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Sunday 31 December 2017

7 Reasons Why Running Is Better Than Cycling

1. The cleaning. Dear God … ALL THE CLEANING!!
Run: You go for a run, you chuck your dirty kit in the washing machine, you chuck the dirty you in the shower.
Bike: They take AGES to clean. And there's always a bit you've missed. And then you still have to clean yourself. Only solution is to put BOTH of you in the shower. And then you still have to put oil on the important bits. 

2. Squeak! Excuse me!
Run: Irritating noise. Oh it's my arse. Easy to sort. Avoid high fibre & caffeine before run.
Bike: Irritating noise. Not easy to sort. There is ALWAYS an irritating noise. You might have cleaned, oiled and tightened every screw. But there's always a noise. And you can never locate it. And it never does it when you're in the bike shop. Disclaimer: it might still be my arse.  

3. Aeroplane arms make EVERYTHING better. Except cycling. 
Run: Aeroplane arms down the hills and around the corners.
Bike: Aeroplane arms. Splat. Extricate bike and gravel from flesh.

4. New kit day … oh. 
Run: You always want another pair of trainers. Ok. £80.
Bike: You always want another bike. Not ok. £1000 … at least. 

5. The Rules. 
Run: The rules are don't snot rocket at another runner. Don't run into them. Share snacks.
Bike: It's Bike Club. You don't talk about the rules but are expected to know them. Sleeves are mandatory. Tan lines must be strictly adhered to and be razor edged. Kit should match bike. What?

6. It has 2 wheels and some of those round things. You know. Pedals. Well, they GO round, don't they?
Run: Jargon. There's a bit but it's mainly about pacing and splits. Preferably gap between snacks and banana. 
Bike: Jargon. What is a gearset?  A crank? Seriously just call it a cog and a pedal. But not to me. I have no interest and no technical knowledge and will immediately say something like “Pedals? Yes I have those.” Before inwardly groaning and receiving either a (wo)mansplain or a patronising look. Probably both. 

7. Targets on 2 wheels
Run: Cars dislike runners. But at least there's usually a pavement you can run on or handy hedge you can leap into.
Bike: Car drivers REALLY don't like cyclists and as soon as they see cyclists cycling 2 abreast immediately lose their shit and start behaving as though they don't have control of a dangerous 2-tonne piece of metal. Seriously pensioners and Ocado lorries. Sort it out. 

And this is precisely why running is better than cycling. If you disagree, you might enjoy 6 Reasons Why Cycling is Better Than Running ... 

On the 12th Day of Christmas ...

On the 12th day of Christmas my Tri coach gave to me:

12 Hills a-sprinting
11 progressive swim sets
10 Laps of drowning 
9 days French Tri Camp Training 
8 miles of tempo
7 sportives suffering

6 time trials puking 
5 single arms drillsssss …..
4 mile reps
3 turbo seasons
2 loooong swims 
And the potential to qualify for GB ...

Thursday 23 November 2017

The Run Traitor: 6 Reasons Why Cycling is Better Than Running ...

Recently I've become a bit of a traitor. Running, always my first love has been shunned in favour of my bike. And in Winter too. No … I don't know why either. But here are a few of my guesses ...

1. Cake Vs No Cake
When I run, I just go for a run. I run around. Often in circles, sometimes out and back but I rarely have an end destination. When I go for a bike ride I go somewhere. Usually to a cake shop. Which is a bloody good incentive. Cake is one of my strongest motivators.

Or sometimes it's ice cream ...

2. Have a nice sit down, love
When I'm cycling I can kid myself that I'm actually having a nice sit down. Yes. I know I'm going up a hill and my quads are screaming at me but I'm sitting down. It's practically a rest, right?

3. I can stop having to do it downhills
When you go for a run you have to keep going or you stop. Or fall over. On my bike I can have a nice rest going down the hills. While shouting “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Which helps.

4. Strava
While I'm not a bitch for Strava *cough*, when I go for a run I might cover 6 or 7 segments. On a bike ride, especially in an area I haven't cycled in before I'm picking up 40 or 50 new shiny little cups. Yes they're not real. And yes they're only because I haven't cycled that route before, but I like shiny things. I'm basically a cycling magpie. Even for 'virtual' bling.

