If you’ve read my blog for a while, or know me even a little bit, you’ll know when it comes to food that I’m a) very greedy and b) a big meat lover.
Chicken wings, ribs, bacon, sausages, gammon, roast dinners, BBQs… I love it all. I openly admit that I eat a lot of meat. I have quite a bit appetite and am definitely more of a protein fan than a carb fan. That said, it’ll be a rare occasion that I’ll say no to cake. God I love cake.
I know that eating a lot of meat is not great for the environment. I don’t live in a box. I know this. As humans, we eat too much of it. The way we farm animals isn’t great either. Animals are not treated with the respect they deserve. Though I won’t go as far to say we shouldn’t use animals as food, I do believe we could be doing it better for the animals’ welfare. And I’m guilty of putting my head in the sand on this front. Sure I’ll try and find free range products where I can but sometimes I’ll reach for whatever’s cheapest or easiest, and I eat out in restaurants a lot and many of them I’m sure are not ethically minded (Nando’s I’m looking at you).
So I decided to see what it would be like to be vegan for two weeks. It would be a (big) challenge to myself and also I could raise some money for a local animal shelter (the Stubbington Ark) –> please sponsor me if you can HERE. Yes of course I could do this in stages and gradually reduce meat and dairy etc. but I want this to be a shock to the system. Force me out of my comfort zone and hit my hard. I need a big shake up. Something to get me thinking, researching, planning and reinvigorating my love of cooking.
I also want to be see if I can take anything away from my two weeks. Make any long term changes. Changes I wouldn’t normally try because I’ve become so dependent on animal products. But now I can really test things out and force myself out of my usual routine and habits and open my mind to other options.
I knew going into this I had to be prepared. I researched what I could and couldn’t eat. I found recipes, created myself a Pinterest Board (check it out HERE), planned my meals for the first week and meal prepped like a boss on Sunday. If I was going to succeed and do this properly I needed to have a plan.I planned out the meals I’d be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next five days.
Breakfast was easy. I always eat porridge with almond milk. I currently add whey protein to it but I obviously wouldn’t be able to use that anymore. So I did a little bit of research online and decided that though I’d heard amazing things about the Awesome Supplements Vegan Protein it was just too expensive. Spending £26 (plus postage) for a tub was a lot. I’m used to spending about £12. So instead I went with the MyProtein Vegan Protein Powder. I’m happy to give it a go for the cost – I hate food waste so I’ll be using it up even if it’s not that great, don’t worry! Who knows, I might even change my whey protein habits.
Lunches I meal prepped on Sunday… lentil, chickpea curries and a beetroot and roast vegetable salad.
Dinners this week are actually easy as we went to the cinema on Tuesday night (we always get a Subway to eat during the trailers and they have vegan options now) and Wednesday we’re out and I’ve found a vegan-friendly restaurant.
I’ll do a post in more detail of how I’ve found it and the things I’ve been eating soon…
Again, HERE’s my sponsor page for a very good cause.
The other week Kyle and I took off Thursday and Friday and had a little adventure.
OK it wasn’t so much of an adventure as just a trip to Bristol. But hey ho, let’s go with it. We were off to see Sons of the East at the Thekla, a very intimate gig location on a boat.
We woke up and had did 6 miles on the Thursday morning. The run for me felt terrible. Like truly terrible. I was so tired and lethargic and it just felt awful. I couldn’t seem to get going. I wondered if it was just one of those rubbish runs and didn’t think too much of it.
We then headed to Bristol to do a little bit of shopping and then check in to our AirBnb. Thankfully this AirBnb was lovely. It was right next to the River Avon in such a beautiful location. The AirBnb host was beyond nice and the place itself was GORGEOUS. We had our own room and bathroom and even chocolates on the pillow!
From there we walked about a mile to The Burger Theory for dinner. I’d done a bit of research to find somewhere and this seemed like the perfect spot. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my high expectations. This is one of the downsides of researching places to the max… you build it up and get a vision in your mind of what it’s going to be like and when it’s not quite as good as you’ve been led to believe it can be really disappointing.
Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and the food was good. It just wasn’t how I thought. I’d heard the halloumi fries were seriously good but actually turned out to be really dry and overly chewy.
My chicken wings were tasty but they were TINY. Though I’d ordered the starter portion and added extra wings to make it up to 12 it was (for me and my greedy, overly big appetite) quite unsatisfying.
