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Race Report: NYC Marathon

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New York City Marathon

Date/Time: Sunday 2nd November 2014

Location: New York

Distance: 26.2 miles

 

So I had always hoped for a “Marathon Miracle”.  I had taken the expression #YOLO on board and randomly booked my flights to New York so why not see if I could try and get a spot in one of the (in my mind) greatest road marathons in the world as I was going to be there for it!  Well the day before the New York City Marathon my spot was confirmed and I was about to set off and run my second ever marathon!

I would usually do a full race recap but if I am completely honest the whole thing is still a little bit of a blur and I am still in shock that I actually did it so instead I thought I would share with you what I learnt during my second marathon…

Remember this is what you do

When my space was confirmed I spoke to my parents to ask if I could really do this.  My first and only other marathon I took extremely seriously, followed my training plan to the letter, looked at what I was eating, stopping drinking, got super stressed/nervous etc etc etc.  The only other person I spoke to about whether or not it was a stupid decision to run this last minute marathon was my roomie in New York, a fellow runner and someone I trust to say it like it is.  His response “I will not be impressed if you run the marathon, you should be able to run this distance, you train, you run, this should not be difficult for you”.  Now this was quite hard to hear, I know what he was trying to say but to me a marathon is, and always will be, a HUGE DEAL.  However, he was right.  Week in, week out I am always training.  I LOVE to run, whether it be with my crew, by myself, to work, on the track, I adore running, there is something about it that just gives me a super goofy smile.  I am also loving my strength training, my muscles are growing and I doing my best to feed them to help make my body grow from strength to strength.  Yes 26.2 miles is a lot further than I have ran in a long time but I train hard, so in theory I should be able to do this…right?

Just another weekend run 

The night before the marathon instead of hyper ventilating, checking my kit 101 times I just reminded myself this is just another weekend run.  Every single weekend I run with friends, granted sometimes it is just a 5km parkrun but it’s a run just the same, and well this was a weekend and I was going to be running with friends … nearly 50,000 other friends.  During the marathon I just reminded myself this is what I look forward to and do every weekend, I run and at the end there will be food … and a marathon means there will be all sorts of food.  Plus I am in NEW YORK, the food will be insane!

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a weekend run with friends … just another (stupidly long) weekend run …

Never think of it as 26.2 miles 

This marathon has a marker every single mile, great to know where you are but extremely tempting to count down from 26 miles! DONT!  During my last marathon I started by counting down “parkruns”.  A marathon is roughly 8 parkruns, nice, fun parkruns.  Once you get to 8 miles it’s just two more of those and a bit.  By mile 16 you have 10 miles to go and you can definitely start counting down.  There were a few times during the run that I got a little overwhelmed about what I was doing, I was actually attempting to run 26.2 without “official” training what was I thinking, and then I would remind myself to think of it in short sections and just keep going.

Let the crowds help you 

The crowds for the New York City Marathon are just amazing, and I mean AMAZING!  I honestly don’t know if I would have got round the course if it wasn’t for the incredible people of New York cheering like they were.  I know a lot of people listen to music whilst they are running and I definitely had my headphones with me just in case but during the full 26.2 miles I instead took in the sights and sounds around me, never actually using my music.  There was no way I was going to give up with all that support surrounding me, I imagine that is what London feels like, it’s just incredible to see so many people and have them wishing you well every step you take, just incredible!

 

When I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon believe me I was just as in shock as everyone of my gorgeous friends when they saw my finishing line picture!  But I did it, I actually did it and I am extremely (shocked) pleased to say that I was fine the next day.  Now I am not saying that marathons should not be taken seriously, they definitely should, it is an extremely long distance and not one to be tried off the cuff.  But this race for me was never going to be about time, in fact I didn’t even have my watch, this was about taking part in something amazing, exploring a new city and doing something I love to do every single weekend.  Now my next planned marathon is in Barcelona and I plan to follow a training plan and try my best to achieve a quicker time but for me the New York City Marathon was an absolutely incredible, once in a life time experience and taught me that the body really is an incredible thing!

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Horrendously cheesy but totally necessary shot of me, my medal and my AMAZING official race blanket in Times Square
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Post marathon refueling with a pastrami sandwich bigger than my face!

 

 

 

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Race Report: Spartan Race UK “The Beast”

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Spartan Race: The Beast

Date/Time: Saturday 11th October

Location: Pippingford Park, East Sussex

Distance: 20km+

 

It’s pretty common knowledge that I love a challenge, particularly one that involves running and being part of a team so when my work asked if I would fancy doing a “Spartan Race” I was definitely interested.  HOWEVER, when I discovered that they were referring to “The Beast”, the hardest course out of all the Spartan Races, I will happily admit that I was extremely nervous.  But with lots of support from my gorgeous friends and family I finally said yes.

5 weeks leading up to the race I changed my training routine (partly because of my stupid tumble during Bacchus meant I couldn’t run properly) and decided to seriously up my strength training sessions.  I did all the (assisted) pull ups you could think of, slowly but surely upped all the weights I was lifting and jumped at the opportunity to try as many rope climbs as possible!  It was actually quite exciting seeing my self named “Mr tickle/snowman twig” arms grow and even show a little bit of muscle! But I knew that I was still definitely going to be relying on guys to throw me over the walls during the race!