Nope. Totally not EXTREMELY envious of Annette's new bike *cough*

5. Wheely good gossip
Cycling is more sociable than running. I don't know whether it's because the suggestion of cake attracts more people to bike rides than a run, but cycling seem to be made for groups. I tend to run on my own but bike rides – it's basically an excuse for a massive group chat and a stop at a farm shop for a coffee *cough* cake *cough*. Also it's a good excuse for eyeing up your friend's new bike and cycling kit and wondering which child / pet / family heirloom you can sell for a bit more cash to spend on new bike / new bike kit. 

My beauty. Only had to sell 2 children and a cat to afford her ...

6. Cake
Did I mention the cake?

Earning those pudding miles
They all sound like pretty valid reasons to me. I'm certainly not stopping running but I definitely think there's a place for more cake stops in my long runs. 

New run group: Who's up for 20 miles and 3 cakes? 

Monday 6 November 2017

ASICS RoadHawk FF Review: Better for speedwork than marathons ...

If you've seen any of my recent running photos it'll come as no surprise to you that I like the ASICS Roadhawk FF shoes. 

I received a pair from ASICS when I went to one of their events (BENEFITS!!! WOOO!) but quite frankly I wasn't too sure about when I would actually wear them. I'm a long distance runner, right? Unless there are multiple aid (edit: cake) stations, lots of miles of rolling trails and some nice hills to plan my strategy on (edit: walk up) then I'm not really that interested.

But when you've got a pair of shoes that look like trainers, perform like trainers but feel like slippers, then it's a whole different story. 

I planned to be sensible and wear them only for events less than 10k on roads or club speed sessions. Use them for how they were intended, right?

And yet here I am dressed as a Ghostbuster at Bacchus Marathon in the Roadhawk FF shoes. But at least I was a Ghostbuster with comfortable feet. My friends laughed at me when I told them I was doing a trail race in road shoes, specifically lightweight racing shoes … but who was laughing when I was first to the wine and the sweets at the marathon aid station? That would be me. Dressed as a Ghostbuster and eating all the sweets.

The shoes are designed for neutral pronation road runners and the tongue is attached to the interior of the shoe with a sockliner which means you don't have to wear socks with them. I still do, however as am one of those paranoid triathletes who is convinced her toes will fall off if she doesn't wear socks at all times. However that probably says more about me and my feet than about the shoes. 

They are however, super comfy and I'm yet to get a blister with them unlike my road shoes which took about 35 miles before they were truly comfortable. Another benefit is that they're very light. I really do have no excuse for falling into my go-to ultra runners shuffle with these on my feet as they weigh 190g which is the same as:

  • Almost 4 mini jars of coffee (camping size)
  • A bottle and a bit of soy sauce
  • Half a jar of chocolate spread
  • 2 tins of tuna (responsibility sourced of course)

I had quite a lot of fun running around the kitchen trying to find things the same weight as the trainers but needless to say, these are LIGHT shoes with the Flytefoam midsole weighing 55% less than the industry standard foam used in running shoes.

Flying over the finish line in the Roadhawk FF

I really like these shoes and I've run quite a few miles in them, however despite me having no ill-effects (apart from sugar overdose from all the checkpoints during the marathon) I probably wouldn't recommend you run a marathon in them but I highly recommend them for speedwork. I use them for all of my running club interval sessions and speedwork and can't really fault them. 

 (Photo from instagram of @marathonmarcus. Photo taken by @teddymorellec)

Only thing I'd offer guidance in is to try them first if you've got very narrow feet. I've got wide feet and they fit perfectly so there might be some movement if you've got a more delicate bone structure as opposed to my flipper-style feet.

Speedwork or a trail drinking marathon ... either way they worked for me! 

ASICS gave me the trainers but didn't request that I review them. As usually I've said exactly what I thought (bouncy, comfy and feel like slippers) and took no payment (not even in creme eggs). 

Friday 20 October 2017

The Autumn Wolfrun: Unmentionable Stuff in My Hair & Why Fake Nails are an OCR MUST

So this Autumn I was to take part in The Wolf Run. I’d like to clarify that this doesn’t involve being chased by actual wolves … I’m not quite that desperate to improve my 10k PB. Yet. Or to end my days being savaged like the Mum out of Cujo. If I’m to end my days dribbling and crying, I’d to prefer it to be from copious amounts of alcohol and a really sad book, not a ravenous canine.

W.O.L.F actually stands for Woods, Obstacles, Lakes & Fields and the Wolf Run is designed to simulate some of the obstacles that you’d meet in the wild, running as a wolf. Although not all … I haven’t yet seen a wolf on a slide. Although should anyone have any handy YouTube clips …?

