American East Coast Road Trip

I can’t believe this trip has been and gone, I’m now writing about it and its the last bank holiday of the year….major end of summer blues have hit but the memories made from this trip, and the summer, will last forever!

As many of you saw, or didn’t see from Instagram and facebook, we had a pretty eventful and full on trip to America. Having encountered a number of travel issues at both the beginning and end of our 18 days away, we wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world.

Our road trip started in New Jersey, the state my parents, brother and I used to live in. We were here for the weekend and determined to see as many friends as we could, as well as the old house we once owned and many ‘old haunts’, as my mum called them! Whilst we were here, we also took a trip into NYC, my favorite city, lunching with my dads old colleagues, who said they’d all be there cheering me on at the NYC Marathon!! So sweet! Before we knew it, it was time to move on. We loaded up and made our way to Pennsylvania, via a small town called New Hope for a night, then onto our old friends. Here we played major catch up and spent a lot of the time basking in the sun on their porch, reading and completely relaxing. I was also able to get a couple of my runs done and lets just say their driveway and I became great friends…!

Our next stop was Alexandria. A suburb outside Washington D.C. and one of my favorite places we stopped. This was our stopover on our way to Virginia Beach, as the journey was quite long! A free shuttle bus from the hotel dropped us into the centre, and we were able to grab some supper on the river, followed by THE best vegan ice cream outside City Hall, beside the fountains. The next morning we were up pretty early and made our way to Mount Vernon, George Washingtons home. Here we were able to tour his house and gardens, learning a lot about him as a person, and not just a president. By 10am it was boiling hot and mum and I were very much ready to leave, although I’m sure my dad could have spent another few hours there! We headed back to the car and prepared ourselves for the long journey to the beach. This was made even longer by the couple of accidents on the main highway (motorway) and so we ended up arriving a lot later than imagined. Nonetheless, we were greeted with open arms by our friends, their super cute dogs, wine and a lovely meal! I was in love with their house from first sight and super excited to get some runs in along the beach!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst in Virginia Beach, our friend took us to two of the prettiest lighthouses, both on the naval base. Entrance was pretty strict and we were searched before being able to get into the grounds. The views, though, were beautiful and I’m glad we were able to have the chance to visit. The rest of our days were spent on the beach, I was able to get my runs done, we explored each end of the island and new beaches, and ate the most delicious fresh fish and crab!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we knew it, it was time to move on, down to Savannah, via Charleston. I was dreading this part as we had a 7 hour car journey to Charleston, and boy did it go on! We’d bought lots of snacks, our friend also packed up a massive picnic for us and I downloaded a few films to watch on my phone. The hours ticked by and after a few stops we arrived in Charleston. We checked into the hotel then made our way into the city. It was early evening and we were pretty tired, so didn’t spend too much time exploring, we had reserved the following morning for that! Its a pretty impressive city and very colonial. The first shots of the Civil War were shot here and was also one of the largest slave trading cities! The streets are beautiful and the houses very big! We explored the local market, Rainbow Row, the parks that had loads of war statues and information. After roaming the city, we ended up at a lovely coffee shop before making our way back to the hotel to start our final car journey to our friends in Savannah.

They live in a large community of houses on an island, surrounded by a few golf courses, restaurants, a fitness centre, many restaurants, tennis courts, swimming pools and alligators(!). It really is beautiful and flat, which was great for doing my runs, as the heat was just about bearable!! We were unbelievably lucky with the weather, encountering only a couple of afternoon showers and thunderstorms, throughout our whole trip. We learnt how to play Pickle ball, spent afternoons by the pool, ate more fresh fish, explored the city and did a lot of shopping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcomed with open arms by all of our friends, into their beautiful homes and taken care of, we honestly can’t thank you all enough for making these two weeks the best. It was hard to drag ourselves home, especially as we encountered two hour delays, meaning we ended up having 5 minutes to check in for our flight to London before it closed. At this point we were super happy we had booked premium economy seats, so we could properly relax and get a bit of sleep. As well as enjoy a glass of wine or two – much needed as you can imagine!

Emma xx

Happenings 29.7.18

It’s been a while since I’ve done a happenings post, so I thought I’d give you all an update! Inspired, as always, by the beautiful Heidi.

