Monday, 25 April 2016

Back in workwear

So it's been a while since I posted workwear on the blog. A while as in... nearly 2 years. But as you might know if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I have a new job! So I'm back commuting and I'm back to workwear!
Today was my first day so I snapped these photos before rushing out the door for the bus. The bus because... my new job is digital content co-ordinator for Stagecoach! It's back home in Stockport so my commute is a little longer than the five minute walk to work I've enjoyed the last year or so, but I'm really excited to get started in my new role! Plus it will be ideal for Phil and I next year when we buy a house as we're looking to move back to Stockport.
shirt - Miss Selfridge
trousers - Marks and Spencers
blazer - New Look
flats - New Look

I'm a little bit in love with this outfit. I spied these trousers online a few weeks ago in M&S and dragged my Mum in so I could have a look at them over the weekend (how things have changed - me dragging her into M&S!). I loved them - and the identical brown and black pair - instantly and had to buy both pairs. As I said before, it's been a while since I've had a dress code for work and to be honest, most mornings at Axonn I just grabbed a pair of jeans and a jumper, so I need to think ahead a bit more with work outfits. When I worked at Frank back in 2012, I used to keep a pair of heels under my desk so I could wear my pencil skirts, but these days I'm too impatient to totter around in heels and I'm too short to be able to wear pencil skirts with flats, so printed trousers it is!
In other news, I'm still not quite marathon recovered - I still have niggles in my hip and foot, but I'm really hoping to give running a go this week. I'm going crazy! I did manage an hour of weight training on Saturday and yesterday Phil and I played badminton, so I'm getting there. I'm just in a real catch 22 between wanting to run because I'm going crazy and I have a race in 4 weeks, and also being worried that if I run too soon I might end up properly injured.

Runners are crazy folk aren't we?

Charlotte x

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The post-marathon blues


You hear about the post-marathon blues, but you don't think they'll hit you at 2am on the dance floor of a crowded nightclub during the first night out you've had in four months.

You don't think you'll suddenly burst into tears and don't know how to stop. You don't think once the flood gates open they'll be uncontrollable.

You don't think you'll miss the worry and the fear and the anxiety of training. You don't think you'll miss the mornings when you've been awake hours before anyone else in the office or that first intake of cold morning air. You don't think you'll miss your 5am alarm or hours of your Sunday morning lost to long runs.

You don't think you'll grieve. You don't think you'll feel a sense of loss. You don't think you'll miss that sense of purpose, that focus, that need to work towards your goal. You don't think you'll feel a piece of you is missing when you have a weekend free of running.

You thought you'd love having your social life back. But you remember you didn't really like going out anyway, and you realise you'd rather spend a Saturday morning getting a parkrun PB than spend it nursing a hangover. You thought you'd be glad of the extra sleep and love no longer feeling exhausted all the time, but instead you miss that feeling of "I already did something today while everyone else was in bed."

You'll miss the awe of telling people how long your run was this weekend or nervously telling them how many weeks you had to go.

The post marathon blues are real. It was never about the end goal, it was about the journey. After months of dedication to one goal, to achieve it leaves you with no direction. Nothing to work towards. Nothing to strive for.

And you have to mourn that loss. While your body is recovering your mind is too.

Your mind is no longer preoccupied with running maths, pace calculators, training plans committed to memory, fueling strategies. It's done. None of that matters anymore. 

You never thought you'd feel such a sense of loss for something that robbed you of so much time and energy and sleep and sweat.

So what next? "Are you going to do another one?" There is no right answer. The uninitiated gasp when you say yes, undoubtedly, definitely. Those who have been there nod. They know. They understand that nothing is harder than the training, but no relief is like the finish line. 

But another marathon is not as simple as just filling in a form and handing over your money. Training would have to begin in six months. Are you prepared for another winter of 5am alarms and lost Sundays? No, not yet. Maybe the year after, when you've forgotten how much dedicated training requires.

