The one with all the selfies…

This past weekend was quite a strange one for me. Ben was off camping for a running event called Ultra 12 (solo or relay runners running Saturday 7pm until Sunday 7am). I had planned on doing it as well and being part of a team of six with Ben but as it got closer I realised my time was probably better spent focusing on the marathon.

I didn’t feel too bad leaving the team because this actually meant they could get more laps in without me and they’d get a better running experience (I hoped) from it. Obviously I was sad I wasn’t going and being part of the team but I knew my decision was sensible (albeit boring). I’d get to go to parkrun on Saturday and do a longish run Sunday.

This past week or so I’ve had a few niggles I wanted to put to bed so have been focusing a bit more on cycling and hoping the niggles don’t develop further. So far so good. Just means I haven’t been able to run as far in my long runs as I’d want at this point. But I’m not dwelling on it or panicking.

Friday night I was on my own and watch the Dallas Buyers Club (a film I knew Ben wouldn’t want to watch) occasionally interrupted with a few selfies from the husband to keep me informed of all his good behaviour…

IMG_7589 Preparing well for the race the next day

Saturday morning I cycled the four miles to parkrun and helped them set up.

Parkrun selfieParkrun selfie 

Then ran a nice and easy parkrun with a friend from my club. I just ran on feel and didn’t want to push it but felt good at the end and picked up the pace a bit (to the surprise of my running partner, whoops!) I would like this documented that this was my first ever royal flush negative split parkrun (I know it’s only three miles but still, this is something for me!)


Very pleased with that! Then I helped pack up and cycled back home.

Ben was away until Sunday lunchtime-ish so I’d planned on hanging with the parentals for Saturday until Sunday morning, where I’d planned to do a nice long run along the seafront (as my parent’s live closer to the sea than we do).

I took Alfie with me and we headed there at lunchtime. I enjoyed a nice walk down to the local village with my parents to pick up some supplies for the evening dinner.


Then we had a nice lunch and headed out for another walk, this time along the seafront to stop for coffee in one of the little tea rooms. The walk was very windy but lovely in the sunshine.

Lee on Solent walk 9.08 I do love being near the sea. And this helped take my mind off that I was missing out on all the Ultra fun and Ben 🙁

IMG_7541 Sea-side selfie

I sent some selfies to Ben and he responded likewise so I sort of felt in the loop.

IMG_7580 Ben and Nathan

The weather was looking to turn to the worst however…

IMG_7573 Some less happy than others!

Anyway, back to the walk. Our plan was to have coffee and to also buy a slice of cake each to have after dinner. Well that did not work out at all after seeing the amazing selection and having worked up a bit of an appetite for a snack.

Lee on Solent tea room Yeah right I could walk a slice of cake the two miles back to the car without eating it!! We all agreed cake would be far better now than after dinner. Good decision, yes?IMG_7568

That absolute beast of a slab is red velvet. So. Damn. Good. My dad had an incredibly sized slice of carrot cake and my mum had the same as me. I think I need to return though for test purposes because they said they had a cinnamon bun cake and I’ve never tried one of those before.

IMG_7571 Our walk back was powdered by cake; we were stuffed! As we continued to walk we all agreed our planned steak dinner was probably not a good idea anymore. It’s a shame because it was going to be Steak Diane and this is one of my favourite recipes my dad cooks.

Anyway we had a lazy evening of a snacky dinner (soup for me) and a good film, the Guilt Trip. This film is just made to watch with your mum. Seriously. It was very funny and the perfect choice for the evening…while Ben and the team were working hard in the night…


 Head torches to the rescue?

The next morning I planned on running 10 miles down the beach…until I looked outside.

IMG_7581It was absolutely pelting it down and the wind was unbelievable. Hurricane Bertha was saying good morning it seemed. Running along the beach in this? No thank you! I’m not a fair weather runner (I’ll run in wind, rain and snow any day) but this was stupid. I’d get blown away! My parents agreed I shouldn’t go out so instead I enjoyed a bit of Xbox with my dad (geek at heart I’m afraid).

