My parkrun challenge – Southsea! 

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Week 5 of #myparkrunchallenge and I visited one of my favourite places of all, Southsea in Portsmouth. Southsea is particularly special to me as I not only have many happy memories spent here as a child but also many memories spent with my own little one (not so little anymore)

  
    
    
 
No matter what the weather, as soon as I see the promenade I feel instantly nostalgic. For this and many other reasons, I was particularly excited about running my very first parkrun at Southsea! It was also the first week I had some company for my challenge!
   
 

It was as cold and as breezy as usual on the seafront this particular Saturday morning, but with no rain in sight I certainly didn’t complain.
After 4 parkruns previous and with my training finally back on track after injury, I got a little too excited at the prospect of a PB, on this notoriously flat run.

9am start and after a perfect beginners meeting it was time to get into the crowd. Thanks to the wind in the right direction I ran my first mile at 8.25 and was gob smacked to say the least! I hadn’t seen a time like that in months! Second lap was 8.45 and I began to get ahead of myself. Then the final lap hit and so did the ridiculous wind and with it my PB was lost! 

The final lap took me down the same route I faced in the Great South Run and all my memories flooded back, they weren’t great memories, it was the toughest stretch I had ever faced.

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After the most excruciating final mile I finished the Southsea parkrun in 28.08, two minutes or so slower than my best 5K but it was fine by me, I was just glad to finish.

  
   

   

Regardless of the wind and my lost PB I still really loved Southsea parkrun, it is completely flat but certainly not an easy run in February winds so do not underestimate it! However, definitely  worth a visit!

I am looking for suggestions in Hampshire for week 6, so any ideas feel free to comment below 🙂

Follow my challenge on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to follow the blog! 

Until next time,

N x

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My parkrun Challenge – Southampton Common

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It was a grey morning for week 4 of #myparkrunchallenge and I was starting to panic on route to Southampton parkrun as they rain began to hit my windscreen. “You can do this, it’s only a little rain.” I said to myself, and I’d run many runs in the rain so what was another one? 

  

As I arrived at Cemetary Road near Southampton Common the rain had stopped, phew! Parking was easy as a long stretch of road was filled with empty spaces and I had about 15 minutes until the start of the run. 

  

All parked up I made my way to the common taking in the trees and birds on my way, I was feeling good.

  

As I arrived at the start I was shocked at how busy it was, I had been told it was the busiest parkrun around with sometimes 700 runners but hadn’t anticipated quite how busy that would feel. The closure of nearby Eastleigh parkrun had meant there were several more parkrun tourists eager to get their weekly 5k in.

  

The atmosphere was interesting, it was busy but I felt slightly more alone than I had done in my previous weeks as I hadn’t spoken to anyone since I arrived.

The race began and as like most parkruns the start is chaotic as everyone is trying to get a good position and in this case avoid the muddy field! 

  

I found my spot and began to enjoy the scenery, it took me back to last April and the day I ran the ABP Southampton Half, part of the route runs through the Common and I felt all nostalgic and warm inside. This feeling began to deplete    once I realised this wasn’t a “flat” course after all, and once again the description lied! Two laps of the same course were really not too bad and to be fair it was mostly flat with the exception of one everlasting hill featured on both laps. 

With the run nearly over I found my way to the finish, overtaking a runner who had been stop-starting, overtaking me and dropping back all through the run, kind of annoying, so at the last stretch I sprinted past him but somehow he managed to get past me at the very end. Then began the queue to get to the scanners, we weren’t given a token but had to remain in the position we finished, I guess due to the amount of people running it they had a different system to the other parkruns which was unusual. Finally got my wristband scanned and had my first conversation with a nice guy who complemented me on my time. 

  

I had managed my quickest parkrun in months, still nowhere near my PB but it was proof enough that I was getting back to where I was, even if it was slowly.

  
I headed back to my car really damn pleased with myself and able to take on the rest of my Saturday! Yippee!!!

  

Southampton parkrun ✔️ all in all a good parkrun, easy to get to, easy to park and a nice scenic route round the common, mostly on gravel path so no trail trainers needed. The only downside is the amount of people and the token thing at the end but other than that I would definitely come back again!

If you want to follow #myparkrunchallenge visit me on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to follow the blog for more running tales!

