Brownies, street bingo and running happy

Another week of lockdown living…

Kyle and I are still working from home, sorting out our new house, and staying “alert”… whatever that means. We ventured to Ikea a few days after it opened and thankfully didn’t have to wait in any crazy queues. In fact, we literally just walked in. Of course we had to keep away from other people and you couldn’t go inside one of the “fake rooms” if someone else was. But it wasn’t busy at all so felt all very normal. We got some bits and pieces but as I only have a Fiat 500, couldn’t get the armchair we wanted. But we’re hopefully going to ask a favour from Kyle’s brother who has a larger car to see if he can help us.

Ikea selfie

It’s been a lot easier buying furniture online. We bought a chest of drawers and a matching wardrobe. Unfortunately it required assembling and really wasn’t that simple. Pages of diagrams, parts and screws…

We built the drawers one weekend and the wardrobe the next. It literally took us four hours a piece and we still managed to mess it up somehow. We got the top of the drawers on backwards and managed to nail into the wrong areas in the wardrobe. Ah well, they’re both standing and doing the job intended so that’s all that matters!

Every week we’ve been getting involved with the “street bingo” that happens on our road at 2pm on Sundays. It’s run by an amazing guy who runs an Instagram page called @dontsufferinsilence1 which is all about improving mental health and looking out for each other. He got everyone together (he’s been doing it for like 10 weeks!) and loads of people sit on their doorstep and do the bingo and get involved (social distanced of course).

I’ve never seen anything like it in real life. To be honest it was somewhat overwhelming to begin with because suddenly you’re being introduced to loads of people but everyone is super chatty and lovely.

So we’ve sat outside with Alfie and did the bingo and got to know our neighbours each week. It’s really nice to see how much everyone looks out for each other – like proper old school Britain, you know?

Kyle thinks he’s cool…

What’s also been lovely is more house warming presents from lovely people! And OMG trying the BEST brownies I’ve ever had. Our lovely friend Shell sent us some Gower Brownies and Jesus Christ they were incredible. Perfect texture, dense gooey delicious squares of pure heaven. They don’t look like they’ll rock your world but honestly they were amazing. So moreish as well 😉

Running is still going well, happily! Without having any marathons coming up and not being injured or coming back from an injury has left me in a novel position whereby I can literally run whatever I want and my long runs have naturally just fell in the 15-18 mile region, which I love.

I don’t really set a concrete distance in my brain before I head out but I have a rough range. It’s very relaxed and it’s actually one of my favourite runs of the week.

Last weekend Kyle joined me for 6 miles before heading  home and I carried on to get 16 in total. It was windy and hot – not a great combo, but it was nice to zone out to the MarathonTalk podcast and enjoy the sunshine.

And less getting lost as the weeks go on, winning! I reallly love my long run route because it’s so varied, road, trail, promenade along the beach, coastal paths, and super flat! Perhaps not the greatest training for hills but ehhh I fully enjoy it.

What’s your ideal long run distance?

Do you enjoy putting furniture together? I’ve been surprised at how many people said they love it!

Have you ever been involved in something like street bingo?

One final long run before the next chapter

So Kyle and I have finally moved out!

Even during this crazy lockdown Covid-19 era, we managed to sell my flat and move into our newly bought home. There’s still a lot to do and a lot to buy (allllllll the furniture) but we are super happy.

It was a busy day on Saturday packing everything into the van my parents got. I didn’t bring any of the furniture from my flat home as I sold furnished (which was what I wanted to do because I want to start fresh with Kyle) so it was just things like clothes, crockery and homeware like that… which is still a lot of stuff! But few items that were “big” other than a dining table, outdoor table and chairs and my bike (ha!). We dropped everything off at the house, then headed home again.

It was my mum’s birthday on the Sunday so it seemed like a nice last day with my family. Then Monday I’ll move out properly. It also helped keep Kyle and my family separate during the moving in process as he moved his things Sunday. (Alfie will of course be coming but once we’re a bit more settled so it’s not so disruptive for him).

On the Saturday I was able to do one last long run before we moved which was just so lovely. My long run route is a route I’ve been doing for so long. I can easily add bits on, take bits off and get anywhere from 6 miles to 20 miles. It goes all along the coast from Hill Head, Lee-On-Solent to Stokes Bay. I just love it. It’s super flat which helps 😉

I ran 15 miles and while it was super windy it was a lovely run. I tried to soak it all in and appreciate it. I’m sure I’ll find runs just as good in my new home – the coastline will just be slightly different.

