Image of Rebecca Merchant at the Manchester 10k with her partner James Perkins both holding up medals

I ran the Manchester 10k yesterday which was organised by Great Run the organisers famous for the Great North Run. It was my first organised 10k and although I wasn’t building it up to be anything special, it was quite poignant since the the attack at the Manchester Arena on the Monday. On social media everyone was encouraged to wear yellow ribbons and plenty of people wore yellow and bees and wasn’t going to let a terrorist attack stop us.

The 10k they put people in waves white, blue, green, orange and pink. Waves were allocated by the how long you think it would take you to run the race. I was put in the pink ‘wave’ which was the last wave to go as I put down a time of 1hour 20 minutes.

Rebecca Merchant at the start line of the Manchester 10k

I hadn’t done as much training as I could have done, I do have a baseline of fitness however with the circuit training that I do and the Parkrun’s. I did however run a 10k twice before the event, I had never run one before and I did not want to go into it blind. My two practice runs didn’t put me off but it made me aware of the distance I was facing. If I hadn’t had run those before hand I would have still ran the 10k but would have had a bit of a shock!

It is important to make sure you have fuelled beforehand and keep yourself hydrated. There were two water stops on my way round the 10k and I made the most of them and drank it rather than throwing the water over me. The water is going to be better inside you then out! Another thing I learnt is that there warm-ups are pants! I had better warm-ups at the Race for Life events and they are only 5k. I wish I had warmed up properly beforehand as I really felt stiff the next day.

Rebecca Merchant at the start of the Manchester 10k

I asked on Twitter beforehand if we could bring headphones and we could which I was really glad about because music really keeps me going. Although it is worth pulling the headphones out right at the end to soak up the atmosphere. At every opportunity I waved and put my thumb up at the police and first aiders – many police officers came from different areas Nottingham, Derby, Wales and South Yorkshire were drafted in to protect us so thank you to them. At the end I loving it and was waving at the crowd and was encouraging the crowd to cheer for me.

Key points to take away:

  • Fuel and hydrate up before the event.
  • Keep some paracetamol on you incase you get a headache.
  • Find somewhere to warm up properly.
  • Take some protein straight away  after the event.
  • Practice beforehand at least go to the Parkrun’s or short runs but at least run a 10k beforehand so you get an idea of the distance.
  • Wear shorts not leggings – you will just get hot. I also wear vests rather than shirts.
  • Make sure your trainers are in good condition.
  • Finally enjoy it, make the crowd cheer for you. thank the people waving you and making the day possible!

 

Black and white image of Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s life and work is dark and mysterious and today I am reviewing one of my favourite poems written by her called Mirror. I cannot republish it here however if you google it you will be able to find it easily.

The poem is about a mirror presumably hung in a woman’s bedroom ‘I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long’ and what the mirror sees day by day. I love this poem because it is poem about what an everyday object does and the unattended consequences this has on its owner.

The mirror has human traits describing its self as pure and clear and that is has to justify itself. ‘I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.’ ‘Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike’ The second stanza talks about the mirror’s owner and ageing, the woman looks at the mirror every single day and is upset about getting older. The candles and moon – all of which is not pure light doesn’t show everything, the mirror is not a person who can lie. The mirror thinks that it is doing the owner a favour – she is being honest but it just upsets her.

It is clear the owner is struggling with becoming older ‘A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.’ ‘She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands’ and the final sentence which confirms her fears:

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman 

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.’

It is such a short but despondent poem, but has stuck with me for all of those years because it is a powerful description on the simple process of ageing.

What is your favourite Sylvia Plath poem? Leave a comment below!

Marnie and Desi in the red convertible

Again a little later than planned but I have come down with this virus which seems to be going around, however lets get straight in. This week see’s Hannah off to Poughkeepsie with Marnie and Desi, Hannah is only going to help Marnie’s cover up. Marnie and Desi pick’s Hannah up in this convertable car which looks like something that is out of Grease. It is so funny when the car pulls away and Marnie just sticks her hands in her air and shouts yey and you can see Hannah is just thinking ‘oh boy’.

