Saturday, 2 June 2012

New home

My blog has a new home over on Wordpress. I've decided to move as I think it's a more user friendly platform and has several features that I like.

All previous content has been moved and I'm in the process of giving the blog a brand new look too.

Come and join me over at

If you were following this blog then there's a link at the top and on the right hand side of the page where you can sign up to do the same.

See you on the other side!

Monday, 28 May 2012

The perfect running bag ?

For a while now I've been on the lookout for a new bag to wear while out running. I have tried a couple but haven't been completely satisfied with them. My issues with the ones I've tried have been:

  • They don't stay in place and I end up having to adjust them while I'm running -typically they start on my hips and end up somewhere above my waist;
  • I can hear my keys/coins jangling around while I'm running;
  • There's not enough space to fit in everything that I need/want to take out with me - my essentials are an inhaler, keys. phone, money, mp3 player, tissues and for longer runs gels.

So when I read Sian of Dashing Divas review of the Workplay Fleetfoot II I was intrigued. A bag designed specifially for women who run with some nifty features that appeared to address all of the problems that I experience? Sounded too good to be true so I decided to buy one and find out if it was.

I was excited when my bag arrived the very next day after I'd ordered it. The first thing that struck me was how light it was and how well made it felt.

My bag is black and grey but they also come in black and pink. I chose the grey as it's a more versatile colour - I do like to colour coordinate when I run! This photo was taken with a flash and as you can see all the grey areas are reflective which is excellent for safety when I'm running in the dark.

The main body of the bag has a number of different compartments. Firstly there's what's called a 'ninja' pocket made of microfleece. This is for keys and coins - it stops them from jangling around and also from scratching your phone or mp3 player. There are two other compartments inside the bag just about big enough for a smartphone, a gel and my inhaler. Perfect for most of my runs.  

In addition to this there are some features on the outside of the bag. On longer runs I need to take water with me. I usually use a handheld waterbottle but if I didn't want to carry that then I could carry it in the elasticated compartment that runs behind the main body of the bag

There's also a nifty bungee system on the front of the bag which is designed so that you can thread a jacket through if you need to take one out while you warm up. Before our current spate of very hot weather in the UK, I have needed a jacket for my early morning runs while I get warm but then had to either carry or tie it around my waist once I'm warm. Now there's no need to do that - I can thread it through the bungee cords and it will sit behind me, out of the way while I finish my run. You can see the bungee cords - grey loops towards the bottom of the photo below.

So it fits everything that I want to take out with me and more. But most importantly - what's it like to run with?

I have used the bag now on several runs including two races, most recently the BUPA 10K on Sunday and can report that it's extremely comfortable to run with. Once in the right position - it's supposed to sit in the small of your back - it doesn't move around at all and I have actually forgotten that it's there. It's also really easy to slide around your waist if you want to get something out of it while you're on the move.

Me wearing my Fleetfoot II during the BUPA 10K 

I haven't yet tried running with a water bottle in place - on Sunday it was so hot I needed water in my hand for the whole race but I used the elasticated pocket to carry tissues as my hayfever was bad and I needed them to be accessible. I've also managed to fit a hat in that pocket when it was making my head too hot on a different run. I love the versatility of it!

I have to say that I'm incredibly impressed with this bag. It's clear that the designers have really thought long and hard about what a woman wants from a running bag and incorporated all of this into the design. I should point out that I've not been paid to write this review - I'm just an impressed and satisfied customer.

Workplay make a range of bags for active and organised women. I've also invested in their Gymwise II bag which is just as well designed and worthy of a separate review at some point. I absolutely love the look of the Goddess II bag as well - I've been searching for the perfect overnight stay/cabin luggage for a while and wonder if this could be what I've been looking for. We're going away in a few weeks - I may have to invest and find out!

So it seems that I have found my perfect running bag - thank you Workplay!

Sunday, 27 May 2012


Today I ran the BUPA 10K in 25 degree London heat. This was my first 'proper' event since the London Marathon. I've done a couple of the British Heart Foundation jogs in the last couple of weeks but they are definitely fun runs rather than competitive events.

I hadn't really followed any particular training plan for today, my aim was just to get around, hopefully running the whole way and enjoy the run. The course is the same as the one which will be used for the London 2012 marathon route - they will run 4 laps of the 10K route which starts and finishes on The Mall and takes in lots of famous London sights along the Embankment, through The City and back.

The race started at 10am so thankfully it wasn't too early a start but as I made my way to Green Park I realised just how warm it was. I haven't trained in the heat at all and I realised that it might well make things difficult for me, and everyone else. I arrived at Green Park, dropped off my bag, picked up some water and made my way to The Mall to join my starting pen - green B towards the back of the field. The event is run by the same people as The London Marathon and the organisation felt slick and familiar.