Kyle and I shared the karaage chicken loaded fries which were very nice, but basically just fries at the end of the day with some toppings (as they’re meant to be, to be fair) so didn’t hugely fulfill my want for something a bit more “meaty”.
Kyle enjoyed his burger though! To be honest, he was so excited about the gig that we probably could have been eating cardboard and he wouldn’t have cared. Sons of the East are his favourite band so this trip really was mainly for him. Of course I was excited to be there too and I do enjoy their music, but I’m not a “super” fan like Kyle.
The gig itself was really good. The band were SO good live and we had a great time. We got to chat to the band afterwards and get some photos. We were going to go to the Creams Gelato after for some late night pudding but I’d started to feel quite ropy and exhausted so we headed back.
Unfortunately I then had a terrible night’s sleep and on waking feeling even more tired realised I actually had a cold. Whomp whomp!
This was fairly disappointing because we were meeting my friend, Kate, and her baby, Dexter, for brunch at the Mud Dock. I really didn’t fancy anything and just had porridge. A very safe and comforting meal for me. Not the fry-up I’d previously had in mind.
Saturday I went to Netley parkrun (probably ill advised to be honest) and did a very gentle run with Mike. It felt very hard-going!
Sadly this later translated into a failed run on the Sunday as well. I woke up feeling still not 100% and my hamstring was niggling a bit. It had been very slightly annoying me since the Manchester 10k. Not really because of the run per se but because I sat for 4 hours straight on the train ride back. I remember standing up and getting off the train and feeling it being very unhappy and tight.
My left upper hamstring has always caused me issues on and off for a few years now. It usually remains dormant and fine unless I do any sort of deadlifts or severe hamstring stretches and it will occasionally make itself known if I do any super long runs. But it’s usually fine. However it was on and off bugging me.
I decided to cut the long run short (2 miles in) and Kyle and I headed back. Surprisingly I wasn’t too sad. There have been many times in my running life that a niggle, injury or failed run would have really ruined my day but now I’m a bit more chilled about it. Of course I was a little down about not being able to do the run but I have a different perspective now so I don’t dwell. Kyle and I had a fun day ahead going to my friend’s wedding.
The wedding was good fun. We were both able to drink as we got the train to the venue and we let our hair down a bit (in fact, Kyle’s sister very kindly curled my hair which is something I never do!).
We felt very glam in our wedding outfits and had a good time. The ceremony was beautiful. There were two people on our table who didn’t show up so we got to share their starter and main (by the time pudding arrived the staff had cottoned on, damn!).
It became quite the day I can tell you. The bride’s brother kept persuading us to do shots. In the end I had FIVE shots, on top of other drinks!
I mean, I had certainly peaked by 6pm haha!
Monday we woke up late a teeny bit hungover and had a nice lazy morning. Then I decided to head off to the gym. I did 60 minutes on the stair machine while watching Graham Norton. I like the stair machine – it’s a definite challenge and I find it’s helping strengthen my legs. It does sap you though! My hamstring felt fine using it and it was a nice way to get in a solid workout after my failed run the day before.
So despite a few little niggles, the bank holiday weekend was a lovely one!
After a rather disastrous night, I had an equally terrible night’s sleep due to the hotel being in the centre of Manchester and my room being right next to a club. Ah well, at least it was safe, clean and only five minutes from the brunch location I was going to with Kirsty.
We were meeting at 9.30am at Federal Cafe Bar, somewhere she’d been recommended several times on Instagram. The menu looked good and pushed me to have something I wouldn’t normally (usually I’m distracted by dirty big fry ups!).
I went for the mushroom and halloumi dish… it came with sourdough toast, eggs, halloumi and mushrooms. I added chorizo and avocado too.
It was fantastic. So tasty and really filled me up. I also went for a rather fancy hipster beetroot latte. As a big beetroot fan I was still sceptical because… in a coffee? But I was down to give it a go (on race day whhhhy not eh!).
It was actually really tasty. Made with oat milk, it was quite sweet which I wonder was from something artificial or the actual beetroot itself, as it is quite sweet normally. Who knows. It was nice though.
As the race wasn’t until 1pm it was a bit confusing what to eat to be honest. And actually during the race it did slightly repeat on me… Kirsty mentioned it might be because it was quite high fat and that’s quite an ask for your body just before a race. I hadn’t even considered that.
