Random bits and bobs about me

Last post before I go to Dubai, I thought I’d do a random one!

The lovely Allison from Running Princess nominated me for the Liebster Award. It’s basically a fun way to connect with other bloggers and gives you a chance to answer some random questions and get to know the blogger a bit better. Allison gave me some questions to answer so let’s get started. Prepare for some randomness!

What inspired you to start your blog?

I read a lot of blogs back in the day, but not as many anymore. I’ve certainly honed down the list and realised what I actually like to read about as well as other bloggers stopping writing or moving into territories I’m not as interested in. Anyway, I started writing one because I love running and I love writing and I was inspired by these other amazing bloggers. I actually didn’t care if anyone read it or not. I just enjoyed the process and love having a way to track progress, events and basically memories. I can flick back to older posts and, after cringing a bit, relive moments of my life.

Like when I used to upload a photo of my Garmin watch on my wrist to show my run as Strava wasn’t around then… Or when I used to make more exciting breakfasts because I thought people would get bored hearing about how I eat porridge Ever. Singly. Day.When I used to post photos of my outfit of the day (I still do this now, just on Instagram, for my shame #OOTD).And when I used to post actual recipes and upload photos of my meals more regularly. But what has always been consistent is my love for running and my love for cake 😉

An elevator pitch for your blog?

Oh blimey… “Do you like running?? Do you like eating?? Come and get them both in my blog! Terms and conditions apply, mainly: running isn’t always sensible, consistent, injury-free or decent. And yes I really do eat everything I say I do, and yes I am that much of a greedy pig.”

If you could have a conversation with anyone (real or fictional) from any time, who would you choose and why?

I found this question really hard. I posed the question to Twitter and it gave me a lot of inspiration: Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, relatives no longer with us, Tony Stark, Eluid Kipchoge, Hugh Laurie, Bill Murray and of course… God.

I feel like I need to answer this in a poignant way but actually I really don’t know. My geeky side thinks having a cup of tea with Dumbledore would be amazing. My foodie side and the fact that I have a weird attraction says Jamie Oliver (he’s bring snacks). Maybe Graham Norton as he’s funny and would have loads of celebrity anecdotes I’m sure.

If you had a theme tune, what song would you pick and why?

Jurassic Park theme music. Not sure why. It’s good theme music. Dramatic and exciting, exactly like my life isn’t 😉

Where is your happy place?

Two places. First place: in bed with my super snuggly dog, Alfie, when he’s just woken up and is all cuddly and warm. Second place: the finish straight of a marathon and the walk to get the medal. No better feeling. Cheesy but literally the best.

Who would you most like to go for a run/cycle/workout with?

Weirdly, Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t think she’d be too fast for me to keep up with (she’s not a regular runner I believe, I’m not being mean) and I reckon she’d be hilarious. In this scenario I’m not a weird stalker running after her, but we’re friends 😉 I feel like we have a similar love for food and a similar sense of humour.

Flying or invisibility?

Now this will sound creepy… As good as it would be to fly, I’m pretty sure it would be really cold… and I’d get lost or fly into a plane or something stupid. I would however quite like to be invisible. I will unashamedly admit I do love a bit of celebrity gossip and would just love to see what someone like Victoria Beckham or the Queen (granted, not really a celeb) get up to when they’re away from the public. It’s a very creepy thing to admit, but admit it I have.

If you could learn one new skill, what would you choose and why?

To speak more than one language. I’d love to be able to go to different countries and just speak their languages. It would be so useful. The world would literally be your oyster. I feel like it’s such a good skill to have. As a country, the UK are pretty rubbish at this – probably because we start far too late learning languages that it’s just very difficult.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?

Just general continued happiness would be nice. I’m a happy person and I’d like that to continue. Running-wise…another Marathon Major (New York), more letters for my Alphabet parkrun challenge and solid running consistently with few injuries.

What made you smile today?

People being nice. The world needs more niceness. Nice might be boring but I think we need more of it in our lives. Just a smile from someone at the gym. A nice comment from someone. Simple things like that.

Go on, answer a few of the questions too!

Done being sensible

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions or “new year, new me” mantras. But I do think it can be useful for people for motivation and some self-reflection.

