Saturday, October 31, 2015

What I Wore: Sky High Green

I am a uniform kind of a girl. Not even an insanely fashionable kind of a uniform but at this inbetween-y kind of time of year, I basically live in denim leggings and jumpers. Normally I'd fling a pair of Converse on my feet to leave the house every few days, and y'know, remember I'm still a human, but I spotted these on eBay a few months back and thought they'd make a nice change...

Nike Dunk Sky High Green
Nike Dunk Sky High via eBay

I remember these being a bit of a cult thing a few years back and wasn't prepared to spend the RRP on trainers I wasn't even sure would look nice on me, having had bad experiences trying on wedge sneaker/trainer type things previously. But £30 on eBay is a bit different. The description said they had been worn but I'd be surprised if these had been outdoors more than once. 

Grey & Green


Grey and green

In other news, still a bit in love with H&M. Remember this green jumper I bought earlier in the autumn (it's the one in my profile if you're not fussed at looking back....), well this voluminous grey one was another steal when I bought a sneaky new coat in yet another of their online discount events. I do love a slouchy jumper.
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Lidl Favourites

I'm a longtime Lidl fan. I lived next to one when I lived in Leipzig and they were a lifesaver as the nearest decent size supermarket in walking distance when T & I first lived in London together. As with any brand or supermarket, some things are a hits whilst others are misses, but having stocked up recent, I thought I'd share a few of my favourite things.

Lidl Favourites

Dark chocolate. Since doing a month of no added sugars or artificial sugars, my taste in sweet things has changed. I didn't even like dark chocolate before but I'm head over heels for this dark chocolate with orange (the raspberry version is a dream as well). £1.49 for 125g.

Lidl Dark Chocolate

Sparkling Water. I know some people think having a water preference is up there with #middleclassproblems but I don't care. I drink a LOT of water (3-4 litres per day) and I especially like sparkling. This one from Lidl isn't as gassy as some other brands/own brands which means it does go flat a little quicker, but it's less aggressive when you drink it. If it came in 2l bottles instead of 1.5l it would be even better. £ per bottle (I buy it in cases of 6)

Sriracha sauce. Because I've apparently turn into my dad and can't eat a meal without chilli. I thought this might be part of a short term range as I bought it reduced to £1.20 a bottle, but I keep seeing it in store. It's nicely sour and not too sweet with that familiar chilli heat.

Lidl Sriracha

Mixed raw whole nuts (T also likes their raw walnuts and cashews). I use these when making my own granola and my own versions of Nakd bars. T & My mum both like their brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews for adding to porridge or cereal too- I have nothing against them by the way, it's just not something I do. £1.29 per 200g bag

A few other less photogenic favourites:
Free range whole chicken- usually around  £3.59 per kilo
Pork & Apple or Cumberland sausages £1.99 for 6
Goats, feta, mature cheddar or cream cheeses- they're all good!

And whilst I'm here, here's a few things I never buy from Lidl having learned the hard way...
Tinned tomatoes- tend to be very watery
Baked beans- too sweet in my opinion and I prefer a reduced salt version too
Dried fruit- when I looked at the ingredients, there were some added extras I wasn't so fond off including added sugars and oils
Avocadoes- I've never yet found a Lidl that sells avocados that are within a month of being ripe.
Bleach, toilet cleaner, bathroom/kitchen cleaner- they just don't do the job. On the other hand, Poundland is well worth visiting if like me you're a fan of Cif.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: Helly Hansen Autumn/Winter 2015 Training

The products in this post were sent to me by Helly Hansen & ADPR. I have not been paid or otherwise compensated to review them and all opinions are my own. Some of the products were sent to me in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research. Especial thanks go to Helly Hansen and Beki of ADPR for their generosity and support. 

I talked last week about the very clever and very exciting Norviz training gear by Helly Hansen, new out this season. But as well as the very clever technical kit, they also have some very pretty (and equally hardworking) training kit.

Helly Hansen AW 15 Training
New in, Helly Hansen Training kit from the Autumn/Winter collection

The VTR 7/8 Capri is one that gets a seasonal facelift but always seems to be available. This is good because they are my very favourite. I wear them for running- including being my marathon day choice, for personal training sessions, for cycling and they are the best workout tights I've ever had. Every single seam is in the right place, they have a nice high rise AND a drawstring so they don't fall down, the 7/8 length means they don't get splattered or as dirty and they come in all the cool prints.

