Happy things (OK food)

OK so hamstring moaning aside, let’s do a more fun update.

Despite not running 30-40 miles a week, I’ve still been enjoying my food. It makes me SO angry when people have mantras like “you earnt that cake” or “you deserve that meal” after you’ve done a workout. Like you need to “earn” the calories you eat.

NO YOU DO NOT.

I live in a very happy mindset that I eat food that makes me happy. Food that makes me feel good. That doesn’t mean I eat chicken wings, cake and chocolate all day every day but it does mean I eat them when I fancy. And because I eat them when I fancy, I don’t crave them or see them as “naughty” food. Food that apparently must be earnt or burnt off.

Food that makes me happy and feel good can be a giant salad. It can mean a big bowl of porridge. A crunchy apple. A bag of Peanut M&M’s. A slice of cake (or two). All the chicken wings.

I eat food indisciminately. And just because I’m not running doesn’t mean I’ve stopped eating the foods that are probably less good for my body but more good for my soul. I haven’t gained weight. My body just knows what to do and I know what to give it.

So onto some of that damn good soul food.

We had our annual Bristol BBQ at my friend’s Kate and Jay’s in June and it was, as always, incredible.

The white chocolate and blueberry cheesecase was brought by one of our other friends and it was INSANELY GOOD (as always).

It does concern me when everyone else found it so rich and I was ready for another slice… but I exercised some self-control (which I rarely have) and decided to stick with the one large slice I had.

Kyle and I have also been thoroughly enjoying going out for the very cheap and basic carveries. This is absolutely when quantity is trumping quality in these sorts of things, but as we know, I’m a quantity girl. It’s sad but true.

Though to be fair, the carveries we’ve had have been delicious. The veg might be that teeny bit overdone, but god it’s good how much you can have.

We went to the Inn By the Sea in Lee-On-Solent and I had turkey and gammon and it was divine. Lots of veg, cauliflower and cheese, stuffing, gravy and a sausage. So good. I’m a bit of a weird one though in that I’m not a Yorkshire pudding fan… I know, I know, apparently everyone loves them but me. It just means that whoever I’m with gets a spare one.

But the piece de resistance lately has been somewhere I’ve been desperate to visit for ages after seeing rave reviews and incredible looking meals on Instagram. A little pub called the King’s Street Tavern in Southsea.

They have a fantastic menu specialising in BBQ and smoked food and it is RIGHT up my street. Kyle and I went at the weekend and we both ordered the tray which had two smoked items and a side, and we also shared two different types of chicken wings (BBQ and BUffalo).

Omg the quantity AND quality of the food was SO FRICKING GOOD. I had half a rack of ribs and burnt ends, with a side of charred vegetables (I didn’t want to fill up on chips). Kyle went for the smoke sausage and the half rack of ribs too.

It was so good. The wings as well were PERFECTION. Three boned, super meaty with a delicious Buffalo sauce and a blue cheese dip. Kyle had the BBQ wings (I prefer Buffalo). Omg I cannot rave enough. We left very full and very satisfied!

We’ll definitely be back!

Have you had any tasty food recently?

What’s your favourite cheesecake flavour?

Do you have a chicken wings flavour preference?

Hamstring Update

Not to dwell too much on the old hamstring situation because I’m trying to stay POSITIVE. But a little update in how it’s going.

So I’ve been strengthening it as much as I can at the gym. I would guess I’m in the phase of the injury where it’s more safe to stress it out a bit in order to strengthen it. I’m doing more functional and, well, “weighty” exercises. These include nordic curls, sled pushing, reverse box jumping, glute kickbacks with more weight and lying hamstring curls.

I attempted a mini run last night. I went out aiming for about 1km… it didn’t feel great I won’t lie. It didn’t feel terrible but it certainly didn’t feel like a particularly comfortable run. It niggled the entire way but stayed consistent in its discomfort rather than getting worse. Walking around afterwards and the next day didn’t feel any different either.

I do wonder whether that length of a run isn’t really much of a good test but I’m being super cautious because of Chicago (14.5 weeks away). I want to try another run soon, but longer. If I’m honest I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing at the moment but at the same time, I’m taking a very measured and gentle approach. Any set-back on my hamstring and I’d immediately stop. My thoughts are that I do need to stress the hamstring out a little in this very functional way in order to get stronger.

