Feeling hot, hot, hot

Hi guys, I hope you had a beautifully sunny weekend. In the UK we had two scorching day. It was fabulous.

On Saturday Ben and me decided to go for a change of scenery for our usual weekly Parkrun and go to a different location. [If you’re not familiar with Parkruns, they’re basically free, weekly timed 5km races. They happen all over the UK, and the world! We love them because they’re a great place to practice your race style and get a speed workout in. Also a great place to meet up with our running friends]. We went to the Southampton one, which is just a few more minutes away than our local one.

I wasn’t going to aim for a PB (PR) as I didn’t want to ruin any recovery my leg had done (aren’t I broken record??) a week before our New Forest 10 mile race. But I did want a fairly reasonable time. I had also been warned of a hill on the first mile as well. Because it was an anniversary Parkrun for Southampton there was a pacing event on and an amazing 500 people showed up!

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I decided to stick with the 22 minute guy and see what happened. The first mile I felt nice and comfortable with the pacer and pushed through the hill. After the hill I felt happy that the worst was over and then decided I had enough in the tank to push on on my own. I decided to pick people off and keep the pace going strong on the second mile. The third mile I saw a glimmer of a chance of beating my PB but it became tough to dig deep. I saw a woman towards the end and decided to get past her. I presumed that because it was such a big event about 20 women had probably already finished. But I thought what the hell, one place up in the female list couldn’t hurt.

She wasn’t having it at all. As soon as I started over-taking she picked up the pace until we were sprinting each other to the finish line. I couldn’t hold on and so she beat me to it. I was happy for her to beat me, she deserved it!

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Not too shabby considering my PB for a 5km (hill-free) is 20:26, and placed 71st overall. And I came second female!! I had no idea that I had been trying to overtake the first female. Maybe if I’d have known I’d have tried a bit harder. Doubtful as I tried really hard!

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After showering, Ben and me enjoyed a lovely ice bath at home. So I sat in it and Ben sat on the edge with his foot in the water (as his ankle has been giving him grief recently). I had a cup of coffee and we both played games on our iPhones. That’s love Winking smile

After thoroughly numbing my lower body I then got myself dressed and a guy from my running club came over to test out some kinesio tape on my leg. Previously he had asked if anyone at the club wanted a free trial of it as he wanted to see if it really worked (he’s a trained physio but just does it in his spare time). I thought why not, what have I got to lose.

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Apart from looking like a berk! Considering all the issues I’ve had with my leg lately I thought it couldn’t hurt to have a bit of support for my long run the next day.

Yep I stayed in shorts all day long as well and got some funny looks on my walk with Alfie later. I felt like a proper athlete though. Ha.

Saturday evening we watched The Impossible. So good but not a particularly relaxing watch. Lots of painful moments as well.

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Sunday morning started with a 10 mile run. I got up early to try and beat the heat. It was still blinking hot at 8am though! I never take water with me on runs as I never need it but I just thought I better take something with me just in case. So I popped £2 in my mini shorts pocket (mini pocket, not mini shorts. There’s no Beyoncé round here). As I hit three miles I thought “yeah this is rough”. So I jumped into the nearest shop and bought a drink to take with me. So glad I did as honestly I think I either wouldn’t have survived the run or I would have had to have cut it short. Be sensible in the heat!!

I really struggled. It didn’t feel like it was my legs or my stamina holding me back. It was the oppressive heat. It just overwhelmed me. I finished my water by mile eight and then it was a thirsty two miles back.

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I got back and I was desperate for water and stupidly hot. And sweaty. Nice.

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I am honestly now dreading next week’s 10 mile race. It starts at 11.15!! I mean seriously?! No one in their right mind should be running at that time if it’s like this! Definitely going to carry water with me.

After showering Ben and me decided to drop in on my parent’s to see them and it turns out they were considering having a BBQ. Well…it would have been rude not to have stayed!! More on that in another post…

Hope you had a great weekend!

Was it a hot weekend for you? What do you do in the sunny weather?

Did you run this weekend? How did you survive??

Do you take water on your runs?

What’s your favourite kind of film? I love the drama ones where there’s a good story but I also like a good comedy. In fact, I quite like any kind of film (except horror) when the story is good and the acting is believable. And any eye-candy. That always helps Winking smile

A weekend of PBs

And just like that the weekend is over. I hope you’re all rested and fresh ready for the week! I’m not going to lie, I feel a bit tired and could do with another day off… I had a great weekend of races (casual Parkrun on Saturday and a 10k on Sunday).

