Toronto and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon

The Tuesday after the Chicago Marathon, Cortney and I woke to a half empty house. Robbie, Tamsin and Al had headed home, Charlie and Ellie went to an early workout class and the others were still sleeping.

We crept out of the house and took our lead/sore legs for a gentle mile run to meet Charlie, Ellie and Michael for breakfast, where my smoothie bowl cravings were truly satisfied!! We had a small chat and then said our goodbyes. Coffee grabbed, we made our way to the Lululemon Store, a few minutes walk from our air b&b, to attend a free yoga class.
I knew this wasn’t going to pleasant but it was so needed! The teacher was brilliant, making sure we were all okay, coming round to check us and slowly explaining every move and where the stretch should be felt. A wonderful hour of flow and release!

After yoga we headed to the supermarket to buy lunch/snacks for the journey, headed back to the air b&b to shower/change and say our goodbyes. Ready to take on another adventure – road tripping to Toronto, Canada!
With the drive being over 8 hours, we decided to stop half way at a small hotel nestled right next to an outlet mall – which was a huge disaster but we had fun browsing! The drive wasn’t too bad, Cortney did great, and I can happily tick two more States off my list that I’ve “visited”!

The next morning we were up early to get on the road. We made our way to the boarder, just over an hour from the hotel. We stopped to grab coffee and stretch our legs etc before crossing, and carried on our way to Toronto.
Finally we arrived, in the early afternoon and unloaded all our stuff into Cortney’s apartment. We then decided to have a wonder around the city and grab some food.

After a good nights sleep, I had a slow start to the morning. We were both up early, Cortney had to go into work for the morning, and I was off to meet my aunt and uncle for coffee/breakfast and a wonder around St. Lawrence food market! They were over visiting my cousin, who now lives in Toronto with her fiance! It was wonderful to catch up with them, and following on from that, my aunt and I headed to meet my her to do some wedding dress shopping!


I then made my way back down into the town, to meet Cortney for a much needed pedicure, take some time out to chill before heading back out for an early dinner, then collecting Anna from the airport!

Off to collect Anna in style!!!

Not believing that it was already Friday, we all slowly got up and made our way to the brunch on the other side of the city, before heading to the expo to collect our bibs for the 5k and half marathon. Anna, unfortunately, had to drop down to the 5k as her knee was giving her a little trouble and Cortney and I stuck to the half marathon. We wondered the expo, collected a lot of freebies, had a look at the merchandise and took a lot of fun photos! Afterwards we wondered back into the main part of the city, munched on donuts and explored a bit. We were all quite tired from both post marathon and jet lag, so headed back to Cortney’s apartment for an evening of tv, ordering in and the sofa!

Saturday morning we were up early to head out of the city to Duffins Trail parkrun. This route was beautiful. Through the trails, the sky was blue, the sun shining and the trees were starting to turn. A great way to start the day, followed by bagels, coffee then off to do some pumpkin picking!

Having had our Halloween/pumpkin fun fix, we hearded back to the city, grabbing drinks on the way back and I tried my first PSL (pumpkin spice latte) and let’s just say, never again!!!! Sorry Charlie 🙈 we were all pretty knackered, so we got changed and wondered to find bits from the shops before I parted with the girls for the night. I was off to have dinner with my family, at a really small, family ran Italian restaurant – perfect for night before/pre race carb loading! It was a lovely evening, catching up and having a laugh. I ended up not staying out late, only because I was really nervous about the half the next day. For many reasons. I didn’t sleep great that night and was up early the following morning.

Race morning and the nerves were high. Physically I felt great. I had been pretty sensible and recovered well for Chicago, so that I was ready for the Toronto half. The weather was great, blue sky and a little chilly. We waved Anna off early with Cortney’s friend, and we shortly followed to the start line in the centre of the city. We were a bit late getting to our start pen but I wasn’t bothered, the less hanging around the better in my eyes! The gun sounded and the first wave was off, followed shortly by mine. The crowds were great, I passed lots of pacers, first time marathon runners (the course is also a marathon course) and some great fancy dress costumes.

The route was pretty simple. Up to the top of the city, back down and then out along the waterfront, round and back into the city. I kept an easy pace, enjoyed the views and high fived a lot of little supporters. I continued to feel good and comfortable. Heading into the city and ending outside the town hall, the crowds were amazing. I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and headed to find my uncle, aunt and cousins. It was great to have them waiting for me, mainly for a big hug and I’m hugely thankful to them for coming to support me. Our meet up didn’t last long but it was enough and I made my way to meet Anna and Cortney’s friend at our brunch spot. Free beer drunk and lots of food consumed, we were all proud of our efforts, especially a week after a marathon! People have called me crazy, a machine and wild but I enjoyed this half so much. Seeing cities by running through/around them, has become my favourite way of exploring them!

