Marwell Zoo 10k race recap

Hello! How was your weekend? Mine went crazily slow (Saturday) and then crazily fast (Sunday). We survived our 10k Marwell Zoo race, hurray!

Saturday Ben and me did an easy ‘shake-out’ run in the morning to loosen us up ready for the race the next day. I know some people like to leave a couple of days before a race and not run at all but I’m in the boat of tapering down during the week but always doing a really easy 2-3mile run the day before. Maybe it’s psychological, but I find it helps.

Then we pretty much did nothing but get all the chores done, walk Alfie on a lovely sunny walk (an hour later it tipped it down) and watched Grey’s Anatomy (series 8). On a side not, we finished House of Cards. So. Good. Watch it immediately.

For lunch Ben and I don’t usually have the same thing at the weekend (though for dinner we do). This is because Ben loves having either a corned beef sandwich or an egg mayo sandwich. Neither of which I like. I mean seriously, why ruin perfectly good egg with mayo?? Winking smile He’s stopped eating corned beef though after the horse meat scandal. Gross.

I was umming and arr-ing and really didn’t know what I fancied. I knew we had mozzarella that needed using up and as I’m currently addicted to BBQ sauce I thought I’d just have BBQ chicken with mozzarella all mixed together.


Excellent random meal if I do say so myself! Really simple: chopped chicken breast, random veg (zucchini, mushrooms, onion), BBQ sauce (any would work but I love Heinz) and then a whole ball of low-fat mozzarella chopped into chunks. Fry the onion, then add the veg, then the chicken and some spices (I used a random chicken mix), big squirt in the BBQ sauce and then add the mozzarella.

For dinner I had my favourite (and now standard pre-race night tradition) make-your-own pizza (chicken, veg, no cheese).


And then we had an early night, bless our old-married-couple cotton socks.

In the morning we woke up naturally bright and early before our alarms (which felt really nice actually) and took Alfie on a quick walk and then proceeded to spend the morning being nervous.

Does anyone else get stupidly nervous before a race? I just had butterflies in my stomach the whole morning (which was longer than planned as we had woken up earlier than expected – we had time to ruminate haha). We had breakfast and then Ben’s mum and my parent’s arrived and off we went in convoy to get there. It wasn’t far away at all so we were there in no time.


The race starts in the zoo and we had free entry because we were running but the parents would have had to pay to see us start (which was quite expensive per person). Bit cheeky really but I hey ho. So they waited outside with other spectators to wait until we ran out of the zoo (only the first mile was actually in the zoo).


It was quite busy and we were both still very nervous. After being delayed for 20 mins, we finally said goodbye and stood by our respective pace markers. We weren’t going to run together as we have different paces, but both of us had a time in mind to finish.

I saw someone I knew at the start which was quite nice so chatted away to them before beginning. I was a bit worried as we weren’t allowed to wear headphones as the roads wouldn’t be closed. I don’t usually run with nothing.

And then we were off! The first mile was uphill and through the zoo, which was quite fun as we got to see some animals. Though I only actually remember seeing ostriches (and then that Family Guy quote came into my head “why are there so many ostriches??” and made me laugh).

The first mile was TOUGH. I had a game plan of each mile pace I wanted to stick to to get my time. I stupidly went faster than I should. My first mile should have been 7.30mins but I did it in just under 7mins. Whoops.


Coming out of the zoo seeing my parents and Ben’s mum, blissfully unaware of the pain to come

And by mile 2 we were still hitting the hills. I couldn’t believe how tough I was finding it. So I brought my pace back down (who am I kidding, the hills brought it down!)

Mile 3 to 4 are a blur of pain and mental determination. I had heard the course was “undulating” but seriously it was killing me. I remember thinking how much I enjoyed the Reading Half-Marathon and was able to zone out. There was zero enjoyment in this run. ZERO zoning out. It was pure psychological concentration and determination to Just. Keep. Running.

The sun was shining and I was hot. I even grabbed water from the water stations TWICE which I never do. Though I only really manage to throw it over myself. How the hell do you run and drink from a plastic cup?? Mile 4 also welcomed the beginnings of a stitch which followed me to the end.

Mile 5 I remember there being less hills. More down hills. Thank God.

I also saw my parents and mother-in-law again and they cheered me on. This was much needed at this point.


They were able to take a photo

And then we were back in the zoo for the last dregs and finished!

