Thursday, August 21, 2014

Confessing my sins

It's been a while, lets not lie. But in the same way as dining with old friends, the words come easily enough. Stick with me, there's a story behind this silence.

The last year has been full of ups and downs, injury and heartbreak and just really really busy life. I've seen a boy, dumped a boy, seen another boy (still happily going strong), and been really really poorly. I've travelled (some of) the world, and I've moved house (too many times).

But the one thing nagging me through all of this, was this. This tiny little corner of the internet, that only my mum and occasionally my friends read. My mum now has a full time occupation, which means she can't sit around each day reading her youngest daughter's whimsical chatter on her blog anymore, so my regular readership is now a bit fat zero.

But do you know what? I don't care, not one bit. I've re-read my posts at times when I've felt a real pang of guilt and sadness about leaving behind my own little slice of the internet and it's brought back to life what I was doing, and the way I was feeling at a particular time. And it's brought it back so vividly and so brightly, I hate the idea that all these memories and thoughts and feelings are all going to waste.

So, with three half marathons ahead of me until the end of the year, this is my little pledge: however infrequently, I will write on this god-damn blog.

So stick with me guys, there's plenty of miles in this old girl just yet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

#RunINCA - My Dream Run

Last week Nike Running's Facebook page ran a competition to design your dream run; whether that was Everest base camp or Route 66, anything goes. If your entry is compelling enough and you win, you get to run it...

I saw their post on the way home from work and instantly my mind was racing with awesome places to run: the great wall of China, through the Grand Canyon, I even considered Kilimanjaro. I got home, had dinner and sat down to write my entry telling them where my dream run would take place and why I'd chosen it.

Three hours later after significant distraction, my masterpiece was done. I clicked submit and waited. Nothing happened. I clicked the submit button a few more times (little bit trigger happy on the mouse), and still nothing happened. So in a moment of stupidity I clicked refresh. Gone was my work of literary art, my three hours (two if you don't count the time I was really watching 24 hours in A&E) were all for nothing.

So, while I await a response to my query as to whether my entry went through, I'm going to share as much as I can remember of my run with you because my god, it is dreamy.

(Picture Credit: Julian Bilowas)

26 miles of pure unadulterated scenery at 13,000 ft - I wasn't dreaming lightly. Spanning snowcapped mountains, through lush cloud forest and subtropical jungle and finally across paving stones set thousands of years ago as part of one of the world's most advanced transportation systems.

You've probably already guessed it but this adventure is not for the faint hearted (literally). #RunINCA is the run of a lifetime, a ten hour ordeal through some of the world's most famous trails following in the footsteps of the ancient legendary Chasqui runners.

The South American City of Cusco is the starting block. The lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu as the finishing line.

(Picture Credit: Here)

(Picture Credit: Here)

So there's my dream. Big it may be, but if you're not dreaming, you're only sleeping.

You can find Nike UK's Running page here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Running in Paradise

It took three days for the endorphins to run out. In the middle of paradise and surrounded by my two favourite people in the world and I was feeling irritable. Yes I was a little tired, we'd got up early and I'd probably not recovered from our 3am wake up call yet but I was in PARADISE. I was having withdrawal symptoms from my exercise endorphins...

So before the morning sun had really started to heat up our island, I laced up and went for a run. I didn't go far, I certainly didn't run hard but it was enough to have me skipping down to breakfast to join them.

How on earth could anyone be irritable with a view like this?

Thinking about it, I'd really built up a very regular and quite frequent running schedule recently - mostly running home from work to avoid the awfully hot and sweaty tube journey home. Could it be possible that I was building up a dependance on the endorphins I was receiving from these regular journeys?

After a hard day at work, it feels good to get out and clear your head but actually becoming addicted to the post run endorphins? That's an interesting thought.

Whilst I don't suffer from depression personally, I've had a lot of experience with it and as such, I think I'm probably very aware of my moods and how quickly things can spiral downward. I count myself lucky to know that if I'm feeling down or stressed a run can perk me back up again and render most of the pre-run dark thoughts ridiculous.

So I guess it's up to me to work out whether this is a coping technique, a dependance issue or a mixture of both... but I think I'll leave that until after the Venice Marathon. Looking at my training plan, I'm going to need all the help I can get!

On our holidays...

Monday, June 3, 2013

My June Workout Plan

As the first Monday in June and a mere six weeks until my holiday, it's high time I kick my expanding waistline into shape and take June seriously. With a little injury slump under my belt, literally, it's time to take my training up a gear and with a start date of a new job (go me!) fast approaching, it's only going to get more and more tricky to fit workouts in where I can SO here are my June goals to keep me on track:

  • 2 x Insanity Sessions a week. Either Plyometric Cardio or Pure Cardio for the first three weeks and beyond that I'm going to replace either or both with Max Interval Cardio Workout (which is quite possibly the hardest thing I've EVER done).

