My marathon plans for Sunday and charcoal beauty

My 11th marathon is on Sunday. The Bournemouth Marathon. The only marathon I’ve previously done before.

I don’t tend to like to do the same marathons again as I think that, because they’re so epic, it’s nice to do different ones. Experience a new place, carve out new memories from the blood, sweat and tears… but Bournemouth is a little different for me. I have a few “heebie jeebie” feelings about it because it’s the only marathon I’ve done where I’m not proud of my performance and I really didn’t enjoy.Bournemouth marathon 5I felt something not quite right in my knee around mile eight and by mile 12 I was really uncomfortable, and mile 16 in pain. By mile 22 I was run-walking and mile 24 just walking. Barely. I was crying as I crossed the finish-line. Not out of happiness or relief, but out of pain. I was then injured for a significant amount of time after that race. To continue running the race was a stupid decision. One I hope not to recreate in any race going forward.IMG_5016So I have some bad vibes with this race. I wanted to re-do it to erase those bad memories and, well, unfinished business and all that. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not sure how I’m going to run it (one foot in front of the other’s a good start…). In terms of paces…ack, I don’t know. I want to have an enjoyable experience…but I also want to see where I’m at. I’ve had a *fairly* good lead-up to this marathon (albeit with the snaggle of an injury) and I do feel like I have some good endurance strength in me. Speed? Not so much.

One day I promise I’ll actually train with the intention to go into a marathon and bravely say, “I’m going to go for a time near my PB” but, being 100% realistic here, that is not this marathon. I would blow up by 14-16 miles. So I have a conservative approach of aiming for around 8.20-30s to start and see how I feel as I get past half-way and towards the 18-20 mile area. If I feel like it’s too hard, I’ll drop the pace back (by mile 10 for definite) but if I feel good I’ll give it some welly in the last 10k and hang on for dear life.

But, as I always say, you never know with a marathon. I may not even finish. I may crumble. A marathon can chew you up and spit you out, however well or badly you’ve trained. Such is its beauty. So I’ll go into it giving it the respect it deserves. I’ll take nothing for granted and listen to my body, my heart rate, my breathing and mentally what I’m feeling. The rest is in the hands of the running gods.

Activated Charcoal Products Review

So it seems that charcoal products seem to be very “in vogue” right now. Activated charcoal sounds all rather posh and interesting. Basically charcoal becomes activated when acid or steam are combined with carbon rich materials such as wood, coal, rye starch or coconut shells and then these “unlock” the billions of tiny pores within the carbon materials. This makes it really absorbent and helps pull impurities from the skin and remove bacteria effectively. I was recently sent some “home-made” charcoal supplements, charcoal toothpaste and a charcoal face mask.

Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste with Black Charcoal & Teavigo 

I’ve tried charcoal toothpaste before and though it wasn’t unpleasant and I did get on with it, the taste was something I needed to get used to. Happily this brand tasted far better! Very much more similar to regular minty toothpaste.My teeth felt and looked lovely and clean after brushing. It’s hard obviously to compare to regular toothpaste but my mouth felt clean. What I will say, however, is that the blackness of the toothpaste has slightly coloured my toothbrush’s white bristles a grey colour and it can make a bit of a mess in a white sink. But it doesn’t stain, it just requires a bit of care.Sukin Oil Balancing + Charcoal Anti-Pollution Facial Masque 

I was also sent a face mask. I’m really not that great with beauty or skincare regimes. Literally all I do is wash my face in the morning and evening with water. I don’t cleanse, tone, moisturise or wear make-up. Actually that’s a lie, I’ve recently been using an eyebrow pencil to keep my eyebrows tidy (they’re quite dark so if I’ve been a bit too keen in the eyebrow plucking department then filling in the gaps makes things a bit neater). So a face mask isn’t really something I use. However, it is something I always think looks quite fun and my skin would probably benefit from doing once in a while. A “once in a while” style regime is my kinda bag for beauty.It’s also ridiculous therapeutic and fun to apply. It goes on lovely and smooth and dries quite quickly. Then you just leave it on and go about life for 10 minutes (in the confines of the safe environment where no one will witness). It’s got a great natural looking list of ingredients as well, which I always appreciate.It easily washes off as well which is a relief. I used a flannel and only took about five minutes to get off. My skin did feel cleaner afterwards and “fresh”.

