Tuesday 9 December 2014

The Christmas Tag!

10 questions all about Christmas! Lets go! #christmastag

1. What is your favourite thing about Christmas? 

This is really difficult - I love the days off, the Christmas Dinner, and the trip to pick up the free range Turkey from the local farm including a yummy BBQ cooked bacon roll. But I have a feeling the Reindeer Run for the RNLI might just become my new favourite!

2. What is your favourite make-up look for the festive season?

Plenty of highlight, smokey eye and sparkly nails!

3. Real or Fake tree? 

A few years ago I'd have emphatically said real but having a bouncy young Newfie and one convalescing from orthopaedic surgery at the same time one year made me decide if a tree was going to be knocked over I'd rather it be a lighter fake one! I'm now a bit of a convert as I can pop it up and ignore it for the rest of the season - no watering and no needles stabbing into feet!

4. Giving or receiving presents?

Definitely giving - I love the challenge of finding the perfect present for someone!

5. Do you open your presents in the morning or evening?

Spread out a bit nowadays - a couple in the evening on Christmas Eve, maybe a couple in the morning and then spread out a bit - some while waiting for dinner to cook and some after.

6. Handmade or shop bought Christmas cards?

Do you even have to ask? Handmade every time! This year I'm making 50-60 each featuring my annual Newfie Christmas picture.

7. Favourite Christmas film?

Elf. I was late to the party with this film, only watching it for the first time about 4-5 years ago. I love it.

8. Favourite Christmas food?

I love Christmas dinner in general. Stuffing, sausage meat, turkey, cranberry, roast veg but if I had to commit to one thing it has to be the pigs in blankets.

9. Favourite Christmas gift?

Too hard to choose!

10. What tops your tree?

A sparkly multi coloured star!

Sunday 7 December 2014

November as seen from Instagram.

Here's some monthly highlights as seen on my instagram - you can follow me here - @katygodbeer to see what I'm getting up to next!

1. Post halloween 15km run complete with glittery nails - a throwback from the previous nights party!

2. A 9pm mercy dash to save a neighbours fish from a broken fish tank means I have some rather large new pets!

3. Filming new episodes of 'In the Studio' for docrafts - such fun times!

4. Giving blood at my local donation session - why not sign up too?

5. New 'kicks'. Never thought I'd wear out a pair of running shoes, but them's the facts!

6. Trying out some rather fabulous new boots at the Hotter event - blog post coming very soon!

7. My first ever running related fall and my first skinned knees since first school!

8. Festive photo shoot for do crafts Creativity magazine - Christmas jumpers and photo-booth fun!

9. My current favourite winter warmer - roasted veg including sweet potato and squash.

10. Mermaids purse found on the beach during my weekend walk.

11. You can tell it's winter when you start going out for a run like an extra from Kick-Ass!

12. I'm a geek of so very many types. Running geek vs comic-book geek. Take your pick!

13. Love it when a new issue of do crafts Creativity Magazine hits my desk! The December issue is just awesome!

14. Finally some sun on a weekend and a walk at one of my favourite local haunts with the dogs.

15. Finishing the month on a high with the RNLI Reindeer Run 5km race.

Friday 5 December 2014

RNLI Reindeer Run 2014

After the Bournemouth 10km race back in October I had a strange yearning to run more races. They say these things are addictive and it seems 'they' are right! I've got a few big races planned out for next year but the next event on my schedule was definitely a fun one!

On Sunday I ran the 2014 5km Reindeer Run in aid of the RNLI held at Moors Valley Country Park. I wasn't quite up to par, having been suffering from a bad cold for the past few weeks so I was glad to have entered the 5km rather than the 10km that preceded my distance. On arrival at the park each runner was allocated a fun t-shirt and a pair of antlers!

It was quite a sight seeing a whole army of runners each dressed the same and wearing bright red antlers!

After a warm up (still wearing those antlers) the whole field lined up and cheerily bounded away from the starting line for a chilly 3 and a bit miles through the forest! It was a wonderful event and I can highly recommend signing up for a race - especially a charity one to lift the spirits and also to keep your running on course through the winter season!

Thursday 13 November 2014

Winter Running Essentials Haul

It turns out that winter brings a whole new set of challenges for a runner. I only started running back in April and while I did a bit of night running before the days drew longer, there was definitely a spring like feel to the weather so the joys of dark and cold weather running are a rather new experience.

Inevitably a few additions were due to my running wardrobe and I've been picking up a few bits and pieces that are going to make a difference to the winter running experience.

