Our trip to London and all the food

I’m so behind on my posts. I have so much to talk about as well!

I’ll start first with an incredible weekend I had with Kyle that as just SO good. Kyle and I were super excited about it. It was literally all our favourite things, but sadly without any running.

We planned to go to London for my Christmas present, which Kyle had gotten me. A chicken wings tour! I mean, this was a perfect gift and a perfect excuse for us to spend a night in London and enjoy ourselves.

Originally we’d planned to do the tour on the Friday, stay over and then do parkrun and brunch Saturday. However it turned out that the chicken wings thing was only available Wednesday or Sunday… ehhh. So no parkrun for us sadly as we’d be travelling up Sunday morning to get there for the wings at lunch, then head home Monday after brunch.

It’s funny because after we got there we wondered why we hadn’t brought our running kit so we could do a cheeky run Monday morning. It was a bit of a lost opportunity but I think we were both just too focused on the food.

We did Lee-On-Solent parkrun on Saturday though and ran 1.5 miles there and 1.5 miles back to the car so we could get in a “long run” of just over 6 miles. Obviously 6 miles isn’t that long in comparison to previous runs I’ve done but I’m being super sensible about this comeback and I don’t want to just jump into a 10 miler and bugger everything up.

Anyway, parkrun was good. I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice and had a nice run with Kyle. We took it relatively easy and had a very enjoyable run. We made sure not to stand too close to the back as we have done in the past as it gets crazy busy at Lee and it’s a fairly narrow start.

Sunday we woke up early without an alarm – which is always nice. We got into a bad habit of sleeping very late a few weeks ago which made us feel terrible. I say late, it was about 9am, but this is late for us. We just felt so groggy and like we’d had too much sleep. As lovely as lie-ins are I’d rather naturally wake up earlier and feel refreshed. We relaxed in bed for a while as our train wasn’t until 10 and I decided to go for another short run.

I wanted to be running two days in a row again and adding another 3 mile run to the weekend would help me gently transition into this. The run went really well. No issues and it felt OK (asides from it being around Clanfield which is so fricking hilly!).

It was a fantastic Airbnb!

After the run we got ready and headed to London on the train. It was very tight on timings to get to Shoreditch, check in at our Airbnb (we love an Airbnb) and then meet our tour guide for the wings experience. But we made it bang on time!

It was just us on the tour which was really nice (the tour can have up to 15 people I think). The woman who was our guide (I’m embarrassed to say that while we did get her name I don’t think I’d be able to spell it correctly) was SO lovely. She was friendly, knew so much about the local area and just the right amount of involved. (If you’re interested it’s THIS experience).

She took us to Orange Buffalo to begin with an we got to try two different heat levels. Both flavours were fantastic and it came with a thick blue cheese dip. Honest to God, I could bathe in this stuff. One of my absolute favourite things in the entire world is a buffalo chicken wing with a thick cold blue cheese dip. NOTHING beats that texture and flavour combo for me. I am a simple creature I know.

She showed us around the local area (an area I’d heard about but never been myself), with all the street art, the food market, Banksy artwork… it was fascinating. It was hustling and bustling and busy with electrically (and far cooler) dressed people. It felt very “hip” (and by saying hip I have now fully separated myself from any form of coolness, I do realise this). She had fantastic tid-bits of information and interesting local knowledge.

Cool street art and a tree with lots of trainers hanging from it

The second stop was in the Boxpark in Shoreditch called Coqfighter. It was very exciting for me because I’d heard about these places on social media (follow my Instagram @AnnaTheCake88 for my foodie loving) and now I was getting to actually go there.

The wings were so different from this location because they were of the fried chicken variety so had a crispy Vodka and sesame coating and came with a soy sauce and chilli dip. Damn they were SO good. So different to what I’ve usually had before. The soy sauce dip, dear lord, was good. And the crispiness of the chicken just rocked my world. I was in heaven.

Then we headed, somewhat sadly, to our last location called the Blue Kitchen. We had double fried buffalo wings and Szechuan wings (pictured above). I didn’t think anything could top what we’d had so far but these were FRICKING AMAZING. Double fried? Yes please. In my excitement I sadly didn’t get a picture of the buffalo…but they were fantastic I assure you.

