Boudavida Women’s 10km

After deciding not to run Richmond marathon I was really looking forward to taking part in the Boudavida Women’s 10km. I was grateful to have been given a place as part of the ThisGirlCanRun10 team, part of the brilliant, wider, This Girl Can initiative. 

The race took place in Windsor Great Park. I had never been before, but through a great deal of Instagram stalking, I knew I was in for a scenic treat. I most certainly wasn’t disappointed, it’s the most beautiful course I’ve run in the UK to date. 

Race kit was laid out the night before, shorts, tank top and my Hoka One Ones. Watch, headphones and phone were charged. Had a soak in the bath and a foam roller session before an early night.

The alarm was set for 6:15am, which for someone who is not a morning person is painfully early, it also meant that it was distinctly chilly and I decided to ditch the shorts in favour of full length 2xu compression tights. Arriving at 9am the sun was already shining and by the time I was on the start line I was deeply regretting my outfit choice, particularly as it was all black!

We drove to the race and there was amble parking available free of charge. If you were looking to go by public transport, the train station is around a 1.5 mile walk to the start. The race village had the nicest toilets I’ve ever visited at a race, they smelt delightful and there weren’t even any queues! 


Stood on the start line there was lots of chatter, from beating PBs to ladies running their first 10km, I spoke to a group who had all trained together and were about to embark on their first ever race. I felt a buzz of excitement for them, I warned them there was likely to be pain and frustration along the way but that feeling as they crossed the finish line would make it all worth while.

I had no intention on going for a PB, but I hoped to come in a smidge under my last 10km race in July. I set off planning just to run and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The first 1km involved quite a steep hill, but with a fantastic statute looming and the excitement of getting started I was distracted from the incline. 


The entire course was a series of relatively steep hills with short stretches of flat in between. Despite the combination of hills and heat I was determined that I wasn’t going to let myself slow to a walk, because if I allowed it just once it would be a mental battle the rest of the race. So I employed the slow plod, with arms pumping up hill and free falling letting my legs gather some speed on the way back down. 

At 4km on a particularly steep descent, I had a very near miss when my new “extremely high impact” sports bra, which does up at the front decided to unzip; luckily I caught it in the nick of time, but it gives you an idea of just how much speed I was managing to gather down hill. 


The scenery was stunning and definitely somewhere I would recommend making the trip to go for a run / walk. I ran alongside horses and cows, over ponds I wanted to jump in to cool down and past quaint little houses. 


Then just when I didn’t think it could get any better I turned the corner and ran the 1.5km stretch downhill towards Windsor Castle, it was magnificent. 

Crossing the finish line, a smidge under as hoped, I was swiftly given water and a Meridian peanut butter bar and another piece of bling to add to the collection. It was a real bonus to be able to keep walking around afterwards, rather than having to queue. 


The race was brilliantly organised from start to finish and the number of participants allowed for plenty of room on the course and in the race village. If you can stomach the hills I would definitely recommend it for 2017. Next year I’m definitely tempted to do Windsor Half Marathon which takes place the same weekend in the same beautiful setting. 


Post race snap with Sasha and Claire 

This was the first race I ran in my Hoka One One Clifton 3s, by coincidence they also happened to be an official sponsor. I loved them in training for their lightweight, bouncy but yet supportive feel and they performed just as well on race day! Not a blister, hot spot or foot pain in sight. Don’t be put off by how big they look, they are in no way heavy or clumpy. 


Post race I was excited to visit the Boudavida stand, a new activewear collection that has only just launched. I had seen the pieces online but was keen to have a feel of the materials in real life. In post race euphoria it’s probably best they were only exhibiting rather than selling because I would have bought it all! I definitely have my eye on several of their tops and a beautifully crafted running jacket. 

The rest of the day we combined with pottering around the sites of Windsor, eating lunch by the river and being astounded by the sheer number of swans. All in all a fantastic way to spend a Saturday. We won’t talk about me getting ridiculously sun burnt running for just an hour in late September….. 

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The countdown is on!

A calendar month today I will have completed my second marathon (18 September). I haven’t done an update on how my training is going after my 100 mile run commute challenge and I thought it was about time.

So currently I have mixed feelings. One day I’m ready and raring to see how much I can smash my current marathon time by and proudly place another shiny bit of bling on the dresser. The next I’m in despair that I’m going to be putting my body through another 26.2 miles. This generally reflects the days I run well and those where my legs refuse to co-operate. 
Here’s my super concentrated/I’m really scared face from the Track Mafia X Nike Run Club event, which I pull every time someone asks how the training is going: 

I’ve had several very successful 4-8 mile runs but my most recent attempt at running 10 miles left me a little crushed. I hate giving up but it was a Friday night and I really wasn’t enjoying it, the shins hurt and so I stopped at 6 miles. 