Registration was as slick as the Fonz’s hair. There were lots of extremely enthusiastic marshals available to help in the large tent and it was easy to pick up a waiver form and get it signed ready to collect my registration pack. Unfortunately my morning handwriting wasn't up to scratch so I did have to decipher what appeared to be particularly badly formed runes. I’m just not a morning person.

Luckily I’d not even had to drive myself as my husband had been put in the position of Chief Supporter. Which sounds very grand but basically involves standing in the (usually) cold, being berated for taking sub-par photos and being taxi. So not even a pint at the end. I probably should make him a badge or a hat or something. 

Pack picked up, number pinned on and portaloo visited and sharpie applied to my head branding me with my race number all done. I love having a bit of time before a race starts - not an awful lot worse than having to rush on race morning. As it was a warm morning I even got a bit of late-season sun basking done … and spotted one of my friends from work in LONDON who was marshalling the race. I can never get over what a small world the running one actually is. *Waves at Sophie*

Decided that pre-race relaxing just isn’t the same without needing a wee most of the way around the run and paid £2 for the privilege of some murky black water masquerading as coffee. I was quite happy with this until I spotted the sign on the stall next door offering coffee for £1 … gutted. I could have needed a wee TWICE as desperately while running as could have had TWO cups …

The Wolf Run is a sociable run, which puts a lot of emphasis on teamwork and at the start of each of the waves of their events, they run an extremely enthusiastic warmup. The comperes shout if you’re not trying hard enough and basically get everyone doing a 5 minute equivalent of HIIT. Mainly commando crawling, high knees and bear crawls which basically involved sticking your butt in the air and crawling. Like a cat getting it’s back scratched. But with more mud, grass and lycra.

I was exhausted before we started.

However, that didn’t mean I didn’t get caught up in the start line enthusiasm and was off like a shot like the rest of my fellow lunatics. Usually I’m pretty strict with my pacing. I know what distance I’m running, what pace I’m aiming for and where my heart rate should be. Wolf run pace? No idea. Whatever feels like a good idea at the time. And I’m not sure I HAVE a target heart rate for rope climbing, pond jumping or bog wading. Except for avoiding flatline I was happy to be moving forward.

I did discover an unexpected talent. Turns out I can climb ropes like a monkey. Not sure when I would be using this skill in the future now that I’ve grown out of primary school and gym classes but should I ever need to escape from something that can’t climb ropes (worms? hippos?) and there should be a rope handy … then I’m the girl who will be escaping THAT imaginary predator. 

However I was RUBBISH at the pipes. These were slick plastic pipes and I JUST fitted. There was no room to commando crawl or use my legs so I had to drag myself along with my arms and shoulders. It was hard work and I was exhausted at end. You remember that bit in Ace Ventura where he crawls out of the robot rhino’s arse? It was like that. And in case you haven’t seen the film, there’s a recommendation right there. It was how I imagine being born like … but without the drugs. And while wearing lycra.

I thoroughly enjoyed the submerged tunnels and discovered I had a rather unfair advantage. I like having nice nails but due to all the sports I do they need to be practically bulletproof and not chip so I go to a nail place where they make them as Wolverine-like as possible. My secret advantage was being able to dig my nails into the mud and muck at the bottom of the tunnel and drag myself along like a zombie but with better nails. It was surprisingly speedy and I overtook the lad I’d been leapfrogging with on the last few obstacles. He soon caught up again but I noticed that HIS nails weren’t wolverine-esque so should there be another muddy tunnel, bets were on me.

Ended up having a chatter and it turned out that only a few years previously, my new running buddy, Anton been a very overweight man. You’d never guess with the way he was running now but he’d turned his fitness around and was now smashing out obstacle runs like a pro! Inspiring stuff!

I’m obviously the perfect height … *cough*. Ok short. I’m short. And I did find that being vertically-challenged makes some of the obstacles tougher. There are some felled trees and while the lads with long legs and big strides made short work of these, it was almost faster for me to crawl underneath them than to go over them. However, I would have the last laugh as should I trip I wouldn’t have far to fall.

I do find the bog and pond wades tough work. While I enjoy doing these, I lose a lot of time in the field. On the lad, the water was around their knees and they could raise their feet out of the water. For me - the water was around my thighs. However, being lighter on the muddy bog sections if I could get enough speed up beforehand I could pretty much run across the top if the mud was solid enough. Not quite Legolas on the snow, more like Bog Monster in the Marsh but it gave me an advantage. 

