Wasabi wi' you? New Balance Leggings

Remember I mentioned those new jazzy leggings, well here y'are. And forgive me for dedicating a whole post to one pair of leggings, but it's very rare that I shout about running kit that isn't Nike.

Welcome to the party New Balance.

I spotted these on Sports Pursuit (if you haven't signed up, do it immediately) at half their original price and having not tried much New Balance kit, I thought I'd give them a go. Fair to say they're a new fave item.

Firstly, they have a lovely long waist line that means not only do they actually stay up, but they don't give you any muffin top either. Secondly, they're incredibly soft against your skin and fitted with their own NB Dry technology which wicks sweat away from the skin. And now for the most obvious point, I think they look great (though I'm now in the market for a lot of black tops...). What makes them look so damn good is the fact that they're put enough due care and attention into making them stretch in the right places without losing colour - there's honestly not much worse I can think of than a pattern straining over one of my thighs.

My only downside and this is a recurring theme, is the lack of pockets to put your bits in - oyster card, keys, chewing gum... Am I going to be resigned to run with a bum bag forever more?

VERDICT: Either way, I love these for being the most jazzy and eye-catching legging I can find and for never straining over my thighs (thank youuuu).

NEW TRAINER ALERT: Nike Zoom Pegasus 32

I got me some new sneaks... And boy are they great. I once heard the rule of thumb for new trainers for a regular runner was every six months. I figure marathon training for four months counts as six so I hot footed it over to Nike Town London and got me a new pair.

Welcome to the family Nike Zoom Pegasus 32's.

They come in some great colours (the blue and pink are particularly awesome) but I really wanted a pair I could wear with anything. I've ended up with quite a collection of jazzy leggings in recent times which I'll have to share with y'all soon.

But now for the ride... I chose these as a mid-way between my 4.0s and my LunarGlides which I ran the marathon in. Sadly, my Free Run 4.0s didn't seem to be doing my legs any good and I  was bouncing from niggle to niggle until I started training in the LunarGlides. The latter were a dream to run the marathon in, but I felt like it was time for something a little lighter which would give me the bounce and speed of a light shoe like the 4.0s but still not let my legs go awry like the LunarGlides!

Since I've had these, I've barely taken them off - they're now a staple shoe in my handbag for in between meetings (yes, I'm a suit and trainers w*nker). Plus, they're pretty dreamy to run in with exactly the right mixture of speed and agility. As a neutral ride, they're probably suitable for most runners, though I would definitely recommend getting your gait analysed before you make a commitment, especially if you haven't had it done before.

Verdict: LOVE these, now to actually do some running.

Top Things to Do in Valencia: Post Marathon Chill

The last few weeks have been pretty tough. Don't get me wrong, I get to do some cool stuff with my job, but when it's full throttle with no time to breathe, you don't really get to enjoy any of it. ESPECIALLY, when you spend your whole time snacking on junk in between meetings with no time to exercise. I've always said, I don't mind working hard unless it gets in the way of exercise...

Anyway, I'm not here to moan. I wanted to change tack and talk about some of the amazing things I did post-marathon to relax - namely, grabbing some springtime sunshine in Valencia, Spain! It really is the most gorgeous city.

We flew out on the Tuesday evening after the marathon. Not only was I SO excited to get away, I'd had my first taste of beer for the first time in five weeks only recently so was thrilled about the prospect of airport beers. Rory, sadly, still had work to do, so I was buzzing around him all the way until the departure lounge, trying to keep myself entertained while he finished. I didn't do that well.

Once we'd arrived, it was easy enough to find our way to the hotel - their metro system only has about four lines and there's no split destinations in the same way that London has. It also seemed to be absolutely deserted despite it being only about 9pm.

We stayed only a stone's throw from the central square where the cathedral is (here), so we were still able to get some food from a lovely (yet slightly overpriced) cafe there once we arrived. Almost immediately, I remembered that I spoke almost no Spanish and kept trying to answer people in French. One of the things I loved about Valencia was in fact their consistent speaking in Spanish despite we were tourists. Whilst I might not be very good at it, I enjoy having a go at speaking the local language, otherwise how will you learn?

Our first full day in Valencia happened to be Rory's birthday, so we got up early (not that early!) and headed out to see what Valencia had to offer. I was totally struck by how spectacular the architecture was throughout the whole city, with stunning original pieces like the National Museum of Ceramics, to interesting new developments such as the whole of the City of Arts and Sciences, which is designed to look like fish coming out of water. Another total favourite was the Central Market, though I think that was somewhat more biased for it's amazing produce...

