You can never have too much cake

This weekend past was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. It was a great balance of being ridiculously busy and then nice and chilled.

Friday night was a casual Christmas drinks evening with some running club friends at the pub. Annoyingly this pub was walking distance from my new home but I had to house(dog)-sit for my parents while they were in London over the weekend, which meant I had to drive instead. Anyway it was a great evening with most people wearing Christmas jumpers and just having a nice natter.

Christmas jumper

There was even a Michael Jackson tribute singer so a few of us had a boogie. Don’t blame it on the sunshine…

The next morning, as usual, was parkrun at Netley Abbey. The weather was ridiculously mild, albeit a bit windy. We decided to get a photo of our usual set-up crew which was lovely. A few us had our parkrun Volunteer 25 t-shirts on as well which worked out nicely.Netley Abbey parkrun volunteers

I love setting up parkrun with these guys. They’re all just so lovely and we have a good laugh. They were all really supportive when I had my rough times earlier in the year as well. There’s something about running that just brings people together in a good way.

There were loads of guys from the running club running as well because it was our club’s Secret Santa. It was great to see so many familiar faces. At the start I was quite concerned that I was stood next to my super speedy friend, Michelle, but she assured me she was taking it easy having run eight miles already. I think I stayed with her for all of about 100m before she was like a blip in the horizon! Even my friend Chris who I used to be faster than pre-injury zoomed away despite being hungover having not left the pub last night until 1am. My ego got a bit of a kicking 😉

Even splits

However I was really chuffed with some very even splits. I got 22:59 which I’m over the moon with. I really kept my mind focused on the effort. It’s funny because I’ve stopped listening to music at parkrun now. I’ve found it distracts me and makes me feel claustrophobic. I think if I was really pushing for a specific time I might wear some motivating music, but at the moment I’m enjoying ‘naked’ runs. I’ve taken a minute off my faster time from a few weeks ago. This is definitely progress!

I did do some investigation on Strava to see what my fastest time on this course was and found it’s 21:57 in March this year. Jeeze that’s a challenge! Maybe in a few months…

Secret Santa was good fun as well. We all crammed into the café and exchanged gifts.Secret Santa

Thanks again to my official blog photographer, Mark, for the photo 😉

My label said Anna Jayne Smith (*sighs*) so the person didn’t know me that well but they knew me well enough to get me very posh Strawberry and white chocolate cake and a Christmas pudding shaped chocolate slab. Very pleased!!

Afterwards my sister, her fiancée and Meg and Ellie, her two daughters, met up with me so Ellie could run a children’s fun run which was happening in the park at 10.30am. It was a charity race for Ben’s Heroes and entry was £3. Such a good cause. Ellie is almost six years old and has been doing Junior parkrun quite a bit lately with her dad. I’d love to do it with her but it’s a fair distance away from me and I haven’t been able to get there so I was really excited that I was finally able to see her (and join her!) running.

My heart melted when Ellie said she wanted to be a runner like me and run marathons. I’m beyond proud. Obviously this might be a passing trend but for now I’m over the moon she’s so into it. For Christmas I’ve got her some really funky purple Nike leggings.IMG_6852

I’m jealous! I want a pair! But they are TINY.

Back to the race, Ellie was really excited and kept sprinting off and showing me how fast she could run, bless her.Children's raceIt was two laps of the cricket pitch (our usual fast summer course) and the race organiser said the kids could run one or two laps depending how they felt (there were some quite young children). She held my hand and chatted the entire way round. She even told me that running was good because it made you “live longer”. I’m not sure Ellie should be worried about her mortality at this point in her life but it made me chuffed that she associated running with being healthy. I was careful not to run too fast and kept to her speed andsaid we could walk if she needed to, but she was adamant to keep going. In the end we did the two laps (her choice) and she did an amazing sprint finish at the end.IMG_6850

She got a little goodie bag and a lovely medal. She was really pleased with herself and looked like she had so much fun. I was also so proud of her when she offered her goodie bag to a little boy who didn’t get one because they ran out.

