I ruined my Race for Life

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I take part in the Cancer Research UK Race for Life event every year because it’s local, my friends and colleagues join in, it’s a fun run for charity, and because historically it has a guaranteed great atmosphere with hoards of supporters. The event caters for runners, joggers and walkers and encourages everyone of every age and ability to participate.

Instead of taking part in the standard 5K run last year, I completed the ‘Pretty Muddy’ version with my cousin Harriet, which was an anti-climax and super disappointing: there was little atmosphere and no mud until the very end. I reverted back to the usual 5K event this year, which took place on Sunday 4th June.

I picked mum up and parked with ease near Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells, with just a short walk to the grounds. We were early so decided to explore. There was a First Aid tent, Information tent, burger stand, two ice-cram vans and a face-painting tent. We decided to get our faces painted for a very reasonable £2 – the ladies were lovely, chatty and did a fabulous job in a short time-frame – no longer than 5minutes. After that, we were stumped. There was nothing else to do – no photo area, no Heart FM tent like usual, no photographers (that we saw), and nothing to see. We sat down and waited 45mins for the warm-up to start. The exercise was good fun and again lasted no more than 5mins.

I was wearing a pink Primark sports bra, black & pink Nike cropped running pants, pink ‘cancer’ vest from eBay and Sketchers Flex Appeal Serengeti trainers. The weather was hot and muggy – which meant that my face-paint was smudged and running down my face by the end! – so the outfit was perfect and comfortable.

Race for Life 2017

I set off at the front of the Runner’s wave and pressed Start on my iPhone Running playlist. That’s when problems started. I ran the London 10,000 on Monday and mentioned that I’d forgotten to take along a headphone jack adaptor for my new iPhone 7, which completely threw me. Since then, I’ve purchased a spare adaptor and had made sure to bring it with me (the original Apple headphone adaptor sits in my handbag with my ‘day-to-day’ headphones; I have different headphones for running!). STUPIDLY, I hadn’t tested the new adaptor, but then again, why would I have done? Genuine Apple products are rarely faulty (in my experience). I must have been hit with an unlucky stick because the new adaptor didn’t work, and I had music blaring out of the phone speakers instead of the headphones, so everyone around me could hear my embarrassing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ tune. I had to stop after about two meters to play around with my phone/headphones/adaptor and try to rectify. It was no good, but throughout the whole 5K I kept fiddling with my phone and adaptor, praying and hoping that music would get though somehow.  It sounds dramatic but I can’t run without music in my ears, and I explained the reasons why in my last blog. It affected my finish time A LOT (no chip timing but there was a large digital clock at the finish line) and I can’t believe that I’ve now run two events in a row with such bad preparation; it means that I didn’t relax or enjoy either event. So annoyed with myself!!

Alongside this, Race for Life had a noticeably smaller amount of participants and supporters this year – it was the quietest I’ve ever seen it. Usually you can see crowds of people from across the park, but it was looking sparse this year and the atmosphere, much like last year, wasn’t as motivating. There were also no Heart FM Angels at the top of the monstrous hill towards the end of the route – usually they’d be there cheering and high-fiving participants, but it was eerily quiet!

However, I only paid about £15 and received a cute medal with a packaged brioche bun and bottle of water.  Cancer Research workers were walking around selling fake flowers which many supporters purchased for participants crossing the finish line, which was cute. The signage was obvious, the marshals were encouraging, and the start and finish lines were well managed.

Mum walked and jogged alone at her own pace and was really pleased with her 44mins time, which made me happy and it was all worthwhile to see her finish.

I’m just seriously considering switching to Samsung now!!

NEXT UP: Virgin Sport British 10K on 9th July 2017.

 

 

Loving the London 10,000

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I ran the London 10,000 for the first time four years ago and it holds some great memories: it was the first time I experienced a big, well-organised running event, and it had me hooked. I took part during 2013, 2014 and 2016 and couldn’t wait to return in 2017.

The trains were all out of sorts on Monday 29th May due to Thameslink works, so instead of the usual direct train I had to change twice, which added a fair amount of time. Not the end of the world though, and it was a short walk from Embankment tube station to the Mall. The Event Village was easy to find and well signposted, with a large area full of catering and beverage carts and deckchairs. There were more than enough portaloos although luckily I didn’t have to make use!

I’d consumed a gulp of horrible beetroot juice, spontaneously purchased from Cafe Nero at the train station, but stupidly, for the first time ever I didn’t have my usual banana, cereal bar and Lucozade or water before I set off. I was running slightly behind and realised at the last minute that I hadn’t bought along a headphone adaptor for my new iPhone 7, only the headphones which had no headphone jack to go into, and I physically can’t run without music! I was on the verge on turning around and coming back home (genuinely) when my cheerleader remembered that he had his work phone on him – an old iPhone with a headphone jack. It had no music on it and was at 17% battery, so we had to hurriedly download the Heart FM radio app (after forgetting Apple IDs and resetting passwords…oh the pressure!) and worrying that the battery would die before I even set off. Running without music in my ears would have been a deal-breaker for two reasons: firstly because I’m asthmatic and breathe heavily when I’m running, so if I can hear it then I put myself off completely and end up concentrating on breathing too much and don’t relax into running. Secondly because listening to other people breathe and wheeze while running also puts me off and throws my breathing pattern, and then I think about my own breathing again and it has an effect. Plus, I find music really motivational and it definitely carries me when the going gets tough.

London 10,000So anyway –the race started at 10am (when the news and traffic announcements were playing through the radio app), and I was already feeling dehydrated, having stupidly not drunk all morning. The weather was super muggy – no sun at all and quite cloudy, but it felt about 20C. I was wearing a tiny thin Adidas vest & sports bra combo with Primark mesh cropped leggings, Brooks Glycerin 14 trainers and with black 1000 Mile trainer socks, but still felt too hot at points.

The well-organised colour-coded starting pens were manned by event staff who checked to confirm that runners were in the right wave. This is imperative for good organisation and works really well. There were four waves in total; I was in the second wave (‘black’) and we set off around 4-5 minutes after the first wave, with a fun countdown and motivating music. The course, as always for the London 10,000 event, was lined with supporters/general public and charities, with a number of brass bands and drummers set up to play music along the route; I personally love this touch. The two water stations were well staffed, and cleaners were efficiently removing the empty bottles from the pavement without getting in anyone’s way. The sprinkler ‘showers’ en route were a welcome feature and seemed to be popular, too – I found it refreshing! The atmosphere was electric, absolutely amazing, and I felt proud to be running a beautiful, scenic course amongst thousands of other runners.

London 10,000The Finish Line was wide with a large digital clock on display, and an organised production line of sorts where volunteers snipped off the timing tag from all runners’ shoes and handed out goody bags containing an Adidas event t-shirt, water, Lucozade, Yushoi rice sticks, Jordan’s Frusli bar, Meridian Cashew bar and a large, heavy bespoke medal. Photographers lined up just after the exit to take pictures of runners with their medals, and the whole Finishing element seemed seamless and well managed. I found my cheerleader with ease and we exited the event village without trouble or queues. I didn’t have to use the baggage drop so can’t comment on that, but the whole experience was very positive and I’m so glad I took part. No negatives from my point of view, aside from my own stupidity. I was dehydrated, sluggish, hungry and listened to the news and traffic announcements again through the radio app as I struggled through the last 400meters and over the finish line – not exactly motivating, but without the phone and Heart FM app I wouldn’t have run at all. Lesson learned!! Unusually terrible organisation on my part, and a bit of a struggle overall.

I paid about £28 to enter this race and can’t quite believe the quality and high standards. Other events charge around £50 entry and don’t supply goody bags, colour-coded start pens, this amount of photography or even half this level of organisation. I would highly recommend the London 10,000 event to anyone and everyone. If you’re going to take part in a London 10K, it without a doubt has to be this one. Well done, Vitality! See you next year  🙂

 

 

Walking by moonlight for Walk the Walk

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Three years ago I completed the overnight ‘Full Moon’ 26.2mile Moonwalk for Walk the Walk, and then last year I took part in the ‘Half Moon’ 15.1mile Moonwalk to complete the set.

Walking 26.2miles is incredibly challenging, possibly due to the length of time it takes, and it’s made tougher due to the nocturnal timing. I sobbed as I crossed the finish line the first time around.

This event is very generous in that the £50 entry fee includes a training t-shirt, branded high-viz cap, a Wonderbra to decorate, full training plan and advice, personalised Walker Number, bag label, weather protector, space blanket, glow-stick, a hot pasta or rice meal, flapjack, all the water you can drink, facilities along the route, a gorgeous medal and impressive entertainment. Each year there is a different theme and this year’s was ‘Roaring 20’s’, so the aim is to decorate the bra in this theme.

Two weeks before the 2017 Moonwalk, a lovely old colleague messaged me on Facebook asking if I’d like to take her place in the Full Moon Marathon as she was having knee problems and would have to pull out. I didn’t hesitate to say yes! She’d already paid and received the participant pack, which I popped round to pick up (minus the bra!). Due to the short time frame and a busy calendar I sadly didn’t have time to research and execute creative ideas, so had to just purchase a classy 20’s-looking bra with black lace.

So when it came to Saturday 15th May I travelled up to London alone, taking the 90minute-long train to Clapham Common and arriving at around 8:30pm. Once past security and inside the Moonwalk area there was a choice of bagging areas, more portaloos than I have ever seen, various mobile food & drink suppliers (all organic and healthy – brilliant), a white marquee housing WalkWear clothes to purchase, an information marquee, and of course the famous big pink tent. Inside that were water stations, an area to collect your free rice/pasta meals and flapjack, wash-off tattoo stations, masseuses offering free services, half-naked muscly men offering themselves for photographs, and a large stage where various performers entertained. I opted for a complimentary 5-minute back massage and the lady was friendly and chatty. The atmosphere in the tent was lively and fun; and a humbling minute’s silence took place before the walks set off.

