Category Archives: Sponsored

smelly at work

I thought about getting one of my co-workers to write this but safe to say British culture doesn’t allow me to ask a coworker to write a blog about how much I smell at work.

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I run to work, run at lunch, run home from work, do pilates at lunch, go to the gym at lunch, and sometimes walk to the really far restaurant for good burritos at lunch. Safe to say I sweat in the clothing that I wear and is scattered around my desk.

I’ve written about the amount of companies who seem to know this and want to send me nice smelling things to try. And I thank them for that. Scholls recently sent some products over and included in the foot balms & soaks for dry skin on feet was the deodorant spray for shoes.

A month ago in a pre-marathon fit of organisation I cleaned up my desk and put everything nicely into a desk drawer.

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A month later we are back to this.

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I sit in a pretty busy area of the office (right near the teapoint) and can only figure people don’t want sweaty shoe smell with their teas so have been using the Scholls spray on these shoes and ta-da no complaints! Not that any British person would ever tell me if I smelled. Only their quiet glances and tuts would clue me in on that.

The spray is handy to have and does the trick if you are worried about the smell of your trainers under your desk. I probably will not buy it again though as it’s a “nice to have” and not an essential. The foot lotion I used after spectating the Berlin Marathon (tough gig) and that was also really nice but again, not something I absolutely need in my running life.

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an Olympic (host city) Triathlon

On Sunday I completed my first Olympic (host city) Triathlon. Why the parenthesis? Well an olympic triathlon is a 1500m swim, a 40k cycle, and a 10k run. An Olympic (host city) Triathlon is one that I just made up, takes place in a city that has hosted the Olympics, and roughly includes the same distances and events.

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On Sunday, due to some calendar mismanagement I had entered myself into a 1.5k Open Water swim and a 10k run. Wanting to do both I worked closely with the space-time continuum to work out a way to compete in both. I’d like to thank my unofficial sponsors TfL journey planner & pret’s £1 filter coffee.

Most Olympic triathlons are held in one location. This makes the logistics of arriving, storing your kit, and toilet facilities easy. This wasn’t the case in my Olympic (host city) Triathlon so I had to trust my own logistics and go for it.

The morning started at 6:45am with a 1 mile cycle to the West Reservoir at Stoke Newington. Quickly becoming one of my favourite places in London, I arrived all smiles to check in to Capital Tri’s Splash Race #2. I have signed up for the improver series of races doing the 750m splash #1, the 1.5k splash #2 and in September the 3k splash #3. Stepping up to the 1.5k distance was a 10/10 on indimidation scale but I was excited to try and knew it would be easier than last week’s sea swim!

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I said hi to Cørinne, who was also doing her first 1.5k swim and found myself out on the docks in wave #2 jumping into the balmy 20* water. As we started swimming I took my place in the back of the pack and felt pretty good breathing & sighting my way around. Not feeling totally comfortable I took a few treading water breaks, but was getting around.  The second half of the reservoir is pretty weedy at this time of the year. Every stroke yielded a new arm decoration or sometimes the pieces of weeds stuck to my goggles making sighting a whole new adventure.

On the second lap something magical happened. I forgot I was swimming and when I remembered I was just cruising along in a perfect rythym loving life. Not sure why it took me 1000m to get there, and I need to figure out how to start a race in that mindset, but it made the last 500m so much fun I even enjoyed climbing out of the reservoir looking like a swamp monster.

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The weeds didn’t matter and it was nice to see my watch say 38:40 minutes. I had hoped for anything in the 40s (based on my 750m time – and to make it to the 10k race on time) and was pleasantly surprised to see such a quick (for me) time.

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Swim: 38:40 minutes
T1: 27 minutes (NO SHOWER)

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No time to lounge around on the cafe terrace though as I had a transition to complete. Straight to the change rooms to get out of my wetsuit and into my running kit. As I was rushing out one of the race sponsors asked if I had tried their new shower gel. I had to admit I didn’t shower (don’t look at me like that!) and rushed off bashfully. The goodybag from the Splash included a banana, water, a Mars bar & haribo. Perfect transition fuel. A quick walk to Manor House to catch the tube to Piccadilly Circus for the British 10k London Run. 18 minutes is a new Piccadilly Line PB.