The rest of the day was a mad rush of getting myself sorted, checking on my parent’s dogs and then getting back to my flat to have a catch up with my friend Louise and her husband Tom. We’d arranged a kind of afternoon tea gathering as I said I had a panettone I was reviewing for the blog that would be great to share with them and Lou said she might bake something.

Well, they turned up with some very nice artisan bread, loads of different filling choices for sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, jam and a huge freshly baked carrot cake! Afternoon tea indeed!
Home-made afternoon tea

I had a delicious brie sandwich with onion marmalade, a pallet-cleansing slice of panettone 😉 following by a clotted cream and jam scone and then finished nicely with a slice of carrot cake. All washed down with tea obviously. They brought their little one, Jake, over and we had a lovely time stuffing our faces and chatting away. I’ll do a full review of the panettone in another post but honestly we were all pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. It was the perfect level of sweetness for such a sugar-frenzied afternoon.

I then had to rush to an opticians appointment and then rush to my friend Mike’s surprise 40th birthday party (honestly, there was not one single thing I was on time for the entire day). I took with me some sticky garlic and honey chicken wings and breaded paprika chicken tenders that I’d rustled up earlier. Mike was really surprised when he got home and saw us all there after being told he wasn’t allowed in the house until 5.30pm. It was lovely to see how chuffed he was (I might be over-using the word “chuffed”…).40th birthday party food

Sheryl’s photo of her amazing cake and my own poor quality photos below (chicken wings bottom right)

Now you might think that considering all the food I ate earlier would hinder my process in making a dent in all of the buffet food on offer here. You would be wrong. My capacity to eat a lot of food still astounds me. Sheryl made this amazing cake and she let me have a taster piece before she sent out slices to everyone – you know, just to make sure it was tip top quality 😉 I then proceeded to have another slice afterwards. As if I hadn’t already eaten enough cake for one day…40th birthday party

The birthday boy (Photo credit to Sheryl)

It was a lovely evening. Towards the end after some people had left, there were just a few of us and we just sat around chatting about all things running and funny stories. Such a great party!

That night I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling well at all. That’ll teach me. I never learn though. I regret nothing! If you can’t enjoy good food with good friends then something is very wrong.

I was going to recap Sunday but this is far too long now!

Have you ever been to a surprise birthday party?

Are you good at being on time? I am awful. I never leave enough time or contingency time when things invariably go wrong.

Have you ever run with a small person?

Back in the game

Morning, morning. I am pleased to say that I am back in the marathon running game!

OK to be fair (and I imagine you’re used to this now if you’re a long-time reader) I was probably being my usual paranoid runner self about my shin…which actually worked in my favour as I was very cautious and didn’t do my 16 miler long run, nor my Tuesday run. So by Thursday my shin had calmed down hugely and felt absolutely fine. I think the moral of the story for me is not to go crazy with calf raises and tighten up my calf. Oh, and rest is best!

This meant I could join in with a club-organised long run at the weekend, happy days! A few of us decided to make things interesting by doing 17 miles and then doing a parkrun to top it up to 20 miles. The appeal was a faster finish long run, a nice way to break up an otherwise laborious load of miles and also to get in some parkrun tourism. Most of us had never been to Winchester parkrun (which is about 30 minutes away) so it was quite nice to do something different.

The downside, however, was realising that to get the miles in before parkrun meant a very early start. 5.15am alarm for Saturday morning… ooof. This meant Friday night was technically a school night with sensible food and an early night. I made sure to lay my things out the night before ready to make it easy in the morning.

