Good things making me happy

Apart from the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and rain, things are quite happy in my neck of the woods! It’s always nice to take stock of a few things that are making me a happy Anna.

The ‘C’ word: What is this madness? Christmas stuff already out in supermarkets. This photo was actually take two or three weeks ago as well.img_4888Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen… yep. It’s October. That said, I love all things Christmas, especially food-related items) so I’m happy with this state of affairs. More mince pies in my life can only be a good thing.

Tesco encouraging kids to eat more fruit: They’re offering a free piece of fruit to children coming into the supermarket. img_3917So they can chomp on something healthy as they walk round with their parents. What a great idea! Nice one, Tesco. We’ll let you off for your Christmas products 😉

New shoes: I bought some new shoes. They were really cheap as they’re of an older seasons but I really needed a pair of simple comfy shoes I could easily slip into and wear for quick errands or walking Alfie. img_5954I tend to have a lot of trainers, pumps, boots and then my gym shoes (Vans & Converses – ideal because they have flat soles for squatting and deadlifting which help me be more “in tune” with the ground and lifting) but nothing that I’d be happy to get a bit mucky. I had a previous pair of Skechers and I wore them to the ground. These were only £25 which I thought was a steal.

Unusual gel flavours: A lovely friend of mine (a triathlon legend it must be said – his training cycles make mine look very amateur indeed) sent me some gels as a good luck present for my marathon (though with strict instruction NOT to use them during the marathon if I hadn’t tried them first).img_5972Maple Bacon flavoured gels!! I know some (many?) of you will be thinking “that’s so gross” but I’m genuinely looking forward to trying them out. I quite like the GU gels (I still remember that salted caramel one I had once…so good. And the lemon flavoured one that tasted like a zesty pudding) so I expect good things 😉

Protein Porridge: I got a packet of this Mornflake Go! High Portein Porridge in my goodie bag from the Chester Marathon. Normally I will never use porridge packets because they always contain some form of sugar or flavouring and I can’t stand sweet porridge. For me the only sweetness I like is from the milk, so it’s very subtle.fullsizerenderBut this was different. It’s a pack of oats containing soya protein isolate and (other than a stabiliser) that’s it. No sugar, no fruit, no seeds…just oats and protein. One packet though wouldn’t be enough for me for breakfast as it was around 130 calories. So I used two with almond milk and it tasted almost identical to my normal porridge.img_5953Basically the same texture and it was really filling. I’m still regularly having scrambled eggs (with cheese, kale and olives – love it) for breakfast but I miss my porridge. The reason I swapped was because the porridge was quite low in protein but this is a great compromise. Though it is more expensive, so I’m looking into getting some unflavoured protein powder and playing around with that.

Woofins: These are adorable…even if I was disappointed when I first saw them as I thought “oooh cake” and then realised they’re actually for dogs.img_5987

Alfie isn’t a huge treat lover or chewer. For example, if I give him a dentist stick to chew on he puts it in his mouth then wanders around whimpering until I take it off him and cut it into four pieces for him (what a princess…). Although he will easily eat them normally when he’s around my parent’s dogs – but I think this is due to the fear that if he doesn’t they’ll eat it for him. Anyway, I digress, he wolfed down this mini cake – he loved it!

New car: OK it’s pretty much identical to my old car, just new.img_5968I love the Fiat 500 and wanted to stay with them. Unfortunately I did want a different colour (I quite like the mint) but they didn’t have it in stock for when I wanted it so I had red again. As someone who is rubbish with adulting, having a brand new car with no MOT or service to worry about for a while is a huge weight off my mind (especially as I was late with my last service by about 10,000 miles as I got confused <– story of my life).

