My Running For Two Half Marathon at almost 20 weeks

So this “race” recap is a bit delayed as it was actually back in Feb that I ran it when I was almost 20 weeks pregnant (I’m now 23 weeks pregnant). But hey ho!

With still being able to currently run fairly comfortably (*touch wood*) I’d said to Kyle that it was such a shame there were no races for me to plod round as I’d love to get a medal that I could later show our little guy and be like “I got this when you were inside of me”.

Obviously with the lockdown, races just weren’t being scheduled anytime soon (of course). The nearest races seemed to be late May or June. By that time I would be fairly heavily pregnant and I couldn’t guarantee I’d be able to run 5k let alone a half marathon.

I toyed with the idea of doing an official virtual one but Kyle said if I was going to have to do it on my own anyway I might as well just make my own up and really personalise it. It would save a bit of money and I could schedule it however I fancied. This sounded perfect.

I decided to go for a half marathon and came up with my own route round where I lived and created my own bib and name for the “race”: the Running For Two Half Marathon. I mentioned it to my parents and they said they’d come and support as well, which was lovely (strictly speaking breaking the rules a little but they would stand a distance from Kyle and obviously I’d just be running past).

I decided to go with the Sunday just before I turned 20 weeks, so almost half way, which fit nicely with the half distance as the little guy would be half baked. I had a pizza the night before, as is my pre-race tradition, and got myself mentally prepared. I’d been running 10-12 miles  for a few weeks so I wasn’t too worried about the distance – or how long it would take me as this wasn’t about times.

Unfortunately on the morning I woke up to aggressively windy and cold weather. As my route was basically along the coastline I knew I was in for a rough time. But it was planned, my parents were heading over to stand in the spot they were going to cheer from (about 9 miles – then the plan would be they’d walk down to mile 11, and then I’d finish near Baffins Pond and they’d walk down to see me, from afar), so I couldn’t back out now.

I’d dressed snuggly in two layers and my hat, gloves (and yes, shorts). Within two miles I realised I wasn’t warming up that much. Usually by half a mile I’m good but the wind was so icy and was tearing through my layers and stinging my legs. The wind was pushing from the side and I knew from the direction it was going it was going to be horrendous along the seafront.

I got to my three mile loo stop (my absolute saviour at the moment) and had a quick wee. No run can go without this anymore! I can pretty much manage up to four miles before it becomes impossible. Luckily all over Portsmouth there are some decent quality public toilets – especially in Southsea along the front. As I would in a race, I didn’t stop my watch.

Then I headed off through Old Portsmouth to then turn east towards the front. Ah jeeze. That icy wind was straight against me. It was AWFUL. Had I not been doing a race and had Kyle and my parents not been waiting at a certain spot, I honestly would have turned around and headed back home. I knew I had three miles along the front with this wind and it was soul destroying, not to mention freezing.

It was such a rubbish day. Normally if it’s windy or a bit overcast people still come and walk and spend time down the seafront but there was a sparsity of people on the prom, and those that were there looked miserable.

I just put my head down and counted down the 0.1 miles. Eventually I finally got to my next loo stop and thankfully turned the corner to head back north. The relief for both the loo and the wind to stop being full against me was incredible.

Now I was almost at 7 miles and knew it wouldn’t be such a slog to get to my parents. It was basically all north to them, so the wind was just be sideways on me not against me. But it was still cold. I just wasn’t warming up. It wasn’t even because of the pregnancy that this was hard, it was just an awful run because of the external conditions.

Finally I could see from about 0.5 miles away where my parents and Kyle would be. I could just make out their bodies. I felt immensely sorry for them. At least I was running so wasn’t absolutely freezing, whereas I knew them just standing there in the cold wind would be horrendous. I felt very bad indeed.

Eventually I got near enough to hear them shouting my name and cheering me on, like the absolute troopers they are. I could barely raise a smile to them though. I was cold to my core, so fed up and mentally drained. This was not the glorious celebratory run I’d hoped for.

I quickly told them I was changing my route as the one I’d planned  involved heading back to where I’d come from, and that was just utterly miserably in my mind. I wanted to keep moving to other areas and not head back to the hell I’d come from.

So I carried on running north until I roughly worked out if I turned back I could make the 13.1 mile distance if I just ran home. There was no way I wanted to be outside anymore. I wanted a hot shower, hot porridge and a cup of tea. I quickly rang Kyle and explained that was what I was doing. My parents could meet me there and we could chat from the front door. I felt bad but realistically it was no better than standing outside in Baffins Pond.

Happily they’d actually parked the car near to where they’d stood so they had been able to shelter in the car for warmth while I was running to them. So they drove back to our house (yes with Kyle masked up in the back of the car… it was just too cold to expect him to walk the mile back – at least both my parents had had the vaccine at this point).