Marathoners are people who never give less than they're all. They're the people who get called crazy because they can't give up. They are the people that will arrange their weekend around that 20 mile run, or turn down their social life for an early night. They're committee, they're dedicated and they'll do whatever it takes. And not having that goal can drive you crazy.

Here's to whatever is next. While mourning the life that I did, the dedication I proved, the training I committed to and remembering the medal I won. Remembering that the training was the biggest challenge. That my medal represents the hundreds of miles I ran in training, not just the 26.2 I did on the day. Remembering that I set myself a goal and I achieved it. Knowing if I can do that, I can do anything. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

What's it's really like to train for a marathon

When I first started marathon training, I kept a list in my phone I entitled "What it's really like to train for a marathon." The idea was for it to be a list of all the things nobody tells you, anything that I didn't expect, things I thought people should know and also just a list of little grievances and annoyances along the way. 
I've been adding to this for over 4 months, one run at a time. Some of my notes make sense, some repeat themselves. Some are gross, some are funny. But this is my experience of training for my first marathon...

  • You have to run 8 miles before work. So you get up at the crack of dawn, run 8 miles, THEN go to work
  • Sundays are an absolute write off
  • Say goodbye to your toenails
  • And hello to blisters
  • You will be hungry all.the.time
  • Nights out are cancelled
  • Everything is planned around your schedule. You will use sentences like "oh I can't, I have an 18 mile run the next day"
  • And "ooh my long run this weekend is only 13 miles!"
  • You will miss some runs in your training plan
  • And freak out that you've ruined your training and you'll never finish the race
  • You will be exhausted 80% of the time
  • You will worry about whether you're following the right plan, or if you should change plan, or if another plan is better
  • You will eat a LOT of sweets
  • And you'll learn which are the best texture to chew while simultaneously running
  • Everyone will think you're a little bit crazy
  • And they'll tease you about how often you go on about your upcoming race
  • You will start feeling a bit resentful of all the training you have to do
  • You will need the toilet on a run. And you will worry about whether using the toilet in Tesco without buying something is an offence you can be arrested for
  • You probably won't be able to think straight after any run over 15 miles
  • It will ruin your social life (or give you a great excuse to leave early)
  • You'll stop caring about how you look when you're running
  • Anything you get done after your long run is an achievement
  • You will eat everything after a long run
  • You will eat a lot of junk
  • Sometimes you'll just need to take a nap to avoid being a zombie the rest of the day
  • You will need to up your self care game
  • You'll end up going to bed when it's still light outside
  • Other hobbies will have to take a step back
  • You will get ill and have to rest up for a few days
  • And you'll worry about losing fitness all the time
  • You will become a bit gross (see, toenails)
  • You'll be thankful when you go to a party and don't know people very well when someone asks "how's your marathon training going?"
  • Sometimes you need to give yourself a bit of a break
  • You will need to rearrange your social life around your runs
  • You will get really, really bored of training. Of the running, of the planning, of the Sunday afternoons when you can't do anything
  • Your weekends will be dedicated to running
  • You'll try to get out as early as possible for a long run so you're not getting back in the middle of the afternoon after a 3+ hour run
  • You'll feel like you're wasting your weekends
  • Sometimes you'll need a Plan B
  • You'll feel ill and run down most of the time
  • You'll have to learn to be a bit flexible sometimes
  • You'll realise that your training isn't "hard", it just requires oh-so-much committment
  • You'll say you don't care about your time, but you do
  • You will have a slightly unrealistic time goes (edit: I HIT MY SLIGHTLY UNREALISTIC TIME GOAL!)
  • You will feel disgusting
  • You'll never get around to crosstraining
  • You'll read a lot of articles about what you "should" be doing
  • You will get so bored of running
  • You will listen to a LOT of podcasts
  • You will worry you haven't done enough (read: any) speedwork
  • You will eat, have a nap, then need to eat again
  • The day after a 20 miler is a write off
  • You'll feel ill all day after a really long run
  • You will need some real grit and determination to get through the training
  • You will have terribly awful runs
  • There will be times when you'll really think you can't do it
  • You'll spend the last 2 weeks worrying about everything
  • You'll read every article you can find about carb loading
  • You will spend a lot of money last-minute on things you "need" for race day
  • You will question everything
  • Everything will niggle
  • You'll start to regret not doing more training
  • You will panic buy everything
  • You'll start to worry about life after the marathon
  • You'll pimp your JustGiving page constantly
  • You will have nightmares of not finishing
  • You will have one niggle that will threaten to derail all your training
  • You'll try new things way too close to race day
  • You'll have absolutely no plan for anything after race day
  • Carb loading will be nowhere near as fun as you expected
  • You'll feel constantly full and bloated
  • You'll start to feel a sense of loss even before the race
  • You will read all the contradictory information online
  • You will completely freak out
  • You will be bored senseless the day before the race
  • You will start to seriously envision getting a DNF
  • You will imagine failing much more than you will imagine success
  • Everything will go wrong on race day (edit: I accidentally slept in my contact lenses the night before my race...)
  • It will hurt. All the way around.
  • You will have to factor in needing a wee at mile 12 into your goal time
  • You'll try to compensate for the five minutes you waited for the toilet
  • You'll see your family half way and they'll spur you one and you'll be in the happiest bubble on Earth
  • You'll be feeling amazing...
  • Until mile 19
  • And then it will be the hardest thing you've ever done in your life
  • You will spend the last 2 miles looking over your shoulder for the pacer
  • You will nearly give up
  • You will try to stay in the mile you're in
  • Your Garmin will save your sanity
  • You'll think you'll speed up the last 2 miles. You won't
  • You'll have dreams of a sprint finish
  • But the last 0.2 miles will be absolute torture
  • You will cry
  • You will cross the finish line and your legs won't know how to walk any more
  • And then someone will put the medal around your neck like the Olympics
  • You will see your family and you'll cry some more
  • Everyone will tell you how proud they are of you. And you'll be so proud of yourself you can't even believe it
  • You'll know you worked so hard
  • You will hurt everywhere - legs, back, chest, arms, mouth, ears...
  • You will feel like you have the flu
  • You won't be able to think straight
  • You'll be annoyingly in awe of yourself - "remember that time I ran a marathon?"
  • You'll know you should stretch... but you won't
  • So the next day you won't be able to move
  • Stairs will put the fear of God in you
  • You won't be able to walk properly for two days
  • You won't know what is just muscle soreness and what is an injury
  • You'll feel nauseated for days
  • You will resent everyone who compares anything to a marathon
  • You'll have a horrible moment when you realise you can't eat what you want any more
  • You'll start to become bereft
  • You'll miss the training
  • You'll know you need to remember the torture of training before you sign up for another one
  • But you know you'll do it again

