parkrun, pb’s and popcorn!

Hey everyone! So I braved the weather on Saturday morning and went for my first parkrun. My Dad and brother have been going to it quite regularly, so I picked them up and we all went together.

I loved it!

I had to register on-line first, and they emailed me a barcode, which I kept in a sandwich bag in my running top as it needed to be waterproof. It really was pouring down. The run started on the edge of the park, right by the car park, so we stayed in the car until about 5 to 9. There were loads of people (131 to be exact)! I saw a few people from the Sweatshop run, so we had a chat before it started (right on the bells of the church- I like a run that starts on time).

I thought my Dad would run ahead, as he is faster, but he stayed with me which was fab- we had a nice chat. We had to run along a path into the wind and rain, down to the lake, 3 laps of the lake, then back up to the path. At least the wind would be behind us on the final stretch, we thought. The wind was tough, and I felt like I was going slow, but each time I glanced at my watch I could see 8- something for the mile pace- very fast for me!  At least with the laps of the lake we had the wind behind us for a bit, and could catch our breath before heading back into the wind again.

The whole system is so clever- at the end my Dad went a bit ahead, and you had to run through a little chute (well basically 2 mini temporary fences) and you were handed a little plastic chip. I stopped my Garmin on 27.10, although I was not sure if I had started it as exactly the right time. I was super pleased with that, but wanted to find my official time. Then we joined another queue (and cheered home my brother who was only minutes behind)- then someone scanned your barcode and chip- it is just so clever.

Later I got an email with all sorts of stats- my time, age grading, position, gender position, number of parkruns completed etc. I was 82nd, but only the 16th female. My official time was 27.12, which is a new pb for me. For Jantastic the March part was to choose a distance and predict your time- you get 100% if you predict it exactly, and lose if you are too slow or too fast- it is all about predicting your fitness. Anyway, I rashly put down a 27 min 5k (although I just checked and actually I put down 27 hours!), as that was what I was hoping for, without really working it out. Pretty close indeed!

After we had a quite chat to the Sweatshop people, clapped home a few more runners, and then wimped out and went back to the car- it was raining hard, very windy, and we were all getting very cold once we had stopped.

My mum had offered to make us pancakes for breakfast (she came home from hospital in the week but is meant to be taking it easy!)- pancakes and Earl Grey tea was a welcome breakfast indeed.

I am hoping to go next week too. They ask you to volunteer 3 times a year (the volunteers were great- cheering runners on and honestly standing about in that weather must be worse than running in it) so I will have to make sure I do that at some point too. There was a huge range of people- there were club runners with their vests on (I think the winner did it in about 16 mins something), but there were people run/ walking, kids running, people with buggies- it seemed very inclusive.

Onto the popcorn- a while ago Sainsbury’s sent me some popcorn to trial. I have to say that salt and vinegar is my favourite crisp flavour (really the only flavour I like) and this popcorn did not disappoint. I loved it- the vinegar flavour was nice and strong- good to nibble on (or to top up the salt levels after a run). I was not such a fan of the cheese and chive- it was not too cheesy, but I just don’t like that flavour so much. I did see that they do apple and cinnamon, which I think sounds amazing! Although I think it was maybe a festive flavour? Will have to have a look next time I am there.

This morning Andy and I had planned a run together- as the weather was awful, and I was a bit tired after yesterday, we chose a slightly shorter route. It was really enjoyable going out together again- nice to have time to chat (or gasp, as we were charging up hills)- it was strange as my legs were not that tired, but I was finding breathing harder than usual. Anyway, at the 10k point I looked at my watch, and it was on 58.58 (easy to remember)- woohoo a proper sub 60 min 10k! We did 7 miles, and just as we were coming to the roads by home it started raining lightly, and as we got in the front door it bucketed down- jammy with our timing!

I think Andy has decided that he wants to get me to do our next half in under 2 hours (I suppose that is the next time bracket to aim for) and he knows I run faster with him (or with anyone basically) so he is quite keen to plan the weekend runs in. After that I was starving, but we were going out for breakfast, so I had an apple and persimmon before we went to (where else?) The Waffle House (and again, it was not even my idea!). The trouble was, we ended up there over lunch time, so I think despite being awake since about 7am, running 7 miles, I didn’t eat a meal until about 1pm. I paid for that later with a headache while we were out shopping- I didn’t want to not be hungry for a waffle, but I think I could have eaten 2!