Running, amazingly, has been going so well recently. I’m really chuffed about this because while there are no races to train for and no pressures, I’d hate to not have the ability to run right now. The freedom and the mental breather it provides is just so helpful right now in this time of uncertainty and restraint.

I haven’t been doing any sort of formal training or sessions, but this is hardly any different to my usual way of running! I’ve kept to around 15-16 miles as my long run and this has been a nice length for me. I don’t know how long it will be until races are back of course, as no one does, so it does feel weird not having anything in the horizon but for now I’m happy.

And now onto a review of a new protein range from MyProtein that sounded very intriguing: their Keto Blend. It’s been created to have a keto-friendly ratio of macronutrients for anyone on the keto diet, which is quite a strict low carb high fat diet. Now I will stress, I’m neither keto nor on any sort of diet but I do love MyProtein’s Whey Protein (I have it every day in my porridge). So I was happy to give this a go!

I tried their Strawberry & Vanilla flavour and their Chocolate & Caramel flavour.

I tried the Strawberry & Vanilla in my porridge and as a drink. As a drink (I mixed with semi-skimmed milk) and it was just like a strawberry milkshake. It mixed well and was lovely and smooth. Both flavours were great in porridge too.

No issues in how it mixed and made my porridge taste lovely and subtly sweet (not overwhelmingly so).

So the blend contains 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs. One scoop (25g) contains around 115 calories and about 10g of protein. They also do a Coffee Walnut flavour. So not too shabby! A nice way to get some extra fat and protein into the diet.

Now back to sorting and unpacking!

Do you have a favourite long run route?

Do you enjoy sorting out things for your home? I’m a big fan of organising!

Do you have protein powder in your diet?

A run to stand two metres apart

How’s lockdown been treating you? For me, it’s a funny one.

While my daily life is quite easy and, dare I say, somewhat relaxed, there are other parts which are uncomfortably hard and frustrating.

So the easy stuff is that I have my job with my full salary and I’m working from home. Working from home is admittedly quite nice. I don’t get up stupidly early for the gym anymore, so I get more sleep. I can go for a nice leisurely walk in the sunshine before work or during my lunchbreak and listen to a podcast. I can be in the comfort of my own home with zero commute stress.

I can wear leggings all day every day. I can wash my hair less and NO ONE CARES. Granted, it’s likely no one cared previously but Zoom calls are very forgiving so I feel more comfortable letting my hair get just that bit more greasy than I ordinarily would.

On this side note, by washing my hair less it appears to now needs to be washed less – if that makes sense? I’ve done a bit of reading on this front and apparently after an initial period, your hair adjusts to the change of hair washing and becomes greasy less quickly than before. Something about washing stripping your hair of its natural oils I believe. Where I would wash my hair every other day pre-lockdown, I can now get away with washing it every four days. It’s incredibly freeing. Washing and blow-drying my hair is such a chore.

Anyway, WFH isn’t bad at all. I have a solid routine, I can get my work done easily and it feels incredible to switch the laptop off and be like “OK now I can chill” IMMEDIATELY. My dad is at home as well so it’s not like I have no company. And Alfie of course.

(By the way, how much are dogs just LOVING this period? It’s like happiness 24/7 for them now).

The hard part is not seeing Kyle. I won’t harp on with all the reasons why as it’s fairly obvious, but it’s tough. And it’s tougher when you see people who aren’t following the rules and the temptation to be the same and have the same “who cares” mentality. But we know this won’t last forever and when people are literally dying and key workers are doing so much in such tough conditions it feels like a finger up to them by taking the situation so flippantly. We can look back at this time and know we did our part to help “flatten the curve”.

But we did decide to just slightly push the boundaries and meet-up…

We planned to run to a half-way location between us both so we could stand 2 metres away from each other and chat face-to-face IN PERSON. FaceTime, Zoom and phone calls are all well and good, but seeing someone in the flesh is irreplaceable.

So we both left our respective houses as the same time on Saturday morning and ran to each other, about eight miles for us both. It’s funny because our half-way spot is actually work, but we chose a nearby layby – classy eh!

My run was good. I listened to a podcast and just gently made my way there.

