Showing posts sorted by relevance for query marathon. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query marathon. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 4 May 2017

A triple bill - something to wear, something to eat and something to do!

By way of a change, I thought that I would bring you three different items in this post - something to wear, something to eat and a little exercise thought or two.

You all know how much I love anything pink - particularly a pink top or jumper (or front door) and so when I was shopping for some outfits for an upcoming event, this Sun, Sea, Sand Hush top (£40) might just have found its way into my basket. I haven't tried it on yet but it made me instantly cheery - and there would be something slightly ironic about wearing it when we're so far from the sea.

One of the main observations in the "comments" section about this top on the Hush site, is that it is much brighter in real life than shown on the site - which is a fair comment when you compare the two photos above. Anyway, if you're on the look out for a pink pick me up for your wardrobe, this could be it.

And if you're looking for a snack time pick me up, these could be them! True, I know that they don't look the most appetising ever but I love them and the recipe makes loads, so you can pop a few in the freezer and always have a healthy snack at the ready. They are the raw vegan flapjack from Jamie's "Everyday Superfoods" but without the oil or the maple syrup. I find that if I soak the dates and dried fruit in warm water for a few minutes, they get nice and soft and absorb enough liquid so that the oil isn't necessary.

I make these in the nutri-bullet in two separate batches or else it can't cope with all of the ingredients. Essentially I chuck in 200g oats, 100g hazelnuts, 50/100g other mixed nuts, 20g sunflower seeds, 100g dried fruit and 180g dates, whizz it up, roll it into humungous sized rabbit droppings and there we have about 22 power balls. They can be flavoured with cacao powder, or ginger, or other bits and bobs but I prefer them just as they come. And they're great to take out running with you...which leads me to my next part of this post.

Running. In all its sweaty, heart-pumping, achingly painful (at times) but totally mind clearing and wonderful glory. For some crazy reason, I've entered the ballot for the London Marathon again. Now it's just a waiting game until the beginning of October to see whether I have a place. And in the meantime, I shall be training for the Birmingham Marathon, which is towards the end of October. It's the first time that we've had a Marathon in Birmingham and whilst I didn't think that I had another one in me, I did a few 20 odd milers with a friend in preparation for the Boston Marathon and it was OK - so what the hec?

But at the same time as marathon training, I'm doing the "Couch to 5k" app with my husband. A more unlikely runner you couldn't find - only through lack of interest I should hasten to add. It's taken me 20 years to get him to come out with me! But he's done three runs now, he hasn't complained once and I reckon that he will be pretty nippy once he gets into the swing of it. It was his new resolution on reaching 50. So for anyone tempted, the app could be perfect - the worst thing is heading out, blasting around the streets for 400m and then collapsing in a heap never to go out again. This is a gentle, structured introduction that includes lots of walking as well.  

Oh, and the "Mind over Marathon" TV programme was brilliant. I loved seeing how running transformed the lives of those involved in such a moving and positive way. I would imagine that if you weren't sure whether you could get out there and do it (and I know that it's not for everyone) this might just be the thing to get someone to put on their trainers and give it a go.

And of course non of us ever likes how we look in skin tight lycra but again, a splash of pink or coral - or some flowers and a few layers always helps. I'm still loving the way that my Prism Leggings and Seafolly Festival Hoodie (both available at Cocobay) feel when I'm running in them. These are my running staples but I also have a good splash of pieces from GAP, H&M and Primark for running in too - so it's really not necessary to spend a lot to get going.

I hope that you all have something fab planned for the weekend, or if not, that you can just sit back and relax for a while. x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

So how do you run 24 miles? (If I couldn't do it with a friend, I wouldn't do it at all!)

But before I start.....

I didn't manage to get a place in the ballot for the London Marathon, which means that I am fundraising for Coram, who do amazing work with vulnerable and underprivileged children. I feel really uncomfortable asking for donations from people, so instead I will shortly be posting about a fabulous competition that I am going to run on here to help reach my target. Do keep your eyes open! 

Twenty four miles is the most that my friend and I have run whilst training for the London Marathon. "How do you do it?" is a question that I've been asked a lot recently.  Compared to some, I've run very little. Many others have run much further than this and much more frequently too.  But the one thing that I do remember is being in the position, not so long ago, where I would look at others and think "How on earth do you do that? How is it physically possible?"

On reading this I really DID ask myself "how is that physically possible?" The author is an ultra-marathon runner. 50 miles, 100 miles - it's no problem to him!

The answer is you build up to it slowly. It's not as if you just wake up one day and think to yourself "Oh I know, today I'll go and run 24 miles." Having completed the Birmingham half marathon last October, my friend and I ran the half marathon distance possibly once a month until Christmas. The day after Boxing Day we did 13 miles, the week later 16 miles, then 18 miles, 20 miles, 22 miles and then 24 miles. So like anything, if you build up little by little, it's not so much of a shock to the body.

The day before, and the day of, a long run preparation is key. We do our long runs on a Friday afternoon and we do shorter sessions, and hill and sprint work, either together, or alone, or with other super lovely friends who run, during the week.

I don't do too much exercise the day before. On a Friday morning I eat a lightish breakfast, have a mid-morning nutri-bullet and an early lunch. Then, when the running watch starts charging, together with the FitBit, and the phone - when the bum bag gets loaded up, when the key and cash get stashed in the phone holder that I wear on my arm - that's when the adrenaline kicks in.

Unlocking the key to the success of the Kenyans in distance running. 

