A sunny blogger meet-up

The blogger meet-up has been in my diary for a good few months now and suddenly it was here. There were quite a few bloggers (foodies, runners, healthy living, lifestyle, etc.) initially interested in the event but due to a myriad of reasons in the end it came down to nine of us (I think?).

It was a tough choice on the location of the meet-up as everyone lives all over the country (some in Scotland, Newcastle, some down South, Bristol, etc.). In the end London was decided as the destination after a group vote. I would have been happy to have gone up north but it would have involved flying there or staying over as I’m so far south, so London was a bit of a relief for me. Though I do still find it immensely stressful!

My train was at 11am as we were meeting at 1pm outside Camden Wholefoods (clearly the essential blogger meet-up location!). This was great as it meant I could still go to parkrun in the morning, though I’d have to dash off straight after finishing.

Running during the week had felt hard. I ran just over four miles on Wednesday and just over three miles on Thursday. The marathon definitely seems to have caught up with me. I need to write a post soon about my future running goal plans at some point…I’m in a bit of a quandary.

Anyway I took parkrun fairly easy, running with a friend trying to get him 23:30 but it was very hot and I think we both were finding it tough. It was OK but not as easy as I was planning considering I had a 10k the next day.

Netley parkrun June 2015

Photo credit to Kookie51

We were both just over 24 minutes so not too bad!

I dashed off and showered and ate breakfast in record time – the whole time cursing myself for lack of time. Why do I always put myself into situations where I’m constantly running late? It was a mad rush but I got to the station and didn’t miss my train – I even managed to get a coffee! Maybe I was being over-cautious, but you never know with traffic and trains.

IMG_1680 This book was SO good. I started it on Thursday I think and I’ve finished it already. A real page-turned and very cleverly written.

London was heaving. It was the Gay Pride Parade which just compounded the usual London-weekend madness and the fact that it was a lovely (hot) sunny day didn’t help either. I was so concerned I’d get lost, or get the wrong tube. I’m just not good with navigating on my own! But I caught the tube and got to Camden perfectly fine and arrived pretty much on time outside Wholefoods to meet with Cat and Pip.

IMG_1683I’d never met them before in real life but I obviously recognised them from their blogs. I was very nervous…it’s such a strange situation to meet people you’ve been reading about on the Internet and hearing lots about their life but never having actually met before. They were both so lovely and friendly I was put at ease instantly.

Mary and Ceri arrived shortly after as well and we stood on the road just sort of properly meeting each other. Claire arrived a little while later too. Then we headed into the hallowed foodie blogger grounds of Wholefoods and picked up some pieces for a picnic lunch.

Yeah that makes it sound very easy but honestly I was so flustered and spoilt for choice that I must have circled that shop about five times. Sadly this Wholefoods didn’t have the amazing famous salad bar where you fill up a box of different bits and bobs from an amazing buffet bar and then have it weighed, but it did have so many take-away options and a Mexican stand that you could order a tostada or burrito.

It’s funny because Pip asked for a burrito but without the wrap and got basically an amazing looking salad, so both Mary and I (and I think Claire?) followed suit. And then another random girl asked for the same (we started a trend…). You just got piles of salad, black beans, guacamole, salsa and sweetcorn, cheese along with your choice of protein (I went for chicken).

I also picked up some watermelon and a chocolate cake pop.

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We walked to a local park and sat on the grass enjoying the sunshine chatting and eating. It was quite amusing to see everyone whip out their phones to take the standard blogger photo of their meals before beginning to eat.

It was just so lovely to properly chat to all the girls but their were moments when it felt surreal. Like when Claire was talking about how her car got burgled and we all nodded away as we knew this had happened as we’d all read her blog post about it – despite none of us really having spoken to her in real life about it!

Then we headed off to the more…interesting parts of Camden to meet a couple more bloggers in the inSpiral Cafe where Cat had booked a table for us. (Side note: the non-London members the group followed like sheep as we literally had no idea where to go and were terrified of getting lost – though this could have just been me!)

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Though it seemed there was a lot of confusion over this as no one seemed aware that it had been booked. Cat was amazing though. She fully took charge and sorted it out. You definitely need a good organiser and ‘sorter-outter’ like her in a group!

