A weekend in Wallingford and a spot of parkrun tourism

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. My weekend was a little different. Most of you know that I like to travel back home on a Friday. When I discovered that Oxford station would be closed due to engineering works, I decided to spend the weekend in Wallingford.

After arranging to meet up with a couple of colleagues on Saturday, I escaped from the office, walked back to my shared house, had a nap and researched my weekend running options.

My preferred option was to get up early enough to make it to Didcot for a spot of parkrun tourism. Unfortunately, thanks to the incredibly unreliable bus service between Wallingford and Didcot, this wasn’t guaranteed.  A Sunday morning run with the Run Wallingford group was another ‘safer’ option.

So what happened? Did I pop my parkrun tourism cherry? Did I join up with Run Wallingford for a longer Sunday run?

On Saturday, one of my house mates woke everyone up at 06:30. I’ve no idea what he was doing in the kitchen, but he was incredibly noisy. I wasn’t too fussed as I’d got 8 hours’ sleep. I’d set my alarm for 07:00 so could live with the loss of 30 minutes sleep.

I’m pleased to report that the 07:50 bus towards Oxford got me to Didcot in plenty of time for parkrun. We had to swap buses in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell – what an awesome name – but still reached Didcot at 08:30. I successfully navigated my way to the rather low key start area, took a terrible parkrun selfie, and got chatting to some local runners. I also met a few people who were collecting their ‘D’ as part of the parkrun alphabet challenge.

Didcot parkrun start

Didcot parkrun selfie

I was a good parkrun tourist and attended the pre-run briefing where we were informed we had to complete three laps around a small park and then a longer straight section to the finish. We were also asked to get into a group for a sensible group photo.

Didcot parkrun group 1

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

We were then asked to strike a pose for a second group photo…

Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

It seems it was a case of different parkrun, same old Emma. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace and started to struggle with stitch during the first lap of the park. I slowed down and started to feel a bit better during the second lap of the park, and by the final lap, I finally started to enjoy myself. Three laps of the park complete, I left the park and headed into the unknown.

Didcot parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

I thought we’d run a short distance along the perimeter of the housing estate and then finish. After what felt like several minutes heading in the wrong direction and away from the start, I started to feel a little concerned. Although by this stage it was incredibly warm, I could see goosebumps on my arms and felt cold. I knew I needed to stop running ASAP and to get myself in some shade. Let’s just say I was incredibly relieved when we finally turned right and started to head back towards where I assumed the finish was.

We were directed onto some energy sapping grass and I finally spotted the finish area. I’d like to say I put on an impressive sprint finish but I simply staggered across the line, collected a token, had my barcode and token scanned, and then found some shade. Most people didn’t appear to be hanging around – I’d timed my tourism with the one week the local football club wasn’t available for post-run drinks – so I found someone who knew where they were going, and walked with them back to Didcot station.

I made it back to Wallingford at 11:00, got back to my shared house, had a quick shower and then headed back to bed for a powernap as I didn’t feel quite right. Fortunately, a lengthy powernap seemed to do the trick, and I felt much better when I woke up.

I spent a couple of hours chilling out in my room and then walked into Wallingford to meet up with a work colleague. After a quick discussion, we decided to walk the shortish distance to the Waterfront Cafe located on the banks of the River Thames in Benson. The walk to Benson introduced me to what would be an amazing run through Wallingford Castle Gardens towards Benson Lock. I’m a little frustrated I was so busy talking I forgot to take any photos as the area around Benson Lock was stunning.

We reached the Waterfront Cafe and found a table outside close to the Thames. We ordered a couple of pints of draught beer and then spent ages checking out the menu. After debating the pros and cons of various options, I decided to order the rather grand sounding Waterfront Caesar salad and my colleague ordered the prawn and smoked salmon salad.