IMG_3910 Decided to wear my Steve Way “Don’t Be Sh*T” top to get me in the zone 😉

I slept so badly as I kept panicking about my alarm and just generally feeling nervous about the run. I woke up at 4.30am and was pleased that I had another 45 minutes to sleep. But then a while later I jolted awake thinking I’d missed my alarm. Well, my alarm was going off all right but it was on silent!! I was so lucky that it was only 5.20am. All thoughts of how tired I felt were gone as I leapt out of bed and got ready in a panic thinking I’d be late.Early morning long run I ate a Trek (Original Oat) protein bar as I walked Alfiea fter I got dressed. Probably not a great idea as it was so crumbly and it was so dark outside I was getting it everywhere. I had the world’s smallest coffee and was good to go! Despite my late getting up, I arrived at the local train station before everyone else. The plan was to leave our cars there, run to Winchester, eat something, then get the train back to our cars.

IMG_3921 The beginning crew ready to run

We were going to meet another friend, Matt, half way there as he thought it best to not run the entire 20 miles as he was recovering from the dreaded plantar fasciitis, and then we’d meet another friend, Kate, at the parkrun as she was running a half marathon the next day.Long run scenery The route was lovely! All along Itchen River and a fair bit off the main road – which is such a relief when running so many miles. Though it did rain on and off, it was a lovely temperature. I really enjoyed chatting away to the guys as we ran – the time flew by. I do like doing long runs on my own when I zone out and listen to podcasts, but there is something truly enjoyable about running with others, especially for such a long way. Long runs can get very lonely.Long run 2 We made it to Winchester parkrun with about five minutes to spare which was cutting it close. I didn’t want to have to run again after the parkrun and was about 0.5 away from 17 miles so did a lap around the course just before we started. This helped minimise the break between the two runs as well.

Winchester parkrun is very flat and is basically three laps around a field – though apparently we did a slight variation of the usual course doing a weird diagonal run across a field. My first mile was a bit panicked and rushed because after they finished the briefing I thought we’d be starting somewhere else but the guy just said “get ready, go!” and I realised I was quite far at the back and had to do a lot of over-taking and dodging around people. I did have a chuckle though when I saw a man who was running with a dog get yanked back as the dog decided to do his business there and then come what may. The guy had to stop and pick up the poo…a parkrun poo, tee hee.

The second lap was tough. My legs felt very heavy and it just felt hard. My pace dropped and I felt myself flagging. The third mile was easier because I knew it was the last, but my legs (understandably) still felt tired. I got 23:29 which I was over the moon with though. But it did make me think long and hard about what I could achieve at Bournemouth. I just don’t feel mentally ready to push the pace at that marathon and I don’t think my training as been as good as Liverpool had been. I also don’t feel the hunger to get a faster time like I did with Liverpool and I really don’t want to put pressure on myself and potentially have a horrible experience.IMG_3931

We all agreed that it was a tough parkrun because of the miles beforehand but were really proud of ourselves. And though Kate didn’t run the 20 miles, she still smashed out a great parkrun and got first lady! So we all felt pretty chuffed.

(Ave. pace 8:37min/miles)


Then it was off to Whetherspoons for breakfast. We all sort of stumbled there slowly and collapsed at a table. Most of us had a fry-up. Fry-up post long runI went for the large fry-up but subbed my hash browns for more bacon (a superior swap I think).


It was delicious! I also ordered a diet coke, a glass of water and a coffee. Hitting all bases.

We got a lift back with Kate which was great as well. I’m so pleased how well the run went. It was definitely the confident boost I needed for the marathon. Though I ran Cheddar Gorge marathon recently, it was still a good few weeks past now and having missed last week’s long run I was feeling a little worried. But during the 20 miles I felt strong and like I could have gone on and on. The pace was slower than my usual long run which is probably a good thing as 20 miles at my usual pace would probably make the next few weeks hard in terms of recovering and being fresh. Though I’m happy I got to pick the pace up at the end to push through.

After getting back I had this mad surge of energy. Instead of usually feeling exhausted I was on fire with housework, walking Alfie and getting stuff done. Though I didn’t feel hungry again until 4pm! (To be fair, that breakfast was HUGE so I’m not surprised).

