My blog has been a little neglected recently. It’s hard to find things to consistently post about when realistically nothing is happening.
I’m sure we’re all feeling this. In the running community, there are no races and no parkruns. And in the wider setting, with lockdown 2.0, you can’t go anywhere or do anything (again).
(I will stress that I’m hugely grateful that the lockdowns haven’t personally affected me in a big way and my complaints are very much “first world problems”).
For running, it’s hard to create any goals when we still don’t know what 2021 is going to look like. Since my first lockdown marathon in April, I’ve just been running intuitively in that I run what I fancy when I fancy. I mean arguably this is generally how I run anyway as I’m not a big PB hunter and never follow any firm and hard plans. However I do usually have a marathon in the plan to aim for so tend to have a build-up of miles and then a peak, then recovery and then we go again.
I’m very grateful that during this year I’ve managed to run three marathons, one official. I mean I know I am very lucky to have achieved these, but now it’s hard to know what to do. What to aim for. I thought I’d definitely have the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of December but as that’s been cancelled I’m now a bit lost.
Each weekend I seem to just randomly pick a long run distance and see how I feel… I feel good? Run a bit more or run a bit faster. Don’t feel as good? Slow it down or run less. There are minimal pressures in my running life right now other than slight feelings of mediocrity and lack of purpose. Injury-wise its pretty good because I’m not trying to squeeze in another marathon or pushing the mileage. And I’m being super consistent with my strength routines, despite not being at the gym anymore. Because I don’t spend as long on my strength workouts as I would have done at the gym I prioritise the stuff that I know works and keeps injuries at bay (touch wood).
So in way my running is generally been quite consistent with very few niggles. Compared to last year when I had two major injuries that knocked me out of the running game for months, this year has been pretty plain sailing. Maybe a few calf niggles here or there but nothing that has really stopped me running or caused me major issue.
But running is something which is helping me mentally. Keeping fit, staying healthy, getting outside, doing something I enjoy. It’s part of my weekly routine. And if lockdown has taught me anything it’s the necessity of a routine to stop me going slowly mad.
What also helps is that Kyle and I have something each week to look forward to. Or a few things. So Friday night is always takeaway night and we tend to get something a bit more exciting than the standard Indian or pizza affair.
We try and choose something local but a bit crazy (I say “crazy” lightly because in all honestly it’s not crazy at all but times are tough to reach the lofty pre-COVID excitement heights).
We’ve been enjoying lots of hot dogs, chicken burgers, chicken wings of all varieties (of course) and loaded, dirty fries. While of course we’d love to actually go out for dinner or lunch, getting food delivered is the next best thing. And eating in your comfy clothes in the comfort of your own home is pretty damn good too.
Lockdown roasts on a Sunday help too 😉
Perfecting my roast potatoes…
Going forward? Well, I’ve run out of steam a bit for another lockdown marathon. I’m just going to continue to run whatever I fancy and just take each week as it comes. After all, a lot can happen in a few months! A lot can change.
It was Kyle’s birthday last week so we decided to take a few days off of work so we could relax a bit more and enjoy ourselves.
I mean, with the pandemic and all it was hard to really go anywhere properly but we’d been given a free night’s stay at our gym’s hotel (it’s a hotel first, gym second) so we decided to use it on the Thursday night and let our hair down a bit. To be clear, the hotel (The Village Hotel) is less than three miles up the road, so we weren’t exactly going crazy here but it was nice to be somewhere different, you know?
But first we decided to go a bit crazy and buy some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It’s a massive weakness for us, doughnuts, and not something we regularly buy. But Kyle had asked for a bit of splurge. So I went a bit crazy and bought 15! Originally I was going for 12 but then I got a coupon for money off three…and I got very excited by the new Halloween flavours.
(In fairness, we definitely didn’t eat them all and in the end gave away a number of them to family)
The vampire one (above) was particularly tasty, filled with brownie batter. Krispy Kremes are dangerously easy to eat I can tell you!
Anyway, later after the sugar high had diminished a bit, we walked to the hotel because it was so close and the weather was nice. We had dinner booked for 6pm and got dressed up all fancy. Yes, we booked that early.
Our thinking was that we wanted to have a few drinks and enjoy the evening fully. Kyle and I very rarely drink so this was a bit out of the ordinary for us. We usually just focus on the food. It’s not that we don’t drink or anything like that but we just don’t ever feel the need to. We’re a bit boring perhaps (though this does save us lots of money in pubs as a Pepsi Max is far cheaper).