I wouldn't want anyone to be under the illusion that we run 24 miles non-stop. After five or so miles we'll have a quick stop. Out comes the M&S chocolate flapjack, the elderflower water, the Love Hearts, Twix - you name it, we've got it. In fact, if we're honest we probably spend most of our run working out when we can next stop to eat something delicious and sweet.  We could do with a Mrs Overall style trolley for our three course meal that we take with us. And thereafter we'll stop every 40 minutes or so to top up as once you've gone past the point of no return, you really know about it.

And as for passing the time? Well we go in phases. Mostly we chat - a lot. In fact a friend of mine said the other day that she heard us coming before she saw us, which was impressive as we were wearing huge amounts of pink lycra.

We talk about our children, work, schools, things we've read and how we're going to run on the day. What if one is faster than the other? What if one needs a loo stop? What techniques are we going to use to motivate ourselves through the tricky spots? And most importantly, how are we going to communicate given that, for once, we won't actually be talking? We un-pack things that need unpacking and when the going gets tough, which is does, we try to re-set one another's brains by the use of distraction, or pretending that we've only just started and that we're full of beans, whereas really we're at mile 18 and just want to go home.

Occasionally we'll just plod along in silence - but that's usually only when we're going up hill and we're breathing too hard to talk. Then one of us will say "I'll talk at the top" and on we plod until we've made it and normal chatting is resumed.

We have run in all weathers and sometimes the harshest weather makes it more fun. Blizzards, hail, snow, rain, wind (my least favourite) - it all helps with the stamina. I think that our greatest difficulty will be if it's too warm as that is something that we're not used to at all.

And crikey sometimes we're laughing so much that we have to stop running. We've been known to balance precariously over canal locks when the tow paths have been closed. We've clambered over, under, through and around barriers of no-go areas. We've run through the industrial backwaters of Birmingham, under the M5 bridges and under railway bridges with their huge concrete supports, expecting (in my case) to find a dead body at any moment.

And then, when we run up one of the hills to get us home, sometimes we get that fourth, fifth or sixth wind and it no longer hurts. It feels as though we're flying. Not out of breath, not aching just powering up towards the traffic lights that signal home. And then we stop. And then we can't move again because everything hurts and those seconds of pure joy have passed. But still we keep on chatting...

So my tips - none of which are revolutionary or revelatory because if you're training for a distance this will have all be covered in a training plan/manual somewhere:

  • If I couldn't do it with a friend I wouldn't do it at all. Of that I'm sure!
  • Whilst some people love them, I'm suspicious of the gels and would rather eat proper food, even if on the day I carry little bits and nibble it slowly - so flapjack, Naked bars - it's all good stuff. And sweets really do give you that sugar kick just when you need it;
  • On a long run avoid looking your watch too often. It's like going on a long plane journey - you just have to switch off and let the hours wash over you;
  • The long runs for us are to get used to the miles and to build stamina - not really for the speed, although we do wear running watches so that we know how we're doing. It's the other training - the hills and the sprint work that will help with the speed and a bit like baking a cake, hopefully it will come together on the day;
  • I find that core and leg work also help with strength, although it may just be psychological;
  • I love reading books about runners - Running with the Kenyans, Eat and Run, Running Like a Girl, books about Ultra Marathon runners - all of them have the page corners turned down at places where I find something helpful or inspiring;
  • Running is as much psychological as it is physical. Next on my reading list is "the Runner's Brain". If you can accept that it's normal to want to stop, then you're half way to keeping on going! 
  • What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. You may prefer to run alone, to listen to music or listen to podcasts, to re-fuel with gels - it's all just trial and error really. But the one thing that I am sure of is that never once have felt worse after a run than before. 

Monday, 19 October 2015

The Birmingham half marathon - it's all done and dusted (with photos as evidence!) Thank you to you all for your support!

Yesterday it was the day of the Birmingham half marathon and to those who wished me well, who made a donation to Edward's Trust, who gave up their precious time and came out to cheer, who watched it on TV in the vain hope of spotting me (thanks Mum), who made banners, who ran with me for the last half mile, through the tunnel, through the crowds along Broad Street and up to the finish line shouting encouragement at the top of his voice (thanks Freddie) a HUGE THANK YOU!

This was where I saw the family, plus friends, just after mile 12. Clearly sunglasses were not required for the sun but they have a "rose tinted" effect on my surroundings. And they help me to channel my inner Paula. Something needs to!

Before every race I skim through my favourite book - Running Like A Girl" (£6.79) taking comfort and inspiration from some of the quotes in it, such as:

"The moments of anger or desolation that runners experience at desperate points of a lengthy race are basic physiological reactions to the situation. But once you have accepted what they are then you have learned to conquer them, and you will begin to believe that anything is possible" i.e. It's normal to feel really, really terrible at times. It's all part of the process. You've just get to get on with it and things will get better. And it's true, they do.

This is another of my favourite quotes: "[Running] is an honour, a privilege and a gift." And it truly is. When the going gets tough - and it does get tough, especially when slogging up a hill at mile 11 - I remind myself how lucky I am that I am able to do this and that I mustn't ever, ever, take it for granted.  

And this is the reason why I really like this book, especially for those women who think that running really isn't for them - even though they may secretly want it to be:

"This book is the one I didn't have but would have liked to have read before I went on my first (disastrous) run. Something for those people who think they can't run for whatever reason. For the women who think they aren't slim enough to wear running kit or that it's not worth it if they don't want to compete an entire marathon, for the women who think that running around in circles is an idiotic way to spend the best part of an hour. For those women who don't yet trust that it really is a source of immeasurable pleasure, self-belief and unexpected companionship, rather  than a necessary purgatory - that they might, just might, enjoy the confidence, the physical ease or the mental clarity that running brings."

