Such a lovely weekend in Brighton

Despite my frustrations and venting in my last post and feeling down about my knee, I do have a very happy post now recapping what was a rather lovely trip to Brighton.

Honestly, it was possibly one of my favourite trips – and favourite trips away with Kyle. I mean they’re all good of course, but this one was really special.

We had the Friday off of work and after a quick gym visit (yes, Kyle now goes to the gym as well) we had a Harvester breakfast with Kyle’s mum.

And black pudding (which they forgot at first)

It’s definitely quantity over quality but it did the trick. I even chose vegan sausages in the hope they might be Linda McCartney (no such luck).

Then we headed up to Brighton on the train (to avoid any car clamping issues like last year…). We stayed in the same Airbnb which was right in the heart of the lanes and so made everything super accessible. The only thing that wouldn’t have been that accessible would have been parkrun but as I’m not running it wasn’t an issue (sadly – we all know the distance of a parkrun would never put me off going).

After settling in we went for a walk around the lanes and the eclectic mix of independent shops. It was a shame to see that the Choccywoccydoodah shop had closed down!

Luckily the rain held off and as the darkness came in and the Christmas lights came on, it looked very magical. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed myself. There’s something so lovely about Brighton. I love how unique it is, how it’s near the sea, how colourful everything is and how many food and coffee places there are.

An oat cappucino in the Plant Room

I bought some home-made fudge for Kyle’s dad for Christmas, a tree decoration for Kyle and I for whenever we manage to move out (a saga in itself trying to sell my flat during the current political and economic climate) and some DELICIOUS smelling tea from Bird and Blend, which the lovely Maria from RunningCupcake always raves about.

They threw in a couple of freebies of Eton Mess and Fruit Salad teas too

I bought some Birthday Cake tea (so sweet and vanilla smelling) and some hazlenut flavoured tea for Kyle for Christmas.

We were booked to see Daniel Sloss, a relatively new comedian, at the Dome at 7.30pm. I’d done my research, of course, and had a table booked at MEATLiquor before the show. I was very excited as it looked exactly like the place Kyle and I love (horribly unhealthy, disgustingly greasy and immensely tasty).

We ordered some pre-food drinks. I got a gin-based cocktail which was delicious. We never normally drink but we decided to splash out a bit. One was enough though, we weren’t quite that adventurous ha.

For food, I ordered the Ripper, which was a deep-fried bacon wrapped beef frank with lots of relish, mustard and pickled cucumbers. This was INCREDIBLE.

I used to think I didn’t like hot dogs but since Chicago (where I didn’t manage to try one) I’ve been having a craving for one. I’m so glad I decided to go for something a bit different. Though of course, I ordered chicken wings as well… just in case it was a fail 😉

Kyle orderd a chicken burger and cheesy fries with chicken gravy

The chicken wings were delicious. Dripping in Buffalo sauce and with a thick creamy blue cheese dip, I was in heaven. And I also got some Dead Hippie sauce (which is their speciality)… amazing. It was a mix of tomato ketchup, mayo and Worcestershire sauce and some other bits. Yum.

Then we headed to see Daniel Sloss. Daniel Sloss is quite a dark black humour style comedian. He jokes about quite serious issues – but in a way that’s not offensive or directly making fun of people or the issue but finding light in darkness, if that makes sense. I imagine he’s quite divisive but Kyle and I find him very funny. We first saw him on Netflix and really enjoyed it.

His Brighton show was fantastic. Like REALLY good. He talked about quite hard-hitting issues, like feminism, the “me too” movement, rape (yes, really) and toxic masculinity. As a female it was really good to hear a white male talk about these issues and take ownership and responsibility of certain cultures. Kyle really enjoyed it as well and we left animatedly chatting and discussing what we’d heard. I really recommend!

The next morning, no parkrun, but a lovely lie-in and then we headed to for breakfast. We decided to go a bit healthier and went to LoveFit Cafe which was lovely. I had vanilla protein porridge and a toffee protein shake. Ooh er!

I do love porridge so this was delicious! The texture wasn’t quite my usual stodgy cemet mix style, but it was good enough. Kyle had a grilled cooked breakfast. Check us out being all balanced and health 😉

We had such a lovely time. I don’t think I stopped smiling once. A much needed distraction from my silly knee 🙂

Do you like hot dogs?

Who are your favourite comedians?

Do you like cocktails?

The Brighton Marathon 2018

As I previously mentioned, I had fairly ambitious (for me) goals for this marathon. I was going to “go for it”. I haven’t done that for a marathon in a good while! I was going to start at 7:50s and see what happened, with the ambition to speed up as I went along (not crazily but enough to get close to my PB of 3:24:06).