Anyway I was really fancying a few cocktails for some reason and so this was the perfect place to satisfy that craving. I went for a Porn Star Martini because it sounded a bit crazy and Kyle stuck with his standard Budweiser. The drink was DELICIOUS. It didn’t even taste alcoholic, which is generally how I like my drinks 😉
We ordered our food and I was soon devastated to find out they had run out of chicken wings. I mean, let’s be honest, I should probably have been trying something different anyway but this was a sad blow. Instead I went with a Peri Peri chicken burger with a side of loaded fries.
While I know I would have preferred the chicken wings, the loaded fries were really good. And as someone who rarely goes for the carbs this was high praise indeed. Maybe it because I was on my second cocktail or maybe because they had waffle fries mixed in. Either way they were good. The burger was a bit dull, but to be honest, I was on my merry way to getting, well, merry so it didn’t really matter.
In the end, Kyle and I had a lovely time at hotel. We got fairly tipsy and just enjoyed doing something a bit different in a different setting. I did not, however, enjoy the hangover the next day. Though the fresh air and the Starbucks on the walk back definitely helped.
Later that day, after we’d gotten home and sorted ourselves out, we headed over to Kyle’s mum’s house to celebrate his birthday (and his twin’s birthday) with his family. Kyle got to open all his presents from his family and I got to give him his cake, which I’d commissioned his amazingly talented sister to bake. I’d given her the instructions that I wanted it to have a PlayStation 4 theme.
Kyle has been collecting Platinum Trophies for the different PS4 games he has (if you don’t know about PlayStations I won’t go into what these actual are) and so it seemed fun to have the cake reflect this.
The cake turned out fantastically! Lucy, his sister, did an amazing job (check her out on Instagram @Dirrty.Cakes – you can get her to bake anything!)
We all ordered take away for dinner. Kyle and I went for Koop + Kraft and spent a ridiculous amount of money… Kyle got a chicken burger with chicken tenders and loaded fries, I got chicken wings (of course) and halloumi bites. It was so tasty! We thoroughly enjoyed it.
The next day I went out for run in the morning. I didn’t have a plan. I actually thought I was going to go out for 3-4 miles but as I got going I found my legs felt quite fresh and I had a lot of energy. I decided to head out to a route where I knew I could get at least 10 miles. As I got to about 5 miles I knew I was up for an even longer run. I love runs like this because there’s no pressure. It’s just about finding the right route. I had some music on and just zoned out. I felt fantastic! Maybe it was all the food I’d been eating or maybe because I’d had no expectation for the run, but I just felt like I could keep going.
It helped that the weather was really nice. A little windy but it didn’t bother me. My pace was quite steady and I just felt really happy. My runs in the week had felt so hard and tiring, and to be honest as I set out I was expecting more of the same. But it was completely the opposite. I just love runs like this!
I definitely felt it the next day though. My legs were heavy and tired. I did a three mile shakeout run which helped losoen them up a bit, but I kept the pace very gentle and easy (not that I realistically could have gone that fast anyway!)
The next few days we saw my parents and received even more good food, this time in the shape of Colin.
You can’t have a birthday without Colin in my opinion. And he was lovely and festive, dressed up in his Halloween special.
So Kyle and I had a lovely time celebrating his birthday, even in these strange times. In my opinion, a lot can be made better with cakes and doughnuts 😉
What cake would you have for you birthday?
Have you been to stay anywhere else during the pandemic?
Well I’m just sat here waiting for the Goodwood Marathon to get cancelled…
I won’t be angry because I do understand but it’s frustrating. I mean, who knows it might still happen. The New Forest Marathon happened, though with no spectators. Originally my parents and Kyle’s mum were going to come to support me at Goodwood (this Sunday *gulp*) but obviously this was far too optimistic. Understandably they’re encouraging minimal supporters. The likelihood will be that it’ll just be Kyle and I going. I feel a bit bad for Kyle as it is such a boring marathon to spectate (let alone run) but he has an iPad and his Switch so he can amuse himself quite happily with minimal effort to hurry to meet me on the course in different places.
(Side note: we always joke that I’m very much a “Hoff” and he’s a “Homer” in our relationship – MarathonTalk reference – I love to be moving and exercising and get itchy feet very easily, whereas Kyle’s default is not to move, to chill and do as little exercise as possible. We balance each other well. So this marathon is ideal that it involves minimal running about for him.)
I did my last long run this weekend gone. I quite like to do 13-16 miles the week before a marathon. It just works for me. And as I haven’t done quite as good a marathon lead-up to this race as I would normally (because I’ve been training for a moving target due to COVID) so I did 16 miles.
