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.**

Rants and Raves #37

Happy Friday Eve! It’s so strange to me that this is my last Thursday at work… I only have five working days left. I finish next Wednesday then have Thursday and Friday off before starting at Wiggle on Monday. I’m not panicking… yet! Anyway, on to some good ol’ rants and raves.

Rant: Still not running. Dwelling on this is both boring and pointless. I’m cross-training at the gym (elliptical machine. Woo). Fingers crossed it won’t be long. It doesn’t feel like an injury that will put me out for weeks and weeks, but with me you never know. As I said though, ZERO regrets. So can’t complain really.

Rave: While I was on holiday my parents took Alfie to the groomers for me. I’d intended on doing this before (or after) I’d gone to Austria but my parents were taking their dogs so it made sense while they were looking after Alfie. They sent me a photo while I was away so I could see how dapper he looked.They kept his beard thankfully (he’d be practically naked otherwise). My parents upgraded his grooming from the standard one to the super duper pampering which, I’m not even joking, included a blueberry facial. I mean, what? Now I love Alfie, but would I get him a blueberry facial? No. I see Alfie as the Bear Grills of the dog world. He’s a basic pooch. But apparently he enjoyed it. Traitor.

Rant: Having said I see Alfie as a “Bear Grills dog” I might need to backtrack somewhat. When it comes to thunder and lightning he’s such a wuss. He freaks out. He trembles, whimpers, barks, paces… and I do try to be sympathetic and cuddle him but at 2am in the morning my sympathy can somewhat wane a little. I had to put the light on and some music to try and cover up the weather. Neither of which are any more conducive to a good night’s sleep. But it’s fine because Alfie has all day to sleep so don’t worry, his sleeping hours probably wasn’t affected. *Sighs*.

Rave: I’ve mentioned a few times that my dad has been steadily losing weight using Slimming World. My mum and him go every week and, bless him, he always texts me how it goes (how much they lost or gained).He started last September and he’s already lost three stone. That’s obviously quite a lot in under a year but his starting point was quite high. He didn’t make any crazy drastic cuts but just became more conscious about what he was eating and making better choices. He became aware he was eating far too much bread, having extra slices with main meals and as snacks, and he wasn’t eating as many vegetables.

So in reality his meals haven’t changed a great deal, just tweaked a bit, and beer, bread and chocolate kept in moderation. He’s done it in a very slow and sensible way. Losing a lot of weight quickly because you’ve made huge changes to your diet simply to reach a lofty weight-loss goal is never going to be sustainable. My dad still goes out to dinner, still has the odd pudding, he still drinks beer and he still enjoys his food without being hungry or changing his lifestyle in a radical way. Weight-loss and then keeping to that target weight can only happen if you see yourself doing it forever. There’s no point in trying to reach a certain goal and then reverting back to your old ways.

As you can imagine, I’m hugely proud of him. He says he did this because my mum and I were nagging him, but I know that this isn’t entirely true. We’ve nagged him for years. He did this on his own and for himself, and really that’s the best way to do it.

Rave: OK OK I’ve gone a bit marathon crazy with the ones I’ve already signed up to. The New Forest (10th September), Bournemouth (8th October) and Brighton (15th April). And a cheeky one to start 2018…I mean, let’s just quickly put the standard Anna Disclaimer in: who knows if I’ll make any of these marathons (see above Rant 1). But the intent is firmly there. A few people have said that this marathon is rather dull as it’s pretty much all on a boring bit of main road. That may be so, but it’s a “big” marathon that attracts a lot of elites and fanfare due to the prize money and I’ve never been to Dubai so for me it’s more about exploring a different country and being part of something quite exciting. Plus the flights are cheap and the lovely Lily will hopefully be able to show me her favourite avocado on toast haunts. (And there’s a Cheesecake Foactory…).

Rant: My neighbour having a full on rave at 1am. I was particularly tired that evening and not in the mood for his loud music and continuous opening and slamming of his front door. In a perhaps ill-judged move, I went out in my PJ’s and told him sternly to turn it down (#grandmastatus). To be fair to him, he looked very abashed and promptly quietened it all down (perhaps my crazy nighttime hair scared him?).

Rave: Spotted this adorable little fella on my way to grab a coffee in the local Costa.He was just plodding along down the path. I was a bit worried as there’s usually a cat which hangs out down this path but when I walked back down the path later at lunch the cat was just sat next to him without even glancing at him/her.

Rave: Bamboo Towels! I’ve recently been sent some luxury gym towels from The Towel ShopOne of my biggest pet peeves is people not wiping down equipment when at the gym. I mean, it is GROSS. I try not to think about the amount of dried sweat, dirt and bacteria on the equipment when I’m using it and will often over up a seat with a towel to help matters. This is actually really good timing to have been sent these towels as my current white one is looking a bit sorry for itself (and has bright yellow stains on it from where my BCAA’s in my water have dripped on it – making me wonder what it’s doing to my insides…).

Anyway, these towels are SO soft. Like unreal soft.  They’re made with bamboo fibres (ooh er!). They are also three times more absorbent than a standard towel and have anti-fungal properties (ideal for gym use!). They’re also eco-friendly and available in six different colours.I personally love the silver colour. I have a few different sizes – a couple of hand towels and a bigger one which I’ll be using as a bath towel. OMG so soft.

