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 ūüėČ

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 Caf√© 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 ūüėČ

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‚Ķ 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‚Ķ 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 ūüėČ

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?

My 200th parkrun and NO CAKE?!

I love a weekend like this, packed full of running, lovely people and  good food. Shocking for me I know.

Kyle and I headed to Netley for parkrun on Saturday morning. It was going to be my 200th! I wanted to spend it at my home parkrun where I knew I’d see lots of lovely familiar faces and have a coffee afterwards. My intention was to bring cakes to celebrate but then decided against it due to a mixture of a) not being able to bake because I’m horrendous at it, b) not wanting to buy crappy ones from the supermarket, and c) I worried that the weather would be awful and no one would want any because they’d be too busy dashing off home to get warm.

Well, when we turned up the sun was shining and the skies were blue. My lack of cakes did not get unnoticed and I got quite a few comments. Apparently I’m the least likely person to not bring cakes for a milestone. Whoops. I saw my friend, Joe, briefly – he was very busy being the run director. But he did shout out my 200th in the pre-run bit which was nice (YES I KNOW IT’S NOT AN OFFICIAL MILESTONE).

My plan was to push my legs a little but not go as fast as Southsea parkrun the week before. As soon as I started running I could tell things were going to be harder. I’d done a legs day at the gym on Friday and consequently my they felt heavy and clunky. Netley’s winter course has two hills and you do the lap three times, so it’s quite a tough run. The wind was very strong but thankfully it wasn’t dead against us, and actually when we had to go up one of the hills it helped push us up. So not too bad at all.

Photo Credit: Andrew Thorne

Kyle and I ran together and we managed to overtake the local celeb and Olympic athlete, Iwan Thomas. He nicely shouted “well done” to us but then exclaimed “oh blimey, mate, those shorts are a bit short! I think I need to burn my eyes out now”. This was directed at Kyle, not me, which was immensely funny. Giggling definitely helps you forget the pain of trying to run fast!

Photo Credit: Andrew Thorne

As we got up the final hill my legs were burning but I could feel Kyle on my heels and though we weren’t really racing I didn’t want him to overtake me at the last bit. So our sprint finish looks quite epic!

Photo Credit: Ben Vanes

Though to be honest, Kyle looks quite relaxed!

Photo Credit: Ben Vanes

I finished in 21:25, Kyle one second behind (the gentleman). This is good progress for me, considering I didn’t want to go faster than Southsea, because the course is a lot harder at Netley. I mean it definitely FELT harder I will say!

After a lovely coffee and catch-up with some of the other guys, we headed back to shower and get sorted.

That evening we headed to one of our favourite restaurants, Red Dog Saloon. Their menu had recently changed so we decided to check it out. For starters we had chicken wings (Buffalo sauce with blue cheese dip, so good).

And then for the main I had St. Louis ribs, smoked sausage and a few more chicken wings. I honestly think chicken wings are one of my top five foods. I managed to persuade the waitor to give me three chicken wings on the side instead of a usual side (chips, onion rings etc.). He very kindly sorted this for me!

Kyle had Southern fried chicken. We were happy! When we like somewhere we struggle not to keep going back, as you’ll see in a bit…

We then headed to a friend’s 30th birthday party. I managed to scavenge a free pudding from the birthday man, Ed, himself. I was devastated when I tried to order pudding and found the kitchen was closed, but Ed told me he wasn’t eating his so I could have it. I was super grateful, but also now extremely full after also eating a birthday cupcake AND a brownie. Ooooof.

We got up the next morning and I headed out for a quick pre-long run run. I wanted to get about 16 miles in but Kyle didn’t fancy running that long so we worked out if I ran 3ish miles beforehand and then we ran to Southsea together that should be perfect.

The first 3.3 miles were quite hilly around Clanfield and it was spitting a little but otherwise it went quickly. I then “picked up” Kyle and we headed on the road to Southsea. I’ve run a lot of this route before when I ran to Fareham from Kyle’s, but as we got to Cosham we then had to veer off towards Portsmouth.