Mr SG did a fab job of taking photos, especially given that I whizzed past at such a cracking pace (!!)

I think that I've yet to find a running outfit that is actually flattering but I do have favourite brands and one day I may do a post on them. One thing I do really like though are my Saucony Guide trainers (£110). These are about my 5th or 6th pair now. Earlier in the summer I went off grid and bought some Asics, really because I found the colours of the Saucony ones boring (hello, Mrs Shallow alert here) but I paid the price in more ways than one and I won't be making that mistake again. Although I should add that some people love Asics. It's just what works for you as an individual really.

I realise that the time has sort of passed but if anyone would still like to make a donation via my Just Giving page, it will be open for a while longer. I am so, so grateful to everyone who donated. Some of you know me only through here so once again, thank you! (And special thanks to Libby, my running pal who made every step so much more fun.)

I am hoping that next year I will be accompanied by a group of friends who will either be running a half marathon for the first time, or who will be running again having had a couple of years off. So, if anyone wants to join in, you know where to find me! In the meantime, London beckons....

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Making friends happy with clothes - thanks to Whistles, Gap and Boden

My "day off" today started with an hour long session with the personal trainer I have been seeing over the summer and finished with an 8.5 mile run. Somehow I seem to have inadvertently ended up training for a half marathon. I don't quite know how it happened, and how you can "inadvertently" train for a half marathon is beyond me - but anyway there it is.

In between those activities, I nipped into town for an hour. As I arrived in the car park, lots of car alarms were going off. It was as if there was some huge announcement that the Lita leather jacket had come back into stock in Whistles but sadly that was not the case. I think that the car alarm situation could have been caused by the loud music from the car in front. It was ridiculous. Didn't the young man inside realise that I wanted to listen to Woman's Hour for goodness sake?

I had a great time in town, picking up pieces that friends and clients were after and then dropping them off. I think I'm slightly odd as I get a real high from finding the "unfindable"!

Before any of that happened though the Boden Patsy heels were delivered for a friend of mine. They have a great heel height and as she last bought something similar when she was pregnant with her son who is now 8, she is delighted.

I picked up the Whistles terrazzo scarf for a friend who was at work. The 25% Grazia discount voucher came in very handy, reducing it from £45 to £33. The colours are actually much prettier in real life. It has a very pale pink and an icy blue in it.

Now there's a whole story behind getting hold of the Whistles Lita leather biker jacket in grey. In a nutshell it goes like this: A friend of mine was after one but it was sold out online and in store. Liking a challenge, I offered to try and track one down for her. Whistles customer services (who were brilliant) advised that it was out of stock but that 7 units (not quite sure what that means) were due to go on the website at some point.

After dinner this evening I checked the Whistles site and there it was. I quickly stuck it in my basket and after a flurry of phone calls and texts to said friend, during which she gave me the online Grazia discount code (my voucher with the details on it was long gone.....) it was mine. Or hers. Or mine until she has run the half marathon and then she's allowed to have it. However up until that time I will no doubt try it on and pretend it's mine, just as our eldest does with my shoes when I'm out and I come home and find them in random places around the house. 

These GAP skinny mini camo trousers which are sold out on line but which were in the sale in our local store, are on their way to Newcastle to a friend up there who couldn't get hold of a pair locally.

These GAP true straight pants will be dropped off tomorrow to a client who lives locally. They didn't have her size when we shopped yesterday but did so today. They are an absolute favourite of mine at the moment. They are amazing for anyone who is after a pair of smart trousers, which can also be worn at the weekend. They are machine washable, made of 95% cotton and 5% elastane, come in black, navy and grey, cost £34.95 and whilst slim fitting aren't skinny, which means they are more up to date than a boot cut trouser but they aren't too skinny for work. The rise is good too. Have I raved enough? One pair of trousers won't suit every shape but these are definitely worth a look and just as good as the Reiss Paris trousers which are considerably more expensive.

So all in all a good day. I like making people happy by finding them things that they like. Did I pick up anything for myself on my trip? Yes, I fear I may have done so. But more about those pieces another day...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Secret to Running (at any age!)

I'll let you in to a secret about running.....there is no secret. No-one is better, or mentally stronger, or has a magic ingredient that you couldn't possibly hope to have. They've just trained themselves to do it. (But there are a few things that you can do to make it easier). 

I've been asked by lots of people recently to write a blog post about running, specifically whether I'm a life long runner, or whether running is a recent thing for me, plus how to go about getting fit in "middle age".  So here it is. 

Now I can't pretend that I'm a serious runner in the club sense of the word, or that I'm ever even remotely interested in my times, unless I'm racing. And compared to lots of people I haven't run that much at all - 5 half marathons and one marathon, with my second planned for Sunday.

But running is as big a part of my life as it can be, next to being a wife, Mum, sister, daughter (in no particular order), friend, running a home and working. In fact sometimes it bumps one or two others off the top of the list - particularly running the home. The dust will always be there for a rainy day.

So this is my story.....

I ran on and off sporadically for many years. Occasionally I would go before school in the morning, then I ran fairly consistently at University and at Law School, plus when I trained in London - although the taxi fumes used to make me wheeze a bit after running around Green Park at lunchtime. Then when I was 25 I moved to Birmingham and I think that work got in the way, so I pretty much stopped my sporadic running.

After I came out of the fog of having had our first two, so when I was about 32 or 33, I remember going to see an osteopath because my back was bad and I was horrified to hear that my muscles were like jelly and that my tone was poor. I was slim and I had time on my side but my muscles were rubbish. I was indignant. So indignant!