I washed them before using them (I don’t actually do this with clothes or anything – I know that might be a bit weird but I’m not that bothered). With towels I find you need to wash them first otherwise they don’t really “work” if you know what I mean. But after washing and tumble drying, they’re fantastic. Super absorbent. And I love using the smaller towels at the gym. It fits nicely into my gym bag!

Do you wash new clothes before wearing them?

Have you ever tried Slimming World or Weight Watchers?

How noisy are your neighbours?

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

Life Update

So I thought I’d do a little post updating you on a few changes in my life. Being almost 30 (OK, I’ve only just 29) and divorced isn’t exactly where I saw my life going but it is what it is.

Being divorced is not really a fun thing to admit when you start to get to know people, like on the Austrian Run Camp. “Is there a Mr Anna?”… “well there was” and you feel a bit rubbish. That said, I do try to maintain a positive outlook in life because I’m a glass half full kind of girl and I live by the notion of learning from experience and regretting nothing (including when I eat stupid amounts of cake).

But I digress. I’m still single and pretty chilled about it. I’ve been dabbling with Plenty of Fish a bit (I don’t and won’t use Tinder) but it’s pretty rubbish. As you can imagine, as a free way to online date it’s not great. I haven’t had experience with paying for online dating so I can’t comment there but I’m not at the point where I feel I want to pay yet…

I’ve been on a few dates but the effort level to get to those dates is just so laborious. I don’t want to know someone’s family history before going on a date, but because arranging a date with a virtual stranger is actually quite daunting the temptation to keep messaging and messaging is strong. And though the dates themselves have been alright and the guys seem nice enough, so far it’s been a no beuno for me.

Unfortunately for me it seems all the guys I fancy are either taken or live a distance away and probably have no idea I’m interested (because I don’t really “make moves”). But as I’ve said previously, I’m OK with my singleness at the moment. Sure it’d be nice to share some fun with someone else but I’m fairly happy with my current existence.

I have to say though a few months ago I wasn’t so happy. I mean, I was happy in myself, in my running, my friends and things like that, but I haven’t been happy with work. And actually work is a fairly significant chunk of your life. At least eight hours a day, five days a week, not including commuting (at least two hours a day for me). I’ve been finding myself more and more unsatisfied and frustrated. I’ve been a software test analyst for over five years at my current job in Basingstoke and over the past year realised it wasn’t actually what I wanted to do for the foreseeable future.

And once you realise that, it can really get you down. I want to be one of those people who enjoys what they do. I know everyday at work shouldn’t be a song and a dance, full of rainbows and butterflies, but at the same time I want to feel some level of fulfilment, pride and ambition in what I do. I’ve lost that with my current job sadly.

So I started looking for a new job a few months ago in an entirely different career. As it’s an entirely different area where I have limited, if any, experience it’s somewhat of a big change. And a pay cut. I have thought long and hard about this. I’m paid quite well in my current job and have limited outgoings and dependencies, meaning my life is quite easy and comfortable. I can go on holidays, book marathons, buy trainers (*cough* leggings) and eat out when I fancy. But these luxuries are no longer distracting me from the fact that I’m not enjoying the eight plus hours during the week.

Money is not giving me happiness right now. So I’m heading to a new challenge…

Yes they did send Haribo with my job offer

After the rather depressing and soul destroying process of applying to millions of different places, rarely hearing back, getting rejected, going for a few interviews, I finally landed myself a job with none other than Wiggle! This is obviously right up my street in terms of my interests and passions and so much closer to where I actually live as well. Happy days all round!

I haven’t started there yet. I still have a few weeks left of my notice to work at my current job, but needless to say I am both excited and TERRIFIED. Starting a new job is always scary. Will people like me? Will I fit in? Will I pick things up quickly? A million concerns are flowing through my head right now. And the pay cut weighing heavily on my mind.

But the time is now. I need to make that change. Someone told me a great quote from the Lean In book from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO. She said that a career is more like a jungle gym than a ladder. You don’t necessarily keep moving up, but you keep striving to move forward. Sometimes you need to make side-steps or step-backs in order to progress. I’d like to think that’s exactly what I’m doing. Fingers crossed, eh?

And now for a quick review for an Organic Pillow Spray.This organic lavender spray is made in Grasse in Southern France (the “perfume capital of the world” apparently) and aims to help with insomnia and sleep issues. Lavender is well known for it’s calming properties and is often used in sleep aids. The forumla contains Litsea Cubeba and Bergamot which are also associated with relaxation and Lemon and Rosemary to promote blood circulation.

All you do is spray it onto your sheets and pillows before bed. Crucially it’s non-staining! You can buy a 100ml bottle from healthy2u.co.uk for £9.95. I personally love the smell of lavender and have enjoyed spraying this around. I don’t tend to struggle with getting to sleep but the smell is a lovely one to drift off to. Though they could have made the bottle a bit more appealing to be honest! It looks a bit like something from a chemistry lab…

When was the last time you changed jobs?

Have you ever made a big career change?

Do you use any sleeping aids?

**Full Disclaimer: I was send the pillow spray for free in return for a blog review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**