But after chatting to James a bit the night before I decided to go out a bit faster. He made a good point that if I was going to go for it I should actually go for it with a pace that was a bit scary and was genuinely a risk. At least then if I blew up or it went wrong then it happened because I had the balls to try a tasty pace, not halfhearted one that wasn’t as tough. It needed to be a true test.

So anyway. The morning of the Brighton Marathon… woke up at 6.30am, had a black coffee, got my gear on and drove to a road near to Charlotte’s flat where parking wouldn’t be an issue with the road closures. Paddy, Charlotte’s hubby, was ready in his gear. Charlotte would be spectating (while simultaneously looking after their six week old baby, what a superstar!) as her road was literally next to the course.We made and ate our breakfast (porridge) at Charlotte’s and then headed to meet our taxi, to avoid having to have left super early to have walked the three miles to the Preston Park start. I almost drank my two year out of date Beet It! shot but decided to err on the side of caution and give it a swerve. It saddened me to throw it in the bin (I’m quite reckless with out of date stuff).We got to Preston Park where Paddy and I said goodbye to James, who would be heading to the fast start up the road (due to his fast predicted time – it gives the elites and faster runners a flatter first mile than the rest of the marathon field). I stupidly left my gels by accident in his bag, the numpty that I am. That was fine because though as I knew there would be High 5 gels on the course and I’m fine with them. In fact, it was nice to not have to carry any gels in my Flipbelt to be honest.Paddy and I then separated as we headed to our respective loo queues, which were SO long it was ridiculous. But hey ho, what else are you going to do? Then I made my way to my start pen, where I proceeded to stand in line for another portable toilet. I saw Stephanie briefly and we swapped pleasantries having only ever conversed through social media. So that was nice.The start went without a hitch and I was over the moon when Paul Sinton-Hewitt yelled “go Anna!” to me as I ran past (I had my name on my vest – he doesn’t really know me sadly). It really buffered me along though and I was smiling happily to myself, the parkrun nut that I am.

As we started we straight away hit an incline to climb. Oh man, I knew our first mile wouldn’t be flat but this was quite demoralising. Already my legs felt tired. My dream goal pace of 7:40 quickly disappeared as I was over 8 minute/miling up that bad boy. The incline (it was definitely an incline) went on for 0.6 miles. But then we had a nice downhill that, to be honest, probably evened up the first mile in the end. But it was a shock to the system to start that way.

I straight away found myself wanting to go too fast and had to focus on not getting overly excited. 26.2 miles is a lonnnnng way and though a pace might feel easy now it most certainly would not feel easy later. Keep focused on the goal Anna. Annoyingly I had cramp in my side. Nothing to stop me or slow me down but I did have to do some weird arm stretches and change my breathing up a bit, but it didn’t really shift.

At around three miles a runner friend, Matt, sidled up next to me. I know him through social media and we also ran together at a London 10k a year ago – I remember him dropping me half-way round as he was a lot stronger than me. He’s been having a crummy training time due to a niggly hip so had said he was going to take it easy as he also had the London Marathon the next Sunday (I mean, whaaaaaat). After chatting for a bit I glanced at my watch and realised we were running 7:10s so told him I was going to slow down as this pace was too fast for me. So he headed off into the distance. Happily my cramp had gone away too.

Part of me was a little sad to lose a chatting buddy but I knew I needed to be sensible and focus. I just find the first 10 miles of a marathon very dull. I don’t let myself listen to anything other than the environment around me. The crowds were great and the course was interesting enough to let my mind just wander.After five miles we hit the seafront and started to make our way along the coast past Brighton Marina and up to Ovingdean. It was somewhat undulating but not hilly. Eventually the front runners starting coming back the other way. The lead runner was so far ahead of the pack. It was fun watching them storming down at wincingly fast speeds.I picked up a gel from an energy station ready to take at mile eight. My plan was to take three gels. I can manage on one now in a “normal” marathon but because I was going for a speedier time I decided to go back to how I used to do it and have one at 8, one at 13 and one at 18. I remember taking to James about gels beforehand and how he had his orange flavoured High 5 ready and I poo-poo’ed it as I’m not an orange flavour fan at all, smug with my tasty Honey Stinger that I then didn’t get to use. All the High 5’s were orange. Wonderful.

As I came up to the turning to head into another mini out and back in the Ovingdean area I heard someone shout my name and spotted James heading back down the other side. It was a shame really that I’d been caught unawares because I’d been thinking of all the cool things I could shout to him if I did spot him during an out and back. All I managed was a pitiful “Go James!”. Ah well.

