Kyle’s birthday, all the food and a fantastic long run

It was Kyle’s birthday last week so we decided to take a few days off of work so we could relax a bit more and enjoy ourselves.

I mean, with the pandemic and all it was hard to really go anywhere properly but we’d been given a free night’s stay at our gym’s hotel (it’s a hotel first, gym second) so we decided to use it on the Thursday night and let our hair down a bit. To be clear, the hotel (The Village Hotel) is less than three miles up the road, so we weren’t exactly going crazy here but it was nice to be somewhere different, you know?

But first we decided to go a bit crazy and buy some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It’s a massive weakness for us, doughnuts, and not something we regularly buy. But Kyle had asked for a bit of splurge. So I went a bit crazy and bought 15! Originally I was going for 12 but then I got a coupon for money off three…and I got very excited by the new Halloween flavours.

(In fairness, we definitely didn’t eat them all and in the end gave away a number of them to family)

The vampire one (above) was particularly tasty, filled with brownie batter. Krispy Kremes are dangerously easy to eat I can tell you!

Anyway, later after the sugar high had diminished a bit, we walked to the hotel because it was so close and the weather was nice. We had dinner booked for 6pm and got dressed up all fancy. Yes, we booked that early.

Our thinking was that we wanted to have a few drinks and enjoy the evening fully. Kyle and I very rarely drink so this was a bit out of the ordinary for us. We usually just focus on the food. It’s not that we don’t drink or anything like that but we just don’t ever feel the need to. We’re a bit boring perhaps (though this does save us lots of money in pubs as a Pepsi Max is far cheaper).

Anyway I was really fancying a few cocktails for some reason and so this was the perfect place to satisfy that craving. I went for a Porn Star Martini because it sounded a bit crazy and Kyle stuck with his standard Budweiser. The drink was DELICIOUS. It didn’t even taste alcoholic, which is generally how I like my drinks 😉

We ordered our food and I was soon devastated to find out they had run out of chicken wings. I mean, let’s be honest, I should probably have been trying something different anyway but this was a sad blow. Instead I went with a Peri Peri chicken burger with a side of loaded fries.

While I know I would have preferred the chicken wings, the loaded fries were really good. And as someone who rarely goes for the carbs this was high praise indeed. Maybe it because I was on my second cocktail or maybe because they had waffle fries mixed in. Either way they were good. The burger was a bit dull, but to be honest, I was on my merry way to getting, well, merry so it didn’t really matter.

In the end, Kyle and I had a lovely time at hotel. We got fairly tipsy and just enjoyed doing something a bit different in a different setting. I did not, however, enjoy the hangover the next day. Though the fresh air and the Starbucks on the walk back definitely helped.

Later that day, after we’d gotten home and sorted ourselves out, we headed over to Kyle’s mum’s house to celebrate his birthday (and his twin’s birthday) with his family. Kyle got to open all his presents from his family and I got to give him his cake, which I’d commissioned his amazingly talented sister to bake. I’d given her the instructions that I wanted it to have a PlayStation 4 theme.

Kyle has been collecting Platinum Trophies for the different PS4 games he has (if you don’t know about PlayStations I won’t go into what these actual are) and so it seemed fun to have the cake reflect this.

The cake turned out fantastically! Lucy, his sister, did an amazing job (check her out on Instagram @Dirrty.Cakes – you can get her to bake anything!)

We all ordered take away for dinner. Kyle and I went for Koop + Kraft and spent a ridiculous amount of money… Kyle got a chicken burger with chicken tenders and loaded fries, I got chicken wings (of course) and halloumi bites. It was so tasty! We thoroughly enjoyed it.

The next day I went out for run in the morning. I didn’t have a plan. I actually thought I was going to go out for 3-4 miles but as I got going I found my legs felt quite fresh and I had a lot of energy. I decided to head out to a route where I knew I could get at least 10 miles. As I got to about 5 miles I knew I was up for an even longer run. I love runs like this because there’s no pressure. It’s just about finding the right route. I had some music on and just zoned out. I felt fantastic! Maybe it was all the food I’d been eating or maybe because I’d had no expectation for the run, but I just felt like I could keep going.

It helped that the weather was really nice. A little windy but it didn’t bother me. My pace was quite steady and I just felt really happy. My runs in the week had felt so hard and tiring, and to be honest as I set out I was expecting more of the same. But it was completely the opposite. I just love runs like this!

I definitely felt it the next day though. My legs were heavy and tired. I did a three mile shakeout run which helped losoen them up a bit, but I kept the pace very gentle and easy (not that I realistically could have gone that fast anyway!)

The next few days we saw my parents and received even more good food, this time in the shape of Colin.