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Bangsandabun inspired #gunshow selfie!

So race day! Now the weather forecast was horrendous! Black cloud and TWO rain drops on the BBC app!  However, when we turned up at the station I am pleased to say the sun was shining and well, the surroundings were pretty beautiful!  Don’t get me wrong it was still COLD but at least the sun was out!

Pretty picturesque! And that is the spear throw you can see at the bottom!

Race number, aka our headband (which I love and will keep forever as proof!), collected my team of four guys and one other girl headed to the start line.

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The first wave of nerves came before the race had even started!  To get to the start line you had to climb over a 6ft wall!  I felt a little sick after this, this wasn’t even part of the race!  After a pep talk from a man in a spartan suit, with one seriously impressive 6 pack, we were off into the woods to battle!

The scenery was absolutely beautiful but the track itself, to a road runner, was SCARY!  It was just so muddy and I don’t mean a little muddy field “muddy” I mean lose your shoe muddy!  If you didn’t have trail shoes this race was going to be horrendous!  In fact ten minutes in we sadly passed a spartan on the ground with his ankle strapped!  This muddy track led us onto the first obstacle, down a seriously steep, muddy hill.  I chose like many others to slide down on my bum trying not to pick up too much pace so not to fall in the water at the bottom!  Then of course you had to cross the water and climb back up another muddy hill…not easy!  This was to be the first of many downhill, uphill, muddy, climbs!

The track then looped round back towards the starting area, where were all the spectators were, and towards an “A” climbing frame which I really enjoyed, it was like being a kid again!  Quick tip here climb up normally, but when you climb over go down on your back like a crab, it makes it quicker to get off at the bottom and get running again.

From here it was back into the woods and it was the start of the water and I don’t mean puddles!  The first water crossing was up to your knees, cold but bareable. But for the (I think) 6/7 water crossings we did they varied from knee height to a short swim, barely being able to touch the floor!  This is where the first of the thank yous start. At the end of a water crossing there were no convenient stairs out, it was wet and muddy and you had just been in freezing cold and seriously smelly water.  Safe to say it was exhausting and I really struggled to get out each time but my team were INCREDIBLE, the guys literally just pulled me out of the water and plonked me on the ground (I have the bruises to prove it!!!)

Whilst looping back again we jumped over wooden hurdles and climbed through small gaps in walls bringing us to a seriously long set of monkey bars.  These of course had muddy water below.  I knew there was no way I would make it the full way across but you had to try and well I managed to get half way before dropping (apparently my grip strength was better than I thought) so off I went to do the first of 3 sets of burpees!  The next two sets came during the rope climb and the rotating pull up bar?!?  But I did manage to lift a heavy weight which was attached to a rope.  You had to lift it all the way to the top and I used the pull and sit down method learnt watching YouTube videos!

From here it was uphill … Oh and when I say uphill I mean uphill for a LONG time on your hands and knees trying to avoid the barbed wire above you!  This was quite ridiculous, every time you thought you were done it just kept going!!  And what followed was a serious amount of lifting – logs, sandbags and a tire (which we had to carry for a mile!) of course up hill, down hill over extremely uneven, boggy ground! Then it was onto the smelliest of obstacles the muddy hurdles (and when I say muddy I mean up to my thigh muddy!)  We were faced with three hills to climb up and down with pools of water in between!  It stunk and it was super exhausting!

More muddy running, lots of sliding and more wall climbs later it was time for “the swim”.  Now we knew they were going to be a swim as the organisers had pre-warned us.  I knew I could swim, I’m not the best, but I can swim. HOWEVER, this was a lake, it was a good distance and well I had NEVER done anything like it before.  Safe to say I had a little moment but surprisingly I just got in. It was cold but that wasn’t bothering me, what bothered me more was the open water, trying not to swallow it and also working out the most effective, I mean quickest, way of getting across.

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Note my unimpressed face!

Here comes another thank you, there were two guys on canoes in the water and I think they must have seen that I wasn’t looking thrilled about this part and so they stuck with me talking absolute rubbish the whole time!  They got me through this, there is no way I would have been as calm without them!  Coming out of the water I sort of wanted to cry a little (probably because I was tired, we were 2hours30mins in at this point) but also because I had just done yet another thing I really didn’t know if I could do!

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I love that you can see the sincere shock on my face for actually just doing that …
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And then the joy of realising that it is over!

Free banana (so so grateful for the organizers planning the one and only food stop here!) inhaled and a quick tire pull around a tree we were back to the running, muddy climbing, crawling under walls, tire flipping and water crossings.  I swear every time you got dry they planned more water!

The final carry was a big bucket full of water around a small course which included a stupidly muddy hill of course, and then a water crossing. Plus point – the bucket floated in the water, bad point the water had huge logs in so you had to tread so so carefully and getting out wasn’t that fun either!

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More high climbs, thanks to a man dressed as the hulk for literally throwing me over, and it was onto the spear throw! The Third set of burpees was here!

