My travels up North

I mean I guess it’s probably more accurate to say to the midlands, but for me anywhere north of Bristol feels “Up North” as I live so south 😉

But accurate geography aside, Kyle and I drove up to Stoke-On-Trent on Friday to stay with my grandad ahead of the Manchester Marathon on the Sunday.

Before that though we had a nice walk down to Lee-On-Solent to have some filling breakfast to fuel us for the 3.5 hour car journey. I like to have a bit of a walk or some sort of movement before a long journey as otherwise your body just feels so meh. So we walked about 45 minutes to the Penguin Cafe in Lee for some brunch.

We went for the rather greedy Emperor Breakfast, which was pretty much everything I love about a fry-up. GIANT.

I swapped my hasbrowns for more black pudding

Kyle even got extra toast. When we get breakfast we mean business. The Penguin Cafe is a lovely place – though it is very much your cheap and cheerful greasy spoon. Everything tasted delicious – so I’ll let them off for their bean contamination 😉

After a lonnnnng drive to Stoke we got to spend a nice evening with my grandad and enjoy a home cooked meal of steak, vegetables and potatoes. It’s always lovely to see him and hear about his adventures in Scotland in the Cairngorms Reindeer Centre where he volunteers twice a year as their handyman and general all-round fixer-upper (“Handy Paul” as they call him). At nearly 80 I’m very proud of him.

Beautiful spring weather

The next morning Kyle and I ran the 1.5(ish) miles to Hanley park for the Hanley parkrun.

Happily it was a lovely downhill to get our legs moving. Hanley park itself was a beautiful park with a lovely pond.

Now I remember running Hanley parkrun a few years ago when I stayed at my grandad’s with my dad before the Liverpool Marathon. However I DO NOT remember it being that hilly (actually after going back to the old post I have clearly stated it was “challenging”. Obviously I wiped it from my memory…).

I told Kyle I thought it was flat but actually it really wasn’t. It’s number 406 on the elevation line-up of all the UK parkruns. My home parkrun Netley with it’s three inclines is 212!

We lined up, all happy and innocent of what was ahead, and got ready to start. Kyle and I agreed if one of us felt good to run ahead and as we got going I decided I felt like I bit of a push.

As we turned the corner we hit the first hill. OK I sort of remembered this now… but it was only one hill. Then we had a lovely stretch of downhill, where I lost Kyle (he’s a very cautious downhill runner whereas I’m pretty much a free-faller). And then we looped back round to the same hill. Hmmm.

The course, in the end, included this hill another time AND a nastier longer hill twice. So actually it wasn’t flat at all and was actually very undulating. At 1.5 miles I felt that draining feeling of tiredness where I wasn’t sure I could maintain my speed anymore. But the downhills helped me catch my breath and give me back some energy.

I managed to overtake a few females on the final mile and powered to the finish as second female. I finished in 21:42 and Kyle, not too far behind, finished 22:21.

The first female was already done and I overheard her talking to someone and saying she was from Portsmouth. I jumped over to say so was I. Turns out her local is Southsea and she was visiting family. What a small world!

Then we made our way slowly back to my grandad’s. Annoyingly having to climb up the giant hill we sailed breezily down before. Ooof it was a grind!

We got washed up, had breakfast then headed to Liverpool to see my lovely friend Charlotte, her husband and her little boy, Arthur. She used to live in Brighton (a far more accessible visiting distance) but now she’s so far away it seemed silly not to make the most of being nearby and dropping in.

As I knew I wanted a larger dinner I decided to be sensible and have a lighter lunch (yes, this is still Anna… mental I know). I went for a vegan salad but added chicken (I know, I know). It had falafels and chickpeas and was very tasty but…well, very light.

It was lovely seeing Charlotte but then we had to head off to our next destination – Manchester! Kyle and I were staying in an AirBnb about three miles from the race start and about a ten minute drive from the city centre, which was perfect.

We met up with my other friend, John from many MarathonTalk adventures, and found a perfect, albeit hidden away, pizza restaurant to carb load adequately before the race called Dogs ‘n’ Dough. John was going to be running the marathon too (Kyle wasn’t, he’d be supporting).

The pizza place was very cool and quirky, and helpfully very quiet! I went for BBQ chicken pieces to start. And a cheeky Bud Light.

