What I’m Loving Lately – August

August has come and gone. I’ve realised that I’m totally ready to say goodbye to hot weather. I much prefer cooler weather. So bring on autumn!

This “what I’m loving” post is going to be heavily food-related but hey they’re the best right?

Have you seen the new White Giant Buttons from Cadbury?? They only sell them at Asda so when my dad was there the other day I panic text him to buy me some.

They are SO good. Do you remember how tasty the Milky Bar was before it changed its recipe? Well it’s like that. Creamy, slightly custardy and so moreish. I could easily eat an entire packet.

They also sell the white chocolate bar but I haven’t found it yet (apparently it’s even better than the old school Dream was).

And following that, I’m also loving the Tony’s Chocolonely.

I tried the pretzel caramel dark chocolate bar, but there are a few others I’m keen to try too. It’s so thick!

You feel a bit like Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eating it. And money from the sales go towards ending slavery. So you can feel good about gobbling it up.

Moving on to more savoury things. I’m still on a big carvery love right now. I think I just love that you can pile your plate high with vegetables, stuffing and gravy.

I’m a big fan of cauliflower cheese and roasted parsnips too. Yum! We had a carvery when we saw my friends in Bristol last weekend.

The cake selection was incredible too. And despite being fairly full, I couldn’t say no to a slice slab of chocolate fudge cake.

Heated up with ice cream. Omg it was DIVINE.

Last food-related item… The Good Cookie cookies. I literally ADORE these cookies. Vegan and refined sugar free, but you would never know.

So soft!! I need more of these in my life. Thank you to my lovely friend Emma for introducing them to me and then gifting me a pack. What a friend!

Now on to more things fitness. I’ve been really enjoying the stair machine. It’s better for my hamstring than the elliptical machine and I’ve become a pro at just grinding away and supplementing my running fitness with this.

I love watching the new series of Peaky Blinders while mindless stepping. Don’t get me started on Tommy Shelby… *sighs*.

I was also recently sent a pair of the OOFOS sandals to try out. As I’m back into running again these came at a perfect time.

They are so fricking soft! My feet feel so comfortable and like they’re walking on clouds in them. After a run I love slipping them on and just enjoying the bliss.

They have a footbed designed to absorb impact, cradle your arches and allow your body to move naturally (check out some science-y bits HERE). They’re apparently supposed to reduce stress and enable a more natural motion of walking. And you can really feel it. These bad boys will be joining me in Chicago for after the marathon (*touch wood* I make it to both the start and finish line!).

And that’s all folks!

How do you look after your feet post-run?

What’s your favourite part of a roast dinner?

What’s your favourite chocolate?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the OOFOS recovery sandals for free to test for my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

The highs far outweigh the lows

The other week Kyle and I took off Thursday and Friday and had a little adventure.

OK it wasn’t so much of an adventure as just a trip to Bristol. But hey ho, let’s go with it. We were off to see Sons of the East at the Thekla, a very intimate gig location on a boat.

We woke up and had did 6 miles on the Thursday morning. The run for me felt terrible. Like truly terrible. I was so tired and lethargic and it just felt awful. I couldn’t seem to get going. I wondered if it was just one of those rubbish runs and didn’t think too much of it.

We then headed to Bristol to do a little bit of shopping and then check in to our AirBnb. Thankfully this AirBnb was lovely. It was right next to the River Avon in such a beautiful location. The AirBnb host was beyond nice and the place itself was GORGEOUS. We had our own room and bathroom and even chocolates on the pillow!

From there we walked about a mile to The Burger Theory for dinner. I’d done a bit of research to find somewhere and this seemed like the perfect spot. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my high expectations. This is one of the downsides of researching places to the max… you build it up and get a vision in your mind of what it’s going to be like and when it’s not quite as good as you’ve been led to believe it can be really disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice and the food was good. It just wasn’t how I thought. I’d heard the halloumi fries were seriously good but actually turned out to be really dry and overly chewy.