It wasn’t as good as my 18 miler the week before. I felt a bit meh and that it was hard work, but it is what it is. It was quite windy along the coast and I planned my run to try and have minimal headwind but there were times I was running straight at it which was tiring. No idea what this will mean for Sunday. I think I’m just going to see how I feel – which, let’s be honest, is no different to how I approach most races! The first mile will be telling. At least if there’s a headwind somewhere on the route I’ll get a tailwind too due to the course being basically a ring.
After my 16 miles I headed to Winchester to meet my lovely friend Bhuvana. Due to one thing and another, we hadn’t seen each other for far too long. It was just so lovely to catch up with her. We had so much to talk about.
We went to our usual lunch location where we’ve been a few times before. I had the vegan BBQ salad (which I promptly de-veganised by adding smoked cheese and chicken) and we nattered away about everything.
We had a lovely walk along the river and then decided to head back to the train station. At this point I realised I had about 10 minutes to catch my next train (otherwise I had to wait an hour) so we picked up the pace and run-walked quickly to the station. With seconds to spare I leapt onto the train. But Bhuvana (who was heading to Basingstoke) shouted that it was the wrong train! She’s checked with the train guy and it wasn’t my train. So I quickly leapt off again practically just as it left the station. Whew!
Bhuvana said she thought she’d double-check for me (always safe – I’m just a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal – definitely stung me a few times). She told me it wasn’t going to Southampton. Ah no! I wasn’t going to Southampton, I was going to Portsmouth! The train guy overheard and confirmed, yep that the train I jumped off of was indeed the Portsmouth train. Haha what a farce! To be fair to Bhuvana, all the times we’ve met up previously I’ve always come from Southampton where I used to live. It was fine in the end – I mean, I really should have checked before jumping on blindly. It just meant we had a bit more time to chat 🙂
Sunday after a gentle 3 mile run, Kyle and I met up with his family to do some stand up paddle boarding in Chichester (a lake not the sea thankfully). I was adamant that I didn’t want to fall into the water because, rather vainly, I’d washed my hair the day before and didn’t want to deal with the faff of washing it again so soon (#longhairproblems). But this was the first time Kyle and I had ever done this so we were nervous. It was a warm day and I was wearing clothes I was happy to get wet but still.
Anyway we were given life jackets, were quickly taught the basics then off we went! Surprisingly I didn’t find it too tricky.
I got my balance and managed to stand up. I enjoyed how peaceful it was just floating and paddling away. And AMAZINGLY I didn’t fall in! Even when the waves picked up after the speedboat zoomed by. Kyle did fall in a few times but I put this down to him being rather taller and bigger than me. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour we were out on the lake but it was quite the upper body workout. I was actually quite envious of the others having had nice cool dips in the lake – whereas I was bone dry but sweating! But I was happy for my hair 😉
Then we headed into Chichester where we had lunch at Trents. I, of course, went for a giant platter of wings. The waiter was both shocked and impressed at my chicken wing eating capacity. The wings were good but a little plain…and humongous! I sadly didn’t manage them all.
It was a lovely weekend all in all. Now just creeping towards the marathon, nervous, apprehensive but excited. Please still happen!
I’m so behind on my posts. I have so much to talk about as well!
I’ll start first with an incredible weekend I had with Kyle that as just SO good. Kyle and I were super excited about it. It was literally all our favourite things, but sadly without any running.
We planned to go to London for my Christmas present, which Kyle had gotten me. A chicken wings tour! I mean, this was a perfect gift and a perfect excuse for us to spend a night in London and enjoy ourselves.
Originally we’d planned to do the tour on the Friday, stay over and then do parkrun and brunch Saturday. However it turned out that the chicken wings thing was only available Wednesday or Sunday… ehhh. So no parkrun for us sadly as we’d be travelling up Sunday morning to get there for the wings at lunch, then head home Monday after brunch.
It’s funny because after we got there we wondered why we hadn’t brought our running kit so we could do a cheeky run Monday morning. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but I think we were both just too focused on the food.
We did Lee-On-Solent
parkrun on Saturday though and ran 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles back to the
car so we could get in a “long run” of just over 6 miles. Obviously 6
miles isn’t that long in comparison to previous runs I’ve done but I’m being
super sensible about this comeback and I don’t want to just jump into a 10
miler and bugger everything up.
Anyway, parkrun was
good. I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice and had a nice run with
Kyle. We took it relatively easy and had a very enjoyable run. We made sure not
to stand too close to the back as we have done in the past as it gets crazy busy
at Lee and it’s a fairly narrow start.