The menu just sounded incredible.: different raw food main meals, smoothies, juices, tonics, ‘activated’ almonds, fermented things, hazelnut cheese…We’re not in Southampton anymore!! Again I was in a state of confusion as to what to order and went back and forth between a smoothie, an almond ice cream shake and ALL THE FOODS.

In the end I panicked and just went for an almond cappuccino. It was delicious. Normally I’m an Americano girl with a splash of milk if I fancy it, but this was fantastic. The almond milk gave it a delicious flavour and they managed to froth it up nicely.

Lily and Laureen arrived and so we all ordered something sweet. Honestly the theme of this day was me standing in front of a selection of food and drink going “Argh I don’t know what to get!”. The raw cheesecakes sounded divine but they looked a bit dense and rich. It was so warm (read: sweaty) as well I wasn’t sure I fancied something overly chocolaty so I went for the crumble of the day.

IMG_1746 It was pineapple and artichoke with a seeded crumble and a zesty ginger sorbet (which had melted by the time it arrived). It was delicious! I didn’t really notice the artichokes but it could have done with either custard or thicker (*cough* proper) ice cream but it was very nice regardless. Many of the other girls got cheesecake and I did have some food envy but I was glad about my choice.

I had a lovely chat with Lily about running and how expensive London is (£20 for a single gym class and £150 gym memberships!!). She also ran the London marathon this year so it was great hearing how she found it…just makes me look forward to running it next year so much!

Bloggers meet-up 2015Photo Credit to Cat

To be honest, I had lovely chats with everyone – Mary about running and blogging, Claire and her adorable dog Henry, lots of chats about food and allergies, preferences etc…just good old nattering about life. It didn’t feel like a collection of people who had met via the Internet. It just felt like a group of friends…or “blends” as those cool Americans call them 😉

Anyway, I really hope it happens again (probably up north next time I’m sure!). It was a lovely day out. Though I must say, I was glad to get out of hot, smelly London afterwards 😉

Thank you to both Dannii (who sadly couldn’t make it) and Cat for arranging! :-)

Have you ever met someone via the Internet? (Sounds rather sordid doesn’t it??)

Have you ever been to a raw food cafe or tried a raw meal?

Do you enjoy going to London?

Rants and Raves #14

I don’t have a huge amount to rant about this week. How can you when the weather is so fantastic?? I thought I’d also tie-in some updates from what’s going on with my living situation going forward (sounds rather illicit…but I assure you it’s not that exciting).

Rant: *Sighs* I am so accident-prone it’s ridiculous. I think I’m genuinely lacking in the eye-hand coordination department, especially when I’m rushing around. This is mostly happening in the morning before work; sorting out my breakfast, tidying, and getting my lunch together. I take my own home-popped popcorn to work (I just put kernels into a plastic box, add salt and pepper and then microwave with the lid on until the lid starts opening). In my haste to get the pepper on it I dropped the grinder.

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And all those little pepper corns went EVERYWHERE. Alfie thankfully turned his nose up and wandered off. Clearly not his snack of choice!

What was most annoying was this when I was a) already running later and b) had someone coming over to view our house later that day to possibly buy it. GARGH. I had already  hoovered and tidied up everywhere but now had to sweep (and bin the peppercorns – what a waste!).

Sometimes speed isn’t the best way forward when you’re late!

Rave: It’s been very busy around here lately with all the house stuff. A few weeks ago we got the ball moving to value the house. They valued it substantially above what we initially paid for it which is MARVELLOUS obviously, but we still needed to get it sold at that price. As the house was a new build when we moved in (3.5 years ago now) it’s still in very good condition. I also regularly clean it so I didn’t have to do anything crazy before people came to view it apart from just general tidying things away to make it look more minimalist and hoovering.

At the same time I needed to look for a flat to move into. Juggling lots of balls from viewings of our house, viewings for my flat, mortgage appointments and solicitors…it’s all fun and games I assure you not.

Long story short, our house went on the market on Friday (my birthday, happy birthday me…). Our first viewing was Monday and they put an offer in for our asking price. Within this time I also found a flat I loved, put an offer on it and got it accepted. WOW. Luckily the guy buying our house is an investor so has no chain his side, and the person I’m buying from is also an investor and I only need to wait two months for the current tenant to move out (I’m buying, not renting). So actually things are looking (finger’s crossed) to go quite smoothly.

AND (this is like an UBER rave) my flat is still within the same area, still close to my gym and even closer to my running club. Fabdiddlytastic.