Until next time 
N x

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My parkrun challenge – Winchester 

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On week 3 of #myparkrunchallenge to run as many different parkruns as possible in 2016, I visited the beautiful, historic city of Winchester, only 20 minutes from home and a city I know and love, and recently got married in ❤️❤️❤️❤️  

 
Winchester parkrun is held at the grounds of the River Park Leisure Centre, really close to the town centre but due to the damn one way system you have to go the long way round. Parking is 90p for two hours, get there early to get a space as it’s very busy with swimming lessons.
  

Unbeknown to me the Winchester parkrun was very much a trail run course with a fraction of the course run on pavement. I had neglected to find out this fact before hand and stupidly opted for road trainers, this was mistake number 1. 

9am and a slightly hungover Nikki who had given herself fifteen minutes to get up and ready in the morning after a night of too many proseccos and lots of cheese, wasn’t in the best shape for a muddy parkrun.

After meeting some newbies and other fellow parkrun tourists for a really welcoming beginners meeting it was nearly time to run.

  
It was extremely apparent quite early on that although it was a flat course it wasnt going to be easy. After heavy rain all night the field was caked in sticky mud and so I figured it certainly wasn’t going to be my best performance yet.

  
It was a lot colder than I had anticipated but thankfully no rain. Three loops of a scenic field and a little bridge and I was slipping and sliding all over the place in my stupid road trainers and at certain points I felt like I was on a treadmill going backwards! 

  
Finally after a dismally slow run which was probably about the same pace as I had run at my second ever parkrun, I was finished…. and got to have my brand new parkrun wristband scanned! 😀 

  
 
Greeted with some flapjacks and other assorted snacks by some sweet teen volunteers 👍

  

  
All in all a really nice atmosphere at the Winchester parkrun, scenic route and although I’m not usually the biggest fan of loops I was really happy about the lack of hills. Really welcoming volunteers, really friendly and I will be back again…. in the Summer! 

If you want to get involved in my challenge, follow #myparkrunchallenge on Twitter ! Any parkrun recommendations greatly appreciated! 

Until next time…

N x

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My parkrun challenge – Netley Abbey 

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On a misty January morning I got up and got ready for week 2 of #myparkrunchallenge.

My challenge to run as many different parkruns as possible in a year took me to the beautiful Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley, Hampshire, home of the Netley parkrun! 

I left my house with plenty of time to arrive early and with half an hours drive from my home in Bishops Waltham it gave me plenty of time to wake up. 

A few minutes (or so I thought) from the destination and I realised the post code on the website had taken me to the wrong place! After a few queries from the public and another fellow parkrun tourist I was able to get to Netley with fifteen minutes to spare! Result! 

  

As I turned into the park I was really quite surprised to see a stunning country park full of greenery on one side and the sea on the other! The only word to describe it was “wow” and I figured the rest of the day would go a little better then it started! I even managed to spot a fellow crusader and have a good chat with another tourist on her 50th different parkrun venue! 

  

9am and the run began, taking me across the park and along the waterfront, into woods caked in mud (naturally) up some quite challenging hills and back down and round again for three loops. 

  

It was really lovely scenery, the slightly narrow paths meant there was little room for over taking and you had to watch the runners on the left hand side over lap you but because of this I was able to spot Iwan Thomas OBE over take me! It’s not every week you get to see a member of running royalty so that was pretty cool! 

  

Three laps nearly over and I was on the final stretch back to the finish, with a beautiful building on my right it was a pretty cool way to finish.

  

A big thumbs up to Netley parkrun, I shall be back again for sure! 

  
 

Next week I’ll be taking on Winchester! Come see me! 

Until next week….

N x

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My Park Run Challenge!

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Every Saturday morning after sleeping in way too long I grab my phone and begin scrolling through the many Park Run posts on my Twitter feed and it makes me sad! Why? Because my lazy arse couldn’t make it to Park Run by 9am and now I have to spend all day feeling guilty about it.

All this changed this week when I decided to start #MyParkRunChallenge – To run as many different Park Runs as I can in 2016!

I decided not to set myself up an unrealistic challenge as some weeks it will be impossible to attend, but on every available Saturday I will take part in Park Run! A weekly free, timed 5K which happens all over the country!

This week I was able to start and I began my challenge pretty much where it all started nearly two years ago, at Havant Park Run. This is a particularly scenic, mixed terrain, off-road route at the beautiful Staunton Country Park and with a couple of tough hills is certainly no easy 5K.