First up was this very subtle long sleeve running top from perhaps a surprising source - It's from the TU range at Sainsbury's.

It's made from a breathable, technical fabric that wicks moisture from the skin to the surrounding air so it keeps me nice and dry and warm. It's a great stretchy material that fits nice and snugly. It's also clearly of the high-vis persuasion - perfect for staying seen on dark mornings or evenings. 

Next up is a technical jacket also from Sainsbury's. The electric blue colour is gorgeous but not quite as visible but it does have reflective dots and hi-vis accents.

Again it's nice and stretchy so fits nice and snug, there's nothing worse than a jacket that flaps about as you run! It was thumb holes which is a runner's-favourite - perfect for keeping the blood vessels in your wrists covered - one of the ways you can best regulate your heat! Its stretchy nature means I can roll them back over my Garmin if I need to cool down or check out my pace!

I'd say the only downside is the hood - while this is a nice feature to have, it's too small to come far enough forward on my face, and with no drawstring it definitely won't stay up. The hood is handy for keeping warm during a walking warm up or cool down but not much else. I'm still a fan of the jacket though. I really like a lot of Sainsbury's running gear - two of my favourite vest tops are also from this store - so it's well worth keeping a look out for, especially during their regular 25% off promotions.

Talking of keeping warm, I picked up these Nike Technical Running Gloves recently. 

As well as reflective accents they have some clever features - firstly they are a technical fabric so won't get all sweaty inside, they also have a touchscreen responsive fabric on the thumbs of the glove and a slot on the palm for a key if this is something you need.

Next up is another weapon in my battle to stay seen during the hours of darkness. This mesh piece is a super-lightweight over vest that you'd barely know you were wearing. It certainly does the job and as it's just £3 right now at Sports Direct it's really a no-brainer! 

Also from Sports Direct - I picked up a new pair of my current running shoes - I've been really happy with the Nike Anodyne DS2 so when my first pair wore out it seemed sensible to replace them. The model has a good amount of tread and so while I may well be looking out for something with a lower profile as well soon, these have supported my feet well and make me feel secure in my grip - perfect for the wet weather and slippy terrain. 

While my first pair were mainly grey with some pink accents, these bad boys are full on hi-vis pink!  They definitely help me to be seen and feel great to run in too. 

Last up is another pair of shoes - these aren't going to be used in winter weather, but the winter weather has definitely inspired the purchase. I've pledged to start doing some more strength training including some classes at the local sports centre (I've started with Body Pump which I love!). Running shoes - especially those that pound the wet and dirty streets definitely won't cut it so a pair of cross-training shoes was the order of the day.

These are my new Nike Flex 4 Trainers - they're nice and light and I'm loving them for classes and also for using my static bike. I also can't deny I rather like the coral-pink shade!

I've still got my eye on some more night-time running apparel - perhaps some LED's and maybe a head torch for the rural village streets that I sometimes like to travel. Keep tuned for more soon!

Sunday 5 October 2014

Race Day! Bournemouth Marathon Festival - Supersonic 10km

Yesterday marked 6 months exactly to the day that I first pulled on my trainers and set off for my very first run of week 1 of C25K and I marked my 6 month anniversary with my first proper race - the Supersonic 10K for the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. 

The morning was vile - pouring rain but the weather reports said things were going to clear up so with crossed fingers I set off for the 30ish min drive to Bournemouth from home just before 2pm. I was super-super nervous and wanted to give myself plenty of time to scope out the lay of the land before the start. I parked easily quite near the baggage drop area but held onto my gear for now and wandered down to the seafront. I arrived just in time to see the 2K juniors race finishing and it was rather inspiring to see such amazing young athletes. After finding the start pens I went back to baggage drop and sorted out my number and had a quick pre-race banana next to a very glamorous runner carefully applying lipgloss :)

Down to the start pens and found myself about in the middle of the first bit of the blue pen - I couldn’t see Aliboo’s snazzy green vest but was behind a group of runners in jewelled running tops and in front of two gents chatting about all the half and full marathons they’d done in the past - surely I wasn’t in the right section!

The countdown to the start came pretty quick and before I knew it the front runners were off! We eventually started moving forwards and the start line was approaching… I started to run and then had to promptly stop again as Mr and Mrs Sparkly top set off at a walk. I squeezed past and was off! I think I found a fair pace pretty quickly and trotted through the first km in 5.54. 