We bought some of the biggest apples we've ever seen from the market and walked towards the old river bed, which surrounds the city. Now this is truly amazing - years and years ago the Turia river ran right through Valencia. Sadly in 1957 a huge flood devastated Valencia and so the authorities diverted it's course away from central Valencia. What's left are miles and miles of beautiful park and lush green gardens for people to walk along, take their dogs for a walk or RUN AROUND. I saw so many joggers braving the midday sun and despite only running a marathon days earlier, I was really jealous.

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City of Arts and Sciences - Valencia

Finally we got the bus (legs still sore) to explore Valencia's famous beach - a stretch of over 5 or 6km of unspoilt (burning hot) sand and totally blue water. We padded around for a bit trying to persuade ourselves to paddle in the water, but instead opted for a lazy nap in a sand dune. Just bliss.

Getting back to the hotel, we found the hotel had really kindly left out a little bottle of champagne and a birthday note for Rory which was just the nicest surprise. Getting ready, we headed out to dinner in search of traditional Spanish tapas. Sad to say, that traditional Spanish tapas eluded us til the last night so I'm going to jump straight through this dinner and on to the best meal we had while we were there.

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On our final night, we took a walk into the Gran Via, a triangular residential area with few cars, to find a Tapas restaurant we'd found on Trip Advisor. We'd had a few quiet nights at this point given that it was mid-week when we came, so it was great to be in a place with much more atmosphere, yet still wasn't bustling in a touristy way. We ordered Patatas Bravas, Croquettes and Fresh Calamari amongst others, and everything was served the traditional Spanish way (or my understanding of the traditional way at least), and the food was so good. I've somehow mislaid the name of the restaurant, so if you do want to go, please do drop me a note in the comments below and I'll try and look it up again for you!

Other things we loved while we were there were the Botanical Gardens, which had the BEST array of cacti I've ever seen, and the Cathedral, home to the Holy Grail(!) and the Bell Tower. As one of the last working bell towers in Spain, it was pretty nerve wracking being up-top as it was coming up to the hour. As it was, we were on our way down the many spiral stairs at that point, but it fully shook the building when it went off.

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We loved Valencia, and our final shout out must go to La Pepica - a beach-side restaurant serving the best Calamari (noticing a theme?) and Paella.

The Big One: The Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 - Part II

So, you've had the warm up, now it's time for The Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 Race Review. Again, I should apologise for the time it took to get my napkin scribs down onto actual paper, but I wanted to be able to do it justice and a little hindsight and R&R goes a long way. Now I should warn you, this isn't a short post so grab a cuppa, put your feet up and get stuck in.

We started early, with breakfast consisting of some porridge with honey, two slices of brown toast with raspberry jam and, of course, a lucozade. Then it was off to Greenwich where the race would begin. TfL are awesome and give all runners free travel on the underground network on race day and with their staff holding the barriers open for you, you can't help but feel like a hero.

Sadly, Rory and I had to part when we reached Greenwich for him to go to his start, and me to mine but we were careful to plan out how we were going to meet eachother during the race. After our setback earlier in the week, I think we were both a bit emotional to say goodbye to each other in case our plan didn't work and we had to run the full 26.2 miles on our own.

Through to the competitors village (their name, not mine) and my friend who was running for Cancer Research and I dropped our bags into the vans and we headed for the loo. I should warn you the queues at this point are extremely long, and it's worth bringing a little loo roll for this purpose. I know every runner knows this, (hell portaloos are just a part of a runners life) but somehow I always manage to forget this key ingredient!

After that, it was straight to the starting pens and here's where Rory and I's little plan fell into action. I was in pen 5 alongside all the other runners who were running about a 9:45 pace, whilst he had cleverly not told the organisers how fast he was so he was in pen 9 with the tyrannosaurus rex and the Jamaican bobsleigh team. I can't lie, this didn't do much for my nerves. Once we were in our starting pens, we phoned each other even though our signal was terrible. I would like to pretend this was just for practical reasons but it's been a while since I've been on a start line on my own.

So, we stayed on a very shaky phone line until we crossed the line to make sure we crossed at the same time, had a shiver as we realised this was it, hung up and stuck our music on as loud as it would go.

The first few miles were surreal but flew by. I was feeling good and before I knew it, I was at 3 miles were the two routes start to join. I called Rory again as soon as I saw the other runners to try and track him down. He was a couple of minutes behind me but that wasn't really a problem in comparison to what I'd anticipated. I hung back until he came round the corner and then we continued the rest of our lengthy journey together.