The Caesar salad looked amazing when it arrived but contained a little too much lettuce for my liking. It was very much a case of I wish that I’d ordered something else! We finished our salads, ordered a couple more pints of beer and waited for another work colleague to arrive.

Saturday evening

I think it’s safe to say we were both a little tipsy by this stage, so we were relieved when our colleague arrived and we could check out the dessert menu. The menu was a little limited so I decided to play it safe and ordered the luxury ice cream – the choice was either vanilla or vanilla ice cream – with strawberry sauce, and a fourth pint of beer. Our colleague unfortunately couldn’t stay for long so we chatted some more, drank some more, paid the bill and then walked back into Wallingford.

I’m not sure who suggested we stopped off at the Boathouse pub for pint number five but I didn’t say no. By the time I got back to my shared house it was almost midnight. I knew there was little chance of me feeling well enough or getting up in time to join up with Run Wallingford for a training run.

I think I’d describe Sunday as quiet and steady. When I woke up at 08:00 I felt far better than I probably deserved to. The hot weather had made an unwelcome reappearance so I decided not to join up with the Run Wallingford group. After a quick food shop in Wallingford, I spent most of the day inside reading and catching up on some blogmin. A slight waste of a Sunday but I needed some time to myself and to chill out.

So all things considered, I had a great second weekend in Wallingford.

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you think the heat wave is ever going to end?

Advertisements

My top 5 posts

Good morning! I can’t believe its Monday again, what happened to the weekend? As always, I hope that everyone managed to make the most of the weather and had relaxing couple of days. How amazing was the football?

Anyway, I’ve got something a little different today; a look at my top five blog posts. I got the inspiration for this post from one of my favourite bloggers; Alana.

In order to find out my top five posts, I delved into my all-time stats. My most popular couple of posts were quite predictable; the rest, a little surprising.

1. My tips for completing the Couch to 5K (C25K)

This post has received five times as many views as any other post I’ve written. I personally don’t think that it’s one of my best posts. I wouldn’t even put it in my Top 20.

C25K Post

The post was published back in 2016 and is still read by 100+ people a day. Rubbish stats for most bloggers but pretty amazing stats for my small corner of the internet.

2. Mental tips and strategies for marathon runners  

I published this post the month before the 2017 London Marathon and made slightly more effort than usual to promote it on social media. Predictably, this post was really popular in the lead up to the 2018 London and Brighton Marathons. I’m guessing it will be popular again next March and April as nervous marathon runners get Googling.

3. How not to raise money for charity – my London Marathon experiences  

This is another example of a not very good blog post that for some reason gets a lot of views. I can only assume that quite a few runners struggle to reach their London Marathon fundraising targets. I most definitely did!

4. FLEXISEQ Active review

This is by far and away my most popular ‘product review’ post. I’ve written what I think are far, far more interesting product reviews but I guess that at the end of the day, it’s all about the product.

knee-pain

Or perhaps people just like this rather dodgy photo of me trying to avoid throwing up after a challenging training session? I’ve still got no idea why I included it in  the FLEXISEQ post.

5. Thriva Lifestyle test review

And finally, in fifth place is a review post I published last summer. Thriva are constantly promoting their products on social media. Although I did very little to promote this post, I think that it’s popular because people like to read unbiased reviews before taking out expensive subscriptions. Well that’s my theory.

If you’ve reached the end of this somewhat self-indulgent post then thanks. At some stage, I might take a look at my bottom five posts. It will be interesting to see which posts ‘flopped’ and are now gathering dust inside my blog.

I’m quite nosey so I’d love other bloggers to share similar posts. Please get writing!

Rants and raves #29

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post while watching the football. Apologies for the inevitable spelling mistakes and typos. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: The Weather

After enduring a pretty disappointing first few months of the year, I’m making the most of the warmer weather. Walking to and from the office is no longer a chore, and I’m loving the sunshine and the blue skies.