Then I made my way home and had the lovely company of my returned exhausted runner. The team absolutely smashed it and came first for the mixed relay runners – how about that! They were amazing and I’m so glad they all enjoyed it. Ben managed four laps (of the 5 mile course) so he was pretty spent for the rest of the day.

IMG_7585 His well deserved medal still round his neck

I’m a very proud wife! He did amazingly. Though I don’t regret not going, I am sad I wasn’t involved and didn’t get to see them all do so well. Next year!

What films have you seen lately?

Have you ever done a relay race?

Do you enjoy spending time with your parents? My parents and me are very close and I’m not ashamed to say I like spending time with them. And Ben’s mother in law as well. I’m very lucky to have such a lovely family! (Cheese alert sorry)

I’m not training for a triathlon but…

I’ve been doing some swimming and cycling recently. But not a lot of running. My hip is still sadly niggling me.

I saw my physio last Friday just to check it wasn’t anything serious as I was going into an Anna Panic (as Ben says, Pannakin mode). Ideas of arthritis and stress fractures were floating around my mind. Yes, seriously over-reacting I know. But I do have arthritis in my family…And an over-active brain when it comes to injuries and niggles.

Anyway the physio said I’d just tweaked my groin/hip flexor area and running Netley had aggravated it further and caused my back to tighten up to compensate (I get an ache in the top of my glute/lower back as well). Panic over. He said it really depends on me when I can get back to running – as long as the pain isn’t unbearable I can run. But I’m still taking it very cautiously and not running for the time being.

My lovely friend at my running club gave me a three day free pass to her AMAZING gym which is just around the corner from me so I thought I’d put that to good use over the weekend. The gym has two pools: one inside and one outdoors (yes, in Britain).

On Saturday morning I got up early and headed there for a swim. Bear in mind I haven’t swum in years (ignoring holidays). I rocked up to the pool in my bikini (I have no actual swimsuit), no goggles and no clue. I got into the Medium Lane (there was no slow lane) and started breast stroking. But I worried this might niggle the groin/hip so changed to front crawl. I wear contact lenses so I had to keep my head out of the water. This is not an easy feat when doing front crawl.

Now no disrespect to them, but there were a lot of older, shall we say senior, ladies there in their swim caps, goggles and proper swimsuits. I did feel slightly judged by them and also hugely inferior (if looks could kill…). Evidently, these ladies go every single day and I was encroaching on their territory. The Medium Lane was becoming ridiculous with people walking up and down the lane so I switched to the Fast Lane and was quickly overtaken a lot by some speedy ladies. Oh my poor ego…

I enjoyed about 15 minutes of swimming until I became bored. Up and down. Up and down. But I stuck it out for 50 minutes. The next day I managed 45 minutes – and even ventured into the outdoor pool (now that gets you moving!) and felt my front crawl improve a lot (it helped bringing goggles). I then treated myself to a good 10 mins soak in the Jacuzzi.

After my swim on Saturday I realised I could get to parkrun to see Ben run.IMG_6730

I got there just before 9am and loved the look on Ben’s face as I cheered him and he realised I was there. It was nice to still make parkrun to support – though I looked a little like a drowned rat with my wet hair.

image Ben did a good run, just under 22 minutes. We had a nice cup of tea and chat with some running friends and Ben got on top of his football sticker swapping…

Football stickers swapping

Yes, he is 26 years old.

Monday morning Ben and me got up at 6.10am (ON A BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY – sorry for the caps, but that is early, am I right?) to go for a 30 mile bike ride with a fair number of guys from the running club (or ‘injured’ club as some said as a lot of the people there currently couldn’t run because of injury, myself sadly included I guess).

HERC 26.05.14 bike ride Photo credit – Kelly

Well as you can see I’m one of the few not wearing a jacket. In my running-focused brain I thought I’d get warm on the cycle, even if it rained.

Well the heavens opened up and I was FREEZING. Ben, my loving husband, gave me his jacket though and cycled in just a running t-shirt. Honestly, I don’t know how he survived in the absolute freezing and wet conditions as I was still so cold despite the jacket. He has definitely earnt a few Husband Points!

image Just a little bit hilly…

image image

By about 20 miles though I wanted to be home. I was so cold and wet it just became very difficult to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, if the weather had been better I’d have loved it. The route was scenic, the hills were tough but satisfying…but being so cold for so long is just not fun. Total time cycling: 2:19:12 though we stopped a few times to regroup.