So I started doing some exercise again - mainly dancing and pilates. Then, having decided that I would never be a runner, I progressed to power walking in the early mornings with our son in a pushchair, and then at work at lunchtime. I also cycled to and from work.

I never really thought that I would get into running properly (and I know it's not for everyone). I'd always found more than half an hour - well even up to half an hour - pretty miserable. I remember reading an article about a girl who started running with her Dad to get fit and after a few weeks she realised that she really started to look forward to her running sessions. I thought that she was bonkers. Totally mad. How could anyone look forward to THAT? 

Then just before I got pregnant with our third (so when I was about 37) I started running again with a girl who lived locally. I can't even remember what prompted it now but I do remember our first run. She was good. I was not. After our first run, which was about 4/5 miles in total, I was puce and shaking. Seriously, I think that my body was in shock. Shortly afterwards I was pleased to find out that I was pregnant and that I couldn't run any more! (Arguably it's a slightly drastic approach but it bought me a good few years!) 

After number 3, I spent three or four mornings a week swimming, with Matilda sitting in her car seat on the side of the pool. And then one day I noticed that I had arm muscles.  That was quite a nice feeling. And that all coincided with meeting new people who I really liked and they ran so I joined them in it. By this stage I was probably 39 or 40. I felt self conscious in a group though - I was the weakest link and occasionally I dropped out but I got to like the chatting, the freedom and the brain space that it gave me. Oh and I discovered that I liked running in the dark. You can't see the hills in the dark or the road stretching out into the distance. See, I still had a slight aversion to it even then. 

Five years ago my usual running buddy was away over the summer and another friend said that she was training for the Birmingham half marathon. I was happy to go out and train with her but never did I imagine, for one minute, that someone like me would run it. I just didn't think that I was good enough, or fast enough....or anything "enough" really. And then having done the training I thought that I may as well run the race. So I did and it was fabulous. I loved the whole thing and still couldn't believe that someone like me could do something like THAT.

And then as I've got older, I've done more running and I love it. I love being out in the fresh air, the brain space that I get and I love chatting to my friends, I honestly think that the older you get, the more stamina you get. And if you've had babies - well nothing compares to the slog of giving birth!

So that's where I am with it now. I run probably five times a week and I can tell within a few steps whether I'm going to find it an easy run or a hard run. I often get hot and sweaty, or freezing cold and wet in the rain. I've run in snow, hail, wind and heat. And still I love it. Well sometimes I hate it but never if I'm with my friends and if I'm on my own and hate it well, I just go home. 


I remember my friend and I listening with interest when Paul Radcliffe was being interviewed on the radio. We listened with baited breath as to how she answered the questions "How do you start running?" What would she answer? What was the magic formula? How do you do this weird and wonderful thing that so many people do for hours on end? 

"you just put your trainers on and you go out of the door and start running". WHAT? Was that it? Was that all that she could offer us? In one sense she's right but I think that I may be able to offer a bit more insight. So this is what I would suggest:

Apps for beginners...

I know of two people close to me who have found apps really useful. I've witnessed my husband literally going from not being able to run for more than a minute and a half at the start of May, to doing 8km now without any problem. The great thing is that the Apps take the mystery out of running and the worry of whether you're going too slow or too fast and running for too short a distance or too long a distance. Follow them and your body will adapt so that you can make the distance. There are apps to follow for lots of distances so once you've finished the first one, you can always go on to the next one. 

For those who want to increase their distance/pace...mix it up! 

If you have been running for a while and you've reached the half an hour mark but want to break through that, I think that a slightly different approach helps.

Rather than slogging around the same route three times a week and hoping that it gets easier (often it doesn't) mix it up a little. Maybe try doing one "long" run at a slower pace than you would normally run. If you go with a friend and can maintain a chat, even a slightly panting one, that's a good sign.

The aim of this run is to increase your stamina. So maybe rather than thinking about the distance you want to cover during this run, think of the time that you want to be on your feet. Maybe aim for an extra ten or fifteen minutes. In training for this marathon, on our long runs my friend and I regularly stop - sometimes for a good fifteen minutes at Costa for a cherry bakewell, some ice cold water and a loo trip. Does it matter? Maybe, who knows? But it makes those three to four hours much more bearable and it gets the miles in the legs, which is the aim of the long run.

Alongside that do a hill session each week. This could be shorter - so perhaps about 20 minutes or so. Either choose a route with a few hills and work your way up those, or choose one hill and run to the top, walk down and run up again. The aim of this run is to increase your fitness. You will get out of breath and it might not be comfortable - but it will definitely help. 

And then if you can work in a speed session, this will help too. My husband is currently following an app to increase his speed. Essentially you run at your normal pace for a few minutes and then do a couple of minutes at an increased pace - not a sprint pace as you need to do it five or six times and not collapse in a heap after the first round. But just a bit faster, to the point that you probably couldn't hold a conversation with a friend. 

Once you have worked on your stamina, your fitness and your pace, you will find that you can run for longer. It's a bit like making a cake really - lots of different ingredients need to come together for it to be a good one!

Join a running Club

I've never really felt that running clubs are for me. It's more the rigidity of the timing of the sessions that puts me off - it's another thing to factor into a timetable that's already busy but I know many who love their running clubs and for sure, they will get you on the straight and narrow. But personally I prefer to be a bit wiggly! 