When I had this issue after Boston a few years ago (where I believe this is where it all started but has been low level hiding since) I ran quite a lot through the issue. I’m very fastidious with tracking my “training”. I have an Excel sheet that I track all my workouts, gym and running, and will write details about them. It helps me track what I’m doing at the gym (weights, sets, reps) and when I’m injured I can refer back and read about how that run workout, what I was doing to manage things etc. This is obviously super helpful now. Each run I did I would say things like “urgh hamstring niggled throughout” or “deadlifts definitely made my hamstring worse” and I can see how many miles I ran and when it started to get better.

From the looks of it, it took about 11 weeks to heal. 11 weeks. I actually feel sick typing that. What I quickly have to remind myself though is that I’m a lot more “educated” now. Like when the issue first cropped up then I continued doing heavy deadlifts and pushing my hamstring when I should have let it calm down before gentle incorporating very specific hamstring exercises back in (like I am at the moment). I was also super reluctant to stop running (I continued to run for 5 weeks).

So my hope is that THIS time around I’ll be back to comfortable running in less time. I’m currently on week 5 of not running and strength training diligently and sensibly. By dealing with my injury in a very controlled way and having this plan and focus I’m helping myself not fall too much into the Well of Darkness that often plagues injured runners. I have my down moments and I’m trying not to panic about Chicago but I’m only human after all.

Anyway, onto happier and more pleasant things…. sausages. I was sent some sausages and burgers again from the lovely people from Wild and Game.

They sent me some Premium Grouse & Wild Boar sausages.
I adore these sausages (to be honest I really really like all Wild & Game sausages).

They are SO fricking tasty. I made a really random meal for Kyle and I one evening – basically emptying the fridge of stuff that needed eating and I threw in the sausages chopped up with a load of vegetables and it was DIVINE.

Kyle was even super impressed – he loved them.

And they also sent some Pheasant & Venison burgers.

Again, these were so tasty. The sausages and burgers do have a rich and gamy taste but not overwhelmingly so. They just taste very flavoursome and meaty.

This is because there is 47% Wild Boar and 25% Grouse in the sausages (for comparison Richmond Thick sausages contain 42% pork). The burgers contain 40% Pheasant and 35% Venison. Good quality ingredients and less “filler”. And the products are low fat because of the meat they’re using (game is less fatty compared to traditional sausage and burger meat like pork and beef).

What’s your favourite kind of sausage?

Do you eat game a lot?

Do you think I’m doing the right thing with my hamstring?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the Wild & Game products for free inexchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Easter Weekend

The UK just experience an almost unbelievable thing… a SUNNY and warm Bank Holiday long weekend. I mean, this is rare. Usually on long weekends we’ll get darkness, coldness and invariably rain.

Friday I had a lovely 7 mile run to set me up for the day after a nice lie-in. There’s something so magical and wonderful about a Friday off of work. In the afternoon I headed to Reading where I met up with the lovely Emma and Cortney for some Harry Potter-themed shenanigans. I’ve been before but I was excited to go with Emma and Cortney as I’d be able to make some good new memories with them there.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we walked around basically being kids again – getting the different stamps in the different places for our HP Passports and just enjoying all the behind the scene trivia.

We tried the Butterbeer and confirmed, yes it was in fact disgusting. Like cream soda but worse.

We also enjoyed the fact that though we were fans of the books and films, we were not superfans in that we weren’t anal about what we knew or in what book what happened. It was very chilled. It has made me want to read the books again tho (for the zillionth time…).

The next morning we headed to Woodley parkrun. I’ve done Reading parkrun before so I quite pleased to try a different one.

It was very warm already despite not even being 9am. Wowza, summer has arrived!

I was feeling good so decided to see what my legs had in them. I popped some music on and got carried away as everyone charged forward at the start. The course was three laps and pretty much flat asides from a couple of quick inclines and a nice little downhill. It looped around a playing field and was on both trail and pavement. It was a fairly quick course, and quite pretty as it went round a lovely pond area.