Then we headed to the Garmin stand to meet with the Garmin team. There were five other “influencers” there too and we chatted and took photos. Basically had a bit of fun.
It was so cool to see behind the scenes of these events. I’m by no means a big fish in this sort of thing so it’s quite cool seeing it happen and being a part of something like this. Though I got HUGE impostor syndrome.
We got T-shirt’s and our bibs and headed to do some start line photos.
I then literally bumped into Adele from the BBC Radio 1 early morning breakfast show. Now I’m a little bit of a fan girl of hers. I listen to her every morning when I go to the gym, and when it’s that early it’s really nice to not think you’re the only one awake so I really enjoy her show.
She’s the nicest person as well and started running a few years ago, supporting the Heads Together charity. Anyway I tweet the show occasionally and met her just before London (yes I know, I’m a proper fan girl) and so when I saw her and said “it’s AnnaTheApple” (I KNOW, PROPER CRINGE) she was like “ohh hey you listen all the time!”. It made my entire day.
We had a proper chat. We talked about running and she even introduced me to her girlfriend! (She called me a unit because of all my running!!) Honestly I was made up. Then we had to dash off to do more photo bits. I couldn’t stop beaming.
Then we headed to start to get ready to go (I say “get ready to go”, but we did still have a 40 minute wait…). Anyway, the time flew by while we chatted and then we were off!
My plan was to not to be a wet blanket about it and actually push myself. I rarely ever push myself, and ESPECIALLY in a 10k. But today the weather was good, the course was ideal and I had no excuse. As tempting as it was to run with the others (who were taking it easier) I resolutely set off with the mindset to GO.
It was really crowded in the first half a mile and I spent some time dodging round people and trying to get into a good rhythm. But then I broke free and got a good amount of space around me.
It’s so odd running a 10k after spending so much time focusing on longer distances. You just have no time to play with. I realised my slower first mile would need to be made up later if I wanted the time I was aiming for. And it really requires a lot of focused energy to hold on to the pace.
The course was pretty much entirely flat. Maybe a couple of very gentle inclines but nothing crazy that would hold you back. I saw Aly Dixon and Gemma Steel fly by going the other way further on in the course and they looked to be on the pain train. Come on, Anna, you can do this too (at a much slower pace ha). I had my music on but could hear the crowds cheering and boosting us along. There were lots of people out which was nice.
We ran round the Manchester United football ground (not quite through it like we did in Southampton). And we followed a lot of the same beginning and end bits of the Manchester Marathon. It did feel fairly familiar. But the course was so much more interesting as it did actually go through the city whereas the marathon really didn’t.
On the course there were two drinks stations and unfortunately full of bottled water. So wasteful. So much plastic. It really makes me cringe. It was a warm day so a lot of water was being taken (a few sips then thrown). There were two showers on the course as well which helped cool people down too.
Then we were on the final straight back. My pace was on goal and I was feeling strong! I was getting an echo of a stitch in my side and I attempted to breathe differently to get rid of it. I was really anxious it would turn into one of those properly painful sharp ones in my side but luckily it remained on the edge as just a slight annoyance.
Then it was 400m to go – over so quickly!
My legs and lungs were pushing hard but I was so chuffed as I knew I was going to PB now. Unless I fell over, I had this!
I crossed the line in 41:40, a PB by over a minute. Wowza I am stoked! But the stitch was now in full force as I walked to the goodie bags.
It took a few minutes to disappear and the effects of the run to dissipate. So much longer than after a marathon! That feeling of “let me catch my breath again”. Obviously the effects of a marathon hang on in different ways a lot longer of course.
I headed back to the Garmin stand and took some photos (of course!) and waited for the others.
They arrived not long after and we swapped stories and congratulated each other. The others had had a nice fun run rather than going for it, which sounded lovely.
After doing our social media bits with Garmin we headed to the VIP area in the Hilton hotel nearby. VIP! So fancy!
They had a buffet spread, sweets, teas and coffee and we just tucked straight in. Omg I was so spoilt!
I tucked right in to several plates of Greek salad (all the feta!) and a fish ratatouille. It was delicious.
I didn’t have long so tucked two Bakewell cakes into my bag wrapped in a napkin for the train back (future Anna would be pleased).