Holland & Barrett Charcoal Supplements

I was also sent some charcoal supplements.I literally had no idea what these were for. I Googled it to find that apparently they can help treat flatulence… well, what do you know eh! They absorb the excess gas apparently and can reduce bloating. OK then!I don’t have bloating problems (or excessive gas, just to be clear here) but I was intrigued. I will hold my hands up and say that though I don’t bloat or fart excessively, when I’ve had maybe a few too many sprouts or vegetables in general (onion really does a number on me weirdly) I do bloat. I think this is normal for most people, right? Anyway, I’ve been taken these tablets regularly and those sorts of moments of vegetable over-consumption have produced less bloating than ordinarily would. I mean, I’m no scientist but I do  think it helped a little. I can’t promise it would work though for people with chronic bloating issues or after a mammoth curry. WHO KNOWS.

All these items can be found from Holland and Barrett.

Have you ever tried charcoal products?

Do you always a strategy going into a race like a marathon?

Have you ever done a race again to erase the bad memories you’ve had before?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these products for free in return for a review post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Oxford parkrun review

It has been AGES since I had a parkrun review. I really must get back into them as they’re quite handy and I’ve done so many more since. I have my lovely friend Michelle (from the Austria Run Camp and used to be part of my running club) to thank for this post as she’s kindly written up a review of the Oxford parkrun. She’s now a DOCTOR (not only is she super fast but she’s super smart) and so this is now her local parkrun. Let’s get to it. (All photos are from CJ Photos found on their Facebook page).

Location

Oxford parkrun takes place in Cutteslowe and Sunnymead Park which can be found on the far north of the city, just outside the ring road. The park itself is the largest in the city and has received a Green Flag Award.The 42 hectares of parkland are split into Cutteslowe Park to the north and Sunnymead Park to the south with a bridge joining the two. During World War II large parts of the park were used to grow vegetables and afterwards continued to be home to allotments. More recently this area of land is managed to provide community woodlands and a semi-natural wildlife area.Parking

There are two car parks available at the park; Harbord Road to the north edge of the park and the other at the south just off the A40 if you’re heading towards Headington. Both are pay and display however charges don’t come into effect until 10am.

The two main entrances to the park are also where the car parks are for those travelling by two wheeled or two footed transport. Oxford Parkway/Water Eaton park and ride is approximately a mile down the road so ideal for any keen bean wanting a mile warm up and cool down. From here you can then get either the bus or train into Oxford city centre and spend the rest of the day exploring oxfords colleges, shopping streets and cafes. The park and ride costs £2 to park for 11 hours and then bus is £2.80 return (although train is only £1.90 if you have a railcard!).

Amenities

Okay I’ll start by ticking off the two most important things…firstly yes there are toilets within the park. Secondly post parkrun coffee and cake is within eyesight of the finish line. The San Remo cafe located within the park is where everyone tends to head (I can’t vouch for it personally though having not been). If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous then there are several lovely cafes and bakeries in Summertown which is very close by (walking distance).Within the park itself are several children’s play areas, table tennis tables, a miniature railway, beach volleyball courts, a skate park and outdoor tennis courts. There are also cricket and multiple football pitches which are used by local football clubs on a Saturday morning. For hide and seek lovers there are several geocaches hidden within the park and a marked 18 point orienteering course. Or if you just want to be outdoors with nature there are areas of wildflowers, oriental flower beds, allotments and community woodland.

As well as the parkrun course there is also a 1 mile course marked around the park.

Course

The course itself starts in a northerly direction on an area of grass, your run 1 and 3/4 loops of the small grass field (marked with posts which you go around, a bit like a rounders pitch) and then you leave the field at the southernmost point to head out and complete 2 large laps of the park.The large laps start with a slight downhill on tarmac and then you turn left to follow the southern perimeter of the park on the grass. This is where you need to be careful as there are some rabbit holes and mole hills as well as the grass being slightly banked. After a short stretch of gravel path you turn onto the main open field which you follow the edge of for 3 edges of the square. Again, this is grass with a trodden “track” and signs marking the route. When I ran the course it was soft underfoot due to recent rain but I can imagine during winter to can become very muddy so don’t wear those new shiny trainers!!
When you get to the final edge of the field the grass track turns to a gravel path. This is the only real uphill on the course but is not steep and only about 200m long. At the top of the track you turn left onto a tarmac path which you then follow through a sharp right then an almost 180 degree left turn to complete the first large loop.Once you complete the second of the large laps you head back onto the grass after the tight left turn and straight into the finish funnel with just enough distance to get a sprint finish in.

