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?

A failed parkrun but an epic burger

Coming back from injury is a tumultuous and emotional process (for me anyway).

You fill yourself huge amounts of hope and excitement. Yesss I can run. I can’t wait to jump ease back into training. Things start to feel very positive after so much negativity and darkness (perhaps an exaggeration, but you get the vibe).

I woke up on Saturday morning and straight away knew my hamstring was feeling pretty terrible. The plan was for Kyle and I to go to Netley as we hadn’t been in so long and I missed seeing people I used to regularly touch base with. I wanted to catch up with my friend Mike as well. Kyle wasn’t feeling particularly well but both of us, possibly unwisely, carried on anyway.

As we walked on over to the start area I knew deep down this wasn’t going to go well but I pushed that feeling aside and convinced myself a miracle would occur.

Of course a miracle did not occur. As soon as I started running it felt uncomfortable. Not quite as bad as pre-new physio but definitely not great. Ehhhh this was pants. I was glad to have no one running with me (Kyle was running solo – I didn’t want to hold him back again). I could spend my time focusing on how it felt and wondering what to do.

I was literally spiralling through so many thoughts… do I stop? Am I making it worse? Is it as bad as before? Should I push on through? And all the while I would have different people I knew overtake me as I increasingly got slower, and they’d say something along the lines of, “Either I’m running too fast or you’re running slowly!” with a chuckle.

And I don’t mind that people are overtaking me or that I’m running slowly but it just further compounded that I wasn’t running at my natural pace. I was running well over 9 minute miles. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but I felt I couldn’t run faster. Not because of fitness but because my injury was holding me back.

So in the end I stopped before the first mile. I found a point on the course I could quickly dash off from so few people would notice. I didn’t want someone to see and ask if I was OK. I just wanted to disappear. I was embarrassed, frustrated and angry. As I pulled away from the course I burst into tears. It was pathetic really but I just felt so frustrated and annoyed.

A lovely woman walking her dog asked if I was OK and it did feel ridiculous trying to explain what was wrong. In the end I just said I was OK and I rung my dad (who later told me having a phone call from me at 9:12 on a Saturday morning is never going to bode well…).

Kyle was still running so I just sobbed to my dad about how sad I was and how I felt panicked about Chicago and how I thought I was heading in the right direction…until now.

Eventually, after morosely walking around the cricket pitch away from the course, I headed back to the parkrun area. I didn’t want to cheer anyone on. I didn’t want to talk to anyone really. I felt embarrassed and I didn’t want to explain I was injured. I found Kyle and Mike, who’d just finished, and I explained how I’d pulled out and that I just wanted to go home. Mike understood, gave me a hug and then Kyle and I left.

Kyle was obviously lovely and we had a nice day ahead of us going to Bournemouth so I quickly cheered up. We got showered and sorted and then sat in the long traffic to get to Monty’s Burger Lounge to meet up with some of Kyle’s friends.

We’ve been to this restaurant before (over a year ago!) and we loved it. I’d recently won a burger from them as well through Instagram (they ran a competition and I won it) so it was the perfect place to meet with his friends.

I gave Kyle the free burger as I’m not a huge burger fan. The burger is called The Sinner and contains chicken nuggets, hasbrowns (which I don’t like), a 12oz beef patty, pulled pork sauce and American cheese. So pretty epic.

I, of course, had two lots of BBQ chicken wings. I adore their wings. So juicy and tasty. Probably some of my BBQ flavoured favourite wings (buffalo are still my all-time favourite).

And I also had a portion of mozzarella bites (coated in cheesy Dorita crisps!).

We had a lovely time eating and chatting away to Kyle’s friends. It massively helped take my mind off of my failed run. There are so many more important things in life and having lovely people to spend your time with helps puts things into perspective 🙂

But my hamstring thankfully feels a bit better and I hope to continue trying to run. I’m seeing my new physio again this week so FINGERS CROSSED.

Have you ever got upset about a failed run?

Have you ever had a parkrun DNF?

What’s your preference: Buffalo or BBQ wings? I’m also partial to vegan wings too – either cauliflower or tempeh, both are nice!

The comeback?

Well honestly, I can’t wait for a post that isn’t about my hamstring. It’s had FAR too much air time.

It’s been a highly frustrating process, I can tell you. I’ve felt a bit like I’ve been banging my head against the wall. Some days feeling good, some days feeling very grumpy. Some days the gym helped and some days it didn’t. I removed every exercise that seemed to aggravate it but still it wasn’t improving.

Long weeks of no running

So it was time for a second opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I really rate the physio I’ve been using and he’s helped me during many niggles in the past, but after seeing him three times and it doing nothing, I needed to do something else. Time is of the essence.

Handily someone at work recommended someone to me. A sports therapist who comes to your house – VERY appealing. (If you’re in the South Coast area –> Claire Bennett). She was able to come Friday evening after I got back from work which was perfect.

I explained my issues to her, she examined the way I stood and moved etc. and then told me that my pelvis was misaligned. I was twisted in the way I was standing. This was putting pressure on my hamstring – keeping it stretched – and causing my glutes to pick up the slack and overworking them. All the discomfort and feeling like I’m restricted makes a lot of sense now.

She worked her magic and, I kid you not, I felt better literally straight away. Not perfect or fully healed 100% but SO much better. The analogy I use is that it’s like I’ve been scuffing my toe for ages because it’s been moving wrong. After fixing it to move right, the toe is no longer being scuffed… but the toe is still battered from all the scuffing and needs a bit of time to recover and get back to being a normal toes (does this make sense??).