There are quite a lot of jumps in the Wolf Run. Lots of fun and a bit of gamble especially as you never quite knew how deep they were! On one of the sections, I should have spotted the mischievous look on the marshal’s face before I leapt in … to 6 inches of muddy water. And promptly stuck fast in the thick mud at the bottom. I was loathe to leave my new and rather striking ASICS Gel Fuji Trabuco 5s in the bog so I struggled and wallowed until I could finally pull my feet free and drag myself out of the bog. 

I also learned a new trick. Seeing a few people early on in the race commando rolling under the cargo nets, I gave it a try. It was surprisingly fast and effective! Much quicker than clambering over or crawling under them however I wasn’t sure that the vertigo immediately afterwards took away from the benefit as I probably wasted time bouncing off the trees that I could have spent crawling and running. 

While the Wolf Run is totally not a race the marshals were telling me I was the 2nd placed lady in the event. At this stage of unfitness I was TOTALLY keeping that!

There’s an open water swim in the event which I was looking forward to after all the triathlon training of the last couple of years, however despite being confident in the water, I had completely underestimated quite how tough swimming in trainers and full running kit is. I did thoroughly enjoy it however and even did a bit of backstroke to get the benefit of the sunshine! Plus it washed off some of the more fragrant mud which appeared to have been kindly donated by some local cows with dreadfully runny tummies. 

While I enjoy ALL of the obstacles at the Wolf Run (even the giving-birth-simulating-pipes), the absolute highlight has to be the MASSIVE WATER SLIDE! I don’t know how long it is as I spend my whole time on it shouting “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”  but it does seem to reach from the top of a very long field all the way down to the bottom. At least 30 seconds of “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” anyway. It puts any park waterslide to shame. Plus as I was in the first wave there was no queue to get on it so I could leap up the steps and taking a run up to get a better launch at it! I was airborne for about the first 10 metres. TOTALLY worth it!

I’m not quite sure why I look quite so serious on it. Maybe I’m concentrating on “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” rather than weeeeeeeeeeeee after those cups of coffee. Or more likely calculating where my next snack is coming from.

After this section, it seemed only a very short run to the end. There were plenty more obstacles than I’ve mentioned (did I mention the Monkey Bars? The Nutcracker? The massive A-Frame Cargo nets?) but who am I to spoil the surprise for you? It would be like telling you the end of a good book, right?

Running up though the last half a mile, you can hear the crowd and the announcer and it adds an additional adrenaline boost. Your legs are tired, you’re covered in rather fragrant mud and there’s something unmentionable in your hair … but there’s something very special about The Wolf Run. You climb the last A-Frame, swinging your legs over the 25-odd foot high top bar and slide down the other side and run as fast as you can towards the inflatable finish arch you can just see the top of over the last hillock. You climb the last hillock … and there in front of you is a massive bog full of filthy mud.

So you do a star jump. As is perfectly normal at the end of a race, right?

Thanks Wolf Run. Loved it. I’ll be back.

The Wolf Run very kindly offered me a free spot if I wrote a blog about it. As usually I wrote exactly what I thought of it (lots of mud, lots of obstacles and cider!!) and I took no payment for this post.

The Wolf Run Part 1 - A (Long-Suffering) Supporters Tale

(This is written entirely by my husband ...)

It had just gone 8am and we were in the car ready to go. In MY car as Sarah's car battery had given up the ghost the weekend before.

Sarah started at 10am and we had a whole 25 minutes drive ahead of us. In my opinion, leaving 2 hours for this journey didn't make a whole lot of sense but then again opinions are like assholes; everyone has one.

We reached the site about at about 8.30am (before registration had even opened) and Sarah went straight to the portaloos. It had been a good while since Sarah's last running event and so she had clearly been missing the aroma of a temporary plastic toilet. Obviously one trip was not enough for her to get her fix as she visited 2 more times within the next hour. Next she would be jumping behind hedges, toilet paper in hand, just for nostalgic reasons.  

After registration Sarah took to preparing herself and her kit for the challenge ahead. This included using 6 safety pins to secure her number to her top and the acquirement of some out of date Cliff Bars (linked to toilet trips?).

Free food!!!

Now ready and armed with coffee we ensured enough 'before' pictures were taken. I am not known for my ability to take a good photo so have learned that I need to be taking at least ten shots in each pose to ensure a usable one is created.