Elevation

The graph below shows the overall elevation of the course.As I mentioned above there is only really one uphill and that last for approximately 200m but isn’t steep. Only thing is you do it twice. Otherwise I’d say the only thing slowing the course slightly is that it’s mostly grass underfoot and there are a few tight turns!

Number of participants

The largest turnout is 405 but on average there are 165 runners so it is a small parkrun for being located in a big city.There are often families, runners with buggies and runners with dogs taking part and the other facilities in the park make it an ideal family morning out!

Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages for updates and information!

Thank you Michelle, a fabulous review 🙂

If you’d like to do a parkrun review, please email me (annatheappleblog@gmail.com) and I’ll post it up!

Have you ever been to the Oxford parkrun?

Have you ever been to Oxford? I love it there. So British and lovely.

Rants and Raves #38

What’s been bugging me and making me smile lately? Let’s find out… (did that read as cheesy as it sounded when I read it out-loud? Yeah).

Rave: Time. I have so much more time in my life at the moment. When I worked in Basingstoke it would take at absolute best 40 minutes to get home. But that was from sitting in the car in the carpark to parking my car in the garage. From my new office in Portsmouth (incidentally the same location as the Lakeside parkrun and also the D Day 10k I did back in June), from being in my office to standing in my flat it takes 25 minutes. It literally takes 15-20 minutes to drive there. THIS IS INCREDIBLE. For over five and a half years I have driven up and down the M27 and M3 and more times than not it will take me over and hour to get home. OK yes it is currently school holidays so the roads are quieter, but even still if it takes less than hour from door to door I will be over the moon. Alfie doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s dead asleep when I get in.

And, similar to my last job, the working hours are fairly relaxed. Obviously you make sure you do your core hours and necessary tasks over the week but you can come in earlier or later and then correspondingly leave earlier or later. It’s fantastic. I think offices like this are far more realistic to how people want to work (obviously I know not all workplaces can or should do this but for a lot of office-based work it makes a lot of sense). It gives a good level of morale.

Rave: And while we’re on the subject of my new job… I love it. I mean it’s early days of course, but it is so interesting and everyone is so friendly and nice. The majority of people who work at Wiggle have some level of interest in cycling or running. You hear people chatting about their latest rides and runs all over the place. And there are bikes and trainers everywhere as the brand and design teams check them out. I mean, it is SUPER cool. And not to mention the bikes hanging from the walls, one of the Brownlee brother’s GB tri-suit framed, bikes wheels as clock faces, pictures all over the place. I’m very happy. And my job itself is something I have a genuine interest in and can’t wait to get more stuck into a progress further. I won’t be posting a huge deal about it because I want to maintain a level of professionalism but I will share where I can the little tidbits tat I get excited over 🙂

Rave: OK, OK one more rave about my new job. Every Friday they have a mini food festival on the field outside the office. EVERY FRIDAY.When I heard about this I had to swallow down a squeal (can’t let all the craziness out on the first week, of course). Sadly I’d already brought lunch with me but decided to venture downstairs and see what was on offer for future Friday lunches.Well, they had Caribbean food, Mexican food, pizzas, some American-style BBQ… and cakes. Oh the cakes.I stood there for too long and caved under the might cake pressure. I had to get myself a rocky road slab. And I say slab because it was HUMUNGOUS.Rant: I had a car accident on my second day driving into work. It was my fault and it was very stupid. Luckily no one was injured. I was in a queue for some traffic lights and we’d stopped. I then saw the lights go green ahead and I went forward…straight into the still stationary car in front of me. Completely my fault for not checking the car RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Luckily the man I drove into was very nice and didn’t yell at me. He calmly asked for my details and told me (after I’d apologised about a zillion times) that in the great scheme of things, it wasn’t that big an accident. No one had died or been badly hurt. So my little Fiat 500 is at the garage getting fixed and I have a little Citroen C1 and a £250 excess to cover. I’m trying not to think about how much my insurance will be when I renew it at the end of the year…*Sighs* you live and learn. Life was clearly going far too well for me currently!