The next day I decided to have a rest day. My legs felt good, no niggles or twinges, but I felt a general sense of tiredness. Remembering how injury-prone I am and that I’m not the fastest at recovering, I thought it best to forgo any exercise other than some lovely long walks with Alfie. <– Can we just marvel out how sensible that sentence is for me. I’ve come a long way!

Later on I saw Ben’s mum again this weekend for afternoon tea. We were meant to do afternoon tea last weekend but we left it too late so we decided to try again. We headed to a place I’ve been before but not for a while, Lilly’s in Wickham.

Lilly's WickhamWe both went for a slice of red velvet cake, a fruit scone with jam and cream and I had ham and onion marmalade sandwiches.


It was divine. Though I do prefer to have crusts on my sandwiches they were very dainty!

So all in all, a pretty good weekend. Cake and running – things are back to my kind of normal 😉 And now time to taper!

How was your weekend?

What’s your ideal long run? A training run at a race, running solo, running with others?

Crust or no crusts on your sandwiches?

Romsey 5 Mile Beer Race

This weekend was pretty awesome! (<—I really hope I can be saying a similar sentence next week after my marathon…).

My university friends came down to see me on Saturday for my birthday, which is on the 19th. One of them popped down on the Friday night because she was coming straight from work in London (that crazy girl commutes from London to Brighton in the week…that’s a lot of trains!) I picked her up from the station and we indulged in a lovely evening of Indian take-away and the film Pride. I heartily recommend Pride. It’s such a good film with some truly lovely moving moments and is very funny.

In an awkward state of events I needed to do my last long run on the Saturday morning rather than the Sunday as I had the Romsey 5 Mile Beer Race (more on that later). So I planned on driving to parkrun early and doing seven miles beforehand, doing parkrun and then zooming back home. The other girls were arriving around 10.30am which gave me just enough time. They all know how running mad I am so it was fine thankfully.

The pre-run felt alright but wasn’t amazing. I felt a bit “bleurgh” and *wshipers* my shin that I had issues with last year has ever so slightly started niggling a tiny bit during my runs that week. It would be ironic that an injury springs up literally the week before my marathon. BUT like I said, it was ever so slight and more of a tightness than anything. I was only worried because I was scared it was going to develop into something further. To be honest, it’s highly likely that the previous high mileage weeks I’ve done made it grumble and the fact that my shoes are getting older. So I swapped them for my new ones (exact same version) and foam rolled and stretched a lot.

Anyway I got to parkrun in good time and continued a similar pace, enjoying running with people and the lovely sunshine.Netley parkrun June

Photo credit: Kookie51

I literally had to grab a token, get it scanned and race back to the car and head home straight away.


Photo credit: Kookie51

I felt bad for leaving my friend at my house, but we’re very close and she knew to make herself at home.


I got showered, dressed and breakfasted all in time for the other two friends to arrive. It’s always nice seeing them as we just slot back into place like old times and have a good old giggle. They bought me some lovely birthday presents. One of my friends works at Superdry (as part of the audit/accounting bit…or something) and gets 50% off clothes or 70% off in the sample shop!! I got a very nice gilet (<— not an affiliated link!) and T-shirt. SOO chuffed as usually I avoid Superdry as it’s ridiculously expensive.

We decided to have afternoon tea for lunch. We did try my favourite tearoom, Elsie’s, but it was rammed so we went to my second favourite in Lee-On-Solent, The Tea Rooms.


It was delicious. I got roast chicken sandwiches, a fruit scone and a slice of red velvet cake. It does make me slightly concerned that I have absolutely no problem polishing off my afternoon tea while the other girls seemed to struggle…I guess my sweet tolerance has also enjoyed marathon training!

Later we enjoyed a nice walk through Manor Farm with Alfie.IMG_1340

It was a lovely, lovely day. And then we said farewell and I thoroughly depressed myself by watching The Lovely Bones. A good but morbid watch (the book is better though).