You can’t have a birthday without Colin in my opinion. And he was lovely and festive, dressed up in his Halloween special.

So Kyle and I had a lovely time celebrating his birthday, even in these strange times. In my opinion, a lot can be made better with cakes and doughnuts 😉

What cake would you have for you birthday?

Have you been to stay anywhere else during the pandemic?

30+1 and other great things

What’s been happening around here lately… asides from my vegan adventures.

Let’s get over the negatives quickly… I haven’t been running. I only have myself to blame really as I pushed it at the Romsey Beer Race when realistically I should have sat it out.

My hamstring was just on the mend and then ehhh I pushed and it became worse. I’ve been seeing my physio (if you’re in need around the Portsmouth area he’s great) and it’s been helping.

It’s a tough one really as it’s the upper part of my hamstring (“high hamstring”) and this area notoriously doesn’t get much blood flow. Then coupled with sitting making things worse (hey day job..), means that healing is slow.

It’s hard to know how to help the situation. Obviously I’m not running. But I’m a big believer in strength training to help and doing strength work does improve blood flow to the area. It’s just finding that balance of pushing and protecting the hamstring. Gentle single leg glute bridges and being conscious of the muscle (i.e. making sure it’s the hamstring working and not my back or glute taking over). So that’s that right now.

But on to more positive things.

Podcasts

Oh my god, if you have not tried Sh**ged Married and Annoyed podcast from Chris and Rosie Ramsey you NEED to. It is so funny. Laugh out loud while walking Alfie kind of funny. I love their Geordie accents, how relatable they are and their humour. It’s my new favourite and I’m trying not to binge listen to them because I like having lots ready to go.

Birthday

Ahh another year has passed. It has FLOWN by. And a lot has happened in that time. I’ve been and done a number of cool things, eaten A LOT of cake and chicken wings (40 is my new PB), ran a lot (5 marathons!), got myself a cheeky 10k PB (who’d have thought eh!), and spent a lot of time with a guy who’s become somewhat important in my life…

So yeah while I might be older, I’m definitely not wiser but happier, and that’s something eh!

Birthday Cake

Kyle’s lovely sister, Lucy, is AMAZING at baking and for my birthday she made the most amazing cake.

It’s INCREDIBLE. She kept the design a secret from me and when I saw it I just could not believe the detail! So chuffed.

It’s a fruit cake which is cool and means it’ll last for a bit (ha..well we’ll see).

As it was Lucy’s birthday the day before mine we shared celebrating it at Kyle’s house with his family and had the most awesome spread of food. Chicken wings, ribs, spring rolls, crisps, chocolate, token salad.

It was fantastic and such a fab way for me to re-enter into the world of eating meat again.

I will say though that ordinarily I’ll be reducing my consumption of animal products but it was a celebration so I did eat quite a lot it must be said!

Presents

I got so many lovely gifts for my birthday, I was very (god I hate this word so much) blessed.

My lovely friend Louise even made me an amazing sign. She’s just started a new business of handmade crafted items (carvings in glass and wood) and her gift to me was just perfect.

Check out her Facebook page here if you’re interested.

Merchant House

On Thursday night my work team and I went out for a meal and drinks at The Merchant House in Southsea.

I’ve seen so many good things on their Instagram and it didn’t disappoint!

I went for the pork belly burger (with maple bacon and cheese) with burnt end loaded fries and deep fried vegan cauliflower bites.

Their vegan menu actually looked really good! I was tempted to try their seitan burger but in the end was too tempted by pork belly. It just means I need to go back!

It was a really fun evening. I really like the people I work with, the food was fantastic and I love Southsea. It feels like a mini Brighton 🙂

So despite not running, there’s still a lot of good stuff happening round here!

What kind of burger is your favourite?

What’s your favourite food at a buffet?

Do you go out with your work colleagues?

A trip to London: brunch, doughnuts and The Waitress

What a weekend!

Let’s get started on Saturday. It’s my mum’s birthday soon so I’d treated her to a ticket to see The Waitress in London. We headed there in the morning to have brunch first.

I surprised my mum with a little bottle of Prosecco on the train – pffft it’s 5pm somewhere eh!

We had brunch in the Darwin Brasserie in the Sky Tower. I’d seen this huge building many times but hadn’t realised you could have food here. This is where my food and restaurant obsessions come handy as I do so much research to find a nice spot and this came up.

We went up 36 (!) floors and were treated to such fantastic views of London. Wow it was really spectacular.

We then headed to the Darwin Brasserie (one part of the Sky Tower) and had a three course brunch.

We had a seat right next to the window and it was truly such a special experience.

