Bushy parkrun – finally!

Waaay back in like February when I went to the Marathon Talk Run Camp in the Peak District, my friend Fiona mentioned that she wanted to celebrate her birthday in true runner style: going to Bushy parkrun.

I bunch of us were going to meet-up, do the parkrun and enjoy some brunch. Sounded perfect! I’ve actually never done this parkrun and as someone who loves parkrun and everything is stands for, this is a bit mental. Bushy parkrun is the FIRST ever parkrun (in 2004 with 13 runners!). It’s about 1.5 hours away from where I live and though I could of course head up early on a Saturday morning, it was never in my diary to do because I wanted to do it with other people. Kyle and I could have gone just ourselves but we seem to have something planned every weekend at the moment. So this meet-up was the perfect excuse.

Kyle and I decided to stay in an Airbnb on Friday night so we wouldn’t have to get up super early Saturday morning and be stressed. Plus we do love an Airbnb trip. We drove up after work on Friday evening and stopped en route at a delightful pub called the Hen and Chicken for a carvery.

The carvery was a bit more posh than your standard Toby Carvery. Everything looked a bit more home-made rather than mass produced (don’t get me wrong though, I do love a Toby carvery). The gravy for instance was SO tasty and thick. I had roast turkey and gammon (odd combo I know), with creamed leeks, carrots, roast potatoes, red cabbage, stuffing.

It was really good and set us up nicely for the rest of the journey to Hampton for our Airbnb. The Airbnb was nice and we had a lovely evening watching Netflix and munching on those delicious new M&M chocolate bars (so fricking good).

The next morning we were up by 7.30am and heading out the door to walk the two miles to the start. It was a really easy walk, albeit windy. In an ideal world we would have run there but I wanted to be cautious about my hamstring. I haven’t really been consistently running and haven’t gone over three miles yet. I’d be lucky to manage this parkrun let alone anything extra!

Bushy Park itself was so pretty. Huge trees, wide open green spaces and so many deer. I think Kyle got sick of me pointing out different ones… look one with antlers! And then we reached the road where cars were streaming in towards the car park. I was glad we’d chosen to walk. Apparently car park is full even before 8.30am!

We bumped straight into Fiona, her daughter Nikki and her friends, and then John. We sheltered for a little bit under one of the sheds and then saw the other Marathon Talk friends approach. How easy to meet everyone! For John this was easy peasy as this was his local parkrun, but for others like Fiona and Vicki it was more of a journey (Staffordshire and Wiltshire).

The gang

We chatted and caught up briefly before heading to the main start area. It was nice and organised, despite the masses of people milling about.

We headed to the first timer brief and listened as the marshal explained the course and welcomed any tourists. It was a bit annoying because as the marshal continued to explain and give us some hints and recommendations for the course a woman next to me started loudly chatting to her friend. If you don’t want to listen that’s fine, but take yourself away and start your conversation elsewhere! It was really distracting and very rude.

Anyway, after listening we headed to the lonnnnnnnnng line-up to get going. Because the front line-up is so wide you feel very close to the front!

I wasn’t intending on blasting any sort of time – I would be lucky to finish at all, considering my DNF from last week. So I edged further into the main body.

John was just behind me

Kyle moved a bit closer to the front as he wanted to see what time he could do. I was happy to run solo, less pressure and I could concentrate on my hamstring.

After a solid introduction from the race director (using a microphone because of the large audience!) we were off.

The course was mainly on compacted dirt and a little bit of grass – so very easy to run on. Also it was super flat and wide, so despite there being so many people running it was never congested or crowded (in the area I was running anyway). You didn’t feel alone at any point though. There were always runners near you, which was quite nice.

John caught up with me and we remained running next to each other chatting. He’s semi-injured too (after doing the epic Race to the Stones) so neither of us were down for pushing the pace. Instead we took our time and caught up. It’s a shame we don’t see each other more often but it’s always nice when we do.

My hamstring was niggling a bit but it wasn’t as bad as the week before so I remained running and talking with John to keep my mind off it.

I finished in 25:32 and joined the very organised funnel – which sort of blew my mind how they did this. There were two different funnels and I couldn’t work out how they managed to work out the barcodes or positions.

We then headed quickly to the Pheasantry Cafe for brunch. Luckily two of the chaps were super speedy (Stuart and Marcin) they got us a table and we were able to order before the rush.

I went for avaocado on toast with poached eggs which was very hipster of me!

Unfortunately one of the egg yolks spurted all down my leg which was pretty grim. Egg yolk is super tricky to wipe up I tell you! But anyway it was very tasty. As was the delicious VEGAN chocolate cake Deni had made for Fiona’s birthday as well.

It was so lovely catching up with everyone – epsecially Vicky and Stuart who had recently got married but due to my cancelled Edinburgh flight I wasn’t able to make.

Then we all parted ways and Kyle and I walked back to the Airbnb where my car was parked.

We saw more deer and managed to not get rained on – what a bonus.

So a very successful Bushy parkrun pilgramage. I’m so chuffed to have finally done it. Of course I’d love to have been a bit less injured but I’m happy regardless.