Ah well, overall it has been a fab weekend- 2 pb’s to boot 🙂

How was your weekend? Anyone tempted to sign up for a parkrun?

Guest post- Where to stay for the London Marathon

Hey folks,

I hope you are all keeping warm and dry! I have a guest post today, so enjoy:

Where to stay for the London Marathon

In less than two months over 30,000 people will embark on one of the greatest and challenging races on the planet, the London Marathon. Raising money for charitable causes and gaining the satisfaction that you’ve completed a 26.2 mile run is all part of the London  Marathon. Even if you don’t complete it, the fact that you’ve been a part of such a noteworthy event is an accomplishment in itself.

Runners can spend an entire year or more training for the marathon, it’s a test of fitness, endurance and mentality. We’re sure there is no other feeling quite like it than passing the finishing line and raising awareness for your chosen charity.

After a long slog, trying to complete the marathon in the best time you possibly can (the record time was set by Emmanuel Mutai who completed the race in 2:04:40), you’re sure to be needing some rest, putting those tired feet up and enjoying one of the best sleeps of your life.

So after completing the race where would you rather stay; in a hotel room or a serviced apartment? We’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of both these accommodations to see what would be better for competitors and their family.

All I care about is a bed: Then we would recommend a hotel, especially if you’d prefer to be alone. However, it might be cheaper to rent a serviced apartment on a short-let stay as you will be able to split the cost between each person.

I want to pamper myself after a long sleep: Either type of accommodation can cater for this, but it can be quite costly – budget hotels and serviced accommodation won’t normally have these facilities, but paying that little bit extra will be worth it if you want to rejuvenate and treat yourself to a spa.

I need my own living space: This is a common request; some people just need their own space to breathe and think about their accomplishments. A serviced apartment is ideal for those who want a lounge with satellite TV and comfortable sofas, along with a kitchen and dining area. If you were to book with a hotel you would need to go into the public lounge or dining area, or alternatively order room service – another costly venture.

I don’t want to spend too much money: This is a tricky one to advise on, as there are many budgets to cater for. Both a hotel or serviced apartments can provide you with a money-saving alternative, so we would suggest that you do your research and look for places that cater to all of your requirements at a reasonable price.  We have noticed that one provider, Refresh Accommodation have a special 15% off offer for an apartment in South Kensington– something that could be ideal for those who don’t want to venture too far from the finishing line.

I want to be with my family and/or friends:  Your supporting family and friends can be accommodated in both a hotel or serviced apartment, it all depends how close you want them to be. When booking with a hotel you’ll have your own rooms and will have to establish meeting points and times. However, renting an apartment will allow you to have your own private quarters, but share living areas, cutting out the need to organise meets. It all depends on your preferences and how you act when tired. After all you’ve just completed a 26.2 mile run, it’s understandable if you don’t want to see anyone when you’re tired and run down.

Comparing these pros and cons, it’s not clear what type of accommodation would be best for marathon runners and their supportive family. Everyone is unique, which makes each requirement special. However, we do hope that this article has helped you decide what is best for you. Good luck with the marathon and here’s an early congratulations.


This post made me think about my own marathon experience. The Stockholm marathon was on Saturday, so we flew up there on Friday night, and had a hotel there for a few days (I think we came home on the Tuesday) as we wanted to see the city. On reflection an apartment would have been better as on the Sunday I was so stiff and could barely move- all I wanted to do was lay on the bed (hard to find a comfy position!) but we had to go out to get food etc. We did manage a hobble around the city on the Sunday, but not for very long. I remember going sideways down the underground stairs, one at a time, and wishing I had worn my marathon t-shirt so the people knew why I was having such trouble! When we did the 20 mile training run (on my 30th birthday!) we had a self catering cottage which was ideal.

If you do races, do you prefer local ones or ones further afield? And what sort of accommodation do you look for? 

Avocado obsession

So, until about a year ago I didn’t think I liked avocados. Once when I was younger I had some, although I was told it was “avocado-pear”- so I was expecting pear. When I tasted it, it was so strange that it put me off for years. (The same thing happened to be with hummus as I thought it was honey- who knows why!).