But things making me nervous: A 10k obstacle course race (Chepstow Stampede) with my friends, Kate and Jamie, that’s happening Saturday. I did that obstacle course in Spain but I don’t think it can quite compare to a muddy obstacle course race in Britain during a rather wet autumn. I’m stressing a bit with what to wear as I don’t really have anything I’d happy to never see again if it got ruined… and I’m scared about being really cold and wet. But other than that, it should be a laugh. We’ll see…

Have you ever done an obstacle course race?

What kind of car do you have?

What non-workout shoes do you normally wear?

Rants and Raves #32

I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking through this week. I’m really struggling with getting proper night’s sleep with hay fever. Humidity and rain makes it so much once I think. It’s the itchy eyes and throat that kill me. A trip to the pharmacist is required I think! Some random rants and raves then…

Rave: As most of you know I get up ridiculously early (5am) to be at the gym for 5.30am four times a week. Sometimes it drops down to two or three visits depending on my running and the races I have coming up, but recently it’s been four times during the week days and then once at the weekend. I enjoy the gym but it is hard getting up so early.

Anyway, I like to listen to BBC Radio 1 as I like the presenter, Adele Roberts, and I like the music. She has a feature on her show at 5.55am every day called “Resident DJ” where each day a listener has a chat with Adele and picks a song that corresponds with the theme (Top of the Charts Tuesday, Workout Wednesday, etc.).

I always hear it and then last week I thought “I should apply for a laugh”. I went online and applied. Then two days later I got a call from the radio to say could I come on the next week. Oh god… So I said yes. They said they’d call me at 5.50am on Monday to be ready to go on air for 5.55am.

I was so nervous on Monday morning. I was at the gym, sat in the changing room with my phone waiting for them to call. I had to do a 30 seconds little bio of myself which obviously entailed me saying about how obsessed with running and food I was…Adele was lovely. She called me wonder woman which was nice Smile

So far I’ve done three days. It’s fun but I do find it quite scary. It doesn’t last long but I get so flustered and honestly feel a bit like a knob with what I say. I wish I could be cooler, or sexier or just more interesting but there we go. I am who I am. I’m not built for radio. Today’s one was cool because it was Workout Wednesday so I felt on safe ground talking about my running and marathons.

What was also cool was when I finished on the phone on Tuesday a lady noticed what I was saying and came up to me afterwards and said “Oh wow are you the resident DJ for this week?”, I said I was and she went “yay I’ve met someone famous!” She was joking (obviously) but it was very sweet.

Rant: rain. That is all.

Rave: A little independent health-food style pet shop has opened up within walking distance from my office. I don’t usually buy Alfie treats or chews, mainly because he doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. With chews he just puts it in his mouth and then wonders around the place whimpering. I’ve tried cutting it up for him and then he’s sort of on board but otherwise he just doesn’t chew things. Anyway, I found some Alfie-friendly things at this new shop and they’re not full of rubbish (yes I do try and make sure Alfie eats well too!).

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Peamutt Butter (though I think Peanut Mutter would have sounded better personally) and these Arden Grange crunchy bites that are free from any nasties. I figured that the peanut butter stuff could be on treats to encourage him to eat them. It’s funny because Alfie will eat chews and treats when he’s around my parent’s dogs because their dogs go mad for them and then want Alfie’s. But when he’s on his own he’s not bothered.

Rant: I paid £5 to be involved in my work’s sweepstakes for the Euro football.

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Well, I waved goodbye to that money! Probably just as likely as England doing well I suppose Winking smile My money’s on Germany…

Rave: Food is generally always a rave for me. I’ve found I can sort of recreate the Nando’s experience at home, but in a more small and normal portion size. I buy Gressingham Poussins, which are basically small young chickens.

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I roast it whole and then have it with some tasty veggies. It’s not a regular meal I have in the week but it’s a nice meal to have on a Friday night when I want something a bit more interesting but don’t want to go out or get a takeaway. It satisfies the protein beast inside Winking smile

Rant: Porridge has been my go-to breakfast of choice for over ten years now. I love it. I never have any toppings, just chia seeds and either almond milk, cow’s milk or goat’s milk. It fills me up and I enjoy it. I decided though to mix things up and try having something different for once. Everyone raves about eggs so I thought I’d give them a go. I like my protein so I figured it would be a good choice as I don’t tend to snack between breakfast and lunch.