And then followed it up with a giant 12 inch deep pan pulled pork pizza (The Pig Lebowski). Normally I’m more of a crispy thin fan but this was very tasty. And very filling.

I was definitely going to be well fueled for the next day! I was pretty much sent into a carb coma.

Centre of Manchester

It was nice to catch up with John, although we both admitted that it didn’t really feel like we’d be running a marathon the next day. He was going to be taking it a bit easier (he’s a 3:12 marathoner usually but is training for a much longer event). I wasn’t sure of my plans yet (am I ever??). I was pretty much going to see how it felt on the day. But I kind of wanted to give it a bit of a blast as it seemed like the weather was going to be cool and the course was flat. So an ideal opportunity.

The classic flat lay

John headed back to his hotel and Kyle and I headed back to our AirBnb. The couple who lived there (we were in a room, rather than an entire flat) were lovely and friendly. One of them had run the marathon before so I got to ask her a bit about it. It was quite amusing when they were advising me to have a good carbohydrate rich breakfast and get a good night sleep and giving me tips on running a marathon in general… they then asked if it was my first. I told them it was my 19th and they looked stunned. They then said “oh well I guess you know what you’re doing then!” hehe.

Have you ever been to Manchester before?

Do you prefer thick crusted or thin base pizzas?

What’s the hilliest parkrun you’ve done?

A missed opportunity, giant salads and refueling with cake

This weekend was fairly busy, but full of many of my favourite things.

On Saturday Kyle and I headed to Southsea parkrun to meet up with my running friends Michelle, Mark, Billy and Aaron. Unfortunately Michelle wasn’t going to be running as she’s injured (get better soon!) but the other guys were.

Kyle and I arrived a little bit late and as we’d parked a mile away we had to run quite sharpish to get there on time. We arrived with five minutes to spare and then spent too long chatting to the guys for us to realise it had started! Oops!

So this meant we were all pretty much dead last to start, which proved rather tricky. The first 30 seconds or so were us just walking and then trying to infiltrate into the crowd of 600 runners (when did Southsea get so popular??). But this helped ease me gently into the run. I then spent the first mile basically umm’ing and arr’ing whether to push the pace or just plod along.

Mark dashed off ahead and though I attempted to follow for a bit I decided to instead just to run on my own and see how it went. For the first mile I weaved in and out of people and after a quick sprint to get in front of a crowd I realised I didn’t feel so bad and decided to maintain the faster pace.

We got to the turnaround and as I headed back the way we’d come (Southsea is an out-and-back course) and I realised there was no wind. Usually you get one direction being really good and then you turnaround and you’re suddenly hit with the full force of the wind that you didn’t realise was there (such are a problem with the straight out-and-back promenade parkruns).

However, there was no wind. I mentally kicked myself. What a missed opportunity for a flat wind-less 5k! Ahh well.

I managed to get my pace a bit quicker towards the end (God the pain of a hrder 5k…urgh) and finished 22:01. Just shy of a sub 22 minute parkrun. I was pleased anyway to have put a bit of a burst in towards the end.

After finishing, we all lamented at what a shame it was that none of us had gone out with a fast time in mind. I mean, we hadn’t set ourselves up very well by not paying attention at the start of course!

Then we walked over to the Parade Tearooms to have some brunch. Predictably it was quite busy (it’s so popular there) but after a short wait we got a table.In true Anna style when ordering Kyle’s brunch I decided to hear what he wanted and then order something completely different. No idea why! I quickly had to change the order with the lady on the till (who didn’t look too pleased at first but I managed to explain what kind of idiot I was exactly and she seemed to soften a bit and find it funny).

So Kyle did in fact get his pancakes (and not the full English) and I got my beloved Jayne Salad. An epic salad of proportions I’ve seen no where else (bar maybe America where portion sizes are RIDICULOUS).

This was my kind of salad! Chicken, cheese, coleslaw, potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, carrot, cucumber, fruit (yep) and lettuce. You needed quite the strategy to eat this without it toppling everywhere. A Jenga salad if you will.

The next day I got up a bit later than I would have normally as I really wanted a solid lie-in and having lost an hour from the clocks going forward it meant 10am. I felt really well rested and ready to hit my final long run before Manchester a week later.