And now the finish! There was another A frame, but not a fun climbing frame, a wet, slippery surface with a rope to pull yourself up and over. We had been on the course for nearly 3 and half hours I was wet, muddy and well maybe a little exhausted but you had to do it, I could see the finish line!  I started off strong quickly pulling myself up but it was high, really high and well I think I just panicked, I sincerely thought I was going to fall backwards – and that would have done serious damage! Luckily a guy in front saw this and literally grabbed me … more bruises to prove it and he helped me over! THANK GOD FOR HIM!

A climb down, a serious pep talk and then it was a little hop, skip and a jump over a FIRE PIT! YES A FIRE PIT! Then across the finish line! WE DID IT, we actually did it!!!!!

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Grabbing our medals and all the freebies, thank you Whey Ice Cream for all those extra pots ;D we collected our bags, changed and ate everything in sight!

I sincerely thought there was a huge chance I would not complete this race. I knew I could run the distance but the obstacles. This is my final thank you – my team were incredible!  We all had very different strengths and weaknesses and decided that we would tackle the whole thing together! It was an awesome experience with these guys and I could not have done it without them … we might be looking at another OCR next year ;D

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Spartan Stretching … the pavement was probably the cleanest surface we had been on all day!
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Celebratory cake … being cut with a credit card ;D

 

If you are thinking of trying a Spartan Race here are my top tips!

1. Tri suit – You are going to get wet and cold almost immediately.  I don’t know if all my nerves kept me warm or whether all the carb loading the night before helped but I was lucky enough to not get too cold during this race and I swear a lot of that was done to wearing a tri suit offered by the lovely Jen Slater!
2. Listen to as much advice as possible – Act as a sponge, logging any hints, tips and tricks about how to tackle various obstacles.  Watch videos of previous races and ask for help from previous Spartans!
3. Wear long trousers – I wore 3/4 length trousers and safe to say my legs, two weeks on, are still a HUGE mess!  Scratches, bruises and all sorts of marks all over the place!
4. Do it with a team – I could not have done this without my team.  They got me through it, with chat, encouragement and of course physical strength!  As mentioned at points they literally pulled me out of the river!
5. SHOES – Invest in proper trail shoes!!!  This course is always going to be muddy and if you have no grip on your shoes you are asking for trouble!  I had incredible trail shoes on from Helly Hansen which were amazing but they even at points struggled with all the mud!
6. Train outside – Get used to the cold, the wind, the rain!  I love the outdoors but even I have to admit that if it is chucking down outside I am tempted by the gym.  When in Spartan training embrace the weather!  It will mean you are used to dealing with the elements!

 

The Spartan Beast IS NOT EASY!  However it is a fantastic thing to achieve (in my mind anyway)!  If you have any further questions please free feel to drop me note :D!  I know I spoke to 100s of people pre race so I would be happy to pass on everything I have learnt!

GOOD LUCK!

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Race Report: Beauty and the Beast

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The Helly Hansen Beauty and The Beast 

Date/Time: Saturday 20th September 2014

Location: West Wycombe Park

Distance: 26.2 miles (completed in a team of 6)

 

I love that my friends ask me out for food as much as they ask me to join race teams…

Held in the stunning West Wycombe park Helly Hansen’s Beauty and the Beast is tagged as the “UK’s toughest multi lap marathon” and when we arrived I could see why…

Staying at Charlie’s the night before we obviously took our race prep seriously, fuelling appropriately at Outsider Tart (GO, GO THERE NOW!)

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Then early on Saturday morning myself, Charlie and Leah made our roller coaster experience of a drive over to West Wycombe to attempt the race as a team of 6, with fellow lovely ladies Jen, Josie and Emma, each doing one lap of the course.  When we got to the race area we were firstly distracted by the start and the small mountain that seemed to follow directly after it!  Next came the second mountain which we had to drive up to get to the start – we spent a good few minutes stuck in the mud, like I said it was a roller coaster of a journey!

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Parked up, hand break definitely on, we wandered over to the Helly Hansen tent as they had kindly provided us with the bibs and kit for the race.  The tent was a life saver, huge comfy red bean bags, shelter from the cold, as it was a little chilly out, and ALL the food which appeared to just kept coming!!!!  Picking up our race pack was far too easy and I was extremely grateful to be handed a cliff bar with my race number (this was to be the first of many cliff bars much to my excitement)! So back to the tent for a quick sample of all the cakes – muffins, flapjacks and some of the best tiffin I have ever had and then it was time to wave our first runner off!

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This was constantly refilled!

Charlie set off amongst other relay teams, individuals doing half marathons (3 laps) and people doing the full 6 laps!

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Whilst waiting I got into my awesome Helly Hansen leggings and laced up my trainers. Now usually I wouldn’t advise wearing brand new trainers for a race but it was wet and muddy and after last weeks falls I felt that trail shoes were a lot more sensible and I was only going for 4.5 miles!

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We saw Charlie coming in so I stripped off my layers got the ankle tag and then headed off … up that hill!

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Goofy running smile …. check!
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Within the first 2 minutes …

Filled with motivational quotes the whole way you just knew you were in for a treat of a race.