Doing: Sitting in my favorite cafe, drinking the best coffee and munching my way through a granola and fruit bowl for breakfast!

Hearing: The rain pattering down outside, sound of cars crawling by and music in the cafe.

Reading: ‘Stalker’ (but I can’t remember the author) and ‘Soldier Spy’ by Tom Marcus. I actually started this book, then stopped reading it, but plan to pick it up again on my trip to America, next week.

Wearing: With all the beautiful hot and sunny weather we have been having, I’ve been living in vests, shorts, dresses or my swimming costume! My employers have a swimming pool, so we have spent quite a bit of time in it! However, today it is pouring with rain, so the raincoat has been dusted off and jeans are back on!

Drinking: Soya flat white

Eating and Cooking: A lot of salads and fresh vegetables with mainly chicken or fish. Watermelon has also been a HUGE hit recently, as you all saw from the Race to The Stones blog! Overnight oats have also been my love recently, so easy to grab and eat before work in the morning, then topped with freshly picked strawberries – yum!

Wanting: To be on holiday already! Three more working days then 18 days of rest, change of scene and catching up with old friends!

Looking: Forward to my marathon training to start again. This time with a new PT and plan.

Deciding: On what to have for dinner tonight…! Thinking it’ll definitely be a last minute decision!

Enjoying: House sitting for my aunt. Having my own space and routine has been heavenly. Its allowed me to recharge, organize and think, in my own space. Plus I’ve really enjoyed spending time on my own, something I don’t get to do often.

Watching: Love Island…..I am HOOKED! Its the first year I’ve watched it, and I’ll definitely continue to! There’s also a mystery type series on BBC 1 called ‘Keeping Faith’, which is brilliant. I won’t say too much but its about a lawyers husband who leaves for work one morning and doesn’t return…

Buying: Summer clothes, mainly dresses, as they are so light and easy to wear! Will also be great for America, which is going to be hot and humid!

Planning: My week. Along with work and packing, my marathon training is about to start again, so I’m planning in my runs around it all!

Craving: Watermelon! Strawberries, overnight oats, ice cold water and cold, fresh, crunchy vegetables!

Loving: Everything about life right now! Work, social life and busy plans that I’ve made! Plus the sunny, hot weather!

Savoring: My last weekend/lazy Sunday before training starts again! It’s been so nice to run when I want, for however long I want, especially after both London and the ultra!

Playing: Lots of board games at work, with the little girl I nanny for. I used to play loads when I was little, and I’m excited to do more of it when we go to America. Trying to practice more time off social media/my phone and experience the now.

Feeling: Happy. Very happy. Life is good, I have amazing friends and family, a job I love and am happy in. There are new challenges and experiences heading my way, and I’m feeling ready to take them on!

 

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it! Happy Sunday friends!

Emma xx

First Ultra…Race To The Stones

Never in my life would I have ever thought about doing an ultra, let alone sitting here writing about my first one! I’m still in a slight shock of what happened yesterday, but absolutely buzzing from the whole experience!

I first came across this race, when a couple of friends posted about it last year. I then came to realize there were two more of these 100km races dotted around the country and decided to do a bit more research. Spread over two days, or all in one if you are that daring, you can walk, run or jog your way through the beautiful countryside trails and endure everything it has to offer. In our case the heat and unshaded route….! Regardless of how you take it on, you are guaranteed to have THE best time!

My alarm went off at 6am and I nervously shoveled a bowl of overnight oats into me, along with water and a cup of green tea. My dad kindly dropped me off at the start, only a short car ride from my house. At 7am, the temperature was already 20oC, and I was getting nervous. I met Charlie and Martha, along with her husband Daryl and the legend that is, Andy! If you don’t follow him (you can here) and I suggest you do. This guy is the most inspiring, genuine and kindest person I’ve ever met. Gutted to have no gotten a photo with him, but so glad I got to meet him!

Charlie kindly braided our hair, we quickly ran to use the bathroom and then climbed into the start pen! We’d opted for the wave after our originally planned one, because we weren’t quite ready, but it didn’t matter. We were all super excited, feeling good and relaxed!
Once the gun had gone, we were off…oh my god this was ACTUALLY happening! 50km’s and the totally unknown, was ahead of us!