Rant: The flat is tiny. Really it’s a studio. I call it my Carrie Bradshaw (but smaller) apartment. One bedroom…But it’s well within the budget I have, meaning I can still live quite comfortably and enjoy my current lifestyle, and it’s in a nice, nice area. I looked round two bedroom flats in not so great areas and it just didn’t feel right – plus it added so much time onto my already long commute. The flat in itself is lovely – it’s only three years old, and funnily enough the kitchen is bigger than my current one and it’s just beautiful inside. There’s more than enough storage as well. So despite it being very small, it’s actually perfect for what I need at the moment and my day-to-day life won’t change vastly.

Rave: The day after the Liverpool marathon I had the day off, as did my parents. So we decided to go for a Nando’s and cinema trip to see Jurassic World.

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A whole chicken really hit the spot post marathon. Runger? Adequately defeated.

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And a whole screening to ourselves for Jurassic World (for about 15 minutes until a few others came in…damn them!)

Rant: Well not really a rant, more of stating the obvious. Jurassic World is not Jurassic Park and is no where close to being as good. It’s good for mindless enjoyment but there was no ‘pizzazz’…no rippling water, no Ian Malcolm, no goose bumps…I could go on but I shan’t bore you (the Empire Jurassic World spoiler special podcast does a great review).

Rave: After reading Claire’s post about her buying colouring books to relax I promptly decided to do the same. During university my friends and I, for a laugh, bought some colouring books as a way to have down time between revision and exams and found it was very addictive and a great way to relax while still being able to chat to each other or watch TV.

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I got one from the post office, one from Amazon (called Indian Summer <— not an affiliate link) and some colouring pencils. Honestly, I am fully addicted. In the evening I watch TV while colouring and I’m so relaxed. Normally I’d be on my phone or iPad and wouldn’t really be relaxing my mind. I also wouldn’t be able to concentrate on what was on TV. But with colouring I can now watch TV as well. I even took a book with my on the train. OK people did give me a few funny/curious looks but the time flew by.

Rave: I was in the paper for the Southampton Echo for the Romsey 5 mile Beer race (bit delayed on this one as the race was a good few weeks ago now…). What was nice was that it mentioned me being part of the top three females the previous two years and now finally securing the first place this year (top left paragraph).

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Needless to say my parents are very proud 😉 Sorry bragfest over.

Rave: I hate going to London in general and I especially hate going for work, which I had to do for a big meeting on Tuesday (funnily enough I’m going to London again on Saturday to meet some fellow lovely bloggers – but I’m sure this experience will be far better!)

The one saving grace of it being in London was the amazing catering at lunch time.

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It was a buffet and there was just so much food. And not a chip or fried food in sight. It was all fresh, good ingredients and lots of vegetables and salad. I sort of went overboard…but then buffets are my weakness.  The bottom left sweet potato and lentil curry was VERY nice indeed.

What are your plans for the weekend? (Yes I know it’s only Thursday…) I’m off to London on Saturday and then doing a 10k race (which I’m racing but not looking forward to – going to be riding the pain train!)

Do you go anywhere exciting for your job? In a previous job the best place I went was Sweden.

Colouring – yes or no? I’m not creative at all so this works well for me as it requires no real skill above what a five year old could do.

The value of mum

When I was growing up I wasn’t at all aware of everything my mum did for my sister and I. My dad was in the Navy when I was born and as such was often away at sea for long stretches of time, leaving my mum effectively as a single-parent.

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When I speak to her now about it she tells me it was hard, tiring and she missed my dad. My grandparents lived up north while we were down south in Portsmouth so there was no help there either. But my mum never sounds resentful about it or angry. She just says it as it was. It was life, you got on with it.

When my my dad left the Navy my mum was able to go back to work. She’s a trained nurse and worked one night shift a week at a local nursing home and in the week would work in a school. I remember on Saturday mornings I had to be very quiet playing or watching television as my mum would have just got back from the nursing home and was sleeping. But she’d be up and about soon enough to look after us again. The mum’s job never ending.

It was important for my mum to go back to work as she loved nursing and had her qualifications that she’d worked hard for. Though I’m not saying being a stay at home mum is bad at all, but personally I’m glad my mum went back to work as it made her happy and set a great role model for me that I too could work and have a family.