We arrived pretty much around the same time and then sat on some grass (slightly hidden it must be said) two metres from each other and just chatted about fluff and nonsense, but both enjoying it immensely.

Then Kyle’s mum picked him up. This was also nice as I got to speak to her as well – I miss Kyle’s whole family, they’re just such lovely people.

Then I turned and headed back the way I came. I felt lighter but heavier all at once.

I decided to stop about just less than a mile from my house to walk back as I was quite happy with 15 miles for the day rather than 16. My legs were tired and there’s no real need for me to be pushing the distances right now. I don’t want to get injured during this time! Running is a vital part of my sanity and happiness right now. A stable in all the change.

How is lockdown treating you?

Are you separated from someone significant?

Running a marathon during the pandemic

I was meant to be in Rotterdam last weekend but of course due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t happen.

The Rotterdam Marathon that Kyle and I had trained for was not to be. It’s since been rescheduled for October. Who knows where will all be then, eh!

I’ve been feeling very out of sorts, down and just a bit meh – as I’m sure everyone else is too. To be honest, I have nothing really to complain about as my job is secure (for now); I’m WFH, Wiggle is still trading (and customers still buying! Everyone wants a turbo trainer it seems…), my family and friends are healthy. I’m just sadly separated from Kyle, which is tough.

Anyway, I had in my mind that I needed an endpoint to all the training I had done. I was running well, I wasn’t injured and I was finally feeling out of the woods. The end of last year was tough with my two major injuries which dragged on. I now felt like I had nothing to look forward to, nothing to celebrate and an endless span of days ahead with the same old nothing.

So I decided to run my marathon anyway.

I must stress several things about this first. I didn’t take this decision lightly and there was a lot of stress involved in my brain whether to run it or not. Not because I was worried it would be hard (undeniably it would be), not because there was really no point, no medal, no glory, and not because it wouldn’t count to anything anyway. My angst was down to “should I be doing this?”.

Realistically no I shouldn’t. Realistically there was no good reason to run it. But something was eating away in my brain, niggling me: not being able to close the door on last year’s injuries. I also needed something to focus on because, other than work, I currently have nothing. Days blend into days.

I decided the weekend before that I would run on the Saturday, and that gave me a solid week to psychologically prepare for it. I planned my route, planned my other runs around it and mentally got it into my head that I would run on Saturday all being well.

The route was a quiet 13(ish) mile loop. I was going to set my alarm just before 6am and start running no later than 6.30am. I would do my best but ultimately have the freedom to stop at any point for whatever reason. Only my family, Kyle and Kyle’s family knew my plans. I didn’t want to advertise what I was doing, sing and shout about it, as I knew people would have opinions about it. And I also wanted zero pressure.

Friday I did a gentle 5k shake out run, as I always would the day before. I also (jokingly) did a flat lay of my kit.

I had an Indian takeaway for dinner… crazy I know, but it’s a meal I’ve often had the night before long runs and it’s worked well. It’s not that spicy and it’s something I really enjoy and my body has no issues with.

Tandoori chicken, chicken tikka and a lot lof poppadoms (I adore this meal)

I woke up at 5.50am, I had a small black coffee, I went to the loo, I got my kit on and did a few dynamic warm-up exercises before leaving the house just after 6.20am. I didn’t have breakfast. Now normally I would of course have a bowl of porridge before a marathon but as I didn’t want to get up any earlier I decided to forgo it. I’ve run many long runs fasted before (up to 20 miles) and thought I’d be OK. I wasn’t pushing the pace and because my loop past my house halfway I could pick up some fuel to keep me going from there.

My dad (bless him) wanted to come out and support me and cycled to meet me at around 6 miles, then he was there at halfway with my fuel and water ready, and then at 20 miles.

It was cold and super misty that early but it wasn’t windy, and it wasn’t raining. Perfect marathon conditions really. I listened to the MarathonTalk podcast which actually really helped my nerves. I wasn’t nervous per se about running but more about what people would think about my run. But Martin and Tom actually debated about length of runs and the government guidelines during the show and it really put me at ease. I wasn’t breaking any of the guidance by running my marathon. I would give two metres spae to everyone I saw (very few during my first loop – more cyclists than anything) and I was technically on my “one exercise” for the day.

I got to six miles and my dad appeared on his bike and cycled alongside me for about a mile and a half. It actually really broke it up for me and one of the roads was a bit of a windy road (rather than go onto the promenade of the beach where it would likely be more busy) so having my dad there to see ahead for cars and keep me shielded was helpful.