I’ve definitely done a bit of self-reflection the past few weeks. There’s nothing like being single during Christmas that can make you think a bit more about yourself, I assure you.

In general, I’m quite a positive person. I don’t allow myself to wallow or sink into dark thoughts. I find other things to focus on and I have a solid family and friends unit who pick me up (or tell me to stop being so self-indulgent). I say this a lot and I truly believe it, I’m very lucky and have a fantastic life. I have a family who I can always fall back on emotionally and financially. My mum makes me feel beautiful, loved and boosts my self-esteem. My dad gives me sound advice, supports my crazy running adventures and will always be honest with me (he’s never afraid to tell me when I look rubbish, am being a pilock or need bringing back to earth). My sister is always there when I need those ‘girlie chats’ – boys, beauty and life, you know what I mean.

But I’m only human. Being single is pants. Granted, I haven’t made a huge amount of effort to “get out there”. I’m not a clubber, I don’t go to bars, I don’t use online the free dating apps and I’m not quite at the point to pay for the more “quality” ones. And in this day and age, you won’t bump into your soulmate at the supermarket. Sometimes in my lowest and most self-indulgent moments I wonder, “what’s wrong with me?”. I know, I know, it’s pathetic and I’m not asking for pity or people to say “oh but Anna you’re lovely!” like my mum would. I’m just genuinely reflecting on the fact that I’m not a complete mess of a person and have a solid life, yet I’m sat watching everyone around me jump on a train I don’t have a ticket for. I don’t even know how to buy the damn ticket.

So this year I’m going to become a bit more of a “yes person” and stop following the straight and narrow road.

Basically, I’m a sensible person. [I say “sensible” here but I know a lot of past events have shown I’m actually not that sensible because I’m quite the idiot. What I mean is I’m not a spontaneous person]. I don’t really do crazy things (New Year’s Day aside…). I work hard and I save, something I’m very lucky to be able to continue to do now I live at my parent’s and have rented my flat out despite being on a smaller salary. I have goals and plans for this year but mostly surrounding running (Dubai… New York… Jersey ;-)). But I think a lot before I plan on going anywhere and over-analyse everything to the nth degree. I cost everything up, I work it into my budget, put it in my spreadsheet, ponder and hesitate.

Above all, I make sure my savings remain solid. Other than my unruly leggings habit, I really hate spending money. My father would call me “tight” but being single means you are your own means. If I lost my job I lose my income (well, not strictly true now that I’m renting my flat out but you know what I mean). I know my parents are there for me, but having a large savings is my safety net and cotton wool.

But I’m fed up of doing everything by the book and being sensible. I need to go and do something a bit “non-Anna” and throw caution to the wind. I don’t mean spend all my money and live life without a thought for the future of course…but I also shouldn’t sit on a pile of money that is essentially doing nothing. I don’t have any plans to upgrade my flat or move out, buy a fancy car, have a baby.  Without getting too morbid here, I could die tomorrow. What am I waiting for? Clearly I have no ties, no children and am armed full of independence. The time is NOW.

Basically what I’m saying is, I want to stop waiting for something that might not happen and just go and live life to the full. On that note (and trying, but probably failing, not to be have a stereotypical “omg need to find myself” moment), I’m off to Bali in April. A non-running, chill my mind out kind of holiday. Go alone but with a group of strangers. Find a bit of peace in my buzzing brain without using running as a distraction. But in general, for this year, I intend to take each day as a precious gift that I’m alive and I’m a strong, independent woman. My life is now and I’m not waiting for anyone or anything.

*Cue Beyonce*

Have you ever felt a bit… lost?

Have you ever been to Bali?

Are you a saver or a spender?

A gentle nudge for parkrunners

As you may be well aware by now, I’m a huge parkrun fan. parkrun is a big hug in a mug for me. I love the concept (free 5k events all over the UK, and indeed the world!). I love the community. I love the non-competitive nature of it. It’s inclusiveness. I love the fact that you can go to different ones and almost “collect” them and build up your stats.

Yes, I am a parkrun devotee. I love my home parkrun, Netley Abbey. OK the course can be tough; three laps meaning three inclines, the terrain can be tricky (compacted gravel and grass) and it can get a bit hairy when a lot of people show up (shouts of “keep right!” can be heard throughout). I’ve been going there now for a good number of years and I’ve become a fairly regular member of the set-up and close-down team for those years too. It’s a great way to volunteer and still be able to run. I love chatting and laughing with the crew and often feel guilty when I can’t make it because I’m heading off somewhere else that weekend.

