Things I’m loving lately – April

Easter is one of those holidays that for me is pretty much entirely about food. Chocolate, roast dinners, marzipan, cake. Yep I love it.

I was super chuffed to receive several eggs this year. A Hotel Chocolat one from my parents, an epic Cadbury’s Daim one from from Kyle, two lush ones from Kyle’s mum, one from a work friend and one from Kyle’s dad. I mean WHAT. (I loved that Kyle’s mum crossed out the “pine” in pineapple as well hehe).

The Hotel Chocolat egg is an egg I absolutely adore. It’s PROPERLY thick. I got the Rocky Road to Caramel one and the two halves are different. One is
caramel chocolate and the other is milk chocolate with cookies and puffed rice. And it’s full of chocolates as well!

But even for me this was a tough ask to eat a large amount. It’s very rich.

The Daim egg from Kyle though… not that I can eat in one (albeit long) sitting. I managed to hold off until the other evening when I sat watching telly with Kyle while I worked my way through it.

Yes I felt a little sick afterwards. But I bloody loved it. Most of the time I can exercise levels of moderation and control but when it comes to Easter eggs, I really struggle (and chicken wings I guess…). I just thoroughly enjoy having a pig out on chocolate from time to time.

I was recently sent a set of clothes from Squat Wolf, who make fitness clothing. Now clearly I am a fan of fitness clothing (helloooo leggings) so I was really excited.

First up was the hoodie, called the She Wolf Crop Hoodie in mustard. I’m a big fan of the mustard colour and it did not disappoint.

The material is super soft and feels quality. It’s not a super thick hoodie but it’s thick enough to keep you warm. I love that it’s cropped as well (check me out being semi-fashionable!). It looks great with high-waisted leggings. This was probably my favourite item and I wear it all the time.

Of course I had to try a pair of leggings. I went for the Athena Leggings in deep fuchsia.

I love the colour of these and they feel so soft. I also like the little contour bits they have on the bum. But they’re not my favourite leggings. They don’t fit quite as nicely as other leggings I’ve had (though in fairness I am comparing them to the likes of Nike and Lululemon).

Perhaps there’s a bit too much material and the design of the waist bit doesn’t quite work for me in terms of the style. That said, they’re squat proof and I can move easily in them – so perfect for working out.

I also got a beautiful sports bra (the Stripes Bra). I love this design!

The back is really pretty and it’s just long enough that I feel comfortable wearing it on it’s own with high-waisted leggings. I don’t feel like I’m showing too much tummy.

It’s also a lovely thick material and has those modesty pads as well to keep everything nice and concealed. I’m obviously not the most blessed in the boobage department but I do feel well supported.

The last item is a pair of their joggers, the She Wolf Do Knot Joggers in black.

They have a slight shine to the material and are super soft. They also have two pieces of material that you tie together which is quite funky. It does make me chuckle a little that the description says they’re ideal for just chilling out (which I agree with) or for going for a jog. Nooo nooo. You would not run in these. But lazing about the house? Absolutely. They’re super comfortable.

The fit is a little odd but I think that’s because it’s fashion and the style and I clearly am not that stylish! I do like them though and will definitely be wearing them mooching about at home.

They have a good range of different colours and other styles, so if this is your thing have a look!

What Easter eggs did you enjoy?

What’s your favourite chocolate?

Do you like wearing fitness clothing around the house?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Easter Weekend

The UK just experience an almost unbelievable thing… a SUNNY and warm Bank Holiday long weekend. I mean, this is rare. Usually on long weekends we’ll get darkness, coldness and invariably rain.

Friday I had a lovely 7 mile run to set me up for the day after a nice lie-in. There’s something so magical and wonderful about a Friday off of work. In the afternoon I headed to Reading where I met up with the lovely Emma and Cortney for some Harry Potter-themed shenanigans. I’ve been before but I was excited to go with Emma and Cortney as I’d be able to make some good new memories with them there.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we walked around basically being kids again – getting the different stamps in the different places for our HP Passports and just enjoying all the behind the scene trivia.