Helly Tights
Helly Hansen VTR 7/8 Capri sent given to me as part of the Helly Hansen Press Day 2015

Above- my much loved and ever complimented Spring/Summer tights.... AND...

New season, new prints.As well as these super bright ones, they have everything from a classy black textured print to a kaleidoscope style print in pink, white & grey. In fact there are 6 different prints and they're all beautiful.

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Helly Hansen VTR 7/8 Capri sent to me in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research

Helly Hansen VTR Capri AW15

HElly VTR AW15


These capris are not going to keep you warm as the temperature plummets but they are a great all rounder, especially if you prefer to keep your legs covered when you're out and about or doing what you do (the chaffing has been real this year). OH and they're not seethrough either. Wear whatever pants you like under these babies because it's still going to be your business.  They also launder really well- my original pair pictured at the top look just as good today as they did 6 months ago and they're washed a minimum of once per week- and being technical fabric, they dry pretty swiftly too. 


Another really REALLY gorgeous prints is this...

Helly Hansen Air JAcket
Helly Hansen VTR Air Jacket sent to me in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research

Helly Hansen Air Jacket

The VTR Air Jacket is a dead simple wind jacket to help keep the chill at bay if you're off on your way to the gym or out for a run or a ride. It's water repellent and hooded and it scrunches up in on itself into a little ball which is pretty handy if you need to take it off and carry it or if you're tight on space in a bag. It also comes in black and a mutli-colour. I picked pink because it's high-viz in the lower light and that's quite important to me. 

It's incredibly light and doesn't feel at all plastic-y, it also has little air vents in the back to help with temperature control. It's another really useful piece of kit that I'm not really sure how I've managed without before. 


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Sunday, October 25, 2015

From Where I Stand: Recently I'm Wearing...

Since shaking myself a bit in August & September, it's been good to feel a bit more myself and wear proper clothes almost every day. Here's some recents...

RIW FWIS
First coat outing of the autumn, paired with Heatech (the Celia Burton collaboration from a couple of years back and the bestest new tan boots. 
Breton stripes & silver shoes. Shame the shoes turned out to be hideously uncomfortable as they're so pretty.


WIWT FWIS
Nike Frees, Cycle shorts and a favourite mid-weight baselayer- Autumn cycling is really the very best
More of the frees and these epic tights from Helly Hansen- there's a full review coming next week, but in the meantime, I review the Norviz kit this week HERE


FWIS WIWT
Aaaaaah down time. Much needed of late. Say hello to my favourite slipper, ASOS Kimmi Jeans and a new jumper
See also This Girl Can t-shirt (so comfy) and shoes that are a throwback to my phase where I wasn't really part of any group or clique, but had very little emo leanings. 
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Lazy Sourdough

I love sourdough bread, when it's done right it's a thing of beauty, albeit the choice of every brunch plate in Shoreditch presently. Although it's nice topped with avocado and poached eggs (if there's ever leftovers, then that's usually how the end up) it's even better with a cheeseboard.

The problem with sourdough is that made properly it requires a fermented starter which takes at least a week to make. The idea is that it uses the yeast that occurs naturally in the air to get it all going. Sorry, but I don't want to wait a week for my sourdough, I want it now. I found this 'faux sourdough' recipe HERE and there are some minor tweaks in my version. Sourdough bread in 24 hours though... yes please!

IMG_0635

IMG_0632


IMG_0631

Sourdough

Sourdough

Looks good right, in all it's golden crusty glory...?

print recipe

Easy Fake Sourdough
Sourdough style bread using live yoghurt
Ingredients
  • 385g Live yoghurt
  • 400 Strong white bread flour
  • 0.25 teaspoon Yeast (dry)
  • 1.5 teaspoon Salt
Instructions
1. In a large bowl or with a dough hook on a stand mixer, mix yeast and flour together
2. Add approximately 380-400g of the yoghurt and knead/mix until a wet dough forms. If required, add an extra tablespoon of yoghurt- it's should be a sticky wet dough, only just more than a batter. 3. Add the salt shortly after the yoghurt as the dough begins to form4. Leave the dough in a covered bowl for 18-20 hours. Some people say more than 20 hours and the yoghurt will start to turn bitter, but in my experience, this is only likely to happen in warmer climates or if you leave the dough somewhere very warm like your airing cupboard which I don't do. The dough should have doubled in size roughly and there will be lots of large bubbles in it. When you uncover it, it should smell a little sour- clue's in the name. 5. GENTLY scrape dough out onto floured surface and fold the dough in on itself a few times. If you're too vigorous knocking back at this point, your bread will have a closed dense texture. 6. Shape into a round or oval and leave on baking paper, covered over with an upside down bowl for around 2 hours- I find the dough has usually increased in size by a quarter- a half depending on how warm it is.7. Pre-heat your oven and a large heavy based pot with a lid to 200 degrees, place dough and baking paper inside the pot and bake with lid on for 30 minutes. Take the lid off at the 30 minute mark, and bake for a further 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 loaf approx 10 slices