The next morning was time for one of my favourite local races of the year, the Romsey 5 Mile Beer Race. I’ve done this race twice before and I love it. The course is undulating and tough but it’s a pleasant route through country roads and the Romsey Road Runners, who organise the race, are so friendly and supportive. It’s always a good day. And you get a free beer and slice of cake afterwards. So yeah it’s pretty good!

My parents came to pick me up and my mum said why didn’t we take Alfie too as they could look after him and it was so sunny and lovely. What a great idea as otherwise Alfie would be home alone for the morning and it was lovely having his furriness there with us.IMG_1346

We arrived in good time and saw lots of people from my running club. The running club was fairly split that day as there was a popular 10k (flat and fast) going on as well somewhere else. I love the beer race even if the course is hard work and would much prefer to do that race than the flatter 10k which, let’s be honest, had no cake offering. Plus the pressures of a flat 10k are just not what I want right now before my marathon!

IMG_1361 (Photo credit to Sheryl James)

I honestly had no idea what to do for this race. It’s a week before my marathon but it’s only five miles. My shin felt pretty alright after my foam rolling so I wasn’t too worried about that (but obviously I did worry because hi I’m Anna and always injured). The last time I did this race I wasn’t in great shape and was coming back from a hip niggle, and the time before that I did really well as I was right in a good phase of fast running and PB’ing.

I also knew if I did push it there could be a chance to place well. Previously I’ve achieved second and third place, respectively, out of the females. I took the pressure off by just wanting to enjoy it, seeing how I felt and not smashing myself to bits because Liverpool is the goal race.

Just before the start I needed another pee and the loos had a long queue. So as part of my warm-up run I ran down a country lane to see if there were any good bushes. I turned around a corner and found a lot of stinging nettles…hmm. There was a couple walking away from me a distance away but no one else around. I thought if I was super fast I could quickly just pee on the side of the verge, away from the nettles, but potentially in full view of anyone who appeared. Mid-pee I heard the sound of a man running up the road to my corner, I yelled out panicked “Stop!! Wait there!” and, as a fellow runner, he knew what was going on and yelled that he wouldn’t come round. When I’d finished and came round the corner I thanked him profusely. He laughed and said he was trying to find somewhere too.

We lined up and then off we went. I got into a good rhythm and found myself with the other lead ladies.

HAM_0165-XL (Photo credit to Paul Hammond)

I honestly felt comfortable 95% of this race. I just seemed to find a good speed. There were several hills but also good down hills as well. I managed to overtake a lady at around mile two and pushed on. As I came up to some marshals a while later they shouted that I was the first lady. I didn’t realise! I thought there was at least another lady ahead. This resolved me to maintain the lead. I think maintaining a lead is harder than gaining one as you have no real control and can’t see where the others are or know if they’re going to suddenly out-sprint you later. It’s mentally tough.

My pace was really good for me but I didn’t feel flat-out. I remember how I felt in the previous years where it was a pain train the entire time. Last year I almost considered just pretending I was sick so I could stop running (pathetic, yes) as I found it so hard. It felt very good to know I was in better shape. A good confidence boost for the marathon!

I didn’t even miss not having music (it’s not allowed as the roads aren’t closed). I just focused on my running and gave myself milestones. It honestly just felt good.

IMG_1373 (Photo credit to Paul Hammond)

At four miles I still felt good. I kept pushing and got to the end bit where you have to run around a cricket pitch before the finish (somewhat soul-destroying). With everyone cheering I pushed harder and that’s when I felt the pain train happen.

IMG_1375(Photo credit to Paul Hammond)

I somehow managed to smile for the camera and then got round the corner for the sprint finish.

IMG_1381(Photo credit to Paul Hammond)

My time was 33:43 (a PB by almost 40 seconds) and first lady. Finally I’d managed to get the first lady position on my third attempt!



(Bit of Strava geeking out…comparing my race to the other two)

IMG_1391I wasn’t completed destroyed after the race either which was great! Just a bit pooped.

Alfie had a great time as well, though he barely noticed me when I ran past him despite me shouting to him. That’s love for you!Romsey (1) Obviously I got my cake ASAP (a slice of moist ginger cake) and got my dad his well-deserved beer.