Now, volunteering is a crucial part of making parkrun work. Without people giving up their time it wouldn’t work. People can volunteer and not be runners as well. It always amazes me when people become part of the parkrun community this way despite not wanting or being able to run. Run Directors, barcode scanners, course marshals, timekeepers etc., are all so integral to a Saturday’s parkrun.But often forgotten are the set-up and close-down crew. I obviously don’t know what happens in every parkrun, but at Netley we need to be there an hour before the 9am start. We need to get out the signs and parkrun paraphernalia from the store cupboard, which is  no where near the start (it’s the only safe place to store it on the park grounds) and then walk the course and set it up. I suppose at smaller parkruns or more obvious routes don’t require that many signs or that much walking in order to set the course up but for Netley we basically have to walk an entire lap (a mile). We usually don’t have enough people to make this process as efficient as possible. 
Now this is all fine and dandy during the summer months where it’s warm and sunny but when autumn and winter hit, it can be a rather miserable process. It sucks when you wake up for parkrun and see the weather outside. Rain battering against the window, frost, mist, COLD. It’s more of a struggle to get yourself to go. If you “just” run parkrun then you might hide in your car until the last possible minute and then dash off to the start at 8.55am. But the set-up crew have been out there for a good hour in that weather. I can’t speak for everyone else, but normally I’m rather cold, wet and a little grumpy. Peeling off my layers and heading to the start is a hideous process. I’m not overreacting when I say that during the winter I do tend to dread that hour before parkrun. We normally don’t get time to warm-up with a nice jaunty jog around the park.

OK I’m whining and moaning and this is out of the spirit of parkrun – of which, despite all this, I still adore. My moan is no one’s fault – it is what it is. We’ve tried to streamline things as much as possible of course but the weather and time of year can’t be helped.

So this year I’m going to take some time off at winter in setting the course up. It just wears down my love of parkrun and I don’t want that. I also want to explore other parkruns. I want a lazy Saturday morning, getting up at the last possible minute to race down to the start. To hibernate away in my car until the final second. Or have a bit of time to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing before I need to run.

What I will ask though please is when you’re next at parkrun, give a thought to how those signs were put there, who set the barcode table up, who placed each cone on the course, how the finish funnel is where it is…. parkrun fairies don’t exist. parkrun devotees and volunteers DO. Maybe consider giving up that extra time in bed and heading down to help them out. Or when you’re finished, how about clearing the course away instead of dashing home to the warmth or to the coffee shop for a post-run hot drink? It really does help.

Right, moan over!

Do you go to parkrun?

Do you volunteer?

Is your local parkrun course a simple set-up or more complicated?

Adulting fail once again

I should really write a book on all the idiotic things I manage to do. I never considered myself a disorganised or stupid person but it appears that is pretty much me. I’m very lucky I have a good network of intelligent people with lots of common sense around me…otherwise I’m not sure I would have survived to this grand old age of 29.

So asides from my latest Anna Idiot Moments of forgetting my bra when staying over my parent’s house and getting on the wrong train on the way back from London the other week, my latest adulting fail was rather more stressful.

Wednesday last week I headed to the garage to get my car serviced. They handily gave me a hire car so they could do the service the next day. Unfortunately the hire car they gave me was HUGE. I could barely see over the steering wheel. A normal person would take their time aclimatising and adjusting but I felt like I needed to make a move or they’d think I was weird for just sitting there. So as I slowly navigated round the packed car park (lots of brand spanking shiny new cars about the place) I heard a noise and felt something knock into the side of the car. I only went bumped into one of their stupid signs. NIGHTMARE. I jumped out and see a small dent… nooo!

No one saw so I quickly drove off all flustered and panicked (the sign was fine by the way, of course). I notice that they’ve left me with no petrol as well, which further adds to my emotions of I HATE DRIVING. I survey the damage further at the petrol station (after putting a minimal amount in, God damn them). Yeah there’s definitely a dent. I take a photo of both sides to send to my dad later to see his opinion.I then arrive home and realise to my horror I’ve left my flat keys in my car back at the garage…and the garage is now closed. I also realise my parents don’t have their spare keys anymore as I got them to drop them off at the lettings agent ready for me moving out. WHY. WHY AM I SO STUPID.