Walk the Walk MoonwalkLast year I made the mistake of taking a drawstring backpack and over-packed with unnecessary spare clothing and deodorants etc, so felt uncomfortable after over 12hrs of wearing it: I ended up with bruising on my shoulders and lower back. So this year I purchased a £5 roomy black bumbag from eBay and took only the bare essentials: phone, debit card, £50 cash, lipbalm, mints, tissues, wet wipes.  There is an unlimited free supply of water, and snacks (including chocolate) available to purchase at the Moonwalk, so no need to take provisions. The bumbag worked wonders and it was super handy to have everything I needed right in front of me at all times instead of having to take a backpack on and off at regular intervals.

I was wearing my bra underneath the training t-shirt and a WalkWear zip-up hoody, coupled with full-length running leggings, Sketchers Flex Appeal trainers and of course the high-viz cap. I forgot to pin the Walker Number on (whoops!) but this didn’t seem to cause an issue and I didn’t see any photographers en route.

I was in the first wave to set off and left the grounds at 10:30pm. The volunteer marshals en route were encouraging all the way around, clapping and cheering and handing out sweets. The weather was dry and warm and the spectators/general public were friendly. I met a handful of other solo walkers and made some lovely companions. There were plenty of toilets and accurate distance signage at every mile. The walk seemed to go relatively quickly and it was a pleasant exercise…my body started aching around mile 20 and my feet started to become sore, but the desire to complete the walk in a decent time was enough motivation to keep walking.

Walk the Walk MoonwalkThe finish line was brilliant; volunteers and staff members clapped, cheered, shouted words of praise and took photographs. The large digital clock read almost exactly 5am: I’d walked 26.2miles in 6hrs 30mins (including two toilet stops!). There was plenty of seating and hot beverage stalls just after the finish line, so I grabbed a tea and headed to the taxi pick-up point just outside of the big pink tent. I was home by 6:30am and slept until midday. My hips and legs were sore for the next two days but I think perspective is key with events like this: feeling sore and tired is nothing compared to having cancer, or losing loved ones to cancer.

So, would I recommend the Moonwalk to others? Yes, absolutely – this is the sort of event that I would encourage anyone and everyone to complete. The whole event was well organised, professional and ran like clockwork. The atmosphere blew me away and I can’t fault anything. As this was my third Moonwalk I highly doubt that I’ll be returning, but I said that last time!! Never say never 🙂

NEXT UP: The Vitality London 10,000 on Monday 29th May!

 

 

 

Jawbone vs Fitbit

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I’ve blogged a few times before about my love of Jawbone activity trackers – here and here are just two examples. They look good, are super easy to set up and use, have always been pretty accurate and I’ve been loyal to the brand for a few years now.

However, last month my Jawbone UP3 randomly stopped syncing with my phone. I tried everything – resetting the Jawbone, turning my Bluetooth and my phone on and off, reading reams of Jawbone support stuff online… then ended up purchasing a brand new Jawbone (at around £85) which lasted all of 12hrs before that also died a death and would no longer track my steps or sleep. I even went to the Apple Store because I thought there might be something wrong with my iPhone! But no, it’s just shoddy design on Jawbone’s part and bad luck on mine. I’m not really a complainer and can’t be bothered with the hassle of returning items, so £170 down, I just binned everything related to Jawbones and started researching their competitor, Fitbit, instead.

FitBit Charge 2 Rose GoldI took the short Fitbit online comparison test which told me that the ‘Charge 2’ model would likely be the most appropriate product due to my lifestyle and requirements. I immediately loved the design and the fact that it has all the features of the Jawbone UP3, plus more. The bracelet band is interchangeable and the step count shows up on the clock-face as you step in real time, which is a total novelty and saves having to log into an app and performing a manual sync to see how many steps you’ve done! I looked at reviews and watched YouTube videos on how to set up and use the device. I also asked Twitter what the best Fitbit device is, and out of the 30-odd replies, the majority said the Charge 2. So that sealed the deal!

I purchased all of my Jawbones online from reputable Amazon-fulfilled suppliers, but decided that this time I’ll walk into Curry’s and ‘do it properly’, because at £140 the Rose Gold Charge 2 is more than double the price of a Jawbone UP3, and I don’t want to risk any more activity-tracker related dramas!

FitBit Charge 2 Rose GoldOnce home and unboxed, the Charge 2 was simple and easy to set up and start using: it required charging and I had to download an app and sign up to Fitbit, which involved creating an account and entering my vital statistics. From there, it was just a case of playing around and experimenting. I can pick and chose what displays on my clock-face and even how the information is presented. My iPhone text messages show up on the screen and I can read the whole message, which is another massive novelty! It’s a clock, messenger and activity tracker all in one and I’m completely obsessed. I’ve ordered different coloured bands (black, white, navy and pink) and am excited to try those out, too. The band feels comfortable on my wrist and is super easy to take on and off. I can’t imagine not wearing an activity tracker now, having worn one for years, and my wrist feels naked without one!

A week on, I genuinely love my new band and can’t recommend it highly enough. It makes the Jawbone look a bit simple and I’ll definitely be sticking to Fitbits from now on.

 

 

 

Summery Sevenoaks 10K

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I took part in the Sevenoaks Knole Park 10K in both 2014 and 2015, and it was the first event I completed after tearing a calf muscle over Christmas 2013. I’ve previously stated that I wouldn’t take part in this event again purely because I’ve run it twice, but as I hadn’t taken part in an event since the Tunbridge Wells half marathon back in February, I was itching for a race and spontaneously signed up with a week to go.

So on Sunday 2 April I parked (with ease, and directed by marshals) at the Sevenoaks Leisure Centre and picked up my running number with timing chip from the information desk (no queuing!). The cafe and toilets were also open inside, with minimal queuing. The Start line was a five minute walk around the back of the Leisure centre and into the grounds of picturesque Knole Park – all well sign-posted.

Sevenoaks Knole Park 10KThe route, as per previous years, was two scenic laps around the multi-terrain park with a steep hill around 3/7K, which was a challenge! The event was well organised with marshals and signage, and the weather was gorgeous! Warm and sunny to the point where I thought I should have worn a vest instead of a dri-fit t-shirt.  I was also wearing brand new cropped leggings from Primark (with a mesh and floral hem, so pretty! Comfy, too), Brooks sports bra and Brooks Glycerin 14 trainers, with black 1000 Mile trainer socks.

I’d consumed a cup of coffee, orange juice, hydration sachet, energy sachet, banana, cereal bar and a cup of tea! I sipped water from a bottle on the way round and there was a water station situated on the course which seemed to be well managed.

Overall I enjoyed the event and felt good throughout, with nothing negative to note about any element of the morning. There were no obvious bottle-necks or frustrations, and I even spotted some deer at the end! Free water and bananas were handed out at the finish line and the bespoke medal is lovely with a deer on it – much nicer than the previous years’ medals! I paid around £18 to take part which I’d say is definitely worth it, and would happily pay that price again.

 

 

 

The terrific Tunbridge Wells half marathon

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Spectating at the Tunbridge Wells half marathon back in 2013 is where it all started for me. I watched a double-amputee cross the finishing line along with a number of elderly participants, and wondered why on earth I wasn’t pushing myself too. I loved the whole atmosphere of the event and it made me realise that anyone of any age and ability can run. Was well and truly inspired! Within a matter of days I was in possession of my first ever pair of ‘proper’ running trainers (Brooks Ghost 5, £130) and had completed my first 3mile road-run. Instantly addicted, the rest as they say is history!

The thought of running the Tunbridge Wells half marathon however was not exactly appealing. Famed for a challenging route with an ascent of over 300 foot thanks to Spring Hill at Fordcombe, the one lap circuit contains numerous other hills and is definitely not the type of course you’d get a Personal Best on. I detest hills so have always avoided this event, but as I was born and bred in Tunbridge Wells and have lived here my entire life with no immediate plans to relocate, it was added to my to-do list last year, with the thought being that I would have to get it over and done with eventually.

Despite the horrendous hills, the Tunbridge Wells half marathon is actually very picturesque and takes runners through some of the finest countryside and the cutest villages in Kent. It’s one of the biggest events in the UK organised by a running club with over 1,500 participants and is very reasonably priced. The £26 entry fee (or £30 on the day) included a technical fabric running t-shirt, bespoke medal, chip timing and baggage facilities, which I didn’t actually end up using.

I’m having an incredibly indecisive/impulsive year already with regards to running events and didn’t pre-register for this one, thinking that I would just turn up on the day and pay. However the day before the event, I saw someone on Twitter giving away their place for free and immediately jumped on it.

Tunbridge Wells half marathonI turned up to the Tunbridge Wells half marathon on Sunday 19th February around 8am to pick up my running number (quick and easy system) and technical t-shirt (in whichever size you wanted). I’d consumed a homemade Nutribullet berry smoothie, banana, cereal bar and a Graze box of raisins, nuts and chocolate drops. I wore my new Primark mesh-detailed leggings, Brooks sports bra and black vest, and a London Marathon ‘rejection jacket’ with black 1000 Mile trainer socks and Brooks Glycerin 14 trainers, resulting in a super comfortable outfit…at first. The weather went from chilly and breezy to quite suddenly warm and sunny around mile 7, and there was no way I was going to stop and faff around pausing my watch/music and taking my armband and jacket off, so carried on and was pretty much a boiled egg by the time I crossed the finish line! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the run and surprisingly didn’t find the hills to be as bad as the rumours implied, managing to run up all of them without stopping/walking. I opened an energy gel and sipped it slowly during the 300+ft ascent which seemed to have the desired effect and actually tasted quite delicious. I sipped water on the way round and picked up one or two jelly babies from lovely spectators on the side-lines. There were a number of water stations situated throughout the course but I didn’t feel the need to use them.

Tunbridge Wells half marathonOverall I really enjoyed the Tunbridge Wells half marathon and felt really good throughout, with no aches or pains and nothing negative to note about any element of this event. The marshals were cheerful and motivating and there were no obvious bottle-necks or frustrations. There was free water and fruit handed out at the finish line and the bespoke medal is chunky, with the option of having it engraved for a small fee right there at the end.