I liked guacamole, and then a few times had sandwiches and wraps that contained avocados, and it turned out that I quite liked it. That has now turned into a bit of an obsession. Ocado sell them in packs of 3, and they are lovely and ripe, so I have been enjoying them with different meals this week.

Andy made a yummy sweet potato chilli (roasted sweet potatoes, onion, red+yellow peppers, tomatoes, and a load of chilli)- it was super spicy so I needed the avocado to calm my mouth down!

That was enjoyed after my Monday night run- that was possibly the coldest I have ever been on a run as the wind was so cold- I really felt like my eye sockets were going to shatter or something!

I made another mexican casserole thing- basically I roast chopped celery, peppers, red onion, cook some quinoa, wilt some spinach in the quinoa, then add passata, chilli, sweetcorn and beans, and then freeze. I enjoyed one portion with avocado after going to aerobics on Tuesday- I had not been in ages and it was fab! Although we did a lot of plank things at the end and I have been sore since.

On Wednesday I went to the Sweatshop run- thankfully it was not as cold as Monday, but it did start snowing quite heavily while we were out- luckily it was not settling so it just fogged up my glasses. The group stayed pretty much together and did just over 5K. I was trying to look at my watch to see what I did the 3.1 miles in, but because I was where the streetlights were out I missed it. I think it was about 28 mins though. I was given the nutrition pack as I have completed 25 runs (well actually it was last week, but they didn’t have any last week). Exciting!

I got confused when planning meals this week, so I had to do freezer lucky dip for Wednesday- I found a butternut squash chilli (think it had celery, peppers, onions, squash and sweet potato in there) so I had that with some salad and beetroot that needed using up. I love how you can see the steam in the picture.

I went to Body Pump tonight, and we got to try the new release. I was glad to see the back of the “Welcome to the Jungle” chest track from last time. It was tough. But in a good way I think. The chest track was really hard (you had to do some sets starting at the bottom, and some starting at the top, which meant it felt like there were no mini rests or anything)- it was a good song (Muse) which always helps. The triceps is back to having the bar, dips and the dreaded overhead things (I hate them!)- means it is tougher which is good I suppose. The lunges track is really challenging- instead of the leaps at the end, you stand with your feet either side of the step, and then jump up. The abs was really different as there were no planks- it was all on your back doing leg raises and some weird push up move things. I am aching already!

After my shower I had a lovely snack plate of yoghurt, persimmon and some little marzipan hearts (Christmas chocolates).

I have signed up to Parkrun and I am planning on going to one this Saturday morning with my Dad and brother, although I just caught the weather and it looks like it is going to be raining hard- not so good. I hope I don’t wimp out!

Right, I am off to get my PJ’s ready for Comic Relief tomorrow (yup, wearing them to work!)- what are your weekend plans?

Lord Poppington’s review

A while ago I was sent some popcorn to sample, from Lord Poppington’s.

First up, I love the name! And the packaging is bright and eye catching, and makes the flavours pretty clear (seems simple, but so many packets are hard to read I think and you can spend ages looking for ingredients, what the flavour is etc).

They some in four flavours- Sweet and Salty, Lightly Sea-salted, Chilli and Lime, and Four Cheese.

I really liked this popcorn- it was “proper” stuff, and not coated in that crunchy solid syrup like a lot of popcorns are. The salty was good- I am not a massive salty fan, but it was not too salty for me. You could have one packet to yourself (they are pretty low calorie), but they are pretty big so we tended to share. I am not keen on cheese flavour things anyway, and I am afraid the Four Cheese one was too cheesy for me- however I took the packet to work, and other people enjoyed it, so if cheese flavour is your thing then they are worth a try.

The Sweet and Salty was my favourite as I do prefer sweet flavours- the salt stopped it being too sweet I suppose. Plus it was so nice to have a sweet popcorn that was not all crunchy- those ones end up sticking to your teeth too.

The Chilli and Lime was a very orange colour, I suppose due to the chilli powder. It was spicy, but it was not too strong. I am quite a wuss when it comes to spicy food, so I didn’t have a lot of it, but I did have more than just a taste so it was not overpowering. The lime flavour came through (zingy) and they really reminded me of something, but I am not sure what- it is still annoying me now!