Overall, yes it was hugely tough. I remember looking at my watch quite a bit and wishing the miles away. I remember not looking up at hills and looking at the ground because I knew it would knock my confidence if I saw for how long the incline went.

However, I also remember the exhilaration of finishing. I remember being cheered on by random spectators and my running club members. I remember being amazed at how I could maintain my pace despite the hills.


My official time was 43mins 34secs. 9th female, 64th overall out of 917. I’m very pleased Smile I was aiming for 45mins and wasn’t even certain I’d get that with the hills. Here are my Garmin times:


Ben’s time was 57mins 15secs. A full 8 minutes faster than he had planned!! I was over the moon for him and he was very chuffed.

And do you know what topped off the race finish? They were giving out apples with the goodie bags. Seriously. They knew I was coming Winking smile

So what comes after running? Food! Obviously Open-mouthed smile Well actually, a quick hop back home to shower and then FOOD. Again in convoy with the parents.



Good food with the husband and parents. You just can’t beat it.

And Ben made it 8 weeks without drinking!! So he had his celebratory pint with the meal. He thoroughly enjoyed it obviously hehe.


I’m so proud of him!

For the first course…This is getting seriously predictable. But Ben and I shared a mezze board to start. I know, I know.


I just love them.

And for mains I went for BBQ chicken (oh God, I really am becoming a boring broken record) with avocado and bacon salad.


Heavenly. Ben got the same and asked me what the ‘green things’ were. That’s avocado, Ben…*sighs* I love him regardless though Winking smile

Then we parted ways with the parents, got home and collapsed on the sofa. That’s where we pretty much stayed.

All in all, a perfect weekend I’d say!

I definitely think that 10k races are pushing my boundaries of what I prefer to run. I enjoyed running the half marathon far more than the 10k. I’m definitely more of a distance runner and 10k is just on that cusp I think. Saying that, I should be doing a 5k Parkrun this Saturday!! I just know it’s going to be painful…

What did you get up to this weekend?

What’s your perfect post-race meal?

What’s your favourite running distance? I think mine is a half-marathon (though 10 miles is my favourite running distance, but I’ve yet to run a 10mile race)

Hills – are they the bane of your running/cycling life? I hate hills. I hate wind as well. Wind and hills = Anna goes home.

Coffee mugs, egos and interesting books

I do believe I’m getting a bit of a reputation at work…We’ve had a few new starters and they clearly have not been on-boarded with regards to the usage of my mug.


I’ve spotted a couple of them using my mug (on separate days) but decided not to mention anything. But they are quickly informed of their error by the other members of staff when they see them using it. Apparently I seem to strike fear in my co-workers. Can’t be a good thing…or can it? Winking smile

Speaking of work, on Thursday night after work we had a little light-hearted fitness competition of running 100m. In the end it was four of us competing for the title. Three men (all either in or close to their fifties) and me.

Now, I love running (did you notice??). I pretty much thought I had this in the bag. These men weren’t terrible unfit, far from it for example, one of them does triathlons and one is a regular runner. But still, I’m practically half their ages, in the prime of my fitness and youth. I’ve got this.

I really didn’t.

I came last. Not even close to third. Within 10 seconds of the race (after Usain Bolt would have finished…) I realised I had lost. They were long gone. Yep, I was pretty embarrassed. Needless to say, the one who does neither triathlons nor regular running won. Jeeze.

Well, what can I say! I’m an endurance runner not a sprinter. Let’s leave it there shall we?

So I thought I’d do a review of a book I just finished called Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.


I was hooked from the moment I started reading. It was so interesting and definitely enlightened me to ‘the stuff behind the scenes’ that we, as consumers, might not be aware of.

Why read it?

  • There was loads of information from interviews with food industry ‘insiders’/experts/scientists/etc. giving first-hand accounts of what actually goes on in places like Kellogg’s, General Mills etc. and some of the techniques they use to get us to buy and ultimately eat their food, which I found fascinating.
  • It makes you realise just how much influence these big businesses have over the government and nutritional advice. Scarily so.
  • It explains why salt, fat and sugar are used within processed food and what happens when they’re taken out.


  • I disliked how pretty much the whole way through it was emphasised how the food industry was pushing all this nutritionally defunct food to the consumer and that the consumer was purely the victim. It gave the impression that the food industry is making us obese through no fault of our own, which I disagree with. It’s all about choice. As consumers we are as much, certainly if not more, responsible for what we eat than the food industry. If we stopped buying the food the industry keeps churning out than they’d have to find a new way to make money, i.e. make nutritionally sound food.
  • Fat is demonised. In general, I disagree. Saturated fat is making a come-back and doesn’t seem to be as terrible as once assumed (check out THIS article). It seems the real bad guys are the hydrogenated oils, but within the book fat is mainly just scooped up under the saturated fat heading which I don’t think is justified.
  • You can get a bit lost in all the anecdotes and he sometimes strays from his points.