Have you ever done Bushy parkrun?

Where’s the furthest you’ve gone for a parkrun?

What’s your favourite thing on toast?

The comeback?

Well honestly, I can’t wait for a post that isn’t about my hamstring. It’s had FAR too much air time.

It’s been a highly frustrating process, I can tell you. I’ve felt a bit like I’ve been banging my head against the wall. Some days feeling good, some days feeling very grumpy. Some days the gym helped and some days it didn’t. I removed every exercise that seemed to aggravate it but still it wasn’t improving.

Long weeks of no running

So it was time for a second opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I really rate the physio I’ve been using and he’s helped me during many niggles in the past, but after seeing him three times and it doing nothing, I needed to do something else. Time is of the essence.

Handily someone at work recommended someone to me. A sports therapist who comes to your house – VERY appealing. (If you’re in the South Coast area –> Claire Bennett). She was able to come Friday evening after I got back from work which was perfect.

I explained my issues to her, she examined the way I stood and moved etc. and then told me that my pelvis was misaligned. I was twisted in the way I was standing. This was putting pressure on my hamstring – keeping it stretched – and causing my glutes to pick up the slack and overworking them. All the discomfort and feeling like I’m restricted makes a lot of sense now.

She worked her magic and, I kid you not, I felt better literally straight away. Not perfect or fully healed 100% but SO much better. The analogy I use is that it’s like I’ve been scuffing my toe for ages because it’s been moving wrong. After fixing it to move right, the toe is no longer being scuffed… but the toe is still battered from all the scuffing and needs a bit of time to recover and get back to being a normal toes (does this make sense??).

She even said I could do parkrun the next day – which I was so excited about! I cannot tell you how happy I felt after seeing her. She literally made my day. EIGHT LONG WEEKS of this.

So the next day Kyle and I headed to Southsea parkrun. I wasn’t going to blitz it and if it hurt or felt really off I’d stop. But it already felt so much better so I was feeling confident. The physio did warn that I would ache a bit and it wouldn’t feel perfect so I had to remember that.

Kyle was going to run with me and keep me at a sensible pace. After a bit of a delay due to some delivery lorries being in the way of the course, we began.

Yes it didn’t feel perfect, yes it still niggled a little, but my range of movement was so much better and it felt like it was better. It did feel achy and the run was tough going – fitness and the pounding on my legs. It reminded me how quickly you lose everything. Anyway it’s too early to tell for certain and I’m sure it’ll take time, but I’m feeling positive.

We did just over 26 minutes and I finished smiling. Kyle found it super easy of course and revelled in being the fitter and faster one of us (when we’re both at our fittest though there really isn’t much difference to be fair).

Then we celebrated by getting brunch at the Parade Tearooms. Brunch for me being the Jayne Salad. IT IS THE BEST SALAD IN THE WORLD.

It is ginormous. Roasted new bpotatoes, bacon, cheese, coleslaw, cucumber, tomatoes, salad leaves, strabwerries, sweetcorn, onion, beetroot and I added chicken… It’s wonderful.

Anyway, fingers crossed my hamstring keep improving and I’m able to actually begin training.

What’s your favourite thing in a salad?

How long has been your longest time off of running? I think mine was 11 weeks.

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?

The Great Manchester Run 10k recap

On to the Sunday recap of last weekend.

After a rather disastrous night, I had an equally terrible night’s sleep due to the hotel being in the centre of Manchester and my room being right next to a club. Ah well, at least it was safe, clean and only five minutes from the brunch location I was going to with Kirsty.

We were meeting at 9.30am at Federal Cafe Bar, somewhere she’d been recommended several times on Instagram. The menu looked good and pushed me to have something I wouldn’t normally (usually I’m distracted by dirty big fry ups!).

I went for the mushroom and halloumi dish… it came with sourdough toast, eggs, halloumi and mushrooms. I added chorizo and avocado too.

It was fantastic. So tasty and really filled me up. I also went for a rather fancy hipster beetroot latte. As a big beetroot fan I was still sceptical because… in a coffee? But I was down to give it a go (on race day whhhhy not eh!).

It was actually really tasty. Made with oat milk, it was quite sweet which I wonder was from something artificial or the actual beetroot itself, as it is quite sweet normally. Who knows. It was nice though.

As the race wasn’t until 1pm it was a bit confusing what to eat to be honest. And actually during the race it did slightly repeat on me… Kirsty mentioned it might be because it was quite high fat and that’s quite an ask for your body just before a race. I hadn’t even considered that.

Then we headed to the Garmin stand to meet with the Garmin team. There were five other “influencers” there too and we chatted and took photos. Basically had a bit of fun.

It was so cool to see behind the scenes of these events. I’m by no means a big fish in this sort of thing so it’s quite cool seeing it happen and being a part of something like this. Though I got HUGE impostor syndrome.

L-R Jenna (@Jenna.is.running, Fudgie (@Fudgieruns), Kirsty (@Shortgirlrunner), and Rachel (@Runwithrachel)

We got T-shirt’s and our bibs and headed to do some start line photos.