Slowly making our way back to Cortney’s, we showered and packed up. We walked Anna to the train station and said our goodbyes then grabbed my belongings and found some food before it was my turn to head to the airport.

Ending the best holiday filled with lots of running, fun, laughs and exploring two new cities, with two great friends, on a serious high! A massive thank you to Cortney for driving me around both Chicago and Toronto, putting me up and to both of these amazing ladies, for making my holiday the greatest!! I can’t wait for our next adventure together!

Thank you to everyone for your continuous support, motivation, love and congratulations. I can’t express enough to you all how much it means to me!

Emma xx

Chicago Marathon

Well, I can’t quite believe it’s been a week since Chicago marathon.

Early Friday morning, my friend collected me, and kindly took me to the airport. After a good luck hug, I checked my bag and made my way through to the departures lounge. I was excited, both to be going away, to see friends and run.

I landed mid afternoon, and was collected by Cortney, who I was BEYOND excited to see! Tamsin and her husband, Alasdair, landed a few minutes before me and were also staying in the same air b&b with us. We loaded Cortney’s car and were on our way to meet everyone.

As you might remember from last year, at the NYC marathon, I stayed in an air b&b organised by Charlie. As most of us got a place through the ballot, she decided to get a group together again, for Chicago. If you have ever considered running either marathon, definitely get in touch with Charlie to find out more about the air b&b. It’s so much fun, stress free and super well organised! She’s doing it all again next year, so get in touch if you want to be part of a super fun weekend!

That afternoon, after meeting everyone and dropping bags, we made our way to the expo. I was super excited, as there is always a real buzz, and lots of shopping, freebie collecting and photo taking to be done! We grabbed our bibs for both the 5k shake out run on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday.

Once we had explored the expo, I made my way to meet my parents for dinner, whilst the others headed back to the air b&b. They arrived on Thursday afternoon and were staying until Monday, to cheer me on and explore Chicago! It was wonderful having them and I’m so thankful for all their support they give me with all my crazy running adventures!

Saturday morning we woke early and headed to the centre of Chicago to run the 5k. It was FREEZING and the wind so bitterly cold, that I lost the feeling in my hands within minutes of starting the run. Al, Tamsin, Saskia and I all started in the same wave and I stuck with Al and Tamsin for the entire run.

It was a beautiful, clear morning, the sun was shining and the buzz was pretty electric at both the start, during and end of the course. We made our way through the streets and ended in the park/where the marathon started. After the run, we had quick photos and then made our way to breakfast!

After brunch we headed to do some shopping and to try and find some Nike kit that the expo didn’t have. With no luck, I ended up ordering what I wanted online, to be shipped to my friends, then on to my house. Slight palaver but 100% worth it!!! Off to find warmth, some lunch and other snacks, we then made our way back to the air b&b to shower and sort ourselves for the next day. We ordered food to have in, that night, and after dinner, I made my way to my parents hotel. They’d kindly upgraded their room (my dads the best!!!) so I could have my own bed, a good nights sleep and a short 5 minute walk to the start in the morning.

A tummy full of pasta and flat-lay done, I was settled in bed feeling okay. Nervous but okay. I had trained hard for this race and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from what I came to Chicago for!

My alarm went off at 6am. I got up, ate my breakfast, used the loo about a thousands times and got dressed. My parents were up and getting themselves sorted, so I said my goodbyes, they wished me good luck and I was off. A sick feeling in my stomach but ready, I made my way to my corral.

Due to the high rise buildings and the majority of the race being in the city, I was told my GPS would be off from the start. Having no clue of pace or where I was on the course, Charlie told me to stick with the 4 or 4:05 hour pacer, so that’s what I did. We started pretty much on time and for the first 5 miles I felt good. I’d ditched my throw away jumper but kept my gloves as I knew I’d struggle to keep them warm. The course had been tight so far but the atmosphere amazing – especially for such an early start!! I saw my parents around mile 5.5, which was amazing and gave me the little pick me up I needed.

Continuing with the pacer, Charles, the miles flew by. He was brilliant. Updating us with pace and asking how we were doing. Around mile 12, I missed my parents but continued to feel good. My hips a little sore, I knew I was running a bit too fast but I also knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I knew it was going to hurt and be a battle, either physically or mentally, but I was ready for it.