Wallingford summer

I’m more fortune than most of my colleagues because although my office doesn’t have air conditioning, I have a window seat. This means that when I’m lucky, I get to sit in a breeze and don’t start to feel too warm until the afternoon. Thanks to my complete lack of ‘real-life’ commitments, I’m able to run when I want which really helps.

However, as a hydrologist, the lack of recent rainfall is getting a little concerning. If it doesn’t rain soon, work will be a nightmare so watch out for this rave cunningly turning into a rant.

Rave: Recognition as a blogger

I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but have been asked a couple of times to share this information so here goes. My blog was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 10 UK Women Running Blogs on the web.

Blog awardHere’s the link to the Top 10. Although there are lots of amazing blogs on there, the site is a little confusing as unless I’m being really dense, there only appear to be seven blogs in the list.

So thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my running-related ramblings.

Rant: Flying and biting insets and nettles

I know I complained about this 12 months ago, but there is a downside to the warmer weather; flying insects, insects that bite and stinging nettles.Nasty things

[Source]

I’ve lost count of the number of insects I’ve swallowed. I’ve also discovered that tiny black bugs in Wallingford *really* like fluorescent yellow running tops. Not ideal last week when I realised that all of the running tops I had in Wallingford were fluorescent yellow.

Rave: Running

Another repeat rave but *touch wood* and *fingers and toes crossed* my fragile body is behaving itself at the moment. After a couple of disappointing races, I took a couple of weeks off from running and embraced the drinking scene in Wallingford.

The drinking didn’t suit me so I charged up my Garmin and pulled on my trainers. Although my run on Thursday evening felt quite challenging, my five mile run on Sunday morning felt effortless. Training for Royal Parks Half Marathon starts in three weeks time and I can’t wait

As an added incentive to run regularly, I signed up as a member of #TeamSouth – there wasn’t a #TeamMidlands or #TeamCentral option – for the Run Around the World Challenge  in July.

Run Around the World

Mind is an amazing charity and the medal looks awesome. If you haven’t already signed up, check out the website!

Rant: Fundraising

Apologies in advance for what I have a feeling is another repeat rant. A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with Geoff in the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. Witnessing firsthand the amazing work the hospital does and meeting some seriously unwell people left me feeling incredibly fortunate. I also came away feeling even more determined to reach my £1000 fundraising target.

I shared my experience in a post on Farcebook and my fundraising total increased by the grand total of zero English pounds. I emailed the link to my fundraising page to a family member in the hope they’d add a donation and they completely ignored me. This family member was cured by the Royal Marsden so they have a personal connection to the charity.

I guess I’ve got quite a few more months to encourage irritate my friends and family on social media. As I don’t want to irritate everyone, I’ve set up a dedicated page on Farcebook.

Rant: My sun repelling legs

My arms are nicely tanned but my legs seem to be determined to repel the sun. They now look so white I’ve been considering investing in some fake tan. I’m just a little concerned I’ll repeat the great fake tanning disaster of 1999.

Rave: Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirts

I’ll end with a bonus rave; the link to a Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirt  I treated myself to last week.Marathon Talk runr tee

So much for my ‘ban’ on buying unessential running gear. By the way, I’m not on commission and haven’t been asked to share the link to this t-shirt, I just thought I’d share it on here as a ‘rave’.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. I’ve saved my major rant about Skimlinks and WordPress for another post. Anyway, I hope my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Have you been enjoying the heat wave or have you had enough of the hot weather? I love summer but wish my room in Wallingford wasn’t like a sauna.

Do you have any tops for cooling down after running when it’s hot? I seem to look like a beetroot for several hours after each run.

Running goals for 2018: Progress report

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. As it’s now the beginning of July, I’ve decided to write a halfway(ish) through the year progress report on my 2018 running goals.

Raise £1000 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust – at the beginning of the year, I highlighted this as my main running related goal of the year.

Thanks to the amazing support of my friends, family and the online running community I raised over £500 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. I’ve now switched my attention to raising £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Fundraising is going quite well and I’m in the process of organising a couple of events at work.

