The highs and lows

Christmas is close upon us, as is the delightfully aesthetic new year, 2020.

So I decided to do a little look back at the year – a review if you will. I want to keep it mostly positive because lord knows we need some positivity around here what with the election, Brexit and my own personal knee strife. But I’ll start with running, which will inevitably tumble down into a bit of negativity but then I’ll move on quickly to more happy affairs.

For running, 2019 has been a tale of two stories for me. The first half of the year I felt like my running was going really well. I ran a really strong Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of 2018, then headed into 2019 and hit Barcelona Marathon (3:31:45) and Manchester Marathon (3:23:04) fairly close together with similar good results.

Good results for me basically means feeling strong in my running and finishing happy. I did both of those things for both of those marathons. Barcelona was quite hot and Manchester was quite boring, but asides from that they went really well.

I also managed to score a new PB for my 10k at the Manchester 10k (41:40). Considering I detest 10ks this hadn’t been a particular focus of mine but a happy outcome of some consistent strong running.

Then came the Hamstring Saga which stretched on far too long but eventually I was able to overcome this issue with a lot of rehab, support and whining. So much whining. I saw the end in sight as I hurtled towards the Chicago Marathon. The week before saw my knee blow up and I ran cautiously through the marathon (thank goodness painlessly) and here I stand over nine weeks later and my knee is still not right.

Regardless of the second half of the year stuttering to a rather sad running-less end, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Three marathons – two very strong ones and one “victory lap” marathon. I got my Six Star Finisher medal. Of course I’m proud of that and happy I achieved it this year when so many times throughout the year the threat of my hamstring (and then knee) made me doubt myself.

But running aside… There have been so many good things this year.

Favourite food: Ah jeeze this year was bloody amazing for the food I ate. So many new restaurants tried and I even managed to go out of my usual habit of ordering chicken wings all the time (shock).

The top contenders are the incredible Jayne Salad from The Parade Tearooms as this speaks to my soul in a big way – I love salads but I HATE tiny portions. This is the perfect salad for me and my greedy personality.

The meal we had after I finished the Chicago Marathon was incredible. I mean, everything tastes incredible post marathon but this was really tasty. It had everything I craved: wings, rib bites and loaded nachos. Heavenly.

A recent addition was the meal we had in Brighton at MEATLiquor. The wings of course were awesome but it was the hot dog that I keep thinking about. It was amazing and opened my mind to ordering something different. I wasn’t sure if I liked it but not I just want to eat hot dogs all the time.

And top of the list must be the INCREDIBLE roast dinner we had in Bristol at Pasture. It was INSANELY good.

The meat, the vegetables, the gigantic Yorkshire pudding and of course the oh so tasty side dish of creamed leaks. It rocked my world and back.

Favourite books: I’ve read a number of books this year and a few highlights have been Ready Player One which I read in like two and a half days, I just loved it. It was so gripping! Way better than the film.

I also loved Big Little Lies – how I’d managed to avoid all spoilers is incredible because that twist at the end was really enjoyable! My favourite book though was the Cows by Dawn O’Porter.

I loved the feminist issues it brought up and it really made me think. As a side note, I’m currently reading Crazy Rich Asians and I’m loving how batshit it is.

Favourite films: Well Kyle and I have seen 40 films (so far) this year. Next week we’ll be adding probably four more before the end of the year. With our Unlimited Cards it has been AMAZING.

My favourite was Knives Out, followed closely by Green Book, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Long Shot, Beautiful Boy (that film destroyed me) and Us. On my dud list was Hellboy (horrifically awful), Detective Pikachu (I fell asleep) and Alita: Battle Angels (too much uncanny valley).

We also worked out we’ve spent about £180 on Subways (we always get a footlong to take with us to eat in the adverts) – that’s 480 inches of subway. The mind boggles.

Favourite song: I’m still as obsessed with Billie Eillish as ever. I’ve been listening to her music for years and was a fan before she sort of exploded this year. I’m so happy she’s so successful of course but part of me is a little bitter that now I have to share her 😉 She’s so talented (with her brother of course) and her voice is INCREDIBLE. Yes she’s a bit weird and quirky, but I love it.

So 2019 was a pretty solid year. I have made so many amazing memories, with both friends, family and of course Kyle. I’m a happy Anna right now, despite my sad knee.

What’s been your favourite movie of the year?

What food have you really loved this year?

What’s been your favourite race?

How’s my running going

My blogging has definitely become less frequent than it used to, and I’m fine with that. Life is happening and life is good.