I think I amused our guide a bit because I was clearly VERY into my wings and did a good job of polishing everything off. She was amazed that we ran as much as we did as well – all the marathons and parkruns. It was fun talking to her about it. I felt like we just bamboozled her with our weird lives of eating and running haha.

After the wings tour, we headed to Doughnut Time for some pudding. I mean I was pretty full to be honest but we wanted to get some of these oh so Instagrammable doughnuts. Kyle was VERY excited. We’ve both had them before and had decided as a treat to get a box (and take a couple home for Kyle’s parents – my parents declined as they’re both on Slimming World).

We got over-excited and bought NINE. I mean, Jesus, they’re not exactly cheap either. I think they are a little over-priced and over-hyped for what they are, but it was good fun choosing and enjoying the moment.

We took a big box back with us to the Airbnb and enjoyed a few there. The ones I’d chosen (Sia Later, Ice Ice Bae and Caramacklemore) were delicious. The Sia Later (red velvet) was the best, Ice Ice Bae (with cookie dough and brownie bites) was VERY sweet but tasty and the Caramacklemore (white chocolate) was somewhat disappointing, but possibly because I was quite sugared out by that point. Yes, I was that greedy and ate three. I fully enjoyed them 🙂

Caramacklemore

The next morning, after a lovely little lie-in, we walked to Covent Garden with a little stop in Starbucks for a coffee. We had brunch booked for 12 at the Big Easy (blows my mind that this was the earlier we could book – surely this is now lunch?). We’ve had brunch here before and it’s all you can eat and it’s just fantastic. I mean, if you’re a big meat-eater of course.

We did have a little stop in ANOTHER Doughnut Time, but this time the Doughtnut Time “World”. You can really tell how much they bank on social media for their notoriety.

The shop was set up specifically for taking photos and promoting to Instagram. While it was good fun and quite quirky, it felt a little odd and, well, clinical.

I imagine when they have events it’s a bit better but just Kyle and I in the shop meant it was a bit weird. And the posters around the shop saying that the props were for photos only furthered this. I obviously fully enjoy social media and taking photos, but it was a tad overkill (tho tbf, it had worked for us right?).

Anyway, Kyle bought another of the OG doughnuts because he enjoyed it so much the day before and wanted to take one home. I refrained – I’d eaten three the day before and had one to take home, so I was happy.

Then we got to the Big Easy in Covent Garden and enjoyed even more excess of food. BBQ ribs, smoked sausage, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, chips, cornbread, coleslaw and beans.

It was fantastic and we left very full! The staff are very attentive and brought out more of what we asked and we enjoyed ourselves a lot, but we were now dunzo’ed on food haha.

So a whole lot of eating and a little bit of running!

Do you like all you can eat experiences?

Are you a doughnut fan?

Do you like social media? Do you use it a lot?

Things I’m loving lately (January)

I have such a good recap of this weekend that I can’t wait to rave about (which I need to write!), but for now I’ve had a few bits and pieces that I’ve been enjoying recently so I thought I’d share.

I was sent some cans of the new Radnor Infusions Zero Calorie Sparkling Soft Drink. It’s sparkling Welsh spring water from the Radnor Hills in Radnorshire with a gentle flavour of lemon and mint for one of them and raspberry and black cherry for the other. The water is infused with natural flavours and fruit extracts – meaning no sugar, preservative and sweetener free, and zero calories.

I loved the sound of the drinks before I’d even tried them – I’m a big fan of Wales (having gone to university there and also having relatives there) and this just sounded delightful. It’s not like a diet soft drink though – if you’re expecting Fanta levels of flavours this is not it. Instead it’s quite subtle and delightfully refreshing.

I think I preferred the lime one a bit more and could even imagine adding a little bit of gin in there for a cheeky jazzy G&T. It’s a shame it’s not summer because these are fantastic BBQ drinks – especially for those who don’t want to drink.

I was also sent some leggings to test out from Constantly Varied Gear. Now obviously I am a huge leggings fan and have had my fair share so I was keen to try them out.