I’ve lived in this area all my life but I’d forgotten quite how lovely the golden sands of Bournemouth beach are - a stunning place to run! I found myself meandering past quite a few runners which was quite satisfying and made my way towards Boscombe pier where we would turn just before the pier at about the 2km point for 5.59. There was some great support at the turn!

The run back towards the start area seemed really hard going - I’m not used to running in a straight line or an up and back route and the lack of landmarks other than in the far distance seemed to make the prom go on forever! Km 3 and 4 were in 6.00 and 6.05 respectively and soon we were back at the start area. Again there was some fantastic crowd support and a bit of a windy section led us up onto the pier and it was like someone flipped a switch in my head - suddenly I was having a ball! Running up onto the pier on the wonderful wooden surface with the zip wire over head was just fantastic and I’m pretty sure I ran round the pier with a big cheesy grin on my face! The half way point came with a 6.03km and just over 30min for the 5K - happy with that and pushing on for the second half.

Heading down towards Poole there was more great support including some drummers who got a big grin from me! Great atmosphere and really fab support from the marshals too! I ignored the water station and a 6.02, 6.08 and a 6.00 to take me around the turn for the home run and to 8km. At this point I felt like I was putting my foot down as I passed lots of people. km 9 was in 5.59 though so maybe everyone else was just slowing down! The 9km came into view and I was feeling ok so tried to pick up the pace a bit for the finish! My last km was 5.44 and tried a little sprint up to the finish! So happy to have finished in a fair time according to Ms Garmin , I'm also really happy how even my pace was throughout the race.

We were funnelled efficiently up to the medal and tee collection area and to get our goody bags. I grabbed some water, downed a bottle and jammed the free almond and apricot bar down my neck. I hate both almonds and apricots - it’s amazing what you’ll eat after 6 miles of running! It really hit the spot!

All in all I had a wonderful day and I’ll definitely back for more races! The fabulous medal alone was enough to make me want more and more bling! The tee is fab too and I’ve proudly been wearing it today - I may never take it off!

My final time was 60mins 4sec only a few seconds off my pb so I’m thrilled with that for my first time running with real people! That placed me at 676 out of 1322 and in my age category (who on earth thought it was fair to call the over 35s ‘veterans’??) 44 out of 113. I really can’t complain and feel really proud of how far I’ve come in such a short period!

Monday 18 August 2014

Note to self - Be proud.

We all have those days where we are self critical - if you're anything like me it's likely to be most days, but sometimes something reminds you that you've achieved some good things. We've just launched a new website at work and along with being rather fantastic and very stylish looking (as well as super-inspirational!) there has been a behind the scenes change that all our videos are hosted on You Tube so lots of vids that haven't been on You Tube so far, have recently popped up in my feed.

I've been making videos at docrafts for years. Like 8 or 9 years but just a few years ago I started hosting our crafting web TV series (It's just been re-launched as In The Studio)  and I've watched a couple of old episodes over again. And it reminded me of a little journey I've been on.

Here's a screen grab from the latest episode - It features a really fun die birdhouse pet pot project using the Xcut Cuckoo Clock die by lovely Lou Collins - you'll have to excuse my 'cray' fringe - it was 35 degrees in the studio so it's a miracle we're still standing!

I hate watching myself on camera and after watching an episode once it's all edited and uploaded I tend to try to avoid revisiting them, but for old times sake I settled down to watch a bit of a couple from a year or so ago...

Quite a difference hey? And while I hate seeing myself in these older vids - it's made me proud. Proud of my determination, my achievements and proud that I seem much happier and more confident in the most recent videos. My weight loss has truly changed my life and while more recently feeling proud has been more about knocking time off my 5km or running 15km (yep you read that right!) I need to remember that I'm allowed to be proud of my other achievements too. Note to self - be proud more often.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Does it ever get easier? Brace yourself for 'the math'!

I've just got back from a PB (or is it PR - surely PB is peanut butter and PR is public relations?) over 5km and while 30m 21s isn't going to be breaking any records (14m 11s for the World Record and 14m 29s for the British Record if anyone cares!) it makes me very happy. It's so, so close to my goal for this year of breaking the 30min barrier and is so far ahead of where I was just a couple of months ago. At the start of April I couldn't run for 5 mins (the 1m intervals of week one of Couch to 5K were challenging enough!) never mind for 5km. In fact I can regularly run for twice that and non stop for over an hour.

This all seems like total madness to me  - running is still like an out of body experience - it doesn't seem possible that I can do the things I've just typed about. But I can.