Run 1000 km – I entered the 1000 km in 2018 challenge on Virtual Runner and was monitoring my progress online.

Thanks to a couple of niggles, I fear that this may well turn out to be one goal I fail to achieve. I ran 63km in January, 74km in February, 61km in March, 58km In April, 79km in May and 55km in June.

 I think it’s safe to say that at the moment, I’m a long, long way behind my target.

Complete 10 races – back in January, I was “quietly confident” I’d complete 10 races in 2018 and earn myself a few more running medals in the process.

Thanks to a badly timed dose of the lurgy and a race cancellation due to the ‘Beat from the East’ I’ve only managed to complete four races; the Cathedral to Castle Run, the Wallingford Thames Run 10k, the Great Midlands Fun Run and the Aldridge 10k. My Race Calendar looks quite full, so I’m confident that injury permitting, I’ll manage to complete another six races this year.

Complete 10 parkruns – After falling out of love with parkrun last year, I also set myself the target of completing 10 parkruns in 2018.

parkrun 2018 montage

I’m pleased to report that this is one running goal I’ll definitely achieve. So far I’ve completed eight parkruns, and as an added bonus, I’ve completed every one in under 30 minutes. I just need to learn how to push myself out of my comfort zone.

A sub 8 minute mile – I identified that my current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012 and wanted to lower my mile PB at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May.

I didn’t travel down to London for the Vitality Westminster Mile so I’m yet to attempt to lower my mile PB.

A sub 25 minute 5k – I knew that I’d find running 5k in under 25 minutes “incredibly challenging” but I was determined to give it a go.

Although all of my parkruns have been completed in under 30 minutes, I’m yet to get anywhere near the elusive 25 minute barrier. I’ve just looked at my parkrun results and the nearest I’ve got is 27:10. I think it’s safe to say this is another running goal I may well fail to achieve.

A sub 55 minute 10k – when I shared my running goals at the start of the year, I suspected I’d find running 10k in under 55 minutes virtually impossible, but entered the Vitality London 10,000 so that I had a flat and fast target event.

After a couple of slightly disappointing 10k races, I think I’m going to have to be realistic and will adjust this running goal to running 10k in under 60 minutes.  

A sub 2:20 half marathon – at the beginning in the year my running mojo had returned and training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March was going quite well.

Unfortunately, a work colleague very kindly shared her cough and cold with me and I didn’t travel to Cambridge. A couple of weeks later, I completed the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon with my running buddy Ellen in 2:27:32.

IMG_1028

Earlier this year, I discovered that I had ‘won’ a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon and *fingers crossed* will run the 13.1 miles in a slightly more respectable time.

Listen to my niggles – as I’m such an injury-prone runner, I was determined to continue to listen to and to closely monitor my niggles.

Although I’ve already had a couple of niggles, I’ve been sensible and haven’t attempted to run through my injuries this year. Hopefully, *touch wood etc* this slightly more sensible approach will enable me to enjoy another six months of injury-free running.  

Make friends with strength and conditioning – I identified this as an area I’d neglected in the past. I was going to join the gym near my office and to “make friends” with strength and conditioning.

I think it’s safe to say that this is an area I still need to work on! After a bit of research, I decided not to join the gym near my office and have yet to make friends with strength and conditioning.  

Be slightly more sociable – after setting this as a running goal last year and failing miserably, I decided to set myself the same goal again.

I’m pleased to report that I have been what I call slightly more sociable. I’ve made more effort to talk to people before and after parkrun and now feel like a member of my local parkrun community. I’ve attended a few training sessions with Run Wallingford and have enjoyed (sort of) being pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve also made a couple of awesome running friends. Thanks for all of your amazing support Ellen!  

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – after “smashing” this running goal in 2017, I decided to set myself the same goal.

