Saturday, 29 June 2013

Nakd Bars : New flavours!

I can't remember when I discovered Nakd bars but they've been a regular in my lunchbox and kitchen cupboard (and occasionally, fruit bowl) for a long time now.

Nakd bars are ("gleefully") made by Natural Balance Foods and are made from natural, raw ingredients such as fruits and nuts which are "smooshed" together into a handy bar form. They are vegan-friendly, wheat and dairy free, and the ingredients lists are reassuringly brief. I like them because they're better for me than a regular cereal bar, most clocking in around the 100-150 calorie range and count as one of my 5-a-day. The consistency is sort of squidgy but the nuts are not ground to dust so you still get quite a bit of texture.

There's a wide range of flavours and I've tried most of them. In the oaty bar range you have Apple Pie*, Banana Bread, Cocoa Loco and Berry Cheeky. In the fruit bar range there's Berry Delight, Cocoa Orange*, Cocoa Delight, Cocoa Mint, Cashew Cookie*, Ginger Bread*, Pecan Pie*... and recently Caffe Mocha and Rhubarb & Custard in addition to a new range of crunch bars in Apple, Strawberry, Banana and Chocolate varieties.

I happened upon the Rhubarb & Custard and Strawberry and Banana crunch bars on offer in the supermarket recently (there's nearly always an offer on) and couldn't resist giving them a try.

The Rhubarb & Custard bar is really lovely. How they manage to get it to taste like that without including either ingredient is quite amazing, but I guess it's more to do with suggestion than anything. There's a subtle warming vanilla hit that must be from the "natural flavours" rather than the dates, cashews and raisins that are the main ingredients. The texture reminds me of a good light sticky toffee pudding... it's not as dense as the banana bread bar but there's still a good bit of chew there. It's not just going to melt in your mouth and leave you wondering if you ever had it at all. 

The Banana crunch bar is lighter in texture than the Banana Bread bar, more moist, and the crunchies are a really lovely addition. I thought it was really tasty and is still incredibly low in calories. The Strawberry crunch bar is similarly moist and reminds me of strawberry shortcakes with the crunchies. I'm not usually a fan of strawberry things (even though I adore strawberries) but I think I like this even more than the Banana Crunch bar! It did a good job of fuelling me through a 4 mile run and I found that all the bar kept hunger at bay for a good few hours, making them an ideal mid afternoon snack.

If these sound like your sort of thing, look out for them in the supermarkets and healthfood stores (often two packs for £4) or grab some selection packs from the website to try. This post was not sponsored, I just really love nakd bars!

* my favourites

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Less Attack, More Threaten

Do you ever have periods of time when exercising just doesn't quite seem like it's hitting the spot? I'm going through a phase like that at the moment. When I add up everything I'm doing, it's a fair amount. It just doesn't *feel* like very much. I'm getting periods of lethargy and restlessness, procrastination and frustration. It's all a bit odd, but soon I'm hoping I'll find a rhythm.

I've been taking part in a couple of challenges lately, to work up to 100 consecutive press ups (on my toes), 250 squats and 150 crunches so most days I've been doing a combination of these and can't remember the last time my glutes *didn't* ache.

Last week featured my first swim since the 1500m, a Body Attack class and a PT session. I'd hoped, yet again, to get to a track session with running club but it was not to be, so no dedicated running session; that all starts this week. My swim was lovely. I think I did 20 lengths in total, 6 of which were front crawl, but not consecutive. I'm working up to that but it felt easier than I'd expected, my goggles didn't leak and I didn't have to dodge cleaners in the changing area afterwards, so all good!

Body Attack was a new experience for me. It was a new release day and we had two instructors sharing the class. I don't know if this is normal but it could well be, the energy levels that are required. Anyway, it was an hour of jogging and jumping with some core work thrown in, which made me sweat a LOT but I'm not sure what else it achieved. I learnt that burpees are exhausting, I cannot tuck jump and that it's compulsory to sing along. I think I prefer running for my CV and for classes to either make me ache or stretch me out so I may not be doing another. It's very high energy though, if you're into aerobics classes.