I sped up on the final mile knowing I was heading home to warmth and shelter and then finally finished to them clapping me along the street which was lovely.

I ran 1:58:34 which I’m over the moon with, especially with two toilet stops. Under two hours was an unimportant goal I’d vaguely had in my mind so it was nice to achieve it. Long gone are the days of sub 1:40 or even sub 1:45 halves!

I’m really pleased I got the run done. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for and to be honest we were all feeling pretty rubbish afterwards. I felt terrible for my lovely supporters but they assured me it was fine and they were happy to see me achieve this milestone. To be honest, had I have known what the weather was going to be like in reality then I’d have changed the day. But it was what it was. It was certainly memorable!

And I got a medal! We had one made and I’ll be able to show our little man and say that I ran a very tough run to get this for him! And that’s something special to me at least.

Have you been running in the cold temperatures?

Have you been doing any virtual races?

Enjoying the food at least

Lockdown 3… the never ending days of sameness.

But Kyle and I have done our best to keep our spirits up and to enjoy the time we have left together (wow that sounds a bit scary). I mean, just the two of us (three with Alfie) before our lives get turned upside down in July.

One thing we really try to do every weekend is go for nice walks and enjoy our food. I mean, options are limited and this is really all anyone can do. But anyway, we try and have a nice walk together, or one of us will meet up with a parent or friend to go for a walk and a takeaway coffee to liven up the social juices.

During my pregnancy I’ve changed my usual coffee of choice (an obnoxiously complicated order) to a decaf almond latte which I just find divine. Previously I’d have some sort of syrup in there but my tastes have changed a bit and all I want is a coffee flavoured delicately creamy drink. Normally at home I’ll have a black decaf coffee (which I’ll invariably liven up with a side of chocolate), so it’s nice to have this simple pleasure to look forward to at the weekend.

Anyway a few other things that I’ve been really enjoying is cooking. We regularly get Hello Fresh, which we love as it jazzes up our weekday meals and keeps organising meals quite easy. But I was also recently sent a pack of game from the Game & Wild company. I’ve had meat from them before and really enjoyed it so I was excited to try out some other bits.

I don’t regularly eat game – I’d be more inclined in a restaurant to try something but I never think to try anything in a supermarket. But their Cook with Game Starter Pack is perfect for people who aren’t sure where to start. It comes with a selection of game and SO helpfully a recipe book.

Within the pack you get:

  • 6 Partridge Breasts
  • 4 Pheasant Breasts
  • 8 Pigeon Breasts
  • Venison Mince 500g
  • Talking Game Recipe Book

I don’t think  I’ve ever tried partridge, pheasant or pigeon so I was quite intrigued. I’ve had venison before (as a steak) but not as mince. I mean I was instantly thinking, burgers! I flicked through the recipe book, and the helpful seasonal recipe leaflet they included, to find options for the meat and the choice was fantastic. So many options!

I used the venison mind to make some INCREDIBLE burgers. They were so tasty. Less beefy than beef but just as juicy. Kyle was a BIG fan.

For the partridge I made a delicious lemon and mushroom risotto using one of the seasonal recipes and it was really tasty.

I love risottos but also feel a bit cheated when there isn’t a lot else going on so the added partridge gave it that extra jazz.

I had grand plans for the pheasant and pigeon by with the recipe of tasty looking curry and a stroganoff but as the weekend weather changed I got a very random and spontaneous desire for a BBQ. I could not get it out of my head!

Thankfully we had some coals saved in the shed, so got it fired up and, instead of wasting money on extra meat at the shop, we decided to bravely try the pigeon and pheasant on the BBQ (as well as some random pork steaks and ribs in the freezer in case it went pear shape!).

I tell you what, it worked! I marinated the breast with a tasty paprika and pepper herby blend and served with salad and buns. It was so good! Different, definitely, but a lovely treat on an early spring evening.

Really recommend this starter pack if you’re in the market for jazzing up your cooking and meals, especially during this boring lockdown period.

As well as cooking, we’ve also been ordering brownies from Instagram.  I mean this has sort of become a problem as we’ve now done it three times. The brownies are SO FRICKING good. They’re from an incredible hobby baker who does bespoke brownies that you order via direct messaging her.

M&M’s, Mini Eggs and Galazy Salted Caramel brownies

She’s been made redundant from work so this is a way for her to get a bit of money while she looks for another job. But MY GOD, she should definitely consider doing this for a living. Her brownies, honest to god, are the best I’ve ever had. I’d even go as far to say the best dessert food I’ve ever eaten. They are dense, squidgy, moist, soft, moreish and packed full of chocolate pieces (of which you can choose). I meeeeean WHAT. Kyle and I can’t get enough.