I headed out with the intention to run 13 miles, but with some wiggle room if I fancied going further. Generally I’ll run 13-16 miles the Sunday before depending on how I feel. I’d given myself enough time to do up to 16 before I needed to back to shower and get ready for afternoon tea with my mum for Mother’s Day. So no pressures, just relaxed running however I fancied.

It always takes a few miles for me to get into a run (which is why I think I much prefer long distances than to 5ks or 10ks when I’ve basically just warmed up), but as I got into it I realised I felt good. Not just physically but mentally as well. Like it was good to be outside, good to be running. It was fairly warm so I was glad to be wearing a vest and also happy I’d put some sun cream on my face.

As I got to 7.5 miles I stopped at my trusty dodgy tap for a drink before heading on. I was listening to the BBC 5 Live movie review podcast and was chuffed to hear the review be so good for Kyle and my next planned movie, Us. I know it’s going to be scary, but knowing that Simon Mayo is a big horror movie wuss and still enjoyed it has hugely helped calm me a bit. I really enjoyed Get Out so fingers crossed it doesn’t traumatise me like Hereditary did.

When I got to the point of making a decision between 13 or more miles I decided to push on. It was partly me feeling like I was good to run further but also down to the fact that the 13 mile route was a bit rubbish whereas the longer route was nicer. Though it was more into the wind annoyingly.

I finished the run feeling strong and happy. An ideal last long run before a marathon! Then I quickly got myself together ready to go for afternoon tea with mum.

Handily it was just a 20 minute walk to the village to Donny’s where I’d booked a table for us.

We were quite excited as we hadn’t had afternoon tea for a while and it’s something we both love to do (ALL THE CAKE).

We’d both gone for ham and mustard sandwiches and they were crustless tiny little things. I mean they were tasty but very small. Now for a reasonable human being that’s fine – afterall, you’re having a scone and cake afterwards, but for a greedy person like me they were quite dinky and didn’t really touch the sides. I’m not a fan of cutting crusts of bread either – such a waste.

Such a lovely mum x

The scone was delicious. A little pot of strawberry jam and clotted cream – divine.

I mean, again the portions were fairly small and the scone wasn’t warm, but these are MINOR details from an afternoon tea connoisseur like myself 😉

The slice of salted caramel cake was so divine. Very sticky with a rich flavour to it. My mum had lemon drizzle and she loved it too. Handily I got to eat her icing as well as she’s not a fan (I love this about my mum – I’ll always get her icing, especially good for Christmas cake).

Happy Mother’s Day!

Do you like afternoon tea?

What’s the last long run distance you’ll do when you’re tapering?

What’s your favourite kind of salad?

Long running and the Eastleigh 10k

So next Sunday I’ll be running the Manchester Marathon.

As I’ve only just run the Barcelona Marathon a few weeks ago I didn’t really need to do any crazy long running but I did want to do a kind of top-up run. So my plan was to do a 16 miler two weeks out, and then 13 or so miles the week before (which is usually what I normally do in a marathon lead-up).

The Eastleigh 10k was the Sunday of my planned 16 miler and in usual Anna fashion I decided to tag on some extra miles onto it (10 lol) to make it into 16. God forbid I actually try racing a 10k eh 😉

Kyle was also down to run it and was going to give it a good blast as he much prefers the shorter stuff, but unfortunately he got struck down with what I had the week before so was barely in a fit shape to plod it let alone race it. He was still keen to run it though – men, eh!

The day before, Saturday, I went to Netley to celebrate my friend Mike’s 200th parkrun. OK not strictly speaking a “real” milestone for those parkrun sticklers but still a good reason to have cake. Kyle sensibly stayed in bed while I headed out. It was a shame for him not to join but realistically it was for the best.

At parkrun it was the “Marmite course”, which is basically five laps around a cricket field because of a caravan event on the normal course area. I groaned inwardly when I realised… this was going to be dull.

The day before I’d done quite a tough legs day so I wasn’t feeling a fast run – which really is the only thing that makes the Marmite course somewhat bearable.

Photo credit: Alana Jayne Williams

Happily Mike wasn’t thinking of a fast run either, having fully beasted himself the weekend before in getting a new half PB. So we decided to run together and have a nice catch-up.

Photo credit: Alana Jayne Williams

The weather was lovely but it was dull running.

