Bushy parkrun – finally!

Waaay back in like February when I went to the Marathon Talk Run Camp in the Peak District, my friend Fiona mentioned that she wanted to celebrate her birthday in true runner style: going to Bushy parkrun.

I bunch of us were going to meet-up, do the parkrun and enjoy some brunch. Sounded perfect! I’ve actually never done this parkrun and as someone who loves parkrun and everything is stands for, this is a bit mental. Bushy parkrun is the FIRST ever parkrun (in 2004 with 13 runners!). It’s about 1.5 hours away from where I live and though I could of course head up early on a Saturday morning, it was never in my diary to do because I wanted to do it with other people. Kyle and I could have gone just ourselves but we seem to have something planned every weekend at the moment. So this meet-up was the perfect excuse.

Kyle and I decided to stay in an Airbnb on Friday night so we wouldn’t have to get up super early Saturday morning and be stressed. Plus we do love an Airbnb trip. We drove up after work on Friday evening and stopped en route at a delightful pub called the Hen and Chicken for a carvery.

The carvery was a bit more posh than your standard Toby Carvery. Everything looked a bit more home-made rather than mass produced (don’t get me wrong though, I do love a Toby carvery). The gravy for instance was SO tasty and thick. I had roast turkey and gammon (odd combo I know), with creamed leeks, carrots, roast potatoes, red cabbage, stuffing.

It was really good and set us up nicely for the rest of the journey to Hampton for our Airbnb. The Airbnb was nice and we had a lovely evening watching Netflix and munching on those delicious new M&M chocolate bars (so fricking good).

The next morning we were up by 7.30am and heading out the door to walk the two miles to the start. It was a really easy walk, albeit windy. In an ideal world we would have run there but I wanted to be cautious about my hamstring. I haven’t really been consistently running and haven’t gone over three miles yet. I’d be lucky to manage this parkrun let alone anything extra!

Bushy Park itself was so pretty. Huge trees, wide open green spaces and so many deer. I think Kyle got sick of me pointing out different ones… look one with antlers! And then we reached the road where cars were streaming in towards the car park. I was glad we’d chosen to walk. Apparently car park is full even before 8.30am!

We bumped straight into Fiona, her daughter Nikki and her friends, and then John. We sheltered for a little bit under one of the sheds and then saw the other Marathon Talk friends approach. How easy to meet everyone! For John this was easy peasy as this was his local parkrun, but for others like Fiona and Vicki it was more of a journey (Staffordshire and Wiltshire).

The gang

We chatted and caught up briefly before heading to the main start area. It was nice and organised, despite the masses of people milling about.

We headed to the first timer brief and listened as the marshal explained the course and welcomed any tourists. It was a bit annoying because as the marshal continued to explain and give us some hints and recommendations for the course a woman next to me started loudly chatting to her friend. If you don’t want to listen that’s fine, but take yourself away and start your conversation elsewhere! It was really distracting and very rude.

Anyway, after listening we headed to the lonnnnnnnnng line-up to get going. Because the front line-up is so wide you feel very close to the front!

I wasn’t intending on blasting any sort of time – I would be lucky to finish at all, considering my DNF from last week. So I edged further into the main body.

John was just behind me

Kyle moved a bit closer to the front as he wanted to see what time he could do. I was happy to run solo, less pressure and I could concentrate on my hamstring.

After a solid introduction from the race director (using a microphone because of the large audience!) we were off.

The course was mainly on compacted dirt and a little bit of grass – so very easy to run on. Also it was super flat and wide, so despite there being so many people running it was never congested or crowded (in the area I was running anyway). You didn’t feel alone at any point though. There were always runners near you, which was quite nice.

John caught up with me and we remained running next to each other chatting. He’s semi-injured too (after doing the epic Race to the Stones) so neither of us were down for pushing the pace. Instead we took our time and caught up. It’s a shame we don’t see each other more often but it’s always nice when we do.

My hamstring was niggling a bit but it wasn’t as bad as the week before so I remained running and talking with John to keep my mind off it.

