burning. Sadly, as I hit 3 miles I realised this would be impossible. I wasn’t running fast enough. I crossed the line (behind Kyle) at 20:23. Kyle finished in a fantastic 20:11.

The winner!

We were both really pleased with our times. I mean, this is the fastest I’ve run in MONTHS for a 5k.

However there was a little bit of a disappointment lingering for both Kyle and I that we hadn’t managed to get a sub-20. More so for Kyle as he was so close, whereas I guess for me I’d really need to get my skates on! I reckon though Kyle would have smashed the 20 minute mark had the wind not been so strong.

The disappointment didn’t last long tho as we were then off to the Parade Tearooms for some breakfast. I say breakfast but my meal of choice from there will always be their gigantic Jayne Salad. It’s epic and I always order it, regardless of the time.

Calling it a salad is somewhat of a push considering it doesn’t contain that much salad compared to the piles of bacon, potato, chicken and cheese (which is why it’s so divine).

Anyway, a lovely morning! Family, parkrunning and breakfast 🙂

Have you ever raced someone at parkrun?

Would you eat a salad for breakfast?

Romsey Beer Race 2022

The Romsey Beer Race – my favourite race of the year. And due to COVID, a race that hasn’t been held since June 2019. So it’s been a while.

I’ve done this race five times before. I just love it! The course is undulating but is in such a beautiful, picturesque location and the weather is usually pretty good, albeit sometimes a bit too hot. This year however it was very cool and cloudy. The perfect race conditions.

Though I usually hate to actually race as running fast isn’t really my thing. I prefer a long slow run (or a marathon!). But there’s something about this race that gets me going. Every time I’ve done it I’ve given it a good go.

Kyle had floated the idea of running together and pushing each other on earlier in the week but I said I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know if I wanted to race or not. But as Kyle and I drove into the area I started to get the buzz and asked him if he still wanted to. He (semi jokingly) said that maybe we should run our own race as he didn’t want me to “hold him back”. Trash talk, I see. He was joking but in reality we both knew we’d rather run separately than run together. I was happy with that!

The night before my parents had looked after Isaac so we were both feeling pretty good with our solid night’s sleep (something of a rarity these days!). We met my parents and Isaac there, as well as Kyle’s mum and her partner, Tony. Kyle’s brother and his girlfriend also turned up to support too. A lovely support group!

We positioned ourselves fairly near the front. With less than 400 runners this wasn’t too scary but still scary enough. The front runners are VERY fast and I definitely don’t measure up to them but we wanted to give ourselves a good chance to get going quickly.

This worked well as the front runners sped off (as did Kyle) and I didn’t have to wind past anyone and people didn’t have to wind past me. Straight away I felt like I was good to give it my best, whatever that would look like. I had the buzz and my legs were feeling good.

We ran round the cricket pitch, then we ran up the road to where the bulk of the supporters were, including our family. I’ve done this race so many times, as have my parents in supporting it, so they knew exactly where to stand for a great spot.

They cheered us on and up we went to our first grinding hill. It’s a fairly long incline, pretty much the entire first mile. Kyle was ahead – I used him as motivation to keep on grinding and try to get faster.

I knew I’d have the advantage on the downhills as Kyle tends to slow down whereas I have a bit more of an “run with abandon” approach to downhills. Though Kyle is stronger on the uphills.

I caught up with him using that downhill and slowly, slowly overtook him. I jokingly said “well done” as I ran past. The banter between us was very friendly, I want this to be clear. I wasn’t rubbing it in, and he wasn’t annoyed. We both agreed it was good that we were racing each other as it pushed us both on.

I spent the rest of the race knowing Kyle was right on my tail. It was definitely a motivator. I didn’t want him to overtake me! And it pushed him on because he obviously did want to catch up.