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Don’t get me wrong, my dad was (and is) fantastic at being, well, a dad. But his work and commute meant he was out early and back late. My mum was the one who made the lunches, cleaned the house, made dinner, ferried us off to gymnastics, swimming or Brownies, washed and ironed our clothes and kept the peace between two squabbling little toe-rags.

Interestingly, Legal and General Insurance did some research on what is the true value, in monetary terms, of the value of a mum:

“…for unpaid child care and household tasks alone, Dads are worth £23,971, while Mums are worth £31,627”

Source

That’s incredible – if only that was the case, eh! But let’s be honest, a mum’s value can’t be denoted by a single monetary figure. Personally my mum is the person I go to when I need someone to comfort me and make things “better”. My dad always gives me a rational way of looking at things with sound advice, but my mum is the one who may not have the answers to my problems but has a way of calming me down and making sure I can see clearly again.

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She’s always been there for me, no matter how many mistakes I make or how many tears I cry. And she’ll always be my first choice for an afternoon tea date, or a quick coffee, or a meander around the shops.

OK we’re now dangerously encroaching into into vomit-inducing cheese world, but I do think it’s important to take stock of your mum and appreciate her for everything she’s done. Mums are made of some seriously strong stuff and I can only hope that if I have a baby one day that I’ll be like my mum and have a similar relationship to my offspring.

IMG_1286 Drinking a well deserved glass of wine 😉

Tell me something amazing about your mum! My mum loves posh handbags and when she’s “finished” with them I get her off-casts!

Did your mum work when you were growing up? I was lucky that my mum worked in a school for my younger years as it meant the hours and holidays worked perfectly.

What do you like doing with your mum? For me it’s all about gossiping with cake!

**Full disclosure: I was asked to write this post by Legal and General Insurance in return for a spa day with my mum. All opinions are my own.**

A reluctant birthday and an almost sub-20 parkrun

It was my birthday on Friday. To be honest, I really wasn’t feeling it.

I went with the attitude that I could ignore it. Going to the gym, going to work and not doing anything Friday night was my aim. Obviously with Facebook you can’t quite hide the fact it’s your birthday and I appreciated all my birthday (and Twitter) ‘happy birthdays’ but other than that I was rather grumpy.

Turning 27 in itself isn’t bad at all, I know that. But I never imagined myself at 27 to be single, selling my marital home and looking for a flat to buy (something for another post!). It’s all rather depressing.

Anyway I was looking forward to parkrun. We were finally on the cricket pitch (fast and flat course only used occasionally). After the marathon on Sunday I took two full days off (I was meant to do yoga Tuesday but got my times wrong). But otherwise during the week I got back to the gym twice for my usual strength training and ran 4.5 miles on Thursday morning. All went well though all week I was just tired.

I really wanted to make a good go at parkrun though as it seemed a perfect opportunity. Generally it seems that the week after a marathon it’s a great time to bust out a good parkrun time. You still have marathon trained legs and as long as you’re not injured you tend to do quite well.

I drank a big cup of coffee in the morning (mistake) and headed to help set-up. The cricket pitch is easy to set-up because it’s just a big circle really.

IMG_1556I felt a lot of pressure on this parkrun and this was furthered when a few other guys from the running club said I should do well today because of the marathon. Arghh!

I’m not made for short, sharp sprints. My body doesn’t like 5ks. The entire time you’re running you’re in pain, your lungs are bursting and your whole body is telling you to stop. Give me a marathon any day! In my personal experience I’ve found that most of the marathon you’re running at a comfortable speed – it’s the mental monotony and the fatigue in your muscles you have to deal with, not the heart racing pain of a 5k (and 10ks – they’re much worse!).IMG_1576 It was hard work from the start. It might look like I’m enjoying myself but honestly, they were well timed smiles for the cameras. Most of the time I was wishing it would end. What was also annoying was I had badly timed that coffee and really needed to pee. I had a sudden fear I’d pee myself! We’ve all heard the stories from other runners!! (Spoiler: I did not pee myself).

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It was Iwan Thomas’ (400m Olympian and our local celeb) 50th parkrun and he was just ahead of me most of the race pushing a little lad on, giving him good encouragement. My music stopped working on the first lap (my iPhone’s still playing up) so I dropped it to some supporters and tried to use Iwan’s encouragement too 😉

My three goals were:

  • Beat 20:26 (my Netley Abbey parkrun PB)
  • Beat 20:16 (my overall parkrun PB and 5k PB)
  • Get a sub-20

Well by the second mile I knew the sub-20 wasn’t going to happen. I was lagging and just couldn’t keep pushing (the pee fear was also heavy on my mind). In the end I finished 20:06. Honestly I was just glad to stop 😉 I’m very pleased. Two out of three ain’t bad!