It’s an event I’d definitely recommend to others and I’m so glad to have taken part and crossed it off my list! 🙂

 

 

 

The lovely London Winter Run 2017

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The London Winter Run has been going for three years now and I participated eagerly in both 2015 and 2016. I had been umming and ahhing about signing up for the 2017 event but with the price at £47 I thought about it for too long and the entries closed before I had made up my mind. Then a fellow runner on Twitter, lovely Carl, messaged me advising that his friend Ciara had dropped out and her place was available for just £20. I jumped at the chance and arranged to meet Carl at the information desk on the day of the run, Sunday 5th February, to swap pennies and running packs.

London Winter Run 2017The journey to the event was easy – just a straight 45min train from Sevenoaks into Charing Cross. The event hub in Trafalgar Square was a bustling area with baggage drops, toilets, merchandise stall and of course the start line. I found Carl with relative ease who was with his friends Will, Melissa and Nat – all really lovely people! We checked in our bags which was quick and simple; no queues and a numbered wristband exchange system.

The starting corrals experienced the same problem as the last few years with no colour coding, timing pens or basic organisation. We were all bunched in together and waves of runners were let go gradually with what felt like long waits in-between each release: The event started at 9:30am and we crossed the start line at 9:47. This also meant that some very slow runners/walkers were at the start of the corrals which can cause frustration.

London Winter Run 2017A record 16,500 participants enjoyed a warm-up from Nuffield Health then a blast of fake snow signalled the beginning of the 10K run around the closed streets of London, past landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Strand. The route was relatively flat and scenic with no major bottlenecks. There was a great atmosphere with volunteers dressed as penguins, St Bernard dogs and polar bears, handing out high-fives and shouting encouragement! There was live music and entertainment en route, including a gospel choir which was lovely.

London Winter Run 2017The weather was mild, slightly chilly but nowhere near as freezing as last year! I wore my new Primark mesh-detailed leggings, Brooks sports bra and pink vest, and London Marathon ‘rejection jacket’ with black 1000 Mile trainer socks and Brooks Glycerin 14 trainers, resulting in a super comfortable and weather-appropriate outfit! I felt as though I was running well and faster than normal, with no aches or pains getting in the way. I had eaten a banana and cereal bar for breakfast, with a homemade Nutribullet berry smoothie (so delicious!).

The home-stretch was lined with supporters and the medal is bespoke and absolutely gorgeous. Free coconut water, Lindt chocolate and water was handed out to finishers; and the event photography turned out quite well too!

London Winter Run 2017Once back home, freshly showered and in pjs under a blanket on the couch by midday, I discovered that I had completed the event in 53minutes – my fastest 10K ever! A new PB following a previous time of 54mins, with my average being around 56mins! A great start to the year.

It’s a lovely, fun event and I’m so glad I took part and got to meet Carl and his friends. However, if the price stays at around £47 I can’t see myself paying that in future, especially when the majority of other events are cheaper and include a goody bag and/or a technical t-shirt! I’d still recommend it to others and had a really good morning. 🙂

 

 

 

Back on it for 2017!

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Last January I was introduced to the concept of Insanity full-body workout classes by my colleague Seb, and LOVED it. I attended religiously, every single Monday from January until June, when my personal circumstances changed. I’d really missed Insanity so made it my mission to return this year.

purple Adidas running vestSo on the first Monday of 2017 I packed my gym bag and off I went, handing over just £6 for a 45 minute class in the town centre, and wearing a new Adidas top which I’d found in the January sales (comfy, but the gaping front/sides got in the way of some of the exercises)!

The class was of course fantastic and it was so good to be back! I’m sure I had sweat running out of my ears, chin, neck…! However I always find it amazing how much fitness I lose after a period of reduced exercise, and actually struggled to complete various Insanity exercises which I’d previously jumped into with relative ease.

My body ached for a full six days afterwards, and I returned to my second Insanity class of the year on the following Monday having only just recovered. I do secretly revel in the feeling of achy muscles though as I can feel that I’ve done my body some good!

ballet dance socksI’ve also returned to dance classes which run every Tuesday night from 8-11pm. Ceroc is a social dance style based on modern jive which is so much fun, and I’ve been attending classes on and off for 5yrs now. £9 a week for 3hrs of twirling and laughing is always a bargain in my books, and I’ve made some great friends from Ceroc!

(I’ve always enjoyed dancing and received these ballet-design socks for Christmas, which are so cute!)

Nike Air Max Thea trainersAlso, in a blog post from July about trainers, I mentioned that I had “my eye on a pair of gorgeous Nike Air Max Thea Cherry Blossoms”… which just happened to be in the January sales, too! (Around £100 reduced to only £60.) I treated myself and have had so many compliments! Completely love them and they’re so comfortable. Obviously not suitable for running, but in the spirit of all things footprint-related… 🙂

Primark running leggingsAnd I made a surprising discovery with regards to running leggings. Whilst on a shopping trip I stumbled across some gorgeous mesh-detailed exercise bottoms in Primark for only £8. I’ve seen this style around and quite like it, so thought it can’t hurt to see how they fare. I tried the leggings on for the first time at home and immediately liked the fit and feel of them. A 5mile run around the block proved them to be super comfortable and actually pretty perfect! I’ve always been a fan of Primark sports bras as they just seem to fit really well, and now I’m a huge fan of their leggings too. Such a bargain at only £8, when some well-known brands can charge around £45 for a similar – or even slightly less impressive – fit and feel.

Now I just need a running event to wear them to! My 2017 race calendar is looking rather pathetic… In fact, it’s pretty much non-existent aside from the Richmond RunFest half marathon in September. I haven’t yet signed up for anything else, although am considering taking part in the London Winter Run on 5th February (for the third time… Just because I miss running events!) and possibly the Tunbridge Wells half marathon on 19th February. Watch this space!

Happy New Year 🙂 x

Magical MoRun for Movember!

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I took part in the London Greenwich Park MoRun 10K during November 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed it, labelling it the ‘best way to end a great year of running’. When I saw that this year’s event cost a mere £22, signing up for round two didn’t take much persuasion.

Getting up at 5:58am on a Sunday was a slight struggle, as I had to drive to Sevenoaks train station and catch the 7:18 to Cannon St and change for Greenwich, followed by a 20min walk to the event. Not as complicated as it sounds though and quite a nice journey overall!

This marked the first running event attended alone as I’ve always dragged a boyfriend along for support, acting as my photographer, bag holder and cheerleader. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed being solo. At Greenwich train station I met a fellow runner also heading to the park, and as we were early we decided to go for a quick coffee at Bill’s restaurant en route; he ended up telling me all about his wife, children and his business. We ran together for part of the course and met up at the end to take a commemorative photo. I also got talking to a New Zealand couple and a two Londoners in the queue for free food afterwards (see below!), and we spent some time dissecting the route and discussing running events. I had always assumed that attending events alone would be lonely, but couldn’t have been more wrong!

Movember MoRun 2016 MoRunningThe £22 cost included chip timing, awesome curved moustache medal, branded headband, Volvic water and sachets of peanut butter. ‘Pip & Nut’ had a stall where finishers could pick up free toast: there was a production line of toasters, peanut-butter spreaders and ‘toppers’ – I opted for mixed berries and grated dark chocolate on top of honey cinnamon cashew butter, which was delicious – and very generous!

I had opted to purchase a £10 technical t-shirt at registration which was the perfect fit, and coupled this with a black technical vest underneath, sports bra and Adidas Climate leggings with 1,000 Mile socks and Brooks Glycerin 14 trainers, resulting in a super comfortable outfit. My London Marathon ‘rejection’ jacket came in handy as I wore it to and from the event.

I had eaten a seeded cereal bar, Nakd cocoa bar and banana for breakfast, with a mocha and water: during the course I felt slightly nauseous at one point, which I think was due to sipping too much Lucozade on the way round, but overall felt full of energy and really enjoyed the run. The weather was autumnal – dry, clear, not cold enough to wear gloves; and leaves were falling off trees as we ran. Ideal running conditions, and the park was pituresque with no bottle-neck points or narrow areas.

Movember MoRun 2016 MoRunningThe event was well organised with clear signage, marshals and an energetic warm-up from British Military Fitness. I had to make use of the bagging area which was straightforward; a tag matching my running number was looped around the bag handles and the process took under a minute to both drop off and collect my bag. The starting line was a free-for-all, but with an event of this size there would have been no need for colour-coded timing pens. The 10K route was two scenic laps around the park involving two killer hills (so four in total… argh! So steep!) but the atmosphere was fantastic. There were a number of runners in fancy-dress, and the vast array of moustached-faces was brilliant.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this event to others and hope to take part again in future! 🙂

 

 

Time for a new Jawbone!

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I love activity trackers.

My first was a black Jawbone UP24 purchased spontaneously this time last year, and I loved it. I treated myself to an upgrade – a grey UP2 – after New Year, and loved it a little bit more. Sadly it disappeared off my wrist unnoticed somewhere in London on a night out, so I upgraded again to a grey UP3 in April: the best one yet. The bracelet snapped last week so I purchased a replacement UP3 in black & gold which arrived in the post today. There is no UK release date for the UP4 (that I know of), but when it’s announced I’ll be first in the queue to purchase one.

Jawbone UP3 activity trackerPrices for a Jawbone UP3 range from anywhere between £60-110 depending on the outlet and the colour of the band (yes really. On Amazon last week, grey UP3s were £63 but the black & gold one I purchased was just under £90, with red ones at £88 and indigo at £107).

Being without an activity tracker for a week made a difference. Checking my Jawbone App is routinely the last thing I do at night and the first thing I do in the morning, so I was lost without it and slightly confused! I couldn’t judge how many steps I was taking and how many more I needed to do in order to reach target. My wrist felt bare!! I also went for a long run on Sunday – my third of the week and a relatively decent one, I thought – which was left unmonitored by a Jawbone, with the App asking me if I was OK because it wasn’t tracking anything. *SOB* I can’t wait to start using my new bracelet and getting my stats up again!