For my PT session, Dave had dreamt up a cool little circuits class outside followed by some laps of the astroturf pitch we were using getting faster from 1 minute to 20 seconds. I surprised him with the speed I was capable of! After that I took off on my little microadventure involving a 3mile-ish walk along the Thames Path. I saw my friend Alex at the weekend for what may have been only the second time this year, and we compared notes on our marathons (Brighton and London), found out we'd both signed up to do at least one more, and talked training plans. We're hoping to go to Nice in February to do the Rock 'n' Roll 10 miler there as a training run. How cool would that be? It got me a little more motivated.
This week so far I went for a 4.2 mile run with the lovely Amy along the Basingstoke Canal starting at Frimley Lodge Park (site of the Frimley parkrun), which really energised me and got me back into running where I've previously failed, and I used AudioFuel to get me through an intervals session this evening. My attempt to try out a Group Kick class was thwarted for a second week running so I finally did the gym programme that Dave set up for me about 6 weeks ago... and it was good! Didn't manage to fit in a swim, it's been such a hectic week.

I have Friday off and I'm heading for a long weekend in Bath with my mum so I won't be doing any strenuous exercise, just some wandering around town and gliding around the spa.

If anyone's got any tips for fitting in and getting enthused about exercising/training when life is manic I'm all ears.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Aspire Drinks : Two Week Challenge

I've been lucky enough to have been chosen to test out a new and improved drink called Aspire, a lightly carbonated soft drink that claims to increase your metabolism, helping you to burn calories. I've been sent 28 cans of the Cranberry flavoured beverage and for the next two weeks will be consuming two cans a day and keeping a food and exercise diary. I'm in the habit of recording my body fat %, weight and certain key measurements each Monday which I'll also continue to do in an attempt to quantify what difference this drink makes. I currently weigh 60kg, have a BMI of 19% and a body fat rating of 24.7%. This is what I look like on day one of the challenge.

I've never tried anything like this before and am usually quite sceptical of any claims along these lines, generally believing that you can achieve almost any weight loss goal through a diet of largely unprocessed foods but I'm curious. The drink is apparently best served chilled and according to the website the main ingredients are green tea extract, guarana extract, ginger and L-carnitine, whatever that is. I had my first can this morning with breakfast instead of my usual glass of juice. A serving is 250ml and is 12 calories. It's available at Waitrose and Holland & Barrett amongst others. Holland & Barrett currently have this on sale for £1.79 or 2 for £2.68. If you take it as suggested, the cost really adds up. I generally steer away from carbonated drinks, unless it's soda or tonic water, so it felt odd having something fizzy at breakfast. The taste was quite pleasant though although the colour's rather shocking!

I had a bagel with jam for breakfast and did not feel the need to have elevenses but have felt quite light headed and a bit dizzy this morning. The instructions I got for the challenge advised me that this drink wasn't suitable for anyone who is sensitive to caffeine, and although I don't consider myself to be particularly affected by caffeine (I typically drink 2-3 cups of tea or coffee a day) this is the sort of feeling I imagine you might get from taking too much on and I didn't like it at all. I had my second can today after a run but before dinner and haven't yet felt the same thing so time will tell whether that was a one off and also what happens when I stop using the drink! I had lunch at midday which was a sort of home-made ploughmans, a satsuma, nakd bar and graze punnet during the afternoon and a dinner of chickpea curry with rice. I'm around 500 calories under my allowance today and don't feel at all hungry, in fact I could have foregone dinner.

I'll post again in about a week's time with an update and again at the end of the two weeks with my verdict.

Have you ever tried Aspire or another "diet" drink? What were your experiences?

Disclaimer: Although this is not a sponsored post I have been sent the drinks to trial free of charge but am under no obligation to write a review, positive or otherwise.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Microadventures. What are they then? Well they're something that Al Humphreys, king of the adventure, has been championing for a while. The basic idea is that you pack up your sleeping bag, put on your walking boots and head out to somewhere you've never been before and sleep out under the stars. Whether you get there by foot, bike, train or river, sleep on a hill or in the woods or by a lake, is all entirely up to you. Go after work during the week, go on a weekend, whatever works for you but get out of your comfort zone a little and have some fun!