Really I ought to be up to 14-16 miles at this stage in my training and I’m panicking slightly as a result. Consequently I think I’m putting even more pressure on the runs to be “successful” and inevitably mentally struggling even more when they aren’t. 

Basically I need to chill out. 

This is me finishing strong, the speed lap I was so terrified about messing up for my team and in front of lots of people. Moral, I need to doubt myself less:  

Thank you to the lovely Georgia and Laura for the all important snaps.

Part of me takes comfort in the fact that I’ve done it before so I can do it again. But then I am perfectly aware that you need to respect the distance. I’m concerned the former is making me a little lackadaisical and I’m a little annoyed at myself for not taking training as seriously as I intended. Life just got in the way. 

So the plan for the next four weeks is to get in a 13, 15, 18 and 20 miler. Not necessarily in that order. Time to download some new podcasts. I’d be grateful for any recommendations to see me through. 

100 miles run commute 

I am not a morning person. As I stumbled off the train a little before 9am a leaflet was shoved into my hand. I glanced and shoved it into my bag and it wasn’t until 15 minutes later, consuming my first coffee of the day, I recollected the title – 9 day line closures. Groaning I dug it out and began to profusely swear. 9 whole days my blissful commute, 1 direct train taking 35 minutes was going to be disrupted. Looking at the alternative routes suggested I continued to Eff and Blind, it would take close to 2 hours each way. 
I live exactly 10 miles, front door to office. I scoffed to my colleague that I could run ten miles quicker than that. That’s when it popped into my head, I should just run it and save the £38 my travel card costs at that. With all the optimism in the world I did the maths, 10 miles each way, 20 miles a day, 5 day, that would mean running 100 miles on a week. A 100 mile run commute; it had a ring to it. 

The lovely Pro Direct Running team sent me a lovely pair of Saucony Triumph ISO 2 to keep my feet moving through out the week and some amazing Asocs/Nike running kit. I’ve never run in a pair of Sauconys before but have always been aware they are a serious runner’s brand so they gave me a sense of confidence. During the movements I was trudging along they also provided something colourful to stare at and were super comfortable. I realised j probably ought to have broken them in first, there wasn’t the opportunity but I survived an entire week blister free. The snug fit took some adjusting to but it definitely helped me feel as if my ankles were secure and supported. 


I started off with abundant enthusiasm. Screw TFL and their cancellations, with every step I took I felt a sense of defiance that I wasn’t at the hands of their inadequate service; I’m still very bitter from how barely the Forest Hill sink hole was dealt with a few weeks ago. 

I reached work on day one and I was exhausted. I certainly felt more awake than normal but the prospect of a full day’s work did not appeal. By lunchtime I was guzzling coffee at an alarming rate. Something. Which escalated as the week went on. 
Returning home home and completing my first 20 miles I felt a real sense of achievement. It was only the third time I’ve ever run that distance in a single day. The eight/nine hour gap in between the runs had refreshed my legs and it was beginning to feel like this would be a long term viable option. 
Crawling out of bed an hour earlier than normal the following morning, with somewhat aching legs I soon changed my mind. Trying to run home that evening my legs were starting to protest. 

Wednesday and Thursday were in all honesty horrid. By this point I had already exceeded my weekly mileage, the DOMS extended to my arms, neck, shoulders and back and I realised I had been a little unrealistic in thinking I could just plunge myself into such a challenge. My knee, which had never presented any issues, started to niggle and then really hurt and my shin splits were back with vengeance. At this point it distinctly became a case of walking with the odd spur of energy allowing me to jog. I had very little energy was very sore and my appetite was off the charts. I was also extremely grumpy and snappy. I nearly bit the head off a staff member in Tescos when there was no calorie free Lucazade in the chiller, I did not want it luke warm….. 

Friday and I was so ready for it to be over. I walked the majority of 20 miles, maybe only running for 7 or 8. I reached home and promptly collapsed. In that moment I was immensely proud at my determination but also acknowledged my stupidity. I hadn’t respected the distance and had risked injury to the detriment of my marathon training. But still, proud. 

Then I found out that TFL were calculating their nine days from Monday to the following Tuesday not Saturday to the following Sunday that I had envisaged. There’s no way I’m doing another 40 miles on the coming Monday/Tuesday. However I have discovered there is a nice little run to be done from Wapping to my office which is just under 4 miles and I plan to encorporae the into my routine more often. It will certainly save me the cost of travelling through Zone 1.