I finished in 25:32 and joined the very organised funnel – which sort of blew my mind how they did this. There were two different funnels and I couldn’t work out how they managed to work out the barcodes or positions.

We then headed quickly to the Pheasantry Cafe for brunch. Luckily two of the chaps were super speedy (Stuart and Marcin) they got us a table and we were able to order before the rush.

I went for avaocado on toast with poached eggs which was very hipster of me!

Unfortunately one of the egg yolks spurted all down my leg which was pretty grim. Egg yolk is super tricky to wipe up I tell you! But anyway it was very tasty. As was the delicious VEGAN chocolate cake Deni had made for Fiona’s birthday as well.

It was so lovely catching up with everyone – epsecially Vicky and Stuart who had recently got married but due to my cancelled Edinburgh flight I wasn’t able to make.

Then we all parted ways and Kyle and I walked back to the Airbnb where my car was parked.

We saw more deer and managed to not get rained on – what a bonus.

So a very successful Bushy parkrun pilgramage. I’m so chuffed to have finally done it. Of course I’d love to have been a bit less injured but I’m happy regardless.

Have you ever done Bushy parkrun?

Where’s the furthest you’ve gone for a parkrun?

What’s your favourite thing on toast?

Happy things (OK food)

OK so hamstring moaning aside, let’s do a more fun update.

Despite not running 30-40 miles a week, I’ve still been enjoying my food. It makes me SO angry when people have mantras like “you earnt that cake” or “you deserve that meal” after you’ve done a workout. Like you need to “earn” the calories you eat.

NO YOU DO NOT.

I live in a very happy mindset that I eat food that makes me happy. Food that makes me feel good. That doesn’t mean I eat chicken wings, cake and chocolate all day every day but it does mean I eat them when I fancy. And because I eat them when I fancy, I don’t crave them or see them as “naughty” food. Food that apparently must be earnt or burnt off.

Food that makes me happy and feel good can be a giant salad. It can mean a big bowl of porridge. A crunchy apple. A bag of Peanut M&M’s. A slice of cake (or two). All the chicken wings.

I eat food indisciminately. And just because I’m not running doesn’t mean I’ve stopped eating the foods that are probably less good for my body but more good for my soul. I haven’t gained weight. My body just knows what to do and I know what to give it.

So onto some of that damn good soul food.

We had our annual Bristol BBQ at my friend’s Kate and Jay’s in June and it was, as always, incredible.

The white chocolate and blueberry cheesecase was brought by one of our other friends and it was INSANELY GOOD (as always).

It does concern me when everyone else found it so rich and I was ready for another slice… but I exercised some self-control (which I rarely have) and decided to stick with the one large slice I had.

Kyle and I have also been thoroughly enjoying going out for the very cheap and basic carveries. This is absolutely when quantity is trumping quality in these sorts of things, but as we know, I’m a quantity girl. It’s sad but true.

Though to be fair, the carveries we’ve had have been delicious. The veg might be that teeny bit overdone, but god it’s good how much you can have.

We went to the Inn By the Sea in Lee-On-Solent and I had turkey and gammon and it was divine. Lots of veg, cauliflower and cheese, stuffing, gravy and a sausage. So good. I’m a bit of a weird one though in that I’m not a Yorkshire pudding fan… I know, I know, apparently everyone loves them but me. It just means that whoever I’m with gets a spare one.

But the piece de resistance lately has been somewhere I’ve been desperate to visit for ages after seeing rave reviews and incredible looking meals on Instagram. A little pub called the King’s Street Tavern in Southsea.

They have a fantastic menu specialising in BBQ and smoked food and it is RIGHT up my street. Kyle and I went at the weekend and we both ordered the tray which had two smoked items and a side, and we also shared two different types of chicken wings (BBQ and BUffalo).

Omg the quantity AND quality of the food was SO FRICKING GOOD. I had half a rack of ribs and burnt ends, with a side of charred vegetables (I didn’t want to fill up on chips). Kyle went for the smoke sausage and the half rack of ribs too.

