Brighton Marathon 2017

I did it! I finished a marathon! On Sunday 9th April 2017 I covered 26.2 miles on my own two legs.

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As some of my readers may be aware I only started running in July 2016, and had a rather over-ambitious goal to finish a marathon around 9 months later.

Luckily for me the training went smoothly – I completed my first 10K race in October 2016 and official Half Marathon in January 2017. My times for these were promising, so I moved my goal from finishing in 5 hours, to 4:15.

I trained hard, and even managed 3x 20 mile and 2x 18 mile long runs. Despite being a bag of nerves in the days/weeks leading up to the big day I was quietly confident I would do okay.

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After managing to avoid Southern Rail’s best attempts to ruin over journey to Brighton, we made a successful detour, and arrived nice and early on Saturday morning. We were lucky, and able to check in to our hotel early so we could dump our bags before heading down to the beach to pick up our numbers. Again, very easy with no queues.

We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening relaxing in the hotel, leaving only for our pre-race pizza, and becoming increasingly worried about the weather forecast. 16-17C and sunny – hotter than we were used to but not too much to worry about, surely! Read on….

In the morning we had a well-rehearsed breakfast, and I covered the inside of my legs in body glide (after experiencing chub rub during a rainy 20 miler I was leaving nothing to chance), and we left for the start area.

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I’d read from previous race reports that the queues for the toilets at Brighton are abysmal, and it’s safe to say that remains the same. I queued for almost an hour for a port-a-loo while enviously watching the men stroll in and out of the urinals. Seriously guys you don’t know how lucky you are!

Looking back I remember feeling incredibly hot while standing in the toilet queue. Which in hindsight probably should have been a warning sign – I was hot, stood still, at 8am! Running 26.2 miles in the midday sun was not going to end well!

After my pre-race wee I headed in the the yellow coral to wait for the race to start. Despite the crowds I randomly bumped into a pal who is a serial marathoner, and he helped calm my nerves.

As we set off, I dutifully started my Garmin and ensured I stayed within my planned 9:30mm pace. It was actually easy to not get carried away. In fact 9:30mm felt hard! That surely wasn’t right – 9:30mm had always felt easy in training. What was going on?!

I was behind people aiming for 10mm for quite a while, which at the time was really frustrating, but with hindsight probably did me a massive favour. At mile 6 I re-adjusted my goal to averaging 10mm throughout, as it was hotting up, the aid stations were chaos and I was struggling more than I ever anticipated.

I also started to panic, as the gels provided were flavours I’d never tried. This is despite Brighton Marathon sending out regular emails saying the gels would be citrus flavour, and to ensure we’d practised with these. Well I practised religiously, only to be given orange and apple flavours! In fact I don’t think there was a citrus gel on the entire course.

As the race plodded on, and I became increasingly terrified of pooing myself, I realised it was not my day. I reached the coast, but there was no sea breeze! I trained in Storm Doris, I was ready for a bit of wind, but relentless sun, no way.

At mile 10 I remembered thinking ‘when is this going to get easier?!’, and then realising I had 16.2 miles to go and it was only going to get harder and hotter. So I walked. I swore I wasn’t going to walk, but here I was strolling along – at mile 10!

But I felt so much better. The pressure was off, and I actually enjoyed the experience. I started to dance to the music and revelling in the atmosphere. I tucked into the jelly babies I had dutifully denied myself earlier on (as I hadn’t tried them in training) – if I was risking digestive problems for a yucky gel, I may as well have the sweets too!

I had short walking breaks every mile, and generally slowed down overall, but some how was still managing 10:30mm, and began feeling great.

At mile 19, I saw my boyfriend. I had seen him at various points earlier on in the race, but on the other side of the road, coming back from wherever I was headed. Unfortunately at mile 19, he was on my side of the road. I had caught him up! Something must have been wrong – he’s runs much faster than me, and had set off 10 mins earlier.

It turned out he had bad cramps, and was struggling with the heat. He could only run 100-200 metres before having to stop and walk. We stayed together for the rest of the race.

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It was incredibly distressing to see the number of people collapsed, and ambulances arriving. I felt so glad I slowed down earlier on. We were in the middle of the pack, but the water stations were already starting to dry up, or run out of cups. I felt awful thinking about all the runners in pink/green numbers behind us, and whether there would be any water for them. We later found out temperatures reached 21C, and it was the hottest day of the year!

Eventually we crossed the finish line, and I managed 4:44:59 – sub 4:45 by a whisker! For a while I was disappointed I didn’t get close to my 4:15 goal, but then I took a step back an realised I had achieved my goal of finishing a marathon. And originally I had hoped to finish in under 5 hours.

Looking back on it, my only goal should have been to enjoy the experience. The first 10 miles were awful because of the pressure I put myself under. Once I let go of time goals, I had a great time. My boyfriend kept commenting on how fresh and bouncy I was while dragging him along the last 7 miles.

Most people say it’s a 20 mile warm up, and a 10K race. For me it was a 10 mile race, and 16.2mile cool down! But I finished feeling strong, which for a first timer should be the most important thing.

However, I do have an ‘unfinished business’ type feeling brewing. I suspect this won’t be my last marathon!