This week has been a real kick starter for getting my marathon training back on track, which if I’m being honest has been somewhat lacking and there are only 6 weeks to go. It’s also reinforced just how much I am not ready to take on an ultra and need to stick to marathons. 

So any suggestions for what I can spend the £38 I saved from my travel card this week? 

Lululemon’s Sweat Life Festival 

Last Saturday Lululemon held the eagerly awaited Sweatlife Festival at Tobacco Dock. The best of London’s fitness studios and health food/drinks companies came together to create a fantastic day of sweat. 


Tickets were prices at £20 which considering what classes were on offer was an absolute bargain. I was very grateful to Oppo Ice cream for my tickets but would had paid to go regardless. It was also a particularly special occasion as I managed to persuade my fitness phobe sister to join me and she enjoyed it! She has no idea what I’m going to be trying to convince her to do with me from now on! 
We arrived around lunch time and soaked up the buzzing atmosphere. There were sweaty exhausted looking faces and those eagerly awaiting their first class. I was in my element. 


We started off with an hour long vinyasa yoga class with Marc Hatvani. I haven’t done yoga in so long and with my tight runner’s muscles it showed. It was a definite reminder I need to try a get one class in a week. Feeling beautifully stretched I was pleased to just about get into a wheel. My sister made me laugh saying she felt like a 5 year old again being told to put her feet and legs over her head. Something else she said really made me think, at the very end Marc was talking about letting go of everything, to stop judging yourself and others and yet in the background there was a photographer continually clicking away. Attending fitness events I guess I am used to there being a photographer present bit of did make me think whether you can fully let go of yourself and give your all during a class/yoga practice if you are aware there if someone snapping away. Just a little something to think about.


Post yoga class we explored the healthy products on offer and sat enjoying a pot of Oppo Ice Cream, if you haven’t tried it I suggest you get yourself down to Waitrose/Co-op asap, it’s guilt free indulgence at its finest. 

Other than classes there were lots of mini challenges and competitions dotted around the venue. In particular the “Hang challenge”, how hard could it be? The record was around 2mins 10 seconds at the time we had a go. Well less than 29 seconds in my hands were slipping and I remembered I have absolutely no upper body strength! I didn’t last long after that. 


Of course no festival is complete without a crazy photobooth and Lululemon stepped it up a knot and had a GIF photobooth. We definitely had more than one go – http://gfgf.io/gallery/Sweatlife/474354

A Psycle and a Kobox class later, I left with a sweaty content smile on my face, this was definitely my sort of festival. Fingers crossed it will be back next year! 

A Weekend in Warsaw

I was very fortunate to win a competition hosted by Faya Nilsson, a wellbeing ambassador for Westin Hotels & Resorts for a trip to Warsaw. (Head over to her Instagram for incredibly fitness inspiration @fitnessontoast)

It was my first time in Warsaw and if I’m honest it’s not somewhere that was even on my radar to visit. If you are thinking the same be sure to read on.


Warsaw is around a two hour flight from London Luton and then our hotel was only a 10-15 minute drive from the airport so I wasn’t left feeling at all groggy after travelling. We stayed at The Westin Warsaw and absolutely loved the hotel. Minus a roof top pool with a pink flamingo, there was everything you could possibly want and more. We had an executive room on the top level, 20 floors up in the clouds. 

Whilst you are on holiday it’s so easy to fall into bad habits. Westin have designed a specific wellbeing range to help you maintain your healthy lifestyle whilst away from home and “Stay Well”.
Let’s start with the room. A bed, bath, rainfall shower, fluffy rope and slippers all from the ‘Heavenly’ wellbeing range. At home we have an amazing Superking bed so we are often disappointed, but it was the best night sleep I’ve ever had in a hotel. I woke up feeling relaxed, refreshed and raring to explore. 

The staff were all lovely, very welcoming and the service was fantastic through out our stay. It was such a thoughtful touch to have a fruit platter and chilled water brought to our room within minutes of us arriving. 

Breakfast was like an Instagram smoothie bowl station that I wish I had access to every day. I did a lot of swooning. It made starting the day off on a healthy note even easier with a wide selection of fresh fruit and Westin’s Superfoods range. No doubt I would have opted for the ‘treat your self it’s a holiday’ cooked breakfast instead.

