Saturday, 24 October 2015

Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool

Today I am relaxing. Sort of. It's weird and I'm not very good at it. I went out with friends last night and didn't get out of bed til 8.30am today. Then I threw some ingredients into the slow cooker to make soup, made a coffee and curled up with my book. I didn't have a shower til 11.30am.
This is weird. So weird. But if you've been following me on any form of social media this week you'll know that last week's half marathon took its toll, and I've had a bit of a poorly foot all week, so parkrun was out the window this morning. Phil is away so I can't do the food shop (we use his car, and not only am I not insured on it, I wouldn't trust myself to drive it even if I was) and I don't have to leave for my choir concert til 6.30pm. So as a result, I don't really know what to do with myself.
This week has been intense. I've had three nights of choir rehearsals, which have started at 7 - just giving me enough time to get home, throw together some dinner and rush out. They also mean I get home about 10, which gives me about 20 minutes with Phil before I need to go to bed. We had one night in together this week, but my foot was hurting so much that I hobbled to bed at 9pm. This has been my first official week running my department at work, and my foot has really been getting me down.
To go from being able to run a half marathon to not being able to walk for 2 minutes without needing to stop has been a struggle. Everyone has told me not to worry and to ignore any niggles for at least a week post-race. A friend in my choir has given me two massages this week and assured me that it's just tightness down my leg from the race and not to worry about it. But it's getting me down. I was looking forward to a week of resting, but I was excited to run again this weekend. It is getting better and I'm desperate to run, but I know it would be stupid to go out tomorrow and try to do a few miles, and I know that losing a few days of running now is better than losing months out if I injure myself probably by trying to run too soon. But it's hard and debilitating. And I know I don't have a race til my marathon in April. I know it doesn't really matter if I don't get my 50 Parkruns tshirt before Christmas. I know all that. But I still just want to be able to run.
floral jumper - Oasis
leather skater skirt - Oasis
necklace - c/o Onecklace
Anyway, let's talk about clothes. So I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but last week two of the jumpers I'd been eyeing up in Oasis went into the sale. The first was this one and the second is the one I'm wearing here. I've mentioned a lot lately how much I love Oasis (I swear they're not paying me!) but sometimes they can be just a little bit too expensive for me. But their sale is always excellent, and I love their Seek and Send service, which will send you items from stores if they're out of stock online. I wore this jumper last week just with jeans, but I loved the idea of it with my leather skater skirt (which I only remembered as I typed this, is also from Oasis...).
I also have new boots, which you won't believe are UGGs! Now, don't get me wrong, I used to wear UGGs at 21 when I lived in Minnesota and it snowed 6 months of the year, but they've been buried at the back of my wardrobe for a long time. I picked these from Jake Shoes because I wanted some black boots with just a little bit of a heel, like my Oasis ones. I hate wearing heels these days because I'm just.too.impatient, but I like a little bit of a heel for a boost for my shortie legs. OH and they have a fleecy sole too for toasty feet!

Right well my slow cooker soup should be done now, so I'm going to go eat a bowl of that and then hope my foot holds out on a walk into town. My favourite jeans have developed a hole so I'm off to do some dreaded jean shopping.

Wish me luck!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 18 October 2015

What a week!

As weeks go, this one hasn't been bad.
On Thursday, I got promoted! 

For the last few months, we've been a marketing team of two, and my boss, Karen, is pregnant! She left for maternity leave on Friday so now I'm heading up the marketing team. I've been very nervous about this for months, but I think this is going to be a really exciting time and I'm hoping I'm ready for the challenge!

And today...

As some of you might remember, I ran my first half marathon a year and a half ago, and despite all my training, I struggled on the day. The race was very competitive, quite a difficult course and in the middle of nowhere with mostly fields and very little support.

I decided to do the Great Birmingham Run after signing up for my first marathon, as I thought it would break down the training a little bit. I knew it would be a big, exciting race with plenty of atmosphere and after going to uni in Birmingham, I knew it would be the perfect second half marathon.

I've been training for months and had 2:15 in my head as my goal time, but I was hopeful that on the day I might be able to get closer to 2:10. 

The weather was perfect, cool but not cold, cloudy but not drizzly. I lined up at 10.35am and kept telling myself not to worry about my time and just to enjoy myself. I was so excited.

I ran the entire race (okay, until 10 and a half miles) with a smile glued to my race. It wasn't an easy course (I'd heard about "The Hill" at 11 miles) and it was quite up and down, but there were people lining the streets cheering us on, giving out sweets, shouting our names. I didn't plug my headphones in once so I could soak up the atmosphere.