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I felt after recent events this one was particularly fitting!

But luckily what goes up must come down and straight away we did.

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I think I had been running for 5 minutes and already I had spoken to various people en route.  I am starting to learn that trail runners are just awesome, they are a very relaxed crowd who just enjoy running and getting muddy!

First hill done and it was into the woods! WOOHOO!

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Excuse the blurry photo – was having waayy too much fun!

Ever since the Spitfire Scramble I have realised that I love running through the woods and this was great!  Making more friends along the route and high fiving the fantastic Marshall’s I steadily made my way through woodland and parkland and fields.

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And then it was time for the second of three mini mountains!

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If you look closely you can see tiny blue tops in the distance at the bottom …

This one came out of no where and was crazy steep so a power walk it was.  I was told that it was always better to walk up hills, conserve energy ready for the flat and the downhill.  Mountain done, around a corner and down hill for a quick water stop then it was up up and up all over again but at least the top provided gorgeous views of the surrounding area and led onto more woodland path!

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View from the top

I had heard rumours of a river and en route I bumped into a couple of runners I had met earlier in the day who confirmed this and then continued to explain that the only way to cross was straight through the middle ….

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Notice how one of these guys didnt do as they were told ;D

So, after a little pause, a photo and a pep talk I went for it! Ha! It was awesome and after a only a few squelchy strides my new Helly Hansen shoes were clean and dry! AMAZING!

Once away from the water we got to explore the gorgeous grounds of the Wycombe estate, past gardens and a lovely large pond, a little mini hill, which was far more tough than it should have been (I blame the fact that I had been nattering none stop with one of my new buddies) and it was round the corner to the finish line!

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Casually hi-fiving the Beast at the end!

This route was fantastic, if it wasn’t for my knee after last weeks tumble I would have definitely gone for another round and have no doubt that I will be doing this next year.

Once finished I swapped over with Leah and proceeded the make use of the VIP space, eating yet more cake and of course getting involved in a little legs up a wall, no wait legs up a deck chair, action whilst catching up with the rest of my awesome team and eating more cake.

One by one the girls came in beaming from their laps and when we spotted Josie, our final runner on the course, coming round the corner we ran together to cross the finish line as a team!

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Finishing in under 5 hours in total we were pretty pleased with ourselves as we had just set out to enjoy the course rather than focus on a time.  Our medals were given to us on a podium which, in my mind, had one of the greatest tag lines above it …

 

I loved this race.  I loved the route, I loved the various terrain, I loved the views and I loved the atmosphere!

Thank you Helly Hansen for a such a brilliant event, the cake was fantastic and I shall definitely be seeing you next year … for the half ;D!

Race Recap: Bacchus Half Marathon

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A unicorn, 2 tumbles and whole lotta wine

Date/Time: Sunday 14th September 2014

Location: Denbies Wine Estate

Distance: 13.1 miles

Before I knew my incredible friends from TNR I used to read their blog posts and always enjoyed hearing about the crazy races they were involved in. One in particular stood out, Laura‘s post about the Bacchus Half Marathon! Fancy dress, wine stops, all the food and in glorious countryside. This year there was no way I wasn’t going to get involved.

So firstly the fancy dress, after a few ideas inspiration came … I was going to run like this ….

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To get to the race venue it was a quick journey to Waterloo and then onto a 50 minute train to Dorking which as the stops went by slowly filled up with people in fancy dress … and trainers!  Off the train and a little 10 minute walk to the “vineyard” we were quickly surrounded by where’s wallys, brides, soldiers, wedding presents (?!), bumble bees, cheer leaders, minions … I could go on. The sun was shining, the music was pumping and everyone was in such good spirits!

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Got to love that this sign was also pointing in the direction of the start line!

After a super quick bag drop and registration (NO QUEUES and smiling helpers) we had a quick group shot

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And then headed over to the start line…

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This race was SURREAL! I would say about 90% of people were dressed up, varying levels of effort but still everyone was a little different and after about a mile and a half of running through beautiful rows of grapes we came to the first wine stop ….

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Leah showing us how its done! Meaty crisps, wine, water, chocolate

These “fuelling” stations were incredible!  A shot glass of wine, roast chicken crisps, haribo, raisins, dried apricots, jaffa cakes, borbon biscuits, fig rolls, nice biscuits, digestives, oranges, bananas, water, squash and energy gels.  It was really hard not to just grab everything, in fact we are sure someone people had little bags so they could stock up for later!

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So after enjoying the first stop we then carried on to the next, through a little village which is where I took my first of two tumbles…. I tripped on the pavement … no idea why … I’m a light weight but there is no way a shot of wine would do that! Anyway I picked myself up and carried on to the next stop where we came across a group of farmyard animals (in trainers) singing “wine wine dehlia”, again this race really was surreal.  Stop two was also where a very kind first Aider dressed my knee, after a had to rip my tights off … apparently things had got a little bloody …

Photo courtesy of Leah
Photo courtesy of Leah

Through stop three and onto stop four we tried some glorious wine, I particularly enjoyed the rose, and the continued on a relaxed run through fields, among cows, horses, up woodland tracks, past beautiful country houses and on what would certainly make glorious Sunday walking routes.