The first pair are a kind of cosmic design which I think is so funky. Having worn so many leggings in my time I’m quite a harsh judge. The fit is alright but it definitely isn’t as good as Lululemon or Nike.

They’re a bit more restrictive. Also when testing doing squats in them, they didn’t pass the “no see-through” test. It’s not terrible but especially on the cosmic design the design gets stretched and the material becomes quite thin.

The green leggings were cool looking but not my favourite kind of design.

It was tricky to know where the mesh detail was supposed to go – on your knees? On your shin?

And the waist band and the bottom bits were tight without my give. You’d need to get your sizing spot on to feel optimum comfort.

So all in all, not bad leggings but don’t expect Lululemon or near that quality. They’re nice for a jazzy design.

I was also sent a running belt to test out.

This is so handy because I’ve somehow managed to mislay the two running belts I had previously. I was sent the Premium Running Waist Belt from runnershighstore.com (black, extra small) and it is fantastic.

It fits perfectly above my hips and sticks in place. It fits my iPhone 7 in it and doesn’t bounce.

I barely know I’m wearing it. It comes in different colours like bright green, yellow, pink, blue etc. and it’s very cheap compared to other brands.

And a bit of non-related running stuff… I ADORE my giant Harry Potter mug. I drink a hot chocolate every night (I know, I’m so old before my time).

I hate small drinks – if I have a tea or coffee, it’s in a big mug. And my hot chocolate is no exception! This mug Kyle got me for Christmas after a dropped my other big mug (sad face) is PERFECT 🙂

And that’s all for now folks!

Do you have certain criteria that gymwear needs to be? For me it’s got to be comfortable and look nice – I mean, fairly simple I guess!

What’s your favourite hot drink?

What’s your favourite soft drink?

**Full disclaimer: I was sent a number of these products for free to test out for my blog and social media. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Back to my usual antics…

I cannot tell you how happy I am right now with my knee.

Things have improved so much! After spending so many weeks with a knee that either constantly ached, clicked, niggled and just felt uncomfortable to slowly seeing different symptoms disappear is just fantastic. To walk down a corridor without thinking about my knee is a relief in itself. I want to do a more in depth post on the things that helped and what I did so keep an eye out for that.

This weekend was full of good stuff. Friday night Kyle and I made rocky road ready for the morning as we would be going to Netley parkrun for his 50th. I do feel somewhat bad about how long this has taken because because obviously Kyle could have gone to parkrun without me or have me support, but when I’m injured we’re both a bit more inclined to stay in bed and make the most of not having to rush out the door on a Saturday. But now my knee feels better, we’re back at it.

We made the rocky road by basically melting a load of chocolate we had stashed from Christmas and random times with a load of butter and then mixing in marshmallows, chopped glace cherries, M&M’s and broken biscuits. SO GOOD.

The next morning we luckily naturally woke up earlier than the alarm and decided to get up and sort out the rocky road as it still needed slicing. Jeeze it was hard work! And I ended up eating lots of little pieces that fell off (“tidying up”). So much sugar so early, oops. It did not make me feel that great I must say… greedy Anna strikes again.

Kyle got a milestone shout-out in the run briefing which was lovely and then we were off. I ran a fairly easy pace with my friend Mike as I hadn’t seen him a while and it was nice to have a chatty run. He was running every day in January so he was happy to plod with me. Kyle had more in his legs so zoomed off ahead.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

We ran the winter course which is harder going, but to be honest I felt very comfortable running.

Photo credit: Ken Grist

In fact, chatting to Mike just took my mind completely off how my knee was feeling and when we finished I realised I’d just had a normal run!

My time was 24:55 which I was happy with.

We then handed out rocky road chunks and cleared down the course before heading to the café for tea, more rocky road and a slice of cake from someone else celebrating a milestone.

While I enjoyed all the delicious treats, I didn’t feel it did me any favours not having had anything substantial to eat yet. But it was worth it.

After lots of chores and boring life admin, Kyle and I went to Smith and Western for an early dinner. I mean, this really is our kind of place. Lots of ribs, burgers and, of course my favourite, chicken wings. It was nice and quiet though (it apparently gets very busy and loud later with lots of birthday shout-outs).