In other news, I bought myself an advent Cocoa+ high protein advent calendarcalendar today. It’s a ‘High Protein’ one from Cocoa+ and contains a total of 35g protein within little chocolate circles. Cocoa+ treats are super tasty (had one of their Protein Easter Eggs earlier in the year!) and at £7.98 I’d say the calendar is well worth it. It’s sitting on my desk at work staring at me, and I have severe lack of self-control and willpower, so may have munched my way through at least a handful of chocolates so far…! No-one knows if the doors are pushed closed again afterwards though, right?  🙂

 

 

Blowing away the cobwebs

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Summer was a crazy time. My long-term relationship ended quite badly in June, I moved house, helped mum move house, completed a challenging Higher Diploma assignment, had two weeks off work with stress/anxiety, and helped my little sister move house. I haven’t been to a high-intensity Insanity class since June and sadly running had taken a back seat too, with no running events planned and with motivation at an all-time low. Hiking became a new hobby though, thanks to mum and sister’s encouragement – being active can be easier when others are enthusiastic about partaking.

When mum first mentioned hiking in Switzerland together, I jumped at the chance and saw it as an opportunity to clear my head and take some time out.

SwitzerlandWe landed in Basel and stayed in a chalet in Adelboden’s mountains where we explored the village and went on a twilight hike, visiting a magic tree which was completely hollow (you could walk inside it) yet still grows leaves every year. We caught cable cars in Interlaken up into viewing platforms and then spent a day in Bern, visiting a bear museum and appreciating the architecture. We hiked to a woodcarvers and watched the owner work, and hiked through a gorge which had the bluest stream of water. Switzerland is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen; it was literally breath-taking. The air is fresh and the views can’t be photographed to justice. I opened the bedroom curtains each morning to see snowy mountains and bright skies. I genuinely felt the happiest I’ve felt for the majority of the year and really didn’t want to come home… Switzerland was like pushing a reset button and having a ‘happy injection’ at the same time!

But now that I’m back and it’s business as usual, my motivation to run has returned and I spent a few hours the other day researching running events and signing up to a few! I’ll be running the Movember 10K in London’s Greenwich Park later this month, as well as the Tunbridge Wells half marathon in February and the Richmond Run Fest half marathon in September next year. I’m also on the waitlist for the Disneyland Paris half marathon and am considering the Edinburgh half marathon in May! I’m so excited for all of these and can’t wait to be back at running events!

My favourite (cheesy but appropriate) quote of the year: “Mirror mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall. And whether I run, walk or have to crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all”.

🙂 x

 

 

Virgin London Marathon 2017 ballot

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As ‘ballot results week’ approached, chatter around the 2017 Virgin London Marathon started up in the office and on social media. Charities sent e-shot mailers out, wishing participants luck and asking for consideration in joining their teams as a charity entrant.

It was revealed that those who would not be taking part in the 2017 event would receive a magazine through the post with a picture of sad-looking runners embracing next to the words ‘Sorry’. Those who had been lucky enough to secure a place would receive a magazine with a photo of happy runners celebrating, captioned ‘You’re In!’

Virgin London Marathon 2017I moved house very quickly in early September due to an unexpected relationship breakup, and emailed the London Marathon organisers with details of my temporarily residence. I was informed that I had notified them too late so wouldn’t receive a magazine, and would instead have to telephone the customer care line two weeks after the magazine results had been posted to find out my fate. I don’t like surprises so wasn’t particularly happy with this decision, plus wondered whether I would still receive the famous ‘rejection’ running jacket if unsuccessful in the ballot.

On ‘ballot day’ itself and during the days which followed, I witnessed people around me receiving their magazines and expressing sadness and disappointment (extreme, in some cases), excited happiness, and discussions around charity places. I wondered with a knotted stomach whether or not I had been ‘successful’. (I don’t like that word in this context; it sounds like those who didn’t get in have somehow failed, at something they had literally no control over.)

So…

Surprisingly, I received an email out of the blue towards the end of ‘ballot week’ and it stated as suspected: “Your application to run… has been unsuccessful”. I’m so disappointed, frustrated and have lost count of how many times I’ve entered – I’m guessing four or five – so now have a rather impressive collection of £40 running jackets in the closet! Talking of which – I phoned the London Marathon helpline to enquire as to whether they would post out a ‘rejection jacket’ to my new address, and was told to call back in a few weeks’ time to organise. A bit shoddy.

Virgin London Marathon 2017Readers of my blog will know that I’ve never run a marathon before, but would love to – I want to tick it off my bucket list and complete 26.2 miles before I turn 30. It’s such a huge achievement. My first choice is, and always will be, the London Marathon. I’ve always thought that if I ever ran a marathon, it will be at this event.

Running for charity isn’t an option; London Marathon fundraising targets are in the thousands and I’ve found that people aren’t overly generous any more (it’s always been a struggle begging for sponsorship), and having just moved house and ended a relationship, I can’t justify picking up any outstanding amount that I’m not able to fundraise. I do a huge amount for charity as it is.

So what happens next?

I’ll keep trying until I’m 30, then that’s it. Two more ballot entries to complete, and two more chances. I do believe in fate to a certain extent (although people use it as an excuse for laziness most of the time); so if it’s meant to be, it will be.

 

 

 

Blood and Boots!

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On Friday I made the catastrophic error of walking the 30minutes into work wearing brand new trainers. About halfway in I realised I had made a terrible mistake, with my heels in agony, but was the same distance between work and my car (which didn’t have alternative footwear inside anyway) so struggled on. By the time I got to work, I couldn’t walk another step and had blood literally streaming from both sore heels, with saturated socks and a sense of total annoyance. I have new hiking boots to wear in and a walking holiday to Switzerland coming up shortly, so the timing couldn’t be worse.

BloodI raided the internal First Aid box and patched myself up enough to be able to hobble into town and buy what felt like half the contents of the dressing supplies aisle in Boots: Compeed, antiseptic wound dressings, waterproof plasters…you name it, I bought it – just in case.

That evening I had planned to walk 3miles around the village in my new boots to wear them in, and was determined to proceed. So, using as much dressing as possible plus two pairs of socks, I set off with mum and little sister. And it was completely fine! Very comfortable, in fact: the boots are light but sturdy and my heels were well protected.

Hiking

The next day my sister suggested a walk around Bewl Water Reservoir, which is just 5minutes up the road from our house and amazingly scenic and peaceful. We meandered for a few miles, taking in the surroundings and ducking into trees when it started drizzling – later leading to a stunning double-rainbow! A lovely way to end a lovely walk, and again my heels were well protected with no pain or discomfort.

Bewl Water hike   Bewl Water hike

Disaster avoided – for now! My boots are perfect, my heels are healing, and I’m confident that hiking around Switzerland will be an incredible adventure. 11 days to go!!

 

 

 

New hiking boots!

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My younger sister, mother and I have been hiking a lot recently. We’ve always been an active family and my childhood was filled with bike rides, long walks, swimming and tree-climbing. We spent weekends exploring local footpaths, walking routes and countryside. It wasn’t unusual to tell mum of an evening that I was going to play with my sisters ‘up the fields’ and come back with numerous scrapes and stories to tell.
We still get together and go for a long walk each Christmas Day, and we all enjoy it.

I recently moved back home with mum as a temporary stop-gap and was keen to revisit our favourite childhood walking routes. Everything seems a bit smaller and shorter as an adult, but we’ve had great fun exploring and reminiscing on our evening walks around the village and surrounding area.

Hiking bootsI’d been wearing my black/floral Nike Roshe Run trainers, but when mum suggested a hiking holiday to Switzerland for October, I started to reconsider my footwear. With flights paid for and a chalet booked, I headed to Blacks in Tunbridge Wells where I spoke with a very knowledgeable staff member about appropriate hiking boots. I picked out a waterproof pair of Peter Storms (quite cute – which helps!!) at a surprisingly reasonable £30 and tried them on for size. The helpful staff member assured me that I didn’t need to go up a size or even half a size, as this would encourage rubbing, movement of the boot and therefore blisters. I’m a size 6 so stuck with that and walked around Blacks (in my smart business attire – not a great look!). The boots were so comfortable; light and snug. The man at the triple-checked my size and the condition of the boots, which was impressive, and was also friendly and knowledgeable, taking an interest in my Swiss holiday.

Mum and I could be hiking for 8hrs a day, so tonight I’ll be taking my new boots out for their first outing to wear them in, with the aim to cover around 3-4 miles of cross-country walking. We fly towards the end of October, so plenty of time to get used to them!

Watch this space! 🙂

HikingHiking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parktaking in Parkrun!

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I first heard about Parkrun a year or so ago when it was mentioned in my Twitter News Feed and then someone asked me in passing if I was a fan. I didn’t know much about the concept – aside from the fact that it involved getting up early on Saturday mornings and didn’t involve medals – and didn’t research it further.

Until recently. More and more people are talking about it on Twitter, and more and more fellow runners are asking if I take part. So I visited the Parkrun website and actually read up about it. It’s basically a free weekly 5K timed event. The ‘success’ stories, sense of community and intrigue motivated me to register, which was very simple (and you only need to do it once). I printed off a unique barcode and purchased a Parkrun t-shirt while I was there, too – to look the part!

On Saturday 10th September I got up at 7:30am (eeek) and arrived at my local Parkrun, Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where there was plenty of parking. I’d eaten a bowl of Special K and had a coffee, and was feeling ready to rock’n’roll in my new t-shirt! Fellow runners smiled my way and the atmosphere was quite lovely. I was stretching when a megaphone announced that there would be a ‘new runners briefing by the tree’, so off I went, and it was all very self-explanatory and relaxed.

running ParkrunAll runners set off at 9am and completed two laps of a very hilly multi-terrain course (pavement, grass, gravel…). It’s always a worry that I’ll come last, especially with a small crowd of what looked like pro runners, but found myself over-taking a lot and really enjoying the run, surrounded by a mixture of runners aged anywhere between 8 – 50 (at a complete guess).

I ran through the finish funnel in what I thought was an OK time, and was given a token to ‘cash in’ when I got my barcode scanned over at a marshalled desk. Volunteers were cheering all finishers which was lovely.

Soon after I got home, an email came through from Parkrun, stating: “You finished in 112th place and were the 30th female out of a field of 204 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category SW25-29.” I was really chuffed with that!

Parkrun is such a simple, easy concept which I can tell will become a solid fixture in my calendar. It’s ideal for those who want to maintain fitness, get into a routine and make friends without spending any money. The local locations are so handy, too, with either none or very minimal travel costs. Would highly recommend to anyone and can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

 

100th medal!