It’s quite a hilly route – one particularly hill in Widley was one of those grit teeth head down kind of hills but otherwise it was fine. It was nice to run with Kyle and chat and relax into it. Though the wind seemed to be against us the entire way. I had to briefly stop at a petrol station to buy a water, which I almost downed the entirety of standing in the queue! Must have been all that salty food from the night before.

We eventually got to Southsea where we finished the run at the Parade Tearooms, ready to meet Kyle’s mum and brother, Zack, for brunch (well, more like lunch as it was now past midday!). 16 miles for me, 12.5 miles for Kyle. Solid running! Kyle’s longest run since the marathon in December so he smashed it. Though he was a little pooped afterwards (I mean, so was I of course!).

We’d been to the Parade Tearooms last weekend and obviously loved it so much we wanted to go back. My stomach wasn’t really knowing what it fancied and wasn’t hungry at all as we stood waiting for a table (it’s very popular at the weekend). But I knew I would be hungry soon so I never make the mistake to reject food!

I decided on the Jayne Salad again because it was so epic and I thought that the combination of good nutritious salad, carbs and protein would be ideal post run. I also ordered a pot of tea, which is something I crave after a winter long run.

The salad did not disappoint. If anything it was larger than last time – if that’s even possible! I also ordered the chicken to go with it (an added extra) which they’d forgotten. To be fair, it didn’t look like ANYTHING more could be added to the ginormous portion, but out came a separate little bowl with the forgotten chicken. Unbelievable.

And yes, I did polish it all off. It took me some time but I powered through it like the warrior I am ūüėČ

My stomach was pretty jam packed full of salad and I wasn’t really fancying cake (SHOCKING I KNOW). I decided to employ some self-control and avoid the cake while I wasn’t in the mood (though I did regret this later in the day). After last night’s epic feast of food, sometimes you need a little bit of health (and a break for my bank account)!

So a solid weekend. I’m feeling in the groove of marathon training again!

What do you crave after a long run?

How many parkruns have you done?

Do you bring cakes for your different parkrun milestones?

Southsea parkrun, my kinda salad and back to long running

This weekend, though not entirely as I had planned, was a good one!

Friday night I stayed at Kyle’s and we decided to give Southsea parkrun a spin as Kyle had never done it before and there was a tearoom nearby we had been meaning to go to for ages.

It was, as I’m sure the rest of the UK was aware, very cold Saturday morning. But happily very sunny and not that windy – not bad conditions for a coastal parkrun. We decided to park about a mile away so we could have a gentle warm-up beforehand. Not that it warmed us up much at all! By the time we arrived at the start we were still cold.

We stood at the start and listening to the pre-run briefing and heard what we already were aware of, having just run down the promenade. There were large patches of ice, both visible and black, around the start section (and consequentially the finish area as it’s a 1.5 mile out and back straight route). The event director implored everyone to do a “Michael Jackson Thriller style walk” at the start to avoid any slips and the marshals were stood on the main ice puddles to help.

My leg had felt good all week and I decided to see where I was at fitness-wise. I wasn’t going for a full on “ruin myself” style of run but I did want to push the pace a bit. Kyle was less keen to do a fast run so we decided to run separately. I had my Aftershokz ready and was feeling good.

We started and ran carefully through the icy bits – as everyone did – and then as we got to the clearer sections started to push the pace. I felt very much in control and happy at 7.15min/miles. I remember thinking how much I was enjoying the run. My legs felt strong, my breathing relaxed and the sun was shining. Asides from my hands being cold (I had to wear my thinner Nike gloves rather than my thick eGloves, which someone had recently nicked – story for another day), I was feeling good.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get my headphones to play my music but actually I really didn’t mind. I was happy to just listen to my breathing and the noises around me more clearly. We got to the turn around (1.5 miles) and this felt very quick to me. I was feeling goooood. It was nice to acknowledge that fact mid-run – rather than feel like “omg this is fast I want to die” kind of feelings I usually get during 5ks or 10ks.