Then someone else called my name and I spotted the lovely Rob and Fi, friends from last year’s Marathon Talk Austria Run Camp.At first I just thought it was just a random supporter cheering my name because it was on my vest so I just smiled and waved. Then I spotted them properly and did a little screech and cheer. Always graceful and calm, me. Ha. It was lovely to see them.Then we finally headed back down the way we’d come. I heard someone next to me say “well that’s the last of the hills” and felt a huge relief. I mean there were a couple of undulations as we headed back down, but nothing to really kill you.

I was easily maintaining a 7.30-7.40 pace and feeling really comfortable. I was looking forward to allowing myself to listen to some music at mile 10 but otherwise I felt fresh and happy. In the back of my mind I knew I might crash later but as it was I was good for the moment and kept with it. Nothing risked, nothing gained. Mile 10 ticked by and I put my pre-planned playlist on. These were songs I was enjoying but weren’t GO GO GO tempo so wouldn’t suddenly rev me up or make me want to break out a 7 min/miler. I could lose my mind to the music and just drift along. The music would be low enough so I could still hear the crowds and marshals though.

Along the front the crowds were fantastic. I mean the crowds were great everywhere but especially this front. I honestly lost count of how many people cheered my name. I’m a bit of a loser in that I will try and smile at people and get them to cheer as well because it HUGELY helps me. Plus if you’re a supporter I know how nice it is to see someone genuinely happy that you’re there clapping them.

As we got towards half-way the crowds were quite thick and I felt buzzed along. People cheered my name over and over and I was so pleased to have chosen to wear my vest with my name on. I smiled at everyone and just fed off of the support. I’ve read a study somewhere where it says there are some runners who are super motivated by external factors, like music and crowds. That is me 100%. Give me cheering and music and I will truck along happy as anything. I was going a bit too fast for my original plan though but I decided to just go with it. It didn’t feel harder per se. But that said, I did have the voice in the back of my head saying “you’re going to crash soon…”.

I saw the lovely Lauren from my club and I squealed again. It was lovely to see her and have her cheer me on.What helped was knowing that there were people “watching” my progress through the Brighton Marathon app. Every time I ran over a mat I knew my times would be zooming their way to people’s phones who cared to track me. Especially my dad who I know would have loved to have supported me in person – especially as I was going for a time. I felt like I was doing him proud each time I ran over a mat as my times were consistent and I was well on track to my goal time.At mile thirteen I took another gel and started pouring water on my head as it was getting warmer. I was looking forward to reaching mile 15 as that’s where Charlotte would be. The miles just seemed to fly by at this point – where normally they’d be dragging. I always find 13-19 a real grind. There were so many people standing on the residential streets and waving to them, high-fiving and hearing them cheer passed the time so well.

At this point though I realised I probably could do with a wee. Now once you’ve thought that you need a wee it takes a lot for that thought to go away. It reminded me of the podcast I’d listened to a few weeks ago from BBC Five Live film review where Simon Mayo was discussing how his son said that runners in a marathon just pee and poo as they run. It was such a funny discussion I remember laughing literally out loud as I was running listening to it. Mark Kermode was so aghast.

To be fair, so was I. I’ve never considered just peeing as I run and certainly not pooing. I also don’t think I’ve spoken to any runner where this is the norm during a race. That said, you don’t talk about these things that often so who knows? Maybe I’m the minority. Anyway, as this discussion flitted through my head I momentarily thought, I could just pee as I run. But the sheer embarrassment of a) someone seeing b) someone SMELLING and c) then running along covered in pee just wasn’t worth the SECONDS I’d probably save myself. I didn’t want a PB that badly. I spotted a portable toilet on the other side of the road (for the runners coming the other way on the out and back) and relaxed knowing in a mile or so I could use an actual toilet.

I saw Charlotte on the other side of the road just after mile 15 and it literally made me squeal and cheer. She had Arthur strapped to her front (what a legend) and she waved and shouted. Ahh it was SO nice. Honestly, nothing beats someone you care about cheering you along in a race. It peppered me along nicely, especially as I knew I’d see her at mile 17 on the way back along the same road.

I also saw a man holding up a large sign for someone called Felix and he cheered me on saying he couldn’t believe I was smiling, which was nice.

(I took this photo before the race)

Sadly I passed Matt, who was suffering from hip pain. I tried to give him some encouragement as I passed. He still looked in reasonably good spirits though (and FYI still finished 3:35!). Then I was back to passing Charlotte again. Ahhh such happiness. And she had a proper crew with some friends and her neighbours who all cheered me along. I also passed the Felix man again and he laughed that I was still smiling. Weirdly I saw this man TWICE more before the end of the race. He laughed each time he saw me and called me “smiling girl”. I hope Felix did well!I jumped into that portable toilet I’d spotted and had a very quick wee before jumping out. Ahh relief. The next section was heading off towards the dreaded power station. I’d heard a lot about how depressing and quiet this area was. But I was feeling good, my pace still strong, nothing niggling and no issues. Without sounding arrogant, I knew that as long as I didn’t suddenly get an injury I had a PB in the bag. I took another gel at 18, made sure to keep sipping water and pouring it on my head (I liked that they were in paper cups – easy to squash up and create a small funnel to drink out of, easy to run over if there were loads on the floor and more environmentally friendly). At 20 miles I decided to wait until I was heading back to the finish area before switching my music over as I didn’t want to use all my energy with a spurt of speed too soon. Plus there were enough crowds to keep me going.