Rant: Turning up to my gym (luckily a bit later than my usual 5.30am, I think it was about 6am) to find that the fire alarm was going off and everyone was stuck outside waiting to go back in.
Thankfully it was an error and luckily it was quite mild…in the middle of winter I would not have been amused. It was fairly cool to see a fire engine show up and a load of firemen ‘save the day’. Made for an interesting morning anyway!
Rave: Being interviewed for thrunABC magazine. It was a while ago I was sent the email so I’d kind of forgotten about it until someone Tweeted me letting me know. Ahh, fame! 😉
 My mum was so proud!
Rave: And a final rave…I was sent a crafty little hand-held device, called Zap-It!, which helps stop you itching when you get attacked by mosquitoes and bugs. Basically it generates a low, electrical impulse when clicked against the bite and what this does is reduce the histamine flow and stimulate capillaries, which flushes out the toxins (that make you want to itch).The shock is really very small so not painful at all. Not like that HORRENDOUS Tough Mudder electric shock obstacle, dear God. It can also be used up to 1,000 times (the poor soul who gets 1,000 bites…). A great addition to your essential gear for BBQ’s, festivals and of course any trail races! You can buy it in lots of chemists and supermarkets or online.
What are you ranting and raving about this week?
 
Have you ever had a car accident?
 
What’s most important to you about the environment you work in?

RiDE Skincare review

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a race or a long run during the summer and either burned in the sun or become a few gradients above glowing.

And it’s not me being entirely reckless, forgetting to put on suntan lotion (or sunblock to our overseas friends). It’s the fact that you’re out there for so long, sweating away, that invariably the lotion will just slide on off. We’ve all seen those runners sweating off white liquid. RIP to the suntan lotions that didn’t last longer than 10k.

I was recently sent a somewhat different suntan lotion and moisturiser to trial out, called RiDE Skincare. One that was made with athletes in mind (and when I say “athlete” I am indeed talking to you recreational sporty people – you don’t need to be in the Olympics to be an athlete).The only thing is though, the suntan lotion doesn’t stop you getting delightful runner’s short tans. Not a great look, but at least it’s not crispy peeling skin sooo swings and roundabouts! I was also sent a moisturiser, but I’ll get on to that shortly.

I love the ethos behind the company: wanting the products to be a as natural as possible and also minimising the packaging for environmental concerns.

So, first up the suntan lotion.

RiDE: Protect SPF 25 Natural Mineral Sunscreen

This was designed with sporty people in mind, whether that’s surfing, riding, running or swimming. It protects your skin from the sun (both UVA and UVB), even in the harshest conditions. It’s a “physical mineral sunscreen” which means that the mineral sits on top of the skin and reflects the rays, rather than using synthetic ingredients, like Parabens or Phenoxyethanol. A huge bonus of this is that it won’t damage the skin or sting the eyes. Candilla wax is added to it which makes it resistant to water, as well as organic coconut and jojoba oil to help keep the skin lovely and soft.

It doesn’t feel greasy and it does indeed stay on even when you’re a sweaty mess. There’s no overwhelming smell. It’s not as liquidy as the chemical suntan lotions but I prefer this.

RiDE: Recover Natural Sports Moisturiser

This moisturiser has, again, been designed with athletes in mind. It helps re-hydrate the skin after it’s been beaten around by hours of working out in the sun, wind and rain. It contains all natural ingredients like green tea and peppermint oil which help with this recovery.I’m actually addicted to this moisturiser at the moment. It’s quite thick but not in a greasy way. I hate moisturisers that are really runny and watery, whereas this requires more massaging to get it absorbed into the skin which I prefer. It has a very subtle scent and doesn’t leave my skin greasy.

For both products, less is more as it does go a long way. Especially for the sunscreen because it’s a mineral-based one that sits on top of your skin.

Fully recommend these. Love products that are developed with runners (and other athletes) in mind!

Do you use moisturiser?

Do you wear suntan lotion when you do sports?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these two products in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Currently – July

Goodbye July, hello August. WHAT. How is this even possible? We’re hurtling our way to Christmas! OK that’s dramatic. But seriously, I can tell that winter is coming because I get up so damn early and it’s a lot cooler and darker in the morning. Sad times indeed.

So anyway, July has been a weird month. So much running, then not so much. A very weird month. I’ve only got one whole month before the marathon and the Dorney Half I’ve signed up to mid-August (so the need to run is getting stronger. But anyway, I thought I’d do a “currently” post to mark the transition between months.