Along the course we continued and so did the miles. I went through bursts of feeling good and then not. An instagram follower ran past me, congratulating me on my efforts and telling me how inspiring I was. That gave me a real boost and looking strong, he ran on. At mile 20, I could feel myself slowing down. I’d lost Charles at this point and now it was down to me. The crowds had been, and continued to be, brilliant the whole way round, so I used them to keep me going for the last 10k. I broke it down in my mind to two park runs. I focused on my surroundings for distraction and felt strong. At mile 25 I saw my parents then heard Charlie. She ran into the course screaming in my ear telling me how great I was doing, as I sucked back the tears. I picked up my speed as I saw the 800 metre sign, just half a mile, I’ve got this. Round the corner and UP A F**KING HILL, a medic was standing at the top encouraging us on. I hit the 400 metre sign, felt sick and thought I was going to throw up but continued to run hard. There it was, the finish, finally. I ran as hard as I could and crossed the line. I had no idea of time, my watch had said I’d ran 28 miles but I couldn’t care, I was beyond ecstatic. I bumped into Charles, who’d just finished seconds before me and knew I’d come in close to the 4 hour mark. 4:00:09 to be exact.

Proudly making my way to collect my medal, I couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone was congratulating each other as we made our way to collect a foil wrap, water and food. I made my way to where I’d planned to meet my parents and gave them a massive hug. I’d done it, I am a marathoner (again!) and beyond proud of myself for it.

Slowly, we moved on to join a few of the other runners from our group, for brunch/lunch! It was really lovely to see them, have a quick race catch up and congratulate each other. Some food eaten and coffee drunk, we made our way back my parents hotel so I could have a bath and rest a little. I wanted to get back to the air b&b to see everyone, but my parents joined us that evening for dinner, as it was their last night in town. How we lasted for as long as we did, I don’t know! I was beyond ready to get to bed, and surprisingly slept well that night.

Monday morning and we all slowly woke, quite early. We made our way to the Nike store to get our medals engraved for free, before meeting some of the others for breakfast. Our plan was to then visit a few shops, The Bean and other parts of the city. It was another beautiful, sunny, cold day but the walking around was definitely helping our legs. What an amazing weekend it had been!

We said goodbye to Al and Tamsin before heading off to skate at the Chicago Blackhawks ice rink and watch them play against Edmonton. It was a really fun night! The skating easier than I thought it might be and the game so much fun to watch! I’d not been to game before, but it was great fun, fast paced and eventful!

And just like that it was Tuesday. Cortney and I met Charlie, Ellie and Michael for breakfast before saying our goodbyes and heading to yoga then the store, before checking out and loading up her car. Our plan now was to drive to Toronto for some more exploring and running fun – but I’ll save that for another post!

Chicago, you were amazing. I got what I came for and had so much fun along the way. I worked so hard for my, nearly, sub 4 hour time. I can’t thank Charlie enough for all the support, tough love, putting up with my pestering messages and so much more. You truly are a wonderful friend and I wouldn’t have achieved what I did, without you.

To my parents for their continuous support, love and for standing on the side in all weather conditions, shouting me on and waiting for me at the end of every training run and race.

To the wonderful group of friends, both to those I have met and to those I haven’t, thank you. Thank you for your supportive and congratulating messages, always being there when shit, literally, hits the fan, offering advice, answering questions and so much more. I am the runner I am, because of you all.

Photo credit goes to Michael for this one! An awesome shot!

Thank you everyone for reading, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have running and writing it!

Emma xx

Bournemouth Half Marathon

I meant to write this post last week but it seemed to just fly by, what with prepping myself for leaving for Chicago and a few other commitments.

However, better late than never in my eyes, so here it is. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed running it!

I’d signed up for the Bournemouth half, after my friend Anna mentioned she was running it. A great last long run and chance to spend some time when my aunt and uncle. Mid afternoon on Saturday I made my way down to their house, in Bournemouth, to spend the rest of the weekend with them. They lived a 10 minute walk away from the start area, and I hadn’t seen them in a while, so it was a great chance to visit and catch up!

Saturday evening we went out for pasta at a local restaurant and planned where they would stand along the course to see me!

I woke around 6am on Sunday morning to eat breakfast and give myself time to get ready. We left the house shortly after 7am, with some friends in tow, and made our way to the race village. The race started at 8am, which I was quite glad about, as it was good prep for the early start I had in Chicago. After just making it to my starting pen, I found Miriam, said goodbye to my uncle and waited to start. The sky was blue, the sun was shinning and there was a real buzz in the air. I managed to also find Anna and Kyle, meet his family and Kyles brother – who was running his first half marathon!