I had hoped to use the public toilet at around 7.5 miles but of course they weren’t open. I hadn’t even thought about them not being available (of course they wouldn’t!) so this was somewhat of a blow as I really needed a wee. My dad took a quick photo and then I headed off on my own again, and he headed home (only about four miles from our house for him).

Mentally it was a good way to do the run as I knew it so well having run round these areas many times in the past. So things sort of flew by. I knew I’d be doing it all again so just focused on getting my first loop done.

I got to my house for just over 13 miles and my dad was standing outside with the fuel I’d asked for and some water. I quickly headed inside for a wee (what a total luxury – a wee in MY OWN HOUSE) – and as I would during a “real” marathon I left my watch running. I wanted this to be relatively realistic.

Then my dad handed me my fuel. I say “fuel” but again this was a bit out of my ordinary. I wanted something I could enjoy, something sugar-rich and easy to eat (and something I had easily available). So that meant some Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel chocolates!

I’d put them in a little sandwich bag and my dad handed them to me and I ate one there and then with the water he handed me (my watch still running). I decided to leave the water with him (to give me later at 20 miles) and take two more of the chocolates for the road (I had six ready for consumption in total).

I headed off for my second loop. Now lighter, less misty but still quiet. As I got to mile 15ish Kyle rang me. He’d planned to do this after he woke up and sometime after my first loop. Unfortunately this meant just before the one large hill of my route. Thankfully the rest of my route is almost pancake flat, but this hill goes on for almost 0.5 of a mile and is a bit of a grinder.

It was so nice to hear from Kyle regardless and I huffed and puffed my way through a conversation. He was lovely and it really boosted me. Unfortunately I then heard my Airpods beep at me to say the battery was running low. Oh no! I quickly messaged my dad to ask him to bring new headphones when he saw me at mile 20 (another luxury!).

Kyle kept me company for a number of miles and then we said goodbye and I listened to some music. At mile 18(ish) I saw my dad. I hadn’t eaten the other chocolates as I was worried about needing water so I ate two more as I ran alongside him as he also had the water. It was tough to chew and breathe – which reminded me of why I prefer gels. But the chocolates were delicious and I was happy to accept their disadvantages in order to enjoy them!

I saw other runners and walkers out and about now but was able to keep my distance quite easily (the joys of quiet roads now, eh!). I chatted away to my dad and felt quite happy with how it was going. I knew the route so well and knew exactly what was to come, it wasn’t daunting. It was just time before I’d get back.

My dad left me again at the same point and now I had around 10k to go. As I turned a corner and was intending to go up the path to get onto  the road rather than stick near the beach I saw an elderly man coming down it. Instead of navigating the hurdle of trying not to get too close I decided to run up the steep grass to the side (oooof that was not fun!). He smiled so nicely at me and clapped me on – he actually clapped! And it made me smile wryly to think this is probably the first marathon I’ve run where I’ve only had one person clapping. Another nice lady later on shouted at me to “keep going, keep going” – it was weirdly like they knew. It really did help.

And then I was on the home stretch. As I ran down my lane I saw my watch creep to 26.2 miles. I saw my parents at the bottom of the lane cheering me on. It was surreal. As the miles ticked over to 26.28 I decided “that’ll do”. And just stopped, metres from my house. No finish line. No big time on the wall. No medal. No cheering. Just me coming to a stop. Clicking my watch. Done.

3:37:05 – but I guess it’s arbitrary really. It counts for nothing and had I run a metre or so further or less the time would be different.

While I know some people might disagree with me running all those miles for so long and potentially increasing the risk of catching/spreading the coronavirus, I don’t regret it and I’m proud of myself for doing it. I managed and reduced the risks as best as I could. I didn’t break any rules. I was sensible. I saw less people on my entire run than I had the other day when I walked to the local shop and stood queuing outside.

You could argue if we all ran a marathon it would create a problem. But I very much doubt there are many people that would want to go out and run a marathon so that risk is low. What if I fell over and needed medical assistance? Well, this has never happened during any of my running career before, marathon or not, so why would this suddenly be an increased risk?

And yes, my immune system will be somewhat lowered post run, despite how easy I took it. So for the days afterwards I avoided shops and busy places. I also stayed inside for the rest of the day, of course.