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At stop four we were greeted by bagpipers which actually seemed to be particularly fitting and after enjoying a very nice red wine Jen and I decided to carry on … Unbeknown to us, up a LONG hill!!

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We were about half way through by this point and though it had been an extremely relaxed run I found the stopping and starting hard, plus I don’t really drink or eat whilst running so this was a totally different experience for me! So as the hill continued up and up this was definitely a test for the legs but of course I wanted to see if I could run the whole thing, just because I am crazy like that.  I managed it but at the top I couldn’t see a wine stop (surely there should have been one by now) I was by myself and well, shattered, so I decided to walk for a little bit but of course as I ventured round the corner there it was, the wine stop! Typical ha!

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This stop was one of my favourites!  The volunteers were fantastic, dressed in Hawaiian gear, there were sweets all over the place, a steel band playing in the background and well the views were pretty incredible too!

From here it was back through the woods and onto my SECOND TUMBLE! Yes I fell again and this time really shredded my leg! I still cannot believe I fell…twice!  Anyway, I dusted myself off and carried on through the beautiful woodland where I heard someone shout “love the unicorn costume” where I responded “it’s not a costume… Oh wait STEPH!” My incredible, crazy, friend was actually running the race as a marathon! Yes if you wanted to (?!) you could run the Bacchus Marathon and she was! Looking so incredible strong and going at a great pace it was absolutely amazing to run a couple of miles with my dear friend and I was extremely pleased to wave her off at the penultimate wine stop looking so fresh!

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smiles for miles, miles for smiles

By this point we were onto a very dry white wine which was perfect for me as I really didn’t like it so didn’t feel too guilty at not finishing my shot glass. Seriously all the liquid and food isn’t easy to run with! The final stop had promised fizz so you imagine our absolute dismay to find out that by the time we got there it had all gone!!!!

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The last two miles were, as Steph promised, down hill and gave us the most incredible views! And coming back onto the estate smiles were all around!!!!

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On crossing the finish line I had Steph screaming my name and then proceeded to cry in her arms upon hearing she had absolutely smashed her marathon times! SERIOUSLY PROUD FRIEND MOMENT!

From here things got really exciting, the medal was a beast! And around the corner … ALL THE CAKE, chocolate tray cake, lemon cake, chocolate Swiss roll, vanilla Swiss roll and my favourite fruit cake with a marzipan layer! They also had loads of yummy fruit laid out too! These organisers know how to make a runner happy! This was then followed by what we had all been looking forward to! The hog roast! So as we all came across the finish line we sat and enjoyed our free HUGE hog bap in the sunshine and of course a glass of complimentary wine ;D …. I may have found the self serve ice cream too ….

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All in all Bacchus Half Marathon is a fantastically fun race. Personally for me I’m not great at stopping and starting as my legs get a little achy but this race is definitely one to be experienced and enjoyed! BOOK YOUR PLACE FOR 2015 NOW…

…whilst I sit in unicorn socks icing my knee ;D

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Race Recap: Spitfire Scramble

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Date/Time: Saturday 30th – Sunday 31st August
Location: Hornchurch Country Park
Distance: As many 10km laps as possible in 24hours

When Leah asked whether anyone would be interested in entering a competition to win a place in a 24 hour race weekend I, of course, jumped at the chance and put my name down and then forgot about it.  Then a couple of weeks ago we got an extremely surprising email confirming that we had won! Team Naturally Run would be the VIP team at the first Spitfire Scramble, 2014!

The Spitfire Scramble is a multi-terrain race where, as a team or as a solo runner (!?), you attempt to complete as many (roughly 10km) laps as possible over 24-hours!  So on what started out as a very rainy Saturday morning (thankfully the weather got a lot better the further East we went) Jen, Leah, Katy, Becs, Becki, Emma Nikki and I made our way, along with roughly 200 other runners, to Hornchurch, Essex to set up camp!

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Me and my palace of a tent thanks to Miss Harry Capps!

Kitted out in predominately BLACK (personally the brighter the better for me when it comes to kit), BUT extremely comfortable Crewroom kit we had a quick photo shoot (and a costume change) and then got down to business deciding the order in which we would run … roughly thinking that each lap would be around an hour …

 

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First out was Becs, a tactical move as she is easily one of the fastest women I know and so would put us in a good place for the race!

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Following Becs, Nikki headed out and then before I knew it I was being called up!

When my first lap came around I have to admit I was pretty nervous. Hearing that I was going to have to climb over things was definitely going to be a new experience for me during a run, and well this obviously wasn’t your typical race, start – run – finish and then go out for celebratory food, but I wanted to do well for my team so I set off and settled into a relatively steady pace.

The route took you through various terrains, uneven field track, gravel paths, muddy paths, around lovely lakes and then my favourite, woodland paths!

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I was loving the off road route!  It was definitely a little different for my legs who had a few wobbles, but it was just so much fun, though having to stop to climb over things and then start running again is not the easiest!  On seeing the finish line I sprinted to the finish, passing on the illumious slapband!  Yes a slapband!  Checking my watch I was over the moon and ridiculously surprised, my first lap was sub 50!!! Literally beaming!