My parents were fantastic supporters, as were the running club. It was just such a great day.

IMG_1356It’s definitely more of an overall love for the event than simply the race itself, you know?

I got two beer tankards as my prizes (first lady overall and first senior lady) and took a couple more slices of cake home for the freezer (gluten-free brownie and lemon sponge).Romsey (2) You only get one cake token but if you donate money at the end (once everyone has had their slice) you can get more. And my mum was happy as I gave her a cake token someone else had given me…apparently I’m known as a cake monster or something…? My dad also got another beer as well. So everyone was pretty happy!

Overall I’m over the moon with this race. I felt good, my shin feels fine (though I’m considering just cross-training this week to be certain. Or am I being paranoid!?) and I feel like I’m back to where I was.

Romsey beer race, I’ll definitely aim to be there next year!

IMG_1394Three years of the beer race!

How was your weekend?

Do you have a race you always go back to?

Beer after a race, yes or no? I’m not a beer fan in general so it was a no for me (much to my dad’s delight).

Rants and Raves #12

Well I haven’t done one of these posts in a while and I certainly have an abundance of rants stored up in me…but I’ll try and keep it balanced.

Rave: I’ve mentioned a few times about how my Garmin heart rate monitor strap rubs when I wear it. This is highly annoying considering it cost around £50 (separate from the actual watch). I don’t really do heart rate training with all the different zones but, like most runners, I love having all the stats from a run (oh the graphs! Oh the numbers! So much information!). It’s also handy to keep an eye on my heart rate when I’m doing a long run to make sure I’m not pushing too hard. But anyway the strap rubbed my chest and was quite painful, meaning I couldn’t wear it. Very frustrating considering I was able to wear my Polar HR strap when I went to the gym with no issues. I did try putting the actual HR bit on the Polar strap but it kept pinging off…so I did some Googling and found a way to overcome the chafe.

IMG_0289 Plasters! I found this out from the legendry running tech reviewer DC Rainmaker so I’m hugely grateful to him. I’ve had no issues since! The article is HERE. I’m stat happy once again 😀

Rant: Windy running. I don’t mind running when it’s cold, or wet, or really hot, or even in snow…but wind? Wind just sucks your soul and drains your energy like nothing else. I ran 17 miles on Sunday and it felt like I was being slapped by a wall of sea water as I ran along the coast. I ran past another runner and we looked at each other like “why are we out in this?!”. When I got home I then had to contend with the dread Post-Run Hair: Post-run crazy hair Luckily it didn’t take too long to comb through. Short-haired people and (the majority of) men, you are lucky!

Despite the hair issues, the run went well thankfully though my pace was all over the place despite trying to keep it consistent. Though I wanted the final mile to be faster so I could see how it felt on tired legs. It was tough!


And after last Sunday’s fun Southampton half running with a bunch of friends, this run was lonely and hard work. I’m wondering if I can tempt anyone to join me on my 18 miler in two weeks time – or at least part of it…It seems everyone else’s marathons have finished so there’s a severe lack of long run runners on Sundays now.

Rave: Kangaroo burgers at my friend’s BBQ. A local farm shop sells the most amazing meat and BBQ fodder that I couldn’t resist buying kangaroo burgers and some equally delicious red Thai chicken burgers.

Kangaroo burger Kangaroo burger

Kangaroo is a bit gamey and a bit beefy but very nice! The BBQ was on the Bank holiday Monday and was good fun, though slightly chillier than I had anticipated (I wore shorts: mistake). And two of my very talented friends baked cakes which were delicious. Homemade for the win every time.

BBQ cake (1)

How pretty is that cupcake on the right?? My friend Louise is so good at baking!