I smiled and waved to everyone I could. As I got to a turning point I smiled at a cheering squad and they gave me a huge cheer. Then later when I came back round to head back they were literally CHANTING my name. I’m not kidding. It was probably one of the best moments in the race for me as silly as that sounds. Anyway, as we ran through the power station bit there were all these stacked bits of timber and the smell was amazing. It was like one of those candles trying to be like a woodland forest. It was a nice smell.Then as I turned back to head to towards the finish (still about 4-5 miles to go) I switched my music to my “GO GO GO” playlist. As I got my phone out to do this I thought “ahh might as well” and snapped a selfie and a few pics. Had to be done!
I was passing people and feeling good. I remembered last week’s run where I was able to up my pace after my 10 mile run for the five mile race and that gave me confidence. I remembered the sub 7 minute mile I did at the end of the undulating Iron Bridge Half Marathon. I could DO this. We ran onto the prom and the crowds were solidly cheering and shouting. I literally smiled at everyone. I was in Happy Anna Marathon Land. I literally remember thinking “I bloody love marathons”. Yes I was tired, yes my legs were feeling like they’d been running for far too long, but I knew I had this and just had to HOLD ON.

I got to 23 miles (“parkrun to go”) and was able to up the pace. Just finish. Just get to the finish. Not long. I tried briefly to think about the time I might finish but I couldn’t work it out. Would it be a sub 3:20? Could I push for 3:18? I kept smiling and occasionally fist pumping (I know, what a muppet, but it works for me) which helped get the crowds to cheer me. I got to two miles to go and I was firmly on the pain train. It became harder to smile, harder to wave. I could just about nod to people and grimace smile my way along. The weather was turning slightly, a few drops of rain and a lot cooler. This was good.I saw the finishing straight and was overjoyed. ALMOST THERE. Not as long as the dreaded Dubai finishing straight which went on F.O.R.E.V.E.R. And right at the end I saw my other friend Mark, the Run Director of the Hove Promenade parkrun, and he gave me such a fantastic cheer. It was such a great way to cross the finish line. As I went underneath the timer I spotted 3:19:45. Omg sub 3:20!
I stopped my watch and did a double-take. 3:16:28 – WHAT??? I was literally in shock. And then, I walked straight into Paul Sinton-Hewitt – the parkrun founder. The next few minutes were a highly embarrassing fan girl flurry of gushing “omg I love parkrun” sentences of which I can only hope flattered him rather than terrified him. My phone was suddenly going off with James ringing me and my dad ringing me but I just had to get a selfie with the legend. He happily complied and honestly was the NICEST. He congratulated me on my run (and reassured me that if my watch time said 3:16 it probably meant I’d run that time and not the gun time on the board). He was so nice.

I then spotted another guy from my club who I’d managed to just pip at the end (I finished first in my club overall amazingly – OK there weren’t that many doing it but I will take it!). A guy then said hello to me saying he knew me from Twitter after photo bombing a previous photo of mine. How funny to see him at the finish line again then!

I probably made no sense to anyone I chatted to because I was literally on cloud nine. I spoke to my dad and he just cheered down the phone at me. He was over-the-moon, saying he knew I had it in me and how proud he was. I honestly could have cried. I got my medal and a water and then went to meet James.

James had finished in the CRAZY time of 2:56:38. Yeah. I know right. INSANE. So he was over-the-moon too. In my haste to meet him and in my PB haze I completely missed the goody bag pick-up!I could have gone back but I wasn’t that bothered. I had a water which was exactly what I needed at that moment.
As this has gone on already too long now, I’ll just say that James and me, both in euphoric PB happiness, hunted down some decent post race food from a fabulously lovely Mexican restaurant called Dos Sombreros where yes we did indeed wear our sombreros as we ate.
Sadly our eyes were bigger than our tummies and though we easily polished off the delicious chicken wings, we were both overwhelmed by the main course (I had fajitas while James had a burrito).My tummy felt somewhat delicate, but it’s OK because I was far too happy to care.Have you ever “gone for it” at a race with a time goal?

What’s your ideal post-race cuisine?