At least two summer solstices have gone by where I've wanted to get out and camp or stay up all night and watch the sun rise but this year, spurred on by the solstice microadventure challenge I shunned the Blues on the Farm festival and got out there.

Despite much concern from my family I packed up my sleeping bag, mat, newly acquired bivy bag, map, water, food, torch and toothbrush and caught the train to Tilehurst. My plan was to walk from Tilehurst to Pangbourne along the Thames Path, go up through Whitchurch-on-Thames to a clearing in a wooded area on a hill. Unfortunately I set off a bit late and it took me longer than expected to walk to Pangbourne so rather than wandering through the woods in the dark I settled for an alternative site in Pangbourne Meadow.
As I came out of the station I was walking into the sun and the midges dancing in the light looked magical. I wandered through a patch of housing, giving a cheery greeting to the local scout group, past a field of cows with calves literally gambolling, to Maple Durham Lock. It was a really pretty walk, shared with a couple of runners and dog walkers.

 My first choice camping spot in Pangbourne Meadow was in the vicinity of a playground occupied by teenagers, so I thought better of it. I knew rain was forecast so I wanted a bit of shelter. In the end I opted for a patch of long grass between two big trees. The grass meant I couldn't be seen and the trees gave me comfort if not shelter. After a hasty dinner of rice salad and a swig from the hip flask I settled down for the night.
 I'm not sure how well I slept but I was amazed at how snug I was in the bivy; even when the rain came I stayed pretty dry. I didn't wake up until about 8:20am! The serenity of waking up by the river was wonderful and I felt really brave for having done my first microadventure. I was discovered packing up by two lady dog walkers who were a little concerned about me but I told them, with a big smile, that I was having an adventure and they seemed happy enough with that.
Morning campers!
My view this morning
A short walk to the station, munching an energy bar on the way, and I was heading home feeling a little achy and in need of a good shower. I learnt a lot on this adventure, and would make a few changes if I were to do one again; I'd have liked more time to appreciate the scenery and I'm a bit sorry I didn't see the sunrise. I didn't take any music, or a book and didn't feel the lack of them but checking in with my mum and on twitter meant everyone knew where I was as a safety precaution, and also meant I was able to share my experiences with others also out on their own adventures. Now I'm home, clean, unpacked and with a cup of coffee, Mark Knopfler's album, Privateering, seems like the perfect soundtrack.

Where I slept last night
The only sign I'd been there
I know one or two people have already said that they quite fancy trying this out for themselves which is just fantastic, I'm always very humbled when people are inspired by my actions. Sleeping out is a very liberating experience and you don't need to prep a lot to do it. Just take a look at Al's posts on microadventuring and stay safe. You might get a view a bit like this, or better!
My view this morning

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Post-race Recovery

I write a lot about my training and my races but I don't write so much about kit and nutrition so I thought I'd start adding in a few of these types of posts to spice things up a bit.

As I've got a lot of races coming up, and it does seem to be race season proper now, I decided that I'd start with my post-race routine and recovery strategies and suggestions. Everyone approaches this slightly differently and what works for one person might not work for someone else, particularly in terms of what products we use, but hopefully this will be interesting and perhaps useful if you're starting out or moving to a different distance.

When I started out running I would knock back a bottle of lucozade sport and scoff a banana after every parkrun, but these days I rarely feel the need to eat or drink anything special after a race of this distance. Your body is perfectly capable of fuelling itself over this sort of distance and won't need much help to recover afterwards. If you sweat a lot or it's been particularly hot then by all means, drink some sports drink (lucozade lite is a good option), but just some water or squash will work just as well and be lighter on the calorie count. In terms of food, a banana or a small flapjack is a good option but it's very easy to over estimate how much energy you expend on a run when you start out so take it easy. A 5k will burn around 300 calories. That's a small piece of cake.
Food: A nakd bar or banana if I feel I need it, often I have nothing until my normal meal time
Drink: 500ml water, sipped
Activity: Gentle stretch out. Up and running again the next day.

