QECP parkrun, the Sweet Tooth Festival and the best ribs

Through Facebook I found out about an event that was RIGHT up my street. The Sweet Tooth Festival. I mean whaaaat.

On further investigation I found it was in Fareham, very local to me, and basically a load of stalls selling cakes, sweets, fudge and more. I was very keen to check this out!

But first, parkrun. I decided on Queen Elizabeth Country park parkrun as it was most local to Kyle as he very kindly offered to cheer me on. He’s still not running. He’s being far more patient and sensible than I would be as he wants everything to feel completely normal before he starts running again, which is obviously a good idea. It would be a shame to rush back into things and re-ignite the injury. But being the lovely guy he is, he offered to come with me to QECP.

We got there for 8.45am and walked the very short but STEEP distance to the start. I’ve run this parkrun once before but in the pouring rain so it was nice to have it in drier conditions. There weren’t a huge number of other runners – I don’t think there are usually because it’s quite out of the way from residential areas and it’s a tough one to regularly do. The run director delightfully informed us it sits at number 509 on the flat scale out of 519 parkruns!

Kyle would be able to cheer us on twice – after about a mile with the first loop and then at the finish. The first mile is a straight up slog and then a breakneck downhill, so quite varied!My legs were already burning within the first five minutes. I managed to take the lead out of the females quite soon but there were only 36 other females and 85 runners in total.I was actually quite surprised at how good my legs felt despite being asleep not very long ago and having run a marathon less than a week ago. I decided to just embrace it. The second mile is the worst. The hill you have to climb really does just go up, up, up. When you think you’re almost there, you turn a corner and see more to come. Definitely not a negative splitter!The run felt good but tough. The final mile has a great downhill section to really gain some speed and then some cheeky inclines and then a straight run to the end. I somehow managed to get myself 8th place which was very cool.
My time was 22:13 – I’m over the moon with that! It certainly helps to have someone cheering you of course.

After sorting ourselves out, Kyle and I headed to the Sweet Tooth Festival in Fareham.I’d describe myself as a small child in a sweet shop but realistically I was like Anna in a cake shop 😉 I was very excited. It was £4 entry and then we were able to wander round the different stalls and TRY ALL THE TASTERS. CAKE TASTERS. I mean, this is LITERALLY heaven. I realise I’m over-using the caps here, but seriously. Amazing.There were so many different local cake bakers and sweet-related companies – it was so cool! Companies like The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen, The Game Bird Country Catering, The Rolling Scones…etc. etc.
As we hadn’t had any breakfast yet and were planning to head to Southampton for lunch we really tried to not go to mad on the tasters…but I did have my fair share of brownie chunks, cupcake bits, pieces of cookie and forks of cake slices. A decent breakfast I think! 😉

I think I was mostly impressed by the amazing looking cakes. The Rolling Scones had so many fantastic and unique sounding cakes… a Rolo chocolate cake and a Caramac cake to name just two. And they looked incredible. The best part was there were taster slices that we could try. I mean WOW.There was even a competition to guess the weight of a cake – to WIN the cake. Kyle and I took ages trying to decide. We’ve both done weights in the gym quite a bit so we were trying to imagine what dumbbell it would equate to.
This was some serious business! In the end we went for 3.5kg. It was apparently around 1.9kg, so we were quite a bit out…wishful thinking eh!I could have spent a fortune at the festival. In the end I feel I was fairly restrained (for me!). I bought a blondie, a salted caramel brownie and a cookie.Kyle got a cookie, a Ferraro Rocher brownie and we both shared a rocky road slice. We saved them though because we were heading for lunch straight after. The temptation to eat them though was SO strong.It was a good thing that the traffic was horrendous getting into Southamtpon (because of the boat show) as it meant our stomachs could have a bit of time before our next onslaught of food. Because we’d enjoyed Red Dog Saloon so much the last time we went we decided to go there again. The last time we went Kyle had had these amazing deep fried ribs as a starter and we were both hankering after them again.

God they are SO good. To be honest I probably could have eaten an entire rack of them but they’re very salty and probably terribly bad for you… but they taste omg good.And for mains I went for chicken wings… I know, I’m so predictable. I went for quite a piggy 24. The options were 6, 12 or 24 and I knew 12 wouldn’t be quite enough. I wasn’t sure how spicy the buffalo would be so I went for half buffalo and half BBQ. I should have just had buffalo though, they were SO good and not spicy at all. I didn’t have any sides as I knew I’d literally have a lot on my plate. Kyle had a beasty burger and epic fries with bacon, cheese and chicken bits on.I managed 19 wings before throwing the towel in. I didn’t want to push myself to discomfort – I had nothing to prove this time 😉 I eat for enjoyment after all. They were very tasty though and I ate all the buffalo ones. We were far too full for pudding, and we also had our sweet treats back at home. I can definitely see her going back here a few times!