I ring my mum and promptly burst into tears. It wouldn’t be so much of an issue as I could have just gone back to my parent’s but Alfie is inside the flat and I can’t leave him overnight alone! My mum, bless her, calms me down but ultimately can do nothing to help me. I accept defeat and ring a local locksmith who comes out and picks my lock for me. £78 later (ouch!) and I’m inside. Alfie has been asleep. He couldn’t care less.I spend that evening stressing about the car dent though… The next day when i drop the hire car back off I spend the entire time there sweating, waiting for them to check the car. In an amazing stroke of luck, the lovely guy that serves me doesn’t do any sort of hire car check (he didn’t do one before he handed the keys over to me the day before either…). I’m thinking this is a clearly a kink in their operation. Not that I’m complaining! I feel bad for him not checking as he might get a bit of a telling off about this but, at the same time, I can’t count my lucky stars quick enough as I (carefully) drive out of there in my shiny serviced NORMAL-sized Fiat.

So if anyone thinks that they haven’t got a grasp on life or they’d not a fully functioning adult, just look at me. I am regularly failing life. I do not have my shizz together. How the hell I think I can be a landlady for my flat, well I have no idea! If you want a laugh in life, just keep following what i get up to and I can reassure any doubts you have about how your life is doing. I wish I could learn from my mistakes but there are so many mistakes in life to make… But hey, you have to have a sense of humour about things. If I didn’t, I’d be a mess on the floor.

Have you had any recent adulting fails?

Do you like driving?

Not settling for mediocre

Another post around dating. I thought, why not as I have a few things on my mind.

I go through periods where I’m like “right, let’s do this!” and get really enthusiastic about going on dates and meeting new people. I re-install Plenty of Fish (*sighs*) on my phone and get about chatting to guys who’ve messaged me that don’t seem like a psycho/weirdo/offering a threesome.

I’ve been on some really lovely dates recently with a nice guy but sadly it just didn’t pan out. I’m not one for going into the nitty gritties as it’s hardly fair but I’ll just say he just wasn’t for me. This is much to my mother’s frustration because she couldn’t seem to understand why he wasn’t for me. Or why other dates weren’t for me. Or why men who she suggests aren’t for me.

In her eyes I’ve become too picky. I’m giving up on guys too quickly. I’m not trying hard enough. In fact this was something my friends mentioned to me the other day when I tried to explain why someone else I knew wasn’t for me despite being a) single b) around my age and c) a perfectly normal guy seemingly with his schizz together.

Before I delve too deeply into “becoming too picky” I will firstly mention that age (within reason) is actually not a barrier for me. I’m no spring chicken myself anymore and so can’t really afford to segment a good portion of the male species because they’re too old (or too young, but let’s be real here, I don’t think I’m going to attract many young’uns!).

Am I too picky though? Are my requirements for a partner too specific, too narrow and unrealistic? Maybe they are. But do you know what, why the hell shouldn’t they be? Why settle for a mediocre life? Why settle for “he’s nice” or “we seem to get on well”? Why can’t I have fireworks, explosions, rainbows and magic? Why can’t I have someone who I want to throw all my plans out the window for? Drive a million miles for? Ignore the alarm and miss the gym for?

Am I so far past it, so far gone, that I should just settle for who’s available who kind of ticks the right boxes because I won’t find better. Because I don’t deserve better.

Absolutely not. I REFUSE to settle.

Let’s be clear here. I’m not unhappy. My life is not empty. I may be alone but I am not lonely. I have a life full of excitement, full of plans, goals and ambitions. I have a fantastic network of friends and family. I actually love my life.

I am a whole person and don’t need someone else to complete me. I am not a puzzle with a missing piece. I am bloody good puzzle with all the pieces already stuck together and it looks pretty damn awesome. There may be that someone special and amazing out there for me but I’m not hunting them down and I’m not sat in a tower waiting for them to rescue me. I’m living my life exactly how I want to and if I happen to bump into “Mr Right” then fantastic. But until then, I won’t be settling.

Dating, what’s been your experience?

Am I being unrealistic?