Fitness Highs and Lows: A Charity Cycle and an Unexpected Half Marathon!

A bit of a long one – I talk about the two sporting events that I’ve just taken part in and how they didn’t exactly go to plan!

The Charity Cycle

16th Sept: I undertook a charity cycle with work colleagues. 170 miles over 2 days.

I’d been training for this for almost 6 months. I took part in the same event last year so I already knew that I was capable of the challenge. Despite this being a more demanding ride (more miles and more hills), I was relaxed with my training. I mostly cycle with my boyfriend, who pushes me hard. I like to dawdle and look at pretty landscapes along the way, but he is solely focused on getting from A to B in the quickest time possible (maybe it’s a male thing!).

Before the ride, I could cover 70 miles at a reasonable pace and barely feel it in my legs the next day.  We’d also accidentally covered a number of ‘worst case’ scenarios – getting lost and not having enough food or water. But a group event like this is a very different experience and you can’t plan for the weather….

Day 1: We had 25 punctures. 25!!!! Storms and flash floods the day before had covered the roads in flint and debris. Our skinny road bike tyres didn’t stand a chance. Only 4 of the 27 riders survived the weekend without suffering any punctures at all.

I was forced to quit the ride and jump in a support van near the end of the day after discovering a huge hole in my tyre. Before that, I’d been having a great day. I unintentionally found myself in one of the fastest (all male) groups and was pleased to discover that I was able to keep pace.


Day 2: I decided to hang back in a slower group and ride with friends. That didn’t go so well. The temperature had dropped. The wind had picked up. I didn’t eat enough the night before. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I could go on with the reasons – I have spent hours over-analysing this already.

Basically, I didn’t have enough fuel to keep going. I became so cold and exhausted that I felt close to fainting. When my vision starting blurring I knew it was time to put myself in the van before I held up my team mates!

I was really disappointed not to complete the whole distance. It was still a great achievement but I have a tendency to set high standards for myself. I knew I was capable of doing it. I was a relatively experienced cyclist compared to some of the team. I was annoyed at having played the nutrition game so wrong. Also, this was a team event and I felt so out of it that I couldn’t really connect with the enjoyment and celebrations at the end of the ride.

But the important thing is, we’ve raised over £10k for Asthma UK! 🙂

My first half-marathon

27th Sept was the Bristol half marathon. 4 days before, this message appeared on my phone: ‘Well done on the cycle! Don’t suppose you fancy running the half marathon this weekend?!!’ A friend’s friend had dropped out due to injury and a free place was up for grabs.

My immediate reaction was NO WAY. Despite supporting various friends running the Bath Half for 6-7 consecutive years, I’ve always said that I’d never run 13 miles. Excuse no.1: I find running a bit boring. I can’t be arsed with all that training. Excuse no.2: My granny knees can’t take said training.

But then I thought again. I’m probably the fittest I have ever been right now. Certainly fit enough to run a half decent time without dying.  I had all the cycling training behind me and I run (a little bit) anyway. My friend, an experienced long distance runner, was happy to take the course at a relaxed pace. So we went for it – going in with no preconceptions about time or ability. Just to enjoy it.

And it was great! We did it in 2hrs 6mins – a time I am very happy with considering I hadn’t ‘trained’ and in fact, had never run further than 6k (3.7miles) before. Although the last few miles were a bit of a struggle, I had enough energy to chat to my friend (and generally mess around) throughout the course. And we managed a sprint finish too!!


The atmosphere was great and I would definitely consider running another Half in fancy dress, to get even more support. Sunshine and showers on the day made for reasonable running conditions. UK runners, if you’re looking for a half marathon for next year, Bristol is great – it’s a lovely scenic route and according to my friend (the more seasoned half marathon runner), it’s really good logistically too.

Before any runners yell at me, I am not advocating doing an event like this without training! My legs started hurting from mile 3. The day after, I could barely walk. I’ve had a sports massage today which has pretty much sorted them out.