Do you like people to cheer your name when you race? I thrive off it.

The day before the Brighton Marathon

Friday night was all about chilling and relaxing before the hectic weekend ahead.

The Friday before a marathon… always a weird one. You want a solid night’s sleep, good food and nothing crazy going on really. James came down to stay as he was also doing Brighton and we were driving down together on Saturday. Friday night was nice and chilled with a solid meal of chicken, veg and sweet potato (if I do say so myself…).

In the morning we headed to the super close Lee-On-Solent parkrun. I haven’t been to Lee parkrun in ages so it was nice to pop down there and see some lovely friendly faces. The weather was super foggy. You could barely see the sea. I spoke to the legend Rebecca (parkrun volunteer pro and now beginner runner making amazing strides). I wasn’t going to go mad at parkrun but I did want to stretch my legs a little and Lee is super flat so that helps to have a nice smooth run.Everyone lined up and we were off. I kept it steady, not going crazy but not going entirely super easy either. I felt happy though. Everything felt good. Hallelujah!My friend Ben was there cheering everyone on and took some snaps as I came back along to head out to the second out and back. You can see how bad the fog was in the photo! I sped up on the final mile – seeing James whizz past the other way (fourth male!). Out and backs are nice in that respect, that you can wave and cheer the others on coming the other way.I finished with 22:30, which felt like a good place to sit the day before a marathon. I know some people like to fully rest but I’ve generally always run the day before. I just like to keep the legs turning over. James got 18:44 which he was chuffed with too.

Then we headed quickly back to mine to shower and eat breakfast. We wanted to head to Brighton as soon as possible so we could beat any queues to collect our marathon bibs and then see my friends afterwards. My close friend Charlotte has recently just had a baby and I hadn’t met him yet and my other friend Kate was coming down from Bristol. Charlotte’s hubby, Paddy, was also running the marathon the next day (his first!) so it would be nice to see them and catch up with a cup of tea.

We made good progress to Brighton (James endured my driving and survived the trip). Brighton was similarly foggy. The temperature was cool but you could feel the sun trying to burn through. We found a decent parking spot not too far from the Marine Parade, where the expo was and walked down.Bib collection was super easy and there was literally no queue. Happy days! We had a mosey about – there were lots of food trucks and running pop-up shops all alone the promenade. I mean, it was slightly depressing to see all the amazing looking food but know you couldn’t have any of it because you had to be sensible for the marathon the next day.No sunshine by the sea that day! After moseying about we headed to Charlotte’s and met her adorable six week old. It was lovely to see my friends and catch up and also chat to Paddy about his game plan and preparation for the next day.

I felt for Paddy as he’d had a tricky lead-up with a calf injury and then obviously having a baby not long ago. Not exactly ideal preparation. Sensibly he had reset his expectations and wasn’t going to aim for the sub 4 he had originally planned (though he is more than capable of hitting that time for another marathon).

We headed out for lunch to a lovely little deli just up the road where we sat outside (in the sun it was lovely and warm). Most of us had the halloumi and Mediterranean vegetable wrap, which was delicious.And then because the cakes looked so good James and I got a slice of triple raspberry and vanilla cake each (we did contemplate sharing for all over 0.5 seconds but realised that would be foolish). It was delicious!We then headed back where we enjoyed the brownies James had made and brought with him (legend) and a cup of tea (carb loading at it’s best…). We also sorted out what time we’d meet Paddy in the next day and the logistics of race morning.

James and I were staying in an AirBnb about three miles away so we’d park near Charlotte’s (before the road closures), make our breakfast there just so we could eat a bit later rather than before we left where we were staying and then get a pre-booked taxi to the start area in Preston Park (again, about three miles away – just that bit too far to walk). Easy breezy!

For dinner James and I bought a simple pizza from Tesco (Hawaiian – gotta love pineapple on a pizza) and got to our AirBnb. The Airbnb was quite…odd. We arrived at the time we agreed with the host and after waiting a bit at the door for her to answer, she finally appeared in just a towel having just showered. She seemed a bit shocked we were there “early” (we weren’t, if anything we were later). And then she showed us to our room, which was actually her bedroom as she’d rented our the room advertised to someone full-time.

That was fine – the house was lovely and she was friendly, but the doors were all glass. Even the bathroom was just frosted glass. This made me feel a *little* uncomfortable because the rooms were on the ground floor and so we had limited privacy. She was going to stay with her sister for the night but her lodger would still be there (though staying upstairs).

Well, it was clean, comfortable and we had a relaxed evening watching easy TV. We also managed to hang up some sheets on the door to make things a bit more private. So we had a good night’s sleep despite it being a bit weird. And let’s be honest, it was like £60 or something in a good location so can hardly complain!