My chicken wings were tasty but they were TINY. Though I’d ordered the starter portion and added extra wings to make it up to 12 it was (for me and my greedy, overly big appetite) quite unsatisfying.

Kyle and I shared the karaage chicken loaded fries which were very nice, but basically just fries at the end of the day with some toppings (as they’re meant to be, to be fair) so didn’t hugely fulfill my want for something a bit more “meaty”.

Kyle enjoyed his burger though! To be honest, he was so excited about the gig that we probably could have been eating cardboard and he wouldn’t have cared. Sons of the East are his favourite band so this trip really was mainly for him. Of course I was excited to be there too and I do enjoy their music, but I’m not a “super” fan like Kyle.

The gig itself was really good. The band were SO good live and we had a great time. We got to chat to the band afterwards and get some photos. We were going to go to the Creams Gelato after for some late night pudding but I’d started to feel quite ropy and exhausted so we headed back.

Unfortunately I then had a terrible night’s sleep and on waking feeling even  more tired realised I actually had a cold. Whomp whomp!

Beautiful view from the Mud Dock

This was fairly disappointing because we were meeting my friend, Kate, and her baby, Dexter, for brunch at the Mud Dock. I really didn’t fancy anything and just had porridge. A very safe and comforting meal for me. Not the fry-up I’d previously had in mind.

Saturday I went to Netley parkrun (probably ill advised to be honest) and did a very gentle run with Mike. It felt very hard-going!

Sadly this later translated into a failed run on the Sunday as well. I woke up feeling still not 100% and my hamstring was niggling a bit. It had been very slightly annoying me since the Manchester 10k. Not really because of the run per se but because I sat for 4 hours straight on the train ride back. I remember standing up and getting off the train and feeling it being very unhappy and tight.

My left upper hamstring has always caused me issues on and off for a few years now. It usually remains dormant and fine unless I do any sort of deadlifts or severe hamstring stretches and it will occasionally make itself known if I do any super long runs. But it’s usually fine. However it was on and off bugging me.

I decided to cut the long run short (2 miles in) and Kyle and I headed back. Surprisingly I wasn’t too sad. There have been many times in my running life that a niggle, injury or failed run would have really ruined my day but now I’m a bit more chilled about it. Of course I was a little down about not being able to do the run but I have a different perspective now so I don’t dwell. Kyle and I had a fun day ahead going to my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was good fun. We were both able to drink as we got the train to the venue and we let our hair down a bit (in fact, Kyle’s sister very kindly curled my hair which is something I never do!).

We felt very glam in our wedding outfits and had a good time. The ceremony was beautiful. There were two people on our table who didn’t show up so we got to share their starter and main (by the time pudding arrived the staff had cottoned on, damn!).

It became quite the day I can tell you. The bride’s brother kept persuading us to do shots. In the end I had FIVE shots, on top of other drinks!

I mean, I had certainly peaked by 6pm haha!

I had three slices of this strawberry and champagne flavoured cake

Monday we woke up late a teeny bit hungover and had a nice lazy morning. Then I decided to head off to the gym. I did 60 minutes on the stair machine while watching Graham Norton. I like the stair machine – it’s a definite challenge and I find it’s helping strengthen my legs. It does sap you though! My hamstring felt fine using it and it was a nice way to get in a solid workout after my failed run the day before.

So despite a few little niggles, the bank holiday weekend was a lovely one!

Do you enjoy weddings?

Do you go to any gigs?

Halloween parkrun at Havant

I make no secret about the fact that I love fancy dress. I especially like fancy dress when it comes to running. I don’t know why but I think it feels more fun and random.

So Halloween is obviously a good time for this. Quite a few local parkruns were doing a fancy dress themed event and originally Kyle and I were going to go to Lee-On-Solent parkrun on Saturday but as I was at Kyle’s Friday night and we were both quite tired from a long week we decided to just stick to the very local Havant parkrun. Happily they were doing a Halloween themed event so that worked out perfectly.