I think it’s safe to say I’m not doing very well at not buying unessential running gear. While I can probably class the replacement Garmin and new trainers as essential running gear, I didn’t *need* the Lululemon skort and vest I bought last week. Unfortunately, the Lululemon sale was too good to ignore!  

Oh well, sometimes it’s good to fail…

How are you progressing with your running goals for 2018?

Do you adjust goals if you know they are too challenging?

Still feeling a bit lost and alone

Last November I decided to risk blogging about something other than running and fitness. My Feeling a bit lost and alone blog was read by over a thousand people and the support I received was invaluable.

As it’s now over six months since I put pen to paper and poured my heart out, I decided it’s time for an update.A well placed bench

I’m pleased to report that if I ignore the fact my bank account was emptied at the end of last month – thanks Active! – at the moment I feel slightly more in control of my life. I know that I need to make a few changes but I feel more in control than I did in November.

My close friend and mentor is still battling his rare and unfortunately incurable form of thyroid cancer. I managed to spend some time with him just before Christmas and have seen him twice this year. I still miss our daily hydrology and life chats and I think it’s safe to say I’ll never forget him. I raised over £500 for a thyroid cancer charity and hope to raise more money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

I got the opportunity to say “thank you” and later on this year have the opportunity to make him proud when I present my research at a hydrology conference.

Back in November I shared my concerns about working in an office environment for the first time in a number of years. I’m pleased to report that although from time to time I find working in a large open plan office a little overwhelming, my colleagues are awesome and have been incredibly supportive.

My line manager actively encourages us to take breaks as and when we need them and I doubt many other managers would have allowed me to drop what I was doing so that I could travel down to London to see my mentor.

While I’m still travelling back home most weekends, I’m pleased I accepted the temporary assignment and relocated (sort of) to Wally. The only downside to the temporary contract is the fact I’m now job hunting again. I’m really going to miss my colleagues when my contract comes to an end. I’m reasonably confident I’ll keep in touch with some of them.

I was also incredibly stressed out about the festive period. I had very little money, had failed to find myself a temporary Christmas job and felt like I’d let people down. Although Christmas was a little stressful at times, my family and friends didn’t seem too bothered about the lack of expensive presents. If I ever find myself in the same sort of situation, I hopefully won’t let myself get so worked up.

Finally, I’m now 39 *gulp* and unfortunately still feel completely alone. I’ve now accepted that I’m going to be left on the shelf forever, and will end up living alone surrounded by rescue cats. I’m not single by choice and I’m not happy living alone and not having anyone to turn to for advice.  I guess I’ll have to hope that I meet my ‘Mr Right’ in the vegetable aisle of my local supermarket.

So although I’m feeling far, far happier than I did six months ago, until I find myself a permanent job and can plan ahead, I’m afraid that I’m still feeling a bit lost and alone.

Apologies for asking a slightly nosey question but where did you meet your partner? I’m thinking that hanging around the vegetable aisle in Sainsbury’s isn’t working.

Have you ever considered online dating? I’ve read so many horror stories I’m terrified of adding a profile.   

A parkrun, some sun, a fun run and a BBQ

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. I booked Monday off work so I’m enjoying another extra long weekend.

Most of you will know my Friday afternoon routine now. I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks three hours later. I spent what was left of the evening getting all my washing done, catching up on a couple of my favourite TV programmes and eating unhealthy food.

I woke up well before my alarm on Saturday which was a little bit frustrating as I wanted a lie in. I hadn’t originally planned to head to parkrun but when my friend offered to drive me I felt that I couldn’t say no.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy parkrun very much and kind of wish that I’d stayed in bed. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace, struggled in the humid conditions and seriously considered dropping out after the second lap.

Parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I gave myself a serious talking to, completed the final lap and finished in 28:14, a time I would have been over the moon with a year ago.

The short walk back to the car park felt like a marathon and I don’t think I’ve ever ended a 5k run with such a red face. The camera really doesn’t lie; sometimes I wish that it did!