There are some fab books out there to read. One of my favourites is "Running Like a Girl" by Alexandra Heminsley. I would encourage any female runners out there to read this. Before any race I dip back into it and take a look at my favourite paragraphs. This is one of them:

"What I didn't know on those very early first runs - the ones where even my face seemed to hurt when I got home - was that I wasn't lily-livered or week-willed. Nor was I biomechanically unable to run. I was in fact "going lactic". I had no idea that for at regular pace it takes about ten minutes for the body to start taking on oxygen as fast as it needs it, for one's breathing to regular or for one's body to be properly warmed up. In fact I had not idea what pace I should be going at all.  My goal was simply not to die before the end. For weeks I suspected I was only able to run for ten minutes.......I want to weep when I think of the number of women who head round the block, only to return twelve minutes later, broken and tearful.....if only someone had told me sooner." 

And it's so true. Mile 2 of a run can honestly feel as bad as mile 20. Or put another way, you don't necessarily feel any worse at mile 20, than you do at mile 2.

Running Like a Girl (£5.94) Amazon

 One of my other favourite books "Don't stop me now" is by Vassos Alexander. Entitled "26.2 tales of a runner's obsession", he charts his running escapades and intersperses it with accounts of how others first started running, from Paula Radcliffe to Steve Cram the Brownlees and Nell McAndrew. If like me you people really interest you, this is a great read and easy to pick up and put down.

Take the pressure off..

But most of all remember, this is meant to be fun! Few of us are going to win any serious medals so see it as an opportunity to do something for yourself, to get out, to see your friends and to enjoy being outside and watching the seasons change. Life is made up of so many things that we have to do and this isn't one of them. So if it's not for you, don't do it. There are plenty of other things out there to do instead.

I should just add that of course this is only my view and everyone will have a different view and a different approach. Plus I haven't covered stretching, foam rolling and all the other bits and bobs - they may be for another post. As to running in middle age - well so long as you've not already caused yourself a nasty injury through something else, there's no reason why you can't be as good as the next person. Running is one of those things that we can actually get better with as we age. And as awful as the idea sounds, entering a race really gives you the feeling of what it's all about - the training, the preparation, the crowd, the feeling afterwards - it's nerve wracking but exciting.

Oh and if any of you ever fancy a run, you know where to find me. I'm always up for a run (and a cherry bakewell en route.)

Monday, 2 May 2016

Marathon Moments....

Firstly, I owe so many of you a huge thank you for your support in the run up to the London Marathon. From those who donated to my fund-raising page, to those who bought items from my Style Guile Sale. To those of you who bought the cakes that I made, who offered Good Luck wishes via cards, email, text, Facebook, Instagram and twitter and of course thanks to those for the words of wisdom that rang in my ears: "Your brain will always tell you to stop but just keep turning the legs." Wise words indeed at mile 25 when I really DID. JUST. WANT. TO. STOP! 

And of course thanks to my friend Libby (I would never have done it without her) and to our long suffering families who endured the journey with us, turning out on the day complete with banners and food for afterwards and by no mean logistical feat, making sure that they saw us as often as they could. 

After all of your support, it's only fair that I share a few photos. Not the most flattering but I love them nonetheless.  All of them are taken somewhere between miles 14.75 and mile 22 - apart from the last one which, as is pretty evident, was taken at the end. 

The day was fantastic. In fact the whole weekend was fantastic. It was really like a girls' weekend away for us with a bit of running thrown in. We were disciplined and didn't do any shopping, or sight seeing as we needed to keep off our legs -  but we went to the Mae Deli (Deliciously Ella's Deli) for our pre race dinner of sweet potato, roasted veg, rice and hummus plus (in my case at least) the most enormous piece of peanut fudge brownie - which was delicious.

In our hotel room the night before, we managed to spend five hours doing nothing other than eating, fixing our race numbers to our tops, sorting out kit, attaching the chip to our trainers, checking and re-checking kit and our race bags. Talk about a lot of time spent doing - well not a lot really.

As to the race itself, the volume of runners was phenomenal. The atmosphere was incredible - a bit like a huge party but also tinged with sadness given the causes for which people were running. Oddly the miles whizzed by which sounds crazy. How can you run for 4 hours and for it to go so quickly? A lot of time is spent checking your watch, altering your pace, overtaking, taking on water, remembering to eat, watching for the family, checking you're still both where you're meant to be and so on.

We were really, really lucky. Neither of us got cramp, stitch or blisters. Neither of us needed the loo or hit the wall (well it wasn't likely really given the flapjack, sweets and fudge that we managed to get down us!) and nor did we need to walk. The only real surprise - other than finishing - was that we both got slight sunburn. For those who like a bit of race geek talk, all of our 5k splits were pretty even, averaging about 27/28 mins per 5k. We finally came in at 4.00.13 - just a few seconds more than we would have ideally liked - but not enough to go for a re-match!

You see that's the good thing about having a Physiotherapist for an Aunt. Although it doesn't really look much fun does it? That lactic acid stuff hurts - but only really when I stopped.

And another by product? For a few minutes I couldn't talk, so the only way to retrieve my running bag from the lorries that they are put on was to lift my top and thrust my chest forward with my race number on it to the young man who was handing the bags back. Not once, but twice. Because still I couldn't speak. And now I bet neither can he. Traumatised he must be. Traumatised.

I'm so happy that I managed to raise just over £2000. Thank you again for all of your support. Please do let me return the favour sometime. Beth x

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Photo shoot shots!

I know that it's been a while and that one or two people are wondering whether I've actually finished the Marathon yet or whether I'm still en route, so I thought that I would share with you what I've been up to this week. I plan to do a "post Marathon" post when I have a little more time but for now...

For now, I've been having fun on a photo shoot. It's always lovely when the chance comes along to be in a shoot rather than styling it and having your make-up applied by a professional make-up artist is a fabulous experience. Mind you, I'm rubbish at the more serious shots. I can't help laughing and now that I have lines whatever my expression, I would rather have a smile to accompany them.