TV: Game of Thrones. Geek time here commences… I am both extremely happy about the current situation but also sad. Things are happening at breakneck speed due to the limited number of episodes. And the fact that we’re “off book” now is also concerning. George R. R. Martin is an unbelievably talented author, similar to Tolkien, in creating vast and complex worlds. I worry that the show won’t live up to his storytelling and they’ll try and get the most dramatic ending rather than staying faithful to the book’s groundwork. We shall see. Though I will be very excited when the final books are finally finished. Sorry geeking over.

Books: I’ve just recently finished reading The Circle by Dave Eggers.I really enjoyed it but it felt a little close to home. All about the rise of technology and knowing everything about everything and nothing is private anymore. The all encompassing nature of social media. Creepy stuff.

I actually started reading the book because I saw a trailer for the film and it looked interesting. Then read the book and started the film (a Netflix Original) and Emma Watson just annoyed me too much. I think I’m in the minority here when I say I don’t like her acting. I tolerated her in Harry Potter and to be honest she seems the same in all other films. I find her very wooden. I like her as a person though (not that I know her obviously) and how she’s quite forthright in her opinion on feminism.

Food: Since I’ve come back from Austria I’ve been really craving whole baked fish. We had it as one of the evening meals and since then I just want it all the time. It’s weird because, though I do like seafood, it’s not usually something I’ll go out of my way for. In a restaurant I never order it. But popped it in the oven, wrapped in foil with lemon and spices, it is DIVINE. I like that it takes me ages to eat as well because of all the bones. I’m such a fast eater that anything that slows down the process is a win for me. I was going to have a photo but it’s really not that pretty a meal!

Treats: God, where do I start? Cake. All the cake. As a farewell to work I bought a dozen Krispy Kremes (original glazed, god I love them) and an Emoji cake because…well, do I need a reason??I was also bought a very delicious slice of bannoffe cake on Sunday… happy girl.

Fitness Clothes: I’m now the proud owner of a Strava vest. I don’t think they make clothing to sell but I managed to get my hands on one because it was originally sent to Martin Yelling (of Austrian Marathon Talk Run camp – I promise I will stop going on about this soon) but it was clearly too small for him so I got it instead! (I was the quickest to claim it).And hilariously as a late birthday present from my lovely friend she bought me an Under Armour top. I love it, it’s got long-sleeves and wicking material. The only thing is, when I went to pick Alfie up from my parents on Saturday (they kindly looked after him for me) I saw what my dad was wearing.

We met half-way, my parents don’t live in a car park

So I got my mum to hold up my top in comparison. Hilarious. Just means my dad and I can never wear them at the same time. Still a good top nonetheless!

Beauty: Yeah I don’t really “do” beauty I guess… all about the low maintenance over here! That said, I do love moisturisers and lip balm. Keeping the skin all nice and soft. I always carry lip balm around with me because I hate my lips getting dry (also, dry lips and buffalo chicken wings – the WORST). I never wear lip gloss or lipstick (#longhairproblems… have you ever got hair stuck in lip gloss? It is GROSS) but lip balm is my thing.

So I was recently sent Liquorice Balm, which, as you can imagine, is a liquorice lip balm. Now I’m not a fan of liquorice at all so I was a little dubious about trailing this product. But actually I thought it’s probably handy as I know there are many people who are similar.This balm is aimed at reducing cold sores, which actually affect almost 30 million people in the UK! Incidentally this occurs most often when travelling as there’s a lot of air changes from when you’re flying, being in air con and being out in the sun. Lots of stress to the lips.

The Liquorice Balm can help because is contains a key cold sore fighting ingredient from the liquorice called glycyrrhizic acid, which targets the genes that are required to maintain the virus in its latent state by interfering with the production of special proteins that feed the infected cells. It’s also free from parabens, perfumes, MI and SLS and is under the 100ml limit so you can take it with you in hand luggage.It’s quite oily but once on the lips it sticks nicely and I find it does help soften my lips when they’re feeling a bit flaky and dry (niiiiice). It does smell of liquorice but actually doesn’t really taste of it at all. Definitely not after being on your lips a while. As someone who HATES liquorice this was fine! It’s available to buy from www.skinshop.co.uk.

Have you bought any new fitness gear lately?

Do you wear lip balm?

Game of Thrones fan? Any crazy theories?

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent the lip balm for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**