Although I don’t find popcorn very filling, it is a good snack for when you fancy something to nibble on, and the serving sizes are generous. The perfect movie night snack.

I like the range of flavours- and who knows perhaps they will start making more flavours? I would go for a salt and vinegar one, or maybe a sweet cinnamon one. What would your ideal popcorn flavour be?

Snowy weekend

Hey peeps, I hope everyone is well.

Let me see, where did I leave off last time?? On Friday evening I had an unsuccessful attempt to visit my Mum, as the traffic was so awful I had to turn around and come home, but never mind, people are allowed mobile phones in hospitals now, so at least we could have a chat.

Andy bought us a present- this massive bag of Earl Grey teabags! (He is quite partial to it too and it only cost £2!)

On Saturday morning I went for a run before breakfast- there is a 6 mile loop that I fancied doing, and I decided to go for as close to an hour as I could. I think I am still worried about starting off too fast in case I get to the furthest point from home and my legs fall off or something, but I am getting better at knowing my pace. Anyway, it was fast for me, but it still felt OK- I felt like I had pushed myself, but not like I had exhausted myself. I couldn’t start the Garmin until 0.1 miles (I checked the distance on the way back) so although it was 6.2 miles, my Garmin tracked 6.1 miles in 59 mins! I am hoping that I would have done the 0.1 mile in a minute, and it means I am getting close to that sub 60 min 10k.

After breakfast (pancakes with apple, pear and mincemeat) we headed up to Norwich. Andy had a ticket for the football, so I decided to go with him and look around the town. We only just made it in time as the town centre traffic was so awful (and all the car parks were full), so he rushed off and I wandered around the town centre.

It was raining heavily at first, but soon that turned to snow. I ended up buying quite a lot- a new wallet and bag for work from Fat Face.

I bought a few bits from Holland and Barrett (mint tea, a bounce ball although I really wanted the coconut one but they didn’t have it, cocoa nibs, plus earl grey tea lip balm- how exciting- from White Stuff- navy nail polish, peanut butter and key lime pie locally made chocolate, and some Hotel Chocolat too.

I found a tearoom and had a mint tea and a scone for a belated lunch (and they didn’t even have jam to go on the scone), although what I really wanted was lemon cake but they didn’t sell it. When I told Andy later he told me I should have gone to The Waffle House- I had forgotten there was a Norwich branch and he passed it on his way to the ground. I was annoyed with myself then! I went back to the hotel and painted my nails in the new blue varnish- I had packed some pink but of course it is always better using the new stuff. When Andy got back from the football we braved the horrible weather (cold heavy snow and slushy slippery pavements) and headed for Giraffe for dinner.

This morning we were planning on going to Cafe Rouge, as we have some vouchers, but decided on The Waffle House instead. Their menu was similar to the St Albans one, but they also had additional waffles, plus you could get small or large for some of them (I always say this to the St Albans one), and they did a lunch time deal- 2 waffles for £7.05- bargain! Anyway, there were a couple of items on the breakfast menu that our local one does not so, so I went for one of those. It was a fruit and nut waffle, with dried fruit and nuts baked in to the waffle, served with a fruit compote, natural yoghurt and crushed nuts. And of course you can add maple syrup to it too.

The photo does not do it justice.  Andy had a normal breakfast one with scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes. And of course a pot of tea for us each! That fruit compote was so delicious- really sharp and tangy with the blackcurrants and raspberries- mmmm.

We were originally planning on going somewhere on the way home- the seaside or something, but it was snowing, sort of hailing, freezing cold and wet, so after another wander around the town we headed home.

I stopped off to see my Mum, and by the time I got home I was starving! It was about 5pm I think, so that waffle had done a pretty good job of keeping me going. I had some chilli and lime popcorn (it was very orange although I don’t think it has shown up that well)- it was pretty spicy but you could still taste the lime. I don’t find popcorn very filling so I had the bounce ball too, and a persimmon.

I can’t believe all this snow though, and also how cold it is, yet again. I don’t mind the cold, but it does seem totally freezing out there. At least the snow had not settled properly I suppose. Easter is only 3 weeks away- surely it should be Spring by then????

Did you have a good weekend? Where do you like to go for a weekend away?