Sunday, 10 April 2016

I ran a marathon

I did it! I ran a marathon!
Right now I am way too tired and aching and confused and emotional to write a proper blog post, but I did it. It was amazing for the first 19 miles, then it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

But I did it, AND and I hit my goal of under 4:30 (although my time did include over 5 minutes queuing for the toilet at mile 12...).


Everything hurts. My toes (seven blisters), my back, my quads, my hips, my calves, my head. I am aching so much that I'm a little bit scared of how I'm going to feel tomorrow. Thankfully I'm not in work til Thursday as Phil is taking me away tomorrow - I cannot wait for that spa day he has booked!
Proper blog post to come - I've been keeping a log for over 6 months of "things nobody tells you about running a marathon" and I can't wait to share. But for now it's rest, ibuprofen, sleeping and pizza,

Thanks to all of you for your support.

Charlotte xxxx

Sunday, 3 April 2016

26

Wheee this week has been great! Wednesday was my birthday, and I basically love my birthday more than anyone else in the world.

Seriously, look how happy I am in this picture:

For about three months, I've known that Phil had bought me a trip away for my birthday and I've been so excited to find out what "birthday surprise" was! So one of the first things I did (after Phil brought me a huge cup of tea in bed), was to find out where we were going! We're going away to Birmingham the week after next, and he's booked us a lovely hotel, spa day, escape room and tickets to see Hans Zimmer! 