The next few miles were awesome - the crowds were cheering us on and we were easily keeping to our ideal pace. At 8 miles we saw our first supporters who received a sweaty hug each and an awkward scream in the face. Seeing our friends and family throughout those first ten or so miles was amazing and surprisingly emotional.

Onwards we went and it was time for the iconic Tower Bridge moment which was a great feeling to be almost halfway and still feeling good. However, people around us were starting to flag, the pace was starting to drop and by 14 miles where the other runners were starting to come back the other way, there were quite a few people walking by the sides of the road.

We carried on out towards the Isle of Dogs and saw some more friends around Wapping where my greeting was far less enthusiastic (nothing personal, I promise!) and this is where we started to flag slightly. I was experiencing a lot of pain down my arms (weird, I know!) and also some reduced movement in my big toe which was manifesting into pain underneath my right foot. We got to 16 miles and with the pain only getting worse, we stopped and had a couple of paracetamol each.

Feeling bolstered by the placebo effect (or two paracetamol on a now empty stomach) we picked up the pace again and kept running through the next few miles. Mentally I felt like I'd hit a turning point at 18 miles and I knew we were starting to hit home. This lasted for approximately half a mile before it wavered again, though we managed to keep running.

The whole way round supporters were cheering our names and it makes such a difference. A few well-timed cheers kept us going through to 21 miles and that's really when we stared to pick up the pace again. My resolve kicked back in and being able to count down the remaining miles on one hand felt awesome. Those last few miles turned into a bit of a blur as I focused on just getting through them. In hindsight, I wish I'd felt a bit better here as it was such as scenic part of the route and I don't really feel like I stopped to take stock enough.

Running down the Mall was incredible and it spurred me on knowing I was so close. We picked up speed and before I knew it we were at 600M to go. By this point, I think I was mildly hysterical, pushing us faster and faster knowing that we were so close to it all being over. Coming in to the finish was a hugely surreal feeling (but better than earlier), as I just couldn't get my head around the fact we'd done it.

Rory and I crossed the line hand in hand, in honour of the first joint winners of the London Marathon who had done just that thirty-five years earlier. We completed it in a time of 4:25, and I managed to sneak over the line a full second before Rory which I obviously haven't let him live down.

Finishing was incredible, and while the whole experience was a little harrowing, it was completely emotional and totally overwhelming. So much so, I tried to have a little cry when we finished, but I was so dehydrated that nothing really came out. Completing the marathon knowing we'd also raised over £2,200 for London Youth was just the most exhilarating and equally draining feeling.

When we'd pulled ourselves together, it was on the pub where our wonderful friends and family were waiting to greet us with beer and sweaty hugs. Our day finished in true style, with a trip to McDonalds and 20 chicken nuggets.

The Big One: The Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 - Part I

 I guess I should probably say sorry for how long it's taken me to get around to writing this, but to be completely honest I needed a lot of deep heat and a holiday before I could really talk about the experience in any positive light.

It's mad to think that it was as far back as this time last year when it all began, as Rory and I entered the ballot, not really thinking that we would get in but having somewhat of a desire to run it. Then October came round before we knew it and Rory was in and I wasn't. As happy as I was, I knew that, as selfish as it was, I couldn't watch him train and race all by himself without having some internal breakdown, so when an opportunity came up to run for the amazing London Youth, I truly jumped at it.

Then came New Year's Day, and hungover or not, we strapped on our trainers to begin what would become the most life-limiting four months. Moving house, two big work events and countless training runs really took it's toll and at the end of March, I was really really struggling with finding a positive outlook on life. I was exhausted.

But as we began to taper, my sunny outlook started to return as I realised that the end really was in sight and we would soon be able to plan things less around our gruelling training schedule and more around all the other exciting things we had to look forward to. I should caveat that this time was interspersed with crippling waves of nausea every now and again when I thought about what I still had to go through.

But soon enough, the day itself came, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of calm. Of just going out there and getting it done, and that's just what we did. We took on 26.2 miles, (or a bit more when you figure all the overtaking and sidestepping we had to do) and we bloody finished it.

And so sorry, but you're going to have to wait a little longer for the race review, as today I wanted to dedicate this post to giving the marathon training a little respect and love of it's own. I've done one marathon with and one without any preparation at all, and I can safely say that getting through the training schedule is a huge achievement in it's own right. So, BIG UPS to everyone who has trained for a marathon, no matter whether you completed it or not. You are all heroes.

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