Emma the beetroot

I also don’t think I’ve been so relieved to sit down for a couple of minutes after a run. I felt so nauseous, there was no way I was risking getting straight back into a boiling hot car.

A well placed bench

I’ve no idea why but I felt quite peaky for a few hours after parkrun and had zero appetite, definitely most unlike me and not ideal the day before a challenging 8.5 mile run.

Fortunately, a quick afternoon nap seemed to do the trick and I woke up feeling reasonably ‘normal’ again. As parkrun had left me feeling slightly dehydrated and I had a headache, I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange flavoured Nuun.

The rest of my Saturday was quiet and relaxing, just what I needed. I made sure that I drank loads of water, avoided the local Chinese takeaway and the local weather forecasts. I went to bed at the not so rock and roll time of 22:00.

A combination of bright sunlight, heat and noisy birds woke me far too bright and early on Sunday morning. Not ideal when I desperately wanted a lie in. The fun run didn’t start until the incredibly late time of 11:00 so I had almost too much time to faff around before I set off on the short walk to the local train station.

My running buddy Ellen spotted me walking to the train station and kindly gave me a lift. We met up with Ellen’s friend Ruth and arrived in the centre of Sutton Coldfield with plenty of time for a couple of pre-race toilet visits. We entered the start area at 10:30 and spent the next 45 minutes or so getting hotter and hotter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to watch the sun disappear behind some clouds.

GMFR 2018 start

Nervous at the start

The run started and it was so crowded it took me almost a mile to get into my stride. I don’t enjoy running in hot weather and felt incredibly nauseous so decided to slow down. Somewhere between the first and second mile I noticed that my Garmin had switched itself off, not ideal but I managed to get it working again. To make matters worse my dodgy right calf started to hurt, a lot. We entered Sutton Park, I stopped at a drinks station to grab myself some water and never really got going again.

I told Ellen and Ruth to run on without me and walked for a couple of minutes to assess my calf. Walking didn’t help and I decided to switch my focus from getting a decent time to having a good time.

I power walked up the numerous uphill sections and ran very slowly down the downhill sections. I soaked up the atmosphere as I ran through the centre of Sutton Park near Town Gate and stopped for a quick chat with a teacher I hadn’t seen for several years.

Cardiac Hill

I reached the bottom of Cardiac Hill and spotted Matt in the distance dressed as an Oompa Loompa. I caught up with Matt and we successfully negotiated Cardiac Hill together. We reached the top, grabbed some much needed water and headed back towards the centre of Sutton Coldfield and the finish.

Miles three to six of the run were shockingly slow and I was embarrassed when I looked at the stats on Strava. The final couple of miles were slightly more respectable – probably because they were more runner friendly i.e. down hill – and I had plenty left in the tank to sprint to the finish line.

I crossed the line, collected a medal from an old school friend, grabbed some water and then spent 15 minutes trying to track down Ellen and Ruth. We were eventually reunited at the train station.

GMFR 2018 medal

I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, drinking beer and enjoying my first BBQ for years. The perfect way to take my mind off a somewhat disappointing Great Midlands Fun Run. Next year, I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of the barriers enjoying a pint of beer and supporting the runners.

My next race is the Aldridge 10k on Sunday. I’ve literally got everything crossed that the weather is a little kinder; I’ve had enough of running in the heat.

Do you enjoy running in the sun? If it’s boiling hot on Sunday I suspect the Aldridge 10k will be a DNS as it doesn’t start until 11:00.

Do you have any sun cream recommendations? The P20 I wore smelt terrible and wasn’t very effective.