So the question is - when does it get easier? Yes I can run faster than a month ago (5 minutes over the 5km in the last month in fact) but I'm still just as knackered at the end as I was. And I guess that's the problem. As you get fitter, you run faster and the end result? Knackered.  Of course a purposely slow run solves the problem but having running left in your legs means you find yourself running further too. Twice as far to be exact. I'm no where near as tired half way through a 10K as I am at the end of a 5K (thankfully!) and that's all about running slower. But at the end of the run? Still knackered.

I could tell myself that some even fancier running shoes might make it easier - but likely the only thing they might do is make me run faster. I could drop a few more pounds - that should make it easier right? But it'll probably just make me go faster. I could find a less hilly route -  that should definitely make it easier right? Or maybe I'd just go faster?

So as much as we all tell ourselves not to focus on time, breaking your fastest time or an increase in distance are the only benchmarks we have - it's probably inevitable that we eventually become the sort of people who talk about PBs (PRs?), splits and pace. Who would have thought it just 15 short weeks ago when I pulled on a pair of slightly ill fitting trainers and stumbled out into the dark for my first step to becoming a runner.

So I suspect the answer to the question is most likely - never. But when was anything that's easy, really worth having? Right?!?

Thursday 19 June 2014

Running Gear Review - SPIbelt and Karrimor Armband

When I run or walk I like to travel light so all I really need are the essentials - a key, maybe some emergency cash and definitely my iPhone. Where running is concerned, beating my time definitely isn't my focus at the moment - it's about laying down the miles and building endurance and stamina so while I'm not that interested in pace, I do like to know how far I've gone so I like to carry my phone with the Runkeeper app operating. As such the search was on for a way of toting my iPhone in safety.

I've seen people running with their phone in their hand and while I'm sure that works for some people, for me it sounds like a recipe for disaster. I have a vision of merrily trotting along while I lose grip and watch in dramatic slo-mo as my phone glides out of my sweaty mitt and flies elegantly through the air before slamming into the tarmac. Secondly - sweat. We all know most phones and especially iPhones don't react well to moisture so keeping it well away from my skin while exercising seems a sensible option. And speaking of moisture, UK = Rain. I'm not INTENDING to be rushing out to run in a downpour but there is every chance that on any given day sun could easily change to showers (or monsoon) so at the very least some protection would be prudent.

Option number 1 was a cheap and cheerful arm band which I picked up from Sports Direct for just a few quid. It was the Karrimor brand and seemed to be rather reluctant to stay on my arm. To fasten it tight enough to stay up meant the two parts of the velcro fastening hardly made contact, hence wasn't secure. I definitely don't have skinny upper arms so I can only imagine how badly this would fit those who do.

Another shortcoming was that the headphone port access point was on the wrong side for my phone. If I had a shorter phone (I have a iPhone 5) the cable could have looped across to the other side inside the case, but this wasn't possible for me. The imperfect solution was to slice a second hole in the bottom of the case from which the cable could protrude.

The plastic front did mean I could access my phone if I needed to and the touch screen remained at least somewhat responsive behind this extra layer, but I was rather concerned at the rate condensation built up behind the plastic and it also didn't seem very water-resistant. Of course being strapped to your arm means it's in the frontline for rain so I don't think it would stand a chance.

Next up and my current phone-toting solution is the SPIbelt (SPI stands for Small Personal Item). I went for the water-resistant option - mine actually has the gel-loops too which I can hardly imagine I'll ever have cause to need. There is a water-resistant version without these loops too, but I couldn't find it online at the time I purchased - to be honest they don't get in the way so either is fine! The belt is made of a stretchy material with a handy quick-fasten clip and adjustable stretchy strap which should definitely fit most runners' waists/hips.

The stretchy belt combined with the small size of the pocket means that there is no bobbing about when you run. The contents are held securely but the belt isn't restrictive or tight meaning you really don't notice you've got it on.

Holding my iPhone 5

The belt pocket look super skinny, but is wildly deceptive and could definitely house much more than a phone, I've been holding just my iPhone but it can hold even larger phones too. I tried it out with a friend's Samsung Galaxy S3 and it fit just fine.

Being low-profile it's discreet too and I can imagine it's be great for travel as it would easily be hidden under a looser layer so great for the security conscious.

