15 miles, chicken and chocolate

Morning you fabulous people. Does anyone else feel like there needs to be a day in between Saturday and Sunday? A day to catch up on all the things you think you’re going to get done over the weekend but actually don’t. How many times has clean the kitchen floor been on my to-do list??

The weekend started off nicely, with a cheeky little trip to Nando’s on Friday night with my parents and Ben for a whole lotta chicken.

Nandos 21.02

So many choices of sauces! I went for mango and lime

I went for half a chicken, corn on the cob and side salad. How very Paleo of me (is that Paleo? Potentially…) 😉 I also got to eat Ben’s leftover chicken as well. Yum.

Saturday  morning we were up and at ‘em to help set-up Parkrun at Netley Abbey.

Netley Abbey It was the cricket pitch course again (five laps…snore). But I was determined to beat my time from last weekend (22:30). The weather was better and the course a bit drier.

It was quite nippy so I made sure I warmed up a lot – lots of walking lunges, high knees and strides. Then go go go!

IMG_6015 There’s me in the pink top and shorts. I felt really strong and just kept pushing. My pace dropped as I went along but I managed to maintain a speedier pace than last week.


In the end I got a time of 21:27 and was first female 🙂 Almost a minute off last week and I beat the lady that beat me last week, which was quite nice. And my lovely pregnant friend who is still running despite being fairly pregnant wasn’t far behind – I mean seriously, how inspiring is that?? I hope that’s me one day!

I foolishly did not prepare well for the next day’s long run. I ate a really big dinner and a lot of fudge the night before and felt very bloated and not too well when I went to bed. How stupid can I be?

Ben and me were planning to join up with our running club’s long run on the Sunday and for various different reasons, we managed to get there too late (by 5 minutes). This was really annoying as I was looking forward to running my long run with company and hadn’t brought my headphones or anything. Ben and me decided to part ways and just run on. I was aiming for 8.30-9min/mile pace and Ben wanted to do 9.30min/mile so we couldn’t really run together.

Anyway I headed off with the vague and optimistic hope that I could catch them knowing that a part of the group would be running Ben’s pace. This kept me entertained for about 8 miles thinking “Keep going, they’re just around this corner”. Happily I had no idea I got their route wrong and was going a completely different way…


I’d say it sort of went OK. I had some serious stomach cramps and moments when I thought I’d have to dive into a bush which wasn’t great. I had also brought only a tiny water bottle which disappeared by mile 10. And my legs felt very heavy and tired from the day before. The last two miles were spent mentally pushing myself and fantasying about a cold glass of water.

Basically I’d say 60% of the reason why the run wasn’t brilliant was because of the day before (hard Parkrun and bad preparation), 20% was my IT band feeling tired and niggling my knee (not major though) and 20% was mental. Not running with any music, podcast or conversation really put the focus on running and the miles counting down. It was nice to have that quiet time and focus but I’m not used to it for such a long run.

When I got home I had a glass of water within seconds. Best drink in the entire world. Then I stretched like a madwoman, had a huge bowl of porridge and then screamed the house down by having an ice bath.

Ice bath with socks I have to wear socks as my feet get so so cold. It took ages for them to warm up afterwards! Ben had to hug them for about five minutes. That’s love.

Then the rest of the day I somehow managed to get the ironing done, walk Alfie, prepare my lunches for the next few days and make Mars Bar crispie cakes for work! I then promptly collapsed onto the sofa and did nothing. Heaven.

I made the cakes for work to sell in order to raise some money for the charity (Make a Wish) I’m running for on Sunday’s Reading half marathon.

Mars bar crispie cake I went for the simplest baking I could. But still, what an arm work out! Stirring up melted chocolate with rice crispies is no small feat.

I made sure to save Ben one though when I cut them up this morning to take to work 😉


So a productive, tiring but brilliant weekend.

Now to relax a bit at work 😉 At least physically!!

What is the easiest thing you bake? I find everything hard to bake 😉

How do you recover after a long run/hard workout? All the foods!!

What’s your sauce of choice: hot, spicy, mild, sweet…? Sweet and spicy is one of my favourite.

**If you did want to sponsor me and my little team for the Reading Half you can find out fundraising page HERE. No donation is too small.**

Marathon Talk – final part

Hello, hello! Right, this is it now. The last part – sorry if this has been a bit dull for some of you. But I wanted to do the recap justice as both Ben and I had such a brilliant time and we were were really grateful to have been able to have gone.

Catch up here: part 1 and part 2

So after a very much needed sleep, we got up and had breakfast and headed to the meeting point for 9am for another interview-style talk.