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Cycle Tube: 18 minutes
T2: 37 minutes 

Having run the British 10k before I knew not to rush for the 9:35am start as with tens of thousands of runners it takes a while for everyone to get over the line.  I arrived in the start area around 9:40 and ended up in the last wave of starters. As we inched our way towards the start past Green Park I ignored the last toilet stop and continued to sip my coffee. As our wave was called up to start I realised I should have taken advantage of the previous transition’s toilets. As I jogged over the line I saw the start pen toilets being packed up – the fear of being lifted into a truck while in a portaloo flashed through my head, but the the thought of 10k needing a wee was stronger. So I ran off course for a bit to relieve myself.

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This detour caused me to end up behind the sweeper truck of the race before I had even reached the first 500m. No problem, time to work on my interval training. I passed the sweepers with a wave, dodged in out and all about the walkers and found myself in the midst of some runners around the 1km mark. The British 10k is an interesting race, and I went into it with a very open mind. I ran it in 2011 as one of my first races in London ever, and loved it (even wearing a giant pink cotton tshirt!) Other than the super speedy, this race doesn’t have you seeded so the whole course is filled with people walking, running, slowing down, speeding up, and *sometimes* even smiling. It can be annoying to dodge slower runners, and have speedy runners push past you, but such is this race so you just have to accept it.

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The route was new this year and 100% almost all out and back sections. I really liked that as you could always see new people and with the diversity of the racers there was always something interesting to look at (horse & chicken kissing I was mostly looking at you).

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My watch tracked me as running 6.5 miles (with my pee detour & general course weaving) and I enjoyed every inch of it.  At the finish there were loads of people absolutely chuffed to finish and it reminded me that this race was a new challenge for a lot of people, and to finish was such a big accomplishment. My only complaint comes here, at the finish you had to walk another 1km to the baggage tents (even if you didn’t check a bag) to collect your medal. Which was handed to you still wrapped up by someone with the enthusiasm more commonly found from the people giving out free sample bags of popcorn at Waterloo station. If it was your first 10k you want that medal around your neck as you finish.  Receiving my London Marathon medal around my neck from a fabulous volunteer is still one of my best memories of running ever. Vitality now organise a lot of running events around the UK, they have no excuse not to put on a good race.

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Run: 59:19 minutes

After getting my medal I continued on to catch the tube back to the reservoir to retrieve my bike and finish the Olympic (host city) Triathlon back at home all before 1pm.

Thank you to New Balance UK who asked me to run the British 10k London Run with their team and gifted me the entry & a pair of Fresh Foam shoes for the race.

wine time

I don’t usually drink dozens of glasses of wine on a Tuesday night, but this week I was invited to the Wine & Spirit Education Trust to do an educational wine tasting.

I’ve been to my fair share of wine tours in South Africa, Napa, the Okanangan in British Columbia, Niagara in Ontario, Santorini, and Bordeaux (I like wine holidays OK?) and most are the same. You go, get a quick intro of the wine and a few tasters that go down great.  At WSET they try to make the tasting more educational and even offer qualifications for those who wish to add to their CV.

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We got right down to tasting different wines and learning that almost everything about a wine is subject to the taster. Especially taste. We even tried the same wine at different temperatures and the taste was so different you can see why people get confused about what wine they like. Jim, our instructor, even said that most wines will taste different in pizzerias as they have the wine sitting in the same room as the hot pizza oven.

After a few drinks the photos got a bit blurry.

After a few drinks the photos got a bit blurry

We then moved to how wine pairs with food, which everyone seems to have an opinion with.  Using our semi-scientific test tubes we had a sip of wine, then filled our mouth with some of the “taste” and then tried the wine again. Like temperature what flavour was in our mouth had a huge effect on the taste and texutre of the wine. One of the most interesting things we did was a bitter test where we all chewed on a piece of paper and had to say when we tasted a disgusting taste. About half the room put up their hands immediately and one girl even spat it out the taste was so bad, myself and another guy kept chewing as it only tasted like paper to us.  Apparently we don’t have many bitter tastebuds so aren’t as sensitive to tannins and such in wines. Super interesting stuff.

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We also learned that the British public are basically the only people in the world who drink wine without food. The idea of ordering wine at a pub just to drink, or sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine & Love Island on the tele… doesn’t happen anywhere else. For that reason a lot of wines are made just for the British market to taste good without food.  Wines like a Barolo almost need a salty accompaniment (get those olives & parma ham out!) and thus they don’t sell as well here. Merlot, on the other hand, is very drinkable alone and in Chile they actually make it just to export to Britain. No one drinks it there!

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After a lot of wine (and more breadsticks – this runner was hungry) we called it a night and were given a bottle of wine to take home with some fun WSET wine accessories. It was a very interesting night with a fun group of people spent drinking wine.