One of the benefits of being onsite early is having the opportunity to observe the other runners. I love looking at competitors at events like the Wolf Run as there is such a wonderful diversity of people. From those that are typical runners (skinny, hungry looking, club vests ...), to the gym rats who have entered because they want to try something that's described as an 'extreme' event, through to the people who are nervously toeing the line for their first event and already dressed in the event's t-shirt. These kind of events are not judged on speed but on ability to complete and capacity to enjoy. 

One lady in particular stood out. Clearly in the 'runner' category and taking the event very seriously (stretching and stuff) with a very focused look on her face (or possibly needing a poo but not interested in visiting the portaloo). I though that if she isn't good she's going to look silly.

Eventually Sarah was called up for the official warm up and the start was at T minus 10 minutes. After a few minutes of shouting from the 'motivators' and some running and crawling around in circles: actually this was a more useful warm up than I make it sound but it was still making me dizzy. 

And then they were off.

Obviously I couldn't watch Sarah around the course but it was easy to imagine how she was running. Fake nonchalance with a big smile on her face. That is to say, pretending she wasn't competitive while picking off runner after runner and loving every minute of it. I sometimes wonder how far Sarah's drive would take her. Any given situation could turn into a example of a popular adult card game – 'Sarah against Humanity': “While running an obstacle course Sarah would...”.

While waiting for her I spied a couple of friends who were aiming for the title of Alpha Wolf – Marina and Aurian. As we caught up and talked about next years plans around running events Marina pulled a 'Sarah' by visiting the portaloos twice; she had obviously missed the aroma too.

Their starting wave was about 90 minutes after Sarah's kick off time and had suggested meeting up with Sarah after she had finished but before they started. Sarah had pooh-poohed this idea stating she would take closer to 2 hours to finish the course. Having completed the run a couple of years earlier in just over 1 hour she was fooling no one and we were keeping an eye out from the 60 minute mark. It was not long after his that the first lady came through to tackle the last obstacle and finish. It was the focused, fully prepared, possibly constipated lady we had seen before the the race had started, she definitely wasn't looking silly!

It was only about 5 minutes later than Sarah came into sight on the last straight. 2nd woman! As I said competitiveness masked by a pretence of blasé. She had picked up a running buddy and they had clearly been pushing each other in that friendly 'you're not going to beat me' kind of way. Sarah has always been fantastic at this – chatting to everyone and picking up buddies during every race she enters. (Sometimes she doesn't even drop them with a mile to go in pursuit of a good time or place!).

As the two of them climbed over the last obstacle it looked like that Sarah wasn't keen to fly off and beat her companion ... while at the same time not wanting to be beaten by a last minute sprint by her buddy. 

She cleverly overcame this by taking her time composing herself for the final leap into the watery mud that signified the end of the course ensuring the best race picture possible, not taking the inconsiderate 'win', while also maintaining her 'I could have beaten you if I wanted to' position. 

Having finished she made sure the finish line marshall received a muddy hug. Then having shown off the mud she was wearing to me, she made sure I also received a sopping wet hug.  

A pint of cider for her (I was taxi driver today!) and a few quick hugs for Aurian and Marina before they set off rounded off her event. And judging by her grin and the amount of mud she was wearing it had been a good one!

Thursday 12 October 2017

KARKOA: The bag that does 7,000 miles & ALL the snacks

As I was dashing to the gym the other day, juggling phone and kit, I received an email from Karkoa asking me if I'd review one of their sports and lifestyle bags. I have to admit, I thought “What relevance does a lifestyle bag have to me?”

Then I looked down at the bike shoes I was clutching in one hand and the Tesco carrier bag containing my towel, drinks bottle and hoody in my other hand and realised that actually a decent bag might really come in handy. So I shot them back an email saying “Yes please.”

But how do you test a bag ... apart from filling it up with kit?

It was a good time for a bag to arrive especially as I was back to being a student for 6 months again (training for a new job so I could avoid the instant noodle eating, partying until the wee hours and getting lots of piercings) as well as trying to juggle family life and triathlon training. This would involve long hours on a train at the mercy of Network Rail and London Underground during which I'd be carrying notebooks, textbooks, folders, snacks (Of COURSE – I haven't TOTALLY changed), gym and triathlon kit, towels, drinks bottles, uniform and assorted makeup, shoe polish, pens and tissues. Plus my usual assortment of painkillers, hayfever tablets, plasters, safety pins and crayons.

Just SOME of the detritus I carry around daily ... and this is BEFORE I've packed my A4 folders and laptop!

So the bag had a BIG job to do.