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While I was chatting to people afterwards and starting to help tidy up I suddenly heard a chorus of “Happy birthday” begin. I turned round and there were loads of people from parkrun and my club singing me happy birthday…holding the most fantastic cake!!

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A wonderfully talented lady, Roberta, from the club had baked it (apple flavour of course). It has an apple and a slice of cake on top, and it’s in my favourite colour (purple) with tiny little yellow icing trainers all round the edge. I’m over the moon!

OK so I know I said I wanted to ignore my birthday and felt very sorry for myself…well I was very chuffed. It’s pathetic to curl up in a ball and ignore the happy moments in life and this was certainly very happy and very much appreciated. My smile remained all day long. And I received a card which so many lovely people had signed – I almost cried. I didn’t though thankfully!

After parkrun we headed to the cafe and all indulged in a bit of cake, which tasted INCREDIBLE. I’m glad to say though that I was able to stock up my freezer with a few slices as well. Whew!

I stayed at my parents’ that night and had a very chilled evening (with a takeaway of course). I wanted to run the next  morning but had no idea what distance to go for. In my head I thought anywhere between 6-10miles. When I started running though I knew I wasn’t in the right head space. My legs felt very heavy and very tired. Just not right, you know? I’d planned for the two weeks post marathon to be low mileage and recovery so I decided to be sensible and cut it short to 4.7 miles rather than just force the run.

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I’m so glad I did. Mentally and certainly physically I need a break for a bit. I have a 10k next weekend that I want to go for but other than that it’s all going to be a bit directionless and chilled for a while, which is perfect.

My dad and me had agreed to postpone Father’s Day and have a joint celebration with my birthday in July as we’ve recently had so many meals out together it seemed sensible to save it for another month. So instead I went out to Winchester again to meet my friend and her lovely fluffy dog, Rain, for some chatting, walking and lunching.

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I went for something new for lunch this time (even though the Caesar salad was calling me). A delicious goat’s cheese salad.

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I must say though…I think I’d have preferred the Caesar!! Though it was tasty, just a little small.

Despite being a grumpy fart before the weekend began, it actually turned out to be a pretty damn good one! Despite my life being a bit upside down right now, I have so many lovely people in my life that remind me that it’s not all doom and gloom. Twenty-seven is a great age to start fresh and enjoy whatever life throws at me!

What do you prefer: short or long distance running?

What’s an essential salad requirement for you? For me it needs to be BIG. Small salads are side dishes, not main meals.

Do you have any local celebs near you? Unsurprisingly, Iwan Thomas did not bring cakes to celebrate his 50th parkrun…

Rock and Roll Liverpool Marathon

Leading up to this race I had had a fantastic training cycle. I’ve never been in such good shape before a marathon before. I had racked up a good number of long runs and running in general has been very good.

Through this cycle I’ve been consistently running faster parkruns, I got a half marathon PB and a five mile PB. I felt pretty good. Apart from my taper panic when my shin/calf niggle came back I was fully prepared and feeling good. The niggle was a problem psychologically though. I fully admit I’m a paranoid runner and part of me honestly wondered if my niggle would blow up during the race and I would have to DNF or limp round. But when I put that worry to one side, without sounding arrogant here, I knew I could do OK barring any uncontrollable factors (because in a marathon nothing is a given).

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The morning…

Race morning started at 5am. I’d had a good night sleep and was used to this sort of wake up time so was raring to go. My only one stress and, sorry if this is TMI, but I didn’t have a successful loo visit. I wasn’t too concerned as I knew I had hours before the race to get that sorted.

I made my breakfast (porridge) and we headed off. I ate it en route as I wanted to leave it as late as I feasibly could (though it was still about 6am – four hours before the race).

IMG_1457 Oats, chia seeds and almond milk

We stopped at a services about half-way there and I got a coffee. Hilariously the server asked if I was off to play volleyball. I said no a marathon. She looked a bit blank. Ah well.