Have you stayed in an AirBnb before?

Do you run the day before a big race?

Do you avoid eating certain things the day before a race?

Friends, cake, sweets, leggings… a few of my favourite things

My blog has been so behind recently. Since getting back from Dubai I’ve been a bit all over the place. So a great place to start is a post on some things I’ve been loving and trying lately (as well as a mini guest appearing from Papa Apple).

Starting with some seriously needed catch up time with my lovely friend, Charlotte at the weekend in Brighton. Seeing her (and her husband, Paddy!) was exactly what I needed. I was in need of a good chat and vent. She’d baked an obscenely good carrot cake with the perfect ratio of sponge to icing (basically 1:1).I had two slices – I had to be certain it tasted as amazing the first time 😉 I did have grand plans of doing a Brighton parkrun (ideally the Preston Park one, which I’ve yet to do) but my calf has been playing up (insert sigh here) so I played it safe and enjoyed a lovely lie-in.Charlotte and I headed into town to do some coffee drinking and shopping before getting to Food For Friend bang on 12 to get a table (they don’t take bookings at the weekend and they’re super popular). It’s a great vegetarian and vegan restaurant that has such a diverse menu.

We got a table and checked out the menu. The last time we went there we made a poor choice of both getting the same sweet potato cake things. They were nice but it was a lot of sweet potato and not much else. This time we were more savvy. We ordered a sharing platter of lots of different things, such as cauliflower fritters, hummus, halloumi bites and lots more. Charlotte ordered some chips on the side and I ordered tofu crispy bite things and some fried aubergine things.It was delicious! So many flavours, textures and good stuff going on. We ordered more halloumi bites though towards the end because they really are the show-stoppers. We decided to forgo pudding (shocker I know) and mosey about a bit more. We’d popped into a great sweet shop before the restaurant so we had a bit of sweet stuff to keep us satisfied.

The sweet shop was amazing. It’s called SugarSin. It was quite an amusing experience because we’d only gone in there to have a look as it was quite a colourful and fun looking shop. We browsed the pick n mix but really we weren’t going to buy anything. The shop owner asked us if we needed help and we did that British thing of “no no just browsing”. He asked us if we’d like to try any of the sweets… any? Ooooh OK maybe just a try then. And then after telling us some information about the sweets (they’re from Sweden so not your traditional Candy King style affair) we’d grabbed bags and were loading up. Such easy prey haha!But let me tell you, the sweets are so good. Lots of different ones you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Worth it!So a very lovely trip to Brighton, as always. I went home feeling a bit more clear-headed and happy. What friends are for 🙂

And another one of my great loves along with good friends and good food… leggings! I was recently sent some leggings from the rather creative guys at Gear Bunch. Now if you’ve read my blog for even a tiny period of time you’ll know I quite like myself a pair of leggings. So when they offered to let me a try a pair of theirs I was more than willing, of course.

Their leggings are very jazzy indeed. I mean there’s no other way to describe them. If you want to make a statement at the gym or out running, these are for you. They have some truly fantastic designs and colours. I’m a little more subtle in my fashion choices so decided to choose a pair that weren’t quite so “out there” with the design. I quite liked the ombre effect and pink and black is a nice blend.They fitted nicely and were tight but not overwhelmingly so. They gave my bum a nice flattering look and didn’t sag anywhere. I could do lunges and use the bike in them. I would say with the colour I chose that underwear choice is something to consider wisely however as they can become slightly sheer when stretched.I imagine it really depends on the design you go for as to how much of an issue this is but with the pink colouring at the top I wasn’t able to wear black underwear (sorry if TMI but I’m being honest). They did require an occasional pull up though and didn’t feel like a second skin like say Lululemon or Nike.Overall I quite like them as a funky pair of leggings. I probably wouldn’t wear them on squat days just because of the sheer factor but all other stuff would be fine. I don’t know how they’d be for running however as I don’t wear leggings to run in that much at all!

There’s been a lot of social media hype regarding the recent release of the Halo Top ice cream. It’s a very popular ice cream brand in American. It’s a “guilt-free” ice cream in that it’s a lot lower in calories and it’s not full of artificial gunk and nasties. Now don’t get me wrong, ice cream is ice cream. It’s a supplementary item to your diet. If you want a pint of Ben & Jerry’s have a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. It won’t kill you. But sometimes I want to eat a pint of ice cream on a Wednesday night and not feel like I’ve just filled my body with excessive amounts of sugar. I’m a volume eater so this perfectly fits into my persona. I’m sadly not one of those people who can have a scoop and put it away. It doesn’t work for me.