As soon as we got home I was in the bath with a coffee (again, lovingly made by my husband after he’d had a shower). I just couldn’t get warm. I was also starving. I didn’t have anything before cycling and nothing on route (this is the same for running) but on the last stretch of the ride I started to feel dizzy and weak. Not good at all. Need to be more sensible next time. This is a whole different thing to running!

After a big bowl of porridge and then a proper shower I felt more human. Thankfully we were going to Nando’s later as well with a friend so I could eat my body weight in chicken. The calorie in-out balance was definitely returned to normal by the end of the day 😉

Running, cycling or swimming – which do you prefer? I think we know my answer to this 😉

Are you a fair weather exerciser? I don’t mind running in the rain at all. No problem. But cycling…well not only is it cold but I felt a lot more cautious going downhill as I was scared to slip.

Have you ever felt dizzy when exercising?

The best kind of weekend

Posting a bit later today as things have got a bit ahead of me. The story of my life at the moment! Definitely didn’t enjoy losing that hour Sunday morning.

The weekend was a busy one. We went to Parkrun in the morning and helped set out the course. Ben is a huge fan of doing this and now has me hooked. I don’t mind getting up earlier to help out as you get a bit more social time with other runners.

I was a bit nervous for the run as my calf had gotten quite tight after Thursday and it’s so close to the marathon now that anything is causing me huge amounts of stress…someone sneezing near me is enough to freeze up my system in terror.

I made sure I did a very good warm-up with jogging, dynamic stretches and specifically stretching my calf using a handy tree.

Parkrun stretching I’m sure a fun caption could be made here… “Ben I can’t seem to move this tree no matter how hard I push”

Which was caught on camera…lovely! Not one of my best photos haha!

I decided to take Parkrun nice and easy and there were quite a few of us who decided to run together so we had a nice natter as we ran round the course in the lovely sunshine. My calf was OK <– WHEW.

Parkrun 29.03 I’m still wearing my gloves even though it was so warm. My hands are the very last things to heat up.

Parkrun2 30.03 My time was 23:29 and third female – not too shabby at all! After this we had a nice cup of tea with some of the running club and then headed home for breakfast. At this point I was STARVING.

We met up with a friend in the afternoon and did a huge walk with Alfie around the countryside. It wasn’t meant to be so long it’s just we got caught out with lots of muddy routes and had to go the long way back home (needless to say Alfie required a bath that evening…). At the end of the day I’d done almost 30,000 steps. And, more importantly, this happened:

2048 If you don’t know what this game is, I urge you to download it (it’s an app). It is so simple but so very addictive!!

We had a lovely early night as we had to get up early the next day for a long run. I was so tired when the alarm went off at 6.40am – which my body thought was 5.40am due to the daylight savings. Arghh!

My plan was to run 13 miles. Perhaps not the most ideal distance considering I have the marathon a week later but psychologically I needed to do it. Ben and me had decided to meet up with some guys from our running group to run with them. The route was only 10 miles so I ran the 2 miles to the meeting point instead of going in the car with Ben, then planned on adding a bit on at the end.

The route was lovely. Credit to my husband who planned it (though I think it was based on a route one of the other guy’s had used before – so credit all round). It was fairly hilly though which was tough.


There were quite a few of us – eight or nine? Not sure. But in the end we sort of spread out from each other as we found our natural paces. It was really nice to spend a long run chatting to people rather than go solo. Though I will always love my solo long runs listening to podcasts…

I’m not going to lie, it was tough with the hills and not feeling completely fresh from a week of running (6 miles Tuesday, 8 miles Thursday, 3 miles Saturday) of which I’m not as used to anymore with my sporadic training. But it didn’t feel that bad as to worry me. I felt like I could have gone on further (bloody lucky considering it’s double that seven days later).