Then I had to say my goodbyes and head sharpish to my train – the station was 20 mins walk away. I only had 30 mins and I wanted to get a tea for the train so I did a very epic run-power walk in my coat, layers and my big rucksack on to get there with time to spare.
Unfortunately (and I didn’t realise at the time) my two cakes fell out of my bag as I hadn’t done it up properly! I was VERY lucky nothing else fell out but I was devastated to get to the station and realise what had happened. Nooooo! No train cakes! I did have two apples which consolidated me somewhat but it was a rather sad moment.
Anyway, lost cakes and failed Airbnb’s aside, the weekend was truly a fantastic one. I loved Saturday with my mum doing so many fun things and then making new friends on Sunday at the race. Garmin gifted me the place and I am SO grateful for the opportunity. It was so much fun. Getting the PB really was only a small addition to the whole rest of the fantastic weekend!
Do you often race races?
Have you ever been VIP for anything?
Do you get trains that often?
**Full Disclaimer: Garmin provided me with a free race place in exchange for some social media posts on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**
Let’s get started on Saturday. It’s my mum’s birthday soon so I’d treated her to a ticket to see The Waitress in London. We headed there in the morning to have brunch first.
I surprised my mum with a little bottle of Prosecco on the train – pffft it’s 5pm somewhere eh!
We had brunch in the Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Tower. I’d seen this huge building many times but hadn’t realised you could have food here. This is where my food and restaurant obsessions come handy as I do so much research to find a nice spot and this came up.
We went up 36 (!) floors and were treated to such fantastic views of London. Wow it was really spectacular.
We then headed to the Darwin Brasserie (one part of the Sky Tower) and had a three course brunch.
We had a seat right next to the window and it was truly such a special experience.
For starters I had the ham hock terrine which was divine with warm sourdough alongside.
I followed this with a Caesar salad. Now I know what you’re thinking, Anna a salad what?? But a Caesar salad is my absolute favourite – when done well. And this came with the works: chicken, anchovies, croutons, Parmesan, egg and crispy bacon. Oh it was so good.
For dessert I had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. Not my usual choice but it was phenomenal. Delicious toffee sauce.
When my mum went to the bathroom the waiter popped over and asked if this was for my mum’s birthday (I’d put it in the booking notes) and when she came back they presented her with a little chocolate brownie with a candle in! It was such a lovely touch. My mum was very chuffed. Always worth noting these things when you book.
We then spent some time taking photos, of course. The views were just amazing.
Then we headed to Covent Garden to mosey about a bit (oh heyyyy Lululemom shop). I just HAD to stop at Doughnut Time as well. These doughnuts are INCREDIBLE. I mean they’re pretty much made for greedy people like me.
They’re ginormous, i.e. regular Anna size. I picked up four (one for me, one for Kyle, one for my parents to share (lol) and one for my friend Kirsty who I’d be seeing later in Manchester).
Then we headed to the show. Oh my goodness I can’t even explain how much I loved The Waitress. It was literally everything I love. Baking, retro American diner theme and strong female leads. I cried THREE times. I’m not an overly emotional person but this absolutely destroyed a me, and in a really good way. The story was fantastic. The music and songs so good. And it was quite funny as well.
Then I said goodbye to my mum and headed to Manchester (only two hours on the train!). I was signed up to do Great Manchester 10k as part of the Garmin team. Very fancy indeed.
On the train I ate a Subway salad (double rotisserie chicken – so good!) and then horrified the two ladies opposite me by wolfing down my doughnut. It was the Robert D’Noreo… brown butter glaze, New York cheesecake filling, Oreo crumb chocolate ganache and mini Oreos.
I mean WHAT. And yes I did eat it all. The two ladies said they had doughnut envy haha. You should have seen me, covered in icing and Oreo crumbs. I was a mess but so very happy.
On getting to Manchester I met up with Kirsty (@shortgirlrunner on Instagram) and we had a quick drink. I’ve never met her before but have chatted a few times on social media and she’s just as lovely as she seems online. We arranged brunch for the next day (the race didn’t start until 1pm) and then parted ways, her to her hotel and me to my Airbnb.
I walked about 15 minutes to get there to find no one was answering and the key the host had APPARENTLY left on a window wasn’t there. It was past 10pm and I started to panic. I went up and down the lift to make sure it was the right place… I checked every window… I rang his mobile several times… left messages, and nothing. I was panicked, called Kyle and he suggested going back to the inner city and getting a hotel.