Liz Yelling and Louise Dayman Apologies for the rubbish photo – they were also under some unforgiving lights!

The talk was with Liz Yelling (Martin’s Olympic marathon athlete wife and National Cross Country Championship winner four times) and Louise Damen who is an up and coming athlete aiming for the Olympics and also a National Cross Country Champion. Not bad!!

Tom Williams, from off-stage, started the ball rolling with asking them questions and then we got to ask them any questions. Again, like the Steve Way interview, it was fascinating.

Interesting bits from the interview:

  • One of Liz’s ‘key’ marathon training runs is a 19 miler with marathon pace sandwiched either side of an interval session. *gulp*
  • After a run Liz would refuel within 90 minutes with a balance of protein, carbs and fat. She said Martin would often make her scrambled eggs as soon as she walked in!
  • Marathon pace at the beginning of training should be hard to maintain.
  • Liz, a few years ago, saw a specialist who dissected her training and told her she was running hard all the time and so never properly recovering. Learning from this, Liz stressed having easy runs is just as important as hard runs as it gives your body time to adapt to the hard stuff which is essential for your training.
  • Interestingly Liz says you should be, to some degree, dehydrated after a race. If you’re not then you’re carrying too much water.
  • Louise does a lot of strength work to help with her posture and support her running, whereas Liz wouldn’t do as much.

Again the information was sometimes hard to grasp and get my head around. Clearly I won’t be doing that 19 mile session anytime soon – Jesus, just to run 19 miles would be great! But I mentally logged it for a few years time when hopefully I’m a more experienced marathon runner aiming for a better time.

After this we sorted out what groups we’d be running in our long run. I huddled in the 11 miler group and then between us we worked out paces. Unfortunately most people wanted to run 9.30-10min miles. I was aiming for 8-8.30min miles. Luckily a very nice chap called Carl was hoping for the same. So we hung together and then tagged on to a 16 miler group doing the same pace as the 11 miles was the same route as the 16.

We started off great: nice and easy and then got into it. It felt easy and I was happy running and chatting to the group. The wind was behind us and there were few hills. Martin flitted between our group and another which was nice. He took the below photo.

Long run Marathon Talk 2

But then at mile five I started to struggle. The terrain started to become thick with mud and water. And suddenly a few more hills appeared. We had changed direction and the friendly wind was no longer that helpful. Yes I am making excuses – but I stand by them.


We then turned a corner and the wind was right in our faces. Our pace dropped significantly. As we continued on I started to lag behind. Oh sure this pace would have been fine and dandy pre-injury but in my current state of fitness, the terrain and wind rinsed me.

Long run Marathon Talk This was the tough part of the run: no cover from the wind

I felt my motivation drop and the demon on my shoulder got louder and louder: “Don’t bother keeping up, just have a nice run on your own”, “slow down”, “this is too hard for you”.

The guys were great and didn’t leave me behind and this made me preserve harder: I couldn’t let them or myself down. Between desperate gasps of breath I told them I didn’t usually struggle so much – I have a half marathon PB of 1:36:10!! They were very nice and said I’d be there again soon.

But seriously, my ego was demolished. It reminded me that I still have a way to go and not to get cocky thinking I was still as fast as I used to be. That long run put me in my place.

I practically crawled to the finish point. Carl was lovely and reassured me I hadn’t held him back (hmmm). But I was in pieces. That was not a long easy run. For me that felt like a tempo run. I staggered to our lodge, found I was the first one back, stripped my muddy wet clothes to my underwear and collapsed on the sofa with a glass of water. At that point I didn’t care who walked in!

Ben and our running club friend arrived about 20 mins later and we rushed to get showered and ready for our carvery which was at 1.30pm. Thankfully it had been pushed back to 2pm as so many people weren’t back (remember I only did 11miles). But we got ourselves a table and immediately inhaled the tiny bread roll everyone had at their place. Heaven.

Interestingly the average pace of my run was just under 9mins. In Ben’s group they were aiming for 9.30mins and averaged 10.30mins so I felt better that other people’s runs had been tough too. In fact the look on everyone’s face as they filtered in made it evident that people found it tough and they were shattered.

Then the food started coming. Beef roast. Not a usual meal for me, but bloody good.

Post-long run carvery Then we sat there in a silent state of absolute exhaustion.

Then Tom and Martin said they’d do a Q&A session on anything we wanted to know: running, training, show-related.