I managed to pick off a few females but ultimately just tried to hang on to a speedy pace (for me). I’m chuffed I managed a negative split and a time within the 20s (20:37).

This hasn’t happened for a while and has given me a bit of an urge to ramp up the speed training again… (Parallel to this happening, Kyle was almost smashing a sub-20 minute parkrun at Portsmouth Lakeside with 20:04!).

It was WARM though. I was sticky and sweaty afterwards. Lovely. Emma wasn’t long finishing after and then we both cheered Cortney in. Emma killed my soul though by forgetting her parkrun barcode…and not even minding! Mind. Blown. 😉

We then headed of course to brunch. parkrun and brunch, I cannot stress how much joy this brings me. Emma took us to one of her favourite spots, the Geo Café. It’s a lovely little café and has a very hipster feel offering Georgian-themed dishes and vegan cakes. No dirty big fry-up for me! I got to try something new for a change.

I had the decadent duck dish. This had two fried duck eggs on top of two slices of freshly baked sourdough and black pudding. It was delicious. And not a piggy portion in sight 😉

Afterwards we got some cake to takeaway (obvs). I went for a slice of vegan chocolate cake. Now usually I’m not a chocolate cake fan (or vegan for that matter) but it called my name as I stared at it. It literally looked like heaven.

I managed to polish it off when we got back (Cortney, a normal human being only managed half – why am I like this?!). I did feel somewhat sick though…possibly the cake pop on top finished me off but it was worth it.

Then the three of us went and got pedicures. I mean WHO EVEN AM I!? I tell you what though, it was so needed. My feet have not received such love and attention for a LONG time. I did feel for the beautician though having to deal with my feet… She reassured me that she’d seen worse but I’m not so sure.

I’m SO pleased with how pretty they look. OK I know, my feet are still pretty grim but at least they sparkle now (I pondered whether to upload a photo but thought I’d spare you). Then I drove back to Portsmouth to Kyle’s where we enjoyed a lovely lazy evening with an Indian takeaway.

The next morning we were up at a reasonable time to try and beat the heat ready for our 13 mile run. And to swap Easter Eggs 😀

Kyle”s mum got me two amazing eggs – and on the pineapple shaped egg she crossed out “pine” 😀

Where Kyle lives, it’s tricky to do long runs as it’s ridiculous hilly (it’s near Queen Elizabeth Country Park). The first 5k is very undulating and then mile four seemed to go up a mountain.

It was really quite warm so it was tough going. Unfortunately as we got to almost mile 5 Kyle had to stop due to his calf giving him a bit of aggro. He sensibly decided to head back home (which wasn’t *too* far away at this point) while I headed on to continue the run.

As I didn’t know the route Kyle had planned it seemed most sensible to just do an out and back along a route I was familiar with. Kyle also said he could come back on his motorbike to give me some water and my headphones if I wanted them.

As I carried on running I realised I was actually fine without having any music or podcasts, like I’d normally have during a long run, and just let my mind drift off. I was quite enjoying the run and it didn’t feel too tough, despite how undulating the route was and the hot sunshine beating down.

At 10 miles as I was heading back Kyle pulled up next to me. I was really grateful for the water and gulped it down. It was nice to see him but I turned the headphones offer down as I was quite enjoying the nothingness.

Then I carried on. My run came to 14 miles in the end (I ran too far on the out clearly). It was a lovely run, despite not having the company I thought I was going to have!

Then Kyle and I headed to his dad’s for a roast dinner with that side of the family. It was so lovely. Since meeting Kyle I’ve been welcomed into his family so warmly and through him met so many more lovely people. I feel very lucky and blessed right now – cheesy I know, but true.

We (unwisely?) did some fun and games outside after eating, like high jump and limbo and some ball games. And then enjoyed some DELICIOUS cake pops that Kyle’s sister had made.

Omg so good. Brownie cake pops covered in either white chocolate or milk chocolate. I could have eaten them ALL.

Then we finished the long weekend with a long walk on Monday followed by a BBQ at my my parent’s house with my sister and her partner. Family-time for me is so precious and special. I love that we all get on so well.