I was shattered when I got home though. Absolutely drained. So was Ben. We’re pretty sure the long walk the afternoon before hadn’t helped. Then it was time to treat two lovely ladies to some afternoon tea as it was Mother’s Day in the UK.

My mum showed up with the same handbag as me but slightly smaller – it was like mum and baby handbags! (She had originally given me the big handbag as she prefers smaller handbags and I love a huge bag to put my multitude of things in it).

Mum and daughter bags Then off we went to indulge in some very lovely tea, sandwiches and cake at our favourite local (dangerously local) coffee shop: Elsie’s Tearoom if you’re in the area.

Afternoon tea 30.03.14 [Ben wasn’t happy with this photo; he said he felt uncomfortable because the table next to us were gawping at us – how rude!]

We all had afternoon tea. I had ham and mustard sandwiches, a fruit scone (with strawberry and rhubarb preserve, oohh err) and a slice of lemon cake.

Elsie's afternoon tea Honestly, I am getting to be somewhat a pro at this afternoon tea business. Way to easy to eat. And I even had a bite of my mum’s unfinished lemon cake. Oh god…

After spending some quality time with The Mums, Ben and me pretty much did nothing. I fell asleep on the sofa to the dulcet tones of Ben blowing up zombie brains on the Xbox…then awoke with a new lease of life to tackle the ironing while we watched Elysium. I would give this movie a rating of “meh”. An OK film for when you’re not in the mood to think too hard.

The plan for this week is all easy running. Probably three miles Tuesday, three miles Thursday, the Paris breakfast 5km on Saturday (to shake out our ‘plane legs’) and then just a short gentle jog taking in the different sights of Paris. Probably 26.2miles, but we’ll see how it goes 😉

For those who celebrated it, how did you spend Mother’s Day?

Do you struggle with a full afternoon tea?

Ladies, do you prefer big handbags or small? (Men you can join in too with your manbags!) I have small handbags when I’m going out for an evening, but I do love a good handbag. Looking forward to all those back problems in later life 😉

Long runs solo or with a group?

All those random things

Hello! Today feels like Friday for me today because Ben and me have a day off tomorrow. Hurrah!

This post is about the random things that have been happening that I wanted to put in the blog but it never seemed ideal.

  • Rain. So much rain. And the delightful experience of parking your car at work and coming back to see the river blocking your route back to it.

    Flooded car park This was great. I really enjoyed wading through this massive puddle to get back to my car after work.

  • Alfie, I love him dearly (he’s our little dog if you weren’t aware). But when I get home, walk him, make our dinner, then attempt to make my way to the sofa to relax he picks up his ball and runs over to me with it and drops it right in front of me…playing ball is the last thing I want to do. He then looks up at me with the most expectant face. Oh Alfie, how can I refuse?Guilty Alfie
  • However, I have found a way to keep him entertained if I just want to do nothing (read or chill):Alfie watching TVPut the Animal Planet channel on! He loves the big cats programme and the cat-specific one (surprise surprise).
  • The gym…ahh the gym. The things you see at the gym:Crazy gym girl outfitCan you see the girl in the pink jogging bottoms? That white thing on her head is a huge furry hat. Sometimes it can be a bit chilly at the gym…but not that chilly! And yes she was there to workout. Seeing her on the treadmill was an experience in itself.
  • Crazy shoe guy running on the treadmill:IMG_5670 They’re barefoot trainers (I guess). They just looked very odd. I saw someone running in barefoot trainers at the Reading half as well. I’ve never been tempted to try it…You basically have to go back to basics with running to ‘re-learn’ how to run – like mile by mile. The guy in the race though was doing some hard heel-striking so I don’t know if his have helped him. I’d probably get injured in all new areas if I tried it.
  • Apparently I’ve been saying “grimace” wrong my whole life. I thought it was “grimance” with an ‘n’ in there. Quite embarrassing really.
  • And I’ve finally taken a photo of my medal holder (which isn’t actually on the wall yet). My granddad made it for me. He goes up to Scotland every winter to help out look after reindeers at this reindeer centre. The male reindeers ‘drop’ their antlers and he collects the ones in good conditions and makes things out of them (he was a carpenter).Medal holder

Ben held it up for me and I put some of my medals on it to give it it’s full effect. I think it’s amazing!