Marathon Talk Q&A I can’t remember a lot of the questions that were asked. I think it was mainly focused on training. Oh an interesting point about the show that I didn’t know was that they don’t pay their guests. Apparently a few guests have asked for money but have always been fine when told there is no compensation.

I asked a question that had been bothering me. I said that as I was training for my first marathon every long run was essentially the longest I’ve ever done (well eventually anyway). Should I be thinking about marathon pace this, interval that, for those long runs? They reassured me that for your first marathon it is literally just running slowly and getting the body used to the time on the feet. When you become more experienced then you can jazz things up a bit. Tom said he felt exactly the same when he was training for his first and that I wasn’t to worry. Whew.

As we headed to leave I had to do that very sad and embarrassing thing of asking them for a photo. I just had to. And hey were so nice about it! They didn’t seem bothered at all or thought I was a weird creepy fan.

Marathon Talk and me It literally made the weekend for me 😀

If they did another weekend I’d be there in a flash. I can’t recommend it enough. And if you don’t listen to Marathon Talk – start, because honestly it’s brilliant.

Obviously meeting Tom, Martin and Tony was amazing. But also being around a bunch of other people who you’ve never met before but all love running is just brilliant. You’re already on the same wave length. And seeing people do random stretches in normal clothes and people not thinking that’s weird made me smile!

I am proud to be a runner!

Do you listen to Marathon Talk? Or any other podcast? Any recommendations?

Have you ever met an athlete before?

What was your last hard run/workout?

9 miles, Bath and lots of fudge

Thank goodness January is over. OK it wasn’t a terrible month for me, but I just hate that sort of fog of depression that everyone has after Christmas. February is where we really start getting on with the year and looking forward.

I found Friday a day that just draaaagged. Everyone at work seemed a bit sleepy. Doing Pilates in the morning as well really didn’t help things.Morning PilatesIt’s so relaxing and gentle. But this Friday it was actually quite tough as well. I feel like we’re really getting into it now and getting to the good stuff, like the hundred move which just kills your abs.

I had a fairly early night on Friday as I was getting up at 6.15am on Saturday to do my long run before heading to Bath.

image (Along with Garmin Connect I use Strava to upload my runs – follow me if you like! I like Strava as it shows my GAP pace which is basically adjusting for elevation, up and down)

I’m really happy with how things went. It was tough but I kept an eye on my heart rate and general effort level and I wasn’t going crazy. I just listened to a podcast and ran as naturally paced as I could. The only thing I did notice was a slight ache in my other knee when I’d finished. Nothing near like I’ve had with my bad knee but just like a ‘hello what’s this’ feeling. Possibly because I could have been slightly nursing the right one and putting more pressure on the left? But it feels fine now. Honestly, I can’t take anymore injuries!!

Then I jumped on the train to Bath. I was supposed to be meeting one of my uni friends on the train but sadly her train had been cancelled which meant she couldn’t come. Really sad as I was looking forward to a lovely train ride catch-up. And I hadn’t brought my Kindle which meant I was a little bored on the journey.

Bath train trip

Normally I don’t put my feet up on seats in trains but it was empty, my boots were relatively clean and I was elevating my legs post-run 😉

So I did a lot of looking out the window. It made me appreciate living in such a beautiful country though – so green and picturesque. But so much flooding!

I met up with my friends and we straight away went for coffee…time for a good catch up and chin wag!

We then went for lunch in one of my favourite chain restaurants, Giraffe. I could eat just a plate of their sweet potato fries for lunch. Seriously so good.Giraffe sweet potato fries

I had these with a chicken, prawn and mango salad. At first they brought me a really small salad. I poked through it and found it really wasn’t what I had ordered! But the waitress quickly swapped it for the right salad – which was so much bigger. But still a little stingy on the chicken I have to say. But it was still nice.

Then we walked around Bath and saw the Cathedral.Bath

And then the highlight of the day…an amazing fudge shop (The Fudge Kitchen) where you could see them making the fudge. And they offered free samples!

Fudge KitchenI tried the salted caramel, after dinner mint and butterscotch. It was so hard to decide between them. They were so tasty. The mint was very creamy whereas the butterscotch was very crumbly. They were so friendly in the shop as well, it was a lovely experience. I bought Ben a cheeky slice of the mint one – he was very pleased.

We also went to another fudge shop (the Fudge Factory) and I got a rather large marshmallow dipped in chocolate.

Fudge Factory Yum!

Then we finished the day with a lovely tea/coffee in one of the small tearooms.

IMG_5901 How lovely is that tea cup?

Then our farewells and back to Southampton for me. Such a lovely trip. And we missed the rain in the end which was fantastic.