I was invited to WSET to experience an evening of wine tasting and asked to write blog post about the event.

Shakespeare’s Globe

I was a last minute invite to The Globe;s production of King John last week.  They had organised a “bloggers night” to get the word out about the Groundling tickets available for each performance. With over 700 tickets available at £5 each, you can stand in the yard of the Globe and watch the play from there.

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As someone who stands all day at their desk I didn’t mind standing for the show, but there were a few uncomfortable faces around us just before the interval. Last summer we went to a show during a heat wave and saw a few people even faint. I wouldn’t normally suggest a certain fitness level for going to a play, but do think if you can stand for 3 hours.

We were given a complementary drink before the show and then bought some burgers (who can stand for 3 hours without proper fuel?) from the Globe BBQ.  Once the show started we found a spot right by the stage and enjoyed one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays that we didn’t know much about.

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It was a great way to spend a warm summer’s night out in London, and I say that from my past 5 experiences at the Globe, not just this one I was invited too. Each year we make an effort to catch a play after work one night and it’s one of those London traditions I really like.

The Globe invited Alex and I to attend the play (at the last minute when a couple of other bloggers dropped out!) and gave us the complementary beverages & grounding tickets. 

World Meat Free Day with Quorn

It’s World Meat Free day on Monday, and while I will never promote or prescribe people eliminating anything from their diet (that’s your own choice), it is something that even just thinking about can bring about small changes.

Last month I went to a dinner with Quorn and we made a variety of dishes with Quorn products for a meat free meal.  Being a Quorn Fitness Ambassador this year I’ve been trying a few different Quorn products in my meals here and there and have found them to be OK mostly, nothing too special but also good enough to be a decent meal when needed.

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Me thinking… “Can I drink this entire bowl of chocolate?

The starter was a pulled pork sandwich made with Quorn and to be honest it was horrible. The quorn pieces tasted nothing like slow cooked pulled pork in taste or texture. The sauce wasn’t as smoky as it should be and it was served on a bog standard packaged white bun that added nothing to the entire meal. At our end we were saying it just felt like eating a stale piece of white bread with a bit of diluted ketchup.

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Don’t waste your time and eat the real thing.

The main was a chicken curry which was a bit better. Not up to my homemade curry standards, but considering we whipped it up in 30 minutes not so bad. This one wasn’t the Quorns fault though as the chicken pieces in the curry were OK and had a somewhat tofu like texture (although didn’t soak up as much flavour as tofu would).

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For pudding we had a great chocolate pudding with ice cream and we learned that with the same ingredients you can make a chocolate souffle, a brownie, a sponge and a fondant. Just by changing the ratios.

Being a Quorn evening we were told all about Quorn by the product experts.  In my opinion Quorn is clearly made and marketed as a meat substitute, and those who are looking for something quick and easy to throw into a already planned meat recipe can use it as such.  If it is your first Meat Free Day and you want to try substituting out Meat without any effort then by all means go and try your regular recipes with Quorn. But that said, I think that there are so many great vegetables and non-meat foods out there that you are limiting yourself if you only use Quorn products. This all goes back to the idea of everything in moderation!

I am a Quorn Fitness Ambassador for 2015 and have been asked to share about World Meat Free Day in collaboration with Quorn.

[sponsored] Superdrug’s definition of health

A PR I had worked with before emailed me about a new campaign she was working on. Superdrug wanted to send me a basket of their health products to review. After seeing my blog she thought I’d be a perfect fit for the campaign.

I said yes, healthy items from a store I usually shop at sounded fine. I let her know my guidelines (post will clearly say sponsored and that all products were sent for review), address and that was that.

The next day a box arrived at my desk and included these items:

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(photo via Lunges and Lycra as I didn’t take a good picture of the products!)

And a few of these Lighter Life 5:2 fasting products

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Everyone has their own version of health. What works for some doesn’t for others. That said I do not think that the word diet should be anywhere near the word health when it comes to marketing and sales. Like the recent Protein World beach body advert uproar (that my friend Kat so eloquently summarized) companies need to start realizing that women want a wider range of options to their health than just the standard cookie cutter diet/skinny/pretty images we are being fed.

So, here is what I would put in my High Street Drug Store Health Basket:

1. Nails Inc. nailpolish for my marathon manicures

2. NYC 24hour city mascara that I’ve worn for every marathon and even OW swims. Never budges. Recently I wore it for a day that I cycled to work, ran at lunch, swam after work, and cycled home. No black smudges at all and it’s only £3.