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Afternoon Tea at the Ritz, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – A Birthday Day Out in London

Last week I turned 29, and entered the last year of my 20s! To celebrate, we usually go away for our birthdays (my boyfriend’s is a week earlier), but having spent all our money on the big trip last year we decided to only venture as far as our capital city – London.

Despite only living 30 minutes away from London, we rarely make the short journey up to the city. Mainly due to costs – unfortunately London is one pricey place to visit!

So we decided to make a full day of it. Starting off with afternoon tea at the Ritz. We arrived at 11:30 for the tea (so technically morning tea!), but it was the same traditional format, and still incredibly busy. Booking ahead is a must! Even for a morning slot on a Wednesday morning we booked at least 6 months in advance – be warned.

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The afternoon tea was delicious, and the setting is beautiful. There is a good selection of teas to choose from – I went for a rose blend, and my boyfriend opted for chai. Both were great, but we were a bit disappointed they didn’t offer to let us change teas between pots. I have no doubt they would have if we’d asked, but being far too British to say anything we just accepted a second pot of the same each.

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The sandwiches were lovely, and they provided me with a good selection of veggie options. The initial cake stand comes with sandwiches and pastries, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all you’ll get. After first stand they will come round with fresh scones, and slices of cake, plus top ups of anything from the stand. My advice is to go easy on the sandwiches to leave room for the wonderful sweet stuff!

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We left feeling comfortably full and made our way over to the Palace Theatre for the second part of our birthday day out – the Harry Potter plays! All I can say it was brilliant and definitely worth seeing, if you’re able to get your hands on some tickets. Unfortunately I believe its sold out well into 2018, but it is possible to queue for returned tickets on the day if you have time to spare.

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Our seats were great – second row from the front and able to see everything that was going on up close. Unfortunately, the first few rows are not sloped, so I did struggle to see past the person in front’s head at times. But this was rectified by sitting on my coat to prop me up a bit – did not want to miss a thing!

There is a bit of a wait between the two parts, but we came prepared and had booked a table at a pub across the road from the theatre – The Cambridge. Nice pub food, and they served my favourite wine (Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc) so a good place to pass the time between plays.

All in all a great day, and a wonderful way to start the last year of my twenties. The big 30 next year will hopefully be spent in New York – I’m excited already!

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Farnborough Half Marathon 2017

On Sunday 22nd January I ran my first Half Marathon, just 7 months after taking up running. It was an incredible experience, which I really enjoyed.

As I’ve written about in a previous blog post, I am training for the Brighton Marathon, this April, and wanted to take part in a Half Marathon to see how I was getting on.

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There are a number of ‘pre-London’ half marathons in March, but I was worried that would a be a little too late for Brighton (which is two weeks earlier than the London marathon). So I was incredibly pleased when I heard my home town, Farnborough, was hosting it’s first ever half marathon event in January. Continue reading

Top Things To Do In Tokyo On A Budget

Japan is a wonderful country to travel in, and I would recommend it as a destination in a heartbeat. However, unlike many Asian countries, it’s not always easy to travel on a budget. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of free attractions, and cheap eating options available. These are a few of my top choices from Tokyo:

View From The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
FREE – I would highly recommend a trip up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building to have a look at the view. I went up at night and it was great to see all the buildings lit up. You can see for miles, and it’s hard to belief it’s free. However, if you fancy splashing out, there is an international restaurant at the top too, which considering the location is reasonably priced. It can be a bit tricky to find the lift, but head for building 1 and you should find the queue. It was quite long when we joined, but moved quickly.
Metro stop – Shinjinku

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All About The Everest Base Camp Trek

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since I set foot at Everest Base Camp. But I still remember it like it was yesterday!

To commemorate my one year EBC anniversary I thought I’d put together a post with all the information I’ve had to offer about EBC so far.

I really hope it helps others achieve their goal of trekking to Everest Base Camp (5364m)

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Vegetarian Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima

When heading to the Osaka and Hiroshima based areas of Japan, you’ll often hear the advice that you must try Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake, consisting of batter (or noodles), cabbage, pork and a variety of toppings to add. It’s cooked on a hot surface, and flipped a number of times until to begins to take the shape of a pancake.

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The Kitten Went Out The Window!

We’ve had little Momo home for around 2 months now, and there have been a number of learning curves. How to cope with him climbing our legs, remembering to hide all the toilet roll, and constantly checking our feet while walking down the stairs.

There have been a number of minor ailments, including a sticky eye and a paw under the muscle roller. But thankfully nothing serious.

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Can you travel long term with a mortgage?

A lot of people advocate for “travelling while you’re young”, and often this is associated with a lack of responsibilities. For example, it’s best to go before you’ve settled down, bought a house, started a career, had a family etc.

I won’t deny that travel is probably in many ways easier before all these commitments. But there is another side to the debate.
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What Occupational Therapists Really Do

I went out for dinner with two close friends last night, and when talking about work one said “you’re a bit like Chandler from Friends.. No one really knows what your job is!”

I’ve been a qualified Occupational Therapist for over three years (and a MSc OT student for two years before that), and sometimes I still stumble when trying to explain what I do.

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