A few notes: 

Do not forget to add the salt. Really important. Results of saltless sourdough will be devastating

If you have the time to leave your live yoghurt at the back of the fridge for a week or two, the flavour will be better still. The principle of this is that the cultures in the yoghurt do for the fermentation what weeks of fermentation do in a starter. The livelier your yoghurt, the better. 

Be ever so gentle with the dough between proving, closed texture on a sourdough is just a little sad and isn't quite... right. 
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review: Helly Hansen Norviz Women's Training Kit

The items from Helly Hansen in this post were generously sent to me by ADPR & Helly Hansen in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research UK. I have not been otherwise paid of compensated to review these items or to post links to any websites and all views are my own. Especial thanks go to Beki from ADPR for the generosity extended. 

I first reviewed Helly Hansen training kit- which I'd never known even existed until that point, way back in January 2015. They sent me some really great winter training, which I wore on my journey through C25K in the first quarter of the year. 

Super bright delivery from @hellyhansen v excited to get on to a #winterduel
Winter training top & Tights c/o Helly Hansen earlier in the year. You can read more about this kit in my post from January 2015

I was fortunate enough to go the press day in the early spring and meet the head of design. It was fascinating to learn more about the background of the brand and about their involvement in sports teams, in particular women’s sailing. I came away with some very special goodies then which have received many many compliments throughout the spring and summer, remaining some of the best and comfiest kit I’ve ever owned. but what really caught my eye was the Norviz kit. Put frankly, it's some of the cleverest design in fitness & sports wear I have ever seen.


They very generously sent me a Norviz top & a pair of Norviz tights...

Helly Hansen Norviz
Daylight...

Norviz flash
FLASH

Short of saying they light up in the dark, what can I say. The pink is the most difficult to photograph if there's normal daylight but rest assured that if it's dark, it is every bit as reflective as the black top. So the top...

It's a basic half zip long sleeve top. It has thumbholes- a welcome improvement on the basic pink top of a similar style and zips right up to my chin. Usual awesome wicking property from the X-Cool technology too. The fact that it LIGHTS UP LIKE CHRISTMAS is the most exciting thing here and it's also available in a high viz pink (like the tights) for added daytime visibility or if it's your personal preference. The Aspire Norviz Top is available to buy on the Helly Hansen website HERE.

Now the tights- this is where I get even more excited. The pink inserts on the hip and that's the back of the lower leg are the bits with the Norviz fabric. Great because it should really help you to be seen in headlights or bike lights. BUT These tights also have lots of little improvements on my other pair of Aspire tights (pictured right at the top and sent to me for review in January 2015). I mean they're good (windproofing is such an underrated quality) but the more I wore them, especially for running as well as cycling, the more those niggles became apparent.

Helly Hansen Norviz Tights

Clockwise from TR
They have a drawstring- actually all my Helly Hansen tights have had drawstrings and that's not new to the Aspire Norviz tights, but it IS useful and worth a mention. Ladies who have problems with slippage (the bain of my bloody life), this is worth knowing. Oh, and they also have this beautifully soft, warm brushed fabric inside. Say hello to ultimate snugness.

Not just zips at the ankles but REFLECTIVE zips at the ankles. They also come up a sensible distance which means getting them off after a sweaty hill training session isn't anywhere near as hard as it could be (big US brand tights, I'm looking at you....)

POCKETS! My 2014/5 tights did have a pocket on the thigh. It was just about big enough for a small set of keys, but not quite and it was an awkward place. In the 2015/6 Norviz version, it's back to the tradition back of waistband pocket which is big enough to take a decent size set of keys and maybe a card/cash or hydration tab. Most impressively, the pocket is lined with waterproof fabric so if it's your car keys- no worrying about rain or sweat damaging anything and being stranded. Well done Helly Hansen for remembering women have stuff to carry too.