I have to admit I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Park Run as I always want to beat my PB and as I usually push myself to the point of vomiting it’s not usually that enjoyable. This week however, after coming back from a persistent injury, I went in with the mindset of just finishing the run without stopping no matter what the pace was.

7.30am I awoke after a really good nights sleep, got ready and set off into the crisp morning air! On arrival I realised just how cold it was as some of the puddles were iced over!

9am and off we went on our merry way, avoiding icy pavements and into crispy mud which was quite fun actually! It was super cold I don’t think I got hot at any point during the run.

31 minutes later and the run was over, I hadn’t checked my pace at all during the run so had no idea what to expect and in the conditions it was totally fine with me. I was 23rd out of 126 women in my gender  so not all bad! I also forgot my barcode! Stupid me!

My Park Run Challenge – Week 1 complete! Now I can go on with my weekend guilt free! Yippee!

Now I just have to decide where to run next week, so any suggestions near or far I would love to hear!

Leave me a comment below or Tweet me!

You can also follow me and my Park Run Challenge on Instagram 

If you fancy taking on the challenge yourself don’t forget to hash tag #MyParkRunChallenge 😁 and let me know all about it!

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Until next time

N x


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5 fun things to do that aren’t running! 

5 fun things to do that aren’t running! 

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Unfortunately as runners we are often plagued with injuries, these injuries often mean we can’t run and are left feeling utterly miserable! 

Injured runner? Well, in the hope I may help you stay sane on your road to recovery, I thought I would share with you 5 interesting things to do that aren’t running and I urge you to try them all!

1 – Rock climbing!

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Don’t write it off straight away, the first time I tried this I was utterly addicted! I came to believe I had the upper body strength of a small child my whole lifebut realised once I began attempting to climb the over-hang that my strength wasn’t so bad after all. Certainly something to try at least once!

2 – Surfing!

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By far one of the most intense sports I have ever tried. After my first surf lesson I vowed to get a camper, my own board and basically move to Newquay as I loved it so much. As you can gather, that didn’t quite happen but after managing to stand up and surf a wave eventually it’s something I’m massively keen to try again. You won’t believe how warm you are in a wet suit in freezing cold water! It’s outrageous!

3 – Mountain hiking 

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Low impact and totally relaxing, hiking is perfect for injured runners providing your injury isn’t too severe. One of the most breathtaking moments of my life was reaching the summit of Mount Snowdon. It certainly wasn’t Everest but it was still pretty epic, definitely something for the bucket list!

3 – Archery!

  

 A sport I would have usually associated to small boys and school trips, this is something I had my first go at at 31 years old. I can tell you, I wish I had tried it sooner cos it was so much fun and I even managed to hit the target!

5- kayaking!

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If you want a relaxing workout (if such a thing exists) kayaking is the one! Again, another new thing I tried just this Summer and I loved it. Paddling around an old wreckage in the middle of the Portsmouth Solent was a hell of a way to spend a beautiful sunny morning! My arms were killing me for a good three days after, maybe an alternative to the weights?

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What do you do for exercise when you’re injured? Comment below or tweet me @FitandNix

Don’t forget to follow the blog 🙂

Until next time…

N x

The Great South Run – 25th October 2015

Nikki Smith from Bishops Waltham, Hampshire with Paula Radcliffe at the launchthe 2015 Great South Run at HMS Victory, Portsmouth.

Today I wake up in general post race agony after taking on the hardest race of my life….

After taking part in the official Great South Run photo-call earlier in the year and meeting the amazing Paula Radcliffe, the build up for the Great South Run was bigger than ever for me. Unfortunately, after a persistant irritated nerve, three weeks of what felt like utter exhaustion with no running at all, and a week of illness the week of the great south run didn’t start too well. 

Race day came and although the bug might have gone, then came the nervous tummy, brill! Dosed up on Imodium, ibuprofen and caffeine tablets I was as ready as I would ever be to take on the biggest race in Portsmouth.

We arrived early by train, it was a good decision as Southsea common was extremely busy and the runners were flowing in continuously. The atmosphere was electric, after only ever visiting as a spectator, I was super excited to be a runner today although I certainly didn’t feel like it…

9.45am and time for a team Crusaders photo!