If you’re in need of a chocolate pick-me-up, I can’t recommend her more. She also does blondies, rocky road and millionaire shortbread (or monster creations blending them). Her Instagram is @nickichalam. Check her out immediately!

Mini Eggs and Guylian Shells brownies

We’ve already got another order on the go with her for next week…

What foodie bits have you been enjoying recently?

Have you ever ordered any baked items off of Instagram?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent the Wild & Game meat for free in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own honest ones.**

21 Weeks Pregnant

Week 21 here we are.

I won’t lie, nothing much has greatly changed in the context of the pregnancy or my life because happily the pregnancy is going smoothly for now, and less happily because lockdown is life so exciting activities are somewhat limited.

That being said, the weather is on the change to spring-like feels and when the sun is out I am so much  happier! I definitely feels like this spring is a LONG TIME coming, you know? We had the darkness of Lockdown 3 over Christmas and then January and February basically being a bit poo, it’s like the weather is foreshadowing better times to come.

And I’m sure everyone is ready for them! Boris’ announcement this week has given us a bit more hope. We actually have DATES to look towards and plan to. Yes it might be months away before life returns to somewhat normality but we have a timeline now thank god!

I did have a little blip last week where at the start of the week I felt a bit meh. I figured it was lockdown fatigue but after my run  on Thursday morning I quickly went downhill and had to go back to bed. I just felt completely and utterly drained. I felt a little sick and just an overwhelming sense of tiredness. I had fears of first trimester-ness coming back with a vengeance. I took Thursday and Friday off from work and of course exercise and literally just spent it in bed with my iPad and a book.

It did me the world of good! By Friday evening (good planning eh!) I was feeling far more energised and alive (and ready for our usual takeaway, obviously) and by Saturday I was even well enough to go for a 10 mile run. Perhaps somewhat optimistically going that  distance I realise, but I went with the flow and it just felt good. The weather definitely helped and I came back with a spring in my step.

Usually I don’t get ill that often but I think this past couple of weeks the baby has had a bit of a growth spurt which has taken a lot of my energy and just knocked me for six. Running on Thursday morning clearly exacerbated things and my body said “nope!”. Being pregnant is hard and I’m not quite the machine (in my head) that I once used to be. But I was sensible and took the rest and then reverted back to Anna normality 😉

My hips have begun to ache a lot more and sometimes running can annoy this so I’m taking each run as it comes. Sometimes missing a usual run and doing a YouTube fitness video instead. I’ve become a lot more relaxed about this because I’m just happy to keep my body moving in a comfortable way that helps keep the baby and me strong.

I do feel like my bump has definitely “popped” more and I’m feeling less bloated and more like an actual pregnant person. With the weather warming up I was able to go for a walk with my coat unzipped and with less of a baggy huge jumper and felt like it was the first time the world had seen my bump. The world didn’t care, but every window I passed I was gawping at myself and my little tummy proudly sticking out. Finally!

Food-wise I’ve been all about chicken. I over did getting Indian takeaways (two a week!) and have now become obsessed with roast chicken, boiled veg and BBQ sauce. I either cook it myself or get it delivered (which is ultimately less faff and SO much tastier as whatever they put on it makes it taste incredible). It’s become a problem. But weirdly the thought of chicken wings and  KFC still are not doing it for me. These used to be my absolute favourite chicken takeaways!

And on a final note, our 20 week NHS scan and midwife appointment went really well! All healthy and happy and now I’m trying to read as much as I can about different bits and bobs to feel somewhat in control when the baby arrives. I have ages yet but it helps calm me a bit to feel I’m learning something ahead of time.

What’s your favourite takeaway?

Are you a good ill person? What’s your favourite way to recover?

Almost 20 weeks pregnant

So I’m almost 20 weeks pregnant and can happily say I mostly feel pretty good.

For me it’s been entirely true what people told me at the start when I was suffering so much during the first trimester, that the second trimester would be a dream. I very rarely get any sickness, most of my food aversions have disappeared (though chicken wings, my favourite crisps and apples apparently are still a no-go). My tiredness is not nearly as bad as it used to be. Occasionally if I’ve done a lot in a day I might have a little nap but generally I’m fine. I have loads of energy to do my workouts, my running and lots of walking (because what else is there to do in lockdown eh…).

I will say though that the thing that has crept up on me has been my body image. I mean this is no real shocker let’s be clear. A woman’s body changes very quickly week by week and it’s definitely an adjustment. No one likes to feel their jeans getting tighter round their waist or feel uncomfortable in general in clothes that not so long ago felt fine.

Obviously I’m pregnant and this is a thing. The baby is growing, my tummy is expanding – these are inescapable realities! But regardless of these facts, it’s still a hard one to adjust to. For the most part of this pregnancy I haven’t changed that much or look that pregnant. The biggest change was my boobs getting bigger. I’ve always had small boobs and so it’s been quite the shock to sudden have a lot more bounce going on!