Photo credit: Alana Jayne Williams

I was glad to have Mike there because running around in circles on my own would have been utterly boring.

Photo credit: Alana Jayne Williams

My time was 22:46. I’m happy with that! Little bit of a blast on the final mile but nothing crazy.

And then it was time to clear down the course and enjoy some cake. As there were a few people celebrating different events (Mike’s 200th, my other friend Sheryl’s 300th and another guy’s 200th) there was A LOT of cake.

Mike had made a few batches – one for handing out straight after parkrun and a secret batch for people who went to the cafe, excellent idea!

Of course I did need a little something while I helped clear down… a Rolo blondie. Delicious!

And then of course some salted caramel brownies, jam flapjacks and Sheryl’s delicious carrot cake.

Washed down with a cup of tea and a good natter. A lovely (albeit sadly Kyle-less) parkrun morning.

The next day Kyle decided he felt somewhat better to do Eastleigh 10k. He wasn’t going to race it however, which was sensible. I was going to get up a bit earlier, drive a few miles up the road and park my car, then run the rest of the way (10 miles) to the start and then meet Kyle and my dad there.

Surprisingly the plan went perfectly. I managed to make it to the start area with about 10 minutes to go. There was a somewhat precarious moment (which brought me flashbacks of when I tried to run to Eastleigh parkrun and got terribly lost and arrived 10 minutes later having run two extra miles) but I managed to tag along to someone else running that way. Whew! Never depend on your half brain Anna, I think is the moral of these stories.

My dad and Kyle had brought my Hedge End Running Club vest so I could swap tops and then I was ready to go.

We decided to position ourselves between the 45 minute and 50 minute pacer (who incidentally was Mike). There were lots of friendly faces from my own club and other clubs who I knew which was nice. Eastleigh is a very popular race because it’s so flat and usually part of the HRRL league. I’ve never actually done it though.

Kyle was feeling a little better and I told him if he wanted to go ahead that was fine by me. I wasn’t feeling it in my legs to go fast having just run there. Kyle was actually pushing the pace slightly too fast for my liking and I was relieved when he pushed off. Not because I didn’t want to run with him but because I didn’t want to either hold him back or feel pressured to run faster (he wouldn’t pressure me of course but I’d feel the need to keep up).

He disappeared into the distance and I relaxed into a pace where I could just turn my brain off and just enjoy the miles. I wasn’t listening to music or anything and it was nice to literally watch the world go by.

The support on the course was excellent. So many people out in force shouting and cheering, and of course my dad got himself to different areas. It was really nice for him to be there.

Photo credit: Sheryl James

The course is indeed very flat and fast. I mean Eastleigh itself isn’t exactly the greatest place to run round in terms of scenery but it’s a great race if you’re looking for a fast time.

Photo credi: Nick White

It was lovely weather as well which certainly helped. There was a tricky moment with one of the roads still being open to cars and we had to navigate through some traffic which I thought was a bit odd, and one short incline, but otherwise it was a good race. I was getting stronger and faster by each mile and marveled at just how quickly 10ks flew by (of course).

On the final mile there was a rather annoying man cycling along cheering people on. Well, I say cheering, it really wasn’t “cheering”. It was more like coaching. He was shouting – really shouting – things like “keep your arms swinging”, “keep breathing”, “get your legs turning over”. As he was cycling slowly next to us I couldn’t get away and it was actually really annoying.

I don’t mind people trying to push you along but this was full-on “how to run 101”. On the final section of a race it’s not exactly what you need. I muttered “oh please go away” in frustration and several people around me agreed. Not the time for this!

Anyway, the final sprint was through a park area and almost like a tunnel of people, which was a huge boost. I finished in 47:18 with an almost royal flush negative split.

Damn that 5th mile!

Photo credit: Hendy Group

Kyle finished in the very stellar time 45:46.

Photo credit: Hendy Group

He pushed himself a bit, but not overly considering he was still ill.

So a successful 16 miler for me. A nice plod to begin with in the 10 miles and then a bit of a push for the 10k. I love doing long runs like that. It breaks it up so nicely and you do tend to push yourself more than you would if you were just running the entire thing on your own.

Have you ever run while ill?

Do you enjoy tagging a race on to the end of a long run?

