London trip and Burgess parkrun

This weekend was a lovely long one.

Kyle and I left work on Friday after lunch and walked to the train station to head to London. We had an AirBnb booked so after arriving at Waterloo Station we headed there. Not to state the obvious but it was a pretty hot one! Walking and using the tube was hardwork.

After settling into our accommodation we headed to London Bridge to go up The Shard.

Neither of us had done this before so it was exciting to go up. Though I have to say, the number of queues before you get up there is a little ridiculous: there’s a queue to get inside, then a queue to get your ticket, then a queue to have your items checked, then a queue to have a photo taken (which is mandatory and later you have to queue to view and then pay for if you actually want it), then a queue to get into the elevator before FINALLY arriving on the viewing floor. Jeeze. But once you’re up there it’s pretty spectacular. We had a lovely clear day so got a great view.

We avoided the expensive ice cream (£3 per scoop!) and cocktails at the bar (£13.50!) – definitely not in Portsmouth anymore eh. And then we headed back to the AirBnb to get ready for dinner.

We were going to the Chelsea branch of the Marco Pierre White steakhouse. We glammed up and got an Uber there (who was super friendly and even recommended us the same restaurant we had booked for brunch to the next day – great minds!).

The restaurant was super posh – definitely not something we’re used to 😉

We both had Whiskey Mac cocktails while we perused the menu. I drank mine trying to convince myself I do in fact like whiskey (I don’t, unless large amounts of the ice has melted into it). For starters we had the chicken parfait, then I had the duck leg salad and Kyle had steak, and for pudding we both had sticky toffee pudding.

It was very tasty, but quite small portions. I imagine for “normal” people this would be fine but I’m a greedy large appetited person.

We had grand ambitions of going to a pub and having a few more drinks, but reality set in and we realised buying a few snacks from a corner shop and going back to the AirBnb to watch some Good Place was actually better. We’re simple souls.

The next morning we walked to Burgess parkrun (unsurprisingly in Burgess Park). It was so hot. It was a two mile walk so we were nice and toasty when we got there.

While we were milling around I heard a man talking to two others about his parkrun Alphabet Challenge progress. He mentioned he was going to York very soon and then in a couple of week he was off somewhere in Poland for the Z,

Being the nosy person I am, I interjected and asked which parkrun in Poland. I asked because recently my Z for Zary had been removed from counting as a Z in the challenge. I only found this out fairly recently when I checked on my Bingo Challenge progress. Yep, no more Zary in the Z list. After asking around I found out it’s because the Z in Zary is actually not technically a Z in the Polish/Russian language (it has a special dot above it, meaning it means something else).

I mean, of course I was a bit frustrated when I found this out – I went all that way! But actually I really only have myself to blame for this mistake being the non-Polish speaking ignorant English girl… I don’t regret going to Zary of course as I loved going and it was a great adventure for Kyle and I. It also just means I need to go back to Poland to go to the actual real Z parkrun there (without the little dot above it), Zielona Góra. Watch this space…

But anyway, the man couldn’t remember which one he was going to but said his friends had been thorough in their organising. Well, good to luck him!

Burgess parkrun was a beautiful course which ran through the park, next to the large pond (small lake?) and back round again.

It was lovely and flat, asides from a couple of very brief inclines. And the marshals were lovely and enthuasiastic cheering us along.

My hamstring niggled a little but nothing major. I kept my pace controlled. I find it very hard though during parkrun because as you get to the end people are more enthusiastic in their cheering (“come on, sprint finish!”) and as tempting as that is, it’s not ideal when you’re trying to be sensible.

And it’s hard when people suddenly surge past you… Of course I did speed up a bit, but I tried so hard not to get too carried away in the moment. My time was 24:26.

At the end they had bananas and free gels to try (I declined both, far too hot). Then we headed quickly back to the AirBnb to get showered and head to our brunch in Covent Garden, The Big Easy.

Now BBQ food at 11am might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea but for me this was the absolute dream. It was called the Boozy Brunch and the one we selected (The Big Pig Gig) was an all you can eat BBQ food and unlimited drink. We’re not huge drinkers (and it was 11am…) so we opted for Diet Cokes (unlike the table behind us who were at least three pints throughout the meal haha).

I felt a bit bad because on our second Diet Coke I said to the waitress quite firmly (or so Kyle tells me…) not to bring straws with our fresh glasses. The waitress looked a bit affronted told me actually they were eco-friendly straws… Whoops that’s me told!

Anyway the food itself was so good. We had pulled pork, chicken legs, pork ribs, cornbread, coleslaw, BBQ beans and chips.

Once we got through our first ’round’ the waitress was there straight away asking what bits we’d like again, or just a bit of everything again? Well… just a bit of everything please!

Kyle was a big fan of the cornbread, I loved the ribs and neither of us touched the chips (why waste valuable stomach space!). But everything was delicious. On finishing most of the second round the waitress came back. We were both fairly full but being greedy I asked for a couple more ribs. You know, just because.

THEN I was stuffed. Ooooooof!

I had previously had ideas of going to Doughnut Time afterwards but noooo way would this be happening now. Also, the thought of giant sickly doughnuts really was not appealing in the heat.

We then rolled walked back to Waterloo and headed back home. Kyle played on his iPad while I read my newly acquired book, Ready Player One.

A trip well spent!

How was your weekend?

Do you like alcohol with a brunch?

Have you been up The Shard?

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?