My legs felt pretty good the whole day. Just a bit achy. And Sunday they felt the same. Just achiness and tiredness. Ben thinks I’m over thinking everything (very possible) but it’s hard not to when it’s been this way for so long now. It’s hard to remember what post-long run feels like…whether that’s a normal achiness/tiredness or not.

I was going to run this morning (Monday) but I’m going to give myself another day as I really don’t want to push myself too much. Nine miles was a long way for me, I must remember that. I’m not where I was three months ago where nine miles was just a normal run. But I plan to run tomorrow morning, I think. Just an easy three miles.

After an injury, how slowly did you get back into things?

Have you been to Bath before?

What’s your favourite flavour of fudge? I need to try more before I make my mind up 😉

Cake and 17 miles

Happy Monday! I can’t believe we’re into November. Crazy!

This weekend was jam-packed. On Friday night Ben and me went out for our running club Christmas meal. It was so funny seeing everyone wearing their normal clothes, their hair done and without a drop of sweat on them! We usually just see everyone for a race or at the running club.

We enjoyed a very tasty Indian buffet. No photos, but basically I had a lot of chicken tikka (my favourite), butter chicken, salmon (I’ve never had salmon in a curry before!) and vegetable curry. Mmmm, with lots of poppadums.

Then there was the cake!

Hedge End Running Club Cake

Amazing. And it was made by one of the ladies at the club. It was very tasty but we only had very small slice. I’ve become a bit too accustomed to having huge slices of cake or multiple slices…so this was a little disappointing. I know, I’m just being greedy!!

Saturday morning came a little too quickly for my liking. I ran to Parkrun nice and easily:


Then we lined up for the actual Parkrun. Running to Parkrun my stomach was not feeling good – the Indian was not happy bouncing away in there! But I wanted to give it my best as I’m so aware of the lack of speed sessions I’ve been incorporating to my routine.

I found the run quite tough and even though it was on the flat course (PB potential) I just couldn’t maintain a decent enough pace to get anywhere near my PB.


A bit disappointing but, let’s be honest, very much expected. What with my annoying niggles and no speed sessions, getting back to my speedier times will take some work. But at the moment my main focus is the marathon. 5k times will just have to be side-lined for now.

Saturday evening Ben and me headed to my sister’s and brother-in-law’s for dinner. It was lovely seeing Ellie and Megan, my nieces, and also just having a good old chin-wag. My brother-in-law, Nick, made an amazing meal. Hungarian goulash from none other than my favourite chef, Jamie Oliver.

Hungarian goulash

Very tasty. This was very easily finished off! And then pudding was a slice of Bakewell tart with salted caramel ice cream and a dollop of what I can only describe as toffee trifle (…because let’s be honest, when is one pudding really enough??). I thought it best not to take a photo purely because I’m not sure I want to remember quite what a pig I was…

The next morning Ben left early to get in 5 miles and then left for a 10 mile race (he had a 15 mile long run on the plan). I had decided not to sign up to the race purely because I needed to get 17 miles in and though I could have done something similar to Ben I wanted to make sure it was a consistent pace and non-stop. I couldn’t trust myself to not be stupid and race the 10 miles and then hamper my following training week.

I was very jealous Sad smile But I got in my 17 miler.


I tried to keep my pace slow and easy as I’ve never run this far before. And though I have done 16 miles in a day, there were gaps in between as I sandwiched in a half marathon race in the middle.

Overall it went OK. Annoyingly I had decided not to take my gloves as it didn’t look too cold. But then the wind picked up and it started raining and my hands were freezing. Around mile 10 I stopped quickly at a shop to buy a drink and I couldn’t get my fingers to open my bum pocket. They were so numb. I must have looked ridiculous desperately trying to unzip the pocket without success. Thankfully I did manage in the end.

When I got home I literally laid on the living room floor for a bit. I was shattered. I enjoyed endured an ice bath after my lovely hot shower and I screamed the house down. In the summer it was so refreshing (sort of) and now it’s like torture. For the rest of the day I pretty much moved in slow motion.

Clearly I need my body to get used to running such long distances. I’m not too concerned because I remember when I was training for my first half marathon and how I was after my first 9 miler. I remember feeling exhausted. It’s just about what your body is used to.

For the rest of the day I watched the New York City Marathon, read some magazines and just chilled. Perfect.

What did you get up to this weekend?

What’s the furthest you’ve ever run? And what’s the most comfortable distance for your body?

If you could choose any sort of food for a buffet, what would it be? Indians are very tasty but it’s a lot of spicy food!