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So far I’ve tried three eggs scrambled with four rashers of turkey bacon (to be fair, each rasher is 21 calories so four seemed the right number!) and kale. It didn’t fill up my up for long at all and by 11am I was grumpy for food. I tried it instead with fish (river cobbler) and this is somewhat better. To be honest though, I still love my porridge and once I’ve got through my eggs I’ll be back to normal!

Rave: While at the gym I needed to use one of the boxes for my box jumps but a girl was using the one I wanted. I sort of hovered awkwardly nearby and between her sets I asked if I could use it when she was done, which she happily agreed to. She’s a regular early morning gym go-er too and often does some hard-core weight sessions. Saying that might imply (because of those oh so annoying stereotypes driven by the media and common misconceptions) that she might be bulky or mannish-looking girl, but far from it. She’s got a rocking body: strong but feminine. She can lift some heavy weights though!

Anyway, when she dragged the box over to me she asked my name and we chatted for a bit (normally I’m a bit of a gym ninja where I try not to speak to anyone as I want to get in and out fast and, well, its 5.30am). Anyway she said I should join her to workout (she has other girlfriends who she works out with sometimes) as I’m “good”. Ahh little fan girl moment though. Being told I’m “good” by someone as cool and strong as her made my day Smile

What are you rants and raves this week?

Have you ever been on the radio or TV?

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Excessive cake and surviving long runs

And we’re back at it for another week! Hope you’re all refreshed and raring to go. I’m feeling well and truly into marathon training now and excited for the coming weeks (and when I say excited I mean terrified obviously).

Saturday was the standard parkrun affair at Netley Abbey. I got there early to help set the course up. Our flags for pointing the course directions are so sad and pathetic as they’re falling apart and very shabby. But my running club has donated a chunk of money to help Netley buy new ones so hopefully we’ll be getting them soon – how very exciting! (OK, not that exciting but good news for us who have to deal with dilapidating signs every week).

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After a very stormy and rainy night I was pleased to find the wind had died down somewhat and the rain was MIA. Though the course was very wet and muddy. On driving to Netley I realised I’d forgotten my Garmin – which is quite shocking for me. I’m a data geek so the thought of not recording a run is a bit crazy for me. That’s not to say I have to actually see my watch when I run (‘naked’ runs where I’ll cover up my watch are very freeing and always good to do), but I like to have the data afterwards at least to eyeball my stats. Luckily I had my phone so I could turn on the Strava app, but this was quite annoying as it meant running with my phone in my hand as I don’t normally run with it at parkrun anymore so don’t bother bringing my armband.

I ran with my friend Mark, who’s normally a lot faster than me but was doing a longer run with parkrun wedged in the middle, so he ‘slummed’ it at a slower pace Winking smile Having my phone meant a bit of selfie fun while running, but I’m definitely out of practice as both photos were blurry.parkrun selfie

Always a good laugh! As I was using my phone I couldn’t see (or at least I couldn’t work out how to see) my current pace or distance so I just went by feel. I didn’t want to attempt any great speeds for this parkrun as I was concerned about my 16 mile run I had planned the next day. I found by running hard last Saturday, my Sunday run felt quite tough. My aim was to take it steady as my true speed session was my hill session earlier in the week.

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I’m really pleased with those splits (and overall time of 23:49). I’m not sure how I’ve managed to do this but for whatever reason I can now seem to consistently negative split a 5k. I just save myself some extra ‘oomph’ at the end and then power to the finish. Mentally it works far better for me that way.