Rants and raves #28

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post in my boiling hot room in Wallingford as I’m doing my best to avoid my housemates. Sometimes, I just really need some peace and quiet. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Wallingford

It took me quite a while, but I’m finally appreciating how lucky I am to work and live in Wallingford. I’ve realised that I moved to Wallingford during possibly the most depressing month of the year – January – and found walking to and from the office in the dark really uninspiring. This month I’ve (kind of) made the most of the light evenings and have spent quite a lot of time relaxing next to the River Thames with a pint after work.WallingfordI’ve got to know some of my colleagues a lot better and have learnt how to chill out after work. I’ve also enjoyed(?) training with the local running group and have found plenty to do after work. The only negatives of living in Wallingford are the extortionate costs of renting a tiny room in a shared house. I could also add RAF Benson and noisy helicopters at 02:00 but I won’t.

Rant: Living in a shared house

I’m still finding living in a shared house a touch challenging at times. Since my last rant on the same subject, I’ve been scalded in the shower on several occasions. Not ideal and frustrating when I shower as late in the evening as possible to avoid this happening. As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when someone stuck on a load of washing when I’d just stepped in the shower. Cheers!

The kettle went ‘AWOL’ last weekend and hasn’t been replaced. Rather amusing. The smoke alarm in the kitchen has never worked and I’m not convinced the landlord has a clue about fire regulations.

Rave: Racecheck

I recently headed out for an evening run and returned to over 100 notifications on twitter. My initial reaction was something along the lines of “what on earth have I done?”

I then discovered that after reviewing the Cathedral to Castle Run on Racecheck, I’d become a member of their Visor Club. After a slight delay due to me not being at home, I rescued my visor from the local sorting office.Racecheck visorNext time I’m at a race I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for other people wearing a Racecheck visor. I’ll also work out a way to actually wear my visor as I’ve got a slightly smaller than average head…

Rant: GDPR emails

I’ve lost count of the number of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) related emails I’ve received this month. ‘Last chance to stay in touch’, ‘Would you like to hear more from us?’, ‘We need you to update your preferences’, ‘We’d love you to stay in touch’, ‘GDPR…you know the drill’ and perhaps the most amusing; ‘You’re about to become extinct’. Really?

I’ve received emails from brands and companies I don’t recall ever buying anything from or contacting. Rather ironically, I’m still waiting for an email from the most spammy company on the planet.

At least my email inbox will be a little less cluttered next month.

Rave: Competition wins

A couple of years ago I won quite a few useful bits and pieces through twitter and facebook competitions. My winning streak came to an end and I assumed I’d used up all of my luck.AfterShokzAs you can imagine, although I was obviously over the moon when I discovered that I won a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones in a twitter competition, I was also a little concerned it was a mistake.

I can’t wait to test them out when they arrive. I’ll definitely be writing a review at some point.

Rant: Working in an open plan office

The office I work in is large and at times incredibly noisy. I’m sure that there are bazillions of advantages to working in an open plan office but I find it hard to concentrate when it’s noisy. Luckily, my line manager lets me listen to music but it’s not a long-term solution. And don’t mention the lack of phones, the clear desk policy and window wars.

Rant: My local athletics track

Apologies for the ‘bonus’ rant. I walked past my local athletics track a couple of weeks ago and was horrified to discover that it would cost me almost a fiver to use.

I’m aware that athletics tracks are expensive to maintain but surely Birmingham City Council should be trying to encourage people to use their sports facilities. No wonder I’ve never seen anyone using the track in the daytime.

Rave: New trainers

I’ll end on a positive note with a bonus rave. After my old pair of Brooks trainers started to look (and feel) a little past their best, I decided to crack open a new pair.new-shooooeeess1.jpgOnce I’d successfully transferred my custom insoles into my new trainers – this was quite tricky as they we wedged in my old trainers – I was ready to run. The new trainers felt amazing and thanks to some online research were as cheap as chips. Fingers crossed my injury prone feet and knees also love them.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. I hope my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Do you enter competitions? If you do, what is the best thing you’ve ever won in a competition?

Do you work in an open plan office? I need some tips for coping with the noise.