The hotel is fitted out with a gym and sauna. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the gym equipment, which was all state of the art and the free space available for stretching and floor work. A lovely and convenient touch is that Westin have partnered with New Balance and offer a kit lending service. So if unlike me you don’t want to use up 90% of your luggage for activewear and trainers, they will be happy to kit you out. So you avoid the dilemma of trainers being too bulky to pack or not being able to workout. 

I only used the gym once for a quick speed treadmill run and some stretching as I wanted to use the opportunity to “run explore” the city. It was delightfully flat! Having banked a decent amount of miles each day I was more than happy to take advantage of the complimentary prosecco on offer in the Executive Club lounge from 6-8pm. Another superb perk. 

Now for the highlights of our discoveries:

The Vistula / “Wisla” River

Along the banks of the river there are six sandy beaches. In between the beaches are boats with restaurants/bars on deck and pop up bars/food stalls. Beautifully relaxing by day and the hub of summer nightlife come dark. 

I loved sitting by the water, cold beer in hand, getting my toes in the sand post run; an added bonus when you are in a city. One of the beaches even did water-sports, given more time I would have loved to go kayaking or jet skiing. Handy tip, there is a free boat taxi service across the river between the beaches. 
The Old Town

In contrast to the sleek modern skyscrapers where our hotel was located, the Old Town had a wonderfully quaint charm about it. The buildings were stunning, they oozed character and history. The star of the Old Town is the main square, where we were able to sit, eat, drink and soak up the atmosphere. A particular favourite was “The Wine Garden” although after a glass in midday heat it went straight to my head.


Old Town of Warsaw – “Jesteś piękna” (You are beautiful) 

The Palace of culture and Science

This has to be the most eye catching building in all of Warsaw and until recently it was the tallest at 231 metres high. For a small entry fee of 20zl (approx £4) you can be whizzed up to the viewing gallery on the 30th floor for a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. In general we found everything to be very reasonably priced (particularly compared to London).

The University Library Rooftop Garden

There are two levels to the beautiful garden connected by a cascading stream of water and a staircase, allowing access between the two and a stunning view as you ascend/descend. 


On the upper level there is a viewing platform providing fantastic views over the river and a series of paths and bridges connecting the various segments of the gardens. With each corner I turned, I was gasping and pointing at another intricate element of the garden’s design. I really couldn’t recommend it more and entry to the gardens is free.

We were extremely lucky with the weather, 30 Degrees, blue skies and sat on the beach/river bank/in the Old Town Square and I felt like I was on holiday in a Mediterranean country.  The Westin Warsaw is one of the best hotels I’ve ever stayed in and I would definitely seek out a Westin where ever my adventures take me next. I came home after just three days and two nights feeling full of culture, history and wanderlust.

Warsaw you exceeded expectations. 

Pokemon Go

I’ve never been one for electronic games, other than a little Candy Crush to kill time when there isn’t any signal and I’ve not got a book to hand. I did however feel somewhat nostalgic when I heard Pokemon was going to be available as a phone app. I had no plans to download it, I wasn’t ten years old again.

Then the hype began….. and I thought that perhaps it would be interesting to see what all the fuss was about and as research for a blog post to consider whether the game really could help make people more active as it claimed. 

With the app installed I wandered to Crystal Palace Park, somewhere I assumed lots of Pokemon would enjoy lurking. I was genuinely astounded about the number of young people in groups, hurrying between spots, frantically tapping at their phones before dashing to the next spot; there was a genuine buzz amongst groups of teenagers who I never seen do anything but lie on the grass looking un-phased by the world. 

  
 Next were groups of grown men. I do not mean to be offensive but I was genuinely pleased to see people who, granted I’m making assumptions,  were overweight and looked like they would normally spent a Saturday in the pub together. Instead they were doing laps of the park. 

Now I’m not a parent, so maybe I’ve judged too soon but I absolutely detest allowing children to be glued to various devices playing electronic games; as opposed to parents taking them to the park or swimming. So I’ve been pleased to see parents walking around the parks with their children, even if they are both staring at their phones, they are interacting and getting some fresh air. 

So thats three demographics that I’ve seen Pokemon has got out and about. Crucial to this is that you have to walk about to play the game. But what about people who are active on a daily basis?

I definitely don’t need a game to get me out and about. That said, on the way to work in the morning I’ve found myself leaving ten minutes earlier to walk the long way to the station and going out of my way up and down streets to visit “Poke Stops”.  I did notice a marginal increase on my daily steps but the count is hardly low to start with.