What a lovely sunny, happiness-filled weekend!

Did you have a nice Easter?

Did you get any Easter Eggs?

Do you like Harry Potter?

QECP parkrun, the Sweet Tooth Festival and the best ribs

Through Facebook I found out about an event that was RIGHT up my street. The Sweet Tooth Festival. I mean whaaaat.

On further investigation I found it was in Fareham, very local to me, and basically a load of stalls selling cakes, sweets, fudge and more. I was very keen to check this out!

But first, parkrun. I decided on Queen Elizabeth Country park parkrun as it was most local to Kyle as he very kindly offered to cheer me on. He’s still not running. He’s being far more patient and sensible than I would be as he wants everything to feel completely normal before he starts running again, which is obviously a good idea. It would be a shame to rush back into things and re-ignite the injury. But being the lovely guy he is, he offered to come with me to QECP.

We got there for 8.45am and walked the very short but STEEP distance to the start. I’ve run this parkrun once before but in the pouring rain so it was nice to have it in drier conditions. There weren’t a huge number of other runners – I don’t think there are usually because it’s quite out of the way from residential areas and it’s a tough one to regularly do. The run director delightfully informed us it sits at number 509 on the flat scale out of 519 parkruns!

Kyle would be able to cheer us on twice – after about a mile with the first loop and then at the finish. The first mile is a straight up slog and then a breakneck downhill, so quite varied!My legs were already burning within the first five minutes. I managed to take the lead out of the females quite soon but there were only 36 other females and 85 runners in total.I was actually quite surprised at how good my legs felt despite being asleep not very long ago and having run a marathon less than a week ago. I decided to just embrace it. The second mile is the worst. The hill you have to climb really does just go up, up, up. When you think you’re almost there, you turn a corner and see more to come. Definitely not a negative splitter!The run felt good but tough. The final mile has a great downhill section to really gain some speed and then some cheeky inclines and then a straight run to the end. I somehow managed to get myself 8th place which was very cool.
My time was 22:13 – I’m over the moon with that! It certainly helps to have someone cheering you of course.

After sorting ourselves out, Kyle and I headed to the Sweet Tooth Festival in Fareham.I’d describe myself as a small child in a sweet shop but realistically I was like Anna in a cake shop 😉 I was very excited. It was £4 entry and then we were able to wander round the different stalls and TRY ALL THE TASTERS. CAKE TASTERS. I mean, this is LITERALLY heaven. I realise I’m over-using the caps here, but seriously. Amazing.There were so many different local cake bakers and sweet-related companies – it was so cool! Companies like The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen, The Game Bird Country Catering, The Rolling Scones…etc. etc.
As we hadn’t had any breakfast yet and were planning to head to Southampton for lunch we really tried to not go to mad on the tasters…but I did have my fair share of brownie chunks, cupcake bits, pieces of cookie and forks of cake slices. A decent breakfast I think! 😉

I think I was mostly impressed by the amazing looking cakes. The Rolling Scones had so many fantastic and unique sounding cakes… a Rolo chocolate cake and a Caramac cake to name just two. And they looked incredible. The best part was there were taster slices that we could try. I mean WOW.There was even a competition to guess the weight of a cake – to WIN the cake. Kyle and I took ages trying to decide. We’ve both done weights in the gym quite a bit so we were trying to imagine what dumbbell it would equate to.
This was some serious business! In the end we went for 3.5kg. It was apparently around 1.9kg, so we were quite a bit out…wishful thinking eh!I could have spent a fortune at the festival. In the end I feel I was fairly restrained (for me!). I bought a blondie, a salted caramel brownie and a cookie.Kyle got a cookie, a Ferraro Rocher brownie and we both shared a rocky road slice. We saved them though because we were heading for lunch straight after. The temptation to eat them though was SO strong.It was a good thing that the traffic was horrendous getting into Southamtpon (because of the boat show) as it meant our stomachs could have a bit of time before our next onslaught of food. Because we’d enjoyed Red Dog Saloon so much the last time we went we decided to go there again. The last time we went Kyle had had these amazing deep fried ribs as a starter and we were both hankering after them again.