I then literally bumped into Adele from the BBC Radio 1 early morning breakfast show. Now I’m a little bit of a fan girl of hers. I listen to her every morning when I go to the gym, and when it’s that early it’s really nice to not think you’re the only one awake so I really enjoy her show.

She’s the nicest person as well and started running a few years ago, supporting the Heads Together charity. Anyway I tweet the show occasionally and met her just before London (yes I know, I’m a proper fan girl) and so when I saw her and said “it’s AnnaTheApple” (I KNOW, PROPER CRINGE) she was like “ohh hey you listen all the time!”. It made my entire day.

We had a proper chat. We talked about running and she even introduced me to her girlfriend! (She called me a unit because of all my running!!) Honestly I was made up. Then we had to dash off to do more photo bits. I couldn’t stop beaming.

Then we headed to start to get ready to go (I say “get ready to go”, but we did still have a 40 minute wait…). Anyway, the time flew by while we chatted and then we were off!

My plan was to not to be a wet blanket about it and actually push myself. I rarely ever push myself, and ESPECIALLY in a 10k. But today the weather was good, the course was ideal and I had no excuse. As tempting as it was to run with the others (who were taking it easier) I resolutely set off with the mindset to GO.

It was really crowded in the first half a mile and I spent some time dodging round people and trying to get into a good rhythm. But then I broke free and got a good amount of space around me.

It’s so odd running a 10k after spending so much time focusing on longer distances. You just have no time to play with. I realised my slower first mile would need to be made up later if I wanted the time I was aiming for. And it really requires a lot of focused energy to hold on to the pace.

The course was pretty much entirely flat. Maybe a couple of very gentle inclines but nothing crazy that would hold you back. I saw Aly Dixon and Gemma Steel fly by going the other way further on in the course and they looked to be on the pain train. Come on, Anna, you can do this too (at a much slower pace ha). I had my music on but could hear the crowds cheering and boosting us along. There were lots of people out which was nice.

We ran round the Manchester United football ground (not quite through it like we did in Southampton). And we followed a lot of the same beginning and end bits of the Manchester Marathon. It did feel fairly familiar. But the course was so much more interesting as it did actually go through the city whereas the marathon really didn’t.

On the course there were two drinks stations and unfortunately full of bottled water. So wasteful. So much plastic. It really makes me cringe. It was a warm day so a lot of water was being taken (a few sips then thrown). There were two showers on the course as well which helped cool people down too.

Then we were on the final straight back. My pace was on goal and I was feeling strong! I was getting an echo of a stitch in my side and I attempted to breathe differently to get rid of it. I was really anxious it would turn into one of those properly painful sharp ones in my side but luckily it remained on the edge as just a slight annoyance.

Then it was 400m to go – over so quickly!

My legs and lungs were pushing hard but I was so chuffed as I knew I was going to PB now. Unless I fell over, I had this!

I crossed the line in 41:40, a PB by over a minute. Wowza I am stoked! But the stitch was now in full force as I walked to the goodie bags.

It took a few minutes to disappear and the effects of the run to dissipate. So much longer than after a marathon! That feeling of “let me catch my breath again”. Obviously the effects of a marathon hang on in different ways a lot longer of course.

I headed back to the Garmin stand and took some photos (of course!) and waited for the others.

They arrived not long after and we swapped stories and congratulated each other. The others had had a nice fun run rather than going for it, which sounded lovely.

After doing our social media bits with Garmin we headed to the VIP area in the Hilton hotel nearby. VIP! So fancy!

They had a buffet spread, sweets, teas and coffee and we just tucked straight in. Omg I was so spoilt!

I tucked right in to several plates of Greek salad (all the feta!) and a fish ratatouille. It was delicious.

I didn’t have long so tucked two Bakewell cakes into my bag wrapped in a napkin for the train back (future Anna would be pleased).

Then I had to say my goodbyes and head sharpish to my train – the station was 20 mins walk away. I only had 30 mins and I wanted to get a tea for the train so I did a very epic run-power walk in my coat, layers and my big rucksack on to get there with time to spare.

Unfortunately (and I didn’t realise at the time) my two cakes fell out of my bag as I hadn’t done it up properly! I was VERY lucky nothing else fell out but I was devastated to get to the station and realise what had happened. Nooooo! No train cakes! I did have two apples which consolidated me somewhat but it was a rather sad moment.

Solid goodie bag spoils

Anyway, lost cakes and failed Airbnb’s aside, the weekend was truly a fantastic one. I loved Saturday with my mum doing so many fun things and then making new friends on Sunday at the race. Garmin gifted me the place and I am SO grateful for the opportunity. It was so much fun. Getting the PB really was only a small addition to the whole rest of the fantastic weekend!

Do you often race races?

Have you ever been VIP for anything?

Do you get trains that often?

**Full Disclaimer: Garmin provided me with a free race place in exchange for some social media posts on Instagram. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

A trip to London: brunch, doughnuts and The Waitress

What a weekend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That filling!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever had a dodgy Airbnb before?

Do you like the Great Run series?

What’s your favourite doughnut flavour?