(I’m quite active, for my shame, on Instagram @AnnaTheAppleBlog and Twitter @AnnaTheApple88, if you’re interested in more regular updates!)

That said, I do feel the urge to do a post on my running. It’s been a little mental. I don’t feel like I’ve stopped marathon training since last summer. I did Goodwood in September, New York in November, Portsmouth Coastal in December, Barcelona in March and then Manchester in April.

The Goodwood Marathon

Don’t get me wrong, I love marathons and I feel SO thankful that I’ve been able to run so many with barely any injury issues. However, I do feel like it’s probably right to have a bit of a break from the super long stuff.

I’ve got the Southampton Half Marathon in a couple of weeks which will be a nice change. And I think I’ll maybe push the pace a little. This scares me greatly. I much prefer to be using a half marathon as a long run for a marathon build-up – maybe add a few extra miles onto it and plod it out. But racing it? This gives me a lot of anxiety. But that said, I do need to push myself occasionally. Now is the time.

And on the subject of pushing myself: speedwork. Yes I need to get back into it. It’s no surprise to anyone that I quit Southampton Athletics because it really wasn’t for me. They’re lovely people and it was a fantastic experience to train properly on the track but realistic the effort to get there and the focus on shorter distances wasn’t for me.

However, I AM going to try and do speedwork moire frequently, either on my own or with Hedge End Running Club (my first claim club and a club I thoroughly love being a member of). In fact, I did my first (solo) speed session for a few months on Tuesday.

I did a mile warm-up followed by 10 x 1 minute sprints, with 1 minute rest (light jogging) in between. My pace for the sprints was between 5:38-6 min/miles, which I’m quite happy with. I do have a way to go though as last year I was running a lot faster for these sorts of intervals. But it’s a marker in the sand.

It was tough and I had that horrible burning lungs, can’t breathe kind of feelings. The ones I never get during a marathon… but I felt so alive at the end and so accomplished.

I’m quite excited actually to be focusing on things like this. It’s a change for me (though just while I have some “down time” from marathon training). I still have a (trail) marathon booked for July and Chicago in October (I AM SO EXCITED) of course, but for now this is a nice change up.

If I don’t get any PB’s as a result, that’s OK too. I’m not really in this for that. It doesn’t help that I’m really happy with my current PB’s and the desire to beat them doesn’t feel worth the changes I’d have to make. I’m very much, enjoy life first and work hard second.

For me to get to smashing PB’s I’d have to change the way I run. Running would become Serious Business. Whereas I just love going out for a run and seeing what happens, seeing how I feel, rather than being dictated by my watch or a training guide. That’s not for me.

Running is very important to me but it’s not everything. My self-worth does not depend on my running. My happiness does not depend on the outcome of my running. Running makes me happy, of course, and it’s so good for my mental and physical health, but PB’s do not define me, PB’s do not show how good my running is. But that’s just me 😉

So a bit more speed to be added, no marathons for a few months… but still the usual waffle!

Do you enjoy speed training?

What is your favourite thing about running?

What’s your next race?

Don’t be a d***head

I’m feeling very behind with my blogging. So let’s catch up.

I got back from Barcelona last week (I’m mid-writing my recap of that) late Tuesday night. I woke up after a solid night’s sleep and then went out for a run Wednesday morning. The run felt fine in terms of my legs. Whew! Nothing broken or injured post marathon, always a good sign.

However not long after I suddenly went downhill. I wasn’t well. I suppose this makes a lot of sense considering I’d just run a marathon and then had a couple of days of non-stop sight-seeing and walking (over 30,000 steps per day!). Then getting on a plane… yeah my body wasn’t having any of it.

I took Thursday and Friday off of work. It was genuinely the case that getting out of bed was an effort. I had to have little to-do lists like have a shower, make breakfast… everything was so hard. And I spent pretty much my entire time on the sofa falling down a black hole of YouTube watching mindless make-up vlogging (I don’t even wear make-up but find these so fascinating and quite cathartic to watch) or napping.

I was actually really gutted to not be going into work Friday as we had one of our Wiggle Run Outs and this time it was going to have SIS visiting – so lots of freebies and cool info. Charlotte Purdue was supposed to be joining the run as well. I was genuinely so sad to miss running with such a running legend and inspiration. However, it turned out in the end that because she’d won the Big Half the weekend before she had to go and do an interview elsewhere so she couldn’t come in. I was somewhat mollified by this!

And now my rant shall beginth.