We tried the Butterbeer and confirmed, yes it was in fact disgusting. Like cream soda but worse.

We also enjoyed the fact that though we were fans of the books and films, we were not superfans in that we weren’t anal about what we knew or in what book what happened. It was very chilled. It has made me want to read the books again tho (for the zillionth time…).

The next morning we headed to Woodley parkrun. I’ve done Reading parkrun before so I quite pleased to try a different one.

It was very warm already despite not even being 9am. Wowza, summer has arrived!

I was feeling good so decided to see what my legs had in them. I popped some music on and got carried away as everyone charged forward at the start. The course was three laps and pretty much flat asides from a couple of quick inclines and a nice little downhill. It looped around a playing field and was on both trail and pavement. It was a fairly quick course, and quite pretty as it went round a lovely pond area.

I managed to pick off a few females but ultimately just tried to hang on to a speedy pace (for me). I’m chuffed I managed a negative split and a time within the 20s (20:37).

This hasn’t happened for a while and has given me a bit of an urge to ramp up the speed training again… (Parallel to this happening, Kyle was almost smashing a sub-20 minute parkrun at Portsmouth Lakeside with 20:04!).

It was WARM though. I was sticky and sweaty afterwards. Lovely. Emma wasn’t long finishing after and then we both cheered Cortney in. Emma killed my soul though by forgetting her parkrun barcode…and not even minding! Mind. Blown. 😉

We then headed of course to brunch. parkrun and brunch, I cannot stress how much joy this brings me. Emma took us to one of her favourite spots, the Geo Café. It’s a lovely little café and has a very hipster feel offering Georgian-themed dishes and vegan cakes. No dirty big fry-up for me! I got to try something new for a change.

I had the decadent duck dish. This had two fried duck eggs on top of two slices of freshly baked sourdough and black pudding. It was delicious. And not a piggy portion in sight 😉

Afterwards we got some cake to takeaway (obvs). I went for a slice of vegan chocolate cake. Now usually I’m not a chocolate cake fan (or vegan for that matter) but it called my name as I stared at it. It literally looked like heaven.

I managed to polish it off when we got back (Cortney, a normal human being only managed half – why am I like this?!). I did feel somewhat sick though…possibly the cake pop on top finished me off but it was worth it.

Then the three of us went and got pedicures. I mean WHO EVEN AM I!? I tell you what though, it was so needed. My feet have not received such love and attention for a LONG time. I did feel for the beautician though having to deal with my feet… She reassured me that she’d seen worse but I’m not so sure.

I’m SO pleased with how pretty they look. OK I know, my feet are still pretty grim but at least they sparkle now (I pondered whether to upload a photo but thought I’d spare you). Then I drove back to Portsmouth to Kyle’s where we enjoyed a lovely lazy evening with an Indian takeaway.

The next morning we were up at a reasonable time to try and beat the heat ready for our 13 mile run. And to swap Easter Eggs 😀

Kyle”s mum got me two amazing eggs – and on the pineapple shaped egg she crossed out “pine” 😀

Where Kyle lives, it’s tricky to do long runs as it’s ridiculous hilly (it’s near Queen Elizabeth Country Park). The first 5k is very undulating and then mile four seemed to go up a mountain.

It was really quite warm so it was tough going. Unfortunately as we got to almost mile 5 Kyle had to stop due to his calf giving him a bit of aggro. He sensibly decided to head back home (which wasn’t *too* far away at this point) while I headed on to continue the run.

As I didn’t know the route Kyle had planned it seemed most sensible to just do an out and back along a route I was familiar with. Kyle also said he could come back on his motorbike to give me some water and my headphones if I wanted them.

As I carried on running I realised I was actually fine without having any music or podcasts, like I’d normally have during a long run, and just let my mind drift off. I was quite enjoying the run and it didn’t feel too tough, despite how undulating the route was and the hot sunshine beating down.

At 10 miles as I was heading back Kyle pulled up next to me. I was really grateful for the water and gulped it down. It was nice to see him but I turned the headphones offer down as I was quite enjoying the nothingness.