For Saturday, I really wanted to push myself and see what I could do on the Parkrun 5k. I felt like I’d had a good week of running and was ready to go. As always, I was nervous in the morning. What was nice was that two friends of ours decided to see what Parkrun was all about so met us down there. It helped ease the nerves to chat to them beforehand.

It was the flatter of the two courses this week, which meant five times around the below field:

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As excitement goes, this scores pretty low. Oh sure it’s nice to be off road, but seriously FIVE times around a field. I also massively panicked that I would forget how many laps I’d be on as I went round as you have to count yourself (not that I expected anyone else really to do it for me…!)

And so we were off. The first mile I felt strong and speedy (though a zillion men passed me, even a small child – now there’s a motivation killer for you). I was the second female and kept the first in my sights. As I ran I got cheered on by a marshal who yelled at me “go first girl”. I knew I was not first girl. I thought, this is awkward. I sort of smiled and pushed on. In my head I found it good motivation to try and be first girl, purely to get over the awkwardness (6.41mins/mile).

Second mile was tough. On the course there’s a tiny but steep incline. It lasts all of 5 seconds, but it feels like a mountain. I was counting on my hands how many laps I’ve done s honestly I’d have been lost doing it in my head (6.53mins/mile).

Third mile and it’s still tough. The end was in sight though. On the last lap you then do half a lap to get to the finish. I checked as I ran past a marshal that I was indeed going to the finish now. He laughed at me and said yes. No way could I have gone on anyway (6.53mins/mile).

After finishing I promptly collapse onto the grass and chill for a bit. My official time 20.26 (PB!) and first female. Ben also nabbed a PB as well. He’s just getting better and better, which obviously I’m over the moon about! Open-mouthed smile

Afterwards I ran home at a very easy pace (for me) to just stretch my legs afterwards. It was such a sunny day and I was in such a good mood I just needed to carry on. I know that might sound mad, but when a run calls I answer!

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I was quite happy to run at a much slower pace. It felt so good to just chill and enjoy the running high.

Sunday was a 10k in Portsmouth. Usually my mum and mother-in-law like to come watch us as it’s a nice trip out for everyone in the lovely weather. But they went to church instead so my dad joined to cheer us on.

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As soon as we got there we knew this was a race full of serious runners. Last week’s beer and cake run looked like a picnic in the park in comparison. It started on a track and as we picked up our bib numbers there were already a number of zooming around the track warming up.

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People were looking all intense and serious. Ack.

As we crowded to the finish line I saw this girl who literally looked like an athlete. Pure muscle. She was chatting to her friend and I overheard her say “I went pretty hard yesterday so today I’m just aiming for a 39”. Seeeriously? I dramatically lowered my expectation quite quickly then.

As we started I knew that our first impressions were correct. Ah well, they can’t all be just jollies round the countryside can they?

The course was quite flat and ran alongside a stretch of water. I was annoyed because I couldn’t wear my music as it was strictly forbidden.

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I like to have music at tough time to take my mind of things. But the sound of my breathing would have to be entertainment enough. Ho hum.

It was two laps and as you run out to the water you’re head first straight into the wind. Fun. But on the way back it was like we were flying. Pft, 7mins/mile pace? This is easy (said no one ever). It wasn’t easy, just easier. BIG difference.

I distinctly remember thinking “This is horrible. I want to go home. Why do I do this?” about four times a minute.

On mile 3 I started running alongside a man and it was one of those awkward situations where you’ve found you’re running the same steady pace and can’t get away. But it was nice as we then started chatting to each other (not a full on conversation, let’s be realistic here; we’re both puffed out). Then he increased his pace and headed off.

The finish was on the track again and as I headed back I felt pretty happy. My Garmin said 5.9miles so I knew the end was in sight. As I turned round the corner to get towards the finish I realised my error.

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I didn’t realise we’d still have to run round the track. And you can see the clock. Nothing like a bit of pressure.

But I made it, hurrah! My Garmin time was 43.16mins. I do believe this is a PB, by around 15seconds (I’m comparing to the Marwell 10k not the Moors Valley 10k where I got a faster time as the Moors Valley was a shorter course and less formal a race).

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I was shattered though afterwards. Absolutely knackered. I laid down for a little bit on the grass while I waited for Ben and honestly could have stayed there for hours.