It was so good. The wings as well were PERFECTION. Three boned, super meaty with a delicious Buffalo sauce and a blue cheese dip. Kyle had the BBQ wings (I prefer Buffalo). Omg I cannot rave enough. We left very full and very satisfied!

We’ll definitely be back!

Have you had any tasty food recently?

What’s your favourite cheesecake flavour?

Do you have a chicken wings flavour preference?

Easter Weekend

The UK just experience an almost unbelievable thing… a SUNNY and warm Bank Holiday long weekend. I mean, this is rare. Usually on long weekends we’ll get darkness, coldness and invariably rain.

Friday I had a lovely 7 mile run to set me up for the day after a nice lie-in. There’s something so magical and wonderful about a Friday off of work. In the afternoon I headed to Reading where I met up with the lovely Emma and Cortney for some Harry Potter-themed shenanigans. I’ve been before but I was excited to go with Emma and Cortney as I’d be able to make some good new memories with them there.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we walked around basically being kids again – getting the different stamps in the different places for our HP Passports and just enjoying all the behind the scene trivia.

We tried the Butterbeer and confirmed, yes it was in fact disgusting. Like cream soda but worse.

We also enjoyed the fact that though we were fans of the books and films, we were not superfans in that we weren’t anal about what we knew or in what book what happened. It was very chilled. It has made me want to read the books again tho (for the zillionth time…).

The next morning we headed to Woodley parkrun. I’ve done Reading parkrun before so I quite pleased to try a different one.

It was very warm already despite not even being 9am. Wowza, summer has arrived!

I was feeling good so decided to see what my legs had in them. I popped some music on and got carried away as everyone charged forward at the start. The course was three laps and pretty much flat asides from a couple of quick inclines and a nice little downhill. It looped around a playing field and was on both trail and pavement. It was a fairly quick course, and quite pretty as it went round a lovely pond area.

I managed to pick off a few females but ultimately just tried to hang on to a speedy pace (for me). I’m chuffed I managed a negative split and a time within the 20s (20:37).

This hasn’t happened for a while and has given me a bit of an urge to ramp up the speed training again… (Parallel to this happening, Kyle was almost smashing a sub-20 minute parkrun at Portsmouth Lakeside with 20:04!).

It was WARM though. I was sticky and sweaty afterwards. Lovely. Emma wasn’t long finishing after and then we both cheered Cortney in. Emma killed my soul though by forgetting her parkrun barcode…and not even minding! Mind. Blown. 😉

We then headed of course to brunch. parkrun and brunch, I cannot stress how much joy this brings me. Emma took us to one of her favourite spots, the Geo Café. It’s a lovely little café and has a very hipster feel offering Georgian-themed dishes and vegan cakes. No dirty big fry-up for me! I got to try something new for a change.

I had the decadent duck dish. This had two fried duck eggs on top of two slices of freshly baked sourdough and black pudding. It was delicious. And not a piggy portion in sight 😉

Afterwards we got some cake to takeaway (obvs). I went for a slice of vegan chocolate cake. Now usually I’m not a chocolate cake fan (or vegan for that matter) but it called my name as I stared at it. It literally looked like heaven.

I managed to polish it off when we got back (Cortney, a normal human being only managed half – why am I like this?!). I did feel somewhat sick though…possibly the cake pop on top finished me off but it was worth it.

Then the three of us went and got pedicures. I mean WHO EVEN AM I!? I tell you what though, it was so needed. My feet have not received such love and attention for a LONG time. I did feel for the beautician though having to deal with my feet… She reassured me that she’d seen worse but I’m not so sure.

I’m SO pleased with how pretty they look. OK I know, my feet are still pretty grim but at least they sparkle now (I pondered whether to upload a photo but thought I’d spare you). Then I drove back to Portsmouth to Kyle’s where we enjoyed a lovely lazy evening with an Indian takeaway.

