Rebecca holding up her medal from the Great Birmingham Run 2017

I ran a half marathon.

I have officially joined the half marathon club!

On the 15th October 2017 I completed the Great Birmingham Run in a time of 2 hours 34 minutes. I am so incredibly proud of what I have achieved. I knew that I would be able to do it mentally but physically I wasn’t sure if my body would hold up. I know it is a cliche but I enjoyed every mile and it really didn’t feel like I had ran a half, it felt like a 10k! Today I am going to chat about my preparation leading up to the half, what I took with me, my thoughts on the day, how I am recovering and what my next challenge will be.

Why Brum?

I had decided on Birmingham for my first half, because it is a city where I live close by so there wasn’t much travelling involved. In the past year I had started spending more time in Brum getting involved in a couple of blogger events, a few concerts and eating out- so it seemed natural to try and run it. The Great Birmingham Run is run by the Great Run company. The Manchester 10k was also run by them and it was really well organised so I knew it would be well organised – large event (read here on my experience of running the 10k).

Preparation

Moving from 5k to 10k is a lot smaller jump than a 10k to half. When I had booked this challenge back in August, I was fully aware of this. I had the Stafford 10k and a Go-Tri Duathlon beforehand but knew I had to get the miles up. I started running in the week after work more but then I started to stop as I was getting a nagging feeling in my right knee and foot. Around the same time I also stopped going to circuits as my favourite circuit session was in Stafford and when you work in Wolves I was not just going through one town in one rush hour – I was going through two. It was just too much. As it was getting closer I was getting more panicked, the duathlon in Newcastle-Under-Lyme I completed in an 1hr 1min 22secs, I found it tough and my legs felt like lead.

In the final week going into the half marathon I decided to focus on my mind. I downloaded a brand new playlist (ironically called the survival playlist) memorised the route so I knew in my mind certain points I could work towards and just reminded myself that I could least to get to 10k as I had ran 10k before.

The day

With the race starting at 1.40pm I had plenty of time to get ready. I took with me my running belt, three race gels, my debit card, phone, headphones and two bottles of water. I had joggers and sports jacket over my shorts and race top. I took the gels every 5k and every water stop I drank all the water. I learnt a lot from doing the Manchester 10k earlier on in the year. I hadn’t drank all the water properly and I was so dehydrated at the end that I had a banging headache. So now I drink at every opportunity even if I don’t want any.

When I started I didn’t have a time in mind, I just wanted to complete the half. I started off a bit slower than usual because I didn’t want to start at full pace and knacker myself out.I felt so good all the way round, everyone was fantastic coming out of their houses and cheering people on. I always enjoy the local support.

I have heard that the course was difficult with the ‘hills’ but I didn’t find it that challenging at all. I personally think it is the perfect beginner half really.

The day after the run before

As I am writing this up my legs are stiff. I decided to take the day off so I could sleep and give my legs the chance to relax and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel afterwards. I am weary that staying still isn’t healthy so I will be giving myself the fun task of cleaning the house.

Were you at the half marathon or did you run the full? Are you planning on running one? Let me know below.

Blue vintage caravan selling cocktails

I went along to the Birmingham Seasonal markets in Brum today. It was located in Digbeth at The Bond Company. I had been to the winter market before and although it was very cold I had an amazing indian fish and chips and spiced apple drink. Part of the reason I went to the summer one was the Original Patty Men was going to be there and I heard good things about them so I was eager to try one.

What venders were there?

If you have been around the street food markets in Brum then you will recognise the vendors, as well as the O.P.M there was Bournville Waffle Company, Pietanic, The Middle Feast, Buddah Belly, Leave it to Esme, Low ‘n’ Slow, The Jabbywocky and Banh Cuon. There was also The Little Gin Company and The Bus Bar Company.

In addition to this there was an arts and crafts and food market indoors. Lots of vendors selling cakes and postcards which is always a great addition as you can take something away!  The vendors included: Peel and Stone ,BAKE, Pip’s Hot Sauce, Jam Vs Custard, Sarah’s Feisty Flavours, Buzzards valley, Barrel & Bone, Baladee, and The May Bakery.

The crafts included: Sarah Ray, Known as Unknown, Kimberley Simone, Dotmoth studio, Stained and Fused Glass Art, Curate, Hannah Stevens Illustration, Automaton Ceramics, Lily & Giraffe, How Brave is the Wren, Rolling Roses, Upsydaisy Craft, Tatie Lou, Kitty & Min, Lulu In Stitches, PrettyPolitical, CraftyBun Studio, The Peaky Squirrel

What did I eat?

Original Patty Men Burger

I had a strawberry and lime cider and Original Patty Men cheese burger. This will be an unpopular opinion but the cheeseburger was ok. I really did not understand what the hype is about. They do have a restaurant which I have been told I need to try so I am willing to give it another go. I also had shared a brownie from Bake which I have had before and was lush. Overall, it really was worth going for the £2 entry as there was so much on offer.