 It was quite a sight standing on The Mall waiting to start - the route lined by Union Jacks

Before long it was 10am and the elites were underway. There was an impressive sounding field with Mo Farah, Scott Overall and Mara Yamauchi among the British runners. We were started in waves and before long it was our turn. We moved towards the start line and were soon off, running down The Mall, through Admiralty Arch and down Whitehall.

The first mile, as with most races, felt easy but I was really surprised when my Garmin beeped at me to tell me that I had completed it in 9 mins 49 secs - my fastest ever mile. I didn't feel like I was running that fast and at that point there was a nice breeze along The Embankment so I wasn't feeling the heat too much. That soon changed and when the first water stop appeared just after 2K I was very relieved - so was everyone else judging by the queue that formed around the tables. I walked for a while to take on some water and then set off again towards the 3K marker where I knew Mr J was waiting.

He'd been there for a while and had managed to see the elite men go past and take some great pictures of everyone running past St Paul's.

I spotted him as I ran past St Pauls and gave him a wave as I went past.

The course made it's way through the City, past the Bank of England and the towards the Lloyds building where it turned right and went through Leadenhall Market. This was a great part of the course with some much needed shade and a brilliant drumming band making a lot of noise in the market. Before long we were at the halfway point  my Garmin said around 35 mins and I felt as if I  had a chance of beating my best time at 10K of 1hr 12 mins.

But it wasn't to be. Not long after the halfway point I twisted my ankle in a dip in the road that I hadn't seen. It hurt and I stopped for a bit trying to put weight on it to see what would happen. It felt just about OK to walk on so I limped along gingerly for a while hoping to walk it off. We were now headed back towards The Embankment and I was close to the spot where Mr J was going to be waiting for the second time. I looked a bit of a sorry state as I limped my way towards him.

He checked that I was OK - I said that I was and was going to carry on and hope that my ankle would feel good enough for me to run again. He waved me on my way and I carried on walking, trying a bit of a jog here and there for the next few kilometres.

Before long we were back on the Embankment and headed towards Big Ben and the final 2K. My ankle felt OK - not 100% but good enough for a bit of a jog so I ran as much as I could of the last part of the race. It was so hot and there was hardly any breeze or shade to be found. I turned the final corner of the race back onto the Mall and ran the last 200m with as much energy as I could muster. I crossed the finish line in 1:18:48 according to my Garmin which I was pretty pleased with given the heat and what had happened to my ankle.

After crossing the finishing line we had our timing tags removed and were given goody bags with our medals and T-shirts, in scenes that were again very reminiscent of the organisation of the London Marathon. I made my way to pick up my bag and make my way home, desperate to get out of the heat and under a cold shower.

Overall I loved this race which was on a brilliant course through the heart of London and was very well organised. It's amazing to know that I have run on the same route as the Olympic Marathon will be run on in the same field as some of the best British athletes. The medal, which is one of my favourite pieces of race bling ever commemorates this with the words - 'Run the Course'

I know I am capable of a better 10K time than this and now have 6 weeks before the British 10K on July 8th to train properly to make sure that I achieve the best time that I possible can. Bring it on!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Operation toe touching Becca!

One of my current goals is to be able to touch my toes with my legs straight. I've never been able to do it due to tight hamstrings and calves and have been trying to improve my flexibility for a while. I've not set myself a specific goal before so to focus my attention I have decided that I want to be able to touch my toes with my hands flat on the floor by Christmas.

I do yoga at least twice a week and this will definitely help me on my quest. I've already noticed a big difference in my flexibility since I started practicing just before Christmas. However, if I'm serious about getting my hands flat on the floor I'm going to need to do more, so couple of months ago when I read a blog post by Dash about a class dedicated to the pursuit of flexibility I was intrigued.

The class is called 'Bend it Like Barbie' and is held at Frame Studios in Shoreditch on a Saturday afternoon and promises to help you rediscover the flexibility that you had as a child. It sounded like just the thing for me so for the last two Saturdays I've gone along to the class.

I was quite concerned that the class was going to be full of ballerina types working on their splits but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people in the class were a real mix of shapes, sizes and abilities. I am without doubt among the least flexible in the groups I've been in but the teacher - Rosie - gives modifications all the way through so that everyone is able to benefit from the poses.

The class doesn't just focus on the legs - as well as stretches focussed on hip flexors and hamstrings there's a lot of work on shoulders and spine. Most of the class is done in pairs where your partner 'helps' you to get deeper into a stretch than you'd ever be able to manage on your own. Rosie also comes around to add an extra helping hand and push you just that bit further outside your comfort zone.