Luckily, although on the outside it appeared to be the size of a normal rucksack, inside it had positively TARDIS-like proportions. And just when I thought I'd investigated all the pockets ... there were more. And more. I love a good pocket and this had plenty of good pockets. 

One of the most handy was the small one at the very top which was just big enough for keys, phone and bank and travel cards. And because it was right at the top of the bag, it was in a position which would make it very awkward for anyone trying to stealthily undo it and take out the contents. Perfect for public transport. 

However, that was only my SECOND favourite pocket as my very favourite one was the snack bag. Yes – it comes with a snack bag. What can I say. It's like these bag-designers have me sussed. My only disappointment was that it didn't come pre-filled with snacks … but can't have it all, right? This bag came in extremely handy as anyone who knows me, knows I like my snacks but what I hadn't taken into consideration was that rush hour on the tube in London gets very hot … my chocolate melted and covered all my other food … but as it was in the snack bag, it stayed in here as it is waterproof.

I totally didn't STILL eat the snacks. Honest. *hic*

There's also a padded pocket for your laptop, plus room for the wires and cables and enough room for a large A4 folder in the main pocket. There's a roomy pocket on the front which the snack bag fits into, a laundry bag(!!) AND a waterproof pocket on the bottom of the bag for gym kit. Plus a circular side pocket for a drinks bottle.

And yes … ALL of this stuff fits in together. Which quite frankly is a minor miracle.

The bag is also a really good looking bag too. I'm not ALL about the aesthetics, for me if a piece of kit does the job that's the main thing but it was lovely to have something that did a good job AND looked great. Plus I had compliment after compliment about it.

However, what really matters is NOT what a piece of equipment looks like when it's brand new, but what it looks like when it's fully packed and has been used for a few months. I have a much loved piece of hand luggage (of a different brand) which I adored when I bought it, but which looks like a sack of potatoes when fully packed.

So I decided to put the Karkoa bag through its paces.

It has so far done:

  • 3,960 miles with Network Rail …
  • 2,288 on the tube …
  • Approximately 1000 miles in the boot of the car ...
  • Multiple gym visits where it's been shoved in a locker and filled with damp kit ...
  • 18 weeks on the floor of a classroom, under a desk, on the floor, in a locker ...
  • Several evenings under the tables in a bar and on one memorable evening in the middle of a dance floor being danced around where there wasn't a cloakroom but we WERE NOT MISSING THAT DANCE!
  • And even to my horror it had a cup of coffee knocked over and into it by a friend, who I've 
  • still not entirely forgiven ...

So how does it look after all of this?


I thought the bag was quite pricey at £65 ish for a rucksack / gym bag but after the abuse it's inadvertently taken by being my go-to bag for the last 6 months, it has come out the other side still looking marvellous. There's no damage at all to the exterior, the stitching has stayed perfect, the straps haven't worn in any way that I can see. The only thing I can see that this bag has travelled over 7,000 miles is that the writing on the snack bag has slightly worn away. And that's it.

Only area of apparent wear - ignore the chocolate stains *burp*

I'm not convinced that this sports bag will EVER wear out, in fact I suspect it may well outlive me the way it's looking at the moment, but if it does I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.

I'd like to find a downside to balance the review out a bit, but quite frankly the only one I can find is that the writing has rubbed off the snack bag. After 7,000 miles and quite a lot of snacks. Which is pretty bloody good.

This is a link to my exact bag here

And because I'm lovely here's a discount code if you wish to buy one that gives you 20% off the retail price: SARMYA20

Monday 18 September 2017

IAAF World Championships: Amazing Athletes, Popcorn & Remote Controlled Javelins

So I went along to the IAAF World Championships 2017 in London! Not competing – I WISH!

Had lots of fun and ALLLLL the popcorn.

Had a BRILLIANT TIME! Corey and Becca got a hug from Hero the Hedgehog ( I have NEVER seen 2 grown women so starstruck), Pete got his Smurf on, we all saw the 400m medal ceremony, the 800m heats and the 200m and triple jump finals! 

 Pete smurfing it up.

 Check out this amazing view! 

We MAY have been slightly excited to be watching the IAAF...

I was surrounded by all these amazing athletes but I was mesmerised by the javelin car. An actual Thing. Basically, the athletes throw their javelins and someone straps it to the back of a remote controlled car and whisks it back to the start line. 

Javelin car ... mesmerising!

Javelin car! Who controls it and how did they get this job?? #NewJobGoals

The triple jump finals!! I couldn't believe the speed they were running OR the distance they were jumping ... Inspiring stuff. 