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Never in a million years did I think I would ever earn 100 medals. It was never a goal, really, and was quite a surprise when I realised this figure would be reached during 2016.

The fact that medal number 100 would be an aircraft – when my surname is Plane – was the cherry on top and I was so excited to take part in the Spitfire 10K.

Spitfire 10k runSo on Saturday 3rd August I woke at 5:50am and drove to my colleague’s Sebastian’s house, who drove us the hour and a half to the Royal Air Force museum in Hendon, North West London. We arrived around 8am and managed to find a free parking spot right near the entrance, where parking inside was pay & display. We located the registration desk with ease, who pointed us in the direction of the pre-ordered t-shirt collection area. The bespoke technical tops were £8 and paid for when registering for the event online, but could also be purchased on the day for £10. I wore mine for the event along with black USA Pro lycra shorts under black Dri-Fit Nike shorts, and 1,000 Mile socks with Brooks Glycerin 14s. I had eaten an Indian take-way the night before (naughty!) which had consisted of Bombay potatoes and Tadka Dhal (lentils with garlic), and breakfast was a spinach and pine nut pasta pot with a banana.

Spitfire 10k runThe temperature was warm, dry and a little muggy, with a spot of early-morning sunshine and lack of breeze. All runners gathered in the large museum area and listened to a short, interesting speech from the manager and then from the race director. Approximately 400 of us were led outside to the starting area and set off just after 9am, leaving the grounds and running two laps around the outskirts. This included running around residential streets, which could be narrow at times but were largely empty. The terrain was mostly flat with one or two very short hills, and was well-marshalled with encouraging and motivating volunteers. There were two water points throughout the course handing out white plastic cups. There weren’t any toilets en route but there were plenty at the museum, and we didn’t encounter any queues.

I found the event tough, having not trained nearly as much as I should have, and struggled over the finish line with Seb at 1hr 3seconds; a full 6minutes slower than my personal best. Not the end of the world, and not a minute over the hour, so it could have been a lot worse!

A medal was hung around my neck by a friendly volunteer and we were encouraged to pick up water and brioche/bun-style cakes from tables nearby. The standard entry of a reasonable £22.50 also included an impressive bespoke PLANE medal!

Spitfire 10k runI was relieved to finish and shocked at how difficult I had found the 6.2miles – a distance which I’m so used to! We went straight back to the car and sadly got stuck in 3hrs 40mins worth of motorway traffic which tarred the experience slightly, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the day and am so glad I took part. I’d recommend this run to others and class it as very small but efficient, friendly and well-organised event.

My race calendar is now completely empty with no actual or virtual runs booked for the rest of the year, and I’m debating whether or not to add any, or end 2016 on 100 medals and have a rest until the New Year… Will keep you posted 🙂 Until next time! x

 

 

 

Milestones and Moving On

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The last running event I took part in was the surprisingly enjoyable British 10K on Sunday 10 July, and since then, life has changed rather dramatically with the whole of August put aside to focus on personal matters.

Firstly, I’m assisting with three house moves: my little sister lives in Leamington Spa and is moving back down to Tunbridge Wells; mum has just moved out of our childhood home where she spent 34yrs (heart-breaking stuff) and I am moving out the house I currently reside in with my now-ex boyfriend. All of this is happening during August. Hence lots of jam-packed evenings and weekends and huge amounts of muscle-ache (have you ever tried to lift a machine machine??). But that’s where the positives lie. I may now be single and temporarily missing out on running, Insanity workout classes and Zumba, but am still being extremely active, with packing up houses, moving boxes and running around like a headless chicken. After helping mum move out of our large family home (which contained SO MUCH STUFF) over a number of days, my arms ached more than they ever have after an Insanity workout, and I topped 20,000 steps without even trying. As she has moved a few roads away from her existing house, I filled wheelbarrows full of plants and wheeled them around, and ‘delivered’ her bicycle round to her new house by riding it. All of this has proved to be an effective distraction so far, and with mine and my sister’s house moves still to come over the next week or so, I think it’s been a wise idea to place a hold on my usual fitness routine.

To give me something to look forward to and to provide some motivation, I signed up to the Royal Air Force Spitfire 10K at the London RAF Museum on Saturday 3 September. The medal is an actual spitfire, a PLANE (for those who don’t know, my surname is ‘Plane)’, and I have since calculated that this will be my 100th medal. How appropriate!

RAF spitfire 10K medalMy colleague Seb has decided to sign up too and will be driving us up there; it will be nice to have the company as I’ve become so used to having my own personal cheerleader for the last 3yrs, and I’ve never actually taken part in an event without a boyfriend there to cheer me on 😦  So having Seb to run with will certainly provide a distraction, will keep me smiling and I’ll have someone to dissect the event with afterwards!

Having the time to train will obviously be an issue, but a 10K run is within my comfort zone and I have booked in to see a physiotherapist both before and after the event, just in case.

Here’s to new chapters, and to reaching milestones! 🙂

 

 

Time out, and totally obsessed with trainers

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My idea of a perfect holiday abroad would typically involve five days spent sunbathing by a pool, and five days spent exploring and sight-seeing. One of my favourite holidays to date was to Sharm el-Sheikh six years ago where I rode camels, quad-biked across the desert, snorkelled, went on a red-sea cruise and visited an Ice Bar (of all places!) whilst spending an equal amount of time relaxing and tanning.

yoga Marrakech

Marrakech

However, I’ve recently returned from a quick seven-day holiday to Marrakech where I didn’t embed any sort of balance. I visited Morocco last year and explored the markets, hired segways, completed the Atlas mountain tour and explored as much as possible; so this year, in desperate need to some sun and relaxation, I decided to return (something I never normally do, believing that the world is too big to justify visiting the same place twice) and literally just relaxed. I spent all day every day by the pool at the 5* hotel, enjoying the all-inclusive unlimited drinks and delicious food, basking in temperatures of 40C. I went because the weather was guaranteed to be amazing (and who isn’t fed up of the year-round UK winter?), the package holiday was a steal at a total of £250pp including flights and transfers, and because I’ve never had a holiday where I’ve actually just chilled and relaxed.

It was surprisingly tough! I missed exercise, really missed running, felt lazy, and returned home feeling bloated and very unfit! I went out for a 5mile run soon after landing, and found it challenging, having not run for 10 days by this point. It’s crazy how much fitness drops in a short space of time. My tan isn’t too bad though!!

Meanwhile, this month I’ve been a bit naughty and have treated myself to both a new pair of jungle-inspired Adidas ZX Flux Smooth trainers, and floral Nike Roshe Runs. Both are super comfortable and were a bit of a bargain!

Adidas ZX Flux SmoothNike Roshe Runs

This brings my trainer collection up to seven: Brooks Ghost 5, Brooks Ghost 7, Brooks Glycerin 14, Sketchers Flex Appeal Serengeti, Nike Roshe turquoise, Nike Roshe black/floral, and Adidas ZX Flux Smooth.

The Brooks are worn for all types of running and marathon-length walks; the Nikes and Sketchers are worn for Insanity, gym, Zumba and short walks; and the Adidas are ‘fashion’ trainers typically worn with hoodies on lazy days.

I’m sure plenty of females have Jimmy Choos or Christian Louboutins on their footwear wishlists; I have trainers on mine! Next up, I’ve got my eye on a pair of gorgeous Nike Air Max Thea Cherry Blossoms… 🙂

 

 

 

Marketing Team Olympics!

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I’m lucky enough to work for a company that thrives on rewarding staff, and whose philosophy is: ‘Putting the fun into insurance’; and I’m even luckier to work within a department which loves to motivate.

On the hottest day of the year so far, we took the afternoon out to partake in ‘Marketing Team Olympics’ in the grounds of Salomons Estate, Tunbridge Wells. Changing into sports gear with the promise of free bottled water, ice-creams, crisps and chocolate, we had the additional benefits of a gorgeous location and perfect weather!

I wore a new Nike bra & vest combo (thanks to the JD Sport summer sale), with black Nike shorts and gorgeous new floral-patterned Nike Roshe Runs, which are my favourite purchase of the month and are super comfortable!

Marketing Team OlympicsWe were split into random teams and advised that we would be partaking in the egg & spoon race, hula hooping, beanbag-on-head run, skipping, wheelbarrows, 3-legged race, throwing-beanbags-into-basket and football dribbling. Everyone had to participate in all of these tasks, and the overall winning team members would receive a bottle of wine each.

Our team was named ‘The Tom Selleck Appreciation Society’ (not my choice!) and we wore Tom’s printed-out head pinned to our tops.

Marketing Team OlympicsThere was a photographer, umpire and a judge, who timed us all, kept score and penalised any cheaters. It was honestly one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a while, full of laughter and hilarious moments! It took me back to sports days at Primary School, where no-one took things too seriously and just enjoyed themselves.

I admit to failing miserably at the football dribbling and the wheelbarrow, where I was the ‘arms’ with colleague Tim holding my legs: I underestimated how tough it is! Try doing this for half the length of a football pitch – it HURTS! Towards the end I gave up and face-plated the grass on purpose in protest, with our team coming last in that particular challenge – sorry guys!

Marketing Team OlympicsHowever, hula-hooping is my hidden strength, and the egg & spoon was surprisingly easy. The beanbag-on-head run was helped by my handy pineapple-esque hairstyle (I like to think of that a happy coincidence rather than cheating!), skipping was a breeze and the throwing-beanbags-into-basket was helped by old netball skills. Our team consistently came first in the challenges whilst spurring on other teams and having a genuinely really good time. We all came away from the day saying how much we enjoyed it, even those who despise any form of physical activity.

 

So if anyone reading this is stuck for inspiration for their next team-building activity, take it back old-school and find some skipping ropes and beanbags – you’ll be surprised! 🙂

Marketing Team OlympicsMarketing Team OlympicsMarketing Team OlympicsMarketing Team Olympics

 

 

 

The much better British 10K

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A few months ago I entered a Twitter competition to win entry to the British 10K, plus Brooks running kit including new trainers, sports bra, vest and bottoms. I was lucky enough to win and couldn’t believe my luck, despite my chequered history with this event.