The next morning we were up at a reasonable time to try and beat the heat ready for our 13 mile run. And to swap Easter Eggs 😀

Kyle”s mum got me two amazing eggs – and on the pineapple shaped egg she crossed out “pine” 😀

Where Kyle lives, it’s tricky to do long runs as it’s ridiculous hilly (it’s near Queen Elizabeth Country Park). The first 5k is very undulating and then mile four seemed to go up a mountain.

It was really quite warm so it was tough going. Unfortunately as we got to almost mile 5 Kyle had to stop due to his calf giving him a bit of aggro. He sensibly decided to head back home (which wasn’t *too* far away at this point) while I headed on to continue the run.

As I didn’t know the route Kyle had planned it seemed most sensible to just do an out and back along a route I was familiar with. Kyle also said he could come back on his motorbike to give me some water and my headphones if I wanted them.

As I carried on running I realised I was actually fine without having any music or podcasts, like I’d normally have during a long run, and just let my mind drift off. I was quite enjoying the run and it didn’t feel too tough, despite how undulating the route was and the hot sunshine beating down.

At 10 miles as I was heading back Kyle pulled up next to me. I was really grateful for the water and gulped it down. It was nice to see him but I turned the headphones offer down as I was quite enjoying the nothingness.

Then I carried on. My run came to 14 miles in the end (I ran too far on the out clearly). It was a lovely run, despite not having the company I thought I was going to have!

Then Kyle and I headed to his dad’s for a roast dinner with that side of the family. It was so lovely. Since meeting Kyle I’ve been welcomed into his family so warmly and through him met so many more lovely people. I feel very lucky and blessed right now – cheesy I know, but true.

We (unwisely?) did some fun and games outside after eating, like high jump and limbo and some ball games. And then enjoyed some DELICIOUS cake pops that Kyle’s sister had made.

Omg so good. Brownie cake pops covered in either white chocolate or milk chocolate. I could have eaten them ALL.

Then we finished the long weekend with a long walk on Monday followed by a BBQ at my my parent’s house with my sister and her partner. Family-time for me is so precious and special. I love that we all get on so well.

What a lovely sunny, happiness-filled weekend!

Did you have a nice Easter?

Did you get any Easter Eggs?

Do you like Harry Potter?

Rough Runner and rough running

Last weekend was quite the busy one.

Through work, I was signed up to do Rough Runner 10k as Team Wiggle. Rough Runner is an obstacle course run where there are about 10 obstacles for the 10k and you basically just run to each one. You don’t have to do them if you don’t want to (one of our team members had a bad shoulder so avoided a few of them) and there are no penalties (like in Spartan for example where you have to do burpees).The one we were doing was located somewhere near Bristol (I’m hazy with where exactly). Kyle, a fellow Wiggler Steph and I drove up together in the delightful downpour and got there for 9.30am. We met up with the other team members (also found out one of the girls had only just woken up and would therefore not be joining…lol) and then cowered under one of the sponsor tents as much out of the rain and cold as we could.I was not really feeling it if I’m honest. I hate being cold. Probably more than I hate being hungry – and this is saying something. I think it goes cold, hunger, tiredness in order of what I detest the most. I could feel myself being quite grumpy and just wanted to either go home or get started. I was wearing leggings (I tend to for obstacle course runs just as a bit of protection as you always end up clambering around on the floor) but just a vest top. It was supposed to be about 18 degrees and while it didn’t feel that cold, the wind and rain made that temperature really hard to believe.Eventually we went into a tent and watched a safety video. As we came out again into the open and headed to do the warm-up we were pleasantly surprised that the rain had stopped and it actually felt quite nice. The warm-up itself was quite amusing as Kyle got randomly picked and had to run round and high-five everyone in our wave (a good-70 people) and then our wave was named Team Kyle (throughout the actual run quite a few people remembered this and shouted “go team Kyle!” which was quite funny).The obstacles weren’t ridiculously difficult (like Tough Mudder which you’d probably need a good amount of strength and training and your team’s help) but it did require a good balance and generally being a bit lighter helped… I managed to fare quite well on the obstacles (I’ve done it before so I had that advantage too) but for some of the taller chaps on the team (*cough* Kyle) it was a bit tough. I did find it immensely amusing that I managed to do the ring swings (like monkey bars but basically dangling rings – think Gladiators) and two very muscly heavy-set guys failed miserably. It was a moment of female pride I must say 😉It was good fun in the end, especially as the sun soon came out.Kyle and I then headed to meet up with my Bristolian friends, Kate and Jay, for an epic refuel. A giant Lebanese meat platter in a lovely place called Lona Grill House.So much food and yet we managed to make quite the dent! Then we headed home quite tired and quite full. It was lovely to see them both, as always, and to catch up.Sunday morning I reluctantly (really reluctantly) got up and headed out for a long run. There’s nothing like hearing the rain and wind battering against the window to make you really not want to run. But I was determined not to be a wuss. It wasn’t that cold (14 degrees?) and I’d run in rain before. Come on now, Anna.