Ben beat his PB as well by getting 51.47. PBs all round!

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You might have noticed running seems to have taken over my life currently. It’s a shrewd observation and you’ll be 100% correct. I’ve always loved running but since doing these races it’s like I’ve awakened an insatiable beast that can’t be satisfied. I’ve never given birth but I’ve heard people describe running and races like childbirth. At the time it is painful and horrific and you wonder why the hell you signed up for it. But afterwards it’s like you’ve forgotten everything that happened before. You can’t believe you didn’t do it sooner, or more often.

One of the most inspiring things I saw this weekend was watching a woman cross the finish line. Her face as she ran towards the line was a face of absolute pain, agony and hatred. I thought she was either going to cry, scream or punch someone. But, as soon as she crossed the finish line her face transformed within seconds to a face of absolute happiness and joy. Her eyes lit up and the smile across her face couldn’t have been bigger.

That to me is one of the reasons I love running. It hurts, it sucks, it’s hard, it’s tough. But when you cross that finish line, it’s like the best thing in the entire world. It’s like you’ve won the lottery.

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How was your weekend?

If you run/workout, why do you do it? What pleasure do you get from it?

Do you like to run with music or without? Running is tough mentally as well as physically and sometimes I really need the music to take my mind of things and occupy my thoughts.

What do you prefer, informal smaller races or more intense and popular races? I like both. But I like to know what’s coming before I get there so I can mentally prepare!

Just Running

Howdy howdy! Ahh happy days: the sun is back and the weekend has been great!

On Friday night I rushed home from work to go out for dinner with our couple friends. I was a little bit later than I’d hoped but I thought I still had time. Wrong. Ben opened the door for me and I found my friends had already arrived! I dashed in to say hi and then headed upstairs, noting that my girlfriend, who was just chilling on the sofa, was wearing a really pretty dress. Ah ha! Dress time it is then Smile However, when I came down in my dress looking quite posh (if I do say so myself) I found, when my friend stood up, the dress I thought she was wearing was actually a top and she was wearing quite casual cut-off jeans. So back upstairs I ran to change. They thought it was a hilarious.

We went to the Brazilian all-you-can-eat ‘Rodízio’ restaurant again. This is where they bring round skewers of meat and carve it there and then at the table for you.

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Why yes that is a glass of sangria you can see Winking smile

And this time, I had a food strategy. This time I was not going to be foolish and try everything. This time I knew the food I wanted to eat. Why waste valuable food space on meat I’d had last time and wasn’t massively fussed about? Not me!

I made careful selections at the salad bar buffet; nothing too heavy to fill me up. There were a couple of meats that I was dying to have again and wanted to fully enjoy without feeling so uncomfortably full like I did last time.

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Some meatballs (which I remembered were amazing), corn on the cob, Greek salad, veggies and some random prawns. And BBQ sauce of course.

I turned down a lot of meat (sausages, steaks & lamb) in my patience to get what I wanted. I did however try wild boar which I didn’t get last time. And I am so glad I did because it was amazing and now one of my favourites. I had lots of gammon as well.

When I turned down consecutive meats in a row, the waiter looked at me and said “Is there something in particular you want?” I nodded and said “Ribs”. He smiled and said “I’ll be right back”.

And back he came with the pièce de résistance.

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I made Ben get a couple of ribs as well so I could steal his! I am not ashamed to admit that I ate five large ribs. Finger-lickin’ good.

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Unfortunately my food strategy wasn’t as good as I hoped as I still left feeling stuffed. But not as stuffed as last time. Progress.

Saturday morning Ben and me woke up feeling a little worse for wear. A few too many sangrias and a lot too many platefuls of food. I was not feeling particular ready for a 5k Parkrun. But we got ourselves together and headed out. The sun was shining and it looked to be a beautiful day.

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I definitely was not feeling that it would be a good run. I started getting worried and stressed. I know, stupid pressure. Ben could tell I was getting nervous and he said “Just run with me. Help pace me to get a good time.” And I thought: do you know what, that’s a great idea.

Instantly I was less stressed and ready to enjoy the run. We got to the start line and instead of moving straight to the front like I always do in races, I headed to the middle with Ben. We had discussed the  ‘best case scenario’ (around 8mins/mile) and ‘worse case scenario’ (9mins/mile) paces if he wasn’t feeling it. I’ve never paced before so I was quite excited.