For starters I had the ham hock terrine which was divine with warm sourdough alongside.

I followed this with a Caesar salad. Now I know what you’re thinking, Anna a salad what?? But a Caesar salad is my absolute favourite – when done well. And this came with the works: chicken, anchovies, croutons, Parmesan, egg and crispy bacon. Oh it was so good.

For dessert I had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. Not my usual choice but it was phenomenal. Delicious toffee sauce.

When my mum went to the bathroom the waiter popped over and asked if this was for my mum’s birthday (I’d put it in the booking notes) and when she came back they presented her with a little chocolate brownie with a candle in! It was such a lovely touch. My mum was very chuffed. Always worth noting these things when you book.

We then spent some time taking photos, of course. The views were just amazing.

Then we headed to Covent Garden to mosey about a bit (oh heyyyy Lululemom shop). I just HAD to stop at Doughnut Time as well. These doughnuts are INCREDIBLE. I mean they’re pretty much made for greedy people like me.

They’re ginormous, i.e. regular Anna size. I picked up four (one for me, one for Kyle, one for my parents to share (lol) and one for my friend Kirsty who I’d be seeing later in Manchester).

Then we headed to the show. Oh my goodness I can’t even explain how much I loved The Waitress. It was literally everything I love. Baking, retro American diner theme and strong female leads. I cried THREE times. I’m not an overly emotional person but this absolutely destroyed a me, and in a really good way. The story was fantastic. The music and songs so good. And it was quite funny as well.

Then I said goodbye to my mum and headed to Manchester (only two hours on the train!). I was signed up to do Great Manchester 10k as part of the Garmin team. Very fancy indeed.

On the train I ate a Subway salad (double rotisserie chicken – so good!) and then horrified the two ladies opposite me by wolfing down my doughnut. It was the Robert D’Noreo… brown butter glaze, New York cheesecake filling, Oreo crumb chocolate ganache and mini Oreos.

I mean WHAT. And yes I did eat it all. The two ladies said they had doughnut envy haha. You should have seen me, covered in icing and Oreo crumbs. I was a mess but so very happy.

That filling!

On getting to Manchester I met up with Kirsty (@shortgirlrunner on Instagram) and we had a quick drink. I’ve never met her before but have chatted a few times on social media and she’s just as lovely as she seems online. We arranged brunch for the next day (the race didn’t start until 1pm) and then parted ways, her to her hotel and me to my Airbnb.

I walked about 15 minutes to get there to find no one was answering and the key the host had APPARENTLY left on a window wasn’t there. It was past 10pm and I started to panic. I went up and down the lift to make sure it was the right place… I checked every window… I rang his mobile several times… left messages, and nothing. I was panicked, called Kyle and he suggested going back to the inner city and getting a hotel.

While I headed back (it was so busy and loud!) he found me a hotel to stay in that wasn’t too expensive (tho thankfully Garmin were paying my expenses – I knew I’d get a refund from Airbnb so that calmed my brain a bit). But Jesus it was so stressful and I was so tired!

I got a nice hotel room and got into bed after 11pm. The host messaged me saying he FELL ASLEEP and didn’t hear me knocking. Sorry sunshine, too little too late. Thankfully Airbnb did refund me and were super quick and nice about it. Just a crummy host! Always a flipping drama with me eh!

I should have just got a hotel to begin with but I’m not used to people paying my expenses for me and went with a cheaper option as I felt bad (this is silly logic I know). Next time I’ll just be more sensible (if there’s ever a next time!).

I’ll leave it there for now and recap the race proper in my next post.

Have you ever had a dodgy Airbnb before?

Do you like the Great Run series?

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?


18 miles – feeling tough

I know I’m a bit of a weird creature in that I really do enjoy marathon training.

In general it’s enjoyable, it’s fun and I like doing it. But it can be hard. My motivation can dip and I can find myself wondering how am I going to do it.

Usually it’s the long run that I dread (though it’s also the one I feel most accomplished with and happy about usually). The thought of running 18 miles, almost three hours of running for me, well, it’s a long time. It’s a long way. It also means waking up on a Sunday morning and not being able to just lay there, or get up whenever. Because the later you leave it the more it eats into your day.

I felt this way leading up to my weekend long run this week. I had 18 miles planned and originally I was going to do it on Sunday. But the thought of going to bed Saturday night knowing I had to wake up and run all that way seemed really unappealing. Kyle offered to run a bit of it with me which was lovely but the route we’d go would mean he’d run 9-10 miles with, still leaving me with a good chunk left on my own. Urgh.