The first leg of the race, and to the first pit stop, was 10km. The sky was crystal clear and the views were absolutely stunning. We did a mixture of running and some walking, but with a pretty flat course, we thought we’d get ahead of the game a bit and we all felt good. Being in the Oxfordshire countryside, you are bound to meet many hills and we were greeted by our first one before reaching the first stop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we were able to grab some snacks, fill up our hydration and water bottles, use the bathrooms and medical tent! I learnt a new trick here, from Martha, with regards to my hydration pack…if you fill it up with liquid, turn it upside down, and suck all the air out, it stops it from swashing/making so much noise when you run – legend!!!! After we’d sorted ourselves, we started off again and at only 9am, the temperature was rising fast.

The next leg was pretty long. Just over 8 miles to our second pit stop, up many steep hills, through the Field of Dreams and our favorite part, the woods! Only because it was shady and cool! Haha! We slowed down a little here, as it was getting very hot, but that was okay. We had no time limit, we took each km as it came and supported each other continuously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We reached pit stop number 2, where we refilled our water, grabbed more food and I caked myself in suncream after another runner pulled me aside and said my shoulders looked extremely red and were burning! I definitely underestimated the sun and the route, thinking there would be more shade then there was. As we left pit stop 2 we soon bumped into Mel, Andy’s girlfriend and saviour, as she had a huge box of watermelon in the back of her car! Adrienne will understand my joy, as well as the other three, because I was craving it so bad during the second leg! Refueled, rehydrated and ready to go, we headed off on our third leg. Another 10km to pit stop number three!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off into the field, through someones gorgeous garden and out onto the path that ran along the river. People were swimming, on their boats and dipping their feet in the water, something we all wished we could do! We passed the 25km mark, half way, YAY! I remember doing quite a bit of running along this part of the route, which unfortunately was unshaded, but bearable and the breeze coming off the water was heavenly! We came away from the river and into the village of Goring and Streatley. Familiar ground and one of my favorite places to come for a walk and coffee/lunch! I was very happy here, we’d also reached the 30km mark and I was feeling really good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we headed over the bridge, and into Streatley from Goring, we met Mel again! I caught sight of and sprinted to her, and before I knew it, she had the box of watermelon out waiting! A total lifesaver in my eyes! At this point we were only a mile or so away from pit stop number 3, and boy that watermelon was much needed! There was a long hill, that dragged on for ages, before the next stop.

Pit stop number threeee!!! I was quite glad to get here, only because I’d run out of water and needed to cool myself down. I was getting slightly worried as I’d had a headache for the past few miles and not used the bathroom since the first pit stop…so I loaded my pack with water and hydration tablets and grabbed more watermelon. I also had to pop to the medical tent to get my shoulder taped, as I knew some chaffing was happening and I could feel I was getting really tense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With more suncream applied, we carried on up a monster hill! This lead us out onto chalk/rocky covered ground, which was open and made us all feel like we were in a foreign country. It was boiling, we could feel the heat coming up from the floor and we’d all resorted to walking. It enabled us to take in the stunning views, rest a little, chat and make sure we were all okay. This part of the route felt very long, especially before we got to the last pit stop. We could see it, but it didn’t feel like it was getting any closer. We managed to entertain ourselves by finding “easier” ways to pass the km’s by skipping…which was a laugh, but yet it still seemed so far away!

Finally, after a sprint entrance, we’d reached the final pit stop! We quickly grabbed more water, loads of chocolate, Charlie had to visit the medical tent to strap her blister up and then we were ready to go. FINAL 6.9km’s to go, we had this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off we set, running as much as we could when the sun went behind the clouds but again the trail felt long and was windy, with absolutely no shade. At this point I still felt great but was slowly starting to fade and my bum was so sore and had gone slightly numb! Charlie and I had gone ahead of Martha and Daryl at this point, which was totally fine, because they ended up being extremely close behind us at the finish, which I was very happy about!
I can’t thank Charlie enough for staying with me and pushing me to the end. We reached the 50km mark, and again we could see and hear basecamp, yet it felt like a million miles away. We climbed up the hill and through the carpark, where I saw my mum waiting for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could feel myself getting emotional and pushed every ounce of power into my legs, that I had, to get me to that finish line. As we finished, I cried, got handed my medal and gave Charlie the biggest hug. I’d done it. I was an ultra marathoner…!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I absolutely cannot thank these three amazing people enough for one of THE best days! I’m beyond proud of myself, them and everyone who raced this weekend. The conditions were brutal, dare I say it, worse than during London, but we smashed it. The Ridgeway will forever be a special place. A place I made memories, new friends, laughed, cried and enjoyed the most stunning views. Thank you again, to everyone, who wished me luck, cheered me on and congratulated me. I am beyond overwhelmed and extremely lucky to have and to know you all!