Buzzing from the atmosphere we headed to the bag drop which appeared unmanned and our bags were basically shoved in a pile next to a letter of the alphabet! Not ideal.

Another quick pre-race pic…

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A quick coffee, toilet stop then we got in our White wave…

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There was roughly a five minute delay to start after the previous wave, quick warm up, then we were off.

My first three miles were going well, averaging 9.22 which didn’t feel too bad, with amazing views past the beautiful historic dockyard…

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and through the streets of Portsmouth, with cheers from the amazing Fareham crusaders really helping. Then it began to go downhill rapidly, never trust the first three miles! I’m not entirely sure exactly what went wrong, but my legs felt heavy, I had no energy and the various jelly babies and glucose tabs were not really helping and if they did I didn’t notice the effects. 

After 5.5 miles I was ready to give up, my injury was actually not hurting but my new compression socks had given me severe blisters on the bottoms of my feet and it was agony. It felt like my feet were on fire, not to mention the weather was a beautiful 16 degrees with little to no breeze! Every time there was a water stop I had to grab the opportunity to throw some water on myself! It was becoming unbearable. The water stops were a plenty though, which was a relief.

Thousands of spectators lined the streets once we hit the main corner near Clarence pier near the seafront at around 6 miles. A few more friendly crusaders appeared on the corners of canoe lake to take a couple of photos, perfect contenders for the ugliest race photos blog…

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Me saying “Please take a good one!” he didnt…. Cheers Ian! Lol

Then there was a shower, not a rain shower but a little run through mist area, I’ve never seen it before and it was brill! So refreshing! Great touch!

The last 4 miles were the most difficult, I had dropped from 9.2-11 minute miles after all the water stops and I was showing no signs of speeding up. It took all the mental strength I had inside me to not give up, and with runners dropping like flies to a walk it made it even more challenging.

At around mile 7-7.5 I hit the dreaded wall, but, there was an awesome guy in his garden banging out the tunes on Henderson Road, I arrived to Taylor Swift, “Shake it off” and I can tell you that was honestly my highest point of the race! I was buzzing down the road, at least for a few minutes anyway, so a massive thank you to whoever you were on Henderson Road, what a legend! 

On the same stretch I was also motivated by three ladies from the Gosport Road Runners, who encouraged me to not give up with one lovely lady walking with me for a bit, giving me her water and helping push me on my way! I was so thankful! What an awesome club! 

The last two miles approached, I saw another group of Crusaders, then the bit everyone had been talking about arrived, the seafront stretch. I was so looking forward to a seaside breeze but, nothing, just a loooooooong stretch of beating sun. The worst part about this section is there is a giant inflatable arch which looks like a finish line, then you get there and realise you still have a mile to go….. Argh!

Exhausted, but with metres after metres disappearing behind me, the finish line was finally in sight…

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I managed to pick up the pace on the last stretch but couldn’t manage a sprint finish. After the toughest 10 miles of my life, it was all over.

It was a long way out of the finish area and all I wanted to do was get my bloody socks and trainers off! I Collected my goody bag which came in the form of a drawstring Morrisons shopping bag, quite quirky!

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The goody bag was packed with fruit bars, crisps and even pasta! We got a free T-shirt, but the medal was a little disappointing, I’ve seen better and you had to fish it out of the bag and put it on yourself which was slightly naff.

I managed to finally escape the crowd and collapsed in a heap on the muddy grass, wet bum, but I didn’t care! After a little rest and some people watching, I hobbled over to my family on Castle fields.

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I finished my first GSR in 1.44, when I should have finished in around 1.34, but, under the circumstances it wasn’t at all a surprise, just more of a disappointment at such a monumental race in my home town of Portsmouth.

Around 20,000 runners descended on Portsmouth on the 25th October 2015, with running royalty such as Jo Pavey on site. I might not have beaten my 10 mile PB but, I still managed to finish in the top 50% and in the circumstances I can’t complain.

Funnily enough there was another Nikki Smith who seemed to have stolen my race! Lol so this is what I will be aiming for next year…. And I will get it.

The great south run 2015 nearly beat me, but I’ll be back next year, stronger, faster and ready and deserving of a PB!

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Until next time, feeling very proud to be from the amazing Portsmouth! Home of the best 10 mile race in the world! 

N x

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