3. Lillets. Because even though no one talks about it but Women do have their period on race day.

4. Mint bodywash. I love it. I know I shouldn’t but I do.

5. Dove cucumber anti-persperant. I’ve used it forever and will continue to, once I accidentally bought a pink one that smelled like dusty roses left in a library for 55 years.

6. Ibuprofen. I pick up a few boxes every time I’m there for obvious reasons.

7. Superdrug Clearly Youthful day & night moisturizers with SPF 15.  I’ve been using this skincare range for a while now and enjoy it mostly because it’s affordable, but also, my skin seems happier than it has in years.

So, if Supedrug is listening, I’d like to see your definition of health change and be more flexible to meet the true healthy lifestyles that women are currently living.

Redbull Wings for Life

Since the marathon I’ve been taking it easy. I’ve said before that I think it’s important to include post-marathon recovery time into your marathon training schedule. That is easier said than done when the weather starts to get nice, the days long, and the leaves green. But, I’ve been trying to keep sensible.

The week after the marathon I was actually in a lot of pain. My quads had taken a beating and both my hips were super sensitive.  It took me 3 days to feel normal anywhere close to stairs and a whole week before I could comprehend walking any more than absolutely necessary.  I was surprised as I didn’t hurt this much in previous long runs, but I think my enthusiasm & adrenaline during London hid some of the physical pains.

I had agreed to go to the Redbull Wings for Life run the weekend after the marathon to blog about it, and Alex had entered himself for the race as well. My race entry, transport, and hotel the night before was covered by Redbull (thank goodness as I didn’t realise how out of the way Silverstone actually is).  For the past 3 years Alex and I have gone to the Redbull Steeplechase in the Peak District, so I was keen to see how Redbull put on this, much bigger, race.

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It was really fun. The hotel was the mobile-container Snoozebox which was perfect for staying the night at a place that doesn’t have any hotels near it. I’d def stay there again if it was an option. The food they provided left a lot to the imagination though as we had a pretty blah-BBQ for dinner (no seconds allowed) and a lot of the leftover BBQ sausages for a sort-of-cooked-breakfast the next morning (no eggs!).

The race itself was really fun. Redbull do put on a good show and the announcer pre-race was super funny and entertaining while we were waiting for the generous noon-start time. A bunch of the people I was with were talking about running slow and short (this race there was no finish line – the finish line chases you) but as the gun went off most had a sudden change of heart and sprinted off trying to finish in the double digit kms.

Alex, Rhalou, and I hung back and kept pace with Mark Webber for a bit and generally running at a comfortable pace for our tired legs. Not using our previous week marathons (and ultra marathons) as an excuse, but just as a reality to what we were physically feeling.

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Rhalou and I made it 8km before we were caught up by the finish line and couldn’t have timed it better. We finished right beside the post-race party and within minutes had a beer in our hands on a sunny patio.

After the race there was a lot of talk in our group about time, pace, distance, speed, pain, etc. While I’m always impressed with people pushing their effort (and winning in the case of Kate & Tom!) I couldn’t help but feel after the race that was all anyone was talking about. I recently read a quote from one of the founders of Advent Running who said (something along the lines of) ‘time is the most boring part of a run.’ I too believe there are so many more interesting things about every single run you do than the time it took  you to do it. The icing on my emotional cake was when one person asked Rhalou and I how far we got and their reaction was “Only? You didn’t even get off the track?”

Yes, we only met a girl wearing the most amazing pair of leggings with ACTUAL JESUS ON THEM.

Yes, we only ate 2 packs of Haribos each at the generous aid station (and stuff a few in our bras just-in-case)

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Yes, we only ran with a world famous F1 driver

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Yes, we only thanked each volunteer along the route and took time to enjoy the scenery

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Yes, we only spent the afternoon on a sunny patio with an open bar

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Yes, we only smiled & laughed with good friends

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Everyone has a different reason to run and that reason can change day to day. I just think that time and distance isn’t the only thing we should talk about.

The race itself was great and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in doing a different style of race.  The open bar after was nice, but could have used a bit less beer (I never say that) and more food (there was nothing but fruit and popcorn – for a race that started at noon, we were hungry!) Plus, the party was at capacity before many people finished so I think it would be nice if they had an area reserved for runners whenever they finish.

Thanks to Redbull & Freestak for hosting & organising the weekend. My race place, transport, and room & board were given to me in exchange for promoting the race and writing about it after.