Thursday, 24 September 2015

My favourite running route in the Cornish Countryside

Since I've started running again I have been lucky enough to enjoy a few evening runs at home in my local area. Most of my evening running has been during winter evenings and that has meant running in the dark. Wearing hi vis clothing and running where there are street lights.

However where I live there are no streetlights so as soon as the nights fully draw in again it will be back to running in the towns that are lit rather than countrysides and coastpaths.

One of my favourite runs is one of the shorter runs with a circular route of just 4 miles that takes in Ruthvoes and Indian Queens in a loop.

It's a great little loop, not too short to not give you a good sense of achievement but equally not too long to get bored. I use the endemondo ap on my phone and find myself competing with a previous time to try and be faster each time I run that route.

It starts off gently on the flat then goes down hill gradually before a steady up hill. It's this up hill section that pushes me. I would be lieing if I said I enjoyed this bit but once at the top of the hill there's a nice flat section to recover before a fast downhill to the end of the route.

I have done this route twice in the last week and each time I have got a little bit faster. The first time I had to walk sections of the uphill whereas the second time i didn't so I must be getting fitter and stronger some how.

Where is your favourite run?

Do you get bored doing the same route?

Do you compete with your self to get faster on a similar route?

I'd would love to hear your comments below.

Mandi xxxx

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Being Hugely Inspired at The Truro Half Marathon

As many of you know I started running in December 2014 and when I reached my 30th Birthday I decided I wanted to enter my first ever Half Marathon. It wasn't long before I found an event 6 months on from my big birthday and I was filling in the forms and signing up to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in October.

However it hasn't been plain sailing at all, with a nasty calf injury that knocked me for six and cost me a fortune to get treated. But after nearly 3 months with no running, in mid August I was tentatively putting my trainers back on and beginning to endure gentle runs.

Starting with just walking, then gradually building up to walking, with a little run in the middle to now running again I feel slightly more confident for my first ever half marathon that's happening in less than two weeks at the Cardiff Half!

The first few months of my journey back into running were amazing, I attended the weekly ParkRun events at Lanhydrock in Bodmin and got faster and faster and felt fitter and fitter. I then joined the local Newquay Road Runners group for beginners on a Tuesday night and entered my first event with the team taking part in the cubert 5 mile run. Since that event back in June I've barely managed a night at Newquay Road Runners since because of my calf.

Even now I'm back running I'm taking it very easy with walking and running to build up in my own pace. I love going to the club and it does push me especially when we do sessions on the grass as the competitive side of me comes out. However right now I'm doing my own light training to get me through the Cardiff Half, hopefully without injury and I can't wait to return to Newquay Road Runners soon.

I recently watched the Great North Run on the television and felt all kinds of emotions whilst watching. There was the initial nerves whilst watching thinking 'Ekkkk that'll be me in a few weeks' to then feeling overwhelmed watching the elite athletes compete the course of 13.1 miles in an hour! An hour!!!! OK so I know that's Mo Farah and he is the worlds fastest runner and completed the course in 59 minutes 22 seconds!!! But still an HOUR! Pretty impressive stuff.

Now I'm a beginner to running, I've only started less than 12 months ago and then lost three months due to injury so I'm just wanting to get around the course in one piece. Hearing the news that four people actually lost their lives at the Great North Run really made me realise this isn't just a quick blip around the park. 13.1 miles is a serious distance. Now my initial goal before injury was to complete in 2 hours 30 minutes but anywhere under 3 hours I really would be happy with, considering my injury and how I've been running for less than 12 months just completing my first marathon will be a massive achievement.

On Saturday I went down to Truro City centre to watch and support the Truro Half Marathon. A much smaller affair than the 38,000 runners that were to complete the Great North Run just a few weeks previously. However there were still over 500 people on the streets of Truro city centre on Sunday morning all ready to complete 13.1 miles in the hilly Cornish countryside. Now to me that seems a lot harder than what I'm about to endure. There would be less people to support you around the course especially on the country lanes compared to through massive cities like Cardiff and Newcastle. There will also be a lot less people running either side of you, there's nothing more sole destroying then seeing everybody else disappear into the distance whilst your left on your own trotting along. But then you finish, you forget about all the other people that finished in front of you. You don't care about those, that are probably younger than you, been running longer than you and are most definitely fitter that you. You just completed a run. Whether it was 5 miles or 13 miles you just did something amazing and completed a run. You might have run it for yourself or you might have made money for charity but either way you did it. You might have walked sections or even crawled sections, your nipples might be bleeding and your feet blistered but you did it.

To all those people watching you are inspiring, and that's exactly what happened at the Truro Half Marathon.
Truro Half Marathon Start
I was at a loose end on Sunday morning and decided to go and watch and show my support. Getting to the city centre early I could feel the energy amongst all the runners. Baring in mind I have only been to a handful of Newquay Road Runners sessions before my injury I recognised a few familiar faces and watched the runners leave the start line.

Runners leaving the start line on the Truro Half Marathon

Runners passing the start line on the Truro Half MarathonRunners passing the start line on the Truro Half Marathon
A small loop around the city the runners were going back past the spectators through the city before going off out into the countryside to complete the miles.

