150 parkruns and a glamping experience

The weekend gone was truly fantastic. It was non-stop amazingness. The pinnacle of which was the Cakeathon race I did on Monday (there was a Bank Holiday weekend for most people in the UK so I enjoyed a long weekend). I will do a full race recap on the Cakeathon in another post because honestly it was just plain AMAZING.

My weekend started, as usual, with a parkrun. Originally the plan was to go to Southsea parkrun again with some running club friends but we realised it was Geoff’s, another running club friend, 150th parkrun (yes, 150) and he was running at Netley Abbey. So we decided to go there instead to help celebrate with him. Southsea can wait for another week! Geoff is one of Netley’s ‘core’ parkrun people and he is fantastic in his volunteering and general support – top guy!

He also brought 100 cakes to celebrate. All baked by his nephew (who’s a chef!). Each cupcake had “150” on them and they looked (and tasted) fantastic.IMG_0671

After setting up, I warmed up with a few guys and we discussed what we hoped to get that day. One wanted a sub-22, another a sub-23 and I wanted sub-21. I was so close last week. Also, different to normal, I had had breakfast and a black coffee before coming to parkrun that morning and wondered if this was the go-go juice needed to push the pace. Normally I don’t eat beforehand but I was having an early lunch.

IMG_0666Porridge, chia seeds, almond milk and a black coffee

As soon as the race began I knew I felt good. My pace was exactly where it needed to be and I felt smooth, strong and speedy. The second lap got tougher. I always find the middle mile the worst as you’re basically holding on for dear life and there’s still a way to go. On the last lap I could see Iwan Thomas (the Olympic 400m runner who’s hilarious on Twitter) ahead and decided to just stay as much with him as I could (well, behind him anyway).

My only problem was feeling sick on the last lap – which I put down to effort level and the breakfast I had in my tummy. But overall I did feel better; I could feel the energy in my reserves (OK this might have been psychological). My time was 20:34 and I was over the moon!! Fastest for the three lap Netley course (by a second) and eight seconds from my overall Netley PB (done on the flat cricket pitch course in 2013). Yesssss! But I was flat on my back at the end, pooped.

IMG_0669I obviously celebrated with one of Geoff’s cupcakes and a nice sit down in the cafe afterwards with the guys. The other two almost managed their goals but were still relatively happy overall. It was a hot morning!

From the results it said I was 2nd female, but I know I was third as my speedy friend Karen was first and I was overtaken early on by another girl. But she didn’t scan her barcode. Apparently she’s done this a few times – for what reason I’m not sure. I think this is a bit ridiculous. Why wouldn’t you? It just seems a bit unsportsman-like and makes a mockery of the parkrun. Don’t use the other runners for your run and then not go through the parkrun motions. If she doesn’t want to be on the results, don’t run the course. Simple. It also mucks up the results for everyone else.

Anyway Geoff force fed me another cupcake (who am I kidding?? There was no forcing…) and then I dashed off home to prepare (mentally and physically) for a camping hen do adventure…

My friend, Sarah, is getting married in July and she loves camping. In fact, she’s requesting for everyone to camp for their wedding (yes, really). They themselves are camping on their wedding night and where they’re getting married there are not hotels nearby. Madness. It was therefore no surprise the hen do would involve camping. Thankfully, it was more ‘glamping’ than proper camping. Though there was still no electricity, running water or toilets except for ‘on site’ a short walk from our tents.IMG_1267 I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the interiors of the tents were. Airbeds, carpet, duvets, pillows and a hamper full of utensils and cutlery. Very posh and swanky. And lovely fairy lights for the evening (battery-powered of course).

The hen do was going on until Monday but I couldn’t stay for the entire thing as I had the Cakeathon in Kent and was staying there on Sunday night. But I was able to do the Saturday activities at least. This involved hiring bikes and going for a nine mile cycle through the New Forest.

IMG_1266 There were 15 of us for this activity and we got three tandems as well. Cycling a tandem with someone is not easy – especially up hills! Initially when I heard the distance I was like “pffft! This is easy, I’ve cycled so much further!”. But with a load of excitable and non-cyclist females and three tandems…well, we took a long time!! It was bloody hard work cycling the tandem up hills I can tell you! And a fairly frightening process at that, especially for the person on the back who can’t see what’s going on.

Thankfully we survived. That evening we got dressed up (as best as you can really on a campsite) and headed to a local pub for some dinner.

