Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.

Grey shirt and pink adidas sport trainers

I love fitness and have almost by not thinking about it maintained a level of fitness since my school days. It can be hard however, these days with work to keep on top of it. Especially as you don’t want it to seem like a chore. Here is my little fitness history, routine and some lovely kit I have brought recently.

Fitness History

Sport for me growing up I was indifferent really. I wasn’t the best but wasn’t the worse either. I played in the school netball team at primary school (I still kept my winners medal!), competed in cross-country for my school at 12 and just did the usual PE lessons until 16 when I joined my school’s cross country club. 18-21 I played lacrosse for my University team, an highlight being going to Salou in Spain and playing mixed lacrosse in the National Lacrosse Championships.

Parkrun

I am not a runner AT ALL. As a dedicated cyclist of about five years. Pounding the pavements does not float my boat, however I love Parkrun. I got into Parkrun through my friends and for those of you that don’t know, it is a free timed 5k run. There is no time limit – you just run at your pace. I run it, normally, in about 32 minutes, I do hate running around the route (even though it is beautiful Cannock Chase) and do wonder to myself when is it going to end. However, it gives me a good start to the weekend and I love seeing if I have smashed a PB and where everyone has come in the run.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is the one thing that I keep going back to time and time again. I started circuits after finishing University. I love the variety of changing workout’s every minute. When I moved to where I live now (near Stafford) I go to the sessions run by G Force. G Force is great because each circuit session is slightly different. Not only this but they have started to add tabata training (an high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout) on Sunday’s which I love. There is also Vibe cycle where you essentially cycle to the beat of the music. I have only been to one vibe session which I enjoyed and would go to more but cannot get over from work in time! Each circuit training session is £3 so money is not an excuse. I just love the feeling exercise gives me afterwards.

Cycling

Ahh my biggest love. If you ask anybody who knows me they know I love cycling. I started just after the mighty trio which is Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell- Shand won the team pursuit in the 2012 olympics. Inspired, I dragged my bike down to the local outdoor velodrome and went from there. These days I take my road or mountain bike out. As I live close to Cannock Chase I am very comfortable with the blue and red trails and off trail biking. I love being out in the fresh air and the views of the chase are stunning.

My top tips of getting fit

Get Some Nice Fitness Gear

I have steadily built up a collection of fitness gear throughout the five years since I have finished Uni. Lots of people use old shirts etc but I like to look nice and feel comfortable. You need to be motivated to get fit! I do however hate people that spends loads on kit and then never wear it. I set myself targets such as going mountain biking six times in a row to buy some new mtb trousers etc.

Go With A Friend

It is really daunting at times going along to a session on your own. If you can go with a friend, you can help each other out and not feel as intimidated.

Think Of The Mental High When Things Get Tough

A lot of my fitness isn’t about getting fit physically but it does help my mind. My mind is busy working all of the time so a circuit class or mtb trail is the great way to take my mind off thinking for an hour or two! It can be hard to get motivated at times – but when I think of the natural mental high I get at the end – it is well worth it!

I would love to read your fitness tips and experiences. Leave your comments below x

My interest in foreign films started when my German teacher showed the class Run Lola Run. From then on I was hooked and developed an interest in foreign films which further developed when I moved schools for sixth form. At this school I went to European Cinema club which showed foreign films once a week. Some of those films I then brought and have watched over and over again. If you want something a bit different to view try some of my recommendations below.

 

Amelie

Language – French

Date of release –  2001

Amelie is a very popular french film starring the awesome Audrey Tautou and if you are going to watch any film this is the one to watch. Amelie is an only child brought up by eccentric parents. Part of her upbringing means she doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t really play with other children. Therefore she uses her imagination to fill up her time. When her mother dies in a freak accident her dad withdraws further from society. When she is 18 she leaves home and works in the Cafe des 2 Moulins taking pleasure in life’s little things such as touching fruit at the local market.

One day after the death of Princess Diana, Amelie decides to set out on a mission to make people happy. On this mission, she finds an album of full of unwanted photos taken by strangers in a photo booth (yes it is a little werid but bear with!). Amelie goes around Paris trying to find the owner who she happens to also fancy and the owner fancy her. It is an lovely independent film although a little strange- you have to go along with it!

 

Lola facing Mannie

Run Lola Run

Language – German

Date of release – 1999

When Lola’s boyfriend, Manni burgles a store and leaves 100,000 deutsche marks on the train, she has just 20 minutes to find 100,000 deutsche marks or he loses his life. Lola starts running across the town to try and find the money. This fast paced film gets interesting when it is split into three and each run start’s the same but there a different scenario develops and ends differently.

 

Dora laying down on Josue's lap

Central Station

Language – Portuguese

Release date – 1998

This film follows Dora, a retired schoolteacher working at Rio de Janerio’s Central Station writing letters for illiterate customers. One day, whilst working, a woman visits Dora and pay’s her to write letters with her son Josué. The letters are to Josué’s father who she hopes to see soon. The woman is killed outside the station by the bus and Josué is made homeless. Dora takes him back to the flat as she doesn’t want to leave him on the streets. She then tries to traffic him but steals him back. Dora then embarks on a journey with Josué to find his father’s house to reunite him. A film I have watched many times and the scenes of Brazil through the journey are really breathtaking.