After I opened some of my presents, I took advantage of the lie-in from work I'm allowed on my birthday - and used it to go for a run! 

When I got to work my wonderful colleagues had decorated my desk with balloons and I already had presents on my desk waiting for me!
Then they brought out a giant cookie cake for me and a bunch of flowers from my manager, and all sang Happy Birthday! And I was allowed to open my presents - a gorgeous notebook my friend Riven made for me, and a dinosaur necklace!
I was a bit sad at first about working my birthday, but I actually had such a lovely day that I'm glad I went in! I brought some treats in for the office too, and I went out for lunch with my group of girls. We went to Moose which is one of my favourite places for brunch in Manchester, and I had the Manolito (aka, all of my favourite things on a plate):
Phil met me after work and we headed straight home to get ready for my parents' arrival! My Mum went absolutely mad with presents as usual! I'd asked for a few recipe books, a new Kindle and the Parks and Recreation boxset, but I also got a Ted Baker bag and two Game of Thrones boxsets! I am so spoiled!
For dinner we went to Mowgli, which is another of my favourite places in Manchester. It's a Indian street food restaurant, so it's like Indian tapas. We ordered a LOT of food!
After dinner, we popped for one in the Cosy Club and had a game of Uno. It was perfect! I always love my birthday, but I felt really spoiled this year and I am so happy with my little group of girls at work who really made the effort to ensure I had a wonderful day (which I did!).
I'm still on a bit of a birthday comedown, but in a good way! My living room is full of flowers, I keep picking up my new recipe books to flick through them and I can't stop wearing my new MAC Velvet Teddy lipstick (with Whirl liner, of course!). I was a bit nervous about turning 26 (officially late twenties, urgh!) but when I look back over the last year, it's been amazing. 

Let's see what 26 has in store!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Oh baby, you're a classic. Just like a little black dress.

I could not look less like these photos right now. This morning I ran my last 20 mile run before the race (which is 3 weeks today - eek!) and got changed straight back into my pyjamas when I got back (after a shower, of course!) so I'm currently in my jim jams with a big dressing gown and slippers on, without a scrap of makeup, with my hair scraped back drinking a huge brew. I am exhausted and hungry. So exhausted in fact that I have already had a nap and had to take a break from hanging up washing because I was too tired, and so hungry that I ate a huge bowl of curry and rice two hours ago and am already insatiably hungry again. 20 miles felt really good this morning though. It was nowhere near as bad as my last 20 mile run. Phil came with me for the first three miles which really broke it down, and I didn't have to make a detour half way because of ice. I found a gel flavour that I can just about tolerate (rhubarb and custard flavour Zipvit) and I actually finished the run 6 minutes faster than last time.

It's been a really good weekend for running actually. Yesterday we went to parkrun for the first time in ages, and I finally got to wear my 50 parkruns tshirt! We actually tried a different course to our usual one, as we'd wanted to try it for ages, and last time we went it was closed because of ice! I ended up having a spectacularly good run which really surprised me as I expected to have lost some speed through marathon training! My first mile was my fastest ever mile at 8:21 and I came in at 26:29 which is a PB of over 40 seconds and about 90 seconds faster than my usual 5K pace!
dress - Collectif
heels - Primark
jacket - Quiz
(Seriously I reckon this whole outfit cost about £70)
Anyway, enough about running, let's talk about this dress. I mean, look at this dress. This is the sexiest dress I have ever worn in my life! A few weeks ago I was reading my best friend's cousin's blog and she did a post on her favourite little black dresses and I was completely inspired. I own a few little black dresses, that I love, but I knew I needed a couple more "grown up" black dresses (although I had no idea what for!). I found myself on the Collectif website eyeing up the Trixie pencil dress but £40 seemed an awful lot to spend on a whim. But thankfully, a few days later I spotted the Mel dress for only £20 and jumped on it. When it first arrived I was actually really nervous - this kind of dress is so far out of my comfort zone! So I did what we all do - tried it on, took 30+ photos, posted to Instagam and then left it in the bag for another 6 weeks. I knew I wanted to keep it, but I just wasn't quite ready for it.