What milestones do you celebrate at parkrun?

Marathon Talk Run Camp 2019 – part 1

This weekend gone was my 5th Marathon Talk Run Camp.

Now usually it’s set in the New Forest in the Sandy Balls camp, which handily for me is just down the road. However, this year it was in the beautiful, but distant, Peak District.

At first I wasn’t going to go. It was just so far for me to travel – by train or car. However, I was persuaded when one of my fellow Austria Run Camp buddies (and fellow Southampton AC runner), Dave, offered to give me a lift up. This meant making it a lot more cost effective and less boring of a trip up and down.

I took a half day on Friday, Dave picked me up and off we went. It was a rather lengthy 4.5 hour journey, but chatting away to Dave the time flew by. We arrived in Matlock, checked in to the Mount Cook Adventure Centre (our home for the weekend) and headed to a local pub to meet the rest of the Run Campers that we were familiar with.

Though the food took forever to come out and there was a worrying moment of “cash only” until a card machine was found, we enjoyed good company and a solid meal. I had the steak and chips with a blue cheese sauce.

It was so lovely to see all the familiar faces (though we’d been keeping in touch through social media and WhatsApp of course). Then we headed back to the centre to sort ourselves out.

There was a large area where we could sit and get drinks in the same building as our rooms

The rooms ehhh… were rather basic. I mean, Sandy Balls was never luxury but these were truly dorm-like standards, with bunk beds and basic amenities. However you’re hardly going for the Ritz and I can sleep anywhere so really it was fine. My two roommates were lovely and friendly and I had a solid night’s sleep.

The next morning we got up fairly early to head down to Bakewell parkrun, which was about 30 minutes away. We’d been warned beforehand to pre-order anything we’d want from the Hassop Station Café so the staff could be prepared, so there was a giant queue building up already before the run.

Despite it all looking very nice, I was glad when a few others decided to avoid the queue and just go into Bakewell proper afterwards to find a cafe there. I knew I’d be hungry for breakfast post-run and it would be lovely to have a mosey about Bakewell while we were there.

I wore some arm warmers as it was slightly chilly

Bakewell parkrun was located on the Monsal Trail and runs along a former railway line. As all the local area was, it was beautiful. It was a straight out and back, pretty much flat (though we were told it was slightly inclined on the way out).

I think usual attendance numbers for Bakewell parkrun was around 200, but with the Marathon Talkers descending it pushed the numbers to 400 (they had been pre-warned).

I wasn’t sure what I was fancying but with the surge at the start and the thoughts of “hmmm it would be nice to make the most of the flat-ish course” I decided to see what my legs could do.

I started running around 7 minute miles and it felt comfortably difficult. It was literally just straight out running, a few bridges going over a road but no major change in elevation at all. However in the back of my mind was the “gentle incline out” that the run director had warned us about. I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed it had she not said anything!

Liz Yelling (Martin Yelling’s wife and Olympic athlete extraordinaire) overtook me just after a mile and disappeared into the distance (I think she had started with her kids, and then they’d given up). And as we got closer to the turnaround we started seeing the faster runners zooming back towards us. So fast. My friend, Dave, was also amongst the front runners and I cheered him on as he flew past. He always looks very happy when he runs.

My friend John caught up to me before the turnaround which was nice, though it suddenly added on a pressure to remain at that speed. I quite like an out and back as you get to focus on other runners going the other way and because I knew quite a few people from the camp I was constantly cheering people on and smiling away, which took my mind off the pain of running fast.

Photo Credit: Steve Morgan

Eventually we got to the finish and I was pooped! I’d hung on to John just about and finished behind him. My time was 20:54 – back in the 20s, whoop!

Dave managed the eye watering time of 17:24 which is INSANE – and he’s a 50-54 category! And the 1st three runners were 15:xx. SERIOUSLY.

After finishing up and cheering others on, a group of us headed into Bakewell. The town was beautiful. I was so pleased that we made the decision to not go to the parkrun cafe as we heard it was packed. Instead we found the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop which had a restaurant above the bakery.

I subsequently spent £15 on two Bakewell tarts (one iced, one not), a Bakewell pudding and a white chocolate rocky road! I didn’t eat them all there and then though – I wanted to take them home to share with my family and Kyle.