Sunday we woke up early without an alarm – which is always nice. We got into a bad habit of sleeping very late a few weeks ago which made us feel terrible. I say late, it was about 9am, but this is late for us. We just felt so groggy and like we’d had too much sleep. As lovely as lie-ins are I’d rather naturally wake up earlier and feel refreshed. We relaxed in bed for a while as our train wasn’t until 10 and I decided to go for another short run.
I wanted to be running two days in a row again and adding another 3 mile run to the weekend would help me gently transition into this. The run went really well. No issues and it felt OK (asides from it being around Clanfield which is so fricking hilly!).
After the run we got
ready and headed to London on the train. It was very tight on timings to get to
Shoreditch, check in at our Airbnb (we love an Airbnb) and then meet our tour
guide for the wings experience. But we made it bang on time!
It was just us on the tour which was really nice (the tour can have up to 15 people I think). The woman who was our guide (I’m embarrassed to say that while we did get her name I don’t think I’d be able to spell it correctly) was SO lovely. She was friendly, knew so much about the local area and just the right amount of involved. (If you’re interested it’s THIS experience).
She took us to
Orange Buffalo to begin with an we got to try two different heat levels. Both
flavours were fantastic and it came with a thick blue cheese dip. Honest to
God, I could bathe in this stuff. One of my absolute favourite things in the
entire world is a buffalo chicken wing with a thick cold blue cheese dip.
NOTHING beats that texture and flavour combo for me. I am a simple creature I
She showed us around
the local area (an area I’d heard about but never been myself), with all the
street art, the food market, Banksy artwork… it was fascinating. It was
hustling and bustling and busy with electrically (and far cooler) dressed
people. It felt very “hip” (and by saying hip I have now fully
separated myself from any form of coolness, I do realise this). She had
fantastic tid-bits of information and interesting local knowledge.
The second stop was
in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called Coqfighter. It was very exciting for me
because I’d heard about these places on social media (follow my Instagram
@AnnaTheCake88 for my foodie loving) and now I was getting to actually go
The wings were so
different from this location because they were of the fried chicken variety so
had a crispy Vodka and sesame coating and came with a soy sauce and chilli dip.
Damn they were SO good. So different to what I’ve usually had before. The soy
sauce dip, dear lord, was good. And the crispiness of the chicken just rocked
my world. I was in heaven.
Then we headed, somewhat sadly, to our last location called the Blue Kitchen. We had double fried buffalo wings and Szechuan wings (pictured above). I didn’t think anything could top what we’d had so far but these were FRICKING AMAZING. Double fried? Yes please. In my excitement I sadly didn’t get a picture of the buffalo…but they were fantastic I assure you.
I think I amused our guide a bit because I was clearly VERY into my wings and did a good job of polishing everything off. She was amazed that we ran as much as we did as well – all the marathons and parkruns. It was fun talking to her about it. I felt like we just bamboozled her with our weird lives of eating and running haha.
After the wings tour, we headed to Doughnut Time for some pudding. I mean I was pretty full to be honest but we wanted to get some of these oh so Instagrammable doughnuts. Kyle was VERY excited. We’ve both had them before and had decided as a treat to get a box (and take a couple home for Kyle’s parents – my parents declined as they’re both on Slimming World).
We got over-excited and bought NINE. I mean, Jesus, they’re not exactly cheap either. I think they are a little over-priced and over-hyped for what they are, but it was good fun choosing and enjoying the moment.
We took a big box back with us to the Airbnb and enjoyed a few there. The ones I’d chosen (Sia Later, Ice Ice Bae and Caramacklemore) were delicious. The Sia Later (red velvet) was the best, Ice Ice Bae (with cookie dough and brownie bites) was VERY sweet but tasty and the Caramacklemore (white chocolate) was somewhat disappointing, but possibly because I was quite sugared out by that point. Yes, I was that greedy and ate three. I fully enjoyed them 🙂
The next morning,
after a lovely little lie-in, we walked to Covent Garden with a little stop in
Starbucks for a coffee. We had brunch booked for 12 at the Big Easy (blows my
mind that this was the earlier we could book – surely this is now lunch?). We’ve
had brunch here before and it’s all you can eat and it’s just fantastic. I
mean, if you’re a big meat-eater of course.
We did have a little stop in ANOTHER Doughnut Time, but this time the Doughtnut Time “World”. You can really tell how much they bank on social media for their notoriety.
The shop was set up specifically for taking photos and promoting to Instagram. While it was good fun and quite quirky, it felt a little odd and, well, clinical.
I imagine when they have events it’s a bit better but just Kyle and I in the shop meant it was a bit weird. And the posters around the shop saying that the props were for photos only furthered this. I obviously fully enjoy social media and taking photos, but it was a tad overkill (tho tbf, it had worked for us right?).