I participated in the British 10K during 2014 and labelled it the “worst 10K event I’ve ever been to,” stating that it had left me upset and unwilling to return. However, organisers Vitality promised a greatly improved event for 2016 with the bonus of a goody bag along with the finisher t-shirt and bespoke medal. I was both curious and eager to see if the British 10K had improved or whether it would retain its label of the “worst 10K event”. Everything deserves a second chance and I was looking forward to the challenge.

The British 10K LondonSo on Sunday 10 July I woke at 5:50am, drove to the next town and caught a train to London Charing Cross. From there, I walked a fair distance to the baggage area where I visited the Brooks running stand to say hello. From there it was another fair walk to the starting pens, which were clearly labelled and well organised, manned by efficient event staff who checked to confirm that runners were in the right waves. The signage was obvious and the marshals were friendly.

The starting process was fairly lengthy, with pens A to D (wearing blue bibs) setting off in waves, and then pens E to H (wearing red bibs) setting off in waves. I was in the first red pen, E, and crossed the start line 16 minutes after the event started; not a big deal as we were continuously walking towards the start line, and there was music playing from speakers with an MC keeping us entertained. Also, the start was positoned so that runners u-turned immediately and ran back past all of the pens, which was a nice touch.

The British 10K LondonThe course, as is typical for a London running event, was lined with supporters/general public and charities, with choirs and drummers providing music at various points; I personally love this touch and it was very atmospheric. The three water stations were well staffed and cleaners were efficiently removing the empty bottles from the pavement without getting in anyone’s way. The three sprinkler ‘showers’ en route were a welcome feature and seemed to be popular, too – I found them very refreshing, especially considering the muggy stuffy weather which later turned to drizzle. The course itself contained a few hills which were unexpected, but there were no bottlenecks and I really enjoyed the route overall.

I wore the new Brooks trainers, sports bra and vest with 1000 mile socks and black Nike shorts; no layers. The muggy weather meant that I was very hot at points despite wearing minimal clothing, but nevertheless I was comfortable throughout and was pleased with my outfit choice. I had eaten a banana and cereal bar for breakfast along with a bottle of water, and continued sipping water throughout the 6.2 miles, which all seemed to work effectively.

The British 10K LondonThe finish line was fantastic, filled with photographers and event staff who cheered and hung big chunky bespoke medals around runners’ necks. The path out of the finish line was lined with volunteers handing out goody bags containing Proper Corn popcorn, a Trek cereal bar, wet wipes, bottle of water and a bottle of Lucozade. Bespoke event t-shirts were also being handed out separately, with sizes clearly marked. From there, it was a short walk up the road back to Charing Cross train station.

This experience was such a huge improvement from two years ago and overall I was very impressed; the British 10K organisers have clearly listened to feedback and taken it on board, adjusting the event accordingly. I would recommend this event to others and would definitely take part again, although at £50 the registration fee verges on extortionate, especially considering the London 10,000 was around half that price and the London Marathon is less than £40. That’s honestly my only gripe. Well done Vitality, I hope to return in future! 🙂

 

 

Amazing avatar!

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I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram one evening when an illustration caught my eye on the ‘Popular’ feed. A marathon runner had been drawn by an artist, https://www.instagram.com/everydayesther/, who had captured the runner’s outfit and the situation in a super cute way. I instantly knew that I wanted one, so clicked on the link in Esther’s bio and found the contact information on her website, firing off a quick email telling her how much I love her work and asking if she’d mind doing one for me as a commission. Esther replied immediately and soon enough we were in regular communication, whereby I relayed ideas of outfits, colours and poses. Esther quoted £15, supplied her PayPal address and sent over a JPEG of my avatar, proving to be flexible when I requested tweaks. This was the result, and I adore it:

running illustration

To explain: I chose a Great Ormond Street vest as the hospital did a lot of work for my sister and are greatly valued by my family. 1988 is my year of birth, the Brooks Ghost 7 ombres are my favourite running trainers and the ones I wear most often; and the purple Nike shorts are the comfiest bottoms and the ones I wear for most events.

I love it! You can see more of Esther’s work here: http://www.everydayesther.co.uk/

 

 

Brooks and the British 10K!

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A few weeks ago I stumbled across a Tweet posted by Brooks, my favourite brand of running footwear (Brooks Ghost 5s were my first ever pair and I currently run in Ghost 7 ombres, which I had shipped over from America and LOVE):

Twitter Brooks competition

Now, the Vitality British 10K London Run.

I participated in this event during 2014 and labelled it the “worst 10K event I’ve ever been to,” stating that it had left me upset: “The start line pens were cramped and confusing with delays. The finish line was an anti-climax and runners had to walk about a mile away from the event area to the baggage collection (even though I didn’t have any baggage) to collect a packaged-up medal. It turns out I picked up the wrong medal as there were two types and I should have received the Help for Heroes one. There was a severe lack of signage and no-one seemed to know where they were going… the lack of organisation made it a shambles.”

However, organisers Vitality held the Brighton half marathon which I took part in during February this year and found very enjoyable, and they took over the London 10,000 reigns from Bupa which I participated in last month and absolutely loved. I’m still on the British 10K mailing list and have received email communication promising a greatly improved event with the bonus of a goody bag this year, along with the finisher t-shirt and bespoke medal. I’ve heard on the grapevine that there is a new race director, too.

Personally I would rather not attend running events twice unless there is sentimental value or mileage medals to collect, as there are so many other events to choose from, but I am both curious and eager to see if the British 10K has improved or whether it will retain its label of the “worst 10K event”. At £50 the entrance fee verges on extortionate, especially considering the London 10,000 was around half that price, and the London Marathon is less than £40. But everything deserves a second chance, and someone’s idea of a terrible event is also someone’s idea of the perfect one. So, I entered the competition:

Twitter Brooks competition

And guess what? I WON! A few days later I received a lovely private message from Brooks on Twitter, alerting me to the win and requesting various information in order to register me for the British 10K. Upon reading the T&Cs of the competition and talking to Brooks, I realised that not only had I won race entry, but the prize also included Brooks kit in the form of running shoes, capri bottoms, vest top and sports bra! The event registration confirmation email arrived promptly and the parcel arrived soon after, well packaged and containing some seriously gorgeous gear in all the right sizes:

Brooks Glycerin running trainersBrooks running

I’m super grateful and feel very lucky indeed to have received such a wonderful prize; I know that a lot of runners would crawl over broken glass while chewing on a wasp in order to be a winner of this generous competition!

I aim to take part in the British 10K next month with little preconception and am really looking forward to it, with the bonus of wearing brand new running kit thanks to Brooks. Watch this space to see how the British 10K fares, two years on!

 

 

The Magnificent Moonlight Walk

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I’ve participated in the 8 mile Hospice in the Weald Tunbridge Wells Moonlight Walk for years, often completing it with my mum and sister and making it an annual family tradition. In 2013 I took part alone as mum had other plans, and I met some lovely people on the walk who I’m still in communication with now. Back then, the entry fee was £15 and included a t-shirt, finisher’s certificate and a few treats on the way round. Then in 2014 I took part with my boyfriend; I had just lost my father and needed a distraction. The rest of my family weren’t feeling up to it, but exercise is my way of releasing all sorts of emotions and I was determined to take part. Sadly that experience was a bad one and I wrote a negative review about it, as myself and boyfriend were at the front throughout and the first to cross the finish line (which was in darkness), were accused of cheating and missed out on all the free goodies en route which hadn’t been prepared in time. I sent my feedback to the organisers and didn’t hear back, so gave the event a miss in 2015.

Hospice in the Weald Moonlight WalkThis year, myself and mum are both wearing Jawbones and tracking our steps, eager to increase our fitness levels and looking for any excuse to take a walk. When we saw posters around Tunbridge Wells for the Moonlight walk, we decided to stick with tradition and signed up with my boyfriend, all paying the £20 entry fee. The details advised a 7pm start so we arrived at the sports centre starting point early, where there was plenty of parking, to find that we may not set off for another hour. Not ideal, but there was a seemingly never-ending supply of free nibbles being passed around (lemon drizzle cake, chocolate brownies), a well-staffed t-shirt collection point (included in the price of the event), music playing, an Instagram-inspired photo frame to utilise, and clean sports-centre toilets, so we soaked up the atmosphere and posed for photos taken by Heart FM! There was a fun countdown and then off we went, quite an impressive crowd of walkers, along a safe and well-lit pre-planned route around Tunbridge Wells. There were plenty of marshals and supporters en route along with photographers, and a remarkable array of food handed out by volunteers: a bag of pick’n’mix sweets, lollies, water, bananas, strawberries and a pot of fish’n’chips! A very generous event.

Hospice in the Weald Moonlight WalkI paired the event t-shirt with running leggings and trainers with a sports jacket over the top (pockets holding my phone, inhaler and keys) and was comfortable throughout. The weather was wet with persistent drizzle, but it didn’t dampen spirits! We crossed the 8 mile finish line back at the sports centre just over two hours later and received a goody bag (containing a wristband, Cote voucher, gym voucher and lollipops) and a finisher’s certificate along with free water, bananas and more cake and chocolate. The volunteers in the sports hall cheered and clapped as we entered which was a lovely touch, and the whole atmosphere of the event was lively and positive.
The Hospice in the Weald Tunbridge Wells Moonlight Walk is a well-organised family event suitable for many ages and abilities, and I’d recommend it to others. 🙂

NEXT UP: The London British 10K on Sunday 10 July!

 

 

 

The pretty mundane Pretty Muddy 5K

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I’ve taken part in the Tunbridge Wells Race for Life every year for as long as I can remember, even when I wasn’t into running, and it’s become a tradition more than anything. This event is local, my friends and colleagues join in, and it has a guaranteed great atmosphere with hoards of supporters. The event caters for runners, joggers and walkers and encourages those of all ages and abilities to join in.

So when the event organisers decided to hold a ‘Pretty Muddy’ Race for Life 5K this year, my interest was piqued. Cousin Harriet, also a keen runner, suggested we take part and I didn’t hesitate, signing up to participate on Saturday 4 June.