Ben did amazingly. He kept his pace up. I tried to take his mind of it by talking rubbish to him and tried to encourage him where I could. He didn’t quite get a PB (6 seconds off! 25.16) but he finished the race on a sprint. I mean, seriously, this is the guy who ate just as much, if not more, than me last night and had an extra beer to the jug of sangria we shared. Massive props to him!

I enjoyed my easier run so much so I even decided to run home. I was just really enjoying running without care for pace. I said goodbye to Ben, popped a podcast on and ran home (4 miles) at a lovely relaxed pace just enjoying the sunshine.

I’ve realised that with all the races I’ve been doing I’m missing out on my long runs at the weekend. And they’re my favourite runs. A completely chilled out, no care for pace, run. I loved it! All my runs lately are all about the times and pace and it’s been hard-going. So mentally, this was so refreshing.

I mean, I do love races. I love the adrenaline. I love pushing through when it’s tough. I love the stretch on my brain as I try and work out what times I need to do for a certain pace (this is a lie, I’m rubbish at maths). I love the sense of achievement.

But that’s not everything. Running to me is also a time to switch off and just run. When I’m racing I’m constantly thinking about the race, my strategy, and the people around me. Sometimes it’s just nice to put your trainers on and get outside and run without a target. Get lost in great music or a podcast. And come back physically and mentally fresh for the day.

For the rest of the day Ben and me got the jobs done around the house. Then my granddad came over (he’s staying with my parents while he’s down from Stoke-on-Trent). We don’t get to see him that often so it was nice to catch up.

My granddad is an amazing man. He goes up to Scotland twice a year to help with The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre as a volunteer. He takes his caravan and then spends his time helping out with any jobs they need doing. He built them a shed while he was up last! He used to be carpenter so he has a lot of skills to offer. My granddad is in his late seventies!!

So he popped over to talk to Ben about doing some work in our garden (like extending our patio). He’s just brilliant! For our wedding present he floored our loft (attic) and made shelves so we could use the space as storage as there was nothing up there when we moved in.

So I let the men discuss things like levelling and paving slabs…

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My granddad also brought over some delicious treats for us that he’d whipped up.

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Meringues with melted dark chocolate and strawberries. This is clearly a man of many talents!

So I had one of these bad boys after dinner. And let me tell you, it went down a treat Open-mouthed smile

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Sunday was another race day, this time a 5mile race. I’ll do a recap on that soon but for now I’ll say it was a great race. And cake at the finish line!!

After the race, we came home and chilled. We walked Alfie in the lovely sunshine (we ambled along very slowly) and did not much else!

Hope you’ve been enjoying your weekend Open-mouthed smile

Meat-eaters: what meat would you choose out of all the meats in the world? I love chicken but nothing beats ribs for me. And I really enjoy gammon as well. I love the saltiness.

Vegetarians/vegans (or meat-eaters!): what non-meat protein-based food would you choose over everything else? I love chickpeas – hummus wins my heart as a dip every type.

What do you prefer: running/working out for a target in mind or just enjoying it without any goals? I need a balance in my life. I love the races but I need to have those ‘just running’ times too.

Do you see your grandparents as often as you’d like? I don’t get to see my grandparents nearly as much as I’d like as my granddad lives in Stoke and my other granddad and step-gran live in North Wales. So it’s always nice when they’re here.

Running Away and Moving Forward

Hi guys, well what a weekend is all I can say. A lot of highs and lows!!

Saturday morning Ben and I got up early and got ourselves ready to head to our first ever Parkrun (informal 5k race that happens all over the UK and the world on Saturdays). It starts at 9am and isn’t very far from us so we could leave at 8.15am and have plenty of time to work out where we needed to be etc. I had breakfast about 8am – absolutely standard oatmeal. Nothing fancy.

I was so nervous I can’t tell you. I know it’s stupid. But at Running Club on Thursday all the people were saying because it was such a flat course this time (it changes occasionally) and that I was a fast runner I was sure to do amazingly. And then when I got there a few people were saying I was going to be high in the table for the females.

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I felt under a bit of pressure. Ridiculous I know because if I didn’t do well no one would really care except me and this was just a Parkrun. People were just observing I was a ‘fast’ runner and it was a flat course and they were being polite and flattering me.

I was also a bit caught of guard as it was very informal. I guess I should have expected this. When we all crowded at the start I was mid-conversation when they started counting to go.