Then I carried on. My run came to 14 miles in the end (I ran too far on the out clearly). It was a lovely run, despite not having the company I thought I was going to have!

Then Kyle and I headed to his dad’s for a roast dinner with that side of the family. It was so lovely. Since meeting Kyle I’ve been welcomed into his family so warmly and through him met so many more lovely people. I feel very lucky and blessed right now – cheesy I know, but true.

We (unwisely?) did some fun and games outside after eating, like high jump and limbo and some ball games. And then enjoyed some DELICIOUS cake pops that Kyle’s sister had made.

Omg so good. Brownie cake pops covered in either white chocolate or milk chocolate. I could have eaten them ALL.

Then we finished the long weekend with a long walk on Monday followed by a BBQ at my my parent’s house with my sister and her partner. Family-time for me is so precious and special. I love that we all get on so well.

What a lovely sunny, happiness-filled weekend!

Did you have a nice Easter?

Did you get any Easter Eggs?

Do you like Harry Potter?

Post-Goodwood Marathon – what next?

So after the marathon last week I felt strangely really good. OK straight after I felt dreadful but the day after I was good.

I say strangely only because I’m so used to something feeling off or not right. I’m convinced I’m an injury prone runner (it would take a lot to stop feeling that way I think) but I guess I’ve found a happy balance of running, gym and general health that has kept me (*tough wood*) injury-free for most of this year. I’ve had a few calf niggles but actually nothing that has stopped me running consistently. I’m obviously really pleased about this! I just need to remain sensible in my training.

I didn’t go to the gym or run Monday and enjoyed a solid 9+ hours night sleep (having gone to bed so early and probably fallen asleep before nine o’clock). I was worried the god awful headache might have persisted but thankfully the awful pounding had disappeared. Had it not, I’d have taken the day off of work because there was no way I could have focused on a computer screen let alone concentrate on anything.Another irksome outcome of the marathon was that my right ankle was quite swollen. When I took my trainer and compression sock off after getting home it was a ridiculous size. I poked, prodded and moved about on it and it felt fine. I definitely hadn’t gone over on it during the race. I then remembered I had a bite on it the other day. The swelling was all around that. My mum mentioned that it might be due to the fact that I’d been wearing my compression sock all day and that probably hadn’t helped the bite situation. It looked terrible! Thankfully after a couple of days the swelling went down and I’m just left with a little bite mark now. But how weird, wouldn’t have had a clue that that could have happened. During the race itself I hadn’t noticed a thing.I was strangely glad to be going into work the next day it must be said. We had our sweepstakes Bake Off happening so I knew they’d definitely be cake. Happily the baker had brought in some crazy good rocky road (literally one of my favourite ‘cake’ things).

I also knew that another team were doing their own Bake Off competition and I’d already managed to muscle my way into trying their bakes too. In fact, when I got to my desk in the morning I was over the moon to find a brownie wrapped up and put under my mouse ready for me!So by 11 o ‘clock I had a chunk of rocky road, a brownie and a good slice of a five tiered chocolate cake to tide me over. Not to mention one of my colleagues had brought back Hershey’s chocolates from the States after his visit. I was well and truly making up for my calorie deficit from the day before 😉I don’t really believe in eating stupidly after a big race – at this point after 15 marathons my body is pretty used to running. But I do believe in enjoying yourself a little bit. I mean, to be fair, I hardly ever need an excuse to eat cake but I did feel like it was just that little bit less difficult in terms of sweet tolerance! I had a good appetite going on – the runger was STRONG.I was back running Tuesday. Nice and gentle I did 10k at lunch. I felt a bit tired but in general my legs felt fine. No niggles. Whoop whoop!So now with about six weeks until New York I’m not going to go ham on the training just yet. I’m enjoying running and it’s feeling good so I’m going to (hopefully) stay around 30-40 miles a week, though closer to 30 for the moment. I’m also loving the gym and doing regular circuit classes. It feels like my whole time working hard at the gym on my own for years has been training to then smash these circuit classes and see what I can do.I really do enjoy the classes. It helps to not have to think about what I’m going to do, and it’s nice to feel a bit competitive and try and work hard in a class. And they are HARD. I mean, to be fair, you get what you put in them so I always try to push myself on the weights I use, the number of reps I can get in and how hard I can push. And it’s nice have an instructor there to help with technique and form.