The next day I left my run until the afternoon so I could enjoy a lovely lie-in and chilled morning. It was such a nice change not to go running straight away when I woke up. I rarely ever have such lazy Sunday morning. And actually it worked perfectly because it was pouring it down with cold rain and howling a gale outside. It was a welcome relief to not go out first thing.When I did finally get out it was blue skies and only a little breezy. I had some grand ambitions of doing 15 miles but after running 10 miles on Thursday evening and being a week from the marathon I sensibly decided 12 would be quite enough. I know for me this high mileage so soon is a bit reckless so I need to be careful. Injuries are easily come by for me.Annoyingly my headphones ran out of battery four miles in but it was actually quite nice to have a “silent” run. I just relaxed and let my mind wander. Though I could definitely feel my legs getting tired towards the end. I was glad to stop. It was not one of those “I can run forever runs”! But a solid run nonetheless.

Do you ever do a long run without music or a podcast?

Do you enjoy food festivals? They’re one of my favourite things.

What brownie flavour would you go for?

Queen Elizabeth parkrun and cold running

Yet another spot of parkrun tourism this weekend… Saturday morning saw me heading out to Queen Elizabeth parkrun. It’s about a 30 minute drive away (quite substantial round these parts due to the plethora of parkruns available along the South Coast) so I was up and out by 8am.The weather, as I was expecting, was pretty rubbish. It was raining and dark. But this barcode won’t scan by itself so off I toddled in my car to the very beautiful Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Amazingly I didn’t get lost and remembered money to take with me (though the car park ticket machine does accept card as payment as well). I think these tourisms are helping evolve me into a more rounded and able human being… getting from one place to another without issue. These are my goals in life really.Anyway, I parked up and met up with my friend Joe (the lovely guy I ran Bournemouth Marathon with a good few weeks ago who was also celebrating his 200th parkrun) and his friend Matt. Happily another running friend, Karila, (whom I’d met on the Austria Run Camp earlier in the year) was also going to be there so there were friendly faces all round.Queen Elizabeth parkrun is known to be quite a tricky one. There’s a lot of undulations and it’s on compacted trail so it’s not easy underfoot. I wasn’t expecting to do any great time, and now with the weather being utterly pants I was just happy to finish. I’ve run round QECP a few times. One of those was fairly recently when I went out on my first ever Wiggle Run Out in October – a very sociable and fantastic run, but yes very hilly!We decided to do a mini-warm-up (and I do mean mini) because we were just stood in the rain getting colder and colder. At 8.55am the running brief happened (God bless those kind-hearted volunteers – not a particularly great day for them I imagine!). Then we headed up the hill to the start-line. There weren’t many people at all, but there were a lot of dogs who were getting very excited. You could barely hear for the dog’s barking! And then one little dog managed to escape off from his owner before they could put a lead on him and we all watched as the dog ran between our legs, dashing all over the place, away from his owner. It just needed some Benny Hill music really. Eventually the little guy was caught and we could get outside ready to begin.The good thing about this parkrun is that the first 100m really does separate the group out. It’s a tough uphill beginning and within 30 seconds my legs were like “oh hey this isn’t fun!”. But it was fantastic at getting you warm quickly! And for that I was grateful. Kindly Joe had also let me borrow his gloves as I knew my hands would struggle to get warm (though the rest of me was fine, even in shorts and a t-shirt – albeit soaked through).

After the first brutal uphill we were then flying downhill. This was rather precarious. It was so slippy – grass, mud and, the worst bit, clay. Wet clay is like glass, you just cannot get a grip on it even with trail shoes (of which I was of course wearing!). But I let myself go a bit and flew downhill. I managed to catch up to Matt, who’s usually faster than me, as he was taking things a bit more sensibly due to the fact that he wasn’t wearing trail shoes and had taken his glasses off due to the rain. But I grabbed those weaknesses and took no prisoners 😉

QE parkrun is two laps: one smaller one and then one bigger one. As we finished the first one (I dared not even look at my watch as I was so concerned with where my feet were going) we then headed back up the hill we started on (such a grind) for the second loop. It was tough going and Matt overtook me, being the stronger runner (by the way Joe was far ahead). After what seemed to be forever we then reached the top and there was another crazy downhill. In effort to get past Matt I let myself go once again and got past him. Every downhill I went for it to gain some distance from him (I’m pretty sure he was entirely unaware that I was racing him…).