It was just over an hour before the first finisher came through the finish line with Colin Snook from Cornwall Athletics club speeding through with a time of 1:15:36.
Colin Snook Cornwall Athletics club winning the Truro Half Marathon 2015
Less than three minutes later second place was achieved by Tom Joyce with a 1:18:18 with third place being taken by Jordan Morant from Hayle runners with a time of 1:18:43. To me these guys are simply just phenomenal.

But to me, what is equally impressive is those that aren't as fit, those that aren't lean mean muscle running machines those that might be just that little bit more like myself, a little over weight, those that might be slightly older than the average age to be a runner and those that go above and beyond to raise money for charity like Colin Bell running for shelter box with a shelter box on his back!
 Colin Bell running for shelter box in the Truro Half Marathon 2015
Every single runner that passed me yesterday encouraged me that I will be able to complete my first ever half marathon and every runner that came across the finish line managed to muster together the energy to smile and some even sprint to the line.

I want to thank everyone that ran yesterday that has filled me with inspiration and encouragement for my first ever half marathon. I can't wait, and equally can't wait to get back to the Newquay Road Runners club nights.
Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015
 Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015
Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015
Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015

Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015Newquay Road Runners at the Truro Half Marathon 2015
I'm running my first ever half marathon for the WWF and it's not too late to still sponsor me here -

Happy runners finishing the Truro Half Marathon 2015

Monday, 21 September 2015

Check out this AMAZING view!

One day in rainy drizzly Cornwall, my partner and I had the passing conversation that it would be cool to go up the Shard in London. The shard is the newest building to adorn the London skyline and is currently the tallest building in Europe and has its very own viewing platform right at the top.

Thinking this would be a pretty cool thing to do and see but not really thinking that it would ever happen as London is nearly 300 miles away from us in Cornwall. However a few weeks ago I found myself standing at the bottom of The Shard looking up thinking 'Yes, Yes that is one MASSIVE building.
Standing at the bottom of the shard
After a few minutes standing at the base of this 87 storey skyscraper it wasn't long before we were being touted into a nice shiny entrance to 'The View'

It was a little strange, as you walked through to go into the underground station at London Tower Bridge you were in the old run down sections of the existing tower bridge train station. The main entrances to the shard were facing the road, glamorous entrances with expensive cars pulling up outside where people could stay in one of the £400 a night hotel rooms or dine in one of the several restaurants. Yet around the back of this rather elegant looking entrance and within the old train station underpass we were handed leaflets and ushered towards a brand new shiny glass door leading away from the dark and dingey old parts of the station.

With only a few minutes of shall we shan't we and a slight deliberation we were going through the glass doors to purchase our 'flight' tickets. It then suddenly dawned on me that I don't really like lifts!

This was actually going to be one pretty big journey in a lift. When I say I don't really like them, what I mean is that I actually hate them. If there are the options to take the stairs over using a lift then you will find me in the stairwell. It's not so much the claustrophobia of being in a small space it's the feeling of being launched up and the dizzy floating sensation you are left with even once the lift has stopped. The sensation similar to being on a boat, it's this that I don't like.

Suddenly I realise that we have paid our money, we have tickets in hand and we are being ushered to the departures security.

The whole experience of The View is pretty amazing and very well organised. Once you have your tickets you are sent through a departure style security area. Your bags are x-rayed and you go through a walk through metal detector as you would before boarding a plane.

Once you are through security you have your photograph taken and are given an iPod style device on a lanyard which acts as your audio guide for the experience. With lanyard and device hanging around our necks we are then enticed to the lift. This is where my heart skips several beats. It wasn't busy in the lift only myself, my partner and another couple. The member of staff explained that we would go up just 33 floors and then would change lifts and continue the rest of the journey in a separate lift.

The lift journey was over in a matter of seconds but I still hated it and the feeling of being launched up so high so fast made me feel pretty wobbly. When we arrived at the top we were 68 floors into the sky and a slight glimpse at the view confirmed just how high we were. I grabbed a seat and tuned into my headset to read about the building and watch videos on its construction and to be honest I felt as if I was completely ignoring the fact that I was actually in the building until my heart had stopped racing after being in the lift.

My partner was already up close to the glass, looking down at the roads below, using the digital viewing binoculars to learn about what's in the distance. I stood up to join him and finally started to enjoy the view. My hatred for lifts has always been there and on reflection this really wasn't a bad experience. A clean, modern, smooth, lift nothing at all like the dirty, run down, urine stained lifts of old multi story car parks that I'm quick to avoid.
Selfie at the top of The Shard London
These are the incredible views from the 68th floor of the shard. The thing I like most about the experience is that you aren't rushed through. It wasn't too busy and we were given as much time as we wanted to walk around and around the viewing platform. We were fascinated to stare into the distance from each angle. Looking east we could see in the distance the Queen Elizabeth the Second Bridge at Dartford. (I'm an ex Essex girl so this means Lakeside shopping centre!) On a clear day it is believed you can see 40 miles into the distance.