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Whilst all the other girls one by one went out for their laps the rest of us just chilled out around our tents, eating, catching up, eating more and just enjoying spending some time together.

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Oh and in some cases foam rolling …

We were extremely lucky to have some of the other TNR girls pop by for support too.  A huge thank you to Lucy and Glen who made this gorgeous sign …

The lovely Laura who brought homemade cheese straws!  Err amazing!  And then of course …. LISSY!!!!  The most amazing friend in the world for bringing my favourite thing ever, her DARK CHOCOLATE BANANA BREAD (if you want to make someone’s day head to her site for the recipe!  (Seriously it’s a game changer)

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My second lap came at 21:30. At this point I was nervous, it was dark, and I mean reallydark.  I am super conscious about walking alone at night due to boring events when I first same to London and now I was about to run for 6miles by myself with just a headtorch through fields, parkland and woods!!!!! WTF!  This is where I have to give a HUGE mention Lissy (again) and the RDC team who gave me an amazing pep talk and assured me all would be fine!

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With my amazingly strong headtorch (courtesy of LED Lenser) switched on, blinding everyone in the process, I plugged my headphones in and got going.  It was dark, the route was empty and my headtorch was my only source of light but this my friends was one of the most amazing running experiences I have EVER had.  There is something quite incredible about being alone in the countryside with just a headtorch and the stars, plus running in the dark meant that the hills, and there were a few sneaky ones along the route, were over before you knew it!  I loved it, I absolutely loved it and I obviously had so much fun even the Marshall’s were laughing about how much of a runners high I was on as I bounded across the finish line!

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My third lap however was tough.  Orignally due to happen around 3:30 ish by about midnight I settled into my tent for a few hours sleep but at 1:30 I was woken up to hear the sad news that Jen was out due to a poorly leg and asked whether I could run sooner than planned … in 30 minutes!   Now this race was all about the team and well there was no way I was going to let the team down so I quickly got dressed and joined Emma at the change over point and then with very little sleep and fuelled by half a Mars Bar – thank you so much Emma I still owe you for that –  I ran from roughly 2:15-3:15 and I definitely felt my legs falling asleep whilst going down the hills!

When I got back Beki was there ready to go and explained that if I could would I be able to go again when she got back as both Jen and Leah were now officially out due to injury 😦 and Emma and Bex were catching up on some seriously well deserved zzz.  I figured as I was up why not and it would mean I could get a solid couple of hours once I was done so I headed to the food tent for some slightly better post run / pre race fuelling, a Nuun and my Bounce Ball whilst enjoying late night ramblings with some of the other runners!

The fourth lap was a bit of a blur to be honest, somewhere around 4:30, the sun was definitely on it’s way and once again it was just me, my headtorch and Ronnie Herel’s old skool mix.  I was pleased to see I got through it quicker than my third lap but by the time I crossed the line I was ready for sleep and so after a very sorry looking little bowl of oats and raisins I tucked myself in for a snooze.

Now originally we had all planned to do 3 – 4 laps each but due to some of the team being injured plans had gone a little awry.  When I woke up after a couple of hours sleep the team incredibly were still running but had said that there was no pressure to so anymore.  We had all gone way above expectations and we had all done each other proud but well … I wondered if my legs could do any more….

Doing a fifth lap would mean doing just shy of 30 miles, the furthest I have never run, it would mean getting another lap in for the team, and it would mean I could eat even more food!  My team were incredible and without hesitation told me if my legs were up for it I could do it!  So I did.

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Seeing horses along the route definitely helped 🙂
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Views from the top of the hill….
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Legs telling me that going up hill hurts after 4 previous laps!

It was tough, I was tired, I was smelly, it was hot and the hills felt steeper in the daylight (hence the worn out face) BUT I did it and well I felt AMAZING!  I would not have got through that lap without knowing I had my teams’ support so thank you so so much ladies!

Incredibly Nikki was there at the finish line ready to go!  It was 11am ish and we had achieved our 24 laps but determined to get a 25th in Nikki set off to walk the final lap alongside Emma who on realising what she was up to ran to catch her up.  (It’s worth noting here as long as you cross the start line before 12 the lap would count.)

On seeing the girls coming round the corner towards the finish line we of course joined them to cross the final line as a team …

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As you can see apparently I was loving it!

This race was such an amazing experience for me.  It was the Spitfire Scramble’s first year and I will definitely be signing up for next year!  It attracted a really lovely mix of people and the atmosphere throughout was extremely supportive and friendly!  The marshals along the route were smiley and the organiser himself, Danny, was extremely personable and made you feel very welcome!   A word of warning the catering wasn’t exactly ideal (unless you love salty bacon (which will repeat on you whilst running) and jacket potatoes for every meal over 24 hours) but fueling for this sort of thing was always going to be tricky!  Overall however it was fantastic and an experience I am so grateful to have shared with 7 other incredible running ladies :D.  We even came in the top 50% out of all the teams that took part!

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Oh and it’s worth mentioning that we actually came first in our division “All female team of 8”!  That’s right we won trophies as well as medals!!!