I've started to develop a bad habit of having an ice cream after my middle distance races. It's probably not advisable but I like it :) I find I do need to eat after a 10k, even if it's something small. Sometimes bananas or fun size chocolates like milky ways are handed out after events and they're perfect but I usually pack something of similar size in case, something of around 100-150 calories, to tide me over until normal meal time. You burnt about 600 calories over 10k but don't be tempted to eat 600 calories there and then, your stomach will grumble. Better to have something small afterwards and just eat a little more at the next meal. I still steer away from sports drinks at this distance but coconut water makes a nice alternative to plain water.
Food: Banana, nakd bar, bounce ball, fun size chocolate bar or a 99 ice cream
Drink: 500ml water or a small carton of vitacoco
Activity: Moderate stretching. Up and running again the next day.

Half Marathon
I get pretty hungry and cold after a half marathon, unless it's a very warm day. I get cold very quickly so layers for afterwards are essential. Sometimes I'll take a whole change of clothes for after the race as I've found that damp clothing saps my heat and I struggle to get warm again. You burn serious calories in a half marathon so it's essential you refuel properly. I'll drink water on the way round the course at water stations if I feel I need it and use 1 or 2 Nectar Fuel gels (as my preferred brand). I find the For Goodness Shakes drinks get into my system really quickly and stop me getting sudden energy crashes.
Food: Banana, cheese and pickle sandwich (sometimes I crave savoury) OR Clif bar. Eat a proper meal within 2-3 hours
Drink: 500ml For Goodness Shakes chocolate drink as soon as possible, water as needed
Activity: Change into dry warm clothes or add warm layers. Lots of stretching over the next 6 hours. Hot bath to warm up and soothe muscles. Foot scrub and moisturise. Rest for the afternoon (assuming it's a morning event). Short run after 1-2 days (although I did once run 8 miles the day after because I felt up to it).

I only have one marathon in the bag (so far) but I use this strategy on almost all of my longer runs. I'll take on water and 4-5 gels during the race, about one every hour.
Food: Sandwich (I'm sick of sweet after all the gels), crisps (for salt), banana or Clif bar if I fancy it, if I know I'm not going to get a proper meal within 2 hours. Proper meal within 2 hours.
Drink: 500ml For Goodness Shakes chocolate drink as soon as possible, water as needed, bubbly as a treat :)
Activity: Change into dry warm clothes or add warm layers. Lots of stretching over the next 12 hours. Hot bath to warm up and soothe muscles. Foot scrub and moisturise. Rest as much as possible. Massage the next day. Short run after 5-7 days.

How does that compare to what you do after a race? What are your preferred brands? If you are approaching one of these distances for the first time does that help you approach your own post-race recovery?

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Dinton Pastures 10k - June

Just a short post... On Thursday I ran the second of the Dinton Pastures 10k series. It was another great evening for running; a little windy but bright and sunny, pretty much perfect conditions. If you read my review of the first event, then there's really very little to add about the race in general. However despite being absolutely beasted at my PT session on Wednesday (one on one circuits class) I managed a new PB!

And that, my friends, is worth a post. Happy running!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Guest Post: It's never too late to start running!

Today I'm delighted to welcome my mum to the blog! My mum only took up running very recently and I thought it might be nice to get a beginners perspective on running and races. I know I'm biased but I'm so proud of what she's achieved and I think she's an inspiration. Obviously my mum and I approach running very differently due to our respective ages and abilities, so without further ado here's my mum with her running story...

Hello, my name is Dee and I am Vikki's mum. As you all know, Vikki runs... a lot. I don't!

I do enjoy keeping fit though and take zumba and body pump classes at my local gym. I also used to go fast walking two or three times a week round our local park for about an hour at a time; that was enough for me! Anyway just over a year ago, Vikki persuaded me to try running, suggesting I start slowly with short bursts of running combined with walking. I found a really good training app for my iPhone called Get Running, a programme that coaches you to run 5k in 9 weeks. It is a really excellent programme, starting you off gently on week one with 8 one minute runs with one and a half minutes walk in between, building gradually till you are running for 30 mins non stop. Running didn't feature in my life at all at the start but I found to be a really easy way to start running and build my stamina. The first time I used it I was very breathless after just one minute of running, but even on the second day out I noticed the difference.