The run itself went really well. Surreal really. It felt odd, but good. I think I had one wobble during the entire run at mile four (so early on in the game!) where I realised I had 22 more miles to go. But other than that it was, dare I say, not bad at all.

Of course I would have loved it to be different. To have been running with Kyle in Rotterdam. To have had crowds cheering us on. To have a medal to show for it. To say I’ve run 21 marathons not 20. But it isn’t to be and that’s OK. I learnt a lot about myself during that run – that sometimes I can overcomplicate things. I stripped everything back and just ran. No pressures. That hugely helped. I could stop if I wanted – who would care? Who would know?

Anyway, it’s done. And I feel so much better. Like a weight off my mind. I can remember the experience fondly. And I’ve closed the door on that chapter.

What are your thoughts?

How long would you run for?

Running in a different world

The world is certainly feeling a bit different at the moment, isn’t it?

It’s crazy and scary and sometimes overwhelming. It feels very odd to be sitting down each evening listening to the Prime Minister. It feels like we’re going through some sort of world war… except the people are on one side and nature is on the other (arguable it’s always been this way I suppose).

I’m trying my best to be sensible in all that I do… if I take Alfie for a walk, I avoid people… if I go to the shop I space myself apart from others, if I run I cross roads or give wide berths to people I pass. I just hope that we don’t get forced indoors completely. I just hope everyone follows the “rules” of social distancing.

Sadly this has meant that Kyle and I are social distancing from each other too. He lives with his family and I live with mine, and we can’t keep seeing each other (physically). One of us could take something to the other. And with my mum being a nurse, it’s just a big risk.

It involved a lot of heart ache and sadness to make this decision. I mean, technically the decision was made for us – this is bigger than us, of course. But it’s hard when you know some others aren’t being as stringent. It’s frustrating and honestly I’ve cried a few many tears and stamped my feet, got grumpy and snapped at loved ones (Kyle very much included) and then realised I can’t change anything and I also can’t risk anything. Other people might be happy to up the risk, but we can’t.

So we’ve been Facetiming, House Partying (well, attempting – I feel very old trying to work this app out) and messaging. Sending photos of silly things like what we’re having for dinner, Alfie, and randomness throughout our day. It helps. It’s tough not having a timeframe on this. Is it weeks? Is it months? Who knows.

I’ve been trying to do some home workouts since this all started (yes, I’m one of those people posting their workouts online). Sharing these things helps me stay motivated and apparently it helps others so I’ll keep doing it.

Trying to do circuits in my living with the small amount of equipment I have is tough but actually quite fun. It’s nice to mix it up a bit. I do four rounds of seven exercises and focus on injury prevention rather than burning calories. So I do a lot of leg and glutes work with my resistance band and core work. It helps wake me up in the morning and get set for the day at least!

Running has still been going on. I’ve basically finished my marathon training plan now as next weekend would have been Rotterdam and I continued with the long runs I had scheduled regardless. I don’t know what to do now really. Just run for fun and enjoyment. I’m happy with that.

Of course I’ve been running solo now. But a couple of weeks ago (before the more strict rules were in place) Kyle and I ran to Southsea together from his house. I did 3.5 miles beforehand and then we ran together to the promenade.

I had originally intended to “only” do 16 miles, but I felt so good on the run I ran a bit more. I just felt like everything had slotted into place and I could keep running. It was just one of those lovely runs, and the sun was shining!

In the back of my mind though I was thinking “this could be my last long run” and that definitely motivated me a bit more.

Last weekend was an entirely different long run. While I felt good running, I felt a bit sad and lonely. No Kyle to run with, the roads so quiet, my route altered to avoid the usual busier promenade on the coast… it just felt very different indeed.

I felt the constant guilt of running as well… should I be running? But I luckily do live in a relatively quiet area and the routes I choose are normally, at the best of times, very quiet and so now are almost dead. And with the roads being quiet as well, it’s very easy to jump onto them if I do happen upon a walker to give enough space.

I listened to my film review podcast from BBC 5 Live while running and lifted my spirits somewhat. Despite there being no films being released, the presenters still managed to do the podcast and talk about movies and just generally keep things going. It was a nice moment of normality in this madness.

So what now? Who knows. But I’m going to continue running and being sensible. Hope you’re all safe and well!

How are you doing during this time?

Are you working from home?

Are you still running?