This week we see more of Shoshanna through Elijah. Shoshanna and Elijah go to a mixer by two of Shoshanna’s ex best friends. These girls Ziva and Rachel run a successful denim company Jabba Jeans and are moving into the t-shirt industry. They co-founded Jabba Jeans on a holiday to Aruba which we learn Shoshanna was meant to go on but cancelled six hours before to go and do something with Jessa. Shoshanna tries to cosy up to the girls but it is clear that they want nothing to do with her. This hurts her and Jessa doesn’t help saying that those girls are like ‘Khloe Kardashian and Bethennie Frankel, if those women weren’t amazing and total revolutionaries.’

The massive bust between Shoshanna and Jessa in the street! It was unfair for Shoshanna to blame Jessa for her mistakes. Yes Jessa has made mistakes and can be a bad influence but ultimately it is Shoshanna that made those decisions. This scene empathesises Shoshanna growing up by cutting ties with Jessa but simultaneously throwing her toys out of her pram.

Meanwhile in Poughkeepsie Hannah goes into a antiques shop and starts talking to the owner. The woman talks about her life story – being a model in New York city and then falling onto the tracks and surviving. Hannah points to this pretty tea set in the window and the woman gives it to her for free. It all seems a bit werid and I didn’t really understand the point of the scene.

Later on is

Picture of Hannah and Pau-l Louis

I appreciate this is a late review, but I have been extremely busy coupled with illness and painting my bathroom! However, it is the last season of GIRLS! Me alongside many other viewers will be sad to miss our favourite 4. Here is my review of the first episode.

In short, this episode sees Hannah being published, her going off to write about her experience at a Surf retreat in Long Island, Marnie going through a divorce and is trying to make it work with Ray. Finall,yRay after being found that he cannot stay at Marnie’s finds that Jessa and Adam have taken over the flat so shack’s up with Shoshanna instead.

I am glad to see that Hannah seems to have landed on her feet job wise (she never really was cut out to being a school teacher!), what I was shocked about was she seems to have gained some sought of fashion style. I loved her yellow mustard jacket (which I really couldn’t pull off myself!) and those black sunglasses! A real laugh out loud moment was when Elijah casually asks Hannah if he could borrow her room for her weekend to hold a small orgy. Marnie’s face when Hannah is completely fine with it is such a picture. Even more funny is that Elijah is holding the orgy to get himself noticed in the acting world, Marnie asks ‘why don’t you just take an acting class’ and he responds with ‘I am just going to fuck my way to the top’.

I appreciate that GIRLS is a programme that wants to show females making bold choices and liberating themselves but there were so many unnecessarily naked scenes in this programme that it felt like Lena Dunham is making a point for making a point’s sake. No one needed to see her bathing her vagina in the sunlight. No-one needed to see Jessa and Adam eating yogurt naked in the sitting room.

Marnie in her bedroom talking to Ray in bed

I think everyone was sad that Marnie started kissing Dezi. Dezi is such a tool! Marnie interests me a lot as a character and I feel has learned a lot about herself in New York in the way that she is not as perfect as she thought she was. At the moment she wants Ray to move home as her ‘online therapist’ suggested (of course Marnie has an online therapist) but that has pushed Ray to live with Shoshanna It will be interesting how her relationship with Ray turns out this series.

When Hannah was at the Surf retreat she falls for the instructor Paul-Louis, after her faking injuring her arm to get out of surfing, and a crazy night out (an absolute must see because her dancing is hilarious) and trying to have sex in a bunk bed. She spends the day with him. Paul-Louis opens up her mind to the fact that some of the best plans are sometimes the ones that you haven’t made yourself.  Hannah, completely smitten, is willing to leave New York behind for him, however is in a open relationship and has different ideas. This upsets Hannah. The irony that Hannah who is (or tries to be) very liberal and open minded about everything but prefers her relationships to be monogamous.