Rant: Headaches after my long runs. It doesn’t happen every time, but occasionally I’ll get an awful headache that just persists regardless of what I do. I drink a big 500ml of nuun after my run and drink through the day but I don’t drink on the actual run so maybe that’s it? I also try not to drink too much before running because I hate needing the loo half way through. Re-fuelling with lots of sugary cakes is probably not the best thing either. I know I need to be more sensible but all I want is cake when I do a long run! I feel like I’ve earnt it you know??

The Tea Room Lee-on-Solent Another afternoon tea session with my parents on Sunday – The Tea Room in Lee-on-Solent

Rave: Being in the paper! A lovely reader Tweeted me to say they saw me in their local paper. I was over the moon (so was my mum).


Our moment of fame!

The picture above the photo of my running friends and me is of another Hedge End Runner who ran both the Southampton 10k and the Southampton half (same day!) in a Cookie Monster outfit to raise money for charity – what a legend!

Rant: Being forced out of the communal gym area because one of the personal trainers wants to use it for his customers’ boot camp session. Now I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a proper scheduled class run by the actual gym and is pinned up on the board like the other classes (so I was aware), but this is his freelance work and so he really has no monopoly over the gym space. It’s rude and unfair. He pushed out another girl, three guys and me – we were not amused.

Rave: My mum gave me her spare hot sleeve for my hair straighteners so they can cool safely after I’ve used them (my mum is the type of woman who buys two of everything, just in case).

Hair straightener holder

It’s so useful! It means I don’t have to worry about the hot irons leaving marks anywhere or Alfie finding them (find it HEREnot an affiliated link, just if you’re interested!).

What are your recent rants and raves?

Do you get headaches after working out? Any tips?

Do you wear a heart rate monitor when working out?

Afternoon Tea Connoisseur

Thank you all for your lovely and kind words for my last post. It’s a fairly rubbish situation, I won’t lie, but such is life.

Having a marathon to look forward (yes I am really looking forward to it weirdly enough) and having a training focus really helps. It means weekends are pretty much spent running, seeing friends/family, and eating. Very good uses of my time, I’m sure you’ll agree 😉 No sitting around on my own feeling sorry for myself.

This weekend was good fun. I had parkrun Saturday morning and when I looked out the window at the sunny, cloudless sky I was very happy. That was until I stepped outside to give Alfie a quick walk before I left. It was freezing! OK, not freezing, but the wind had a nasty bite to it.

I wrapped up warm to help set-up and then reluctantly peeled off my layers at the last possible minute.IMG_0370

Brrr! My legs were chilly! My friend Mike turned up without a coat in just shorts and a T-shirt and I felt very sorry for him. He was jumping around desperate to get warm. The weather can be very deceptive!

Anyway off we went. It was a frustrating run. It felt great, I pushed hard and I thought I was running faster than before…but I wasn’t. I’m consistent at least but I just cannot get past 21 minutes – not on the current course anyway. To be honest, I’m not that bothered as being near 21 minutes is good enough for me as I haven’t been there in a while and my 5k time is right at the bottom of my running wishes at the moment (keeping injury free, enjoyment and marathon training are my priorities right now). But it still irks me!

IMG_0367 I did get to wear my new Nike running top though so that was nice. It fits like a dream and is a really nice cut. Also nice that I coincidentally have a matching hair band – small things 🙂 And despite being freezing at the start, I started getting really hot on the second mile so I was glad to have worn what I did.

I saw my parents in the afternoon (after quite a cathartic deep clean in the house – very refreshing!) and my dad and me went for another nice walk along Stokes Bay with the dogs. They’re all very good after the walk at just jumping straight into the boot of the car…except Dylan.IMG_0368

Dylan, bless him, is not what you’d describe as an athletic dog…the others will zoom across the fields and chase birds, while Dylan will trot beside you gently. He’ll keep looking up at you as if to say “are we done yet?” And at the end of the walk he just lies down and rolls over when we try to get him into the car. Very cute, but a little annoying!

In the evening I saw some friends and we just hung out having a very easy evening chatting and watching Britain’s Got Talent. It was a lovely, relaxed evening. I headed back home afterwards, rather than stay at my parents (sort of got to get a grip with spending Saturday night’s alone at some point!)