Kyle’s sister, Laura, is a super talented make-up and hair stylist extraordinaire (she’s actually going to be on the Bodyguard stage show tour soon – how cool) and amazingly was happy enough to do my make-up Saturday morning for me. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to go as but I had a sparkly black tutu. I’m creatively challenged so I left it in her capable hands to decide what my face should be like. She had so much make-up – like the proper stuff, not what you find in Boots (I don’t wear make-up other than the occasionally eye liner or mascara so to me it’s all very much Greek). And had a bag of different blood make-up – I mean whaaaat.She even had a pot for pus and a pot for blister make-up. This is serious stuff. Anyway, she went with a Joker-esque theme and it looked AMAZING. So we headed down to parkrun and turned up to find about four other people had dressed up. Ahh well! But I honestly didn’t mind because I was having good fun. The marshals had dressed up as well so that was cool. I didn’t look completely out of the ordinary at least.
Kyle wasn’t running parkrun as we did 8.6 miles the day before with the Wiggle monthly run but he was a solid support crew for me – even if he did freeze standing watching me, bless him.I’ve only done the Havant parkrun once before and, granted it was after a 13 mile run, but I found it very tough. It’s a lot of uphill and a break-neck downhill you do twice. The ground underfoot is solid and rocky so quite uneven. But this run they were running the parkrun backwards, which meant a terrible short uphill but a mostly downhill course – far better sounding to me!It was very cold. I immediately regretted not bringing my gloves. I also regretted wearing my mesh sleeveless top. I found myself trying to run fast just to get warmer quicker. The marshals were lovely, shouting support. One of them shouted “well done you! And not for your running – your make-up is great!” which made me laugh. And another marshal complimented my sparkly skirt.The course is mostly trail but it is really uneven underfoot which means you have to concentrate hard where you’re putting your feet. What was great though was how downhill the course was and it did feel far easier than my previous time there.

Then the giant steep hill… jeeze it is hard-work. But I’d much rather a short sharp hill than long stretches of incline. It just meant a short period of time of burning legs before reaching the flat again. The course is two and a bit loops (the bit being at the start) which was nice because it meant I saw Kyle a good few times. He’s great at cheering (and taking photos!) but it was tough to see where he actually was because the low sunshine was pointing directly at us as we came round the corner.The second loop felt better as my body got a lot warmer, but my hands were freezing. It felt really uncomfortable. But finally we got up the horrific hill again and headed to the finish.
My time was 22:20 which I was pleased about – much better than 24:03 of last time.I wasn’t cold when I finished but my hands were like blocks of ice. Bless Kyle, he was freezing stood waiting for me. He’s a very god egg indeed!After a few silly photos (got to be done when you have such cool make-up and a sparkly tutu!) we headed home where I had a wonderfully hot bath. Ahhhh so nice.

Then we headed to Morrison’s cafe for one of their amazing breakfasts with Kyle’s mum and sister. Unfortunately Kyle and my meals were seriously delayed (like a good 20 minutes after Sarah and Laura’s meals) but when it came it was a good spread!Despite the bean contamination, it was delicious 😉 I swapped my hashbrown for extra bacon (the correct decision in my eyes) and felt warm and full.

And then Kyle and I drove to Bristol.My friends Kate and Jay had invited us up for early dinner so to make it worthwhile the 2 hours of driving up there we went to the amazing Cabot Circus to mosey about the shops. I was really chuffed to be able to use a Hotel Chocolat voucher and get a free white chocolate skull lolly, which was delicious, and then, because I had the app, a free Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut (mainly for Kyle but I did have a few bites of course). I do so love freebies!

We then headed to Kate and Jay’s to have a WHOLE LOTTA Mexican food with our other friends Shell and Rob and their little one, Eloise.You know you never go hungry when Jay is cooking. We had fajitas, tacos, nachos and all the trimmings. Kate introduced us to the “Double D” tacos where you make a taco and then wrap the taco in a tortilla. Genius! No mess 😉Followed by chocolates, a Bakewell tart and a cheesecake. Needless to say we headed home stuffed!