I hope everyone who raced is recovering well and not feeling too sore! Massive well done!

Emma xx

 

F45 Training

I heard about F45 training classes from a few people, and after doing a bit more research into what they were all about and what classes they offer, I signed up for their free one week trial.
I booked my trial around the unfortunate time of my Grandma passing, so when I emailed to ask if I could change my week, they were more than accommodating. I can’t thank them enough for this, as well as their efficient and quick responses to my questions and emails.

My first class was on Tuesday morning, known as ‘Romans’. A resistance type/body burn class for 45 mins, based around 9 stations. We started with a warm up, projected on to 3 screens, that also showed how to do each exercise, the time of the exercise and rest period. Out of the two I attend, this one was my favorite. I left feeling strong but very jelly like and DOMS that lasted for days!!!

The second class was ‘Hollywood’. THE sweatiest Saturday morning class I’ve been to! I walked in to find 27 stations set up ranging from ropes and weights to box jumps and sprints on the bike. We had a set number of seconds on and for rest, completing the circuit twice.

I left feeling ruined and drenched but absolutely buzzing.

The one thing I really liked about both classes, was the team work side of things. I was welcomed into both classes with open arms, praised for the work I was doing and very much felt part of the F45 ‘family’.

So, thank you F45 for making me become addicted to your classes, welcoming me with open arms to your amazing trainers for their guidance and support and for making me feel damn comfortable in myself again – I WILL be back!

I can’t recommend these guys enough, and if you have an F45 studio near you, GO!

Emma xx

Green Park Royal Berkshire 10k

Since London, I’ve taken part in two races, both of which had extremely different outcomes. The first, and one I didn’t blog about, was the Oxford Town and Gown 10k. Three weeks after a marathon, and I thought I would be fine, everyone jokingly said I still had it in my legs but it was the total opposite. I wasn’t looking forward to the race, I hated every mile, it was hot (why I was even complaining about this, is beyond me!) and my legs felt empty. Luckily, I had the support from a lovely group, who I ran the race with, and the only highlight of the morning was the coffee and breakfast we had after!

The following weekend, I had another race, the Royal Berkshire 10k. I toyed with pulling out of it because of what happened the following weekend, but I’m really glad I didn’t. We were all dressing up as fairies to run for the Teenage Cancer Trust. A fantastic charity, and one I wanted to help my friend support.

As the weekend got closer, I saw the weather and temperatures were meant to be amazing, another hot run on the cards. I’ve decided I must have attract hot days and running races, this is the 3rd one in a row now!! Regardless of the weather, I was really looking forward to dressing up, seeing a few friends and running a new route.

We met quite early, but I’m glad we did as it was a bigger event than I thought. And, as always, there weren’t many toilets resulting in a quick dash to the start line moments before the gun went!
I started off at quite a good pace, not pushing myself and settled quite quickly. The course was good and the neighbors were out supporting us, but boy was it hot! There wasn’t a great deal of shade and only two water stations, both using plastic cups. It’s wonderful to see all these races ditching the plastic bottles and being aware of plastic use.
Half way round and I was kind of wishing I wasn’t wearing my tutu and compression socks, plus I started to feel quite sick. I ended up doing a bit of walking and running towards the end, being picked up by other runners encouraging me on. I crossed the finish line, desperate for water and to sit down!

I found a few fairies sat in the shade, so headed over to join them, have a chat and check my time! I had managed to shave 9 minutes off my last 10k and felt extremely proud and quite smug!
After a quick catch up, I said my congratulations and goodbyes, before heading to get a post race photo then make my way back to my car.

A fun race, for a great cause, with friends and on a lovely sunny day! One way to spend a Sunday and one I wouldn’t have any other way!

Happy Friday everyone, have a lovely long weekend!

Emma xx