I'm allowed to share the clothes but not details of the campaign just yet.  And given that there's a sale on, I thought that I would crack on in case anyone fancied trying this navy Warehouse jumpsuit (£58). With the code TREAT20 it has 20% off. I loved wearing this but I should share that when it comes to sizing, it's quite short in the body so I went up to a 10, which also gives a bit more room in the boob department too. 

I also chose to wear these Snake print Stan Smith trainers from Schuh (£72). I'm such a trainer girl these days. But I do like the mix of smart and casual and of course lots of styles of shoe would work with this jumpsuit, from block heel to stilettos and wedges too.

 If I hadn't just bought the Baukjen jumpsuit that I featured a few weeks ago, I could well be tempted with this one...

Hope that everything is good with all you lovely readers and I plan to be back soon. Thank you for your patience and concern x

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

How to create a fail safe outfit for an evening out....could I ask a favour please?

On Saturday night I was out at the Edward's Trust Ball. Edward's Trust is a fantastic charity which provides a wide range of support services to bereaved families and children. They don't receive any government funding despite the NHS referring children, so they really rely on charitable donations.

I've previously been to the Edward's Trust Garden Party where I saw an exhibition of the artwork done by children who had lost a parent. There were pictures painted both prior to, and having received, the support of Edward's Trust and there was no better way to demonstrate the impact that the work of ET has. Even thinking about those pictures makes me want to cry. But being a snivelling wreck doesn't help anyone does it? However running a half marathon for Edward's Trust hopefully will. So on Sunday 18th October, that is what I shall be doing - running the Birmingham half marathon for Edward's Trust.

Last year I asked if anyone would be happy to donate to my Just Giving page and I was overwhelmed with the kindness of people who supported me. So despite it making me feel slightly uncomfortable, I'm going to ask again - because sometimes doing what feels wrong, is actually the right thing to do. I hope that no-one ever needs to use the services of ET or a similar organisation but knowing that it exists offers comfort. So anyway, here's my just giving page. Just in case anyone would like to give - even just a little. (Thank you, I'll try not to let anyone down.)

As with most events these days, I prefer a slightly more dressed up/dressed down look - mostly because I find it warmer and more comfortable. So this is the look that I opted for on Saturday night and how I went about creating it.

1. Take one pair of black trousers....

I love my silky track pants from Topshop and Boden has a great pair this season, which you can see here (£69 but currently in the sale for £60.03). The reviews are actually very, very positive for Bodenites and I am tempted with the navy. Because of course we all need about 10 pairs of navy trousers in our wardrobes don't we?

For anyone looking for a slightly different style of trousers, joggers - ignore the term, it conjures up images of 1980's style shell suits and headbands - are a great place to start. They are versatile and flattering both with flats and heels, blazers, biker jackets and long coats. And not many trousers can make that claim!

2. Take one top with enough coverage to keep warm (yes there was a vest underneath, albeit silky and black) but which has enough about it so as not to look like a t-shirt or a work top!

I also wore a brocade top from Miss Selfridge which I bought last winter, just before Christmas. I've checked and I can't see anything similar at the moment but leave it with me and I'll see what I can come up with. In the meantime, Jigsaw has this cropped top (£79) which (I think) would be the perfect length with these trousers. It's not really cropped in the sense that we think of cropped, rather just waist length as opposed to hip length or below. It sold out in ivory in the summer so it's good to see it back in stock. It would be great with a big statement necklace to make it slightly dressier and it would also work with anything which has a slightly higher waistband, such as a pleated skirt.

3. Add a pair of heels- go a high as you can!

As for shoes, I ordered these from the Karen Millen sale after Christmas for £40 instead of £140. It was the first time that I wore them and they were really comfortable. High, but comfortable! They are currently on the site for £90. I would be tempted to ring Bicester!

4. Stick on a pair of chandelier ear-rings from Stella & Dot (£40) - and Bob's your uncle.

The only problem is, I don't have a gold watch. So that's my Christmas pressie sorted, which Mr SG is pretty happy about.

I have to apologise for the photo. My photographer thinks that every other photo should be of her so she flips the screen without me knowing to take a photo of herself. This leaves me with half of the photos that I would normally get. And believe me, I need more than two to choose from.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Cross Body Bags - the gem of a handbag collection

Since I went to Bicester a few weeks ago and bought an LK Mariel cross body bag, I've barely taken it off....

The thing that really works about this bag is that it has two compartments to it, which means that it's big enough for a purse, credit card holder, keys, lipstick, phone AND some spare plastic bags for my bits and bobs. And that's all it needs to be capable of carrying, making it perfect. Oh and of course having two hands free and not having to keep hoiking your bag onto your shoulder is also a real bonus.

This is this season Mariel bag from LK Bennett (£175), which comes in animal print, black studded, grey, red, black, oxblood and there's a sunshine yellow one for £77.

Another of my favourites is the Fifi bag from Hush (£99), which comes in grey and black. It's width from front to back is substantial so although it doesn't have the two separate compartments, it can still hold plenty. And (predictably) I love the star.

The Wren cross body bag from Jigsaw (£99) comes in navy, black, Nordic orange and wine. It's a real gem and again has the two separate compartments gig going on. I like the idea of a small bag - it's chic and elegant and makes it look as though I have my schizzle together. Plus I can't gather too much rubbish in a small bag so it makes me keep on top of my receipt/tissue/chocolate wrapper game. Is that possibly one of the best (or worst) excuses ever for a purchase?!