I had lots in my plan that I was going to get done. I had gym visits, runs and I was RARING to go to get back into my training ready for the Manchester Marathon – at the time about three weeks or so away. Did I feel a bit rubbish not being able to get out because I was ill? Of course I did. Mentally I wanted to get back out there. Did I feel guilty sitting on the sofa all day doing less than 5,000 steps a day? A little bit as it’s not my default.

I spent a lot of time hanging out with this guy

But I knew this was exactly what my body needed. It was tired. I felt exhausted. I felt unwell. Did I miss meals or modify what I was eating to account for the fact that my movement was pretty much zero? Nope. Nutrition (CALORIES) is even more important at times like this. Did I worry I was suddenly going to lose all my fitness, put on a stone and become a blob? Not at all. Don’t be daft. Even if I had to take a month off – yes I would absolutely be getting itchy feet and narked off but if that’s what your body needs, YOU HAVE TO DO IT.

A roast dinner with all the trimmings and pudding to help me get better

Don’t go and test the waters despite STILL FEELING ILL. Go out for a run when you know you’re 100% better, rather than using biometric feedback from your watch (your easy pace isn’t feeling easy, your HR is all over the place). I’m sorry no. You know when you’re not well. We don’t need gadgets to justify us getting outside – look, look, I’m well my data tells me so! No. HOW DO YOU FEEL?

There should be no guilt or worry associated with missing training because you’re not well. Looking after yourself and self-care should be your main priority. What kind of training are you really going to achieve with pushing your body to do things when all it wants is to get better?

very much the sloth existence while being looked after

I’m just glad that I waited until I felt better before I tried running again. I’m back to health, my running is fine, I have no carry on effects. I got over my illness quickly because I prioritised my health not my fitness.

Onto something a bit more cool. I was recently sent some socks from MP Magic Socks.

They began as a crowdfunding venture and due to really positive feedback they took off (even mentioned in places like USA Today, The Times, Mashable, Mirror, etc.

I love that they have the “left” and “right” labels too

They’re unique in that they’re made from fabric that uses three metals: silver, copper and zinc, which gives greater antibacterial protection than any single metal alone. Smelly socks obviously are no one’s cup of tea so these are super handy.

For someone who does a fair bit of travelling I’m a BIG fan. ESPECIALLY on planes. I hate wearing shoes when I’m on a flight but there’s always the fear that you take your shoes off and your feet aren’t smelling of roses. I actually wore these on the way back from Barcelona on the flight. They’re super soft and my feet smelt absolutely fine – despite it being quite toasty in the airport and plane. Hurrah!

Do you cope well with being ill?

How do you get better when you’re ill?

Do you take your shoes off on planes?

**Full Disclosure: I was sent the socks free in return for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own.**


I am 30 and I live at home with my parents

This was the title of a BBC News article online. But this is also my life. Is this so shocking? I guess if you’d have asked me this 10 years ago I might have been concerned, shocked and disappointed with my life. Jesus, 30 years old, AN ADULT, living at home WITH MY OWN PARENTS.

Someone at work leaned over to me and pointed to this news title and went “ooof imagine that”. But I replied, “well that’s me and I don’t actually see the problem”. I was quite happy to say I wasn’t bothered and that I’m enjoying life. I’m very happy right now. It was a big decision that I made over a year ago, but one I’m 100% content with and have no regrets about.

I first moved out about a year after I finished university. I moved out with my fiancé. We bought a house, we got married and we lived there for about 2 years. The marriage didn’t last and we separated, amicably. We sold the house and split the finances 50/50 and went our merry different ways. I bought a flat and lived there for about a year. At the time I was working in a job I really wasn’t enjoying. I found another job that paid significantly less. We’re talking a 13k pay cut, yes really.

I was very well paid in my previous job but the money wasn’t enough to make me happy. Though I could continue to afford to live in my flat on my own I would be limited to what I could do. I wouldn’t really be able to go on holiday and I would have to monitor my money VERY carefully. Quite the change in lifestyle.

My parents very kindly offered to have me move back home and I could then rent my flat out. This meant I could continue to pay my mortgage but also buffer up my salary so this difference in money wouldn’t be that great. So I moved back home.

I am in a very fortunate position in that I get on extremely well with my parents. We can easily hang out together and have long chats about just about anything. We go to the cinema together, for food together, go walking, go shopping. I enjoy spending time with them. I get their opinions and advice on big and small things. But they ask for my opinion and advice too. I genuinely love spending time with them. Even after I moved out I would speak to them daily and see them most weekends. I never wanted to move too far away from them.