Then we were off. I have never felt so sick in my life. I was jolted into a sprint and pegged it as fast as my little legs would go. I knew the 5k would all be about speed and it was just about going for as fast as you can for as long as you can until it’s over.

A mile in and I knew something was wrong. I started panicking in my head. I felt so sick. I knew I had to slow down but I couldn’t. I felt I would fail by slowing down (yes, I realise this is absolutely ridiculous and I am an idiot). But I knew by then I was going to be sick.

So I ran off the race. I literally ran away from the race.

I did what I had to as far away from the race as I could. Then I kept walking and didn’t look back. I was so annoyed with myself you wouldn’t believe. I started crying (I know, I know – so not worth crying about!). I kept walking to get as far away as I could.

I then flopped onto the pavement and let myself be pathetic for a while until I realised I was lost. With no phone. Nothing.

To be fair, I hadn’t walked a great distance from the race. Probably half a mile. But I couldn’t go back. I was convinced people would have seen or wondered what happened. So after about 15 minutes I realised I needed to do something constructive. The only number I knew off by heart was my parents’ house phone. So I asked to borrow a very nice lady’s phone and rang them.

My parents, bless them, drove and picked me up. They were so lovely and comforting with words of “it happens to all runners” but I was just hating myself right then. Why didn’t I just slow down? Why did I put so much pressure on myself? Why did I eat breakfast!!!!

Then we had to find Ben as I knew he’d have finished by then and he wouldn’t have had a clue what had happened. He was obviously very worried when we found him but very sympathetic as well.

Ben did amazingly in the run. He got 25mins30secs. I’m so proud of him. Bless him, he didn’t want to tell me what he got because he worried it would be “rubbing it in”. But I’m so pleased for him – I’m glad one of us had a success!

Sunday morning Ben and I got up early again. It was time to get back on the horse. We had planned a 10k race in a lovely country park (provided we both felt up to after the run on Saturday). Ben was good to go. And so was I.

Moors Valley 10k

I was nervous again, but not because of any pressure I’d stupidly put on myself but because I didn’t want to be sick again. But I had breakfast early and I thought to myself “this is just a nice run through a lovely park”. No pressure.

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There was less than 350 people running and it was quite informal. We had numbers but we didn’t have chips or anything. Perfect for a no pressure run.

The first mile I was running literally next to another girl the entire time. Psychologically this is quite hard. But eventually I broke off and then managed to keep ahead. But I then had the issue that I needed to keep just slightly faster than her, which was a hard pace to maintain. It literally felt like a proper race in that respect. And then miles 2-4 I kept thinking she was just behind me. Thankfully by mile 4 I realised she was a fair way back and I was running strong. It was tough don’t get me wrong. Hard, fast running. But I wasn’t feeling sick. In fact, though it was bloody hard work, I felt pretty damn good. The competitive element wasn’t causing me any issues like Saturday.

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My Garmin says under 10k which annoyed me and the official times haven’t come out yet (well, as official as someone with a stop watch at the end can be). But I’ll take it Winking smile

And…I came first out of the ladies!! The girl I was up against at the beginning came second.

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I got a little trophy for being the first female!

Then I glugged a load of water and waited for Ben. I was quite chuffed I’d get to see him finish and was ready poised with my camera.

Ben running

He beat his Marwell 10k by around 4 mins by finishing 52mins56secs. Nice work!

I am really chuffed with the both of us. Firstly, Ben got two PBs in one weekend. For a guy that’s just got back into running I’m pretty damn proud of him. Secondly, I’m pleased that I learnt from yesterday. I put pressure on myself when I shouldn’t have – who the hell cares what time I do a run or race in! No one cares but me, and I shouldn’t be too hard on myself! I love running. Full stop. Getting good times is a great extra. I shouldn’t be so focused on it. I loved running months ago when I wasn’t doing races. I should just enjoy the race and let the times be what they will be.

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Beautiful scenery near the finishing line

I’ll leave it there for today as I’ve gone on a bit in this post. I’m pleased with this weekend, warts and all. It’s the failures and issues you have in life that make you stronger!

Have you ever pushed yourself too hard?

Have you ever had a similar ‘issue’ when running/exercising?

If you do races, why do you do them? I like challenges and I like pushing myself. But I have to realised that I love running so much more. I cannot let my need to succeed compromise my love for running.