The Esme camera bag from Mint Velvet (£109) also made it onto my list. Obviously the Gucci one would too, but for it's price tag - but this would do nicely instead. I love the studded tassel which is just a little bit rock chick. But of course it would be easy enough to find a tassel and put it on a similar bag to create the same look. 

For a relatively inexpensive option, there's the M&S faux leather cross body bag (£29.50). I love the mixture of navy and black with the silver hardware and it's a great place to start for anyone who feels that a more streamlined bag maybe a little too "studio flat" for them, rather than their usual mansion style bag. 

And of course we might expect Boden to be in on the act, which they are with this Lyon cross body bag (Boden £77 to £110). The great thing is that it is available in five colours, so there should be something for everyone. 

Oh and just by way of an update, thank you so much to everyone for your marathon good luck wishes and also for responding to my last post. I will get back to you soon, I promise! I came in with a respectable (but not fantastic) time of 4:10. The first 19/20 miles were great and I loved them but the last 6/7 weren't a particularly pleasant experience. It wasn't that I hit the wall, or that I hadn't hydrated well enough, or that I was in pain. It's just a flipping long way, my music was a bit rubbish by then, there weren't that many people and I'd had enough. Plus it was a really hilly course. And whoever thought that it was a good idea to put in a steep hill at mile 25 was an absolute numpty. I'm three toe nails down with a slightly sore hip (which didn't start until about Wednesday) but oddly my back and my slightly sore hamstring stood the test and feel much better for it. Isn't the body a weird thing?! So thank you again - and to my lovely friends and family plus anyone else who came out to support - it makes such a difference, especially when you've resorted to counting the white lines down the middle of the road to make sure that you keep putting one foot in front of the other! 

Monday, 4 September 2017

September, I'm coming for you!

September can be a funny month. The start of a new term, children moving onwards and upwards, a chill in the air meaning that autumn is on its way and most of all, change. I've concluded that humans don't like change very much.

Don't make me go home!

During our last few days in Guernsey I was sort of dreading the return home, to life and a daily routine. And then I re-visited the "roundabout" as per my earlier post and I decided that either September could rule me, or I could get my schizzle together and tackle it head on. So before I left Guernsey I started to get my act together and I sent just one or two emails of things that I knew needed doing around the house, just to get the ball rolling. Little steps and all that.

So in no particular order these are things that I'm going to tackle and this is what I have in mind to do - a list of New (school) Year Resolutions - if you like.

Stuff around the house:

I've contacted a local handy man. The tap in our downstairs loo needs fixing, plus I have pictures to go up. I'd like to re-grout the bathroom floor and buy a new blind for the bathroom too. Even knowing that those things are in hand have made me feel better.

The girls have both tidied their bedrooms and the car is full of stuff for the charity shops. I've been through my wardrobe and sorted my clothes out, meaning that I now have a better idea of what I have and what I'd like to add. That too is a weight lifted.

There's a chair I'd like re-covering, and I'd like to replace the blind in the spare room as well as get a new sheepskin rug for it - so those things are now in hand. 

I've booked the decorator to come at the end of October to paint one of the bedrooms and also the bathroom. We've been in this house for nearly 13 years now and neither room has been decorated since we arrived. How bad is that?!

So that's it for the house for now, other than needing a new desk chair. It's GCSE year for our son and he will be sitting at his desk a lot. Oh yes, he will! 

Stuff to do for me:

Get a hair cut. I purposefully haven't had my hair cut for ages but now is the time to go for the chop. That will make me feel a whole lot better. 

Think about having a spot of botox. I've never really seriously contemplated it before now but I might just investigate it. It may not go any further than that but there's no harm in looking. 

Get back to eating 3 proper meals a day rather than summer type food. I love home made soups and stews and with the marathon coming up, I need to keep on top of my nutrition game even more. 

Plan my winter wardrobe - but that's worthy of a blog post in its own right!

Back from holiday and contemplating the jobs (and washing!) to be done

Stuff to do for work:

Say "yes" to more things that I'm invited to do. Historically I've felt that every minute of my working day should be accounted for - it stems from having time sheets as a lawyer. But I need to get out and have more fun at events, socials, networking and just in general.

Manage my work streams better. Being freelance I have lots of different "arms" to my work from personal styling, to fashion and commercial styling, TV work, blogging, working with brands and running style events. I'm never quite sure that I'm top of all of them at all times.  Any tips would be gratefully received! 

Get on top of my social media. My profile pics need updating, my Pinterest link doesn't work on my blog and there are a million and other one little things that need attending to. 

Get back in the shops pronto so I that I can fully suss out the new season's collections in preparation for all the personal shopping I have coming up. 

Sort out all my paperwork and maybe do my tax return before the end of October, rather than waiting until the end of January. 

First day back at work - judging the Midlands Media Awards. Excuse the knackered plant pots. I'm going to go and move them RIGHT NOW! 

Stuff to do for the children:

With Flo heading off to University, there are a lot of things that I need to do with her. We need to shop for bits and bobs, get her meningitis C vaccination organised and I need to help her with her bank accounts and finances. 

So that's my list of tasks for the month ahead. Does anyone else have anything that they want to add? Is there anything that you routinely do in September? (Please don't mention Christmas!!!) and which makes you feel a whole lot better. Oh but of course I forgot the most important thing. September traditionally means new school a new pair of shoes must feature in there somewhere! 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Our Living Room Mood Board - I have plans!

Now that the  back of the house has been sorted out, it's time to address the rooms at the front of the house - namely the living room and the kitchen. We're nearly there in terms of what we would like to do with the kitchen but the living room has (and is) taking a little more thought.