After I had finished this programme and was running at least a couple of times a week, Vikki persuaded me to take part in a parkrun, which had just started up in my local park. I must say, the first time I did it I felt totally knackered at the end, but recovered quickly and was raring to go again. I must confess, I did not go regularly, and once the weather turned, I almost stopped running altogether. I am definitely a fair weather runner! Anyway, in an effort to keep me fit I think, Vikki talked me into doing a 10k run with her, I must have had a few glasses of Pinot or something, because my response was, "oh well it's only two parkruns, so why not"! So I kept waiting for the weather to improve so I could go training again, but as we all know, this year has not seen much sun, so I didn't really start training until about 5 weeks ago :(

Well last weekend we took part in the Trailblazer10k at Bedgebury Pinetum. Luckily it wasn't raining! I was actually quite nervous the day before and on the morning of the run. I didn't think I would be as apart from running a few times a week, I hadn't really thought much about the actual run. Once we got started though I felt fine and actually enjoyed it. Vikki, bless her, ran with me all the way, giving me loads of encouragement along the way, not giving any thoughts to the fact she would come in the slowest she had ever, ever run. The marshals along the route were great too, being really kind, funny and encouraging, even though we were almost at the back of our wave.

I did walk a few times for a minute or so at a time, mainly on the hills. I hadn't give much thought that it may not be flat! Anyway, we finished in one hour 21 minutes. I did feel proud of myself having actually run this far. And the training must continue as Vikki has also persuaded me to take part in the National Lottery Anniversary Run in 6 weeks time. This time though it's only 5 miles :)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Liebster Award

Reading through my RSS feed, as I am want to do, I discovered that the lovely Shruti over at Missy In The Mirror (whom I guest posted for not so long ago) has nominated me for the Liebster Award! I was very touched and a little bit excited.

In essence the Liebster Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers in order to get them more noticed and give them recognition. There's no prizes or anything like that, no voting or bigging up required, but it's lovely nonetheless. In return for the nomination you write a blog post (much like this one) telling the world 11 things about yourself, then answer the 11 questions the person who nominated you gave, then nominate 11 more people and give them 11 more questions to pass along! Tagging back is sort of frowned upon.
Sounds like fun to be, and a little bit different so here goes... my 11 things:
  1. I'm 32 years old.
  2. My favourite colour is purple and I actively avoid pink, especially if it's featured on sports gear.
  3. I've been vegetarian since I was 10 years old.
  4. I have three degrees and use none of them in my work. I also have a diploma and am studying to become a Personal Trainer. I think I'm addicted to learning.
  5. When I was about 16 I had my jaws broken and reset to rectify an overbite. I had my jaws wired, went down to 9 stone (which is majorly thin on someone who's 5'10") and have had metal plates in my jaws ever since.
  6. I catalogue my CDs alphabetically (by surname or band name, ignoring "The") and compilations by genre. I refuse to go digital.
  7. When I was little, being forbidden to read at bed time was the worst punishment.
  8. I have a half plot allotment.
  9. My favourite dessert is sticky toffee pudding, but have been disappointed by many.
  10. I have a habit of trying out new recipes/dishes on people I invite to dinner.
  11. My favourite film of all time is The Blues Brothers
The 11 questions I was set by Shruti are:
  1. Why did you start your blog? What motivates you to continue writing regularly?
    • I started it when I signed up to climb Kilimanjaro for charity, as a way of telling people what I was up to and keep track of my training. I stopped writing so much afterwards but then revived it for this year's charity challenge and have no intention so stopping again. It gives me an outlet for all my health and fitness enthusiasm so I don't bore all my friends and family to tears with it!
  2. What is your holy grail skincare product?
    • Probably Orange Flower Water from Neal's Yard which I use as a toner/cleanser. I love the smell and the freshness of it.
  3. What is your favourite holiday destination (so far)?
    • Chicago. Definitely. I am just in love with the city, the vibe and the sheer variety of things you can do there. Plus it's the setting for my fave film and my bestie lives there so, you know... Otherwise Cornwall, my heart belongs in Cornwall (sigh).
  4. Cream blush or powder blush?
    • Powder, preferably mineral, although I'm very fond of Benefit's Benetint.
  5. If you could only take 3 beauty products with you on a deserted island which ones would you take?
    • Sunscreen, Molton Brown Lip Saver and a bar of Lush's solid shampoo.
  6. What's the one beauty product that you covet most dearly?
    • I don't really... I'm not much into "products" but I think some more Touche Eclat would be amazing. It's a pig to track down and I can't quite seem to part with the money.
  7. What is your favourite mode of transport?
    • Driving. I adore my car, it's like a sanctuary and gave me some of the Independence that I constantly sought. I also had one of the best holidays ever driving my mum around Cornwall in a VW campervan called Wilf. Happy days.
  8. What is the most insane adventure you have been on?
    • Climbing Kilimanjaro. I went out there with a group of people I had never met, to do something I wasn't sure I could do and experienced so much. It was wonderful and difficult and something that feels like a lifetime ago now.
  9. What is the hardest thing you have done?
    • Hmmm, not sure. Kili ranks pretty highly as I never made the top, as does the PhD I never finished, but the London Marathon probably wins by a hair. The training was HARD and there was real emotion and pain on the day. Best day ever though.
  10. What is the most you have spent on a beauty product?
    • I'm not sure I've ever spent more than £20 on a single product. I can't justify it.
  11. If you could change one thing about your blog, what would it be?
    • I'd love to have more interaction from my readers.
My 11 nominees are:

  1. Amy at Murdoch She Wrote
  2. Morning of Magicians
  3. Louise at Abradypus
  4. Rachel at FairWeatherRunner
  5. Iona at Iona Running Blog
  6. Jemma at The Pig and the Pen
  7. Cassie at Travelling Hopefully
  8. Lucy at Lucy Lemon
  9. Stuart at The Adventures of the Ninjabread Man
  10. Sarah at So Am I Really Running?
  11. Vicky at Just Plod It
My 11 questions are:
  1. How do you display your race bling (if at all)?
  2. What event would you most like to take part in?
  3. How do you recover/relax after a race?
  4. Hot or cold?
  5. What scares you most?
  6. Can you play a musical instrument?
  7. Where would you like to go next on holiday?
  8. Do you have any habits you wish you could break?
  9. What do you daydream about?
  10. If money was no object, what would you do as a job (assuming you had to do something)?
  11. What's your favourite dessert?
Even if I haven't tagged you, feel free to post your answers to some or all of these questions in the comments box below. It'd be really good to hear from you :) 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Trailblazer 10k Bedgebury Pinetum

Some time ago, in the spirit of support and encouragement, I persuaded my mum to sign up to tackle the Trailblazer 10k Bedgebury Pinetum with me. This is a picturesque trail run, something rather different to anything she’s done before and an incentive to keep active. I believe that 10k is manageable for most people; you don’t have to run fast.

This was a fairly relaxed event for me. I promised to stick with my mum all the way round at her pace which meant we were able to take in the surroundings and I wasn’t chasing a PB. I have plenty of other races in which to do that.

The following benefits were promised in return for the entry fee and the event certainly delivered.
Premium goody bag (see end of post) 
Free car parking
Special edition Tech Tee (very nice indeed)
Music, live mc, beer tent, food, drink and kids activities
Medal for all finishers
Free instant text timing after your run
Rat Race on-site gear store with bargains a-plenty (I did pick up a great running rucksack for a song)
Mum, me and my mate Anita who clocked a brilliant PB of 54 minutes! I'm inspired, awed and not at all jealous - honest...
The event cost £35 to enter as a solo runner and £30 for a family entry of two people with other pricing options available. There were 8 starting waves to choose from depending on your speed starting every 15 minutes from 11am which meant a leisurely start and no crowding in the start area. Car parking was well signposted and managed, and only a few moments stroll from race HQ.

It was a fine day and there was a lovely chilled out family atmosphere. Although there was a group warm up for each wave and music playing in the HQ area it wasn't quite as vibrant as some races have been, something my mum would have preferred to get her psyched up. There weren't loads of loos but we didn't have to queue; everything was run very smoothly. After our warm up we were guided to the start line, a good 5 minute walk from the HQ area. Our support team followed us (our dads) but otherwise spectators were only able to see us at the finish line. I've been reliably informed that the cafe near the start line did a fine lemon drizzle cake and the food station in HQ had excellent sausage sandwiches...