Anyway we got to Liverpool in more than enough time. In fact we got there at 7am which was a little too early. My dad, a hardcore Liverpool FC fan, suggested we drive to Anfield so he could see the stadium as he wouldn’t get to see it otherwise. In the end it was lucky we arrived so early because it was a nightmare trying to get to the car park we wanted. We parked in Liverpool One shopping centre car park which was right near the start and also near where we were going for lunch afterwards (but it cost £13!). Thankfully though they had nice toilets and my previous situation was amended 😉

At 8am I had a Beet It flapjack to keep me ‘topped up’. I didn’t want to eat too much closer to the race but knew I needed something.

IMG_1461 In my ‘volleyball’ gear mid-mouthful

Like normal the only thing I drank that morning was a small Americano. I’m always so worried I’ll need to pee mid-race otherwise.

The weather was chilly but it was humid and ‘close’. I started to panic over what I’d decided to wear for the race. It wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be and instantly felt stupid only wearing a crop-top.

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But there was nothing that could be done about it at this point. I kept my layers on though as we walked to the race village. We met up with my grandparents, who had travelled from Llandudno in North Wales, and had a mosey around.

IMG_1463My dad was great at pointing out the different landmarks to me and humorously explaining to me that when I’m running I was to ignore the Everton FC stadium but enjoy running near the Anfield Stadium (of which we had seen that morning) 😉 He wore his Liverpool FC shirt especially for the race.

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The half marathon started at 9am so there were loads of runners and supporters heading to the start. I only saw a few other marathoners (wearing green bibs) around as we were so early. But this was great because it meant I found another proper toilet nearby and got to use it twice. I didn’t use a portaloo all day!!Liverpool marathon start areaThe start area was easy to get to and very low key. Having previously done the Paris and Berlin marathons this was SO different. Berlin and Paris were like military operated in order to get into your pen – in Berlin it was VERY strict.

IMG_1473We have yet to find the photo of my dad taking my photo!

Here they were very blasé and there weren’t actual physical pens. Obviously Paris and Berlin are massive races so I guess that makes sense. There were around 2.5k runners for this compared to 40k for Berlin! Your bib number corresponded to the corral area you should be and mine began with a ‘2’ which meant it was quite near the front (when I entered the race I put a faster time than I realistically expected to ensure I could run easily and not have to dodge people). It wasn’t crowded at all and the pacers basically just found the best open spaces they could without regard to the corrals. I positioned myself in front of the 3:30 pacer only because he had such a crowd around him and I didn’t want to use the pacer or get caught up.

Originally my dad and grandparents were going to leave me 30 minutes before but as it was so relaxed we found they could stand next to me (behind the barriers) and actually see me off. This also meant I could remove one layer at a time, acclimatising to the temperature, rather than stand shivering.

Just before the start I saw my friend, Matt, who I knew from the Marathon Talk weekend and Twitter so it was nice to chat to him too (he won a place, lucky him!). We wished each other luck and got ready to start (he scored a nice PB – well done him!).

The race…

The course isn’t flat though it isn’t crazily hilly either. But having only done flat marathons I knew this would add a bit of uncontrollability to my race plan.Liverpool Marathon Elevation

My plan was to run the first 10 miles at just under 8min/miles, which should feel easy. I see it as a way of respecting the distance. Personally, getting in those first miles shouldn’t feel hard otherwise you’re going to blow up later. Every good race I’ve had has started slower and got faster. (This is my personal opinion, other strategies are out there!)

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By and large I stuck to it. There were a few sneaky inclines but also some down hills so it felt good. Most of the time I was stopping myself from going faster. Unlike Paris or Berlin, there weren’t swarms of runners around me all the time. I was rarely completely alone but it was sparse. This was actually quite nice. Yes Paris and Berlin are amazing races and feel hugely epic because of how big they are, but it was nice doing a smaller marathon. There seemed less pressure. There were also fewer spectators, but those who were there cheered and shouted with fantastic enthusiasm.

On the first mile I felt chilly but then as I was running it got very warm. I was grateful to have stuck with the crop top…plus in my head it made me feel speedy and elite 😉 Channelling my inner Paula!

Much to my dad’s annoyance I actually didn’t see Anfield – or at least I didn’t notice it, whereas I fully noticed Goodison Stadium. I think this is because we fully ran around Goodison whereas we just ran past Anfield. He was not amused. Stanley park was lovely and scenic, though a little undulating. There was some great live music around the course as well – really fantastic! There was also a great point in the course where you could see the entire city skyline which was amazing.