So yeah, things are going well. Lots of running, gym and of course cake!

Do you enjoy classes at the gym?

Have you been watching Bake Off?

What’s your favourite cake/baked item?

Things I’m Loving Lately – May

It’s almost June. How did that happen?

Aftershokz: So. The saga of my Aftershokz. I’ve mentioned it a few times, but after the Brighton Marathon I lost my beloved Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones (they did so many races and long runs with me…devastating). I either threw them away accidentally with my foil blanket (standard Anna move) or I left them on the beach. I was really upset about losing them because honestly they’re so good for running outdoors. As someone who is generally an idiot, hearing the outside world while I run is a help. But I do love listening to music and podcasts so with Aftershokz it really is the best of both worlds. Good sound quality while also allowing you to hear the surroundings. It basically uses “bone technology” to transfer the sound to you, rather than through your ears. Your ears are therefore left unobstructed.

Aftershokz amazingly reached out to me through Twitter to ask me what had happened and I explained. They were very sympathetic and offered me a 30% discount code. As they’re £100 to replace my old ones that would be quite a chunk off. However when I tried to use the discount code it wouldn’t work so I messaged them to ask if I was doing something wrong (usually the case, let’s be honest). It turns out they were the US Aftershokz and the discount code would only work for the US site… ah.

Instead they offered me an unboxed test pair of the Aftershokz Trekz Air, the new version, FOR FREE. They wouldn’t be brand new box fresh of course but they would be a working pair with all the bits and bobs working fine, simply just not in the box. Of course I said yes!They arrived a week or so later. And they are amazing. I mean they work just as well as my Titanium’s did (the model before) but they’re a bit lighter and more streamline. I love them. I can’t stress how much I love Aftershokz headphones for running. During races I like to hear the crowds and of course the marshals, and these headphones just give me the option of both hearing my music and still absorbing the race. Not only this but they’re England Athletics approved, meaning they can legally be used in races. I also like that I can keep wearing them when they’re turned off without them blocking sound out. During a marathon I won’t want to listen to music or podcasts all the time, so just having them sat above my ears nice and comfortably means I can still hear properly out of my actual ears. Happy happy.

Obscene amounts of chocolate: I was in Gunwharf Quays on Saturday to see the new Avengers Film (a rave in itself really) and while waiting for the film time, we had a mosey in the Cadbury’s shop. I haven’t been in that shop in ages and thought it would be really over-priced, but actually everything was really reasonable! It wasn’t like dirt cheap of course but it was probably cheaper than the supermarket. And I was SO pleased to have finally found the holy grail of chocolate… the white chocolate Toblerone. I’ve been obsessed about this since my friend Kate got one for her birthday a few months ago. She’d said she got it from the airport and as I hadn’t spotted it anywhere else I was resigned to only seeing it after a holiday (the time when we all want to eat lots of chocolate…hmm).

But lo! And behold! There it was. And under £4 for a decent sized one.I also picked up a big bag of Mis-Shapes. They’re apparently factory rejects of odd shaped chocolates. Well, I was fairly disappointed with my selection. It’s basically a bag of fudges and a few coffee chocolates. I hate coffee flavoured chocolate so really it’s a bag of fudges. Hmmmm! I thought there would be a bit more variety so I feel a bit short-changed. I guess it’s the luck of the draw as well with things like that. Nonetheless, chocolate is chocolate and it was quite cheap for the amount you got.