View of the house from the garden. Designed by Khoury Architects

Living room layout

Our living room is a fairly long, thin, oblong shape with a bay window at one end. At the opposite end there used to be French doors leading into the conservatory but earlier this year they were taken out and replaced with a wall. Behind the new wall is a store room - which is great for all the detritus that needs to be hidden from view - but it's not so good for the light in the living room. Oh and the door into the living room from the hall is also in a funny place, effectively cutting the room in half. So really it's a bit like two separate narrow rooms, with the one furthest from the window being very dark. Excellent!

Work so far

As part of the renovations earlier in the year, we made some alterations to the living room. First, there was only one radiator in it, which wasn't sufficient so the room was cold and uninviting. We had it replaced with two ladder radiators, which are much better. We also had the spots taken out of the ceiling and they were replaced with a centre light fitting, plus the TV point was removed so that the TV is now the opposite end of the room, away from the window and the glare from the sun.

Now for the fun part

Given that the new room at the back of the house is very light and decorated in greys, neutrals and all things Scandi, it seems a good idea to break out into a riot of colour in the living room, which is entirely self contained so it can have a strong personality of its own. The walls, however, I think will be darkish - but warm darkish - for a cosy feel. The room is currently painted almost white and it's still dark in there at the far end so I think it's a case of embracing the lack of light and not trying to pretend that it's something that it's not. 

Where we're at so far

So a few weeks ago I came across the blog The Pink House and I've been fairly glued to it ever since. Given my love of many thing pink, it's not surprising that I love Emily's blog, and in particular her post called "From Grot to Glamour - the Pink House Den before and after" which you can read here.

This is a picture of Emily's Den as it is now...

[photographer Susie Lowe]

Emily's den was in turn was inspired by this picture that she saw in 25 Beautiful Homes Magazine and which was designed by Jessica Buckley, an interior designer who lives in Edinburgh. I love the clever use of colour in these rooms which are just so fresh, inviting and uplifting.

The other living room that I love is Erica Davies' of The Edited. You can read all about the styling of her living room in the post "The House Files: My living room before and after" here. For those of you who haven't already read the post, I won't spoil it but safe to say that she has taken a very plain room and turned into something magical with gorgeous layers of colour, print, texture and interesting arrangements of accessories.

[photograpy by Eleanor Skan]

When does "taking inspiration" from something that someone else has done, become copying it?

I'm very happy not to keep re-inventing the wheel and so if the principle of something works (and if those who've done it the first time round don't mind) then I'm happy to go with it. If Emily says that Farrow & Ball stone blue is a warm blue then I'm good with that. Obviously I've tried it out and love it but other than that, why waste several hours in Homebase going through all the blues in the colour charts? So stone blue on the walls it will be.

The colour that Erica used in her living room is also a gorgeous bluey/grey. So desperate was I to get hold of a tester pot and so bad was the traffic that one morning last week I ran to our local John Lewis to get some, arriving at 8.58am and leaving shortly afterwards with said pot of Little Greene Paint Company Juniper Ash safely in my grasp. I also have plans for this colour...

What about the soft furnishings?

Well that, is where I think most of the colour will come in to play. And there are three things that I have in mind:
  • A large footstool which is in a horrible fabric. The design is good but the fabric yuck. I think I chose it (and the rest of the suite) in desperation when I was pregnant with our third. This will be re-covered, quite possibly in a smallish animal/geometric print;
  • The love seat that goes with said footstool. I'm planning on getting it re-covered in a fabric different to the footstool. The seat pad cushion, and back, may well be in a printed fabric whilst the rest of the chair may be plain, so that in years to come the cushions can be changed without too much expense;
  • We have just had a new pale grey sofa, so this will get new cushions - again in a fabric different to the footstool and love seat, and possibly different from one another.
And this is the type of thing that I have in mind

You cannot imagine the amount of fabric sample books that I have been through in the last week - Harlequin, Romo, Scion, Designer's Guild, Villa Nova, Osborne & Little and still I'm not entirely sure that I have found exactly what I'm after (how much of my mother's daughter am I? I think she was the only person in the world wanting an almond coloured, left handed opening, fridge freezer.)

These are the requirements: It needs to be bright, not too floral in nature or if so, modern floral as opposed to traditional floral. Graphics, spots, stripes or palm leaves are also good. I prefer a whiteish background as opposed to a mucky coloured one and I would like lots of blue in it. Oh and it need to work with, but not go with, this Designer's Guild wallpaper in the unit which was up-cycled in the summer. 


 Both of these prints are by Harlequin and are contenders. Or they were. I'm not so sure now...

This is the above print, shown made up on a sofa. And that's the thing isn't it? Fabrics always look so different when made up, that it can be easy to reject something that could be perfect.

But I'm a big fan of the Miami range from Designer's Guild. The fabrics are bright and fresh, pretty different to what else is out there and they all work together in a non-co-ordinated kind of way and across the colour spectrum.

And the one that I like the most...they have, of course, stopped making it in this colour way.  But I have several samples of prints on their way from various different companies, so I'll see where we are by the middle of the week.

So, despite all those musings what have I actually achieved so far? Hmmm, well that would be the purchase of this John Lewis painted lacquer tray (£30) because the colour is perfect and the lacquer gives it a lovely finish. 

And this Nicola Metcalfe London Skyline print from John Lewis (£55) - the colours of which are fab and it reminds me, in a painful kind of way, of running the London Marathon this year. 

Mr SG went to the motorbike show yesterday. "Can I buy whatever I like?" he said. "Of course darling" I replied "As long as I can be in charge of decorating the living room." He didn't buy a new motor bike. The living room will get decorated.