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So of course we used these to drink our celebratory fizz out of on the way home ;D!

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A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN SPITFIRE SCRAMBLE!  Us TNR ladies had a truly fantastic 24 hours!

Friday’s Fact File

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Things that I have discovered or just loved this week …

Music!

Mike Hough – Downtown   – UK old skool sounding RnB … yum!

Beyoncé – Flawless (Remix) feat. Nicki Minaj – If you haven’t heard this already!

Sinead Harnett – Paradise! – Easy summer vibes

Eats!

Baked Alaska!   So typically a Baked Alaska is a dessert food consisting of ice cream and cake topped with browned meringue.  Why oh why has it taken me nearly 28 years to discover this!  I mean I adore cake, everyone knows I am on an ice cream tip at the moment, in fact I cannot get enough of the stuff and meringue is never a bad thing!  So when I finally got the opportunity to try out “The Pudding Bar” in Soho – a place that serves pudding and alcohol (WINNING) I decided I should try it.

“Baked Alaska – Blueberry and cinnamon baked alaska with fresh blueberries and elderflower gel”

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Literally AMAZING!  (We also tired the S’more Cheesecake – chocolate cheesecake on a ginger nut biscuit base with the BEST peanut butter ice cream I have ever tried!!!)

So, what am I telling you?  Try Baked Alaska AND get yourself down to The Pudding Bar!!!

Stuff, things, bits and pieces!

If you haven’t seen me post these all over social media please meet my brand new New Balance trainers!

These trainers are just so so comfy and the colours in their most recent collection right now are AMAZING!

Go on … treat yourself ;D!  We can never have enough trainers … right?

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Friday’s Fact File

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Things that I have discovered or just loved this week …

Music!

Riddim Commission ft Eve – Why Would You Stop  EPIC gym song!!!

Busta rhymes ft Eminem – Calm Down  Busta once again making you “Break Ya Neck”!

Iggy Azalea ft Rita Ora – Black Widow I know!  But it came on in the gym and well it just really got me going!

Eats!

PERK!ER Rocky Road Bar

So post whole30 I am getting back into enjoying a lovely little treat every now and again because hey sometimes (most of the time ;D) you just have to!  At one of my more recent races the post run goodie bag included a rocky road from Perkier food!! Gluten, wheat and egg free this looked like a solid slab of chocolately, biscuity, marshmallowy goodness! And well it did not disappoint! Slightly crumbly … yes I did make a mess and yes my fingers and mouth were covered in chocolate … but wow this was an awesome chocolately treat and for those with intolerances I would definitely recommend!!!!

 

Stuff, things, bits and pieces!

Barry M

Sorry, super girly but shout out to Barry M Matt nail varnish!  Super cheap, super colours and once on your nails they actually look like the colour they show on the bottle!  WINNING

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Currently I am LOVING the matt collection!  Hello summer!

 

Mixed Bag of Workouts

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So it’s been another week of random workouts … I am sure at some point I will get into a routine!!

Monday

Rest, rest and more rest after the sweaty session that was Run Hackney Half Marathon!

Tuesday

Morning – all about the upper body!  After an awesome session whilst at at the Nürburgring I was keen to try out things on my own … including pull ups!  Yep, I busted out out an assisted pull up or 30 😉 plus some skull crushers (!?), renegade rows, shoulder presses and tricep dips!

Evening – Run Dem Crew – since stepping up two pace groups this is definitely now my speed session. 4.3miles around London … phew!

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Wednesday

Morning – Leg day.  So, I haven’t fine tuned my workout plan yet and well now I know not to do leg day after RDC, aka the speed session, but it still felt good to get those squats and lunges in!

Evening – Xen Do taster session – Laureen, Charlie and I got to experience a short kick boxing taster session which was brilliant!!  We kicked and boxed as hard as we could, whilst learning some great self defense moves!  The class was led by Rafael Nieto who took the time to explain the theory behind the moves and then got us working…hard!  Really hope to go back for another session soon, I loved it!!!

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Thursday

4mile steady run. Awful, like I said my workouts need tweaking slightly but hey it’s all a learning curve!

Friday

I joined Zoe, Charlie and Lissy to test out my new Sweaty Betty swimming costume at the Oasis Outdoor Pool in Covent Garden.  Sadly the outdoor pool was closed (which I was a little bit glad about as I am such a whimp in the cold) but this also meant that the indoor was manic and I definitely got splashed a lot more than I wanted to!  However, this was a lovely excuse to catch up with the ladies and I managed to swim a nice and relaxed 30 lengths in 25 minutes, so not all bad :D!

Saturday

Fulham Palace parkrun with Lissy, Leah and Steph, introducing Leah to the world of parkruns!  This was a great route, 3 laps around the beautiful Bishop’s Park taking you through the park and along the river!  I love parkruns!  Free, timed 5km runs where all involved are super friendly, runners and volunteers, and all in a relaxed atmosphere (with the option to push if you really want :D!)  This was a great run and Steph and I definitely helped pace each other for a great sub 26 minute 5km time!

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Sunday

Roga! Roga! Roga!