I could feel my shin/calf but not worryingly so, though I did worry about it. I pushed it to the back of my mind knowing there was nothing I could do but hope it would disappear and not blow up. Spoiler alert: it did disappear after 10 miles. Other than that discomfort, everything else felt good. I felt nice and comfortable, though I was looking forward to my podcast which I would listen to after 10 miles.

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I tried to split the marathon into manageable chunks so it wasn’t as insurmountable. My first milestone was 10k just because that’s a significant distance, then eight miles because that’s when I had my first gel. Handily because it was such a smaller race I had given my other two gels to my dad so I only needed to hold on to one until mile 12 where they were going to be. Then they’d give me my other two gels and by mile 13 I would take the second so I really didn’t have to hold too much the entire race.

IMG_1496(Source: Liverpool Echo)

At mile 10 I put the BBC 5 Live film review podcast and was (like a super geek) excited because it had the Jurassic World review (I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan). This helped the monotony of the race as the scenery wasn’t hugely exciting.

What I will say though is Liverpool scenery is really no less exciting at these points than Paris or Berlin really. I mean, there are buildings, some are significant, some aren’t. You’re still running a stupid number of miles. Paris was probably a bit more ‘pretty’ but really it didn’t matter too much to me. What was significantly different was the fact that the supporters were far more enthusiastic and supportive – even though there were less of them. For most of the time I was surrounded by male runners so it was nice to see the supporters get really excited when I passed shouting things like “you go girl!” or “do it for the girls!”. Honestly I lost count how many times people cheered something at me because I was female. I also got called “lass” a lot. This truly made the race for me. It made me feel like an individual, not just one in a huge crowd. I smiled, waved and gave thumbs up all the way around the course.

I knew there was a significant hill around mile 12, but I also knew somewhere afterwards my grandparents and dad would be there. That hill was tough and seemed to go on forever but there were lots of support and a samba band which really helped.

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I got to the top and turned the corner and saw my family from afar. Ahh what a sight for sore eyes :-) My granddad had my gels and ran with me a little like a relay runner to hand them to me. It was lovely. I told them it was going well and off I went.

My plan for 10-20 miles had been to increase the pace to around 7.45min/miles, but I started to lag a little from 14-18 miles. I find those miles the dead miles. You’re not far enough along to be out of the woods but you’ve still ran quite a way to be tired. The inclines and the heat were taxing me psychologically and physically. I made sure to drink lots on the way round.

My last gel was just after 18 miles. The 18 mile point is great because you run a tiny out and back up Penny Lane and obviously the Beatles’ Penny Lane song was at full volume. It lifted me a little. I just had to get to 20 miles, my next check point.

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When I got to 20 miles I switched the podcast to music and went into race mode. The first song was a Linkin Park track (Bleed It Out? I can’t remember now) and it was like a jolt of energy surged through me. Now was the time to increase the pace, let myself go a little. Not too soon though – 10k is still a way to go.

I found myself overtaking people and getting lots of cheers from spectators. I felt fantastic and really got into the music. I tried to smile as much as I could to trick myself into thinking there was no effort or fatigue. My soundtrack was pushing me along and I felt confident. A line of traffic was on one side of the road as we ran along it and I waved and smiled at people in their cars and some of them tooted their horns or shouted out the window – it was great!

Around mile 22 we turned to go along the river front and found the wind blowing against us. Ahh this was tough. Mentally I was in a great place but physically it was hard work. My watch seemed to be completely out from the mile markers now as well. I reckon going through all the parks and tall buildings messed with the satellites. I couldn’t take what it was telling me for certain so I just ran on feel ignoring it completely, just waiting for each new mile marker.

I expected to see my dad sometime around mile 22 but as I kept running and running along this long stretch of path along the water it was clear he wasn’t there. This path seemed to go on forever! When I got to mile 23 I attempted to work out the maths of what time I could get if I ran 8min/miles to the finish. A PB was a certainty at this point but how much sub-3:30 could I manage? My brain hurt thinking about it.

I kept pushing and finally we moved slightly off the waterfront (mile 25?) and I saw him on the road. He cheered me on and I remember shouting “I’d like to stop now please!”. I just kept thinking “8 minutes or less till I finish”. Then back to the waterfront again with the wind.