I knew I was doing okay. I didn't want to set off too fast so I kept an easy pace for the first three miles. I pushed myself up the hills and let myself "flop" on the way down to catch up. My friend, Steph, was waiting for me with a sign at mile 7. I was so excited that it's no coincidence mile 7 was my fastest mile! 

I hit 10K in an hour and 30 seconds, and I was running about 2 and a half minutes faster than my goal time. I started pushing forward. At mile 7 I spotted the 2 hour 10 pacers, and I overtook them at mile 8. I remembered at my last half marathon I started to hit the wall about 9 miles in, so when I saw the Lucozade at mile 9 I made sure to grab on and try to drink it as fast as possible.

I started to get tired after ten and a half miles. But I knew I only had two and a half miles to go! I knew I'd banked some time when I got to "The Hill."

Man, it wasn't easy. It's like the hill that just keeps on giving. A small incline, then some flat, then a tough incline up to the last mile. It was about a mile long and I was flagging. I gave myself an extra few minutes to get to the top, but half way up I saw a group of University of Birmingham cheerleaders. I just had enough energy to yell "BIRMINGHAM UNI!!" and they cheered along as I waved my arms in the air. I think that's how I got to the top.

The Hill only robbed me of a minute. At I hit 12 miles at under 2 hours I started to realise I was going to hit under 2 hours 10. In my head, I'd hoped I would just absolutely go for the last mile, but the reality was I was spent. I'd just ran 12 miles - a 9 minute final mile was not going to happen. 

With 0.3 miles to go we ran through an underpass, and the slog back up the other side, with the end almost  in sight, was tough. But then I saw the end. I started to speed up but it was not my usual sprint finish. But I stopped my watch at 2 hours 8, and 5 minutes later, my text confirmed 2 hours 8 and 2 seconds.

I was exhausted, emotional but most of all, incredibly proud of myself. It had all been worth it. The early morning runs, the long runs on Sundays, all the parkruns. The aches, the blisters, the pain. All worth it.

Let's put this into context. My last half marathon took me 3 hours 2 minutes. I just ran a 2 hour 8 half marathon. I just took 54 minutes off my time. Plus I did almost the entire thing with a smile on my face.

I'm so so so proud of myself and I can't wait to run this race next year.

Sub 2 hours next time, yeah?