The next day I had my final long run before the New York Marathon next week. I like to do between 13-16 miles depending on how my training cycle. If I haven’t had a great lead-up then I’ll probably run 16 miles, whereas if I think I’ve got enough long running in I’ll do 10-13 miles. So Sunday I decided 13 sounded good to me and went with that.

It was ridiculously windy and cold, but sunny. I remembered to wear my gloves and decided a long sleeve top would be in order. As I got going inthe sunshine I did wonder if the long sleeves were unnecessary but as I got onto the seafront I was happy with my choice. The wind was quite brisk.

As my route goes past a lot of farms, I saw a lot of “pick your own pumpkins” going on which was cool. So many orange blobs in the distance and kids and families running round. It’s definitely become a bigger thing to do this over the years.My legs felt strong and I was happy to clip along to a podcast and chill out. It didn’t feel a slog thankfully. However at about 8.5 miles the heavens opened up on me and I got soaked with cold biting rain. I was even more glad for my long sleeves and gloves then!As I got towards  home it backed off and bright sunshine started again which was a nice way to end the run.

So a solid weekend and now less than a week to the Big Apple!

What distance do you do as your final long run?

Have you done any pumpkin carving?

Do you dress up for Halloween?

Eastville parkrun and tasty burger

Another weekend and more time away from good old Southampton. This time Friday night saw me driving to Bristol. I know I always say it, but I do love Bristol. A nice friendly city with loads going on (especially good food spots, just saying…).

So anyway, I headed up to Bristol and stayed over at my friend’s Kate and Jay’s house where we ordered a mediocre Indian take-away. It wasn’t the best and we all agreed. But the pudding more than made up for it.IMG_7463We shared a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food and a tub of Half Baked. Pretty good (though a little too melted for my liking – I’m far more a fan of the more “solid” ice cream consistency). While we were in the shop I did spy my dream egg for half price (now £6!). The struggle was REAL to not buy it. I walked away feeling a better person for beating the temptation but equally disappointed.IMG_7483Saturday morning the plan was to head to a relatively new Bristol parkrun called Eastville. Kate wasn’t going to run but she was going to take Doug the pug and support. Doug however was not impressed and really didn’t want to go, especially as the weather was pretty grim and rainy.
IMG_7490We picked up our friend Katherine, who’s a fellow parkrun lover and runner, and then drove about 20 minutes to Eastville.IMG_7487We parked in the nearby Tesco car park and walked the miserable drizzly walk to the park.
IMG_7497The park was lovely, but it was essentially on a hill.IMG_7489I knew this parkrun was not going to be an easy one but I did want to put in some effort. I went for a one mile warm-up (check me out being all sensible) and then Katherine and I headed to the start.

The course was kind of loops of the park but it veered off to go round a lovely lake and had several long inclines as well as some good downhills. A mixed bag really but all on tarmac so no mud to contend with.IMG_7493The start is nice though as you literally head straight downhill. This helped me gain some initial speed without jumping fully on the pain train straight away. Though the first loop curved straight back up into a long dragging incline back to the start area which was quite draining for the legs.

I heard a voice behind me and turned to see my friend Joe with his dog Barry run up next to me. I knew Joe was going to be there (he switches between Bristol and Southampton so it’s always nice when we’re in the same area for once and can catch up). Though I definitely wasn’t going to catch up while trying to maintain some sort of speed (for me). He breezed past nonchalantly and I shouted I’d see him at the finish. He said Barry would need a poo (a parkrun poo if you will) so I may catch up (spoiler: I did not and I’m not).