  
On Monday morning I went through the ordeal of a molar tooth extraction. Beforehand the dentist said no exercise for Monday/Tuesday and then only light exercise for the rest of the week. I told the dentist that I was training for a marathon but would stick to a  jog no speed work. He raised an eyebrow. Apparently jogging is not considered light exercise. But I had Pokemon go and surely walking was light exercise. Needless to say I’m now Level 9 and have nearly 100 Pokemon. I seriously need to delete the app, I’d rather just go for a stroll and take in the natural scenery. 

Today a senior colleague wanted to get ahead of his girlfriend by the time he got home and asked if I wanted to go for a quick Pokemon hunting walk at lunchtime; we usually don’t leave our desks unless it’s the 7 mins it takes me to make it to Tesco Express and back. Mid-walk I had a moment of clarity, I was a little addicted and I wasn’t the only one who had caught the bug. 

  
That said, I am extremely disturbed by the stories I’ve heard of people falling off cliffs, getting stuck in Mines, lurking on people’s front gardens and disrespecting venues such as the holocaust memorial. The warning as the game loads clearly states – “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings”. It’s a bit of fun and it’s great if it gets people outside walking but unfortunately there will always be people who take it to the extreme in the quest to “Catch them all”. 

Vitality British 10k race recap

Last time I ran a 10km race was the West Run London in November 2015 so I was intrigued to see how I had progressed over the eight months. The time difference between the two was considerable, 12 minutes, but in the wrong direction; slower. 
I’m disappointed to say the least but I think I’ve been running long enough now to be at peace with the fact that some days runs just don’t go to plan. Unfortunately, this can often be on race day. 
Just last Saturday I comfortably ran 10km in under an hour. In the week leading up to the race I had a tooth infection and having been prescribed anti-biotics was told to rest to give my body the best chance to recover. I ran a total of 2 miles all week, just to shake my legs out the day before. I was also dosed up on strong pain killers most of the week and no doubt there might have been a build up in my system. I’m not trying to find excuses for my poor performance rather potential explanations given my recent training runs.

Despite my time and the weather conditions, overall I thought it was a fun race. I also had the opportunity to test out my new 2XU compression socks and Panasonic Wings headphones, both which were super comfortable and functional. 

  
 I started the day meeting up with Sasha, who was a 1hr pacer and Charlie, who was running having been at a wedding the night before. I was never intending on going hard for a PB but thought I’d stick with Sasha and comfortably get round a smidgen under the hour mark. 

  
We set off and there was a good atmosphere, lots of familiar faces in the crowd and I intended to have a sociable fun race. By 2km in I was not happy. It was so humid that I was sweltering and breathing in warm air which isn’t pleasant. The sprinklers pumping out a heavenly cold mist were delightful to run through at various points in the course. My legs felt like concrete and just weren’t co-operating. I dropped back from Sasha at that point and felt rather disappointed in myself because I knew there wasn’t going to be a surge of energy allowing me to catch back up. 

Charlie stopped for the toilet and I plodded on. She soon caught up with me, whilst walking up a hill, grabbed my arm and got me running again but the legs were not planning on going any where fast. 

I decided at the 5km point that I was just going to try and enjoy the rest of the route and soak up the atmosphere. This allowed me to take some snaps here and there whilst running on the traffic free route. 
Westminster Bridge is normally a nightmare to navigate what with the traffic and tourists. I felt quite empowered running along the Embankment, a stretch I hope one day to complete as part of the London Marathon.

There’s no time for selfies when you are gunning for a PB so I made use of the opportunity and embraced Brook’s run happy motto. 

    

There were a times on the course where you looped back on yourself and so could see runners heading in the opposite direction, normally I dislike this but these sections weren’t long and so you soon were heading in the opposite direction and it meant you got to take in more sites of London, like running towards both the London Eye and Houses of Parliament across Westminster bridge and back.

  
  Overall I think the race was well organised, the course route took in a good portion of what Central London has to offer and the atmosphere was fun. 

Pleased to have experienced the British 10k and add another shiny bit of bling to the ever growing collection. I might keep this one by my bed in case of intruders, it’s a big ‘un! 
    

It is a little pricey at £50, I was lucky to have been offered a place but sports capped water bottles and a finishers t-shirt in the mix, it’s worth it for the whole race package. Would be a nice excuse for a weekend in London for any non London runners. The only thing I can fault was the weather and my legs which is a pretty strong recommendation.

  
 If you are thinking of running the British 10k or any other Vitality races, feel free to ask any questions. 

There was of course the obligatory post-run lunch. If you haven’t tried Five Guys you are missing a trick, think American Burger King.