As I saw the finish ahead I surged forward. I had overtaken a number of people and ran down the finishing straight on my own. Now bear with me, allow me to have my self-indulgent moment…I imagined myself to be like Jo Pavey finishing a race, to the crowds cheering me. The only thing to kill the moment somewhat was an incredibly painful stitch in my side. It was agony! But I tried to smile and not grimace as I ran across the finish line – the announcer person saying “and she’s smiling – she certainly does have something to smile about with that time!” which was lovely.

I remember walking and feeling very dizzy and tired, and the stitch still there. But then a medal was given to me and I saw my grandparents and all was right again. It was so lovely to see friendly faces so soon after finishing!

Two different men came up to me, one thanking me (I have no idea what for!) and shook my hand, and the other said I had a great finish. Always nice to hear :-)

I then had to head into the Echo Arena and collect my goodie bag and T-shirt.

IMG_1483 I found someone to take a photo of me (and I returned the favour to them) and grabbed a banana, a Lucozade, the bag and my T-shirt. They had extra small!!! I was so chuffed as I was convinced it would be another T-shirt that wouldn’t fit me.

IMG_1477 Then like a bad joke we had to walk up the steps to get out. I saw lots of people just sat down but I wanted to get outside to see my family. Those steps, I mean, come on people!

IMG_1487I would like to thank the Liverpool marathon for having such a great coloured T-shirt as it matched perfectly with my headband 😉

I was sore, tired and needed water as I was so thirsty but otherwise I was OK. I sat down and just smiled. My dad appeared a few minutes later (remember he was at mile 25) looking slightly harassed and sweaty, bless him (at that point he’d walked almost 30,000 steps!) He asked how I did and, do you know, I wasn’t even sure! I knew I’d gotten sub 3:30 (my goal) but the exact time I didn’t know. I checked my watch and was just so pleased!

image Official results

17th female!! I’m over the moon :-)

We headed (slowly) back to the shopping area and it was like I was walking on a cloud of happiness (a painful cloud, but happy nonetheless). I wasn’t limping, my calf/shin felt fine, I just felt general fatigue and muscle soreness.

I was going to head back to the car to change but decided I couldn’t be bothered so we headed to the restaurant of choice for the post-marathon meal.

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Of course it would be Jamie’s Italian 😉 It was the obvious choice and close to the finish and our car (fate). We’d pre-booked the week before to avoid disappointment as well. It was quite busy so this was a smart move. I had a quick wash of my hands, arm and face in the bathroom and started to feel human again.

I don’t even look at the menu anymore, I already know what to have: Turkey Milanese. As I have a Gold Member’s card we got a little bruschetta starter as well for free. Very tasty: mozzarella, basil, sundried tomatoes and bread. We also shared between us polenta chips and ‘funky’ (herby) chips.

Jamie's Italian LiverpoolFor pudding I had my usual brownie with caramelised popcorn and vanilla ice cream. Ahh heaven. I’d say refuelling was absolutely spot on – eating all this about an hour after finishing was perfect. NO HEADACHE!!!!

And then it was time to say goodbye to part of my super support crew. My grandparents were awesome support and it was lovely to see them and for them to see me run (they’re very sport-focused). I’m so grateful they came to watch!

Then into the car for a delightful four hour drive home.

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My dad listened to some football, I watched Downton Abbey on my iPad – perfect!

The take away…

Training for a marathon makes recovering from a marathon easier. Who’d have thought, eh? 😉

IMG_1507This race was fantastic. The organisation, the course, the support, the goodie bag, the medal…all really good.

Liverpool marathon goodie bag Lots of High5 goodies and the medal glitters!

My only two disappointments were that I couldn’t really smash (relative term here) the pace out more than I tried on those last four miles because of that damn wind. But I didn’t feel like it sucked my spirit as some windy races have done. I still felt in the zone and in control, to some extent. And (apart from the stitch) I felt awesome.

The second disappointment was hearing a rather lukewarm review of Jurassic World…

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Have you ever done a Rock and Roll race before? It was great to have so many live bands/music round the course.

How quickly do you refuel after a hard race/workout?

Has a race ever sorted a niggle/injury out for you? My niggle seems to have disappeared (for now)! I haven’t run on it yet though…

**I feel cheeky stealing and including the official photos in this post without paying for them. I know I’ve done it before in other posts but I’m having a change of morals. If you’re interested you can look at them HERE on the website**