IMG_1269 Initially everyone poo-pooed my chef salad selection…until they saw how massive it was and the size of the slices (wedges really) of brie I got as well. It was full of chicken, olives and the cheese. It was delicious. I also got someone’s unwanted goat’s cheese wedge. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much cheese before in one sitting! I also had a sneaky small bottle of Prosecco. The others were drinking, but not too heavily (that was Sunday’s plans I think) and I didn’t want a hangover so I stuck with one drink.

Pudding was a chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was more a of crumbly cake…it let me down in the brownie department as I normally expect them to be dense and stodgy but I forced it down regardless… 😉 Tough times.

The evening involved just some girlie nattering and then falling asleep. It was cold though, but this is probably because in our tent we’d accidentally left a large air vent open which basically acted like an open window. The next morning we were woken by bright sunshine, children and birds. Nothing like being on a campsite!

Thankfully I could forgo the showers as I was leaving early and could shower at home. I also left having breakfast until home as well. They’d planned to go for brunch and I needed to get back to pack and get sorted for my next outing. But I did have a cup of tea using my friend’s camping kettle.


My mug of course

Quite a cool piece of equipment. I’ll have to invest in one of these if I intend to camp again…not sure when that’ll be though!! I’m a creature comforts kind of girl. Not high maintenance per se, just I like warmth and proper food.

After saying my good byes I headed home. I was able to shower, eat, pack, do washing and hoovering before being picked up by the lovely Laura, from my club, who was doing the Cakeathon too. And off to Kent we went! We live in Southampton so it was a good 2 hours 45 minutes away. Road trip!IMG_1271

Which obviously included a Costa stop to keep us going 😉

The Cakeathon (which I will recap properly soon) is a 3.2 mile lap race that you can complete as many times as you like within 6 hours. For every lap you complete you get a coloured wrist band.

One wrist band = one slice of cake

What a fantastic idea!! As soon as I heard about this race a few months ago I immediately went to sign up, but found it to be fully booked with a waiting list. I was devastated. But, due to high demand, they decided to run another event and those on the waiting list got first shot at applying, which I did immediately. I knew it was in Kent but, being the simple-minded geographically clueless idiot that I am, I thought that wasn’t too far away…Until I Google mapped it: almost three hours in the car! And it started at 8.30am. Riiiiiight. My friend had signed up too so we both decided to get a hotel for the night before. Hence the road trip!

And I shall leave it there…

How many parkruns have you done?

Do you enjoy camping?

If you run, what’s your motivation? Amongst many, many things, one of my reasons is cake. Simple!

A good normal weekend

Hello Monday! Hope you all had a lovely weekend, ours felt like old times again. The holiday is a distant memory sadly (one week of work pretty much wipes away all that joy away…).

This weekend started with a delicious meal of ribs. I’d love to say I marinated them myself but I didn’t. I just saw them in Tesco and spontaneously bought them. Though I have ribs on my recipe to do list for definite.

BBQ ribs - Tesco

Both Ben and I agreed that though it said it was for two, you could have easily eaten one pack on your own. The portion size was a bit measly (though I might still be distorted by my holiday…). With the sweet potato fries though it worked OK, it was just slightly disappointing.

Saturday morning both Ben and I got ready for parkrun. I’ll do a post on my running (and Ben’s injury update) soon I promise (if you’re even interested!). As a cliff notes version, my running is going very well. I’m running three times a week while also going to the gym three times a week doing lots of bootcamp/strength and conditioning style routines. I feel less pressure and more love for running than I have in ages. It helps that I’m loving the gym and get a real sweat on there that I don’t feel the need to run as often as I used to as I know I’m getting stronger in other areas that will help my running. I’m still happy with my decision of deferring London as it would immediately panic me and pressure me to hit certain mileage as it’s so soon…but I do have races in the future lined up.

So parkrun. We helped set-up and there was much love for Ben returning which is always nice. I decided to push it as all my other runs have been easy. The course is the hardest one (the winter course) where, because it’s three laps, there are a total of six hills you need to get through (over?). I’m not really in a good running shape but felt like it was a sustained effort and a great workout to help get back to where I used to be. Third lady and 22:35 which I was over the moon with.

I also got my hair cut. This is monumental news as the last time I got it cut was April 2013 (THIS post). I tend to notice when it needs a cut because my arms start severely aching when I’m blow-drying. I was rather apologetic to the hairdresser but she said it actually didn’t look that bad for the length of time I’ve left it. I suppose there’s a compliment there? Anyway instead of being a cheapskate I actually paid for a quality cut rather than the cheaper place I usually go for…hairdressers were called technicians and the power doesn’t cut half way through a blow-dry!!