Race for Life Pretty Muddy 2016I dug out old plimsolls, old pink tracksuit bottoms (wasn’t going to ruin my nice running gear!) and purchased a charity vest top to wear, deciding to forego any makeup on the day – which turned out to be a good decision! After setting off, the first obstacle we came to was tarpaulin covered in a thin layer of compost with netting over the top: we had to crawl over the compost under the net while volunteers sprayed us with water. Muddy rating for this one was very low; only my knees and palms got dirty. The second obstacle was car tyres in a row which we had to ‘run through’ – no mud involved. The third obstacle was a netted A-frame which we climbed over – again, no mud. The fourth involved running through an inflatable bouncy castle with big bouncy balls – guess what, no mud. The fifth obstacle was a hurdle which had a muddy pool on the other side – HALLELUJAH! Finally, some mud – although only my shoes were affected. The sixth obstacle near the finish line was the biggest, the muddiest and definitely the most fun: a big inflatable slide which finished into a large padding pool of mud. I was covered! It was good fun trying to strip off all of my clothes in the car park without being seen – literally every item of clothing went into the bin, including pants and socks! Luckily I only live on the other side of town.

Race for Life Pretty Muddy 2016If the slide hadn’t been there, I would have been dry apart from my shoes – the event was disappointing overall and not what I had expected. Perhaps that’s because I completed the Major Series last year, which was brutal! I do feel, from a marketing point of view, that this event should be called an obstacle run rather than a mud run, which was a bit misleading, as myself and cousin both felt disappointed and distinctly mud-free until we reached the slide at the end. Even the atmosphere at ‘Pretty Muddy’ was surprisingly lacklustre, with what seemed like half the amount of participants and supporters of a standard ‘Race for Life’ event.

There were postivies, of course: the £20 entry cost covered army-style dog tags (in place of a traditional medal), bottle of water and a packaged brioche bun. No chip timing was available but the warm-up routine was good fun, and Cancer Research workers were walking around selling fake flowers which many supporters purchased for participants crossing the finish line – a lovely touch – and the ice-cream vans were very welcome! The signage was obvious, the marshals were encouraging, the weather was dry and muggy, and the start and finish lines were well managed. Personally though, I wouldn’t take part again, and in future I think I’ll stick with the standard 5K event without the mud…

NEXT UP: 8 Mile Tunbridge Wells Moonlight Walk for Hospice in the Weald on Saturday 11 June.

 

 

10,000 LIKES for the London 10,000

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The Bupa London 10,000 was my first proper running event three years ago and holds some great memories: it was the first time I experienced a huge, well-organised running event, and it had me hooked. I took part in the Bupa London 10,000 in 2013 and 2014 but missed the registration boat in 2015 by a DAY due to a clerical error my end. I emailed and Tweeted the organisers begging for a place but didn’t hear back, and contacted various charities who confirmed that they had already reached full capacity. So, that was that.

It turns out that 2015 ended up being Bupa’s last year as headline sponsor, with Vitality taking over for 2016. I admitted in a previous blog that I felt slightly despondent about this, while remaining hopeful that Vitality would keep up the very high standards set by Bupa who maintained, in my view, a perfect running event. Vitality run the worst 10K event I’ve ever taken part in (the British London 10K) but also held the Brighton half marathon, which was surprisingly enjoyable. I wanted to see what the new London 10,000 would be like; if my favourite running event had changed in any way.

Vitality London 10000 running eventSo, I set off on Monday 30th May feeling both excited and slightly nervous, as my last ‘proper’ running event was back in February. Due to Thameslink works, the trains were all out of sorts and it took 2hrs to travel to Green Park; not ideal, but not the end of the world. The Event Village was very easy to find and well signposted, with a large area full of catering and beverage carts, Vitality-branded beanbags and tables. There were more than enough portaloos and I didn’t have to queue on the two occasions I used them. I’d consumed a banana, cereal bar and Lucozade before entering the well-organised colour-coded pens, which were manned by event staff who checked to confirm that runners were in the right wave. This is imperative for good organisation and is something that the London Winter Run, for example, could learn from and implement. There were four waves in total; I was in the second wave (‘black’) and we set off around 4-5 minutes after the first wave, with a fun countdown and motivating music. The course, as always for the London 10,000 event, was lined with supporters/general public and charities, with a number of brass bands and drummers set up to play music along the route; I personally love this touch. The two water stations were well staffed, and cleaners were efficiently removing the empty bottles from the pavement without getting in anyone’s way. The sprinkler ‘showers’ en route were a welcome feature and seemed to be popular, too – I found it refreshing!

Vitality London 10000 running eventThe atmosphere was electric, absolutely amazing, and I felt proud to be running a beautiful, scenic course amongst thousands of other runners. The weather was dry, slightly muggy but ideal running conditions, and I had chosen to wear sports leggings with a tight vest layered under a looser vest, which worked very well and I was comfortable throughout. No parts of my body ached and I felt on top form right up to the finish line and beyond. In hindsight, although I didn’t get a PB and wasn’t particularly fast, I would call this a perfect run, in terms of how I felt and the event itself.

Vitality London 10000 running event

The Finish Line was wide, with a large digital clock on display, and an organised production line of sorts where volunteers snipped off the timing tag from all runners’ shoes and handed out possibly the most impressive goody bags I have seen: an Adidas event t-shirt, water, Lucozade, bag of almonds, Ritz crisps, Jacobs crackers, Drumstick Squashies, full-size bottle of SPF15 sun lotion, Whitworths fruit mix; and a large, heavy bespoke medal. Photographers lined up just after the exit to take pictures of runners with their medals, and the whole Finishing element seemed seamless and well managed. I found my spectator boyfriend with ease and we exited the event village without trouble or queues. I didn’t have to use the baggage drop so can’t comment on that, but the whole experience was very positive and I’m so glad I took part. No negatives from my point of view!

Vitality London 10000 running eventI paid £28 to enter this race and can’t quite believe the quality and high standards. The British 10K, for example, charge £50 entry and don’t supply goody bags, color-coded start pens, this amount of photography or even half this level of organisation. I would highly recommend the London 10,000 event to anyone and everyone. If you’re going to take part in a London 10K, it without a doubt has to be this one. Well done, Vitality! I’ll be back 🙂

 

 

 

Walking by moonlight for the Moonwalk

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Two years ago I completed the overnight ‘Full Moon’ Moonwalk for Walk the Walk and sobbed as I crossed the finish line after 26.2miles. Walking that distance is incredibly challenging, and undertaking this mammoth achievement is made tougher due to the nocturnal timing. My mind was just as exhausted as my body. However, I’m one for collecting ‘sets’ as I did with Cancer Research’s Shine, where I completed both the Full and Half walking events, and knew that I would return to complete the ‘Half Moon’ Moonwalk (which is actually 13.1 plus 2 miles, so 15.1miles in total).

Walk the Walk MoonwalkThis event is very generous in that the £50 entry fee included a training t-shirt, branded high-viz cap, a Wonderbra to decorate, full training plan and advice, personalised Walker Number, bag label, weather protector, space blanket, a hot pasta or rice meal, flapjack, all the water you can drink, facilities along the route, a gorgeous medal and impressive entertainment. This is so much more than a walking event! Each year there is a different theme and this year’s was ‘carnival’, so I researched different ideas, purchased materials and sewed and glued the bra to my heart’s content. My friend pulled out at the last minute but I was determined to complete the walk regardless, so when it came to Saturday 14th May I travelled up to London alone, taking the 90minute-long train to Clapham Junction followed by a 30minute walk to Clapham Common. The queue to enter the event grounds was huge, and I finally gained entry at 8:25pm after joining at 7:50pm. Once inside there was a choice of three bagging areas, more portaloos than I have ever seen, various mobile food & drink suppliers (all organic and healthy – brilliant), a white marquee housing WalkWear clothes to purchase, an information marquee, and of course the famous big pink tent. Inside that were water stations, an area to collect your free rice/pasta meals and flapjack, wash-off tattoo stations, a make-up area, masseuses offering their services, half-naked muscly men offering themselves for photographs, and a large stage where various performers entertained. I opted for a complimentary calf massage and the lady was attentive and knew what she was doing. The atmosphere in the tent was lively and fun; and a humbling minute’s silence took place before the walks set off.

Walk the Walk MoonwalkI was wearing my decorated bra underneath the training t-shirt (which I removed before setting off) and a WalkWear zip-up hoody, coupled with running leggings and running trainers. My Walker Number was safety-pinned around a leg, and my pink draw-sting backpack contained: Bottle of water, snack food (cereal bar, apple, crisps etc), phone, keys, purse, lip balm, inhaler, mints, tissues, wet-wipes, deodorant, spare clothing….and more. I should have packed a lot less, as although my bag felt relatively light when I set off, after a few hours (bearing in mind I left home at 5:30pm, so by the time we started walking I’d already been wearing the bag for 5hrs) my shoulders were feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t actually need to take a bottle of water, as there was an unlimited free supply, and I should have left the snacks at home as there was plenty of food choices on offer to purchase. A lesson for future walking events: I’ll only take a small bumbag with the very bare essentials. A few days later, my shoulders have bruising and my lower back is still sore.

Walk the Walk MoonwalkI was in the first wave to set off and left the grounds at around 10:30pm. The volunteer marshals en route were encouraging all the way around, clapping and cheering and handing out sweets. The weather was dry and warm, and the spectators/general public were friendly. The signage was incorrect however, as I passed a 10mile marker, then a mile later passed another 10mile marker. Thinking this was a simple oversight I carried on, but the same happened again at 12miles, when there was two 12mile markers in a row. At this point I deflated and lost motivation, stopped power-walking and stumbled the remaining three miles, feeling a bit cheated. The finish line was the best finish line I’ve ever crossed; about 20 or so staff members clapped, cheered, shouted words of praise and took photographs, putting the medal over my head and making me feel like I’d just won the Olympics. The clock read 1:50am: I’d walked 15.1miles in 3hrs 20mins, and was the third participant to finish. I took advantage of the seating, hot chocolate and coffee until 5:15am, when I walked the 30mins back to Clapham Junction to catch my 6am train home. I sat and watched the sun rise as walker after walker crossed the line and collected their medals, the cheers from the staff remaining constant and enthusiastic. Some might think that waiting alone in the cold for over 3hrs would be awful, but it fact it was humbling and lovely. I wrapped myself up in the free space blanket and nursed hot drinks while congratulating fellow participants. I nodded off a few times on the train on the way home, and when I finally walked through my door at 9am (7hrs after finishing the event!) I fell asleep until midday. My legs were sore but I think perspective is key with events like this: feeling sore and tired is nothing compared to having cancer, or losing loved ones to cancer.