I then ordered myself a large English breakfast with all the trimmings… eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding, beans (contamination!!), mushrooms, hashbrowns, toast and a Derbyshire oatcake underneath.

Now I’ve had Staffordshire oatcakes so I was very excited about this addition. It was delicious (they’re basically savoury crepe-like pancakes).

Then we moseyed about Bakewell for a little bit in the beautiful sunshine. It got very busy quite quickly though – it seemed like it was a very hot tourist spot. We eventually headed back to the centre for a freshen up and lunch (though I would not be needing food for a bit!).

After lunch, we had a really interesting talk from Liz Yelling and Holly Rush, both exceptional athletes in their own right (from Olympic medals to UTMB and Comrades amazingness). They were very inspiring but also quite funny. For example, Liz mentioned that her peak maranoia before a big race extended so far to take her daughter out of playschool and quarantine her in the house. And friends were asked beforehand if they had colds before hugs were exchanged. I mean wow.

Tom Williams explaining the session

We then headed out for the session. We ran up a GIANT hill and separated into groups (self-selected by our parkrun times). Perhaps foolishly I selected the 23 minute group and I don’t think this was possibly the best idea as it wasn’t challenging at all.

I was in a group led by Holly Rush. The session was 3 x 4 minute tempo efforts, following by 1 minute hill sprint. I felt a little frustrated because the 4 minute efforts weren’t really a tempo speed for me (7.30min/mile) so I was struggling not to run ahead. Holly was very vocal and strong in her views that we should stick as a group so I just gave up on thinking it was a session and enjoyed it as a leg stretcher. Hey ho!

Photo Credit: Tanya Raab

We then ran back. I showered (luckily I got hot water – there was a limited supply and a lot of people had cold showers) then it was time for dinner. The food isn’t always that great at these things. Bulk catering and making things cost-effective means it leaves a lot to be desired. However I had a solid meal of a jacket potato with chicken curry and salad (I also added cheese because…).

Then we had a REALLY inspiring and interesting talk from the legend that is Dave Moorcroft, the previous 5k record holder (13 minutes!!) amongst many other accolades. He was such a lovely guy with so many fascinating stories. Really one of the highlights.

Dave Moorcroft being interviewed by Tom

And then it was time for the annual MarathonTalk Run Camp Quiz, hosted by none other than the amazing Tony Audenshaw.

I managed to grab a selfie with him earlier in the day

Honestly, he is one of the nicest people. He’s also hilarious.

The quiz was good fun, though my team (“Anna’s Apples” – yes really) didn’t win. We did however know the winning team so I was able to snag myself a slice of the chocolate cake prize 😉

Group shot outside

I’ll leave it there for my recap… the next day includes more fun and games and the Carsington Water Half Marathon.

Have you ever been to a run camp?

Do you enjoy hearing talks from other runners?

Have you been to the Peak District before?

18 miles – feeling tough

I know I’m a bit of a weird creature in that I really do enjoy marathon training.

In general it’s enjoyable, it’s fun and I like doing it. But it can be hard. My motivation can dip and I can find myself wondering how am I going to do it.

Usually it’s the long run that I dread (though it’s also the one I feel most accomplished with and happy about usually). The thought of running 18 miles, almost three hours of running for me, well, it’s a long time. It’s a long way. It also means waking up on a Sunday morning and not being able to just lay there, or get up whenever. Because the later you leave it the more it eats into your day.

I felt this way leading up to my weekend long run this week. I had 18 miles planned and originally I was going to do it on Sunday. But the thought of going to bed Saturday night knowing I had to wake up and run all that way seemed really unappealing. Kyle offered to run a bit of it with me which was lovely but the route we’d go would mean he’d run 9-10 miles with, still leaving me with a good chunk left on my own. Urgh.

I decided to float the idea of running to parkrun on the Saturday. We’d have to set an alarm and get up relatively early anyway on the Saturday and by combining the long run with parkrun would break it up and mentally seem far easier because all you were doing was travelling to parkrun – a destination run is far easier, mentally, than just a big loop. However this would mean that Kyle would be running 15 miles in total rather than say 12-13 miles. Bless him, he agreed to do it.