The Helly Hansen Aspire Norviz tights are available to buy on their website HERE. They also come in black as well as the grey/pink colourway I have.

The amazing thing that Helly Hansen have pulled off with not just their winter kit, their entire range of training kit is putting together good design with practical functionality. Every time I've been sent or purchased a piece of their kit, it's performed 100% of the time exactly like it's supposed to. It's incredible to see the development of their products to incorporate sensible and clever elements- a well placed pocket or a thumb loop can completely change a product that you rely on when pushing your body and your mind. The conscious move towards visibility and therefore safety in a way that is incredibly clever is also something I find all the more amazing because their design team is about 5% of the size of some of the major sportswear brands. And yet look at the innovation.

You can view all the Helly Hansen training kit on their website HERE and if some items accidentally on purpose fall into your basket- let me know- I'd love to see what other people think of a brand that not enough people seem to realise are serious about fitness. I'll also be posting about some other items generously sent to me in the same package, because you can't not share prints like this...



I feel it important to reiterate that I have not been paid to post about these items, not were these items provided in exchange for reviews or links back to specific sites. ADPR and Helly Hansen sent these items in support of my challenge to run 100km in 2015 for Cancer Research and especial thanks go to them for their generosity. All opinions are my own and yes, I really do think this kit is *that* good.



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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fashion: How I Wear Navy in Autumn

With the onslaught of Autumn, everything seems to become very oxblood red, forest green and jewel purple. Which is great- I love all of these colours almost as much as I love that everything also comes in a shade of grey (one of my favourites for versatility). But in the haste to darken down, navy blue and the classic pairings of cream or white and blue can all of a sudden feel a bit out of place. Here's how I've been wearing navy for autumn.


Navy Autumn
Cat print cami- £12 Simply Be x Sprinkle of Glitter
Embroidered bow jumper- M&S (last year)
Tan leather shoe boots- £80 Clarks

The cat camisole I stumbled across when my mum was browsing Simply Be- I had no idea their sizes started at a 12 and this cami is cut so well for my boobs- which are always causing me to size up in tops. I really flattering shape and the fabric is super soft too, I think this would look just as cut sticking out of the bottom of a short knit as it does beneath a cardigan.

Bow Jumper

The M&S jumper is an old favourite- it has such a lovely weight to it and the bows were something different- or at least I think that's the excuse I gave T when he wondered if I really needed another jumper last year. Pft. What does he know. 

Clarks boots

The boots are a DREAM. I got 20% off these, which is good BUT they are leather and the sole is all grippy and rubberised- no more fractured ankles for me, no way. They're cut a bit lower on the ankle than a lot of chelsea boots or ankle boots, and because I have chubby ankles and not exactly delicate (powerful but not elegant) legs, these give me some shape back where there would otherwise be none. They also come in a kind of grey colour but I find the tan infinitely easier to work with the rest of my wardrobe- not just with my dark wash jeans or some of the navy blue beauties

Am I barking up the wrong tree with all the navy nonsense? I like the freshness navy and especially navy, cream and tan bring to my wardrobe as we cling to the last light in the early evening and the days where a coat isn't strictly necessary if you walk with enough purpose (and a huge scarf....)


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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chloe Likes To Eat: Cauliflower Flatbread

I know there's been a massive uprising in the popularity of so called 'cauliflower pizza', but sorry folks, I can't bring myself to call it a pizza if the base is made from cauliflower. That's not to say I don't like the concept of baked cauliflower 'flatbreads'.

Toasted Cauliflower Flatbread


Cauliflower flatbread

I haven't tried freezing these, but I imagine they might go a little soggy, I'de be interested to hear if anyone has managed to successfully defrost!



print recipe

Cauliflower Flatbread
Cauliflower baked into a flatbread style
Ingredients
  • 1 medium head Caulfilower
  • 2 Eggs (whole)
  • 2 tablespoons Quark (or cream cheese)
  • 50g grated Cheddar Cheese
  • to taste Salt & Pepper
Instructions
1. Break cauliflower down into florets and pulse until you have a fine grainy texture using a food processor2. Add eggs, quark/cream cheese, grated cheese and seasoning to taste3. Mix until combined (in your processor if it's big enough, or in a large bowl by hand if necessary)4. Press the mix evenly into a lightly greased oven dish or onto a pizza tray lined with baking paper- aim for no more than 1cm thick or it'll stay soggy in the middle.5. Bake at 200 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes- it'll be browned at the edges and should feel stiff all over6. Cool on a rack.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2

My 'flatbread' has hummus, feta, spinach & avocado in it, and then I shoved it in our toastie machine to warm it through.