Anyway, the race continued with a few more undulations. I was at a huge advantage having run this race five times before to know roughly how long these would last – not as long as the first one, but some steeper. Because I knew the course so well I could judge my speed to know if I could maintain my pace. I felt quite comfortable, as comfortable as you can be trying your hardest. What I mean is, that while I was definitely on the pain train and my legs were burning, I knew I could maintain it.

It also felt incredible short because I’ve only really been running marathons over the last few years! Five miles of pain was a lot different to 26.2 miles of tough sustained exertion (and only painful in the last few minutes). I felt confident.

And then my shoelace came undone. I had a new pair of Brook Adrenalines on and the laces are a bit short and shiny, so don’t tie together that well. Urghh what an utter pain! I stopped on the side and tried to tie it up as quickly as I could. Kyle was just far enough behind that he didn’t get a chance to overtake as I was off again quickly.

It probably took 5-10 seconds and then I was motivated to make up for lost time so realistically it didn’t affect things at all, I don’t think. It merely stopped the memento, which I was able to regain again quickly.

I got to the final stretch, before you head into the field to do the lap around it before finishing.

I still felt like Kyle was just behind me so used that to keep pushing but I was fading. I barely had a sprint finish in me.

If Kyle was on my shoulder he definitely could have out-sprinted me as he has such a good sprint finish.

My finishing time was 33:49 (my PB is still 33:43). Kyle finished 34:48. We were both really happy with our times. We had some banter at the end, as you do, but it was all in good fun. We’ve actually decided to go head-to-head in our next parkrun (tomorrow) to see what will happen.

Kyle is much better at shorter distances. I’m much better at longer, slower distances. Over a 5k will be very interesting. My prediction is that Kyle will speed ahead straight away and be ahead of me for most of the race. Then it’s up to me to try and overtake, which will be such a big ask considering how fast I think Kyle will go. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to beat Kyle. He’s been running some solid 5ks and he has that power in his legs which I don’t.

We will see 😉 The trash talk in the house this week has been amusing. But as long as we both put some welly into it, we’re both going to come away with solid times I think (I HOPE!) so in my eyes it’s a win win.

But anyway, back to this race. I fed Isaac after I finished which took quite a while, bless him. I sat there just desperate to get some cake but he was not letting me go anytime soon haha!

I actually came second female which was lovely because I’ve managed to place a few times at this race. I’ve now been second twice, first once and third once. Not too shabby! (I will stress again that this is a small race and previous times another local 10k has happened on the same day which a lot of the speedy club runners were more drawn to).

Finally I was able to grab a cake (a blondie) and a beer (for my dad) and we waited around to get my prize.

The weather was warm enough to not be uncomfortable but not need a coat. The after bit is one of my favourite parts of this race as it’s just so friendly and you can chat to different people while enjoying a lovely cake and drink.

I then collected my “medal” – a beer glass, love it! (Oh by the way, the first place female was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t have a chance in hell of even being remotely her competition, she smashed it!)

And then we headed off to one of our favourite pubs, the Osborne View, for a roast. It was such a lovely day. I’ll definitely be signing up again next year. It’s such a well run, friendly and fun event.

Now on to the smackdown with Kyle… 😉

My current training and new adidas clothes

What am I currently training for? Well, actually nothing right now!

I only have one race close on the horizon and that’s the Romsey 5 Mile Beer race which I love. Due to COVID, of course, it hasn’t been on for the past two years so I’m excited to do it again. It’s always a fun day.

But other than that I only have the New Forest Marathon planned for September and then the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December. There aren’t really any marathons nearby that I want to do and to be honest it’s probably a good thing to let me body rest for a bit. Obviously I’ll still be running but the long runs won’t be as long.

Running at the moment is just a way for me to refresh myself. Sleep has been tough going with an ill Isaac (all the nursery bugs…) and it’s been a little bit stressful. Running is my constant though and it helps energise me, chill me out and just blow out any bad moods. So it’s not so much training for any race but rather getting through harder times!

And I love that about running. It isn’t just exercise or trying to get PB’s. It’s just a significant part of my life that helps me be a better human, helps me feel better and keeps me sane.