I came away from my evening determined to run more, to do more and to try more. I may never get to the standards of these athletes but I can be the best me!

*Puts down the beer and picks up her trainers*

Tuesday 5 September 2017

ASICS International Meeting: SUP, Wakeboarding and Partying like an Athlete

Why is it that I never seem to manage to start an adventure without excessive amounts of silliness? 

Something always happens … whether it's a flat tyre, forgetting my sports bra before a race (I've done this TWICE now … thank goodness for small boobs) or losing a shoe.

I'd been invited to the ASICS International meeting which was basically 2 days of running, partying like a rock star, stand up paddle boarding, wake boarding and sunshine in Germany. Obviously me being the super organised person I am, I got packed weeks before, booked my flight and had everything sorted super-early and organised myself like a champion.

Hell. I couldn't organise a cliff jump for a gang of lemming at the White Cliffs of Dover.

It turns out that there were NO flights out of London to Dusseldorf AT ALL on Friday or Saturday. So knowing that I was finishing work at 3pm on Friday, I decided that catching a flight at 7pm in Birmingham was going to be no problem. Even if I had to nip home and pick up my kit from Rugby.

Most stressful Friday ever. Let's just say I made the flight after what must have been the most strava-segment-worthy dash through Euston, Rugby AND Birmingham airport. Seriously. I should have started my Garmin. I would have been segment queen for a day,  

Picture the scene, you're enjoying a nice wander through the airport when some banshee of a woman comes tearing past with a suitcase with only one working wheel, taking out ankles and scattering holiday makers. If I was responsible for blackening toenails and upsetting small children I can only apologise.

On the plus side the flight was delayed by an hour so at least I got a pint in departures. It's like holiday-law, right? 

After making a friend in the queue, (another airport commandment – make friends in departures) I had a nice nap on the plane and landed uneventfully at Dusseldorf airport and made my way to the hotel where I emerged into the middle of an ASICS party in full swing. Or rather ASICS athletes who were demonstrating German hospitality and promptly handed me a pint. I love German athletes. And pints.

I only had one pint (get me! I may not be able to organise a drinking contest at a beer festival but at least I was winning at roomies) as Holly Rush, ultrarunning legend and ASICS superstar had already checked into the room we were sharing so I did the quickest change into PJs ever and got into bed for some sleep. 

The first day of adventures was an early start but a MASSIVE breakfast which sounded a fair trade off to me. We were all heading to the ASICS HQ in Dusseldorf so we grabbed a lift with a German FrontRunner, Katya.

The ASICS building was gorgeous. Massive and covered with mirrored panels which reflected the bright blue sky, we really felt like superstars as we posed for photos outside. Or rather, I FELT like a superstar, but after viewing the jumping photos in which I apparently jump like a brick and gurn like a chimp I didn't look like one, I decided that I'd leave the jumping to the experts and concentrate on the things that I was good at. Apparently, breakfasting like a sump wrestler. I'm REALLY good at breakfast. 

We all sat in the airy ASICS presentation room and had the most enthusiastic welcome ever! It was so special to feel a part of the  ASICS community. We've got some amazingly talented people representing the brand and a wonderful mix of abilities and strengths and characters. Everyone was so friendly and it was such an amazing thing to feel part of. I really felt so honoured to have been invited. 

After a very enthusiastic introduction from Jan Erik Kruse who is the Marketing Manager, we were shown the new product ranges. I LOVE having pretty kit and it was exciting to be one of the first to see the new kit available. There were some great colours and there was some amazing kit based on sakura which is the cherry blossom of Japan and the festival. 
I loved the new kit colours, particularly the pinks, an ivy green and a deep purple shade. Yep. I'm a total kit tart. 

I was therefore totally made up to be given some of Roadhawk shoes (which I refused to take off) and the smallest FrontRunner Europe top ever. I also refused to take this off. Breathing is optional, right? It's MY kit and therefore I will wear it even if I appear to be unable to move my arms. 

We had some great guest speakers including Matthias Schwarze who spoke passionately about the Bob Graham round and really gave me a hunger to try it. He was extremely inspirational although he appeared to have developed a fear of sheep through the experience. 

One of the events was a night run through the beautiful town of Neuss. Let me set the scene, a group of approximately 100 runners, chattering and walking through cobbled streets, dressed in beautiful kit and one banana. Yep. FrontRunner Pete has decided no race would be complete without his banana outfit. Well, at least we couldn't lose him in the crowds. 