So this weekend is going to be a busy one. With the meal tomorrow, then Karen’s (pregnant amazing runner) 30th birthday party on Saturday (afternoon tea – YES She very much shares my love of cake!) and then a meal out on Sunday for Ben’s birthday (which was on Tuesday). Lots of food…the best kind of weekends 😉

What do you do with your medals?

What kind of trainers do you wear to run?

Do you have any pets?

Ben’s marathon recap – a cautionary tale?

I have finally managed to get Ben to write his race recap of the Portsmouth Coastal marathon, which was on December 22nd 2013.

Before we get started, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but Ben had a fairly tough time with the lead up and the actual marathon. It’s a great achievement and I’m so proud of him, but it wasn’t the best race unfortunately.

Marathon Hello! I’m Ben, Anna’s husband. I’m a relatively new runner. I started March 2013 when I gave up smoking and gradually have increased my miles. I’ve run races from 5km to a marathon. I have suffered multiple injuries because I’ve never been a fit and healthy person. But my goal is to get fit and run a sub four marathon. Here’s my recap…

IMG_5678 Just before we left, looking very nervous

Anna, myself and my dad turned up at the start of the marathon on a cold and wet December day. I was pretty nervous. I’m always nervous before races and I knew I wasn’t 100% fit and hadn’t trained enough to really go and run the marathon to the best of my ability.

I had pulled a muscle in my hip or my groin in November and rather than trying to stop running and get it fixed I ran through it, slowly and surely making it more and more uncomfortable. But I didn’t feel that I could drop out of the marathon as I had raised a lot of money for a local charity [Anna’s note: he raised over £1,000!].


So we were stood at the start line with a guy from our running club who wanted to run a 4:30 marathon. I thought that was absolutely perfect so I was going to run with him. About 15 minutes before the start and it started pouring with rain, it was freezing – not a good start!

IMG_5691 I positioned myself near the back of the pack as I knew I wasn’t going to be setting any sort of fast time! When the race started I felt great. I started running at 9.30 per mile, overtaking everyone. We were running with the wind behind us down Southsea sea front. There was the added obstacle of the shingle and rocks that had been washed up on the path from the “beach” but luckily I avoided injury.

The first two miles were the same as the end of the Great South Run, just running the opposite way. Mile three was when I realised what I had got myself into. We turned off of the main road, ran along a little lane and then onto a shingle beach, covered in algae and sea weed. It was treacherous and slippery!

I started off really enjoying it. There was a small patch of mud and then straight onto the beach. However I realised quite soon that I had done all of my training on roads and didn’t have much experience of running through mud and shingle. This meant that my legs at mile three were already taking a battering and felt tired already.

Once we got off of the beach we were back on the road. Then we were on the seafront again. This time on a single file muddy track. It was tough to run in single file and it was so slippery that it just didn’t seem safe to overtake. The one thing I remember about this part of the race is running with my friend when he saw his children. One of his friends had brought them down to support and they shouted “go daddy”. It was such a great experience to see the push it gave him, even so early in the race, that it motivated me.

The dodgy path continued like this until the end of mile five where we broke back onto pavement, here came the start of my best bit of the race. I was still running with my friend, keeping a really good pace and loving the run. The rain had stopped and I had warmed up.

IMG_5707 Smiles ahoy!

Then I felt my hip pull, not too badly but badly enough that I knew I had to be careful. I dropped off the pace a bit and slowed down, then stretched a bit to try to relieve the ache. It worked to start with and I really thought that as I was heading to the half way point that I would be fine.

Then I hit mile 10. My hip suddenly started restricting my pace. I stopped and stretched and ran a bit, stopped and stretched and ran a bit. At mile 11 I saw one of my work colleagues who had driven down to cheer me on and that gave me the motivation I needed to push on through. I was almost halfway and I kept thinking I can do this.