From there we headed downhill again to do a loop round the lake. There were no fences or anything for the lake so it felt a little precarious taking any of the curves close to it for fear of falling in (I mean, if anyone’s going to fall in it would be this idiot). I felt quite strong and happy with my pace but as we finished round the lake we had to climb this very sharp but short incline. And from there we then had to head back up the long incline for almost half a mile. It literally destroyed my legs. I felt my pace and will to keep pushing plummet.

And then it was back on the flat, picked the legs up a bit, and then downhill again. I caught my breath and felt my legs calm down a bit only to then have to climb back up that bloody long incline again. I saw Kate and Doug at the side but I could barely manage a nod (Kate told me afterwards I looked like I was in a dark place of hell. Accurate). Then a final flat stretch to the finish, whew.IMG_7502Jeeze that was tough, tough. tough. Thanks Joe for the photo bomb, ha!
Eastville parkrunI got 20:54 and third female which I’m super happy with. I put in a good amount of effort as well, which is what I’d wanted. IMG_7508I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a great time so to have a 20:XX was confidence-building.
IMG_7513Katherine did well too. She wanted to run the entire way and smashed it. And Barry, the dog, got himself a  parkrun PB. Happy days all round! A lovely friendly course marshals cheering despite the rubbish weather is always so appreciated!) – definitely worth a visit.IMG_7504 (1)I was wearing my cow cowl because I thought I was going to be a bit chilly but actually I was really warm on the run and had to roll my sleeves up. I’d forgotten about the buff until a man came up to me and started asking me about which parkruns I’d done. I suddenly realised he was also wearing a cow cowl (the unofficial indicator that you’ve hit over 20 different parkruns). He was also doing the Alphabet Challenge as well so it was nice to hear about the ones he still had to do. Love how friendly parkrun is 🙂

Then we headed back to drop Katherine off and then Kate and I headed to Cheltenham to meet up with our other friend Shell and her adorable 10 month old Eloise and her lovely hubby Rob.IMG_7534We all went for lunch in a lovely pub at the top of a hill called the Rising Sun and had a solid lunch. I hadn’t eaten breakfast to save on time so I was really ready for food at this point!IMG_7532I went for the pulled pork, brisket and mac and cheese burger. Now when it comes to burgers for me, more is always better. A burger in a bun is never that appealing to me, but add in about 14 other things and I am THERE.
IMG_7518It was heavenly. Any burger that you can’t actually pick up to eat (in public) is a winner to me. So much filling haha. In a bid to have a little health I swapped my fries for vegetables… and then cancelled everything out with the chocolate fudge cake pudding. Be still my beating heart.
IMG_7527I did get a bit of pudding envy though when Rob ordered the double chocolate brownie. It amused me greatly when he asked the waiter which out of the fudge cake and brownie was bigger. This is my kinda thinking. Though the fudge cake was said to be bigger, the brownie was richer apparently so Rob went for that.IMG_7528We swapped bites (I rarely do this FYI. Only in very rare circumstances…but I really wanted to try the brownie) and though it was nice, my cake was better 😉

I had an amusing moment with Rob (a non-runner) when he asked me what Strava was. Ahh to have no awareness of such things, eh! I tried to explain it as a running/cycling Facebook.

Then it was back in the car and a drive to Birmingham! Whew. Busy indeed.

Brownie or fudge cake?

Favourite burger topping?

Favourite UK city?

My favourite B’s – brownie and BBQ in Bristol

This weekend was my annual uni friends BBQ. We’ve been doing this for 11 years now, which just blows my mind.

It hasn’t always been a BBQ (one time we did a picnic in a park, though I didn’t listen properly and still brought raw food much to everyone’s amusement. Another Anna Stupid Moment), but invariable it is. The weather is usually always good, but annoyingly this year it rained. Ah well, can’t win ’em all.

I drove to Bristol on the Friday evening. It also happened to be the worst time to drive anywhere because there were so many family’s who’s kids had just finished for the year and were off on holiday. So my hour 40 minutes drive turned into 2.5 hours. Joy!