IMG_9955 That being said, it still looks pretty much the same just a bit shorter! At least my arms will be happy…

Ah yes it was Valentine’s Day as well wasn’t it? Ben and me aren’t romantic and lovey-dovey so this passed us by. It’s also my dad’s birthday so we popped over to see my parent’s and treat them to a nice coffee in a lovely little tea room in Lee-on-Solent called The Tea Party.

IMG_9949We decided to forgo afternoon tea as we’ve all got back from a holiday and Ben and me have said February is a more ‘sensible’ (read: boring) month. I can assure you though, I found it hard to stop staring at the BEAUTIFUL cakes and it’s definitely an afternoon tea location to be trialled soon!

IMG_9946 They serve alcohol as well so my mum had a lovely little glass of Prosecco in a baby sham glass as well as her tea, as you do. I stuck with a latte.

IMG_9948It was a lovely catch up and mourning of our respective holidays!

Sunday I went for a really good six mile run. It was one of those runs that just felt good. I felt strong, in the zone and found myself going faster than I had intended. I let myself off for it as six miles isn’t that far, but for my future Sunday runs I will really ensure to run slow – probably a good 40-50 seconds slower than I ran. I will take no chances this time around! I’m trying not to make the same stupid mistakes I always seem to make. I’m always climbing the mileage v.e.r.y. slowly; next week is seven miles for my long run, for example, while keeping the other runs the same.

I got back, wolfed down breakfast, chilled for a bit and then met up with Nathan for a 17 mile bike ride.

IMG_9952Hideous selfie

Ay, ay, ay! When you haven’t ridden in so long it is tough. We did our usual route and we both slower (as you can expect) than previously. It was a tough ride but I really enjoyed it. I felt shattered when I got in. But a good NON-BROKEN shattered. I won’t be cycling every week but once in a while it’s nice to get out there.

Then obviously we all went to Nando’s…kind of standard I suppose. I forgot how filling a whole chicken is, but I was not defeated!

Then the afternoon involved ironing and watching Belle (very good film) and going to be stupidly early as I was pooped. Good weekend 🙂 All that was missing was cake…

How was your weekend?

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

How do you celebrate family member’s birthdays?

A little bit of this and that

I was down to run the Great South Run on Sunday but I’ve decided not to anymore. I’m actually quite pleased about this considering how blooming windy it is at the moment! What is going on??

Ben’s obviously not running it either and we’ve been invited to a church ‘welcoming’ thing for our friend’s baby so we decided to give it a miss this year. And though my foot is feeling better I just don’t want to risk it. It’s such a faff of a race; so many people, difficult to park, crowded…and I didn’t enjoy it at all last year (I hurt my knee). Lots of people from my running club are doing it so it is a shame in that respect and it was £41 for entry!! And you can’t even transfer your bib to someone else or defer. *Grumble grumble*

Anyway, I thought I’d write a random post of bits and bobs that have been going on – a collection of titbits, if you like, that didn’t make the cut for a post of their own.

I often go for a walk every lunch time at work for about 20 minutes. Usually to the nearby  big Tesco or sometimes I mosey about a few charity shops. That might sound a bit sad but it’s a habit I’ve had since university when I was looking for cheap books or DVDs. But really any shop with this sign will pull me in regardless:

Charity shop selling cake Cake and charity, a match made in heaven 😀

Speaking of cake, Ben, our friend Nathan and I went to that lovely restaurant, Zippers, in Port Solent again. We went there a few weeks ago and I really wanted to go back because they had an amazing salad bar. Last time I went I just went for the salad bar as a starter which meant I could only visit it once (though I did pile it high to get my money’s worth). This time I decided to go for it as a main so I could keep going back as many times as I wanted (hello, I’m a salad machine).

Zippers meal There were chickpeas, feta, roasted vegetables and just a whole host of veggies. SO GOOD. I’m pretty sure they thought I was a bit strange having three monster plates of salad. But I love it! And the sweet potato fries on the side as well… and the chocolate fudge cake for pudding as it was so good last time. It’s a good job this restaurant is just that little bit too far to go back every week (unlike Nando’s).


It really helped get me motivated for a cycle the next day as well (a thick slab of chocolate fudge cake with chocolate sauce and ice cream has a good way of doing that). And I got to wear my new cycling jacket (from Aldi!! Cheap as chips but the quality is awesome!)