 

Blue is the Warmest Colour

Language – French

Date of release – 2013

This coming of age film follows Adelé who is still at school studying with the aim of becoming a teacher. Adelé is unsure about her sexuality identity and it doesn’t help that her classmates are always gossiping about boys. She goes out with a boy but isn’t interested. One day in town she passes by a girl with blue hair (called Emma) and is instantly attracted. She confides in her openly gay friend Valentin and he takes her to a gay bar. Here she bumps into the blue haired girl and strikes up a friendship. The rest of the film follows Adelé and Emma through their relationship.

 

Image of the girls from Girlhood

Girlhood

Language – French

Date of release – 2014

Another coming of age film this story focuses on Marieme a girl living on a poor estate outside Paris. Her mother works all hours as a cleaner therefore her abusive older brother is left in charge of her and her two younger sisters. Marieme struggles at school and is recommended for vocational study which she does not want. Outside of school she meets a gang of three girls who befriend her. Marieme gets caught up in this gang world and the film portrays it through her eyes.

 

Caramel Film cover

Caramel

Language – Lebanese Arabic

Release date – 2007

Revolving around five women – Layale, Nisrine, Rima, Rose and Jamale. The woman know each other because they either work or visit the salon. This film focuses on the lives of each against the backdrop of warfare.

What films do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!

Sweet Valley High Book

Young Adult books are such an important part of growing up. Considering there is so much media and other activities it is great that Young Adult books are still thriving and that bloggers such as the Mile Long Bookshelf covers these so eloquently. Here are four books by three authors that are so good that I want to share with you today.

Sweet Valley High – Francine Pascal

Ok I cheated a little, it is a series rather than a book. Originally penned in the 80’s (ebay have hundreds of these books going for next to nothing) compared to the rest of what I have written here Sweet Valley High is not hard hitting at all. The reason why I have included this series is because it played such an important part of my childhood. Sweet Valley High is about two 16 year old twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, who live in Sweet Valley – a suburb in California. The series charters their perfect life and what they get up in their escapades. I think everyone who read the books had such high hopes (and unrealistic) expectations about high school. High school for them was one big party with guys, cheerleading and hanging out in the Dairi Burger. When I started high school in the early 2000’s the closest to cheerleading was cross country (which I loved ironically) and the closest to the Dairi Burger was a Maccy D’s every Saturday with my parents.

I watched the TV series on SMTV (remember that?!) It is well worth buying a copy just to have a trip down memory lane or have a laugh at how stupid the plot lines were.

Photograph showing the books Student and Junk

Junk – Melvin Burgess

The book that got Melvin a lot of drama and the Carnegie Medal. Two teenagers, Gemma and Tar, both from very different backgrounds. Tar with two alcoholic parents and Gemma who feels suffocated by hers move to Bristol and get involved with the drug scene. Gemma ends up having to sell her body to fund her habit but wants desperately to quit and Tar steals. The story has different protagonists, gritty and does not shy away from the reality of drug using and living on the streets. As I said above, the book was heavily criticised because Young Adult fiction didn’t contain those themes in the 90’s.

Student – David Belbin

This book I bought a few years ago just after I had left University and I wish I had read it at the time. It tells the story of Alison, who moves away from her small village near merseyside to live the University life in Nottingham. The story explores many aspects of University life such as sex, dropping out, abuse and drugs as Alison navigates from her first to final year. It really is worth a read.

Love Lessons Book on a table

Love Lessons – David Belbin

Last but certainly not least, Love Lessons by David Belbin. I bought this back when I was a teen second hand. The story follows Rachel who develops a crush on a teacher Mike. The crush develops into something more and the story details their romance over Rachel’s GCSE year from both sides.

What are your favourite Young Adult books? Let me know in the comments below.

Photograph of a blogger breakfast

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to go along to a Blogger event. I have had this blog for nearly five years and have never been to an event! When I saw the Foyles Birmingham Blogger Brekkie advertised on the Birmingham Bloggers UK Facebook group I thought it would be the perfect starter event as I had been to Foyles before so knew the layout and I love books!

The Blogger Brekkie was advertised as a place to have the book shop to yourself for an hour, meet with other like-minded bloggers to chat and occasionally listen to a guest speaker. Brekkie was laid out, a table of freebies ranging from smarties to a few books (all of it which was YA) and a few other bits and pieces was laid out too. The best part was just having the opportunity to talk to other bloggers. It was really nice to speak to people who were from the region talk about blogging and what they did as a day job. There was a really good mix of ages as well, I thought it would be more 18-21 but it wasn’t.

Table with books, pencils and sweets

The benefits you get from going to the event’s is 25% of if you buy a book that day. The option to fill out the bloggerpicks (little handwritten notes you see in the shop usually from staff members saying why you should read this particular book) and the chance to be part of the blogger affiliate programme with Foyles where you get 7% of each purchase made from the site if a user clicks on your ad.

Crowd of book lovers in Foyles

I found Foyles very willing and actively wanting to work with bloggers of all audiences which I really liked and think it is a good ethos to follow.

It has certainly made me want to go to more blogger events so will be keeping an eye out for ones in and around the West Mids and further afield.

To book yourself onto the Foyles Blogger Brekkie, click here.