P1030396

Toasted Cauli Flatbread

I never said this was pretty food, but it's certainly tasty!
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Opinion: Why It's Ok To Blog For A Hobby

Let's be clear first and foremost- I love, read and enjoy lots of blogs that are full time businesses run by people who put a just value on their profession, their time, their brand and what they do. I'm not judging or criticising these people, they do a great job, producing content that is out of this world and they do so, for the most part with great integrity.

 I repeat: this is not an attack on blogs as businesses, but a response to those who seem to think it's just plain wrong that monetisation isn't for everyone

I blog as a hobby. I started my blog that way and I still enjoy it that way. I have zero designs on making it my full time job because the two businesses I manage present me with more than enough challenges in an average hour to keep me occupied and interested. And I'm lucky like that, I know.

But in a time where my Popular Posts feed is filled with advice on monetising my blog and tips on how to build my brand or the posts which speak of the blogs who devalue the hard work of those who do charge for their time, it seems that it's 'not the done thing' to run your blog as your hobby, and be happy about it.


Talking about being kind to yourself on my blog this evening. #bodymode30daychallenge #day8
Me, my blog & I

So let's address this properly...

To those who say I devalue what they do because I don't charge brands or companies to write about them or link back to them..... 

I say.... I don't solicit advertising campaigns or payment of any kind (including goods or services) in return for what I write. I write about things I've bought, seen or experienced and there's no reason I shouldn't do so. I never set out to write advertising or marketing copy, and my purpose isn't to market or advertise. I'm not doing the same thing as you for free, not if you're charging a brand to write a specific post, with a specific purpose to a deadline, and therefore I'm not undermining you and your work.

To those who say I lack ambition, and why don't I want to be the best I can be.... 

I say... I have a job I love that comes with a whole host of lifestyle perks that I worked hard for. I don't want to give those up for my hobby, which though enjoyable, would take up far more time, encroach far more on my personal life and provide more financial instability than I'm prepared for. I like to run and cycle, it doesn't mean I want to be a world class athlete, and that's ok too. It's not always about being the very best at something, but appreciating that something for the benefits it gives you at whatever level you choose to pursue it.

Off on a road trip.
Still taking mirror selfies and I don't care

To those who wonder why would anyone read my blog when it doesn't contain editorial content and professional photography....

I say... I don't know why they read. I suspect it has something to do with the difference between magazines and blogs aside the print. I write about my own personal experiences- the good, the bad and the ugly. My posts are brutally honest precisely because I'm not paid to write them. That's not to say that you won't find frank, honest and personal content on a professional blog, but without having to worry about whether I will secure my next ad campaign or brand collaboration, I can be as , critical, awkward or biased as I want, to put no finer point on it. I'd like to think I'm not rude or biased in a way which might be considered offensive, but I also know that my tone and opinions are not suited to lots of brands and businesses, and were my livelihood to depend on those brands and businesses, I might just have to be more considered about where and how I voice my opinions and experiences,

But there's no community left in blogging and everyone's in it for themselves anyway...

I think this is the single most irritating thing I read on a regular basis. Community is formed by interaction, if you don't comment on other people's blogs or reply to comments and tweets yourself, then no, there won't be community. If you post about your personal experiences and don't respond to the people that try and reach out to you, please don't say there's no friendship and community in the online world. If you go to an event and you aren't prepared to do someone the courtesy of a greeting or small talk, then you're not helping either. I have found blogging of the last 12-18 months to be more community focussed than ever before- I've interacted with more people, seen less of the clique-esque groups forming and continue to enjoy friendships with people who I first contacted and met via my blog and my use of Twitter (which I only ever joined because of my blog). Rarely to do you find such a clear example as blogging gives, of the principle of 'you get out what you put in'.

I read and enjoy lots of blogs. Some of my favourites include professional, editorial style content and more of favourites chronicle life, loves and disasters on a very human level. Other favourites are still full time jobs and businesses for people but come with a personal element. As has been said before- blogging is a new and emerging industry and idea, one that is changing every day and as it does, maybe it's time we stopped idolising what came before and started enjoying the development that brings us new and exciting things. Especially the diversity that is those enjoying their hobby and taking mirror selfies in their bedrooms to those shooting professionally and being featured by major international brands.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

For The Journey: 3 Things I Wish I'd Known For After A Marathon

I wrote this post, Recovery: Life After A Marathon after I completed the Race For Life Marathon. I wanted to clear up a the misconception that everyone who runs a marathon belongs in a CollegeHumor video because their hobby is so hardcore.