Of course I’d already checked out the menu and knew I was almost certainly having the chicken wing sharing platter… but just for me. Kyle was tempted as well. We asked the waitress what kind of numbers we were looking at because that would dictate if we would have one each, one between us or need to order something else alongside (yes, we are greedy people).

The waitress said it was 21 wings, 7 of each flavour (Southern Comfort, BBQ and Buffalo). That sounded like a reasonable number for us to have one each. The waitress laughed at us and said we clearly loved our wings. Yep! Kyle also ordered curly fries.

When the meals came out it looked massive. The waitress then told us that they’d actually just changed their ratios of chicken wings and it was now THIRTY per platter, 10 of each flavour. Wowza! The wings were so tasty. I definitely preferred the buffalo flavour though to the sweeter ones. The BBQ was nice and tangy but the Southern Comfort was really quite sweet if you had a few in a row.

We were well and truly stuffed afterwards of course. The waitress said she was super impressed. She asked us if we wanted pudding and I was like “we’re good but we’re not THAT good”!

That said, I did somehow manage to squeeze in a couple of pieces of rocky road later on as we chilled watched a film. A sweet end to the evening 😉

The next morning I felt well and truly fuelled to go to my personal training session. With my PT we just focus on leg strength. The idea is to get me strong for running so we do a lot of running focused exercises. It’s only been the last month or so I’ve been back seeing him due to my knee, but now I feel so much stronger. My squats are back up to where they were last year (75kg – not a huge weight I guess, but for me it is!), my hip thrusts are back at 90kg and I feel GOOD. I really like seeing my PT as he knows exactly what my goals are and understands my injury history and fears.

Then I headed off to Kyle’s dad’s to have a lovely pork roast dinner. I know, who would have thought I’d be hungry again after all those wings? But clearly my stomach is a bottomless pit!

Happy times indeed 🙂

What’s your favourite roast dinner?

Do you ever see a personal trainer?

Would you say you’re greedy?

A happy knee, a happy Anna

FINALLY somewhat of a positive update with ACTUAL running.

I don’t want to jinx anything, of course, but I genuinely feel like I’m (mostly) out of the woods with this knee injury. Obviously things could easily regress back and all go wrong again but at the moment things are looking very positive.

At the weekend Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The week before I’d run a tester mile and another tester two miles and my knee had responded well. So three miles was my next challenge. I could have run the three miles on my own but I really wanted to do a parkrun as it had been so long and we could go for brunch in the amazing Parade Tearooms a short walk away.

Kyle’s mum, Sarah, came with us to support. She’s just started the Couch to 5k programme and was building up to do a parkrun herself. She wanted to see what kind of runners parkrun had and to reassure herself she wouldn’t be right at the back (she definitely wouldn’t be).

The great thing about parkrun is that firstly no one is ever last because of the tail walker and that the run is full of all different kinds of runners, of all different abilities, shapes and sizes. While she has seen a parkrun before, she’s never really watched with the interest of a potential runner.

I woke up and my knee was feeling amazing. It felt almost normal. The ever-helpful Steve Bonthrone had given me some great advice going into this run. He said I should try really hard to visualise and think about the best run I’ve ever had. This way it’ll keep me positive and stop me focusing on “how’s my knee?” or that I think I’m injured and will expect pain. This was fantastic advice.

There’s so much about having a longer term injury that’s in your head. The way you think about yourself, the issue and how much pain and discomfort you believe there to be – or expect there to be. Having Sarah there hugely helped as well as I could chat away to her about her running and her worries, which made me completely forget about mine.

It was very cold. But I do love a cold, dry and still morning for a run. You know you won’t be cold for long. We wedged ourselves within the middle – Southsea gets so busy! There were 657 runners, which is crazy. It’s a narrow area to start and a lot of bollards, fences and people to be wary of at the start so if you ever want a PB here you really need to be as much in the front as you can.