So I woke up Saturday morning just after 6am to run about 5k beforehand, then picked up Kyle to then run to Havant parkrun. Though Havant parkrun is actually only four miles away from where he lives we needed to run a bit of a long-winded route to get there to get the extra miles. Actually it was very similar to the route we did last week to Southsea. The very hilly route through Waterlooville, Purbook and up the dreaded Widley hill…

Just finished the Widley hill

As soon as I started running I realised this run was not going to be easy. My legs felt heavy and I felt tired. I was a lot slower than the week before. Annoyingly the thing about running an almost identical route is that you have an identical comparison. After the first three or so miles after Kyle joined me we both moaned that it felt so much harder. It could have been because earlier in the week we’d done our first speed session in a while… or the fact that we’d gone to the cinema the night before and had a Subway quite early for dinner. Either way, it was like running through porridge. We were probably 30-40 seconds per mile slower.

But we got to Havant with 10 minutes to spare

We were both dreading parkrun at this point. I’d just run 15 miles and Kyle was on almost 12. The run there had been so hard and such a grind. And Havant wasn’t a particularly easy parkrun. It wasn’t flat and had an especially steep downhill section which would be brutal on our legs. The ground was also very uneven and hard.

Zack, Kyle’s brother, met us there. He was just going to run parkrun (never “just” but you know what I mean) and was very kindly going to give us a lift back. He’d forgotten his barcode and wasn’t feeling very well so all of us were a bit “meh” about starting the run.

Kyle and I decided to run separately as neither of us wanted any sort of pressure to run at a pace we didn’t fancy. We just wanted to zone out and run however we liked. I was amazed to find that as soon as we were off my legs felt a lot better. Maybe the mini-break had helped? Whatever it was I was able to find a nice rhythm and run quicker. Perhaps I just wanted to get it done and finish the run.

I caught up with two men who were chatting about one of them surprising his partner with a trip to New York and I was able to zone out and listen to them chatter. I briefly considered telling them about the best cookie place (Levain Bakery) but decided not to interfere. Though when I went past them I wished the guy a lovely holiday and he laughed and said thank you.

I finished, HUGELY surprisingly to me, in 23:24. Kyle wasn’t too far behind, having cruised nice and easily in, followed by Zack who hadn’t had struggled a bit but still managed a stellar strong time. We were all glad for it to be done though! What a feeling to have 18 miles under my belt! And no injuries or niggles. I was quite surprised my calves didn’t feel too bad considering I’d forgotten my compression socks… perhaps it is all in my head that they work on long runs eh!

I enjoyed a truly wonderfully hot bath when I got back to Kyle’s. I wanted to lay in there forever it was so good. And then enjoyed a giant mug of tea and steaming bowl of porridge. Honestly, these are the simple things I really crave after a long run. So good.

This photo makes me laugh – Kyle looks very happy with the run haha

For the rest of the day though I felt so drained. I was exhausted. I haven’t run that far since the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of December and I could really feel it. I even had a 40 minute nap later in the day. I was just absolutely shattered. It’s amazing how quickly you lose the adaptations your body makes during marathon training.

My post run porridge and tea, so good

Luckily though I was able to significantly refuel with a solid dinner with Kyle and my parents that evening at the newly opened Hancock’s in Whiteley. It was my dad’s birthday on the 14th (yes, Valentine’s Day) so we went out to celebrate.

The meal itself was a bit “meh” but the company was lovely. I went for cauliflower bites to start which were a little boring. Basically just cauliflower with buffalo sauce on.

My dad was disappointed that they weren’t able to do steak (something was wrong in the kitchen apparently?), so instead we both ordered the whole chicken (each). It was about the same price as a full rack of ribs so we were both SUPER surprised at how big it was. I mean, it was literally like they bought a family sized chicken from Asda! It was quite tricky to eat to be honest. Like carving straight in on your plate.

But the pudding was the star of the show. Chocolate fudge cake brownie. I mean, wow.

I think Hancock’s needs a few more weeks to find it’s feet if I’m honest. The food was OK but nothing to scream and shout about. My pudding was amazing but Kyle had the waffles and really it was just a waffle with a blob of ice cream on and some sauce. But as I said, it was the company that was the best bit. My parents, Kyle and me had a really nice evening together. Crazy I know, but sometimes food is secondary for me 😉

How far are you willing to run to get to parkrun?

What are your cravings post long run?

Have you had a disappointing meal recently?