IMG_8280I haven’t cycled in over 5 weeks and I optimistically thought I could keep up with the guys from the club but after about 6 miles I told them to go on as I just couldn’t keep up. They were lovely and told me to not be silly but I just felt they’d get a better ride without me and I didn’t want to feel pressured to keep up. So I pedalled off for a solo slog. I got in 23 miles in the end but bloody hell it was hard. It’s amazing how quickly you lose it when you don’t do it regularly. I was puffing and panting all the way round and going a lot slower than before. But regardless, it was a good workout. My legs afterwards felt pooped.

Annoyingly it was quite muddy and wet on the roads and having a white bike is just ridiculous.

IMG_8282 Normally I wouldn’t be precious about this sort of thing. It’s a bike, it’s going to get muddy. It’s hardly going to win awards for what it looks like. But we keep the bikes in the living room as we don’t have a garage (only a car port) so we don’t have a proper place to store them (let’s not talk about the Shed of Death), which means I do actually have to clean it. Well, it was lovely and shiny afterwards anyway.

And related to cycling (smooth segue…?) in one of my orders from Wiggle they forgot to send my Haribo with it (they always send a packet of sweets with your order) and I Tweeted about it saying I was sad I missed out. They generously said they’d send me some and a few weeks later I received a post office slip saying I needed to pay £1.20 for unpaid postage. I had no idea what was being posted but paid it anyway out of curiosity.

IMG_8264 Then the next day lo and behold I received an envelope with two packs of Haribo in from Wiggle. It was very nice of them to send it to me, but for £1.20!? They needn’t have bothered! The sweets are probably worth 10p! Oh Wiggle, what a shambles. But in fairness to them they have given me a £2 Wiggle voucher to make up for it. Well play, Wiggle. Well played.

Anyway I’ll leave it there with just one last photo…


Alfie avidly watching the telly. He loves getting involved 😉 and as you can see, my very clean bike in the background 😀

Do you often buy things online? Are you fan of Wiggle?

Are you a fan of buffets or salad bars?

Do you look for bargains in places like charity shops or cheaper supermarkets, like Aldi or Lidl? I’m not a shopping snob, I love a bargain as long as the quality is decent.

A proud daughter and enjoying cycling

Last week was unbelievably busy. Mainly due to work but also life in general. I do love being busy and feeling the thrill of getting lots done, but it also means lots of other bits and pieces get pushed down the priority list.

I wanted to recap on a few things that have been happening round here, like the other weekend my dad completing his first ever 5k race. It was called Boys Against Cancer and was basically the male equivalent of Race for Life. Both Ben and my dad were taking part as well as a friend’s husband and their son.

Boys Against Cancer 5kMy dad has been on the quest for losing weight. He recently got a Garmin Vivofit (really want on of these!) and has been walking more and being a bit more conscious of what he’s eating.

It was really strange for me to get up early on the Sunday morning and watch Ben getting ready for a race I wasn’t taking part in (girls aren’t allowed). Ben was fairly nervous as he wanted to try and blast it and get a good time.

The weather was lovely, maybe a little on the warm side for running but perfect for spectating 😉 My dad was not going to run it but power walk it and was really keen to do it in under an hour. He was nervous so I said I’d walk round with him from the sidelines as much as I could and give him water if he needed it.

Support crew for 5k Got my bag full of water bottles!

I spied a guy warming up and we all bet he would win (he did – by a long way!). He just looked like that type you know? Then we were off. My dad’s pace was amazing. He is a brilliant power walker! He set himself targets of other walkers to overtake and did brilliantly. I saw Ben whizz past a few times (it was a crazy two loop course going all over a rugby field).

IMG_7441 He looked very speedy and comfortable.

My dad was so worried he’d be the last one to finish but in the end there were loads of people behind me and he overtook a fair number as he went.

5k Sprint Finish For the last 200m he started to run and did a marvellous sprint finish. I was so proud of him! Everyone was clapping and cheering, it was brilliant.

Dad Post-5k He was pooped by the end!

Ben got a new PB of 21:16. He was ecstatic. And my dad got well under an hour with 47:38 of which he was very chuffed with. Good times all round!

On another note, I’ve been getting a little bit addicted to cycling. I am obviously still training for Berlin but I felt a cut back week was needed (mentally and physically) so decided to go for some solo cycles.


Without trying to annoy any cyclists out there (this is merely my observation and purely my inability at being good at cycling!) but I do find cycling easier. I find that you can coast a lot more and an hour’s worth of cycling is definitely not equivalent to an hour’s worth of running – for me anyway. My standard 15 mile route goes up quite a few hills but there are also a lot of down hills where you can freewheel and speed along quite easily. My heart rate never peaks to what it would when running and I find this frustrating.