The first mile was an absolute dream. It was like the best kind of running – I felt smooth in my running and with not even a hint of difference between my legs. Through the second mile it started to feel a bit harder and I got a slight niggle just under my knee but it wasn’t concerning and it didn’t last. Whew! More than anything it was just tough on my endurance. Three miles is a long way, eh! 😉

We finished the run and my knee still felt good. Halleluiah! My time was 24:24.

To be honest, I could have gotten 28 minutes and I’d have been just as pleased! Times right now don’t matter (arguably, do they ever…).

Then we walked to the Parade Tearooms and met up with my parents for brunch. It’s lovely that Kyle and my family get on so well 🙂 My dad and Kyle ordered the fry-up while Sarah, my mum and I ordered the Jayne Salad, which is just a BEAST of a salad.

It has chicken, bacon, potatoes, coleslaw, beetroot, corn, tomatoes, berries, onion, carrot, lettuce AND a mid-way hidden layer of cheese. This salad is not for the faint of heart. The waitress even said “you can box it don’t worry”. Oh pahh-leeeease. I will be fine. The two mums however, epically failed and had to box over half for home.

It was a lovely morning, and I felt so happy and relieved that the run went well. And for the rest of the day and days after it still felt good. THANK GOD!

I had another run on Tuesday at lunchtime planned with Kyle. It had been so long since I ran at work. In fact, even people I didn’t know at work had been commenting on my lack of running! So it was so nice to don my gear and head out in the cold sunshine at lunch and go for a run. And while the run was hard work (my legs were feeling heavy from the gym) it was so wonderful to be outside in the fresh air. Yesssss!

A more sensibly paced run

So my next run is planned for tomorrow… long may this streak of good running and happy knee continue.

Do you enjoy running when it’s cold?

Do you find your parkrun getting busier and busier?

Gradually does it – a comeback?

Time for another update on what’s been going on recently with my knee.

So the last you heard on the blog was that I was getting some solid advice from Steve Bonthrone (Twitter: @pt_steveb) and I was planning another run.

Well, I attempted three miles after such a good week with my knee and it sort of blipped a bit and niggled a lot afterwards. I had a mini-meltdown (it was long-time coming to be honest). But after some ugly crying, I got a grip and re-assessed the situation (this was entirely down to some level-headed talking to from Kyle and my parents – I take no credit here in any rational arguments of the situation).

Essentially, what I assumed was a gradual comebackin my head was skewed with what “gradual” actually means to me. Three miles is not a wise move to attempt as a way to test my knee. I must remember I’m not the Anna fresh from marathon season with all the miles in my legs. With the time off I’ve had from running (10 weeks before I attempted to get back into things over Christmas) my body is no longer used to running. Trying to jump back in with what I consider to be short runs didn’t work because, no shit Anna, three miles is no longer a short run for me.

So I scaled it back, on Steve’s advice, and tried one single mile instead when my knee felt good again. The mile went fine. Afterwards it was much better so I felt very encouraged.

Two days later (Thursday) I tried two miles. Again it felt fine during the run. Afterwards it ached a bit and the next day (today) it aches a little. But it hasn’t got terribly worse and in general things feel OK. While this, I guess, is good news, I can’t get excited too quickly because my knee still isn’t as good as the other knee.

The thing is, I work in absolutes in my brain. Is my knee GOOD or is my knee BAD? There’s no in-between. However, there is in reality. I want a run to feel perfect or I want a run to feel rubbish. I can work that out in my brain how to feel then. But having the run feel good but still my knee is niggly or a bit achy after… what do I think?

I know my brain is over-analysing and over-thinking and I’m expecting too much from my comeback, so basically I need to CHILL OUT. The fact that running itself is feeling OK is a win, and unless it suddenly feels painful I think I can take it as a positive and continue building (G.R.A.D.U.A.L.L.Y) the miles up with no issues I’ll be OK.

So my plan is to continue with the good stuff Steve has advised me to do, the rehab I do at the gym and being less hyper-critical on how things feel. I’m hoping to attempt a gentle three mile parkrun tomorrow. If things continue with as they have been next week will be something similar… no sudden jump ups in mileage. Sensible Anna is back in town.

What’s a short run for you?

Do you ever have melt-downs? I’m a very emotional person it seems!