Supplements I’m taking: I don’t really take that many supplements because I’ve read a lot of articles about how it’s essentially giving you expensive wee as the vitamins etc. just go straight through you. That said, I’ve heard some good stuff about Omega 3 supplements and Magnesium. Through work I was given some supplements to test out for free (how many times do I need to say this… I love my job).They’re from the brand Puori I tried the Organic Whey Protein, the Liquid Fish Oil, the Magnesium and the Vitamin D. I personally don’t think I need to take Vitamin D right now because I get enough sun now with the day being longer. I walk Alfie twice a day, go for a lunchtime walk at work and run outside… so I’m guessing I’m OK on that front. So I’ll save them for the winter months.With the liquid fish oil I was a bit dubious because, well, fish oil. But it’s absolutely fine. It has a faint taste of lemon but it’s not sweet. It doesn’t taste fishy and it’s only a small amount you take. It is a bit greasy if you spill some on yourself though (standard Anna move again).

The magnesium tablets are good but I’m getting through them quickly as you take three at a time. I also had to put them on my bedside table because you take them before bed and I kept forgetting. Though I can’t tell for sure, I do think this is helping with my recoveries. I’ve heard good things about magnesium, especially when combined with Zinc as this supplement is. I’m all about injury prevention!

Do you take any supplements?

Do you use headphones when you run?

What is your favourite chocolate?

**Full Disclaimer: I was given the supplements for free at work in exchange of a review on the Wiggle site. I was also sent the Aftershokz for free but they did not ask me for anything in return.**

Brueton parkrun and so much food

Surprise surprise I was in Birmingham again this Easter weekend. Just can’t keep me away I guess…

I drove up there on Thursday after work. I had a really good dinner of chili in a tortilla bowl. If you’ve never done this, make it immediately. It’s a very tasty way of eating chili. As someone not hugely fond of rice, using a tortilla as a bowl it’s a nice way to get some carbs in (we had cauliflower rice instead, how fancy).Friday James and I went on a run together. Ooooof it was tough. I wasn’t going to be running Sunday as I was going to support James’ 10k race and so would do my long run the next day to parkrun, so it seemed like a good idea to try a little tempo run. Normally I’d have pushed it at parkrun so this was a good switch-up. James was the one suggested it – like I said, he’s good with this proper training malarkey and I probably wouldn’t have gone out and done this on my own (or at least not as fast anyway).

We headed out for a one mile warm-up and then it was pedal to the metal with three miles of tempo effort. I was really dreading this as running fast is just not my bag. We started on a nice downhill so that helped but then headed to a gentle incline. Afterwards though it was just flat. The miles sloooowly ticked by as I tried to focus on keeping my legs turning over and essentially not dying. It’s hard for me to do these sorts of efforts when I’m not in a race or parkrun, or I don’t have music so it helped James was there to push me along. Eventually I finished and had a nice gentle mile cool down. Ehhhh that was tough. It’s nice to see that my miles got quicker… and a 6:19min/mile! I do think there was a downhill that helped speed me up but still I will take that confidence booster!

Saturday was another new-to-me parkrun, Brueton parkrun. I needed to get my long run in so James planned me a route to run there (as he obviously knows the area and how to get to that parkrun) and then I’d do a few more miles afterwards to make it up to 17 miles in total. I mean I could have run all the miles I needed beforehand but I wanted a bit more sleep.

James put the route on my watch so I didn’t have to memorise anything – this was so new to me, having my watch tell me where to go! Very handy as he wasn’t going to be running with me due to his 10k the next day, but he’d meet me there and then drive me back.