When I hit the half marathon point I stopped, stretched, had a drink and a gel. I took a bit of time to think, which was a stupid thing to do. I realised just how far I had to go and I also realised actually how bad a position I was in. The marathon was an out and back. I had to run the whole way back to finish and that was daunting.

I started running again and saw a lot of runners running towards the halfway mark. I stopped and stretched every 0.25-0.5 miles as my hip was playing up. I was really struggling. At mile 16 I saw my friend again. She was shouting my name and again it gave me a push, I ran over to her and gave her a hug and then kept running. At this point I was an emotional wreck, I ran away from her and was a bit tearful.

The challenge of what I was doing made me realise what an idiot I had been to run it whilst injured and also what an idiot I had been to keep running even now that I was in pain. I couldn’t give up though. I had made it this far. I needed to make it to the end just to finish a marathon and get it done.

IMG_5726 At mile 19 I saw Anna, my mum, my dad, Anna’s mum and Anna’s dad.


The cheer squad

IMG_5714I had just had the most difficult running experience of my life. The three miles I had just done were tough: running/walking 13.30 minute miles, stretching and just trying to keep going.

As I got to Anna I stopped and burst into tears. My hip was hurting, I could barely lift my legs and I still had over 10km to run!

[It’s really hard for me to read this. When Ben got to us and had his emotional moment I pleaded with him to just stop. But the determination in his face told me that he wouldn’t do that. He would drag himself over the finish line if he had to. The stubborn bastard 😉 ]

I had completely underestimated the marathon. I thought I was invincible and thought I would easily run it with no problems. I was an idiot to even attempt it! After a good four minutes of constant crying I sorted myself out. I knew what I needed to do and that was drag myself to the finish line.

I started running away from my family and although I was sad I knew I could do it. Mile 20 was tough, not only because there was a little uphill but I could barely move my legs. I started to run and then my legs cramped up. Stretching wasn’t helping, my legs were shot and my hip was a burning fire of pain. Suddenly my Garmin bleeped at me and told me it had no battery.

THAT WAS IT. That told me how slow I was running; my Garmin that has never run out of battery decided it had been too long. The worst part of this is that I was glad, glad I didn’t need to look at my shocking speed and pace and time. Three hours and 45 minutes of pain and I had run 20.2 miles. Well only six to go.

IMG_5736The weather had brightened up thankfully 

Those last six took me one hours and 23 minutes – not my finest six miles! They consisted of me making myself run, getting over the cramp and pain. I managed to sort myself out and actually run for a bit which gave me confidence. I had managed to forget or block the pain in my hip.

I saw Anna and her dad at one point and at another point I saw my mum, dad and Anna’s mum. [We tried to zoom around the course and get to wherever we could to see him and shout encouragement] Whenever I saw them I apologised for crying and reassured them that I hadn’t gone mad and that I would finish the race. The last two miles were the worst. Those wonderful two miles at the start with the wind on my back and a group of people around me changed into hell.

Me running, alone, against the wind. It was a nightmare, to top it off my knee’s were shot. I had major pain in both of them and I couldn’t get rid of it. I struggled to the finish line in 5:08 and finally finished my first marathon.

What can I take from my experience – number one: never underestimate a race of any distance that you are not used to running. I have a history of underestimating races. My first half marathon was Cheddar Gorge that I walked most of. Two: don’t risk running when injured. It has taken me eight weeks of barely running to get back into running because of my injuries from the marathon and I only have myself to blame. Finally: this isn’t it. I know that I will beat my marathon time, the sooner the better. Hopefully in Paris but if not then in Berlin.

Back to Anna:

When I first read this recap my first reaction was “oh my god, and you want to try again??”. But the amazing thing about Ben is just how tough he is, how stubborn he is and how he won’t settle for anything but his best. Both Ben and I knew he shouldn’t have done this marathon. He was injured, under-trained…but very stubborn. He’d raised a lot of money and convinced he had to do it. I respect him for that but it didn’t help with my worrying wife syndrome I felt for every second of those five hours and eight minutes. But he did it, against all odds, and I’m proud of him. And we both know that this is not the best he has to give.

What’s your worst race experience?

Have you ever raced injured?

What event (not necessarily exercise related) has made you stronger?