Later I met with my parents to go for a nice walk. We went to Stansted House (which is where one of my favourite races in the year takes place: Stansted Slog half marathon).IMG_8025

The house and grounds sadly weren’t open but we had a nice walk regardless and then stopped for a snack in the Pavilion Cafe.

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The cafe was lovely in the greenhouse type building. I saw the cakes and I was sold. I’d already had lunch a few hours earlier so afternoon tea seemed rather excessive… But I wanted something. I couldn’t decide between the bread and pudding cake or a scone with cream and jam. So I went with both. I’ve been craving bread and butter pudding for ages since it’s always for sale at the cafe at parkrun but I never buy it as I don’t want to spoil my breakfast.Pavilion cafe Stansted House

I had the scone first (I had clotted cream with it, not sure why they also gave me a slab of butter as well) and then the bread and butter pudding. I didn’t realise quite how dense the bread and butter pudding would be and found it really filling. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually be able to finish it (this is crazy talk!). I did though obviously.

I also found myself a lovely armchair for my flat (the final piece of furniture for my flat). And luckily we managed to fit it into the car.IMG_8029

I was considering getting an armchair from Next but they take around 12 weeks and are quite pricy. This was a beautiful alternative for over £100 cheaper.

Sunday morning was long run time. I sometimes get nervous about my long runs. I run them on my own and plan the route beforehand but there’s something so daunting about the distance. I felt 16 miles was definitely stepping it up. One way I find that really helps calm myself about it is to mentally run the route. I know the route really well as it’s where I did most of my marathon training last year; along the seafront at Lee-on-Solent and the surrounding areas. I just ticked the miles off in my head and gave myself milestone points to break things down. I really find this helps.

I also told myself to start off slowly. There’s quite a beast of a hill towards the beginning of the run so I didn’t want to knacker myself. Despite continually telling myself to go slowly I still found I was naturally running 8-8.15min/miles. I don’t really look at my watch that much during long runs – I tend to zone out and focus on my podcast. In fact it’s always such a great feeling when your watch beeps and you think you’ve done 6 miles when actually you’ve done 7!.

I know I could really force myself to run slower but should I when it feels that natural? I just don’t know. Last year most of my marathon training long runs were around this speed and I found it really helped make me stronger. I’m not planning on running Boston any quicker – if anything, it’ll probably be slower due to the course being quite challenging. I do think though that for my 18 miler planned in two weeks time I’m going to really force myself to slow down, but then hopefully increase the speed as I go along. I know it impacts the following week otherwise.

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I did struggle mentally though on this run. It was quite gusty along the coast and I just felt like I was plodding and I’d never finish. It just felt like such a long way. Physically I felt drained – probably from ridiculous amounts of sugar the day before. But I did feel good running in terms of no niggles. Thank God.

Afterwards I ate a hearty bowl of warm porridge which was just absolute bliss. I was damp and cold from the run so this just hit the spot.IMG_8035

That and a hot shower and I was human again. I spent the rest of the day just chilling at my flat, eating, watching the Armstrong Lie (very good documentary about Lance Armstrong), walking Alfie and doing general chores. Perfect!

How was your weekend?

How do you mentally prepare for a big workout or long run?

How many speed sessions do you do a week (or targeted sessions where you’re not just doing a steady state workout)?

Windy running and feeling content

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love my little home. I’ve gone from being all blasé about weekends and evenings to being really excited. There is so much to be done, organised, bought, arranged… I can’t wait!

To roll back to the weekend gone, I was shattered after moving in on Friday but I really struggled to sleep. I’m a very light sleeper (to the point I have to wear an eye mask at night) and any unusual noises will keep me awake or wake me up. It was just a whole different environment than I was used to and it took me so long to sleep, and then I woke up for AN HOUR in the middle of the night.