Boobs aside though, recently I have definitely noticed my tummy “popping” more. And as excited as I am to look pregnant I’m in that awkward stage where it’s more of a bloated tummy than a baby bump look. And as it’s winter I’ve been under hoodies and jumpers and I guess somewhat subconsciously hiding that “bloat”. Ashamedly I’ve felt embarrassed of it.

I know this will sound very “woe is me” but I’ve had the (lucky) genetics of always having a flat tummy. Any weight I’d put on would go to my bum and thighs. But of course I’d get bloated from time to time because that’s life. If I ate a big meal or felt a bit gassy, my tummy would swell out a bit. I’d always be a bit embarrassed about this – as I expect most women would sadly. So now that that’s my constant shape right now I can’t help but feel a little bit self-conscious.

Like I said though, it’s an adjustment. I’m learning to embrace it. It definitely helps having Kyle there to make me feel better and attractive and to keep things in perspective. And I know very soon the bloat will look more like a bump and I will feel more confident in myself.

It is funny though to think that the bigger my bump is getting, the warmer it’s getting and the less clothes I’ll be wearing – so the bump can be “revealed” a bit more day-to-day. Big hoodies and jumpers just make me look like my normal self. I look forward to wearing tank tops and t-shirts so I can “feel” more pregnant all day, you know?

In other news, we’ve got our 20 week scan and midwife appointment on Wednesday which we’re really excited about. I can’t wait to see how much the baby has grown since our 16 week scan. I’m also quite anxious to speak to the midwife to talk about feeling the baby move, as I’ve yet to feel any “flutters”.  I know for first time pregnancies it can happen a lot later but it’s a reassurance I need to hear from someone face-to-face, you know?

I also want to hear that the baby is growing well. I haven’t put a lot of weight on and I hope that I’m fuelling everything right. I run and workout a lot and I want to make sure this is all healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I eat a lot too but the weight gain thing is making me a little anxious. I feel fine, I’ve had no pains and I don’t feel under-fuelled but I’ve never been pregnant before so I’m second guessing everything! I know in reality it’s probably all fine, but hearing from someone with medical experience would just set my mind to rest.

If you’ve been pregnant, did you have an easy second trimester?

Do you have a good body image?

5 Top Healthy Habits of a Highly Motivated Runner

Wow has it gotten cold in the UK, eh!? I’m still out running though and enjoying it. No such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices 😉 Today I have a great article on some good tips for being a motivated runner. Enjoy!

If you are a runner looking to accomplish your goals and even go ahead to beat a personal record, then you must cultivate a few habits of successful runners.

All runners are always looking for ways to improve their running, no matter their level of expertise. This is why you will find most of them pushing themselves to the limit to avoid the risk of stalling. 

One of the many ways to maintain and accomplish your running goals is by adopting healthy habits. Below are some of the healthy habits shared by effective and motivated runners to help you build your running lifestyle. 

  1. Plan ahead

Are there times where you are left wondering what’s for lunch at the last minute, then you end up eating high-calorie foods that are bad for your health? That too applies to running.

Ensure that you schedule your runs in advance and run them as unmovable appointments. This helps to ensure that you stick to your timetable. So, as the week begins, take your calendar, schedule all your week runs. Also, make meal plans ahead of time and set aside time for cooking.

  1. Become a morning runner

Most people don’t have enough time to keep a running routine for a long while still juggling between work and other responsibilities. However, there is a solution, which is to start running in the morning.

According to the U.S& World Report News, running in the morning has a lot of benefits, including the satisfactory feeling that your run is out of the way before life gets in. it also ensures that the runner enjoys long-term results, improved productivity as well as boosted metabolism.

  1. Strength train regularly

Some runners, especially beginners, are hesitant to start due to the myth that it will make them bulky and slower. But this is not the case; strength training is actually enjoyable and makes you an effective runner. 

Strength training is a physical activity meant to improve the runners’ muscles by exercising a certain muscle against external resistance. The benefits of this activity include increased running efficiency, improved endurance to help your body deal better with the stress of running, and much more.

  1. Hydrate and eat more vegetables

For runners, the food you consume is much more than just a meal because it acts like fuel.

What you eat or drink is very important, and therefore you are advised to check how you eat and make those healthy changes. Also, ensure that you carry a hydration pack for hiking as it is designed to transport water and make drinking more convenient when running.

  1. Stay consistent

To improve in running, you need to stay consistent. Do not take a week’s time off if you don’t have an injury.

Staying consistent involves creating exercises and diet plans and making sure you stick to the schedules.

Conclusion

Running on a daily basis and having healthy meals doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. In fact, they should be the motivation to make you a faster and effective runner.

Are you a morning runner?

Do you strength train to help your running?