But I think there was still a strong level of concern from both of us about where I’d actually end up… the Anna’isms are strong to overcome. I headed out just after 7am into the cold and wet weather. It was pretty miserable. I got my watch going and was fascinated when the little arrows appeared telling me where to turn. It was relatively straightforward but I did manage to go the wrong way WITHIN TWO MILES. I mean, come on Anna get it together. I just couldn’t see the way I was supposed to go as it looked like a dead-end. So I went back on myself and then found a route that followed the little map line as close as I could so I knew I was at least heading in the right vague direction. My watch told me I was off course but when I eventually found my way back onto the planned route it told me I was back on it, which was handy.After that there were no major issues, aside from my hands being rather cold and having to dodge out of the way of cars flying through large puddles in the road and almost splashing me. I took a quick photo on a pretty bridge crossing a canal but otherwise ploughed on to the park and found James warming up. Woohoo! Disaster averted.My legs however were feeling heavy and tired. parkrun was going to be a grind.I plodded round as best as I could and faded majorly in the middle…my legs just seemed to go “nope” before I eventually managed to claw my speed slightly back up as I could see the end was in sight.
The course was a two lapper and split nicely into a loop round the park bit and then a loop next to the pretty lake. It was a flat course and I’m sure it would have been a nice one to have tried some speed on had I felt any oomph in my legs and not run 11 miles there.My time was 24.32 but definitely felt a lot slower. Honestly it felt like a terrible run.After finishing parkrun we went for another three mile run to get my long run up to 17 miles. If I felt tired during parkrun it was nothing compared to this awful crawling grind. I just felt empty and flat. I felt bad for James as I was properly slogging along and dragging my feet.My hands were SO cold. I’d made the mistake of using my Nike gloves which are basically just material and because it had been wet they were soaked and this made my hands colder. Taking them off actually felt a lot better than leaving them on! I enjoyed a very nice hot bath (somewhat of a luxury for this shower-loving girl) when I got back which helped me warm up as I felt cold and damp to my bones.

That evening we went to the cinema and saw Ready Player One, which was so good. The music, the characters and the cool pop culture references throughout were really good. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and will check the book out now. I even managed to not buy any pick ‘n’ mix in efforts to save a bit of money and try and be a little healthier in the lead-up to all the chocolate that would inevitably happen the next day.Sunday the tables were turned as I was supporting and not running running at James’ 10k race. I wasn’t really sure how it would be on the other side but actually it was really good fun. The race was the Massey Ferguson RC Easter Tractor 10k, which was a flat three lapper. Having three laps made supporting a lot more interesting as I got to see James and the other runners three times. It was also nice not having to run a 10k race, which I personally detest and nice not running because I was injured. I’d done my running for the week so I could chill.James did amazingly, smashing his PB and getting 37:04…I mean whaaaat. Makes me feel ill it’s so fast. I did get a little annoyed at a fellow supporter who was near the finish while I was cheering. I was clapping and yelling generic supportive things, as you do, like “final push” and “keep going”, that kind of thing. He turned round to me and said “don’t say that, he was miles ahead of the person behind so just needs to cruise into the finish and not push anymore”. Erm, huh? What if he was after a certain time or wanted to smash his PB? Also, don’t tell me what I can and can’t cheer, buddy. What a knob.That afternoon saw me almost completely demolish my extra thick Daim Cadbury’s Easter egg (good god it was good). I was in a very happy place. I did have a moment of panic when I hurt my jaw though. I think I bit into the chocolate a bit too hard and something clicked making chewing really painful. I had a painkiller and it pretty much disappeared after about 10 minutes, thank god. Honestly, can you imagine that?? During Easter of all times! (Probably karma for my greediness I suppose).That evening to fully concrete my greedy person status, we went to an amazing restaurant called Hickory’s Smokehouse in Castle Bromwich. It’s a BBQ restaurant serving American-style food which just completely rocks my world.I went for the full rack of Kansas ribs while James had a BBQ platter and we both shared some chicken wings. Ahhh heavenly. I even managed to swap my fries for some frickles.Sadly though for once in my life it just got the better of me. I was UNABLE to finish the ribs. I think I’d overdone the chocolate earlier if I’m honest. My ego was very much dented and I felt like a failure 😉 After a pause of eating we did go for some pudding though as I feel like that’s an entirely different stomach.I went for the s’mores…which was a buttery biscuit base with melted chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Ahh soo good. And luckily not hugely rich or stodgy so could fit quite nicely into my already stuffed tummy. Happy days 😀

Did you eat a lot of chocolate over Easter?

Do you like to saviour your egg or eat it quickly? I wish I could but I’m far too greedy.

Have you ever run a route using your watch?