And I've found myself a long way outside my comfort zone! About halfway through the class Rosie announces with glee that we're going to work on bridges. I have never been able to do a bridge and I instantly get concerned. Rosie demonstrates with a volunteer what we're going to do. One person lies on the floor and lifts themselves into a bridge position while the other person helps them up by holding onto their shoulders.

I don't mind admitting that the first time I tried I was quite scared. The first week I had two attempts and didn't manage to get my arms anywhere near straight. But yesterday with the help of Rosie and Hannah (aka @Duns_is_Running) I managed to not just get into the pose but also get my arms straight. Progress!

I really enjoy this class and while it's challenging and a bit painful I can feel that it is helping me in my quest for better flexibility. After the first class I left the studios feeling taller than when I'd arrived and I had aches the next day similar to those you get after a good sports massage.

I'm definitely going to go back to this class and am even tempted to try the monthly Splits workshop - a two hour stretching workshop with Rosie

While I don't think I'll ever quite 'Bend Like Barbie', by keeping up the yoga and these classes I will be able to touch my toes by Christmas.

Bring on toe touching Becca!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

British Heart Foundation Tower of London jog

Last night I took part on my first post marathon event - the British Heart Foundation Tower of London jog. This is part of the London jog series which I found out about through the lovely Dashinista. I was already signed up for the Canary Wharf event on 23rd May but found out that Dash was taking part in the Tower of London one so decided to join her. Unfortunately on Monday night she suffered a calf injury which meant she couldn't take part so I turned up at the Tower of London at about 5pm on my own and unsure of what to expect.

The jog took place in the grassed area outside the Tower - the course itself was a loop of just over half a a mile. You could choose to walk, jog or run as few or as many loops as you wanted to. I chose to complete 12 laps or 10K. After registering and picking up my race number, T-shirt and timing tag I dropped off my bags and got ready to run. I'd decided just to treat this as a bit of fun, not aiming for any specific time but just a chance to see how my legs were feeling and run in an unusual location.

I started off well and completed the first mile quickly but things rapidly started to go downhill. I haven't really run on grass before and certainly not waterlogged grass that other people have been running on. The course was muddy and squishy and at times it felt like running on sand - not easy on the legs at all! I also started to feel a stitch coming on - this has happened to me many times before and I'm usually pretty good at getting rid of them by a combination of walking, breathing and stretching but for some reason this time I just couldn't get rid of it at all. So I just decided to take things easy, enjoy the friendly and fun atmosphere.

There were people taking part of all shapes, sizes and ages. I saw some very young children walking with their mum, teams of people from a variety of different companies who were obviously being quite competitve with each other and a couple of very elderley gentlemen walking the route. It was a really inclusive event.

On my 10th lap I saw Dash who had turned up to say hello - I'd been struggling with the stitch the whole time so it was nice to see a friendly face to take my mind off it. I picked up the pace for the final two laps and finished my 10K in 1hr and 12 mins, a minute faster than the baseline time I'd set at the weekend so I was pretty pleased. Between the mud and the never ending stitch is really wasn't the most comfortable of runs!

Overall I thought this was a really well organised and great value for money event. For £12 I got chip timing, a T-shirt and medal, there was a baggage and changing area and water on the course and at the end. I'm looking forward to the Canary Wharf event in a couple of weeks and would recommend this to anyone looking for a beginner friendly 5K or 10K race.

So I now have more race bling to add to my collection and have run in the grounds of the Tower of London. A fun way to spend a drizzly Wednesday night!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Thinking Slimmer - One year on

It was about this time last year that I started on my Thinking Slimmer journey. I can't remember the exact date but I know it was early May as we were going away on holiday to Rome for a week. I remember wondering whether this was a wise move - starting a new weight loss method at the same time as going to the land of my favourite food. Surely a recipie for early failure?

But the thing is Thinking Slimmer is different. Really different. No foods are banned and there's no diet to follow. All you have to do is set your goals, listen to the Slimpod each night for 10 mins and record the positive changes that you notice each day in the handbook that comes with the Slimpod. Sounds to easy and good to be true doesn't it?

I remember noticing changes almost from the first day. We were sitting having pizza for lunch in a beautiful little piazza in Rome when I noticed that I felt really full up and didn't want to eat anymore. This had never happened to me before with pizza! I think my husband thought there was something wrong with me, I have always finished all my pizza - it's my favourite food.

Other strange things happened - I didn't spend the whole week hankering after gelato and finding any and every opportunity to have one, as I did the last time we had gone to Italy. I had it once all week, savouring every mouthful and that was enough for me. Something was definitely changing.

So a year on what else has changed for me?