While I headed back (it was so busy and loud!) he found me a hotel to stay in that wasn’t too expensive (tho thankfully Garmin were paying my expenses – I knew I’d get a refund from Airbnb so that calmed my brain a bit). But Jesus it was so stressful and I was so tired!
I got a nice hotel room and got into bed after 11pm. The host messaged me saying he FELL ASLEEP and didn’t hear me knocking. Sorry sunshine, too little too late. Thankfully Airbnb did refund me and were super quick and nice about it. Just a crummy host! Always a flipping drama with me eh!
I should have just got a hotel to begin with but I’m not used to people paying my expenses for me and went with a cheaper option as I felt bad (this is silly logic I know). Next time I’ll just be more sensible (if there’s ever a next time!).
I’ll leave it there for now and recap the race proper in my next post.
I haven’t been as “on it” with my blog latey so I thought I’d do a little recap of things going on over here.
Unsurprisingly to many and disappointingly to myself, speed training has not been happening. The intention and motivation is definitely there but a few things have gotten in the way.
I did actually turn up at a speed training session with my club, Hedge End RC. The problem was I did a few miles beforehand as I arrived early and my legs were just not playing ball. It was a tough grind just to run easy. I thought after the first mile they might loosen up and things might feel better but it was such an effort to keep going.
I know what the issue was. I did my killer stair machine workout that morning (my personal trainer recommended adding this in to increase hip and glute strength). FOOLISH. Very foolish to try doing this the morning of a potential speed training day.
I saw some of my friends who tried to persuade me to stay but I knew it would be a mistake. I would either just flop in the session or I would push too hard, motivated by everyone around me, and then burn out during the week. So I canned it and went home. Weak willed? Or smart? I’m not sure.
Then the Southampton Half happened and that rinsed me…and then this week I wasn’t well yesterday (female problems I won’t bore you with) so settled for a gentle 6 miles at home instead.
Despite all this, I do feel like I’m making gains at parkrun – the marker that I test my fitness on. A couple of weeks ago, Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The real reason was because we wanted to go to the Parade Tearooms afterwards (that GIANT salad… I live for it), but also because it would be nice to do a flat parkrun rather than the godawful Havant parkrun close to Kyle’s where we were staying.
Whereas Kyle was a bit more sensible and decided to have more of a gentle parkrun the day before the Southampton Half I decided to just go for it.
I started and my legs were a bit “meh”. It was tough to get going but I pushed on. There was no real wind so that was something. I managed to push the pace and was VERY chuffed with my final mile.
I got 20:22 which I was buzzing about. I’d hoped to be around 20:30! I’m nowhere near my PB (19:40) but it’s a good sign going forward and good motivation to DO SOME SPEEDWORK.
Last weekend we were at Netley Abbey and coincidentally it was the cricket pitch course. Known as the “Marmite course” because it’s five laps round a field… dull but flat.
I was ready to give it another blast. My legs, however, were not. I started running – going out fast – and quickly realise woooahhh no this is not going to happen. I cannot maintain this.
I pulled it a little bit and tried to just maintain a tempo style speed. It was a total grind though.
Kyle wasn’t far behind me and that helped motivate me forward. Not that I mind Kyle being faster than me or overtaking, but it’s nice to use that as something to keep me pushing on.
My friend Mike, who was out due to a hamstring issue, kept cheering us both – telling me where Kyle was and then telling Kyle to get a move on. It helped us both for definite! It boosted a bit of friendly competition.
I feel a bit bad as I told Kyle it was five laps, but it’s actually 5.5 laps so when we got to the fifth lap Kyle had already begun his sprint finish… and then realised actually he still had a chunk to go.
He’d have probably caught me at the end. He’s far more powerful at sprinting than I am.
I scraped 21:13 and it felt very much a tough grind, but hey ho I will take it! Had a little pose next to the INCREDIBLE castle and dragon carved in to a tree chunk in the new “fairy garden”. Wowza.
I was very pleased to enjoy some EXTREMELY tasty rocky road at the end made by the lovely Alana. I had two pieces and then some chocolate cake in the cafe. All before 10.30am – that my friends is a winning Saturday!
So there we have it, my speedwork update… or lack thereof. I will endeavor to do better!
How do you do with consistent speed training?
What determines if you’re going to push at a parkrun or not?
What’s your favourite rocky road additions? I love a bit of biscuit in there.