The last few hundred meters
I would describe the course as gently undulating. It was mostly on good firm pathways with some grassy, soft track as well. It started with a longish uphill section but then flattened out nicely. Kilometre markers ticked around quite quickly as did the water station at 3.5 and 7 kilometres where the course looped back on itself. A thoughtfully placed porta-loo was welcome! We ran no section twice, so saw plenty of the pinetum including some lovely ponds. The final section was partly uphill, over grass and through an unexpected avenue of conifers. 
Ice cream at the finish is becoming a tradition.
We were rewarded at the finish with a very smart medal and possibly the best goody bag I've ever had. There wasn't a leaflet, flier or voucher in sight, just lots of very useful and tasty treats.
  • Current issue of Runner's World magazine
  • Water bottle
  • bottle of water
  • Vitacoco
  • Arnica massage oil
  • Liquid iron supplement
  • Eat Natural bar
  • Teapigs tea bag
  • Lizzie's granola
  • Branberry cereal
  • Sunmaid raisins
  • Flaxseed
  • Faith in Nature shower gel
  • Bulldog moisturiser
  • Sudocrem sample
Not a flier in sight
Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the race and I'd recommend it to anyone of any ability looking to try an off-road/trail  event for the first time. I think mum surprised herself with her result and I'm incredibly proud of her for doing it. We celebrated by spending the rest of the day sitting in the sun in the garden with some pinot grigio.

Here's to more happy runs!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Charity Challenge Round Up

The Eton Open Water Swim marked the end of my series of charity challenge events. It's been an education, learning about Scleroderma, what the charity do, and talking to people with the condition, understanding how it affects them. I've really enjoyed training for and taking part in the events, even though it's not always been fun with early mornings, running in snow and all sorts of aches and pains. I'm a little sad that it's over but before I find a new focus I thought I'd share a few stats with you.

Over the course of this challenge I have swum a total of 10,200 metres, 1900 of those in competition.

I've covered approximately 143 miles by bike (mostly "virtual miles" in the gym), 13 of those in competition.

And I've run a grand total of 447 miles, 39 of those in competition. That's roughly the distance from London to Newcastle. Phew!

54 people have helped me to raise £1,111 through JustGiving to date and countless more supported me through bake sales and supermarket collections to the tune of £452 giving me a total of £1,563.

It's a pity I haven't hit my target but the money I have raised will make a big difference to the charity and I hope that I have spread awareness and maybe inspired a few people along the way. In a last effort to raise a few more pounds I'm hosting a pub quiz in Farnham at The Plough on West Street, on Wednesday 19th June if you are local and fancy coming along. It starts at 8pm and costs £3 per person. There will be prizes and a raffle too so it should be a fun night. Of course it's still not too late to sponsor me and support the charity, either via the button on the page, or by texting VRSS55 and the amount you want to donate to 70070.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who's donated and supported me throughout the past 6 months. You have made a difference.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Gym for the Win Round-up

Over the past month I've joined a new gym, started on a personalised programme, had Personal Training sessions and analysed membership costs, all as part of’s Gym for the Win campaign. Now we’ve reached the end of the campaign I felt a roundup of the experience might be useful.

As regular readers will know, I was a member of a gym that I used regularly prior to taking part in the campaign as part of my Charity Challenge training regime but this was well timed to coincide with a house move and enabled me not only to try a gym in my new locale but also see if a gym membership would be worth keeping up once I wasn’t in the depths of training.

Both my first  and second membership fee analysis posts very definitely pointed to gym membership being good value and providing flexibility for someone on a training programme, even when the preference was for running outside. You can get some really great discounts and offers on membership fees if you look out for them (January and May seem to be popular for these) and some offer guest passes as well as discounts on services you normally have to pay for.

Finances aside, I really recommend gym membership. Gyms have so much to offer, from the standard CV and weights equipment, to classes, swimming pools, court hire, personal training and sometimes the benefit of being able to use multiple centres in the area run by the same company. I found my new gym to be friendly and well equipped, even though it was smaller than my previous one. I was able to use multiple centres and despite being at the tail end of my training, I still used the facilities a good deal.