Marcus, Anna and I. (Photo from instagram of @marathonmarcus. Photo by @teddymorellec)
We stood at the start. All ready and shiny and excited. And one banana. The gun went off and off shot Banana Pete like poop off the proverbial. Anna, Marcus and I decided to run together and we chatted the whole way. It was a very warm evening and I was already having a hard time at 2km. In a 5km … this doesn't make for a comfortable race. Woman-up Sarah! Smile for the camera and keep an eye on where the beer is. 

The course was made up of 5 x 1km loops and despite some sharp turns and bottlenecks I really couldn't fault the race. The support was EPIC and it was such a pretty place to run! I couldn't quite work out where the finish was but I could definitely remember where the bar was so that was ok by me.

 We rounded the last corner and a MASSIVE finish gantry seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. We crossed the line to cheers and a hug.

Lots of friends had already finished and we were over the moon that Holly had podiumed! And Matt!! He was 2nd in the 5k despite helping someone who had fallen over - and missed the win by 11 secs. And Pete was up for a prize too. Top banana. 

We had lots of sweaty hugs and in the best British spirit all the UK runners headed straight for the bar and the beer. We DID notice that everyone else was drinking water but we didn't judge. Or stop. 

Because the ASICS bar was right by the course, we took our pints and sat on the kerb and cheered everyone in who was running the 10k. It turns out that supporting is even more fun than running! Especially when you have beer. 

In great spirits (and beers) we went back to the hotel to do a quick change out of race kit and a shower and we all headed out again to dinner in a bar! It was like our favourite thing. Nightclubbing, free bar AND buffet food. ASICS certainly know how to throw a party. 

The shots came out early on. There was dodgy dancing, a planking competition and lots of group hugs. We'd had a brilliant day and now we were having a brilliant evening. And a brilliant morning. 

I knew I'd had a good night when I woke up the next morning at 6am and my Garmin was already showing 11,000 steps for the day from all my dodgy dancing in the small hours! A quick breakfast and I made my way to the ASICS building where Anna and I tackled the sample sale with gusto.

Now we all know how gorgeous the ASICS kit is and here was the sample sale with tops  and shorts for 5 euros! I left with about 5 beautiful tops and a gorgeous jacket. 

After inspecting our haul, we headed out for another day of adventures. We were all meeting at Unterbacher See which is a beautiful lake in Rothenbergstrasse. Surrounded by sandy beaches and green trees, the lake reflected the bright blue sky and looked incredibly inviting.

We were greeted with a BBQ and a welcome to the days activities. The first thing on my agenda was a group warmup in which we learned the hacka. By now, I'm sure you know how coordinated I am. If everyone is stepping right, I am leaping left. I am APALLING at group activities, but at least I am appalling with enthusiasm. 

Wakeboarding was my first sport to try. It was LOADS of fun! But my ability to do it was hampered somewhat by my utter inability to stay upright. However I had an amazing time trying. And at least the water was warm! After my turn was over, I swam out to the pontoon and watched the advanced wakeboarders doing tricks. I didn't aspire to tricks. I just wanted to stand up. Big dreams. 

Photographer must have been REALLY quick to catch me standing up ... (Photo by Inger Diederich)
My next adventure was stand up paddle boarding polo. Not sure how I managed to bypass the this-is-how-to-paddleboard-lesson and launch straight into a game of polo on the board but I decided that the best way to learn was to have a go … right?

Wrong. I was appalling. Not only was I hampered by my complete inability to catch the ball, I was also slightly disadvantaged by the fact I was completely unable to stay upright. Or even stay on the board.

It probably didn't help that I found out halfway through that I had the board backwards. Probably happened during one of my frequent falling-in moments. I think I was the only person to get pruned fingers and toes from paddleboarding. 

I got a bit worried at the end when they called us over to paddleboard towards the hut to line up for a photo. I was completely unable to paddleboard over there and could only go round in circles. I had to lie down on the board and paddle with my hands to get over for the photo. And then I couldn't line the board up and knocked poor Matt Rees off his board. 

Me causing absolutely bloody chaos. (Photo by Inger Diederich)

Not sure I'll be invited back for more SUP. Everyone else was playing polo on their boards. I was just falling in standing upright. 

But I was falling with enthusiasm. Totally counts.

I had the most AMAZING weekend and after hugs and promises to write I left Germany with some beautiful kit, new friends and some amazing memories.

ASICS International Meeting, you were BRILLIANT. Thanks for the adventure.