I put on a t-shirt, shorts and compression socks and headed out to do 16 miles. Straight away I was soaked and the wind was quite strong. I was immediately cold. My hands were freezing. After the first mile I still wasn’t warm. I seriously contemplated heading back home to put on a long sleeve top and getting my gloves. But I couldn’t be bothered. The thought of getting home, taking off my wet trainers, going upstairs etc etc. Urgh just get on with the run. The quicker I plough on the sooner I finish.

I was truly miserable running. The first part of the run (1-3 miles) is along the main road and I got tired of dodging out of the way of puddles and cars splashing me. I was soaked through so really this was pointless effort. My legs felt heavy, I felt drained and I was fully grumpy. I really debated just going home. My mum had said to me just before I left that I was mad going out and that she’d pick me up if I needed to at any time. That was a strong temptation in my mind.

I decided I had a six mile route I could easily do as a loop to get home. But as I got to the point I would turn back home I decided to just push on a bit further. I was now running along the coast and happily the wind was behind me, pushing me along. OK this was a bit better.

“How about 10 miles?” I bargained with myself. OK 10 miles is a good run. But as I got to that point where I’d turn home I decided to just woman up and do the damn run. I was out there and might as well. But I would do 15 miles instead of adding the little extra bit on to get my 16. That was a decent compromise that weirdly lightened my mind to the run. Now I was at the point of no return. Just get home. Just get home.I felt like I crawled towards the end of the run. Literally like my feet wouldn’t move faster. Bless my mum, she made me a lovely cup of tea straight away. I felt a bit emotionally spent weirdly as the whole run had felt like one big negotiation with myself. I had an amazing hot shower and felt miles better, but fairly exhausted. Just drained. It was not a good run at all! Nothing like the amazing long run from the weekend before. I’ve got to remember how much these things add up. I’m not a machine and almost 20 miles will take it out of me for the week!

But the rest of the day was lovely. I chilled watching Beauty and the Beast (the live action version, which I’ve never seen) and enjoyed a huge roast dinner and a slice of an amazing homemade chocolate cake.It was delicious! Chocolate buttercream, chocolate sponge, Matchsticks and Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers round the edge.I felt nicely topped up. The memory of the terrible long run was washed from my mind. Nothing like cake and good company to help 😉

What’;s your favourite roast dinner?

If you had to be cold, tired or hungry which would you choose?

Do you run when it’s raining?

Not all runs are created equal

Running is a tricky beast. And our bodies are fickle funny things.

You can have an amazing run where you want to go on forever, and then you can have a run where every mile is like dragging your tired bored through porridge. My runs lately have been a mix of this. But such is the nature of running eh!

I won’t lie, speed training has fully taken a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy going to track when I went but it’s a hassle. I mean I knew it would be but I was happy to make the effort. Now the initial excitement (if that’s the right word for it…) has worn off I’m a bit “meh” to it.

I think this mainly comes down to the fact that I’ve achieved quite a bit this year that I didn’t expect I would (5k, half and marathon PB’s). I’m not one of those people who OMG MUST GET A NEW PB EVERY RACE. Sure it’d be nice but realistically it’s not my driving force. I don’t feel I’ve failed if I don’t get near my PB in a marathon. I mean, I’d be a pretty big failure if that were the case. I just love running and love running marathons. Time is secondary to the enjoyment.