My current week looks something like this: running Tuesdays and Thursdays (nursery commutes), parkrun on a Saturday and then a long run on Sunday, but probably nothing more than 15 miles. I also try to squeeze in two strength sessions a week and keep Mondays as a day of rest because it’s my day with Isaac.

Recently I got sent some adidas running clothes which are both perfect for summer training and also summer resting! I’m a BIG fan of leisurewear and to be honest would wear leggings every day if I could. And a hoodie, you cannot beat a hoodie for relaxing round the house in or popping to the shop in the evening when it’s cooler.

Tho it’s a dangerous colour when you have both a dog and a baby, I love the cream of this adidas hoodie. I normally go for darker colours but as it’s summer I thought I’d branch out to be a bit brighter. Yes it’s summer but you can’t guarantee constant warm weather in the UK!

The hoodie is so soft and slightly oversized, which I love. Perfect for slouching around the house in or throwing on at the end of parkrun when it’s a bit nippy but you don’t want to bring a coat.

I also LOVE these leggings (Loungewear essentials high-waisted logo leggings in Black / Gold Metallic). They’re more loungewear leggings than running leggings but definitely good for the gym. They’re very flattering, don’t slip down and are nicely high-waisted. They’re thick enough to not be see-through as well when you bend over or squat. An essential requirement for leggings!

One thing I’ve been in big need of was another good fitting sports bra. Since having Isaac and breastfeeding my boobs are a lot bigger than they used to be. I never used to have to worry too much about high support while running or HIIT during workouts but now it’s definitely something I have to be wary of.

This sports bra has good support for running and jumping. I feel nice and secure and get no back pain or discomfort. It holds everything down 😉 I like the white colour as well as I only have black heavy support sports bra at the moment but I have a lot of lighter tops. So it blends in perfectly.

I like the cross back as well. It’s a really nice design.

I also have a new summer running top which is super light-weight and airy. Perfect for those hotter runs!

I really like the colour as well (Rose Tone / White). Again normally I veer towards blacks and greys a lot of the time, so it’s a nice change to have a bit more colour in my running wardrobe.

Like I’ve said before, I really do love adidas and their sports clothing. Always good quality and lasts a long time. I’d rather pay a bit more money for items that last years then buy cheaper for things to stretch or rip soon after.

What’s your go-to sports brand?

Have you got any big races lined up?

Back at work but with no sleep

So I’ve been back at work for around three weeks.

I’m still enjoying being back and I’m getting used to the balance of being a mum and being an employee. I do feel immense amount of guilt when I say this, but I’m really enjoying being back at work and getting that breather from Isaac.

I say “breather” but this doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or constantly wonder what he’s doing, hoping he’s OK and not distressed or unhappy. Of course he’s in good hands and probably hasn’t given me a second thought after he leaves me! But I still worry.

That said, I’m enjoying eating my lunch without rushing or while trying to juggle watching him at the same time. I’m enjoying going for lunchtime walks with Kyle without the pram or carrier and not worry if Isaac isn’t napping or if he’s too hot or too cold.

We’ve been getting into a good routine of what our mornings and week in general look like. I’m enjoying running to nursery on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick him up. It does feel weird though not running in the morning in the week anymore, but I like that I’m killing two birds with one stone. And the time difference with driving to pick him up is minimal. So it makes a lot of sense.

What’s hard at the moment is sleep. We were doing quite well with “just” two wake ups a night (pre-baby Anna would laugh at such a statement as that still doesn’t sound the dream but compared to previously it is). However, for whatever reason, Isaac is now waking up 3+ times a night. It usually goes something like 11.30pm wake up, then 2-3am wake up, then the hellish time of 3-6am when multiple wakeups seem to be happening.

We think it could be because Isaac has picked up a rather persistent cold which has made him very snotty (lovely I know) and then blocks his nose. He’s never had a cold (or even ever been ill) but after going to nursery for the first time he’s picked one up straight away. Standard.