  • 1 x Hill Interval Session a Week. I've just found a new hill near my house so here's to knocking a whopping two minutes off my ten mile time (hopefully). I'll be starting with a 10-15 minute jog to get my muscles warmed up, then five intervals (fast, but not quite a sprint up and a jog back down) followed by another 10 - 15 minute jog to warm down

  • 2 x 4-6 mile runs per week. Whilst 6 miles has been my go-to run for a while, I'm going to use this time before I start my 15 week training plan for the Venice Marathon to work on my speed. After three weeks, I'm going to aim to be running my 10k's in under 53mins which was my pre-injury time (though I never raced it so it's not technically my PB). 

So there's my five workouts a week. I'm still yet to find a cheap swimming pool near my flat otherwise there would definitely be a swimming session included. There's no better motivation for your summer body than donning your bikini infront of strangers.

You might notice that I haven't mentioned food here at all so here's something I should stress. I exercise so I can eat what I want. Having said that, when I'm on a workout/health kick as I will be here, I tend to crave healthier foods and find it much easier to abstain from chocolate, crisps and the like. 

The one change I will be making to my diet is to drink LOTS more water. I find putting a 1.5l bottle on my desk is enough to remind me to keep hydrated. 

It all looks pretty scary, but these photos of Jessica Alba on holiday recently are my motivation to have my own holiday photos that I can be proud of (not want to burn on sight).

Wish me luck...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Payday Wishin' | adidas by Stella McCartney

In true 'day before payday' fashion, I'm creating a wishlist of all things I'd like to think I'll buy on payday tomorrow. Of course, bills and the like will take priority and I'll have to hold off on updating my workout wardrobe but a girl can dream can't she?

Anyway in my crushing, I came across the adidas by Stella McCartney collection which I hadn't seen before and has some very cool pieces!

I absolutely fell in love with these running tights and the impulsive side of my brain had my mouse hovering over the Order button until I came across one of my PET HATES: there's no pocket!
Stella McCartney for Adidas Running Leggings
So beautiful, yet so impractical.

Why on earth don't they cater for those of us that like to explore the great outdoors, therefore need a pocket or two to stick our keys, phones and chewing gum in. On occasion I'll admit that I have been known to carry a few more items than necessary but still, even a little key pocket wouldn't go amiss!

Whilst these may look great when you're pounding the treadmill, what about the rest of us that like to run outside and so don't have a locker to put our essentials in? In fact, since I spend most of my day at work staring at a machine, the last thing I want to do is go watch my workout on another.

The thing is, they know it's a problem as I've got a fair few pairs which do incorporate pockets. In fact, I have a fantastic pair from Nike which have not one, but three whole pockets. Unfortunately it seems that in this case, fashion comes at the price of functionality.

I tweeted Nike about this very problem the other day when looking at their equally gorgeous Sunset leggings. I haven't had a reply yet, but will keep you updated.
Nike Running Leggings - Jog Off

I know in the grand scheme of things this is a little gripe, but it's just such a silly failing for two companies that usually make such great products. It makes me wonder if the people creating and designing the products actually use them on a day to day basis.

It's such a shame but until Nike or Adidas bring out a really snazzy bumbag, it's unlikely I'll be buying anymore of their leggings without a pocket.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, you can do so here.

What are your pet gripes?

Bournemouth University Boat Club Dinner 2013

On Saturday, my old rowing team, Bournemouth University Boat Club, marked their 20th year with a celebration dinner and it's own hashtag #BUBCAD13. Present and alumni rowers congregated as an opportunity to dress up nicely, celebrate this year's achievements and just get drunk without worrying about training the next morning.

So, we donned our glad rags and headed to the Captains Club in Christchurch, suitably situated just by their coastal river (which one of our crews capsized in only the year before). In true Annual Dinner style, we took a huge photograph of the club infront of the brand new pair named after the club's founders who sadly couldn't be there.

Bournemouth University Boat Club Annual Dinner 2013

In the fading sunlight we took the opportunity to load our iPhones and our Instagrams with multiple photos of us in our dresses.

BUBC Annual Dinner - Jog Off
Six of our old eight!

Jog Off - Bournemouth University Boat Club Annual Dinner 2013
Lottie & I,  running partners and rowing buddies.

Jog Off - BUBC Annual Dinner - Henley
Our Henley Four.

Jog Off - BUBC Annual Dinner - Boys
The boys looking suave.

Jog Off - BUBC Annual Dinner 2013
Don't they look lovely!

Obligatory Taxi Photo

Exhausted with the photo shoot, we moved inside and to dinner. Each of the tables were named after one of our BUBC boats, and we were sat on the table of the boat we raced at Henley. Now this is when it all started to go downhill. The wine was flowing, old friends were catching up and no-one was watching out for the medal, which when put around your neck meant that you had to down your drink. Not the most mature of games, but effective.

Jog Off - BUBC Annual Dinner 2013
Our Table (and Boat name).

Jog Off - BUBC Annual Dinner 2013
Our old rowing coach getting the medal treatment.

Jog Off - BUBC Annual Dinner 2013 - Strike a pose
Charlie striking a pose

Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the food which was VERY good. I was a little disappointed when they mixed up my pudding order and I had to eat the chocolate brownie rather than the creme brulee but it's not really a big complaint is it! Hard Times. Still, the night culminated in the typical thank you speeches and then the funny awards including an impromptu speech from former president and infamous speech maker Gary who didn't take much persuading to get back up there.