You could see the new Olympic park in Stratford, the London Eye, The Gherkin, The Walkie Talkie. All the famous landmarks of the London skyline we could see all at the same time. 
The view from the Shard - London

The View from the roof garden at The Shard

The view from The Shard London

The view from The Shard London

The view from The Shard London

The view from The Shard London
Once we had a good look at the view we then started to look around more of the actual building itself. As my partner works at a building and architectural firm he was more interested in the construction and the building materials than I was but I was still intrigued about the building. How they constructed it in such a small space and how they have a team of window cleaners that go up and down the building every three months.
The framework of the building from the view from The Shard LondonThe view from The Shard London
From the top of The Shard they played calming music of bird song, it was a surreal experience to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the city of London one minute, then the next minute high above all the noise and energy in a really calm space.

The river thames from the shard

The river thames from the shard

The view from floor 72 at the shard - London

The view from floor 72 at the shard - London

Looking down from the top of the shard

The View, The Shard, London

Enjoying The View, The Shard, London
Once we had acclimatized to the view at level 68 we were then able to go up even higher via foot up to floor 72! This was an even more exhilarating experience as they called this the roof garden and it was quite literally that. With plants and greenery and the continuation of the bird song. The only difference up here was that we were actually in the open air!
The Roof Garden at The Shard London

The Roof Garden at The Shard London
The Shards of glass reach up into the sky at angles exposing open sections of the building. It was a surreal feeling to be so high up in the sky in the open air.
The Open Air Roof Garden at The Shard London

The view of London From The Shard
The best bit about the whole experience was the opportunity to have a drink 72 floors up into the London skyline in the open air. Although a little expensive it's the highest pint I've ever drunk!
Looking up to the top of The Shard LondonThe Bar at The Shard London

The Shard from the road

The whole experience was easy and enjoyable although expensive. It is definitely worth booking your tickets and time before you go as this saves £5 per person rather than paying on the day. The building and surrounding area still requires some work and there is extensive renovations going on at the bottom of The Shard which I would like to go back and see once complete.

I would highly recommend if you get the opportunity whilst in London to go up the Shard as the views really are simply stunning. I'd like to go again to watch the sunset and experience the night sky as feel this would be a completely different experience yet again.
The view across London from The Shard

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Being a tourist in London – Canary Wharf

Recently on a visit up country my partner and I got the opportunity to spend a day sightseeing around London. Arriving in Stratford we took the train over to The O2, where we then took the Emirates Airline over the river Thames and then visited The Crystal and learnt all about the future for cities and the environment.
Sightseeing in Canary Wharf London

The next stop was to wander between the skyscrapers in Canary Wharf and take in the atmosphere and the sights of the financial business district, an area that is so far from what we are used to in Cornwall. I think the tallest skyscraper we have in Cornwall is a block of council flats in St Austell and that doesn’t come anywhere close to what’s in London.
Sightseeing in Canary Wharf LondonSightseeing in the gardens around Canary Wharf London
Arriving by tube we arrived in the centre of canary wharf, surrounded by men in sharp suits and women wearing designer clothes with immaculate hair and makeup. Again a long way from my lifestyle in Cornwall wearing flip flops and having dreadlocks!
Sightseeing in the gardens around Canary Wharf London
Sightseeing in the gardens around Canary Wharf London
We took a walk into the shopping arcade at the base of the buildings and spent some time perusing the shops. I couldn't really get my head around the fact that we were in a shopping precinct whilst above us there were 50 stories with hundreds of people busy working away above us. Important people, business people, people earning more in that afternoon than I would probably earn in a week.
The new Crossrail buildings in Londons Canary Wharf
The bars outside were relatively quiet as we were there just after lunch so were able to soak up the scenery without getting in the way of people on a busy commute or late for work. One of the things that we were both keen to explore was the area around the brand new Crossrail station. It might sound an odd thing to explore but my partner loves mechanics, building and engineering and this would be a major feat of engineering once open. In London they are currently building a whole entire new branch of train travel, whilst London works, sleeps and plays. Deep underground there are thousands of people and machines working on building this new railway infrastructure and to both of us that's rather fascinating.
New gardens above Crossrail Canary Wharf
Having seen a recent documentary on the television about the new railway and how there had been an indoor garden built 7 stories above the new train station at Canary Wharf with a roofing structure similar to the Eden Project, we were keen to explore.
New gardens above Crossrail Canary Wharf

The garden had only just opened and it was incredibly quiet, it felt strange. One minute we were walking through the hustle and bustle of the financial business district in the city of London and then a few minutes walk we were in garden in peace and quiet.

After taking in the sights around Canary Wharf it was back onto the tube to head deeper into the city of London and our next stop was going to be Tower Bridge and the new iconic building, The Shard.
Skyscrapers at Londons Canary WharfSkyscrapers at Londons Canary Wharf
If we thought the 50 storey tall One Canada Square was high then we would surely be blown away with the newest building to adorn London’s' skyline that currently stands at 87 storeys high and currently holds the record for being the tallest building not only in London but also in the EU.
Skyscrapers at Londons Canary Wharf