In the following days I learned a lot more about the 'post marathon experience' and whilst there are a lot of posts (Pinterest, I'm looking at you) extolling the virtues of marathon running whilst telling you the 26 essential things every first time marathon runner should know, there don't seem to be many people who are willing to talk about what happens when you're not one of the people who immediately starts looking for the next marathon or wants to show their medal to anyone who stands within a 10ft radius. Everything I did read seemed to indicate that although tired, and probably a bit stiff, I'd feel proud, hungry and possibly be considering my next big goal or challenge.

It's one week since I made my way through 26.2 miles of the challenge of my life, and here's how the aftermath panned out for me.

Sunday 4th October: I crossed the line sobbing. I cried for all the people who couldn't be there to see it because cancer keeps taking them for its own, for the pain in both my hips and for the disbelief that it was finally, finally over.

Untitled
After T told me to try and look happy because he wanted to send the picture to my mum to show I was alive and well

I got home, and I managed to eat a small meal, I got myself clean, packed and went back to my base in Cambridgeshire ready for work on Monday. By the time I got to my final destination, I was tired and I struggled to feel anything much. I was also a bit surprised not to be hungry.

Monday 5th October: Stiff, yes. But not injured. This is a good thing. Because my sole reason for running was my challenge to raise money for Cancer Research, I made sure to post on social media about finishing a marathon. In truth, I feel like I've achieved nothing except putting one foot in front of the other for a bit longer than normal. I still wasn't hungry and eating anything more than small snacks actually made me feel a bit sick. A series of crashing lows came in the afternoon and evening, I managed to do not very much and found it frustrating at going to bed that I still had an untouched to-do list. I put it down to tiredness and hoped the stiffness would be better in the morning.

Tuesday 6th October: Less stiffness, good. Hit fundraising target, good. Still not hungry, probably bad. Still lacking a sense of achievement, probably not good. Still feeling low and a bit tear-y, probably bad. Asked for some advice from my trainer. I can't explain how far I am from ever wanting to run more than 10km ever again. Generally- miserable, tired and not really sure what this is all about.

Wednesday 7th October: Feeling marginally more human, but under instruction from my trainer (because she banned me from attending running club until I adhered) I trundled off to see a GP to see whether the crashing lows and lack of appetite are within the realms of normal recovery. Turns out, it kind of is. Who knew? Not me.

PicMonkey Photo
Trying and failing not to cry as I'm about to cross the finish line 

Here's 3 things I wish I'd known before I embarked on the race so my expectations weren't quite so.... far of the mark

1. Not everyone feels euphoric
26 miles is a long way and it's hard work. I spent over 4 months training and lots of people spend longer than that getting marathon ready. 4 months for one day. For one race. One block of however many hours. One event. Crossing the line, especially if you had a tough time running might actually feel a bit of an anticlimax and that beaming sense of achievement might just be eclipsed by relief that it's finished and a bit of wondering why you thought it was such a great idea. It's ok to feel down, or to be emotional, or to not want to celebrate.

2. Drinking too much water is a thing, and hydrating after an endurance event isn't as simple as drinking all the water
I drink a lot of water on a normal day. I had problems with this in the summer because when you drink a lot of pure water, it dilutes all the electrolytes and sodium in your system, flushing out not just the toxins in your body, but the good stuff too. When you spend hours running and sweating and drinking water because you're sweating, you run your system dry of all those important electrolytes. I thought I'd been good at making sure I took on electrolyte drinks at every water station, but apparently not enough. Symptoms include tiredness, weakness, nausea, and in serious cases confusion, coma and death.

3. It takes time to get back to 'normal'
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I guess I probably shouldn't have expected to feel exactly the same after the marathon as I did before because I spent 6 hours forcing my body to do something hard. It was pointed out to me that endurance events do have psychological effects, as you should expect when you force yourself to do something tough, even if you've trained for it and I'd agree that marathons, ironman competitions, all these things require as much, if not more strength of mind than physical strength to get you to the finish. So is it really fair to expect to feel the same afterwards?