I’d definitely recommend it if you like this sort of stuff. I’m a big fan of these sort of things but you can get a bit bogged down with one side of the picture.

Anyway, it’s Friday – hurrah! This weekend is the Marwell Zoo 10k run (on Sunday) which both Ben and I are running so we’re quite excited. Ben’s mum and my parents are going to cheer us on and then we’re off for lunch somewhere nice. And Ben will finally be able to have a glass of wine after his 8 weeks of not drinking. He’s developed a nervous twitch Winking smile

And I get to wear my running club vest to this race, which is quite exciting!


I am proud to be a Hedgie! Smile

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

What have you got planned for this weekend?

What’s your next race (or sporting event)?

What good books have you read recently? I’m a huge fan of reading and don’t have any particular genres that I stick to so I’m always open for recommendations!

Reading Half-Marathon

**I warn you now this might be a bit of a lengthy post**

I survived my first half marathon! It was brilliant Smile Here’s my recap. I’ve tried not to ramble on too much… 

So on Friday I had my last physio appointment. This was really good as she gave my leg muscles a good (albeit painful) massage and also used ultra-sound on my Achilles which was just brilliant. Definitely worth the money I think! And a perfect way to prepare for Sunday.

Saturday I had a busy day of trying to get all the housework done and sorting bits and pieces out as we knew we wouldn’t have Sunday because of the race. I also did a very relaxed and easy 2 mile run to just shake myself out. It was horrific though as it was so wet and windy. This was a bit worrying as I didn’t mind any weather as long as it wasn’t windy. And Saturday was like gail-force winds.

Saturday night Ben and I had a ‘make-your-own’ pizza from Sainsbury’s. I had a thin and crispy vegetable feast without cheese…with added chicken (I’m not a big fan of melted cheese). When the guy behind the counter had made it he said to me “you might need to cook it for a bit longer than the directions say as there are so many toppings”. Haha I should have been embarrassed but I wasn’t.


Before I cooked it I put some BBQ sauce over it. Let me tell you, this was AMAZING. Perfect carb-loading dinner.

I had an early night and surprisingly fell asleep very quickly.

Sunday morning we woke up early (6.30am…on a Sunday), I walked Alfie, had breakfast (my regular oatmeal – what else?) and a black coffee. Ben’s mum and my mum arrived to drive with us and we were on our way. [Unfortunately my dad couldn’t make it as he’d been called into work – this was quite sad as, apart from Ben, he’s one of my biggest supporters]

Because I was so worried I’d lose my head and run like an idiot for the first half of the race and thereby kill myself for the second I wrote down the times I wanted to hit for each mile on my hand to try and focus myself.


This way I could keep looking at what pace I should be aiming for. Basically I aimed at increasing the speed as the race went along, leaving myself a bit of energy for a speedy finish.

We got to Reading and hung about in the race village for a fair amount of time. At this point the rain hadn’t quite kicked in but it was cold.


Then it started really raining. Possibly the worst part of the day was taking off my big coat and handing it to Ben so I could then go and stand in the racing pen to wait for it to begin. I was FREEZING. We all had to stand and wait for around 15 mins before the race began in the tipping rain. Everyone was jumping around like lunatics trying to keep warm.

And then we were off!

It was such an effort to keep my pace at 8.20 for the first mile because the majority of people were starting quite fast so it felt very unnatural to hold myself back. My inner competitiveness was screaming at me. But I didn’t want to start too quickly and poop myself out right at the beginning.

I saw Ben and the mums during the first mile so it was nice to wave to them at the beginning. Miles 1-4 zoomed by. They felt very easy and relaxed. It was just so nice to be running with so many people.


I had my music in and it was great to just look around and watch other people and see the spectators cheering us on. So many people watched us run, it was really lovely. Especially considering the weather! I kept having to check my pace though as I felt myself wanting to zoom off.

At mile 5 I increased my pace as planned. I still felt very good and was quite happy with how things were going.


Saw some interesting costumes!