While trying to be speedy I was also trying not to fall over or get injured. I have ONE week until the Gosport Half Marathon and I am desperate to do it. Not because I want a good time or anything like that but because this is the fifth time I’ve entered and I’ve never run it due to injury! It would be rather fitting to get injured one week before…but no I remained on my feet and clocked a speedy last mile before grinding the final incline to the finish… ahead of Matt! (I will stress though, I was racing him and he was taking the downhills sensibly so really the victory is entirely fake).My time was 23:05 (with a 6.30min/mile for the last mile due to the insane downhills!). I was happy with that. I managed to get 12th place overall (third female) which is one of my top positions I think. There were only around 60 people. Apparently they usually get around 70, and it peaks to 100 in the summer. So a very quiet one. And what’s nice is that the start, because it’s so uphill, does separate everyone out nicely.

We were all rather muddy after the run so we did a fun photo of the backs of our legs (and bums!). It was quite an awkward photo as I had to ask someone, who I didn’t know, to take the photo. I said it was going to be of the backs of us to show our muddiness and he laughed. Runners are a little crazy I guess!We’d all had a fun run – Joe came third in the end!We decided to head to the cafe and wait for Karila there as it was still tipping it down and we were getting cold. Bless Karila, she managed to fall over on one of the downhills but she was OK and enjoyed herself. In the cafe I clocked the cakes but ultimately decided to have a Full English Breakfast instead as I was a) hungry and b) really cold. Warm food would serve me far better! And you got a free hot drink with it – for £5.95! When Karila arrived we all ordered the same and then tucked in to a delicious big plate of goodness (OK “goodness” is probably a lie).Annoyingly though as Karila had been one person behind us in the queue her breakfast took AGES to come. Like literally 20 minutes after ours. It was a bit ridiculous. But it was nice to all chat about running, parkrun challenges (Karila and I are both doing the alphabet challenge and had both just gotten our ‘Q’).Karila is wearing the new Marathon Talk buff made by our lovely and very talented friend, Sarah – love the design! I also met the famous Wonky Bear who travels all over the UK doing different parkruns. He’s made from the old sponsor high-vis kit, which is such a cool idea!And then we said our goodbyes and I headed home to have the longest, hottest shower known to man. Ahh so good.

That evening I went and saw Thor Ragnarok with a rather large bag of pick ‘n’ mix sweets. I do love eating ridiculous amounts of sweets sometimes. I know there are people in the world who aren’t nearly as greedy as me that are content to eat a few sweets and then save them for later. Well, I’m just not that person. I’m an “all or nothing” kinda girl and those sweets didn’t stand a chance.The film was really good. Really funny. I’m not a die-hard Marvel fan if I’m honest, or superhero film person in general, but I do like the Thor films (as well Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men series). I really like how lighthearted the film was and that the final third, which is usually the “smashy crashy” section of action-films, was still just as good as the other bits.

Sunday morning I had a lovely lie-in (until just after 8am) and then I met with my friend Mike for a long run. Mike isn’t training for anything in particular (and the jammy sod is off to South Africa in a few weeks on holiday!) so was content to run “just” 10 miles, whereas I was looking more for 15. But running the 10 miles with him was far more preferable than running the entire 15 miles on my own. It was a cold run, with cold wind blowing at us and I was glad to have remembered my gloves. Especially as I tripped over during the run and as I landed I put my hands out in front of me and they scraped along the tarmac. I would have lost of a layer of skin had I not been wearing my gloves! Luckily I only grazed my knee slightly and bumped my elbow so there was no real damage (THANK GOD). I don’t usually fall over on runs (surprisingly considering how clumsy I usually am in life) so this was quite a shock.15 milesAfter the 10 miles Mike headed back to his car whereas I put my headphones on and headed for another 5 miles. I listened to a podcast and just zoned out. Thankfully it didn’t feel like a slog and I found the miles flew by quickly. I got back to my car and just as I got inside it started pelting it down with rain. So lucky! I was only wearing a t-shirt and shorts and I’m sure I would have been really cold if I’d have gotten wet.The rest of Sunday was an easy-day of doing chores, walking Alfie and visiting Westlands Farm Shop with my dad. My dad and me love cooking and all things food so it was a fun thing to do in the afternoon. I love buying meat from places where you know the animals are treated well and it’s sustainable. Yes it’s more expensive but considering this is what you’re putting into your body it’s worth it!I got myself some beef meatballs that were “infused” with lemon and garlic, rolled in paprika and stuff with cheddar. I mean, yum! I also got some black pudding, which is literally one of my favourite things (and I was sad that my fry-up the day before didn’t come with any).

And so that was my weekend. Marathon training is looking good so far – touch wood!

Have you ever done Queen Elizabeth parkrun?

What does your ideal fry-up contain?

Are you layering up for winter yet?