She even said I could do parkrun the next day – which I was so excited about! I cannot tell you how happy I felt after seeing her. She literally made my day. EIGHT LONG WEEKS of this.

So the next day Kyle and I headed to Southsea parkrun. I wasn’t going to blitz it and if it hurt or felt really off I’d stop. But it already felt so much better so I was feeling confident. The physio did warn that I would ache a bit and it wouldn’t feel perfect so I had to remember that.

Kyle was going to run with me and keep me at a sensible pace. After a bit of a delay due to some delivery lorries being in the way of the course, we began.

Yes it didn’t feel perfect, yes it still niggled a little, but my range of movement was so much better and it felt like it was better. It did feel achy and the run was tough going – fitness and the pounding on my legs. It reminded me how quickly you lose everything. Anyway it’s too early to tell for certain and I’m sure it’ll take time, but I’m feeling positive.

We did just over 26 minutes and I finished smiling. Kyle found it super easy of course and revelled in being the fitter and faster one of us (when we’re both at our fittest though there really isn’t much difference to be fair).

Then we celebrated by getting brunch at the Parade Tearooms. Brunch for me being the Jayne Salad. IT IS THE BEST SALAD IN THE WORLD.

It is ginormous. Roasted new bpotatoes, bacon, cheese, coleslaw, cucumber, tomatoes, salad leaves, strabwerries, sweetcorn, onion, beetroot and I added chicken… It’s wonderful.

Anyway, fingers crossed my hamstring keep improving and I’m able to actually begin training.

What’s your favourite thing in a salad?

How long has been your longest time off of running? I think mine was 11 weeks.

parkruns and training

I haven’t been as “on it” with my blog latey so I thought I’d do a little recap of things going on over here.

Unsurprisingly to many and disappointingly to myself, speed training has not been happening. The intention and motivation is definitely there but a few things have gotten in the way.

I did actually turn up at a speed training session with my club, Hedge End RC. The problem was I did a few miles beforehand as I arrived early and my legs were just not playing ball. It was a tough grind just to run easy. I thought after the first mile they might loosen up and things might feel better but it was such an effort to keep going.

I know what the issue was. I did my killer stair machine workout that morning (my personal trainer recommended adding this in to increase hip and glute strength). FOOLISH. Very foolish to try doing this the morning of a potential speed training day.

I saw some of my friends who tried to persuade me to stay but I knew it would be a mistake. I would either just flop in the session or I would push too hard, motivated by everyone around me, and then burn out during the week. So I canned it and went home. Weak willed? Or smart? I’m not sure.

Then the Southampton Half happened and that rinsed me…and then this week I wasn’t well yesterday (female problems I won’t bore you with) so settled for a gentle 6 miles at home instead.

Despite all this, I do feel like I’m making gains at parkrun – the marker that I test my fitness on. A couple of weeks ago, Kyle and I went to Southsea parkrun. The real reason was because we wanted to go to the Parade Tearooms afterwards (that GIANT salad… I live for it), but also because it would be nice to do a flat parkrun rather than the godawful Havant parkrun close to Kyle’s where we were staying.

Whereas Kyle was a bit more sensible and decided to have more of a gentle parkrun the day before the Southampton Half I decided to just go for it.

I started and my legs were a bit “meh”. It was tough to get going but I pushed on. There was no real wind so that was something. I managed to push the pace and was VERY chuffed with my final mile.

I got 20:22 which I was buzzing about. I’d hoped to be around 20:30! I’m nowhere near my PB (19:40) but it’s a good sign going forward and good motivation to DO SOME SPEEDWORK.

Last weekend we were at Netley Abbey and coincidentally it was the cricket pitch course. Known as the “Marmite course” because it’s five laps round a field… dull but flat.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

I was ready to give it another blast. My legs, however, were not. I started running – going out fast – and quickly realise woooahhh no this is not going to happen. I cannot maintain this.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

I pulled it a little bit and tried to just maintain a tempo style speed. It was a total grind though.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

Kyle wasn’t far behind me and that helped motivate me forward. Not that I mind Kyle being faster than me or overtaking, but it’s nice to use that as something to keep me pushing on.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

My friend Mike, who was out due to a hamstring issue, kept cheering us both – telling me where Kyle was and then telling Kyle to get a move on. It helped us both for definite! It boosted a bit of friendly competition.

I feel a bit bad as I told Kyle it was five laps, but it’s actually 5.5 laps so when we got to the fifth lap Kyle had already begun his sprint finish… and then realised actually he still had a chunk to go.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

He’d have probably caught me at the end. He’s far more powerful at sprinting than I am.

Photo credit: Benji Vee

I scraped 21:13 and it felt very much a tough grind, but hey ho I will take it! Had a little pose next to the INCREDIBLE castle and dragon carved in to a tree chunk in the new “fairy garden”. Wowza.

I was very pleased to enjoy some EXTREMELY tasty rocky road at the end made by the lovely Alana. I had two pieces and then some chocolate cake in the cafe. All before 10.30am – that my friends is a winning Saturday!

So there we have it, my speedwork update… or lack thereof. I will endeavor to do better!

How do you do with consistent speed training?

What determines if you’re going to push at a parkrun or not?

What’s your favourite rocky road additions? I love a bit of biscuit in there.

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?