I decided to float the idea of running to parkrun on the Saturday. We’d have to set an alarm and get up relatively early anyway on the Saturday and by combining the long run with parkrun would break it up and mentally seem far easier because all you were doing was travelling to parkrun – a destination run is far easier, mentally, than just a big loop. However this would mean that Kyle would be running 15 miles in total rather than say 12-13 miles. Bless him, he agreed to do it.

So I woke up Saturday morning just after 6am to run about 5k beforehand, then picked up Kyle to then run to Havant parkrun. Though Havant parkrun is actually only four miles away from where he lives we needed to run a bit of a long-winded route to get there to get the extra miles. Actually it was very similar to the route we did last week to Southsea. The very hilly route through Waterlooville, Purbook and up the dreaded Widley hill…

Just finished the Widley hill

As soon as I started running I realised this run was not going to be easy. My legs felt heavy and I felt tired. I was a lot slower than the week before. Annoyingly the thing about running an almost identical route is that you have an identical comparison. After the first three or so miles after Kyle joined me we both moaned that it felt so much harder. It could have been because earlier in the week we’d done our first speed session in a while… or the fact that we’d gone to the cinema the night before and had a Subway quite early for dinner. Either way, it was like running through porridge. We were probably 30-40 seconds per mile slower.

But we got to Havant with 10 minutes to spare

We were both dreading parkrun at this point. I’d just run 15 miles and Kyle was on almost 12. The run there had been so hard and such a grind. And Havant wasn’t a particularly easy parkrun. It wasn’t flat and had an especially steep downhill section which would be brutal on our legs. The ground was also very uneven and hard.

Zack, Kyle’s brother, met us there. He was just going to run parkrun (never “just” but you know what I mean) and was very kindly going to give us a lift back. He’d forgotten his barcode and wasn’t feeling very well so all of us were a bit “meh” about starting the run.

Kyle and I decided to run separately as neither of us wanted any sort of pressure to run at a pace we didn’t fancy. We just wanted to zone out and run however we liked. I was amazed to find that as soon as we were off my legs felt a lot better. Maybe the mini-break had helped? Whatever it was I was able to find a nice rhythm and run quicker. Perhaps I just wanted to get it done and finish the run.

I caught up with two men who were chatting about one of them surprising his partner with a trip to New York and I was able to zone out and listen to them chatter. I briefly considered telling them about the best cookie place (Levain Bakery) but decided not to interfere. Though when I went past them I wished the guy a lovely holiday and he laughed and said thank you.

I finished, HUGELY surprisingly to me, in 23:24. Kyle wasn’t too far behind, having cruised nice and easily in, followed by Zack who hadn’t had struggled a bit but still managed a stellar strong time. We were all glad for it to be done though! What a feeling to have 18 miles under my belt! And no injuries or niggles. I was quite surprised my calves didn’t feel too bad considering I’d forgotten my compression socks… perhaps it is all in my head that they work on long runs eh!

I enjoyed a truly wonderfully hot bath when I got back to Kyle’s. I wanted to lay in there forever it was so good. And then enjoyed a giant mug of tea and steaming bowl of porridge. Honestly, these are the simple things I really crave after a long run. So good.

This photo makes me laugh – Kyle looks very happy with the run haha

For the rest of the day though I felt so drained. I was exhausted. I haven’t run that far since the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of December and I could really feel it. I even had a 40 minute nap later in the day. I was just absolutely shattered. It’s amazing how quickly you lose the adaptations your body makes during marathon training.

My post run porridge and tea, so good

Luckily though I was able to significantly refuel with a solid dinner with Kyle and my parents that evening at the newly opened Hancock’s in Whiteley. It was my dad’s birthday on the 14th (yes, Valentine’s Day) so we went out to celebrate.

The meal itself was a bit “meh” but the company was lovely. I went for cauliflower bites to start which were a little boring. Basically just cauliflower with buffalo sauce on.

My dad was disappointed that they weren’t able to do steak (something was wrong in the kitchen apparently?), so instead we both ordered the whole chicken (each). It was about the same price as a full rack of ribs so we were both SUPER surprised at how big it was. I mean, it was literally like they bought a family sized chicken from Asda! It was quite tricky to eat to be honest. Like carving straight in on your plate.

But the pudding was the star of the show. Chocolate fudge cake brownie. I mean, wow.

I think Hancock’s needs a few more weeks to find it’s feet if I’m honest. The food was OK but nothing to scream and shout about. My pudding was amazing but Kyle had the waffles and really it was just a waffle with a blob of ice cream on and some sauce. But as I said, it was the company that was the best bit. My parents, Kyle and me had a really nice evening together. Crazy I know, but sometimes food is secondary for me 😉

How far are you willing to run to get to parkrun?