I'm not particularly a fan though of tossing scratchy keys or cash in the same pocket as a phone as this sounds like a sure-fire way of scratching the screen, but this really isn't a problem as almost all ladies running tights/capris have a really handy zip pocket in the middle of your back. I wouldn't necessarily advise popping anything pointy or bulky back there - the last thing you want when you are running is something digging into your spine but for the odd key here or there and cash/credit card, it's perfect! However if you're not toting a phone the SPI belt would be great for holding all your essentials.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Marwell Wildlife - Sunset Party in the Park

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful event at one of my very favourite places - Marwell Wildlife. Marwell is a fantastic wildlife park with a great legacy of helping to save so many threatened species with skilled and carefully managed conservation and breeding programmes.

It's also a wonderful place to visit with gorgeous open and authentically natural habitats housing some very happy and content looking creatures.

So on Friday night after a hard week of work I made the short jaunt up the M27 to the Sunset Party in the Park - Starting at 6.30pm the park laid on a fun evening of activities and entertainment to the backdrop of wonderful glorious weather, the advancing twilight and of course the wonderful wonderful animals.

The evening kicked off with entertainment even while queuing to enter the park courtesy of the excellent Top Bananas stilt band.

In the park I was happy to meet up with some great friends including Emma Collins and her fabulous family and I can vouch that the evening was a roaring success with us all! The girls especially had a whale of a time meeting some wonderful costumed performers - my favourite being The Penguins!

The Collins' crew loved them too as evident from Emma's hilarious Penguin-Selfies!

A couple more fun characters were Mr and Mrs Pigeon - I'm a sucker for a cute birds and these cute couple left little 'treats' behind as the comically pecked around the park - thankfully the treats were of the sweetie kind!

The Sunset Parties coincide with the Marwell 'Rise of the Dinosaurs' event which runs through to the 2nd September and features an incredible array of moving and growling, life-size dino sculptures that the kids lapped up. They were certainly a spectacle, but I'm a real-live animal gal so after a quick Aberdeen Angus burger (that any T-Rex would be proud to munch down) I continued on my merry way around the park toting some essential gear!

The decision as to what gear to take to any given event plagues me for days before a function - I knew it would be a trade off between enough length to get some great frame filling shots and enough aperture to chuck enough light into the mix. I settled on a pair of set-ups. First up was my Canon 7D paired with a Sigma 150-500mm - perfect for getting up close and personal and a Canon 60D with short Tamron 28-75mm for close up goodies. The Tamron's f2.8 aperture is great for letting in lots of light - this proved essential in the rapidly diminishing light and if I'm honest I could have done with a faster long lens as the light levels forced me to shoot on a way higher ISO than I usually care to... but a girl can only dream for faster glass!

So back to the animals! New additions since my last visit were the Walkthrough Aviary at the very top of the park housing a wonderful mixture of birds from around the world. My favourite was the Waldrapp Ibis.

Also new to me was a new area for the Meercats. Surely no one can resist these cuties!

Another favourite is the Amur Leopard - just stunning!

Talking of big cats - I just about had enough light to grab some quick frames of the Snow Leopards -  the second half of my trip was a little dark for my liking so I think I need to pop back and concentrate on this side of the park again - even so these guys were gorgeous even if they are looking a little grainy for my taste.

Last but not least - a few more birds (my own personal weakness) - Humboldt Penguins - always adorable and the first place you NEED to stop off when you arrive at Marwell

The seeming trend of the season on the high street - Flamingos (or Mingos as the Collins girls love to call them.

An ostrich - snapped as the sun was going down.

And my absolute favourite - the Marabou Stock - gotta love him!

If you'd like to see all the pictures from my visit to the Sunset Party in the Park at Marwell Wildlife then pop on over to my Flickr album - and if you're inspired there is another chance to attend this great event on the 5th July - click here for all the info.

Monday 16 June 2014

Happy Anniversary Fitbit!

A year ago today a little gadget entered my life and promptly changed it forever.

I bought my Fitbit on a bit of a whim to go along with a desire to lose some weight and get active. It certainly did the job - it got me motivated to keep moving with 'badges' awarded via the iPhone app for each distance/step and floors climbed milestone and synced perfectly with My Fitness Pal to keep me on track with monitoring my calorific intact.

So to date, here are the vital statistics!

Distance travelled - 1485 miles. That's as far as London to Athens.
Floors climbed - 7961 - That's only 39 floors off my 8000 'badge' that is apparently as high as the clouds!
3,423,819 steps in total.
Total year weight loss - 5 stone.

I can honestly say I'd be lost without my Fitbit - I can only think of one day in the last year that I left it at home and I felt positively bereft (and inspired to go for a good long walk in the evening to make up some numbers) and it's now as much a part of my daily life as getting dressed.

So thanks Fitbit - you changed my life.