After talking to some more experienced and better cyclists, the solution is just to work harder, go faster, go longer and find more hills! In terms of my cardiovascular system, I’m fine with cycling but it’s my legs that seem to struggle to get going any faster. I guess it’s different muscles. But hopefully all good cross training for running!

And because it wouldn’t be my blog without a bit of running…we had a fun parkrun the other week. I cycled beforehand (19 miles) and then did parkrun with Ben and a friend, helping pace the friend. My legs, jeeze, were like bricks!! I am in awe of triathletes, seriously hard running and despite running so much slower than normal.

Parkrun selfies July We then enjoyed a lot of cake afterwards as it was our lovely friend, Sheryl’s, 100th parkrun (!!!!).

parkrun Cake Selfie#parkrunselfie

Such good cakes, especially the chocolate banana loaf. And then a 10 mile ride home. I was shattered! But great to mix things up a bit 🙂

What’s your favourite form of cross training?

Have you ever supported someone at a race?

How do you support someone who is trying to lose weight? My dad is the worst person when it comes to food and I try to be really firm with him to not eat rubbish. It helps I work with him so can keep an eagle eye on him (much to his delight I’m sure) but I worry so much and he knows I do it because I love him, but it can be very hard. He has the best intentions but the worst will power.

I think we can agree I’m fragile…

Hello sunshine! Down South we had a gorgeous weekend of beautiful sunshine and warm weather – I hope it was just as nice where you were.

Last week was a bit of a downer for me. After the Alton 10 miler (OK, let’s be completely honest here, after Parkrun on the Saturday) my hip was niggling. God I never, never learn. I shouldn’t have run Alton. It only aggravated it further and made walking afterwards uncomfortable and a little painful. What an idiot. The Alton race wasn’t important at all and yet I thought if I ran it rather than race it I’d be OK. And it niggled the entire race. I really only have myself to blame. Especially because our running club championships were the following Sunday (Netley 10k). Yeah, so really stupid.

I took the rest of the week off running in the hopes that I could run the race. I had a deep tissue massage from a great local sports masseuse, Kyle, who’s basically become our club’s favourite masseuse and he’s doing the rounds on everyone. He comes to your house as well which is just so handy for me with my stupid commute. If you’re local to Southampton, look him up he’s great –> http://www.hackettmassage.co.uk/ He’s also a nice guy who’s an amazing runner (we’re talking 5 minute miles and winning races).

But unfortunately the hip niggle was still there. On Saturday I cycled down to Parkrun on my new road bike and met Ben there to set up in the morning.

Parkrun 17.05.14

It felt dreadful and I became Grumpy Anna in my dark and shady place. I marshalled and cheered on the runners. Still fun, but not as fun as running obviously. Ben did great pacing one of our running club friends and helped him PB.

After that we headed quickly to see Kyle (as I’d panicked text him that morning after thinking my cycle had made things worse) so he could help set my bike up correctly so not to aggravate things any further and have a quick look at my hip. Very helpful and nice considering it was the weekend.

IMG_6685Then we rushed back to shower and then pick up my new car, which obviously turned Dark and Shady Anna into very happy Anna.

Fiat 500 A lovely shiny red Fiat 500…sport turbo something-or-other (Ben spec’d it – I know nothing about cars). It drives like a dream, very speedy despite it only being a 0.9 (hello no road tax!). It’s like a go-kart, so light and zippy. And the interior is all lovely and black and red.

New car selfieNew car selfie – self-indulgent I know, but I just couldn’t help it

After that Ben and me went out for a little cycle on our road bikes with our friend who’s also bought a new road bike. In true Anna style though after about 5 miles I panicked it would make my hip hurt and decided to turn back home (around 10 miles in total – not a huge distance I know).

The rest of the day was me moping about umming and arring about the next day’s race and generally being quite annoying to be around. Ben is quite the saint to live with me when I’m suffering from a niggle!

Speaking of Ben, we went out for dinner with previously mentioned amazing sports masseuse and his wife on Friday night and Ben did the most amazing parking.

Close parking Our car is on the left. There was perhaps a little bit more space on the other side but it was so tight. I am hugely impressed! He had his proper Serious Parking Face on and I was just stood there biting my nails. Stupid Mini driver though, learn to park!

Sunday was our Netley 10k…more on that in my next post!

Netley 10k (14) 18.05.14 (Spoiler alert: I did indeed run it)

Do you have sports massages regularly? I would have them every week if I could.

Are you good at parking? I think I’m OK at parking… it’s just general driving I struggle with 😉

Do you get grumpy when you can’t run/work out?