And one more thing...
I didn't run specifically in memory of one person. We have survivors in our family as much as we have lost loved ones who have left huge holes in our life. I started this challenge because I felt that I needed to do something positive and wanted to raise money for Cancer Research. When I crossed the marathon finish line, nothing changed. My running a marathon or a one hundred marathons cannot bring back the people we have lost, it doesn't give my grandmother back the kidney she's missing nor does it change the rate at which my grandfather is healing from his surgery. I'm not stupid- I know running a marathon won't bring anyone back to life, but when you put so much of yourself into something for a cause that's so important to you, it's a crushing disappointment that nothing tangible has changed once you're finished.

I won't be signing up for more marathons. One was enough for me to realise that it's not my thing and I'm not ready to commit my all my free time to one hobby that can have such far reaching impact on everything I do. I'm also not ready to feel on the edge of despair after something I supposedly do for recreation. I'm not an athlete, and I don't want to be. I am looking forward to enjoying running club sessions that are fun, I'm looking forward to 10km races because that's fun too. I'm also looking forward to spending my weekends sewing, crocheting, cooking, drinking wine, eating cheese, going 'out' out and having choices over how I spend my Sundays.

PicMonkey Collage
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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Autumn Beauty Favourites

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After a whirlwind summer, I'm looking forward to a few fun things this Autumn- a couple of weekends off, being super lazy and going for long lunches or brunches and a quick trip to Vegas for a wedding in particular. Definitely a good excuse to indulge in some nice new make-up... 

I've been a mineral make-up girl for about a decade, and I was recently introduced to Mii, a new mineral brand produced by the same people who make Jessica nail products. They were aiming to put all the best bits of the mineral make-up ranges on the market into one range of products. This is the first time I've strayed away from Bare Minerals, and I'm really impressed so far. The foundation feels so light you can forget there's anything on your skin at all, and there's no patchyness which I've struggled with lately with my BM foundation- change in formula there end I suspect. It doesn't require a mineral veil, only a primer if desired, and I find the coverage to be on a parr with any mineral make-up I've come across. The bronzer (top LHS) is really nice combination of tones to bring a subtle glow and the outer packaging feels really solid, so the whole compact is travel friendly. 

I'm totally hooked on a darker lip this year, having never really been interested in lip colour before. Both of the above are Revlon- the top berry coloured crayon is ColorBurst Balm Stain in crush, a simple berry with a slight shimmer, easy to apply and due to the stain nature, keeps colour going for hours. The brick red colour at the bottom is one the new Ultra HD Lipstick shades. I love the colour for a muted red, but Revlon, why must you make a lipstick so clumsy in shape- best applied with a brush for precision as the bullet is big, blunt and a bit of a nightmare. 

And lastly, still clinging to the last memories of sunshine and warmth, the Valentina fragrance by Valentino is light and sweet in a grown up way and it reminds me of summer for reasons unknown. It's my current method of brightening a grey day. 
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Recovery: Life After A Marathon

I spent most of the week leading up to the marathon wishing for it to be over. I'm well aware that lots of people will have been rolling their eyes wondering why I can't just talk about something else aside running or food for a while, or putting me in the little category box that is 'dickish people who have one of those hobbies that just has to be so much tougher than anything else'. And it's sort of true- I have spent the last 17 weeks thinking about food and/or running for what feels like 80% of the time.



But now I'm recovering, here's a few things you should know...

It's not a hobby and I didn't do it for fun. 
When I signed up for the marathon I couldn't run one full kilometre, let alone a mile or more. This challenge was supposed to be exactly that, a challenge that I felt comfortable asking people to dig into their pockets and piggy banks to support. I have no intention of running more marathons.

It's a commitment
The reason people who train for and run these distances talk about it so much is because the requirements the training and preparation put on you and your lifestyle are vast, far reaching and personally, left little room for much else. I haven't been able to ride my bike as much, I haven't been able to eat some of the things I love, I have had to put food (as a fuel) right near the top of my priority list, and by the time I've eaten enough for a 3-4 hour run, done the run, showered and eaten enough to recover from the run, there isn't much weekend left. But see point one- there's a reason.

However much people told me so, I've never once felt I was doing something incredible
There have been times I enjoyed the training, times I enjoyed some of the races. I love that I'm now fit enough to run further than just the bus stop, but I've also cried, I've resented the training, the eating, the need to not have the glass of wine on a Saturday night, and I've been miserable whilst I try and manage my battered ankles and knees. I did something that thousands of people do every year, and the only reason it was such a deal for me is because I went from zero to marathon to keep the people I love alive. I don't feel a sense of achievement, I don't think I'm superhuman and I don't think that there are now no limits to my own achievements. I'm just glad I now have time to ride my bike, I can have cheese and several glasses of wine on Saturday nights and I can make weekend plans without worrying about where I'll find time to run for hours on end.