Shortly after 8am, a little later than predicted, we steadily crossed the start line and made our way through the town and down to the sea. The course had a few twists and turns, and out and backs, but on such a beautiful day and lots of people out cheering, they were hardly recognised. My plan was to run easy and pick up the pace for the last 3 miles.

Continuing back along the top of the sea front, I spotted my aunt and uncle around mile 5, before heading down along to the beach. Here it was quite tight, and you had to be very mindful not to slip on the sand.

Continuing down along by the sea, there were loads of people out. Waiting to see friends and loved ones run by, others walking their dogs and even some swimmers. Lots to keep the mind occupied as running straight definitely can get boring – well for me anyway!!!

Around mile 7/8 we had made our way past Boscumbe Pier, away from the sea front and up quite a steep and wiggly hill. I definitely walked here, greeted by people cheering at the top.

I knew that we were getting closer to the finish, but I struggled after the hill. Mentally I had to give myself a talking to, and started to think of other things to keep me going. Continuing towards the town, down and back along the sea front we went. I knew at this point what I had feared – we were running back towards and round Boscombe pier before heading back to, and around, Bournemouth Pier!!!

I passed Kyle, then Anna on my way, which mentally helped. With less than a parkrun left and focusing on the faster pace, helped too!

Around Boscombe pier I met Miriam, who looked strong and was doing a really great pace – she FINALLY got her sub 2 hour half marathon, and I’m so proud of her. She’s bounced back from a knee injury and has put a lot of work into her training.

Finally, 2 miles left, I had this in the bag. I knew my aunt and uncle would be near the finish and as I ran onto the Bournemouth pier, there was my aunt shouting loudly – another boost I needed! Round the pier, back towards the city centre and through the finish line. 1 hour 55 minute half, I was happy.

I walked round to collect my medal, a really cool finishers box – loved their reduction of plastic here but not along the course. Heading to find my aunt and uncle, I bumped into Anna and Kyle and had a quick chat. Anna has struggled slightly but has come back strong from hamstring issues from the start of training. She’s kept strong both mentally and physically throughout, and bounced back to being able to run Chicago, which I’m super happy about! Goodbyes said, I was reunited with family and we made our way home to shower and head out for brunch.

The only negative to the race was the use of a lot of plastic both during and after the race. I understand it’s hard to drink from a cup when running, and there were many volunteers collecting the bottles which was great, but unfortunately it’s not that environmentally friendly. Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed this half. It was a beautiful route, very well organised and lots of email updates and information throughout the weeks leading up to the day. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend this half marathon. It was flat (minus the one hill), well organised, well spectated and beautiful. The coast is not somewhere I get to visit very much, but I enjoy it so much when I do.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and week so far! Up next will be my Chicago marathon post, which I’m extremely excited about writing, but you’ll have to wait a few more days for that one!!!!

Thank you again for reading!

Emma xx

Happenings 20.9.19

Doing: Sitting in my favourite coffee shop eating poached eggs on sourdough (standard)

Hearing: The new coffee machine doing its thing.

Drinking: Soya flat white. I was recently on the oat milk band wagon (you may have inspired me Heidi, to get back on it!) but for now, I’m going back to being a creature of habit!

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Looking: For Christmas presents. Yes, I am aware its only September, but I love to get ahead of the game and it saves my bank account from looking VERY sad in December!

Deciding: What to have next week, meals wise. I’ve got my eye on a few from a very exciting book!

Enjoying: This beautiful, sunny and unseasonably warm weather we are having. Making the most of it by wearing my favourite summer dresses and being outside soaking up all the vitamin D!

Eating and Cooking: Pretty much everything but my go to at the moment is a bowl of yogurt, frozen berries and homemade granola! Fresh fruit, seasonal veggies and light fresh dishes have been on the menu too. My appetite has FINALLY appeared and boy is it big. Marathon hunger is a real thing and it is REAL right now!

Watching: The new series of The Great British Bake Off, Gogglebox (our Friday night thing) and the occasional episode on Netflix but otherwise I don’t watch tv. I don’t have the mental brain power to concentrate and I’d rather be getting the sleep at the moment. I’m extremely exhausted, more so this training cycle than others, and I’ve not been sleeping great, so I’m prioratising it right now!

Reading: The Horse Dancer by JoJo Moyes, that I had eyed up from my mum over the summer. She finished it in a week, whilst on holiday, so I was very happy when she handed it over. I’ve only read a few chapters but so far I’m enjoying it!