The evening was lovely. We had burritos (steak and chicken). Then followed by our amazing brownie.We’ve been making this brownie since our university days. It’s basically our way of throwing out the rule book and eating pudding exactly how we want (i.e. being a bit piggy and greedy). Straight out of the oven, with a spoon. I blogged the recipe before if you’re interested… this time we added lots of white chocolate and a KitKat Chunky. The KitKat didn’t really work, but it was still AMAZING.

I promptly went into a food coma. We then watched Naked Attraction (if you’ve never seen this programme it’s hilarious but also unbelievably cringey; people choosing dates based entirely on their naked bodies). There was actually a really sweet couple who got together and are still together post-show. Normally they never really work out but this was really cute how well they got on and liked each other. Ah romance 😉 It was a full-on rock and roll evening clearly!

Normally Saturday morning Kate, Jamie and I would go to one of the Bristolian parkruns but as I’m still  injured and Kate and Jay haven’t been running much we decided to have a lie-in instead. I did attempt a little run to see how the knee felt but it still pulled so I turned back after half a mile. Frustrating. Instead I walked to Starbucks with one of the others, Charlotte, and we enjoyed the nice weather (which was soon to turn) and a good old natter.

Then our other friend’s arrived with their newborn baby and the BBQ could commence! It was WEIRD seeing my friend with a baby. She’s the first in the group to have had one and it was just bizarre. She’s a proper grown-up now! The baby, Eloise, was very cute (that’s all you’ll get from me on babies). It didn’t change the dynamic of the group at all, which was nice. Eloise just slotted it like the new addition she is. Though babies do, in general, terrify me.I just don’t know what to do with them or how to speak to them… I held her once and then quickly gave her back. Whew. We survived. It was great hearing all the gory details of the birth though. You do need a close friend to tell you the truth about these things I think. Like I said, terrifying.

Then Jamie got ready with the BBQ. Check out the bag of meat!So. Much. Food. This is why I love going to Bristol. They feed me so well 😉There was a selection of chicken thighs and drumsticks, peppered steaks, lamb ribs, pork ribs, pork belly, sausages and burgers. Pretty damn good!Though the weather wasn’t great it was still a fun BBQ. We ate inside around the table which was nice, so we could all easily chat. And they no longer laugh at me when I take photos of food 😉

Obviously I ate too much, but what’s new? We followed the BBQ with Victoria sponge and salted caramel cake (it was recently Shell and Charlotte’s birthday – yes I had a slice of both…and maybe another later) and then BBQ bananas with chocolate sauce. YES.I’m not a huge banana fan but this was really tasty. The banana had gone all gooey and sticky and the chocolate sauce melted into it. SO good. Just slice a line into a banana, roll it up with foil and pop it onto the coals for 15 minutes).

I went home later that day very happy. I mean, ridiculously full but very happy.

The next morning…ah how I’d loved to have joined my friend Mike in his 20 mile run (I’m trying not to panic, trying not to panic) and instead went to the gym where I did 65 minutes on the cross-trainer at a quick clip. I was a sweaty mess by the end and somewhat satisfied with my workout. But not as happy as I’d have been having just done 20 miles! But hey ho, it is what it is.

I’ve found the perfect way to keep entertained on the elliptical machine; watching YouTube and films. I watched To The Bone on Netflix which was interesting. I’d heard about this through the Blogosphere and also on a film podcast. It’s about eating disorders, which isn’t an entirely fun subject but it was actually really good in a weird way. An interesting take on the subject and I thought Keanu Reeves in it was really good. The main female did annoy me a bit but I don’t think she was meant to be entirely likeable. I thought it addressed the issues well but it’d be interesting hearing from someone with more experience on the matter.

Anyway, it’d be nice to run again. My knee does seem much better so it’s frustrating that when it comes to running this isn’t translated. It feels fine in every other aspect but running. So who knows. Cross training is the way forward right now!

How was your weekend?

Do you have any annual traditions with your friends?

Have you watched To The Bone?