When done with the speeches, we headed outside to wait for taxis which would take us into Bournemouth town centre and off to dance the night away. Can you tell that we'd had enough wine by this point?

No more wine needed, I think.
This is my last photo of the night and for that I think I'm quite glad as we were all starting to look a bit dishevelled. Our quiffs were falling, the boy's ties loosened and shirts untucked but I'd like to think it was all the result of some over exertion while dancing. 

The night ended on a bit of a downer when it turned out there was a pick-pocket in the club, taking people's phones and purses out of the girls bags - please remember to watch your stuff carefully when out!

All in all it was an amazing night and I'm saddened to say that it's probably the last one I'll go to. Though I'd love to stay connected with the club that I've shared so much with, as the last year with any friends I know rowing, I fear life will tend to get in the way.

If you're heading to University in September, I cannot recommend rowing enough. It's not for the faint hearted but the time I shared with the club were some of my favourite memories of uni, whilst my best friends are mostly those I know from rowing. If you've got any questions about rowing or uni, please get in touch here - I'd love to hear your plans (and share my experiences)!

If you like my dress, it's borrowed from Lottie and was a fantastic buy a couple of years ago from a small boutique. Making my own enquires, I've found this similar French Connection one here currently on sale!

If you want to see a few more pictures from the night, follow me on Instagram here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

We Own The Night | Nike 10k

Two things of note happened last week. Firstly,  I had a date and secondly I ran the #weownthenight Nike 10k. Unfortunately these two things happened in quick succession and in true second date style, we decided to get rip-roaringly drunk. So drunk that I felt the only way through the next day was a couple of Bloody Marys with lunch, it was unintentional and in the throes of my hangover, I completely forgot that I was supposed to be running a 10k that evening.

Now, I'm no stranger to hungover running. In fact, I usually advocate it to push through hangovers, though you have to be very careful making sure you're taking on a considerably more liquid than you usually would. But running in the evening is a tricky beast, and running after Bloody Marys is not something I'd ever like to do again nor would I ever recommend it.

The race started at 8pm, so I figured eating at 5pm would give me enough time to digest ahead of the race. In hindsight, I probably ate too much and I would go on to feel quite sick the whole way around.

The Warm Up

We arrived pretty late to the event which was a shame as Nike had really gone to town. There was a huge athletes village with bean bags to rest on, showcases of their new products and places to get food and drink, including a burger stand which I thought was quite strange given the nature of the event.

Still we arrived, had time to go to the loo and warmed up with the crowd which was a good way to get pumped with the crowd. On arriving they'd given us the choice of a colour of bracelets, Orange for a PB, pink to finish and halfway through the warm up, they suddenly lit up and stayed on for a good few hours.

Our Light Up Bracelets

So armed with our orange bracelets and orange t-shirts feeling quite luminous, we headed to the start line. Now we all know that Nike host fantastic events and usually their organisation is impeccable, but getting to the start line felt hurried and rushed leaving very little time and room for people to find their pacer and position themselves where they'd like to be. As the horn signalled the start, the scramble really began and we found ourselves in a crowded huddle taking baby steps until the route widened. Even then, we were amongst many others having to run on the grass or kerb as there just wasn't room.

The Congested Start (Photo: Nike)

Still, after a few km we'd spread out enough to be able to really concentrate on a pace and settle into a rhythm. As my second only 10km race, I struggled against my pace, knowing I needed to run a lot faster than my half marathon pace but not wanting to go off too hard and struggle along for the last few km.

The race was good but it was only when the night started to fall, I really started to appreciate how much effort Nike had put into making this a pretty special run. They'd lined the route with different lights varying from coloured spotlights to large white balloons that directed us down one of the long stretches around Victoria Park. As I was running I couldn't take any photos, and I haven't been able to find any from Twitter or Instagram yet which is a huge shame.

The Balloons (Photo: Nike)

Flashes of Orange (Photo: Nike)

Running hungover and off the back of an injury, I certainly wasn't going to break any world records but I was pleased to finish in a respectable 55 minutes.

The Finish (Photo: Nike)

Upon passing through the finish we were presented with our finishers bracelet, designed by Elle magazine who were also sponsors and best of all, a glass of prosecco to celebrate. I took the first sip tentatively, but it actually seemed to settle my squirming tummy which had been churning since 2km in. I took this as a good sign and Freddie (my running partner for the evening) and I made our way to find our supporters.

I haven't managed to get hold of our finishers photos yet but I'll upload these when I get them. Despite Nike having a huge photographer presence at the event, they've only made a select few available so unfortunately I don't have any photos from there either!

All in all it was a great event, only made better by the amount of thought that had gone in to the different elements from the athletes village to the celebratory prosecco. I'll remember for next time though whilst our friend Mary may give us a helping hand when it comes to seeing through those hangovers, she's not so helpful when it comes to pushing through the last few km.

The Athletes Village (Photo: Nike)