So, there we go, the best laid plans etc….Anyone else got any big sporting events coming up?

H x


OOTD: Loving my (new) New Balance trainers

The past 2 weeks have been a busy blur. With the bathroom re-vamp ongoing (more on that when it’s finally complete) and preparations for the charity bike ride (completed (and survived) on Saturday – again, probably a separate post later) – I’ve barely thought about blogging!

Here’s a little OOTD post featuring my New Balance 373s, which I’m currently living in. When I say OOTD, this has been almost every other day for the past week or so!

I never used to be much of a fashion trainer girl – I own a pair of the almost ubiquitous white converse but tend to favour boots for everyday wear. Working in a lab, I can’t wear sandals (or anything where my skin is exposed) so my shoe collection is 90% boots.

This year I’ve finally branched out into trainers and I love mixing them into a smarter look. I got some Adidas superstars earlier in the year but rarely wear them in work – I think they push the already very relaxed ‘smart casual’ office code a little too far. But they are COMFY. At the grand old age of 27, with knees and feet abused by years in heels, I appreciate comfy. I’d been keeping an eye out for some other trainers in a darker colour and spotted these – I love the navy, grey and coral pink colour combination!


I’ve worn them to work with dark denim and a white cotton shirt, but mostly I just pick up the colours with a simple grey t shirt and skinny jeans or leggings. Easy, and I love it. I was a bit too late for 90s fashion but I’m happy to go with the casual classics this time around!

H x

Growing up before the Internet – Do I wish I’d had YouTube as a teenager?

makeup naked 2 tutorial

When YouTube launched in 2005, I was 16. I can’t remember when or how I first came across it – 99% of my internet usage was MSN instant messenger, MySpace and Bebo (blasts from the past! Who remembers them?).

There is an unbelievable amount of content on YouTube now – and it’s not all funny cats.  There are tutorials for EVERYTHING. How to fix your car, fix your computer, do DIY, clip your dog, experiment with makeup, braid your hair. I’ve watched of all these and more (but, not gonna lie, I mainly watch cute puppies).

In fact, I was checking out an eye shadow tutorial earlier when the question behind this post popped into my head. What would my formative years have been like if I’d had access to the YouTube of today?

Growing up in a small village in relatively rural Wales, my world was limited when it came to beauty, fashion and style. The only ‘modern’ fashion store was a tiny New Look with an extremely narrow range. I once went to a birthday party where 3 of us were wearing the same Eeyore t-shirt…

I was never a very girly girl and I didn’t really get ‘into’ clothes and makeup until my late teens. I don’t have any sisters and they weren’t common topics with my mum or my friends. However, like any teenager, I remember stressing about my appearance. I felt insecure when socialising because I wasn’t confident about how I looked.


My point is, if I’d had a resource such YouTube at my fingertips, would it have made those years any easier? I think I could have done with a little more ‘life’ education. Maybe, with it’s power of connection to real people, YouTube could have expanded my horizons. Yes, it’s a largely one-way connection, but any connection is surely a benefit to a shy young person trying to work out their place in the world. Focusing on the positives, would it have helped me develop my own style or use makeup to help me feel comfortable in my skin?

Teenage years are difficult in any situation, so maybe not. But yay for Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube today – they have helped me experiment over the years. I could focus on the perceived negatives of social media here. That it’s making us insular and narcissistic. That it promotes fast, disposable fashion. That it tells you a ‘natural’ makeup look takes 37 products. But I won’t. I’m a grown woman and I use it, with a healthy dose of awareness, to help me make choices which suit me and make me feel happy and confident.

Wishful thinking about the past is easy. I wouldn’t change my upbringing. It was sheltered, but it was safe and very happy (and made me the person I am today, etc etc…). If I’d grown up watching beauty videos every day, who knows how different my life could have been!

(Almost made a pop culture reference to Sliding Doors there. Then I remembered I’d never seen the film. Just googled the trailer. Worst trailer ever???)

H x