It didn’t help that I was ridiculously hungry either (as I missed lunch the day before and my body was only too happy to remind me. Apparently cake doesn’t quite work as a compensation for me in terms of satiety). The next morning the first thing I did was have breakfast. This is really abnormal for me as I can go a fair few hours without anything in the morning before I’m ready for food.IMG_6466

I would say I treated myself to breakfast in bed but seen as how I have no table or chairs this is how I’m eating all my meals right now

I would have given parkrun a miss on Saturday if I hadn’t have had the cones and the keys for the storage cupboard and gates… This meant I had to go in order for parkrun to go ahead. It was ridiculously windy and I was tired. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But it was the 200th Netley Abbey parkrun and it was a onesie and pyjama themed event so I’m glad I went in the end.IMG_6468

It was actually easier to find PJs to run in than actual running gear in my box-filled flat

I found the run easier than last week. I was slower but the effort was less and with that RIDICULOUS wind I was happy to get 24:58.

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I don’t think I can expect a huge amount of improvement on this winter course as it’s fairly gruelling with two hills you do three times. I hope to get close to 23-22 minutes as the weeks (or months!) go by.

PJ parkrunAfter a lovely little hot drink and a moving-in celebratory bit of a freshly baked cheese scone bought by one of my parkrun friends, I headed home to test out my shower for the first time. Shower quality is SO important to me because if they’re just a dribble then I’m looking at a future of bad hair washing experiences as my hair is so long. Thank God it’s really strong (stronger than my previous one!!) and SUPER hot. This is like the perfect combo for me with my asbestos skin.

My parents came over soon after and we headed to the Mecca of furniture that is IKEA.IMG_6472My mum had never been before (my mum, by the way, is the biggest snob known to man so I was interested to see what she thought). She LOVED it. It’s funny because they really only came to assist me but left with their own trolley stacked high. I defy anyone to leave IKEA without buying anything.

I had already done a bit of research beforehand to know what I wanted so I was quite focused, but I too found so many extras that ended up coming home with me.

IKEA salad bowl This giant bowl will fit my salads perfectly… I’m not joking

By the time we got home and got my chest of drawers up the stairs, unpacked and then semi-built it was almost 8pm (this was one of four items to build). I had missed lunch once again and was about to eat the cardboard it came in. My dad said they’d return the next day, bless him, to help build the other items.IMG_6480

I slept a bit better that evening (after a good dinner and another slice of cake from the freezer – this time a chunk of rocky road) but still struggled with noises. It’s not that my flat is noisy, I’m just very sensitive. Previously my bedroom had been looking out onto a school field, whereas now there are noises from surrounding buildings and occasionally bumps from the other flats around me.

Sunday morning I got up and did my first run from my new home. I’d planned to do six miles but as I got outside it was ridiculously windy and I was finding it really tough. So changed to five miles. Only to get my route wrong and do seven.

7 miles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus, it was tough. I almost gave up at six miles to walk back but realised it would take ages and my parents were coming over mid-morning. I stopped at seven miles and had a short walk back to my flat. How lovely to have this scenery so close to my home! This will be where I’ll be walking Alfie 🙂IMG_6484

I just hope he doesn’t jump in the pond!

The rest of the day was flat-pack hell. My dad and me got a great routine going. He’d show me how to do something (like build a drawer) and I’d just get on until he showed me something else.IMG_6488

I’m not a picture person when it comes to instructions so I was lost with working it out myself. I need demonstrations! This was apparent when my dad left me to build a bedside table while he sorted electronic stuff out and I buggered it up. Seriously. ONE THING.

My flat is still a work in progress, as you can imagine, but it’s getting there. I have so many ideas for it and I’m looking forward to buying all the little things to decorate it and make it into a proper home. I might take some photos and share them on my blog when it’s a bit more organised if you’re interested. My flat is tiny, but it’s all mine and it’s becoming home 🙂

Do you like IKEA?

For instructions do you prefer words, pictures or demonstrations?

How soon do you need breakfast after you wake up? At the weekend breakfast can be anything from 9am to 11am depending on what I’m doing.