I won’t lie. There was an initial time that I felt like I’d failed at my life. I was embarrassed when I told people what I’d done. I was embarrassed when people asked me if I’d be seeing my parents for Christmas and having to explain, well yes, like every single day. But I got over it when I realised, firstly no one really cared, and secondly I’m still independent and I’m happy. Crucially one of my main focuses in life is to be happy. I mean, if I’m honest, my parents should really make my life a little bit uncomfortable to encourage me to move back out… I’m working on it!

I think the important part is the mutual respect, love and understanding that we all have to each other. My mum does not do my washing. My parents do not cook me dinner. They do not buy me food. I have my own fridge out in the garage. I come and go as I please. Of course I treat them and the house with respect. I clean up after myself. I let them know when I’ll be coming home so they’re not surprised. I give them space. They give me space. I maintain a level of independence and self-sufficiency that means I don’t feel like I’m 15 again.

I love living at home. I mean, I loved living in my flat too, but there is something so lovely about coming home to people rather than an empty house. It’s nice that Alfie gets a garden. It’s nice that I can leave him with them when I go out and not worry about him being left alone. And likewise, my parents like that I’m there looking after the house and dogs if they’re not in (they have three dogs).

This is Dylan

I could go on. My point is: I’m 30 and I live at home with my parents and this is not a problem. It’s just a stepping stone.

When did you move out?

Do you get on with your parents?

The trials and tribulations of a special bunch of people

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (or know me even just a tiny bit) you’ll know I’m a bit of a mess at times when it comes to organising myself and being an adult.

There have been many times when I’ve done something stupid and, most likely, had to ring my dad for help, or find myself in an embarrassing predicament. Purely because I throw myself into things with both feet without looking – optimistic I like to say. Stupid is probably more accurate.

Recently it was forgetting to do my car tax… I only found this out after parking my car in Brighton (with the right parking permit and everything) and then enjoying a lovely weekend there, only to return to my car to find it clamped. Had I gotten there maybe an hour earlier I could have called the de-clampers but as it was a Saturday, when they close early, I was too late. By the way, this was two days before Christmas. Obviously.

It cost me £100 (and my car tax…). Kyle and I then had to walk to the train station (carrying EVERYTHING that I needed to take with me from my car), to then get a coach (a replacement service of course) where we didn’t have a seat and had to sit in the footwell, to then get a train, to then get picked up. As I was working Christmas Eve, my very patient father and granddad drove to Brighton to retrieve the car (after it had been unclamped). *Sighs*

But I have to say, I’m not the oddity in the family. I’m not this clueless black sheep. Ohhh no. I come from a very special pure breed of idiots it must be said. We’re nice idiots, but we are idiots nonetheless.

From the time my dad made mushroom soup… He cooked the mushrooms in hot stock, put the mixture in the blender, found the lid to not fit completely but nahhh let’s just hold it on with a teatowel, it’ll be fiiiine. Only to then have BOILING mushroom soup spray all over his arm. I mean, it was kind of funny for my mum and I watching my dad leap around the kitchen – doing the mushroom dance, if you will.

I’d like to say these things are out of the ordinary. But they’re not. My dad and me often laugh at how we haven’t been wiped out yet in some Darwin-esque manner. Driving to the O2 to see Stereophonics, only half-way there realising I didn’t have the tickets. They were at my uni in Cardiff. Or in fact, my parents driving me to Cardiff Uni only for us to have to turn around to retrieve my forgotten laptop. Oh it’s all very joyous being a member of our family. Me frequently getting onto wrong trains…

Most recently, yesterday in fact, while I was at work I got a phone call from dad to say he was heading to A&E with my mum. It turns out my mum had thrown my dad’s phone (over a £1,000 worth of iPhone by the way) up the stairs at my dad, only for her to catch her arm on a picture frame hanging on the wall and for it to break and impale her wrist with a shard of glass that not only cut her skin but also her TENDON.

Jesus. She’s OK now, but it was quite painful, as you can imagine. She needs plastic surgery on her arm now to sort it out. The jury is out, apparently, as to who’s fault this was… I shan’t get involved.

But basically, I am like I am because of the way I was grown. A little idiot seedling now fully flourishing into a full-grown, though not quite adult, idiot. But we’re happy idiots. We live optimistically, usually without contingencies. We fall often but we always get back up, ready to do it all again. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Are you like your parents?

When was your last accident?