So Halo Top is a lovely compromise of not pushing the boat out but still getting a solid ice cream satisfaction. However it is expensive – £5 a tub, ouch. The Chocolate flavour is delicious though and though it’s not as dense or full of all the chocolatey bits and pieces of a B&J tub, it is still very tasty.

I was also recently asked to review a weight-loss supplement. Now I don’t need to lose weight so this wasn’t something I was going to try. However I asked my dad if he fancied giving it a go (he’s currently doing Slimming World) and he said he was game.

The product is called Maxislim BerryTrim. It has a high strength of Glucomannan which, according to the product is “proven weight loss and gut health”. I don’t now where these sources are though. It argues that the soluble fibre in the product will make you feel fuller for longer. I can understand the logic behind that. Glucomannan has a low energy density, which researchers (again, not sure who) say “can encourage feelings of fullness as it expands in the digestive tract“.

Gut health is important, helping you have a good immune system and healthy digestive system. So that at least sounds like a winner. More fibre is definitely a good thing if your diet lacks it. The product also contains Inulin, a prebiotic that helps with gut health as well.I mean personally I’m not a fan of weight-loss supplements but supporting gut health and getting the digestive system moving is a good thing. Each serving is 22 calories and contains a host of ingredients such as L-Carnitine l-Tartrate, Green Tea Extract, Acai Berry powder, Barley Grass powder, Beetroot juice amongst others. It’s a vegan-friendly product. It also won the ‘Best Supplement’ at the UK Natural Health Trade Summit in October 2017.So my dad tried it for a few days. I got him to answer a few questions for me so I could write up his thoughts… He didn’t have a great experience it must be said.

  • How did it taste? It was inoffensive but the aftertaste lingered for hours – it really left a poor taste, but it went down quite easily.
  • How did it mix with water (recommended way to consume)? Mixed with water very easy. Not lumpy but I preferred the sachets as more consistent than the tub [bare in mind, this is a man who doesn’t like faff]
  • Initial reaction? Texture was like a very cheap fruit powder drink. It had a weak flavour. Not one I looked forward to drinking.
  • Later reaction? This was the real issue for me. After two days of these I experienced an upset stomach, very loose bowl movements and a general feeling of unwellness in the stomach. Yes it made me feel full but not in a good way. [This is more information than I’ve ever wanted from my dad…]
  • Could you see it working for others? Not if they have the same reaction as I did.
  • Weight lost? 1/2 lb in a week, but bare in mind I’m also doing Slimming World and consistently losing with that.

So that’s his honest thoughts. It sounds like it might be useful to some people who don’t get enough fibre in their diets and need to add a bit of “oomph” in but realistic you could just eat more vegetables.

Have you ever tried a weight-loss supplement?

Do you like patterned and jazzy leggings?

What’s your favourite pick n mix sweet?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the leggings and the weight-loss supplement for free in exchange for a review on my bog. All opinions are my (and my dad’s) honest one.**

My Brighton adventures: food and running, of course

There are a few cities in Britain that I have such a love for. One of those is Bristol, one is Cardiff (I went to university there and just love that city) and another is Brighton.

I mean there are so many lovely and interesting places in the UK, of course, but these places I hold dear because of the memories I’ve made there and the fun I continue to have. Through my new job I was lucky to acquire myself a ticket for the Brighton Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) conference. It’s funny because when I was in Brighton earlier this year for the 10k I remember walking past the big conference building and seeing the Brighton SEO sign and saying to my dad, “ahh I’d love to go to that”. And lo! and behold!

I had a somewhat stressful morning on the Friday I was going as I a) forgot to pack a bra (I was wearing my running clothes when I went to my parents as I ran the night before) and b) I didn’t leave myself enough time. I mean, this is standard Anna behaviour obviously. Luckily I had a fresh clean sports bra with me as I’d planned on running the next day in Brighton, priorities eh! And luckily it was a nice purple one which matched perfectly under my pink top – thank god I didn’t pack a bright yellow one!

Anyway, as I was late I literally had to jump out of my dad’s car at the train station (very grateful he gave me a lift) and run for the ticket machine. I mean, it was almost like fate that I was wearing a sports bra after all! Thankfully I made it with a few minutes to spare, albeit a little flustered, but boobs non-jiggled.I met my two colleagues on the train and on arrival at Brighton we walked from the station and to the conference. We grabbed a coffee en route because caffeine and headed inside for one of many interesting talks regarding search optimisation (all to do with digital marketing… topics such as what makes good content, micro influencers, virtual reality and voice technology with search and things like that).I felt overwhelming uncool amongst the very young and hip crowd that seemed to dominate the conference, but I held my head high and convinced myself I deserved to be there. But seriously, everyone looked very trendy and hipster. Beards ahoy!