* I have control over food, it no longer controls me. I eat what I want to, when I want to but I no longer think about food all day long. I stop when I am full and eat only when I'm hungry. This might seem obvious to anyone who's never had a weight problem but after years of eating in response to feeling happy, sad, bored, tired, angry - you name it - this has been a huge breakthrough for me

* I have become a runner! I have dabbled with trying to keep fit in the past but nothing has ever 'stuck' like the running now has. I am active every day and run at least 3 times a week. I have also found yoga which I love and is a perfect complement to my running. In the last year I have run 5 races a 5K, 10 mile, half marathon, 16 mile and the big one - the London Marathon.

* I have met some fantastic, inspiring people who have supported and helped me along the way.  I'm now very happy to be able to 'pay it forward' by providing support to other people just starting out on their journey through the online communities that Thinking Slimmer provide.

* I have dropped two dress sizes, 18 inches have disappeared from across my body and the scales say I've lost 1 stone and 4 pounds. I feel as if the scales owe me around half a stone but as we all know the scales are a rubbish indicator of how your body is changing, especially if you exercise a lot. I think the camera is a better indicator of progress as these pictures show..

This is me waiting to take part in my 5K race back in June 2011

And this is me waiting to run the London Marathon 2 weeks ago

The best thing about all this is that I know these changes are permanent. There's no diet to fall off, there's nothing to fail at and even if for some reason I wasn't able to exercise I know that my body would then regulate my food intake and stop me from gaining weight.

The key to Thinking Slimmer is goal setting and having completed the London Marathon in size 12 running gear and smashing my fundraising target I have met all the goals that I set myself back in October. So I need some new ones

* To fit into my size 12 pink coast dress by June 9th so I can wear it out for my marathon celebration meal with my friend Lisa. The dress now does up but feels a bit tight so that's my focus for the next few weeks

* To fit into my skinny grey jeans in time to take them on our holiday to New York on June 16th. At the moment they *just* about do up.

* To run 10K without stopping on May 27th in the BUPA 10K

* To take at least 5 minutes off my current 10K time of 1 hr and 13 minutes by July 8th when Darin and I run the British 10K together

* To be able to touch my toes with straight legs by Christmas - I suffer with tight calves and hamstrings and have never been able to touch my toes. This one is going to take lots of yoga, stretching and time!

I think that's enough to be getting on with for now!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Liebster Award

Yesterday I found out that the lovely diaryofadashinista had awarded From Snickers to Marathon a Liebster, the blog award for small blogs with less than 200 followers. I'm really pleased that Dash enjoys my blog enough to award this to me. She's someone that I met through Boutique Run back before Christmas and I've loved following her tales of running, general fitness and fashion ever since.

We were training for our first marathons at the same time and it's been great to keep up to date with her training - I've picked up loads of training tips from her along the way. I've also loved her fashion reviews and particularly enjoy her features on 'What to wear when.....' - her latest advice being on belly dancing!

Dash is never knowingly understyled and the design of her blog is a testament to this - it's super chic!

If you receive a Liebster, you should in turn nominate five more bloggers with less than 200 followers. So the Snickers awards go to:

1. Lozzatron - Laura has been on a similar running journey to me. As a fellow first time marathoner her blog - with the tag line 'Careful what you wish for' has been a great read and really motivating for me. At times when I've felt really slow and was convinced I was going to come last in the marathon it's been great to read about her progress and know that there were others out there like me aiming for somewhere under 6 hours on their first attempt.

2. The Moiderer - to moider means to talk a lot and that's what Dawn does. About her life, her little one and her husband, changing her life with Cognitive Hypnotherapy, cooking, travelling - you name it The Moiderer covers it. I love this blog as it's written with such honesty and openness. Dawn's been on a pretty amazing personal journey this year and I think it's a privilege that she's shared it with so many people through her blogging.

3. iknowineedtostoptalking- the hilarious KT gets my next award. Her honest and often graphic account of life with two small children never fails to bring a smile to my face. Among the tales of vomit and poo there is also much talk of wine and gin. I am not a mum but if I were I think I'd like to be this kind of mum.

4. Darin McCloud - what more can I say that I've not already said about this amazing man? His blog plots his journey from a 20 stone man seeking gastric bypass surgery to 15 stone marathon runner. It's a fantastically honest account of his Thinking Slimmer journey and one which I know has provided inspiration to many people, me included. I am proud to have crossed the finishing line of the London Marathon with this remarkable person.

5. Jackie Newman - my final award goes to Jackie. Her blog is charting her progress with Thinking Slimmer and is an inspirational read. Jackie has totally embraced the Slimpods and they are helping her to change her life in the same way that they have helped me to change mine.

The rules of the Liebster are:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.

2. Post the award to your blog.

3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value (it’s a great way to get to word out there about other blogs).

4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have received this award.