And just like that I’m another year older… I turned 28 yesterday. I’d like to think that I’m wiser and have it all figured out but I absolutely don’t. But I’m happy and enjoying life so I’ll take that!
For the Saturday I had a few of my university friends down. Kate and Jamie (I went on holiday last year with them to Orlando) came down earlier so they could join me at parkrun. Now this is a BIG DEAL. This is the couple who laughed at me for going to parkrun when we were on holiday together. They were the least likely out of all my non-running friends to want to do parkrun. But, major kudos to them, they’ve started running and eating better in order to lose a bit of weight and get a bit more healthy. Jamie has lost FIVE STONE and Kate has lost (I think) over two stone. They’ve both also been doing the Couch to 5K programme and Kate had timed it perfectly as to use parkrun for my birthday weekend as her target.
They got to mine just before 8am and we headed down to Lee-On-Solent parkrun. Ordinarily I do Netley but Kate wanted a nice flat course and my dad was going to do Lee as well as my friend, Mat, who was down from Cheltenham for the week so it made sense.
It was a beautifully sunny day. I was a bit worried about my hamstring but I’d done a quick tester run when I walked Alfie in the morning and it held up OK. Not perfect but alright.
I’d planned to take the run nice and slowly and stop if at any point it became bad.
My dad rocking the England shirt
It was quite amusing to see Jamie and Kate’s reaction to parkrun. They tend to run very early in the morning and never with other people. They genuinely thought they’d be about 12 people at parkrun. Jamie said he was shocked that one minute there were a couple of people and then the next there were hundreds. They were literally taken aback by the amount of lycra and colour about.
The start was a little bit hectic I must admit. There was over 300 people and we were all bunched together. It involved a lot of negotiating around people and trying not to trip over anyone else or be tripped up. But eventually it evened out and there was enough space.
I found a nice easy rhythm. I wasn’t pushing it or feeling out of breath and the hamstring felt OK. I was surprised to see I was running around 8 minute miles.
Lee’s a good course as you can see runners ahead and behind so I could cheer people on and spot people I knew.
I’d say the hamstring felt 80% OK. It niggled slightly towards the end but there was no pain, just felt uncomfortable. It just annoys me though as it doesn’t make for a great run as I’m constantly thinking about it and not wanting to push myself to go fast because I don’t want to annoy it. But least it was better than it has been! I finished in 24:15 which felt nice and comfortable.
Mat had already finished in a great time of 20:50 so we walked together to walk my dad in. He was power walking the course and desperate to beat his last time of 51:12. He was finding it tough but the tail runner was apparently really good at keeping him going.
Towards the end, he picked up speed, overtook another guy and sprinted to the finish. Everyone cheered him in and it was lovely.
And he completed it in 50:16 so almost a minute off his time! He was made up Kate squeaked under her goal of sub-35 by getting 34:57 and Jamie got 33:58. The absolute best part was hearing how much they loved it. Kate and Jamie are now full-on parkrun converts. On the way home they were already planning their next one (depressingly their local one was Little Stoke so now their nearest one is about 20 minutes away). Jamie was already commenting how he felt he could run further when he finished as well. YES!!! Converting my non-running friends one person at a time
We got back to mine, showered and then my friend Shell and her fiancé, Rob, showed up to join the fun. Again, hearing them tell Rob and Shell how good parkrun was just made my day. A year ago there was nothing I could say that would persuade them that running could be enjoyable. People have to find out for themselves.
I had booked my latest favourite restaurant for lunch and we were all pretty excited. After catching up and walking Alfie and Kate’s pug, Doug, we headed to Sadlers in Southampton.
As I’ve mentioned before, Sadlers is THE restaurant for meat (though they also have a strong vegetarian section of the menu too). The last time I went was INCREDIBLE. My friends love BBQ food too so it made sense to go here. I decided to go for the ribs rather than the platter this time as, though the platter is amazing, I was really craving ribs. And they did not disappoint.
HUGE chunks of meaty ribs on top of chips, salad, coleslaw and cornbread. I didn’t even touch the chips. There was just too much meat (which, by the way, is not an issue).
So tasty. Shell and Rob also went with the ribs and Jamie and Kate shared the platter.
Ridiculously (and foolishly) Shell, Rob and I ordered sides as well. Shell and Rob went for some pulled pork and I went for some chicken wings and we ordered the bourbon BBQ sauce to go alongside. (Greed took over sanity here as you can probably tell…).
Yeah I didn’t even touch those wings. There was just far too much going on my plate. And, amazingly for me, I couldn’t finish the ribs. I was beaten! Everyone was. Happily Kate and Jamie said I could take their leftovers home so I took a swan of shame back with me.
Needless to say my freezer is now joyfully stocked with some smoked turkey, gammon, wings, hot link sausages and pulled pork. Happy days!
As we sat there afterwards chatting and basically recovering from the meal, the waitress appeared with a cake with lit candles and they all started singing happy birthday to me. It was such a surprise and so lovely!
To be honest, I think the last thing we all wanted was a slice of chocolate cake. But you gotta take one for the team right??
The chocolate cupcakes on top were filled with delicious buttercream. We were literally DONE after having a slice.
We spent a long time at my flat just laying around chatting and digesting. We probably could have napped! It was such a great day. And to top it off they got me some super cool Superdry workout gear.
Because what else would you buy me?? So, an absolutely perfect Saturday.
What is your perfect way to spend your birthday?
Have you converted any non-runners to runners?
What’s your perfect birthday gift?