Saturday, 10 October 2015

What I'm actually wearing right now

This is actually the outfit I wore today. When was the last time that happened? In fact, it's the outfit I'm still wearing now. Minus the white jumper. Come on, do you really think I'm the kind of person who can be trusted to wear a white jumper? On Wednesday, Phil and I did the food shopping after work and then I made dinner, which ended up taking an hour. Everything was just ready in time for Bake Off so I decided we could be naughty and eat on our laps. I picked up one of our biscuit-shaped cushions, put it on my lap to protect me from the hot bowl, and as I reached for the mango chutney I said to Phil "don't let me drop any of this on the cushion." Seriously, it took less than 10 seconds before I was cleaning chutney of a custard cream cushion over the sink. So that's why I really shouldn't have bought a white jumper.
My one regret with these photos was that I took them before I put a gorgeous dark berry autumn lip on. Now I'm back from holiday I'm in full-on autumn mode. Right now I'm wrapped up in a hoodie with the heating on and candles lit and it's lovely. I hate to be a typical blogger in my love of autumn but it is my favourite time of year. I left work the other day and the air just smelled like autumn. Is that a thing? It was gorgeous.
Things have been a bit manic since I got back from holiday. I had a week away with my parents, landed Thursday night and then got up at 4am for a flight back to Spain for my friend's hen do. Which as you can imagine was a pretty exhausting one! Then this week I've had to fit in choir, the aforementioned food shop, and absolutely bloody awful 8 mile run on Tuesday after work (people always ask me how I run in the morning before work but SERIOUSLY HOW DO PEOPLE DO IT AFTER WORK? It was so awful and dark and busy that I almost cried with frustration two miles in). Phil and I also panicked when we got back about the number of films on at the cinema we needed to see (we both have Cineworld cards so we go a lot - I'm planning a post on the pros and cons of having a Cineworld card soon!) so Thursday we went to the cinema, and then yesterday Phil went away for the weekend (sadface) and I went to see Fall out Boy.
Which leads me to another thing I want to talk about. One of my favourite-ever quotes is "Nothing of me is original, I am a combined effort of everyone I have ever known", and last night, watching Fall Out Boy, I thought about how much the music I listened to as a teenager has affected who I've become as an adult. If you didn't know, I was very, very, very into my music as a teenager. I lived it, I breathed it. I only wore band tshirts, or clothes designed by people from bands, or clothes recommended by people in bands, or the type of clothes people who listened to my kind of music wore. I spent all my time online on forums for the bands I loved or reading up on my favourite bands. It was everything I was about. I started reading Chuck Palahniuk after hearing that his books were referenced in Panic! at the disco songs. Which led me to discover an entire genre of nihilistic, transgressive literature that I adore to this day. Which led me to films, to genres of films, to more books, to this entire identity that all became with music. If I hadn't read Chuck Palahniuk at 16, would I have read Bret Easton Ellis at 18? Would I still have written my dissertation on American Psycho? Would my favourite film still be Fight Club? Would my favourite book still be Invisible Monsters? Anyway, it's just interesting to think how these little things have transformed you. From the outside, despite my half dozen pairs of converse and love of black eyeliner, you probably wouldn't know the kind of person I was as a teenager, who wore red eyeliner and waited outside HMV before it opened to be first person to get a My Chemical Romance album. But when you look into the things I love today, I'm still that same 16 year old.
Anyway, I digress. Fall Out Boy were a lot of fun. I always joke, and feel a bit ashamed, that I have the same taste in music I've had since I was 15, and I've always pretended to like Fall Out Boy in a bit of an ironic way, but the reality is I had a really good time, it was great fun and they were great. So here's to not denying my 16 year old self. But not bringing red eyeshadow.
ANYWAY let's talk about this outfit, and this necklace. I started writing a blog post yesterday entitled "Why I'm a terrible fashion blogger" (I'll definitely still publish it soon!) and one of the reasons was that now the cold weather has hit I just want to wear jumpers and jeans for the next 6 months. But I really don't want to just post an outfit of a jumper and jeans on here because, come on, you're smart people, you know how to pair a jumper and jeans. So this morning I got a bit more dressed up than usual. 
There's a bit of a funny story behind this jumper. I took myself on a little shopping date last month. I went after work, took as long as I liked and I had autumn winter on my mind and money burning a hole in my pocket. And could I find anything I liked? Urgh. I nearly resorted to buying a new bra just to buy something. But then I went to Oasis and lately I have just loved Oasis. It's actually my favourite shop. I knew I'd find something in Oasis. And I did. A camel-coloured crew neck jumper, and the same one in grey. I loved the camel, but not the grey. So I went to take the grey back and spotted it in white. Okay, I thought. I have a voucher. I can have them both. I got to the counter and the girl said "oh these are such lovely jumpers. I tried the burgundy one on the other day. " 
I think I actually scared her a little bit. 
And that's the story of how I ended up with three of the exact same jumpers. No regrets.
So basically I'm living in these jumpers at the moment (and also these boots, which are, unsurprisingly, Oasis. They were a bit of a splurge at £68 but I won an award at work and won a £50 voucher for I asked for an Oasis voucher and voila, £18 boots), and this necklace. How cute is this necklace? I don't wear a lot of jewellery, as in, I wear the same three necklaces on rotation all the time, but I don't really have anything small and delicate. This is from Onecklace and what I loved most about their service was after choosing my necklace they contacted me with a couple of design options so I could check the style I wanted before ordering. As most of the letters are a curly style the C can look a bit hard to read so they gave me the option of a curly C or a classic C which I thought was a really nice touch. Obviously, I went for the classic C. I could also choose different chain lengths which I thought was cool. It came with a little certificate of authenticity too.
jumper - Oasis
skirt - Warehouse
boots - Oasis
necklace - c/o Onecklace
God, can you tell Phil is away? It's like word vomit over here. It's actually been really nice today. I went to parkrun this morning, then did all my weekend food prep (I made seitan for a stew I'm doing tomorrow, made soup for the week and prepared dinner for tonight). Then my parents came into town and met me! We went for a drink and then they came round for tea! I made Anna Jones' tomato and coconut cassoulet for my mum and I and... well a frozen pizza for my Dad. He's not a vegetarian food kind of guy! It was so so nice to have them over though. I'm so glad I didn't move too far away!
I'm going to have an early night tonight because tomorrow is my last long run before the Great Birmingham Run next Sunday! I'm equal parts nervous and excited. I really want to just enjoy the race and not worry about my time but I've got that time goal in my head and it's hard to ignore...
Anyway, I really need to stop talking. Have a lovely weekend!

Charlotte x