God they are SO good. To be honest I probably could have eaten an entire rack of them but they’re very salty and probably terribly bad for you… but they taste omg good.And for mains I went for chicken wings… I know, I’m so predictable. I went for quite a piggy 24. The options were 6, 12 or 24 and I knew 12 wouldn’t be quite enough. I wasn’t sure how spicy the buffalo would be so I went for half buffalo and half BBQ. I should have just had buffalo though, they were SO good and not spicy at all. I didn’t have any sides as I knew I’d literally have a lot on my plate. Kyle had a beasty burger and epic fries with bacon, cheese and chicken bits on.I managed 19 wings before throwing the towel in. I didn’t want to push myself to discomfort – I had nothing to prove this time 😉 I eat for enjoyment after all. They were very tasty though and I ate all the buffalo ones. We were far too full for pudding, and we also had our sweet treats back at home. I can definitely see her going back here a few times!

The next day I left my run until the afternoon so I could enjoy a lovely lie-in and chilled morning. It was such a nice change not to go running straight away when I woke up. I rarely ever have such lazy Sunday morning. And actually it worked perfectly because it was pouring it down with cold rain and howling a gale outside. It was a welcome relief to not go out first thing.When I did finally get out it was blue skies and only a little breezy. I had some grand ambitions of doing 15 miles but after running 10 miles on Thursday evening and being a week from the marathon I sensibly decided 12 would be quite enough. I know for me this high mileage so soon is a bit reckless so I need to be careful. Injuries are easily come by for me.Annoyingly my headphones ran out of battery four miles in but it was actually quite nice to have a “silent” run. I just relaxed and let my mind wander. Though I could definitely feel my legs getting tired towards the end. I was glad to stop. It was not one of those “I can run forever runs”! But a solid run nonetheless.

Do you ever do a long run without music or a podcast?

Do you enjoy food festivals? They’re one of my favourite things.

What brownie flavour would you go for?

Celebrating my birthday and not running

So I’ve taken a week off of running. After the Jersey Half (and, let’s be honest, a good number of weeks of beasting myself with races and speedwork) I needed a break from running.

Basically mentally and physically I was kind of done. Don’t get my wrong, I’m super pleased with everything I’ve achieved but I’m genuinely pooped. I could feel it happening the week before the half and the half just pushed me over the edge. My calf had begun to niggle as well – which is always a sign of me over-doing things, especially speedwork. I’ve come to realise that it really doesn’t matter what kind of strength training I do, my calves will always be my weak point and I’ll always get niggles there. Maybe I need to strengthen them up? Foam roll them more? Do more stretching? Who knows. But I’m pretty sure my calf has started to niggle because I’ve ramped up the speedwork quite a lot recently as well as the volume of my running. I never learn but there we go.

The calf is feeling a lot better though and mentally I feel a lot more chilled. At the same time I also changed gyms. I just randomly decided to do this on a whim. I saw a new PureGym had just opened literally 5 minutes from my work (though my old gym was only further down the road so really the distance isn’t a thing) and it was offering a cheaper rate. I like PureGym and because it’s all new and swanky I thought I might as well change. As much as I did like my old gym, it was old and the changing rooms were a bit grotty. There was also no air conditioning.