This meant a new route for my long run on Sunday morning. I had 17 miles planned and decided to psychologically break it up so it didn’t seem so scary. I ran towards where my local parkrun is held (Netley Abbey) which is about 4 miles, ran around there for a bit as it’s very pretty and off-roady, then ran back past my house to find another seven miles. It almost felt like two runs if that makes sense. It also meant that on my pre-run walk with Alfie I could leave a bottle of water in a plastic bag in some bushes near my house.


Though I actually didn’t feel thirsty at all during the bulk of the run so I left it there. It was literally only the last mile or so that I fancied any water and passed it again just at the end so it worked out nicely.

IMG_0375 The run felt really good and the change of route was a nice change. Though it had more hills than the beach run I do at my parent’s. This meant a far quicker start as I went downhill at the beginning, then slower coming back. Despite my best efforts to keep things consistently slow I just couldn’t get to grips with what I should be running with all the elevation changes. So instead I kept an eye on my heart rate and effort level.

(Ave. pace 7.59mins/mile)


I only started to find the run tough towards the end, probably 14 miles onwards. It didn’t help that I had changed my route last minute and was having to mentally work out where to run and the mental arithmetic involved (the simplest maths becomes very tricky on a long run). My legs felt tired but not niggly or broken, so I pushed through and finished strong.

IMG_0373 Cat photo bombing!

My lovely short tan lines are reappearing again. Good job I have no holidays in sight requiring me to wear a bikini!

I enjoyed such a luxuriously hot shower after the run. It sounds weird but, as hot as I was running, there is nothing more lovely that a hot shower afterwards!

I stole borrowed my parent’s Nutribullet so I could have a post-long run smoothie. Unfortunately I had limited ingredients so it was just kale, blueberries, summer berries, almond milk and the Nutribullet super powder mix.


There you have Smoothie Sludge. There are other descriptions but I’ll leave it to your imagination… I’m not sure why it turned so brown (all the dark berries?) but there you have it. It was edible, that’s all I’ll say. I hope my body appreciated the goodness at least! I wasn’t hungry at all so it was a struggle to drink (spoon?).

My mum popped over to go for a walk with Alfie and me which was lovely. I always find a leisurely walk after a long run really helps keep things loose. It’s tempting to sit down and stay there all day but from past experience I know this doesn’t help. Plus, who wants to be inside on such a sunny day?

Runger appeared with a vengeance suddenly as we headed back from our walk. This was handy because we’d planned to have afternoon tea. We went to a different tea room this time as unfortunately our plan to go to my local and favourite tea room, Elsie’s in Botley, had a private party.

We went to The Tea Party (another tea room in Lee-On-Solent). The perk of this place is they have a licence to sell alcohol so we had a cheeky glass of Prosecco to toast the cake occasion.


The Tea Party is lovely and quirky with its decoration and the range of cakes looked delicious.

IMG_0380We both ordered afternoon tea. I went for ham and mustard sandwiches and a slice of lemon meringue cake (my mum had cheese and chutney sandwiches and toffee apple cake).

IMG_0386 I like to think of myself as somewhat of an afternoon tea connoisseur having done this now a fair few times so I feel I am a good judge on these things. The sandwiches were lovely. Lots of cheese for my mum and thick tasty ham for me. The scones were warm and crumbly but smaller than other tea rooms I’ve been too, and we had a small pot of cream to share between us. For someone who struggles with sharing food, this was annoying.

My cake was absolutely divine. Very light and lemony. However the slice was small. Now perhaps this is the Cake Monster within but my mum also commented that they looked small. She took hers home though in the end whereas I polished mine off very easily and quickly. Very nice, but slightly disappointing.

I probably should find better ways to refuel after long runs, but this is a far more fun way to do it!

What do you look for in a good tea room (and/or afternoon tea)?

Have you had any smoothie disasters?

How do you stay hydrated during long runs?