People at the Birmingham Summer Seasonal Food Market

 

 

Hannah Witton and Lucy Moon on stage live at the Glee Club, Birmingham

The other day I headed to Birmingham’s Glee Club to watch Doing It! live. I like Hannah Witton’s YouTube channel. I have said in the past on Twitter that Hannah Witton’s videos about sex should be shown in schools because they are educational and bloody funny, which is perfect for the hormonal 14-16 year olds. Therefore, it was a no brainer when I saw the tickets go online that I would have to go along to the show that was accompanying her new book. What was even better was when I found out that one of my other favourite youtubers Lucy Moon was joining Hannah on tour.

The show is set around the six stages of getting down to doing it. This is because as Hannah explains herself she talks about sex but not how to get down to ‘doing it’. Hannah took us through the realms of doing it which included education (a competition which mimicked drunkenness as two girls were blindfolded, spun around, and tasked with putting a condom on a banana, a great way in portraying how dangerous drunk sex can be). Live matchmaking where the audience filled out sheets about who they were looking for and added it into a box and Lucy picked them out and invited them onstage. Also a live version of drunk advice (where if you don’t watch Hannah Witton, it is her filming herself drunk dishing out advice).  The best part of the show I felt was the chatting up scene, which was really clever as Hannah talked about dating as being like a job interview as you are finding out if you are compatible with each other – like you would a job. Hannah also spoke about losing her viginity and read out a poem she wrote about it at the time. That was quite sweet.

The show was an hour long with a twenty minute break in-between. To be honest we could have done without the break (it was a school night and I had a twenty minute train ride and 30 minute drive ahead of me!). I was a bit older than the age range for the show (14 to 23) and I am, ahem, 26 but for £14 it was worth it. I think it was a smart move Hannah inviting Lucy along as a double act – I couldn’t have imagined even though Hannah is very talented it working in the format it did on her own or not with a fellow youtuber. If you like Hannah Witton or very funny tales about sex then you would have enjoyed the show.

This is my view of the show and I paid for the tickets with my own money. I have not been paid for this review.

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.

The other night as part of the opportunities BBC Generation 2015 have given to me, I managed to get a ticket to be part of the Newsbeat: The Election Debates at the University of Birmingham.

To get a ticket for the event I first had to answer a few questions over the phone regarding my stances on education, health and immigration. As these were the topics being discussed on the night and to ensure there was a fair cross section of opinions. When I turned up at Birmingham and registered we were split into groups (I think to manage the audience rather than our political preferences). A very friendly runner got us warmed up by asking what we wanted to ask the political representatives. If someone said a very good question the runner would go ”I want you to ask that later”. That didn’t mean the questions were decided there and then it was so there was at least a bank of questions ready to either kick off or steer the debate once we were live on air.

The set

The Great Hall looking very great

When we entered the Great Hall at around 8pm, which was one hour before filming, the seating were split into four sections and each group sat in their section. We started with a rehearsal where we practised the first part where the three 18- 25’s year old’s stood up and introduced themselves and the first topic, which was immigration. It was so that we got comfortable with the format of the show and to help us feel more confident in putting our hand up. Each time we practised different people asked different questions and there wasn’t one person (apart from the first person who started the immigration debate) that was guaranteed to get there question asked.

All getting seated

After practising the introduction three times a quick toilet break entailed then with ten minutes to go the representatives which were Emma Reynolds for Labour, Paul Uppal for the Conservatives, Amelia Womack representing the Green Party, Norman Lamb for the Liberal Democrats and Steven Woolfe of UKIP entered. Then the filming started and off we went. If we wanted to ask a question we had to put our hand up where the runner would run over and whisper the question to him. This was so the runner could make a decision if my question was appropriate based on: the topics being discussed, if a similar question hadn’t already been asked or if the question was just too long. He would then give the mic. Even that was not a guarantee that my question would be asked. It would be up to Chris to ask me my question.

Chris Smith greeting Steven Woolfe

My opinions of the night was mainly positive, I asked a question (51 minutes 14 seconds in if you are interested) which I am so glad I did as it was just the icing on the cake. I didn’t think there was much debate per say but some good questions and statements were made. Such as the young woman who spoke passionately about her friend who had committed suicide and the woman I sat next to who was speaking about her experiences with anxiety who stood up and spoke on live TV.

I think it is good that there are these programmes for young people as the other main televised debates can be a bit dry, with people similar in my age asking questions it is more relatable. Also Newsbeat were very keen for us to get involved on social media even allowing us to tweet and post whilst we were on air. As social media is an important outlet for young people these days it shows how Newsbeat understand their target market well.

Once the broadcast was done I managed to get a selfie with Chris Smith who was lovely and then I ran to catch my train home.

Me asking my question on the telly
Selfie time

I just want to say thanks to the Newsbeat crew, BBC Generation 2015 and that the BBC have not asked me to write this post, it is completely 100% my opinion.

Did you watch the debate? If so what did you think? Do you think young people need political programmes aimed specifically for them?