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Wearing: My favourite, and bargain dress, from ME+EM. A friend introduced me to the website and although it is on the pricier side for me, their sales are fantastic!

Buying: Not much….trying to save as much as I can at the moment. However, I fly to Chicago in 3 weeks, so no doubt I’ll be spending all the money then!!

Planning: Next weeks meals, my running schedule and what I need to do before I fly to America.

Playing: Catch up with my to do list. Birthday cards, paying bills, all that fun stuff!

Craving: Chocolate cake! And I have chocolate cake right next to me!! From the cafe I also had lunch in!

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Savoring: The last of these summer days. I can feel Autumn’s arrive is imminent, the mornings are definitely cooler, the leaves are starting to change and I’ve enjoyed some of the most amazing sunrises this week.

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Loving: My early morning runs, seeing the sunrise and being awake before most people. Oh and hot yoga. Saving my sore muscles!

Feeling: Exhausted. It’s peak week. I have 20 miles to run on Sunday and I’d be lying if I said I felt okay about it. I’m s**ting myself and nervous as hell, but knowing I’ve got a few friends and a local 10k “race” to get me through the last 6 miles, is making me feel that little bit better…

This post, as always, is inspired by Heidi.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Emma xx

 

Maidenhead Half Marathon

I have to admit, less than a week after this half marathon, I am still buzzing from it! I think mainly because I had the chance to run with my buddy Charlie, we smashed a sub 2 hour and it was such a well run and organised race.

Charlie was staying with her parents, not too far from me, so the night before we decided to meet and hit up Franco Manca – which I couldn’t believe she’d never been to!!! Her super sweet and funny children joined us, and it was a really fun evening. We discussed the race as well as the Thames Path Challenge, which she is taking part in tomorrow (Saturday), doing the full length in one day! If you don’t already follow her, please do, she a true inspiration, funny, kind and just a generally lovely, down to earth person/friend.

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The race started early, and we met in the Maidenhead Football stadium, along with Andy, Mel and Sara. Andy and Mel weren’t running but had come to support and it was great to see them! Charlie and I had planned to NOT race this race, because it was a training run for us both, but we managed to let the race atmosphere get the better of us….!

We started around 9:30, the sun was shining, blue skies and warm!  We started off a little faster than we had planned but we felt good and decided to keep the pace. Through the streets of Maidenhead town, out along the river and towards Cookham, we headed. Feeling good and with the miles flying by,  I noticed another sign that read mile 8…which was when I realised it was a lapped course!!!!! To be honest, my heart sank…I HATE lapped races, I find them boring and usually end up dreading the second half of the race. However, having Charlie by my side and with the miles flying by, I focused on keeping the pace and Charlie next to me!

The atmosphere was buzzing as we came round to start the second lap. There were plenty of people out watching and supporting, the Marshalls were very friendly and supportive, and there were enough water stations along the course. The only thing missing from the race, was toilets. Apparently there was one in Cookham, but I never saw a sign or directions to it.

At the last water station, about 3 miles from the finish, I lost Charlie. She told me carry on without her, and with my legs feeling very good, I pushed on. As I came round the finally half a mile, I caught her in the corner of my eye, not far behind. Felling proud of her for catching up and pushing through, I made my way to the finish line. Waiting for us, was Andy, Mel and Sara (who ran an incredible sub 1:30 – huge congratulations) and over the line I crossed. Unfortunately the lady in front of me sudden looked very unwell, so the pacer coming in behind me, helped slowly move her to the pavement where a paramedic tended to her. I caught up with Charlie, grabbed some water and a banana.  People were dropping like flies, most likely due to the heat.

Finally, looking at my watch, I saw a sub 2 hours. I was happy, Charlie and I had crushed it. It wasn’t easy and yes, the last few miles were uncomfortable BUT we smashed it. The only downside, was in all the commotion at the finish line, myself and Charlie, both somehow missed grabbing my Westlab pack of salts.  Gutted, to say the least!

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After the obligatory photos, we said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. I had two cool down miles to tag on, so ran to the local sports ground and back to my car, then off to meet my mum for lunch!

A really fun weekend, a very well organised race, and time with friends. I would definitely recommend this Half Marathon, as it was flat, so well organised and supported! Thank you to everyone who wished us good luck and congratulated us! I LOVE running with this lady, thank you for staying with me Charlie!

Hope everyone has had a great week and thank you again to Maidenhead Half, and PurplePatch!

Emma xx