One week to go….

I can’t quite believe where the past 14 weeks have gone…it seems like yesterday that Charlie and I were sat organizing the whole weekend, and to think that I hadn’t even run London yet…craziest thought in the world and I have no idea what possessed me to sign up for my second marathon, having not even ran my first! Regardless, I am SO glad I bit the bullet and decided to run, because with one week left to go, I am more than excited to be heading back to my favorite city in the whole world!

This weeks train has gone really well. I’ve given the speed sessions my all, maybe too much, ending in me feeling rather sick after…..a small PT session, with the BEST PT in the world, because I’ve been craving it recently, parkrun with two friends and my last long run this morning. My legs have felt amazing, I’m really in awe of my body and how its adapted to my training. I feel great and I am beyond ready to race now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having also been half term this week, that’s enabled my charges and I to have a bit of a break/more down time. It’s such a whirlwind of a week with preschool, classes, playdates and everything in between, that the slow mornings/days have been welcomed with open arms! We’ve been pumpkin picking, to the theatre and out for lunch. Everything we love doing, with lots of time playing at home and watching films.

With my suitcase out and packing well under way, I want to reflect for a moment on this training journey. It’s not been the easiest, hell I have felt many times like I wanted to pull out of the race and stop there and then, but I didn’t, because I have the determination, motivation to finish what I started. Running is my passion, its more than just a speed workout and many miles on the plan each week. So I wanted to thank every single person who has supported, sent messages, encouraged, run with me, been there when I’ve been reduced to tears and when I’ve been jumping for joy. To the friends I’ve never met, through social media, and to those who are my best and most beloved friends in the world – you all mean so much to me and I can’t thank you all enough for your constant love and just being there for me. I live my life A LOT through social media and I LOVE chatting with every single one of you.

I honestly can’t say how ready I am to run next Sunday, with you all there cheering me on from the sidelines or 3,000 miles on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Get ready to be taken on the most exciting weekend of your life, I can’t wait to have you all follow and experience with me, what may be another most amazing day of my life!

Much love and thanks, always,

Emma xx

 

 

It’s been a while…

I can’t believe its been nearly two months since I last blogged….Life has been a rollercoaster of a ride for my family and I, and I actually don’t know where September went. Most of it was spent in the hospital visiting and spending time with my dad. He’s been extremely unwell since we arrived home from our trip to America in August, but he’s FINALLY on the mend, albeit very slowly.
Work has also been crazy, we went away to Cornwall the last week of the summer holidays, and the day I returned was the day everything went down hill. Since then, preparing my charge for preschool and afternoon activities, has made the days, and weeks, mould into one.

Along with many trips to the hospital and weekends spent keeping my dad company, with mum, I find it quite overwhelming at times to continue with my work life and marathon training. I struggled with a few of my runs, ending in tears and thinking many times about pulling out of the marathon. I had to keep reminding myself that running is my passion, not my career and if I missed a few runs, it wasn’t the end of the world. I’m pretty hard on myself, and very dedicated to my training, but I knew I had to pull myself back and think realistically.

As the weeks have continued, Dad has gotten a lot better, and we’ve managed to settle back into normal life. Training has continued to go well and last Saturday I ran my longest run – 20 miles. It went really well. I started off on my own, running the first 8 miles to a friends house and we finished the final 12 together around the pretty country lanes. It was great to catch up, as its been months, and it made the miles fly by. Although admittedly, the last two were extremely hard and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, vomit or lie down at the end!

I feel like this run gave me a confidence boost. I was really nervous, as the last 20 miles I did was for London, and lets just say it didn’t go too well…I’ve also really enjoyed this weeks training, even getting up at 5am to run 800 meter repeats (mad woman, I know), I’ve felt good. I’m determined to give the next 2 weeks my all, and even though I’m nervous, I’m very excited to run my second marathon in just over 2 weeks time.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and enjoy the weekend! My brother is home from university, with his stinking cold (insert eye roll), I get to spend time with family and am running the Henley Half on Sunday. Hope you all have fun weekend plans, running or spending time with loved ones. Enjoy!

Emma xx

 

 

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