Paul-Louis talking to Hannah in the bar

We didn’t see much of Shoshanna this week, throughout Girls she is the one that has had the most growing up to do. From her time at NYU (remember her failing the glacier module so she couldn’t graduate with everyone else!) she was the girl that seemed to be doing everything right but life was working against her. She is very naive. Now that Ray seems to be staying at hers it will be interesting to see how there friendship between them plays out.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Best Sites for Blogging and Social Media Beginners- BecBec
(Image Source: Authors Own)

Being a beginner to blogging and social media can be really scary. There seems to be so much information out there and so many different ways to do things. As a beginner, it can be daunting with the pressure of producing an amazing blog layout, photography and content all in one go. It is enough to make you want to give up!  I am still learning about blogging and social media therefore to save you time I have shared a few tools and websites below that I use:

Social media scheduling tools

Hootsuite a well-known scheduling tool. I use the paid version at work and the way the dashboard is set out is simple and it is easy to use. What I do not like about Hootsuite is that it still turns the Twitter images into ow.ly links so you have to click the link to view the image, which I view as a barrier. To get round it I schedule Twitter posts with images on Buffer.

Buffer is another social media scheduling tool. The free version is ok but you can only post ten posts on each social network on this compared to Hootsuite where you can schedule more.

Websites to learn about social media analytics

Kissmetrics– is a helpful website that focuses on social media analytics. There is an infographic section on a variety of subjects ranging from how to get more likes on Facebook to how colours affect conversions.

Social Media Examiner– If you are looking to up your social media game. This website is good. With many how-to blog posts and posts going into great detail about how to make the most of those figures.

Buffer blog – Another reason why I like Buffer is the social media blog. I read this a lot for when I want to try different things with the social media at my work place such as A/B testing.

Best website for wanting to find twitter chats in one place

Design that fits – If you are based in the United Kingdom this site lists as many Twitter chats as you can possibly think of. Personally I take part in #bloghour and sometimes #weddinghour both of which I found through the site.


Best site for finding Creative Commons Licencing images

Sellfy – This blog post lists a wide range of high-quality images that you can use for free to get you going. It is a really good blog post and one of the few I have seen where you can really use the images for free.

Best websites for editing your images


Picasa – Second only to Adobe Photoshop in my opinion. This application I have found to be really useful when I am using my laptop (which is so old if I loaded Photoshop onto it, it would just crash) for editing photos. Picasa 3 is so easy for cropping, adjusting light and straightening photographs and is free to use.

Canva -This website I have used for work is good for creating Facebook and Twitter headers. With so many design options, it is really good for those without Photoshop or have limited design skills to make professional looking designs.

Befunky is a website that I discovered recently where you can make lots of different photo collages and upload them for free. You can also create Facebook and Twitter headers with the photos.

VCSO cam – Lots of bloggers use this to touch up their photos for Instagram and social media. I downloaded the app and found that the filters were a lot better than Instagram. It is just as easier to use too. My favourite filters are B1, C1 and P5.

Best site for blog design

Pipdig – Biased, I know, as my blog design is by them. They offer really good professional, modern blog designs that are very reasonably priced. What is also a bonus is that they will add the template onto your site free of charge. The customer service is fantastic, I have tweeted and emailed them on two separate occasions and they have got back to me within about two hours.

Best sites for blogging advice

I Can Build a Blog – I have mentioned Dana before on here as her blog The Wonder Forest is one of my favourite blogs to read. Dana has created another whole website dedicated to building a blog from scratch. Again simplicity is the key and Dana has the habit of answering all those blog questions that newbies have.

The Nectar Collective – Similar to I Can Build a Blog, The Nectar Collective focuses on growing your blog through from the basics to advance. The website is designed well and in my opinion a good example of how good design aids the reader around the site and makes them stay longer. It is essentially the website of my dreams.

Autumn Leaves Blog – I like this blog because of its transparency. Rebecca lists her social media figures each month and goes through what techniques she used that month and if they helped increase engagement or followers. This openness adds value as I am not keen at looking at sites that offer tips on engagement but are not well- known sites themselves.

Zoella – Not her whole blog site but this post (an oldie but still a goodie) on how to edit your photographs was one of the first I read. Zoella was producing great blog photography long before anyone else and is the perfect starting point if you really don’t have a clue.

Best book for thinking up blog ideas

Not a website but a book, 365 blog topic ideas: For the lifestyle blogger who has nothing to talk about by Dana Fox of The Wonder Forest. It does what it says on the tin. A no frills book which has a blog topic idea on each page. It is really good for dipping in and out of or if you get stuck with something to write about.  

Those are the sites and book I use. Do you have any other sites to add?