But then last week Phil mentioned that his Grandma's 80th was going to be quite fancy, and planted the idea that maybe I should wear the "sexy dress". I dithered for a while, and almost wore the dress I wore to my friend's wedding last month but my logic was "how many opportunities am I going to have to wear a dress this gorgeous and not feel completely over the top?" In the end I'm so glad I wore this. I wasn't overdressed at all and felt amazing - and maybe a little bit ready to start dressing more out of my comfort zone? Maybe.
It's been a pretty busy weekend actually! Friday we went out for dinner at Artisan, which is one of my favourite restaurants in Manchester. With us preparing to move out of the city to buy a house next year I've started to get really, really sad about not living in the city centre and worrying that we don't take enough advantage of where we live, so on Friday we went out for date night. As it happened, I got an email from Artisan offering me a free meal for my birthday (which is on the 30th) so we decided to go there. I had seared tuna and Phil had some incredible fish and chips, and we reminisced about our one year anniversary meal that we had there, almost a year and a half ago (turns out I had tuna steak then too!). On Saturday, after parkrun, we headed to Phi's Grandma's 80th, which was at a gorgeous restaurant on the Wirral. After drinks at Phil's Grandma's we were straight back to Manchester to pop into my best friend's birthday party too! And as I mentioned earlier, I've spent most of today either running or recovering from it.

And speaking of which, I think it's time for another snack...

Hope your weekend has been lovely!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 17 March 2016

No stars, all stripes

Ooh I do love a good stripey jumper! I can't believe I hadn't worn this jumper on my blog until now. I'd eyed it up for months in Oasis last year and was absolutely over the moon to find it reduced to £20 in the sale. I adore Oasis - it's probably my favourite shop - but I sometimes find it just a little bit too expensive. Thankfully the sale is brilliant and I quite often find the things I want get reduced if I can hold out enough!

I decided this jumper would be a great match for these ballet pumps I received last week from Butterfly Twists. I mentioned last year that I've been much more a jeans-and-jumper kind of girl over the last few years, so I thought these navy flats would be perfect for the warmer months when I live in jeans and tshirts! 

Speaking of jeans, these are also new. I am always desperate to find an alternative to my beloved Joni jeans because at £40 a pair, they're just too expensive and I rarely get more than a year out of them. I had a whole post planned a few months ago celebrating the bargain find of some Matalan jeans which were supposed to be great Joni dupes, but they quite quickly went baggy and I've really struggled to find jeans that fit quite as well.
I'd heard good things about ASOS's Rivington jeans, so I ordered a black pair and also got these as they were £15 in the sale. The black ones are a great fit (which they kind of had to be as I first tried them on with wet nails and got nail polish all over them...) but these, unfortunately, are a little bit big. I did try the size down and while I could get them buttoned... let's just say it wasn't a good look! So while I love the look of these jeans they do keep falling down so I'm secretly hoping they might shrink a bit in the wash haha. I nearly sent them back but for £15 I thought they'll do as a backup!
jumper - Oasis
jeans - ASOS
ballet pumps - c/o Butterfly Twists
I had a rare day off work today and it's been lovely! I did my 8 mile morning run at 8.30am instead of 5.30am, got some stuff done around the house, did some baking for our Sport Relief bake at work tomorrow and spent the afternoon with my Mum! It was really lovely, and she treated me to another stripey jumper in the M&S sale! 

I've got a bit of a busy weekend ahead - on Saturday we have two birthday parties! We're off to Liverpool to celebrate Phil's Grandma's 80th, then back to Manchester for my best friend's birthday party! Then on Sunday I have my last 20 mile run before I start tapering for the race - I can't believe there's only 3 weeks to go!
I'm home alone tonight so I'm about to get myself a nice cold Toffee Apple cider and snuggle up on the sofa to watch football!

Have a lovely weekend!

Charlotte x