Or potentially it could be his 8th tooth coming (the 7th was a nightmare as well and it’s in the mirror image position). BUT WHO KNOWS. Babies are enigmas and trying to solve them is a headache.

We’ve tried Calpol, baby Nurofen, a nasal spray, cough syrup, Anbesol, raising his mattress higher where his head is… and even tried disposable night nappies in case it was something about the reusable ones that wasn’t working in the night.

But nothing seems to have worked. This leads me to believe it could be a regression (or a “progression”) where Isaac has learnt some new skills and his brain is just processing so much at night.

It’s hard because during maternity leave I had no rush to get up in the morning – of course I was guided by Isaac. I couldn’t lie in if Isaac was awake but equally if we’d had a bad night he would probably sleep a bit later and that wouldn’t be an issue. But now we have childcare for him to get to and of course work. And work itself is so much harder if you haven’t had a good night sleep, obviously.

So this is our problem at the moment. Isaac is almost 10 months and I honestly (stupidly? Naively?) believed we’d have sleep kind of sorted by now. But noooope. Of course though I’m not alone. Kyle is always there to help. Yes I’m still breastfeeding so there are limits to what Kyle can do during the night, but just having someone there to chat to, or someone to help me the next day is so crucially. We’re a team and we’re in this together. That hugely helps. Even just someone to moan with!

Maternity leave is over

And just like that my maternity leave is over. Just over 9 months of being away from work and looking after the little man – it’s gone so quickly!

We’re very fortunate that I’m only going back four days a week and Isaac is only going to nursery for two days. The other two days he’ll be with the Nanas (Wednesdays with my mum and Fridays with Kyle’s). Having help from our family is obviously massively beneficial to us financially because it literally has halved our childcare costs.

Childcare in the UK is quite an expensive thing and I know a lot of mothers can’t afford to even go back to work because the cost of childcare is more than their salary. So yes, we are very very lucky.

It also means Isaac gets to spend time with two people he really loves and feels safe with. I can also easily check in throughout the day to find out how he is and what he’s up to, which is lovely. Both Nanas adore spending time with him and I know they’ve really been looking forward to this time.

Nursery will also be good for him because it will challenge him in a new environment with new faces. The nursery staff will help develop him in ways I wouldn’t have had a clue about. He’ll become more confident and learn what it’s like to be around other babies.

First day at nursery

I have mixed feelings about going back to work and childcare, as I’m sure all parents do. I’m going to miss seeing him so much. I’ve literally gone from 24/7 to four days only seeing him in the morning and the evening. It’s a hard adjustment.

At the same time, it’s good for me too. I get some mental and physical space and can focus on things I haven’t been able to while looking after the little man. Working will be a lovely time for me to use my brain and no longer be Anna the Mum. My days with Isaac were solely focused on him and housework so now I get a bit of a breather.

I can eat lunch without rushing or multi-tasking. I can go for a walk without the pram. I can write my blog. It feels very odd. Like something is missing or I keep forgetting something.

Mondays will still be the same as before, which will be nice. I’ll be spending the day with Isaac looking after him. I’m glad I still get this day as just having the weekends feels so hard.

In terms of running, the plan is that Kyle will drop Isaac off to nursery in the morning and then I’ll pick him up later. As the nursery is only 3 miles away we’re planning on using the running buggy to commute him there and back.

Kyle will run him down, leave the buggy there, then run back. Then in the afternoon I’ll run down, pop Isaac in the buggy then run him back. That’s the plan! Who knows how well this will work, we shall see. Also, I’m hoping Isaac will get a cheeky nap in the running buggy on the way back as it’ll be about 25 minutes. That’ll be ideal!

So that’s that’s the current state of play. I’m sure they’ll be lots more change and shifting things about but so far this is the plan. I really hope Isaac thrives going forward and that he’s happy. It’ll be a big change for us all, but mostly for him. So fingers crossed…

Have you sent any of your children to nursery?

What does childcare look like for you?