There were lots of freebies, like cocktail ice lollies, sweets, beer and smoothies. In fact, it kind of reminded me of an Expo or that first day at university when everyone wants you to join their club.It was just all so interesting and exciting. I’m sure the novelty of this career area will wear off eventually but I’m just loving what I do right now. I find it fascinating.

For lunch we headed out into more central Brighton to avoid the crush of people exiting the conference with similar plans for food. We found a Wahaca and decided on there. I love Mexican food (well, the more mainstream version of it anyway). We got some tortilla chips and guacamole to share for starters and I ordered a chicken salad in a tortilla bowl with a side of sweet potatoes. It was all very tasty and felt like such a treat on a Friday afternoon. We then walked back to the conference to continue on with more talks. I parted ways with my colleagues as they’re from a different department and our talk choices weren’t the same. I noticed how suddenly there was a lot more free beer and Prosecco going on now it was post-lunch!I made the unwise decision to have a cheeky Prosecco and it took a lot more work for me to concentrate during a particularly dull talk (ironically on content optimisation…). After struggling it out for a few more talks I decided to leave. The weather was lovely and I walked down the Brighton prom to meet my friend, Charlotte. I’d already pre-arranged to stay over her and her husband’s flat that evening. It was so nice to be able to see her so randomly in the week. Normally I’d need to wait until our usual uni meet-ups but since I was in Brighton already it made sense.We headed back to her house where Charlotte and her husband (Paddy) ordered pizzas and I ordered a Deliveroo from a really tasty Arabian restaurant. ALL THE MEAT.It was so tasty. Lots of skewers, koftas and chicken wings on a bed of rice with the tiniest side salad. The meat to salad ratio was quite a way off! Even after all that food I was still good to go for a nice walk and an ice cream down the seafront. I went for a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of raspberry cheesecake. Delicious!
It was such a lovely evening of good food, catching up and easy TV watching. Perfect.

The next morning we got up relatively early to walk down to the Brighton and Hove parkrun. Charlotte lives in the luxurious position of being a relatively short walk from the Hove Prom parkrun and the Brighton and Hove parkrun. And you know what? She doesn’t even do parkrun! She also informed me of a fantastic life hack…the local Furniture Village next to the park has free FRESHLY BAKED cookies when it opens. OK so they are meant to be for browsing customers but still 😉 Sadly I didn’t quite have the time to “browse” that morning, what a shame!

 

Brighton and Hove parkrun is run in the lovely Hove Park. It’s all run on tarmac and is fairly undulating. It’s 2.5 laps of the park and is a nice one for spectators as they can easily see the runners several times. Unfortunately I missed Charlotte and Paddy cheering me on TWICE. I don’t know how I didn’t spot them! Apparently I looked like I was “in the zone” so maybe I was just too focused.I did a short warm-up (it was quite chilly once we’d stopped walking) and then headed to the start. I heard the lady in front of me saying she wasn’t going to make Spin after parkrun… Wow that’d be keen! Anyway I had told myself just to run how I felt and at the start I got caught up in the excitement and realised I was running fairly quickly.
That was soon put to an end as we reached the first incline. The inclines were gradual and fairly long… but it was a beautiful course and the downhills were nice.I felt strong and attempted to pick people off in front of me. A man with a buggy zoomed past me and I tried to keep him in my sights, though never managed to catch up with him. There were a few supporters cheering us round which was nice and strangely a man on the sidelines counting us as we ran past (I remember a man doing this at the New Forest Marathon as well actually – is this a new thing??).

I managed a nice negative split, though my lungs were burning. My time was 21:51 which I was so pleased with! I haven’t had such a fast time in ages. It was also really nice to have my friends there at the finish line as well, though I was dying at this point.Then we said goodbye and I had to quick march to the train station (with a Starbucks stop en route of course). I just made my train… well, might as well finish how I started this trip eh!Sunday saw me waking up at the lovely time of 8.15am to meet my running friends for a long run. A few of us were meeting a fellow Bournemouth marathon trainee half-way through his run in order to help him through his 20 miler.I only really wanted 8-12 miles. I ran to the meeting spot, which was only 1.5 miles away and then met up with the running crewWe ran a lovely, albeit undulating, route through to Southampton and back round again. This did mean, of course, running across the dreaded Itchen Bridge (if you’ve ever done the Southampton 10k/half/marathon you’ll know about this). It wasn’t too bad. The run was really nice and relaxed and I managed to chip out 12 miles exactly in the end.Then the rest of the day was spent walking Alfie and packing to move out. Not particularly relaxing I must say… but needs must!

Do you go to work conferences?

Do you get Deliveroo in your area? I don’t, so it’s always a treat when I’m staying somewhere that does (probably for the best I don’t get it in my area though!)

Do you have any cheeky life hacks?