The course was relatively flat, except for about three hills that were quite substantial. But they were fine, I just found a rhythm, looked down and ploughed on. If I look up when running hills then I lose my motivation because I think “Jeeze am I not there yet?”

There were loads of water stations about which was a bit of a minefield, especially when they were like bags of water that squirted all over the place. I didn’t go for any water but I almost got hit by jets of water several times haha. As if I wasn’t wet enough!

I can’t remember what mile it was (maybe 6?) but we went under a bridge and there were drums playing by a band which was brilliant. Really livened things up and kept us motivated. It was nice as well because people shouted my name as I had it on my vest. At first it felt weird because I was like “I don’t know you!” but it was a great motivator. And little kids wanting high fives – that was cool!

Mile 7 went really quickly because this was where Ben and the mums were aiming to be to wave and hand me a drink (I’d made my own drink from half water, half pure orange juice and a little bit of salt). So I spent a lot of time looking out for them which passed the time. I finally saw them and gave Ben my gloves, he gave me the drink and then we had a quick smooch (ahh the romance) and I ran off.

I thought I’d struggle around 8-9 as it’s a bit of a funny mileage as you’ve ran quite far but you’re still quite far away. But I was fine. I felt very comfortable and happy. Though it started raining again which wasn’t amazing.

Because of how the course twisted, Ben and the mums could get to mile 10 before I did so they hurried there to wave again and Ben got a photo of me.


Yep that’s a manic smile I’m wearing there.

And then from mile 10 I was ready to kick a bit more into a faster pace. When I got to mile 12 that’s when I had to dig a bit deeper to keep going. When I saw the sign for ‘400m to go’ I let rip a bit more and it got painful. We got into the Madejski stadium and BAM it finished. It was over. I couldn’t believe it.


The feelings of absolutely happiness were so overwhelming. I felt like I could fly. I saw someone from work who was also running it and I went over to him to chat and I was just bursting with joy. I just needed someone to talk to and bounce good vibes off of.

And how did I do in terms of timing? My official chip time was 1 hour 41 minutes and 19 seconds. And my Garmin breakdown:


Almost a perfect negative split! I’m so proud of myself for being sensible. Honestly, I don’t know what it was…the crowds, the other runners, the vibes, the adrenaline…but the race just felt good. I only struggled on the last mile – and even that just required a bit more focus and mental motivation. I am so pleased.

On a random point, the funniest thing was seeing the steam rise of the runners at the end. Lovely Winking smile

I eventually found Ben, my mum and Ben’s mum (at this point I was once again FREEZING).

IMG_3931 They were cold and wet as well – I felt so bad that they had to stand in the rain for me, but very grateful for their support. We headed back to the car and then had to wait about 50 mins for the car park to open to let us (and seventy five million other cars) out. We blasted the car with heat and we eventually got a bit warmer and dryer. I managed to get out of my clothes and into my spare dry clothes inside the car without revealing myself to the world or my family (a lot of help from Ben holding up his jumper haha).

Then the cars started moving. This was stressful. There was just no order, cars were everywhere.


They look like parked cars in the photo, but they’re actually creating their own queues. It’s just not British!!! Queue jumping is not socially acceptable, people!!

Anyway, we FINALLY got out and headed for lunch. By the time we arrived it was 2.30 (I finished the race at 11.45). I was ready to eat my arm at this point.

We got parked and got out of the car. My legs were so painful and achy I almost fell over! But we got to Jamie’s Italian and got a table (despite being so late for our reserved time!)

Straight away we ordered hot drinks. You know when you’re warm but you’re not really warm inside? That’s how we felt, if that makes sense. I ordered a peppermint tea which I can tell you tasted pretty darn good at this point.


Can you guess what I had for main? Turkey Milanese, which I’ve now had four times…embarrassing really but nothing sounded better.


I ordered a quinoa and bulgur wheat salad on the side as well.


The turkey went down very well but I couldn’t make a dent on the side; it was HUGE. You know when you go from being really hungry to being very full in a short period of time? Well it didn’t make me feel amazing, but I got it packed up to take home with me.


This smile pretty much never left my face.

Then we walked (I hobbled) back to the car and went home. After having the best shower in the world, there seemed only one outfit appropriate to wear at this point:


A onesie with my medal. Obviously Winking smile

And needless to say my legs are fairly painful today. I almost fell over getting up this morning.

In a nutshell: I loved the half marathon and I’m definitely doing another.

Have you done a half marathon before?

What’s your favourite race distance?

Are you a proud owner of a onesie?