So, would I recommend the Moonwalk to others? Yes, absolutely. The whole event was highly organised, professional and ran like clockwork. The atmosphere blew me away and apart from the incorrect signage, I can’t fault anything. As this was my second Moonwalk and I now have both mileage medals, I highly doubt that I’ll be returning, but this is the sort of event that I would encourage anyone and everyone to complete.

NEXT UP: The Vitality London 10,000 on Monday 30th May!

 

 

Entering the VLM, 88 medals & HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

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A few weeks ago I saw a fellow runner displaying his very impressive medal collection on Twitter, and announcing that he had now earned his 100th medal. It was inspiring and had me aching to get my medals out and count them. I purchased a medal hanger a year ago but due to going from a mortgaged house to rented accommodation, I haven’t been able to hang it up as it requires rawl plugs – something that landlords generally aren’t fond of having drilled into their precious walls! So my medals reside in a box in the wardrobe, with the medal hanger still cellophaned and sitting alongside them. I took the hanger out of the packaging and sorted my medals into colour by ribbon, counting them as I did so, and added them onto the hanger. I was surprised to discover that I have earned 88 medals so far! running medalsSeems like a vast amount and something that I never thought I’d achieve. I started running casually in May 2013 – three years ago this month – and just never stopped. It’s honestly the best thing I’ve ever done; running is, for me, the best stress reliever and the highest feel-good factor. Seeing all of my medals on the hanger was motivation in itself and I definitely won’t be stopping any time soon!

Of course, I had to take all of the medals off and pack the hanger away in its packaging, and pop the medals back in their box in the wardrobe afterwards. I can’t wait for the day when they’re all up on show permanently!

running medalsSo to celebrate my three year running anniversary, I entered the Virgin London Marathon ballot…again. The registration opened on Monday 2nd May and I optimistically signed up within the first few hours. I’ve genuinely lost count of how many times I’ve entered; I’m guessing four or five, so not a huge amount, but now have a rather impressive collection of £40 running jackets in the closet! Hopefully I actually secure a place for 2017 as this is the one and only marathon I’d really like to participate in. I’ve given myself until I’m 30yrs old to complete this event, and I’m currently 28, so 2017 and 2018 are my only chances! Fingers crossed…Let’s see what October brings!

In other news, my new Jawbone UP3 arrived in the post, replacing the UP2 which fell off unnoticed somewhere in London. Jawbones are so easy to set up and sync, the whole process takes about five minutes, and then I left my UP3 to charge for about an hour before clipping it on and using it as normal. I had been a bit lost and unmotivated without a gadget telling me how many more steps I needed to take in order to reach daily target, and buzzing on my wrist when I’m inactive to remind me to move. It’s great to have one again! Let the competitiveness begin…

Next up: Walk the Walk Moonwalk on Saturday 14th May 🙂

 

 

Filling the weekend with colour!

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I took part in London Wembley’s Color Run during July 2013, and my review that followed stated: “The £30 entry fee was excessive for a 5K and included just a t-shirt and headband, no chip timing or medal. The race start was delayed (no reason for this was announced) and all runners were crammed into the start when it was about 30 degrees – surely quite dangerous and not very enjoyable.”

So when I saw Facebook adverts for the Brighton Color Obstacle Rush 5K, I was dubious to say the least. But then I saw that this event is run by a separate company, seems to have clear, set timing waves (running in half-hour time slots from 10am – 15:30), and includes medals. Bonus! Brighton is also closer to me and therefore quicker to get to than London. The entry fee seemed excessive at £35 but I signed up, interested to see how this event would compare. After all, colour-based runs are always fun, and this one has obstacles!

I was booked into the 13:30 wave and set off on Saturday 30th April at 11am, driving the hour and fifteen minutes to Brighton and arriving at exactly 12:15pm. The event location was easy to find and the car park at Brighton Racecourse is free, which was welcome news, with plenty of free spaces and a very short walk to the event village.

I had visited Primark the week prior to pick up a £3 pair of white plimsoles and a £2.50 pair of white shorts, which were borderline indecent but fitted the clothing guidelines of wearing as much white as possible, so that the colour shows up! I did wear black lycra shorts underneath, and the entry fee included an event t-shirt which I picked up on arrival. The queues for this were long but moved fairly quickly and seemed quite organised; I handed over a required signed ‘waiver’, proof of entry registration and photo ID, and received a coloured wristband relating to my start wave time, and the t-shirt. Overall the event seemed well organised, with lively warm-up dance routines, a motivating MC, well-managed starting waves, and a ‘colour festival’ for finishers with free colour packets, which was so much fun. I didn’t use the portaloos or baggage drop but there were no queues for either of these at the time of passing. There were no timing chips or race numbers but this event isn’t about that; it’s not competitive, it’s literally just for fun!

The obstacles included giant inflatable slides and balls, space hoppers, hurdles and tunnels, all very manageable, with volunteers pouring coloured powder over you as you passed.

Brighton Color Obstacle Rush 5KThere are just two areas which could be improved, the first one being the water station on the course. There was a queue of participants about half-way round, waiting to be served by a lone volunteer who was manually pumping water out of a large cooler into individual cups. I felt sorry for the man and this could easily be solved with either more volunteers at this point, or pre-poured cups of water ready and waiting. Secondly, the course itself was very confusing at points, with no signage, pointers or marshalls, and it kept looping back on itself. I went the wrong way quite a few times and actually got a bit lost. I had no idea where to go sometimes, and I wasn’t the only one. I didn’t feel as though I had run 5K and I’m sure I missed some of the route. Again, more volunteers or some signage would have been beneficial here.

The medal was bespoke albeit slightly cheap and basic, but better than nothing, and overall the event was a fantastic experience. The weather was warm and dry, ideal conditions, and I left the festival feeling really upbeat. This is the sort of event that I’d recommend to everyone; it’s suitable for all shapes and abilities, and is a great laugh.

 

 

 

Come back, running mojo!

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It’s been an odd month. Along with a very high task load at work and helping my mum move out of our childhood house, I lost my Jawbone UP2 (it randomly fell off my wrist while I was out and about in London; I didn’t feel it come off and have no idea where it could have happened), so I have been unable to track my activity and so haven’t been accruing Bounts credits. A friend who I run with every week has been ill so we haven’t run together for three weeks, and my next running event is a fun colour obstacle race at the very end of the month, with no ‘proper’ event to aim or train for. Therefore I have been feeling rather out of sorts and lacking motivation. Of course this all had to happen over Easter when chocolate was everywhere I looked and the healthy clean diet went out the window. Without meaning to sound dramatic, this becomes a catch-22 because when I don’t exercise and over-indulge I feel sluggish and low, and when I feel sluggish and low I don’t want to exercise, I just want to curl up on the sofa, and then I feel guilty for not exercising…and so on and so forth. A good friend dragged me out for lunch and stated: “You’re not happy at the moment, are you? I can tell you’re not, because you’re not running.”

This snapped me into action as personally I can’t stand people who feel sorry for themselves. Hours later I pulled on my running shoes and ran 6K, which felt amazing. My head felt clearer and I slept like a log that night. I’ve ordered a new Jawbone (the UP3 this time – my third Jawbone after the UP24 and UP2) and have scheduled in a run with the ill friend who is now on the mend. I’ve discovered a new smoothie café in my local town and have tried the new ‘matcha’ craze for the first time (finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea) – delicious!

All it took to get my mojo back was a gentle reality check from a good friend, although I’ve realised that it’s ok to give yourself a break sometimes, it’s ok to rest and to let your body relax, and it’s ok to go off-diet occasionally. It’s just never ok to sit around and feel sorry for yourself.

Brighton Color Obstacle Rush, I’m coming for you! See you in three weeks – I’ve got some training to do 🙂 x

Protein chocolate egg

 

 

 

Sport Relief 2016!

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Sport Relief is a biennial charity event from Comic Relief in association with BBC Sport, which brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment to raise money to help vulnerable people in both the UK and the world’s poorest countries. Sport Relief 2016 ran from 18th – 20th March with over 1000 running, swimming and cycling events taking place.

I sit on the charity committee at work and this event was right up my street. We asked employees to come into work dressed in either their sports gear or as their favourite sports person for a £1 donation, and I organised an internal Sport Relief Mile wSport Relief 2016hich saw a number of colleagues lacing up and taking to the streets during their lunch break for another £1 donation. A Plank Challenge took place in the canteen immediately afterwards (yes, for £1 donation), with the winner lasting an impressive 5minutes 40secs! I only managed 2minutes so clearly need to work on my core… Lastly we had devised a Sports Quiz (£1 to play) which was handed out at the beginning of the day and collected at close of business, with the winner receiving a Juice Bar voucher. Overall the day was a success, we all had fun and our building raised an impressive amount of money for Sport Relief!

Sport Relief 2016

Saturday 19th saw a long walk and a trip to Bounce in London where I played Ping-Pong… not remotely related to Sport Relief, but it counts with regards to being active!

On Sunday 20th I took part in an official Sport Relief event at Paddock Wood Athletic Track. I ran 5K round the newly laid track and received a cute bespoke Sport Relief 2016medal, a rubber bracelet promoting fitness, and a voucher for a free gym session at the local Fusion leisure centre. The event was very small with few participants and supporters, but those who were there seemed enthusiastic and were clearly having fun. A 10K and 1 Mile race surrounded the 5K and I couldn’t help but think that it was a perfect location with great facilities, and this event was an ideal chance for anyone of any age and ability to get out and take part.

A great three days of sports-related activities. See you in two years, Sport Relief!