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I had it easy
Having read people's stories and training woes and heard other people talk about what they do to train for a marathon and beyond, I realised that despite my problematic joints, I didn't have it that hard. I didn't have many runs where the added mileage felt like more than I could handle, and my aches and pains post-run have been limited (aside injury) to one day.

Carb loading and eating more calories for training doesn't mean you can eat whatever you want
Quite the opposite, I've wasted spent so much time trying to balance the nutritional value of what I've eaten in a day, that I could probably have worked a second job. I'm bored of sweet potatoes, bagels and brown rice, and not being able to eat as much fresh fruit/veg as you would normally or you would like to is not fun, I too would love a glass of wine and a plate of nachos, and I too would love to enjoy that piece of cake.

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You must be losing weight with all this training you're doing...
No, actually I'm not especially. And FYI, that's quite offensive and relies on the assumption that so many great campaigns are trying to dispel- not all women exercise just to lose weight.

On Sunday 4th October I completed the Race For Life Marathon as part of a personal challenge to run 100km in 2015 raising money for Cancer Research UK. You can read more about the other races and my reasons for running by clicking HERE for my JustGiving Page.
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Saturday, October 3, 2015

What I Wore: Marathon Day

So the past tense maybe isn't quite right for this, but we'll roll with my usual title for now! It's marathon day tomorrow and I'm in an awkward place at the moment- I'm terrified and I also can't wait for it to be over so I can have my life back again.

 

Helly Hansen 7/8 tights, Cancer Research Jersey (it has my NAME on it), Mizuno Wave Inspire 11 trainers, all important race number

Here's what I'll be pulling on tomorrow as I embark on the challenge of my life. If you want to know more about why I decided to be one of *those* people who runs a marathon, you can check out the rest of my Marathon Week posts HERE

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Friday, October 2, 2015

New Favourites: Things I Loved in September

Oh September. It's such a funny month- business wise, it's still summer, the season is still in full swing with what we do and it's been an excellent September for business. The early September sun was coupled with a cool breeze and the whole month has felt autumnal to me- the knitwear is back out and I've just ordered a sneaky new coat- it was on sale, in my defence. Darkness is coming in quickly and I'm back to my 'light up like christmas' campaign when it comes to sportswear for running club, oh and training has been blighted by injury.

Here's my September Favourites though, so it's not all doom and gloom!

I couldn't resist the #thisgirlcan t-shirt from Marks & Spencer since I missed out on the original ones. These are even better with new colour ways and the shape is a looser draped cut. Doing my bit to support women in sport.

 

As the evenings have pulled in, we're now doing running club in the dark. Cue reflective everything! My 'Thunder Thighs' House of Astbury tights don't look all that visible being black, but the print is actually reflective. Cool, right. The Helly Hansen black top also doesn't look like it screams visibility. The below was taken with flash....

Look at it glow...

I'll be talking more about this top next week- the people at Helly Hansen very generously agreed to support my winter running for the end of my challenge to run 100km this year with some of their training kit.

 

I've always liked peanut butter and it's a damn good job. I feel like I've eaten little else besides bananas and peanut butter, so the earned a spot.

 

I've talked about Serozinc before but my skin has been super upset with me of late (thanks to trying a new product, lesson learned). Serozinc really helps to dry out any spots and generally clean things up, especially at a time when I'm exercising heavily and regularly.

 

All this exercising also has an impact on my hair. I try not to wash it every day because it leaves the ends in really poor condition, and rely on dry shampoo both for freshening up and also for a bit of volume because my hair is quite fine. This Tresemée version was on a 3 for 2 deal in Boots recently and I really like it- it's not heavy or powdery, it doesn't smell too strongly of anything particular and it doesn't leave my hair with chalky white streaks. The holy grail?

 

 

Chafing is real. I learned the hard way in the summer after running a 10km Race For Life and suffering full on broken skin from chafing afterwards. Some people recommend BodyGlide, but I prefer this coconut oil to help avoid nasty rubbing. A true life savour and not bade for moisturising my poor dry legs either. Oh and it's half the price of a tube of BodyGlide. Winning...

Oh September, a funny month indeed, and now it's October, I can't wait to have fun things to favourite at the end of October.

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