My self-worth and how I feel about running is not hinged on the time on my Garmin. I’m not saying that people are wrong for loving the thrill of PB-seeking each time or for striving to get faster and faster. I just don’t have that drive. I must get boring when people ask what time I’m aiming for in a marathon. My usual response is “3:45ish injury-free”. If I feel good on the day I might go faster. But if I get 3:44 or 3:29 it really doesn’t change how happy I feel at the end.

My gripe with track is that it means leaving work later and then losing an hour where I drive to Southampton, sit in my car for about 10-15 minutes (if I leave work any later I’ll hit traffic, so I have to have this contingency time) and then run the 1.5 miles to track (you have to be warmed up beforehand), do track and run back, drive back and oh hey it’s now 8.30pm and I haven’t had dinner or any evening. I guess there are some people out there that would see this as an obstacle to overcome, a worthwhile sacrifice for the greater good of training, progression and success. I just see it as a way to make me grumpy and hangry so early in the week.

I will still go occasionally but right now I’m doing that thing of choosing stuff that makes me happy rather than makes me dread one day in the week 😉 Life is too short to do shit you don’t enjoy for reasons that aren’t important to you. As well as this, my mate Joe would normally go to track and catching up with him was one of the bonuses for going but he’s currently injured so my motivation is at a real low.

But anywho, I get random bursts of motivation to run faster so I’m sure I’ll get back to it eventually. But right now, I’m just happy that I’m running consistently and injury-free (TOUCH WOOD).

But anyway, my recent runs have been a bit hit and miss. I had a fantastic social run Wednesday evening with my lovely friend Kim where we natter about everything and anything and saw a beautiful sunset on the beach.We ran 5 miles and it was lovely. We bumped into the Stubbington Green Runners doing their evening run which nice – everyone smiling and saying hi.Most of the runs I really enjoy won’t increase my speed and won’t help me beat my PB’s but I always finish smiling and remembering why I love running.

On Friday I ran with the Wiggle guys for the Wiggle Run Out (last Friday of the month we go running, cycling, walking or swimming in the afternoon). I actually lead it for the first time which from the outset yes, did seem a bit dubious. BUT no one died. No one got lost. I see that as a huge success 😉We ran round Farlington Marshes. The weather was great and it was nice to get out of the office for some fresh air and some chat with people I don’t get to see much in the office.But then on Saturday my run was less than stellar. I squeezed my long run in as I had plans on Sunday. I ran 8 miles to Lee-On-Solent parkrun, then parkrun, then four miles home again. And it felt like such a slog.
I mean I guess running 8.5 miles the day before hadn’t helped but jeeeeze it was tough.parkrun did make me laugh though as while we were running I got so confused. I kept looking at my watch and wondering how I’d suddenly gotten a lot slower. My watch said 9:08 but I didn’t feel like I was running at that effort. It felt far too tough for what should ordinarily feel a bit easier for me. And I was getting slower! 9:09 now… what was happening?

And then I realised… I was looking at the time. I have only recently configured my Garmin watch face to show the time as one of the fields as it annoyed me I couldn’t see it when running. Ahh what an idiot. I was actually running 7:45ish.I was happy to negative split and do a sprint finish at the end (such a decent stretch for it at Lee). I didn’t hang around too long as I had places to be so plodded my way home at what felt like such an awful slog. I realise my paces aren’t really a “plod” but it definitely felt that way!And when I finished I felt overwhelming tired. Like I could literally lie down and sleep straight away. I had to have a 45 minute nap later in the day! I imagine it’s because I haven’t really dropped my mileage down since the marathon and I’m still going full steam ahead. I’m on dodgy territory I know and should be cautious.Happily though I felt a lot better the next day after a solid night sleep and phenomenal Sunday lunch. Rest, nutrition and good company definitely help!So good. Roast beef and roast pork (with crackling)… Sunday lunch goals right there.

How’s your running going?

What motivates you?

What’s your favourite roast?