The awesome Lululemon Islington every so often (I am hoping they will become more frequent!) throw a ROGA event… Run + Yoga = ROGA!  Led by the awesome Becs (after a nice warm up 2mile run to the studio / Lissy joined me via bike – proof below) we did a gorgeous 6 mile route along the canal to Victoria Park enjoying the sunshine and then headed back to the studio to stretch out with an hours yoga session in a near by park.  Honestly I cannot recommend this enough!  The run definitely makes yoga a little bit more intense and don’t be surprised if you find yourself falling asleep in the end of the class but it is just such a good way to spend a Sunday!  Keep your eyes posted for the next one!

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The End Is Nigh…

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This weekend I did my final “long” run before the impending BIG DAY (if you didn’t already know I am attempting to run and finish the Manchester Marathon on the 6th April)!  And well even though the schedule only said 8 miles (I don’t think 8 miles is a short run at all but when you compare it to the double figure runs I have done recently …) I was still pretty nervous about it due to the shocking run I had the week before.

There has become a pattern with our weekend runs, usually Leah organises, Lissy sorts the route and navigates and I get to hunt out brunch places that can cater to #RUNger!  In my opinion this has been a great formula and I have adored every weekend run!  However, with Leah taking some very sensible rest and Lissy being part of #CHEERDEM crew in Berlin I took the lead!  Adapting a previous run from Lissy so we could finish at my chosen brunch spot we planned to cover a nice 8 mile route around the banks of the Thames ….

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So off we went.   Jen, Lauren, Beki, Kiera, Harriet, Mari, Lucy, Hollie and I set off from Monument in the beautiful London sunshine heading towards Westminster to cross the river at Vauxhall Bridge.

With “maranoia” properly starting to set in it would be a lie if I said I wasn’t analyzing every step I took, wondering if my left leg was going to give way again like last week, or if I could feel another niggle/pain/interesting feeling elsewhere.  However, having only met some of these fellow #TNR ladies once or twice before and of course having the amazing support of Miss Capps conversation, as always, flowed and I quickly fell into a steady pace and relaxed.

As we continued along the river, dodging various tourist groups along the way, some members of the group cut off due to injury or to carry on with their day and for the final 3 miles I had the pleasure of running with Lauren, who is also training for the Manchester Marathon!  Lauren is sadly still coming back from injury but what she has achieved so far is amazing and it was great to properly discuss Manchester logistics!

After a quick (slightly horrendous of me) running selfie ….

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… we picked up the pace and sped through the final mile (even though I managed to find us a slight hill to finish with – sorry Lauren!)  WOOHOOO my legs made it through … I mean obviously I will have to do that distance twice more on the big day … but 8 miles is still 8 miles and I got through it!

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From top left … Jen, Lauren, Beki, Kiera, Harriet, Me, Mari, Lucy and Hollie

A runner’s high is the best!  I was so relived that I made it through this run, I still don’t feel as strong as I did after the 20 miles but this was a huge confidence boost and well what will be will be now on the 6th!   The smile proceeded to stay a long time after this run was finished due to the awesome experience we had at The Folly (I promise to do a full write up post-marathon! PROMISE) but the photo I think says it all ..

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Amazing eggs on rye, FREE brownie bite with your hot drink and UNLIMITED crumpets!

The food was gorgeous, the service (a fellow first time marathon attemptee) was brilliant and they even had free sweets hanging around!!  What more could you ask for!

A positive running experience might have also been celebrated with Espresso Martinis and chocolate later on …

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So on a final note … the next “Weekend” run post will of course be all about the big day so I just want to take this opportunity to THANK everyone who has been reading my training experiences up until now, the support and kind words (especially when I was proper sulking last week) has been unbelievable and so I sincerely hope to be bringing home a medal for you all!!!!!!!

LESS THAN A WEEK!

 

No running, just CAKE – SCOOP

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So this week the lovely ladies, Lissy, Harry and I decided to head out for the evening.  No sports wear … though we were wearing trainers, no energy gels in sight and wine was the first thing on the agenda!

After a gorgeous meal at Pizza Express (yes I said gorgeous try their new sweet potato based pizzas!) we were now on the hunt for dessert!  Now as runners in the later stages of training #RUNger is an understatement so we weren’t looking for a little bit of cake we wanted FULL ON, DECADENT cake …

SCOOP did not disappoint!

Address: 53 Brewer Street, W1F 9UJ London

Website: http://www.scoopgelato.com/products.html

Good for: Gelato and Cake!

I don’t think I need to say much here … the pictures speak for themselves!!

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Lissy went for the brownie with ice cream and cream …. it was definite fudgey goodness … and yes she did have it warmed!!  This girl knows what’s good!

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It was a tricky choice for me … but I opted for the carrot cake with Torroncino (hazelnut nougat!!) flavoured ice cream … it was inhaled in seconds!

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Harry went for the Red Velvet … FOOD ENVY right there … the cream cheese frosting had definite hints of white chocolate in there … WOW!

They also do pretty amazing looking crepes, cheesecakes, muffins and lemon drizzle cake … which gave Harry serious problems when having to decide what to have! It did look amazing!

The best thing is that this place is open til 23:00 during the week! Late night cake date!!!