What are your cravings post long run?

Have you had a disappointing meal recently?

30 and loving life

Turning 30 hasn’t been so bad. I had a fantastic weekend with my friends and my family doing what I generally do best (eat lots of food). And recently so much good stuff has been happening.Having a birthday that sits on a Tuesday is pretty lame but actually I had a really lovely day. I’d obviously brought cakes in for everyone but I was really chuffed to find my work colleagues had bought 12 brownies from the amazing Melted cafe in Hilsea in Portsmouth.I’ve tried these brownies before and honestly they’re probably the best brownies I’ve ever had. They’re really dense and stodgy. I’m not really a fan of the more cakey and light brownies. I like them to be gooey. And these are so gooey. There were two kinds: Oreo brownie and peanut butter brownie. I thought it was caramel so went with that one.I’m not a huge peanut butter fan but actually this was crazy good. Chunks of peanut butter in it with all the dense chocolate. It was so so good. My colleagues know me well clearly! Of course I shared them, though it was like a dagger to my soul every time someone took one… 😉 I did make sure I snagged an Oreo one to take home and put in Anna’s Glorious Cake Freezer though!

Speaking of good food and lovely people, the amazing Jude (@RunnerViking) sent me some WHITE CHOCOLATE Lion Bars all the way from Scotland.

I’d been moaning about not being able to find them in shops and she was kind enough to buy me a few and send them to me. They arrived in perfect timing for my birthday. I’m SO excited. She’s an awesome person and an awesome runner 🙂

And as we’re on the theme of awesome people and white chocolate… my lovely lovely uni friends bought me the BEST present for my birthday. A white chocolate crazy rocky road chunk of heaven. It’s from Choccywoccydoodah. White chocolate covering marshmallows, jelly babies, nougat, honeycomb. I mean MY GOD.

I won’t lie, I’ve cracked into that bad boy already. I meant to only have a bite but ended up eating maybe almost half (OK OK two thirds). It was just phenomenal. I mean what was nice was that every bite was different – which is probably why I kept going.

They also got me a jar of hand-picked sweets from the Brighton sweet shop (Sugar Sin) which I’ve been to a few times and ADORE. The sweets aren’t you’re usual pick ‘n’ mix sweets, they’re crazy sweets you can’t get in the UK. So needless to say, I am very chuffed.OK one last food-related item… I saw this at my new gym and it really made me laugh.It’s a twist on that famous line in Notting Hill (one of my favourite rom coms). Don’t get me wrong, I do love a salad (as long as it’s a big salad) but I think we can all agree there are definitely days when you just wish it was a giant doughnut.

Speaking of my new gym (how good are my seamless tangents today eh!), I’m really getting into the spin classes. I’ve tried Les Mills Sprint, RPM and The Trip. RPM is probably my favourite as it’s hard but the instructors and music really keep you going. Sprint is just Go Go GO and The Trip is…well, a trip really.You basically follow a route on the screen and put your resistance up when you get to a hill and then beast it on the downhills. The “routes” you go on are either normal places like San Francisco or they’re crazy worlds (very trippy). It’s good fun though.

Does anyone remember the old skool ipods? My dad is a proper technology geek and as a family we were early adopters of most new technology and gadgets (like game consoles and mp3s – anyone remember the Microsoft Zune? No…?) so I was the first one in my school with one (yes really, it was 2003 – it wasn’t mine though I hasten to add, but borrowed from my dad) and I remember people looking at it in wonder and asking what it was. Yes I could really keep 1,000s of songs on there. This wasn’t even the first version of the iPod we had. I dropped it about four times and as it was in warranty I could keep sending it back and they’d send me a new one (oh those were the days…). And then the last time I dropped it they sent me the updated version. It’s amazing because now we just use our phones to store music. Mental. I can even remember when they became colour.

And one last thing I’ve recently been loving is the episode I listened to from the Ben Coomber Radio podcast. I have a love-hate relationship with Ben Coomber. I do rate him as I think he’s super hardworking and driven and has a lot to give in terms of knowledge and passion, but there are also things he does or says that I struggle with (or cause excessive eye rolls). But I listened to his interview with James Haskell and I really enjoyed it.

James Haskell has such a no nonsense approach to training and keeping fit. He has a very direct and blunt way of talking and a lot of sound solid knowledge. It’s worth a listen if you’re into that kind of thing (strength training, fitness in general and social media). Also, he has a very weird fascination with diggers (to the point he actually has one loaned out to him…).

Did you have the iPod back in the day?

What podcasts do you listen to?

Chocolate or sweets? It’s probably chocolate for me but I ADORE pick ‘n’ mix from the cinema.