Anyway on Saturday morning I decided instead of parkrun (to be all sensible and keep the calf happily getting better) I went to a Les Mills spin class (“Sprint”). I’ve been to many spin classes but never a Les Mills one. And at this PureGym (North Harbour one in Portsolent) they have a “digital coach”. This means that instead of having a real person guiding you through, there was just a huge screen where you watched some Les Mills coaches giving the session. That sounds pants, I know. But actually it was brilliant. The coaches were really good. And the room was all dark which strangely made things easier – but harder? Like you could just absolutely beast it out but without worrying about people seeing you gurning. I don’t know, it worked for me! Better to have a virtual amazing coach than a sub-part bored real instructor in my opinion. It properly destroyed me though. I was a sweaty mess at the end. I think I’m a relatively fit person… I’ve run marathons and stuff. But jeeze that killed me.Then I headed quickly home to get showered and sorted to meet my uni friends for a fun birthday meal. My 30th is on Tuesday so they were down to help me celebrate. We went to one of my favourite restaurants in Southampton, Sadlers, which serves insane smoked and BBQ food. I’ve been a number of times and it’s always fairly epic.Since Jersey I’ve been craving nachos like crazy. What is wrong with me?? But I didn’t just want to order nachos (though they were renowed to be a large portion). Thankfully though my friends came to my aid and we ordered two portions for the table to share. Whew! So I was free to order my own meal of ribs. Unfortunately compared to previous times I’ve been it seems that portion sizes have changed. I mean, I know realistically I’m the only one who’d be miffed at this because I have a monster appetite but I only got two ribs. I went for the smaller portions of ribs but STILL. £15 for two ribs? You’re joking. And also, no cornbread despite it being on the menu? I’m disappointed. The ribs were good don’t get me wrong but the portion size was a bit lame.I realise for normal people this would probably be fine. But Kate went for the larger portion of ribs and got four. She paid £5 more… I just think that’s a bit lame really. I remember ordering ribs and having loads. Like I couldn’t possibly finish them. Anyway, when I saw the portion size I quickly ordered a side of wings. The wings were lush! The nachos were good too but there were blobs of pulled pork rather than a layering. So again, a bit lame.

Despite the food being somewhat underwhelming, the company was fabulous so really I didn’t mind at all. The food was tasty and we had a good time regardless. It was lovely to catch up and see them all (especially as there are now two gorgeous babies in the group as well – not that I’m a particularly baby person but as babies go, they’re alright ones).

Then we walked to Sprinkles down the road and had an immense pudding. I went for my usual Sticky Situation (lots of cookie dough, ice cream, chocolate and white chocolate). But ooof it was tough-going and I only managed HALF. What is even happening to me? Where has my monster appetite gone?!

It was just too much sweetness. But it was delicious. All in all a fantastic day. In July we’ll be going to Centre Parcs as a group to jointly celebrate all our 30th birthdays so that’ll be amazing.

Saturday evening I had a very chilled one (I was partly in a food coma if I’m honest) and watched the very strange film mother! I quite enjoyed it. Once I got on board that it was an allegory of the sixth day of creation from the Bible I found it a lot more engaging. But yeah, a weird one.

Sunday I had a nice lie-in and then took myself to another spin class (this time Spin RPM). If I thought the class the day before was hard I knew nothing. This was insane. I’ve never sweated so much in my life! And yet, as hard as it was, it was really good. Like I felt like I could properly push myself hard. My calf and everything felt fine so I could properly get into the workout and give it my all. I then did 30 minutes on the cross trainer at a light intensity. So though I didn’t get my beloved long run I did get a good sweat on and enjoyed a rather different workout.

Then I got home and ready super fast to head out for a joint celebration of Father’s Day and my birthday. My parents and I headed to The Pig in Brockenhurst. I booked this in April because it’s renowned of being super hard to get a table. We all kept remarking how lucky we were to be there on Father’s Day no less!

The Pig was AMAZING. Like the whole setting was beautiful. A very rustic and old antique style to it.The restaurant was located in a like a large conservatory type room which was just beautiful. Lots of plants, pretty paintings and rustic style furniture. And the service was so good. Very attentive, you felt well looked after.

We had mini starters before our regular starters (“Piggy Bites”) which were delicious. I had the Brock Eggs (eggs wrapped in shredded ham and bread crumbs), which tasted divine. And then for my actual starter I had the charcuterie board. Oh so tasty!!

For main I had The Pig’s signature dish, the tomahawk pork chop with a creamy sauce and a side of Isle of Wight tomatoes and basil. Literally HEAVEN. It was so tasty. But of course there was just enough room for pudding…because, why not?

I had the dark chocolate tart with toffee honeycomb ice cream. YES. A perfect way to end the meal. We all enjoyed our food and vowed definitely to come back at some point (for a special occasion, because it’s not cheap!).

A fabulous way to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. Despite not doing any running for the weekend, I had such a good couple of days!

How did you spend Father’s Day?

Do you like going to posh restaurants? The Pig didn’t feel super posh but it was definitely not Nando’s!

Have you ever done a Les Mills class?