Anyway, Kyle bought
another of the OG doughnuts because he enjoyed it so much the day before and
wanted to take one home. I refrained – I’d eaten three the day before and had
one to take home, so I was happy.
Then we got to the Big Easy in Covent Garden and enjoyed even more excess of food. BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chips, cornbread, coleslaw and beans.
It was fantastic and we left very full! The staff are very attentive and brought out more of what we asked and we enjoyed ourselves a lot, but we were now dunzo’ed on food haha.
So a whole lot of eating and a little bit of running!
I cannot tell you how happy I am right now with my knee.
Things have improved so much! After spending so many weeks with a knee that either constantly ached, clicked, niggled and just felt uncomfortable to slowly seeing different symptoms disappear is just fantastic. To walk down a corridor without thinking about my knee is a relief in itself. I want to do a more in depth post on the things that helped and what I did so keep an eye out for that.
This weekend was full of good stuff. Friday night Kyle and I made rocky road ready for the morning as we would be going to Netley parkrun for his 50th. I do feel somewhat bad about how long this has taken because because obviously Kyle could have gone to parkrun without me or have me support, but when I’m injured we’re both a bit more inclined to stay in bed and make the most of not having to rush out the door on a Saturday. But now my knee feels better, we’re back at it.
We made the rocky road by basically melting a load of chocolate we had stashed from Christmas and random times with a load of butter and then mixing in marshmallows, chopped glace cherries, M&M’s and broken biscuits. SO GOOD.
The next morning we luckily naturally woke up earlier than the alarm and decided to get up and sort out the rocky road as it still needed slicing. Jeeze it was hard work! And I ended up eating lots of little pieces that fell off (“tidying up”). So much sugar so early, oops. It did not make me feel that great I must say… greedy Anna strikes again.
Kyle got a milestone shout-out in the run briefing which was lovely and then we were off. I ran a fairly easy pace with my friend Mike as I hadn’t seen him a while and it was nice to have a chatty run. He was running every day in January so he was happy to plod with me. Kyle had more in his legs so zoomed off ahead.
We ran the winter course which is harder going, but to be honest I felt very comfortable running.
In fact, chatting to Mike just took my mind completely off how my knee was feeling and when we finished I realised I’d just had a normal run!
My time was 24:55 which I was happy with.
We then handed out rocky road chunks and cleared down the course before heading to the café for tea, more rocky road and a slice of cake from someone else celebrating a milestone.
While I enjoyed all the delicious treats, I didn’t feel it did me any favours not having had anything substantial to eat yet. But it was worth it.
After lots of chores and boring life admin, Kyle and I went to Smith and Western for an early dinner. I mean, this really is our kind of place. Lots of ribs, burgers and, of course my favourite, chicken wings. It was nice and quiet though (it apparently gets very busy and loud later with lots of birthday shout-outs).
Of course I’d already checked out the menu and knew I was almost certainly having the chicken wing sharing platter… but just for me. Kyle was tempted as well. We asked the waitress what kind of numbers we were looking at because that would dictate if we would have one each, one between us or need to order something else alongside (yes, we are greedy people).
The waitress said it was 21 wings, 7 of each flavour (Southern Comfort, BBQ and Buffalo). That sounded like a reasonable number for us to have one each. The waitress laughed at us and said we clearly loved our wings. Yep! Kyle also ordered curly fries.
When the meals came
out it looked massive. The waitress then told us that they’d actually just
changed their ratios of chicken wings and it was now THIRTY per platter, 10 of
each flavour. Wowza! The wings were so tasty. I definitely preferred the
buffalo flavour though to the sweeter ones. The BBQ was nice and tangy but the
Southern Comfort was really quite sweet if you had a few in a row.
We were well and truly stuffed afterwards of course. The waitress said she was super impressed. She asked us if we wanted pudding and I was like “we’re good but we’re not THAT good”!
That said, I did somehow manage to squeeze in a couple of pieces of rocky road later on as we chilled watched a film. A sweet end to the evening 😉
The next morning I felt well and truly fuelled to go to my personal training session. With my PT we just focus on leg strength. The idea is to get me strong for running so we do a lot of running focused exercises. It’s only been the last month or so I’ve been back seeing him due to my knee, but now I feel so much stronger. My squats are back up to where they were last year (75kg – not a huge weight I guess, but for me it is!), my hip thrusts are back at 90kg and I feel GOOD. I really like seeing my PT as he knows exactly what my goals are and understands my injury history and fears.
Then I headed off to Kyle’s dad’s to have a lovely pork roast dinner. I know, who would have thought I’d be hungry again after all those wings? But clearly my stomach is a bottomless pit!