At the turnaround I knew I could then look out for Kyle, who I assumed was taking it a bit easier so would be coming the other way. However as I continued to run the opposite way I couldn’t see him. As I got further down the line of people coming the other way and he still didn’t appear I realised he must be very close behind me. I tried to look behind me but couldn’t see him. It did help spur me on as I didn’t want him to overtake me (though in reality I wouldn’t have minded and this is a highly likely thing to happen in the future as he’s getting stronger and stronger).

I ran with another guy for a bit until, as I felt my speed increase, I managed to push on ahead. I also passed two females. I thought there was another one ahead so I tried not to get too excited and lose my focus (and controlled breathing). I haven’t been a first female in a while. I finished strong with 21:29, my fastest parkrun since October! Turns out I was first female as well, which was a nice bonus. And a royal flush negative split!

Kyle finished 21:34, very close behind me. A solid run for the two of us. We then jogged gently back to the car. And though there was a huge temptation to go to the Tenth Hole for brunch (as we were parked just outside) we drove the two miles or so down the road to the Parade Tearooms. Though the Tenth Hole is brilliant (those cakes!), I’ve been there quite a few times and we really wanted to try this other tearoom.

I pride myself in doing my research before I go somewhere for food and I’m so glad I did. Though I was tempted by the usual full English breakfast (which Kyle went for – with extra toast) I instead went for the Jayne Salad. Yes, a salad. Yes, a salad on a cold morning. But hear me out. This was no ordinary salad. I joked to Kyle saying this shouldn’t be called the Jayne Salad it should be called the ANNA Salad. The portion size was right up my street!

Piled high (to the point it was actually tricky to eat) with salad, roasted baby potatoes, coleslaw, chicken, bacon, cheese, beetroot… it was GINORMOUS. And exactly the kind of salad I would make if I was making it myself.

It took me ages to eat and I can happily say I was stuffed by the end (yes I ate it all – I read a review on Trip Advisor that someone took half home. Wow, way to go Anna you pig).

Kyle thoroughly enjoyed his fry up – quality over quantity (whereas the Harvester breakfast is very much quantity over quality). And of course we had to take two slices of cake (well, traybake) home with us.

I genuinely stood in the queue having a mare of a time trying to decide what to order. The tiffin? The salted caramel shortbread? The “junk yard” cheesecake? The Crunchie cheesecake? The fudge cake? The Bakewell slice? I almost had a breakdown.

In the end I went for the tiffin. A giant triangle slab. Kyle went for an equally large slice of the salted caramel pretzel shortbread. We took them home to give our stomachs time.

I won’t lie. All I needed was the time it took to bathe and get dressed for me to be ready to eat the tiffin in one with a cup of tea. Hollow legs… human dustbin… greedy. All of the above. It was DELICIOUS. Caramelly, chocolaty, full of raisins and biscuit… so flipping good.

That evening I was supposed to go to my friend’s hen party and see Dreamboyz (like Chippendales I believe…) but my mum needed me to stay in and help her as her left hand is basically useless after her accident (she’s left handed) and my dad wasn’t going to be in. It was a shame to miss the hen do but I appreciated a quiet evening in with my mum instead.

At least it meant I got a solid night’s sleep and could crack on with my long run in the morning without feeling hung over. A silver lining at least! I headed out with the intention to run 10 miles but as I got going I realised I felt good and if it continued that way I’d do 12. I’m lucky to have good routes around me that I can shortern or lengthen my route as I go.

As I got on to the seafront promenade at Hill Head, away with the fairies listening to a podcast, I didn’t see the four very familiar dogs and my parents suddenly appear in front of me. Alfie went a bit mental suddenly seeing me, bless him. I stopped and chatted briefly before heading on – Alfie tried to join but my parents managed to wrestle him away.

So the 12 miles went really well. My leg felt fine. Only my endurance struggled I think, but that’ll come back in time. The weather was perfect. Cold but still. I felt very happy and (god I hate this word) blessed to be running again.

How was your weekend?

Do you ever order a salad?

What’s your favourite tray bake?