What’s in my Backpack? | Race Day Essentials

In the days leading up to a race, I channel my love for organisation in every way possible. A plethora of to-do lists on the notes section in my phone is the centre of this organisation. I have separate to-do lists for things I need to buy (maybe bananas quite a few days before so they’re ripe enough for the morning of race day), what I need to do the night before (e.g. cut toenails), what I need to do on the morning of (from putting on my race number to getting someone to remind me to re-tie my laces just before the start) and what I need to pack in my bag. Well that was a long sentence of me fangirling about organisation. Fifteen year old me Me two years ago would be proud. So what do I always have in my race day backpack?

rucksack.jpg

It only feels right to section this into subheadings. Let’s do this.

Food and drink

  • Banana
  • Trek bar
  • Tub of grapes (a nice throwback to opening my lunchbox back in infant school)
  • Two bottles of water

Running SOS essentials

  • Four spare safety pins (my race number went rogue this year at the Great South so I should have ensured it was on okay with the help of more safety pins)
  • A brush/comb
  • Two spare hairbands
  • Five spare hair grips (if you’re going out after and your hair has a mind of its own like mine, you’ll be grateful)
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Deodorant

The usual

  • Purse (for a celebratory gin and tonic)
  • Keys
  • Phone charger/portable charger

Trek bar image.jpgI always fear that I’ll be hungry before or during an event day run. And, because I overthink it, I inevitably am hungry. *Enter incredibly over-prepared silver rucksack.* Bananas, as everyone will tell you, are a good’n and I love tucking into my favourite healthy snack in form of a protein flapjack. Trek bars are SO filling and SO yummy that you’ll feel totally satisfied. I pack an extra water bottle so that I can sip every now and then before the race and still have a completely full bottle to start a race with. I either dip in and out of a tub of grapes or have a little after-run snack to greet me at the finish line- after I’ve devoured everything in my goody-bag, of course.

What do you always pack in your event day bag?

~ Kat ~

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The Great South Run Edit

The Great South Run is always one of my favourite days of the year (This year was certainly no exception!) and the last two times I’ve taken part, I’ve been sporting charity t-shirts. The first year I took part I wore a long-sleeved black t-shirt underneath the charity vest I was given to wear (from the awesome Stroke Association). After half a mile, with the sun beaming, I realised my mistake. The next year I wore the next charity t-shirt I was given (from the brilliant St. George’s Hospital Charity). While I loved being in bright pink and the t-shirt didn’t cause me discomfort, it was perhaps a little too thick to be the perfect running t-shirt. This year I didn’t run for a charity so made some well-thought out decisions when it came to my event day outfit.

IMG_4632Under Armour training HeatGear t-shirt: I purchased this t-shirt from ASOS but is now out of stock over there. Awesomely and frustratingly, it’s discounted on Sports Direct for, I think, just this week. This is my favourite running t-shirt because it feels so nice on the skin (which is more than ideal when you’re running ten miles, washes well and is super lightweight. While I don’t find it massively flattering on me, I never feel like I’m overheating and definitely didn’t on Sunday.

Reebok marble print leggingsThese leggings are, quite simply, very “Instagram.” Not only is the print really unique, the leggings stick to you like glue. So much so it doesn’t exactly feel like you’re wearing anything. For this reason, I feel kind of invincible in these. They are super lightweight and their amazingly stretchy material makes for a brilliant fit. Not only are they pretty but they are rather flattering too. They did the job very well on the day.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 trainers: As I spoke about HERE, these trainers are the new love of my life. I can’t find a link to these exact trainers but I believe the type of trainer are relatively easy to find out and about and on the internet. To date, these are my favourite running shoes I’ve ever purchased. Not only are they the coolest colour ever (I am a strong advocate for bright colours) but they are the perfect level of soft and sturdy. As I run along, I think I look like a fitness guru and not, in reality, the pink and sweaty wannabe I am really channelling. Although I do plaster up the whole of my feet prior to a race, I didn’t receive one blister from the run on Sunday. I wonder if it’s down to these shoes.

IMG_4634It’s more important than you’d think to plan out your outfit pre-event day. Here are a few tips for anyone who is thinking about what they should wear for a future event:

  • Test out the whole outfit on at least run before the event. If a material is irritating or your feet simply aren’t working in your shoes (Aaron, the boyfriend, went and splashed out on getting his feet fitted to his perfect kind of running shoe because he was experiencing such pain!), try something else!
  • Dress for comfort. These leggings are so pretentiously fabulous but if they weren’t so comfortable, I wouldn’t love them.
  • Consider the weather but there is a “but.” While considering the weather when it comes to putting together your event day outfit of the day is necessary, remember you are so unlikely to be cold. Don’t overdress.

What do you wear on event days?

~ Kat ~

Great South Run 2017

On Sunday I woke up to my Event Day To-Do-List and the leftover winds of Storm Brian. I’d heard radio coverage at work all throughout the day before talking about the cancelled kids 5k on the Saturday and the better weather (despite the winds!) Great South runners would take on the next day. I slipped on my marble-print leggings and was ready for one of my favourite days of the year, even know I knew it wasn’t a day that would see a personal best.

Great South 4

My medal and me

I left my house at half eight and arrived in Portsmouth munching on a protein bar a little while later. After a bit of havoc (a decision made by Aaron the boyfriend meant he was able to go for one final toilet stop but I wasn’t- I would pretend I’m over it but I’m not) we missed the warm up and were on our way before I had a chance to double check my number was attached to my top properly and my shoelaces tied enough. One of these two things was not. Ah, suspense.

Great South 1

Before

In the first few miles of the run I felt relatively strong. I think I was doing about 8:30 minute miles (Strava decided to record my run in km which meant I had no idea what was going on) and, while the wind was often against us, it wasn’t terrible; it was maybe even refreshing. At about mile three I waved to Aaron’s mum who popped over briefly before shouting a “hello!” at Aaron’s sister and her boyfriend at mile six. From then until might seven-eight I felt okay, but not as Eye of the Tiger (kickbutt) as before. The famous headwind of the Great South greeted us runners at mile eight and I weakly willed myself not to give up. But did I? Ah, suspense.

Great South 2

After

I battled (it sounds dramatic but I can’t think of a more suitable adjective) the horrific headwind (I’m looking at you, Brian), knowing I was somewhat beaten. I managed to keep my feet firmly on the ground but I knew for sure by this point that a personal best was out of the window. In fact, it was floating off into the choppy sea. What’s more, a safety pin had been lost along the way and my number was flapping all over the place. Too much of my energy was used making sure that I had the number firmly in my hand so that it wouldn’t go and join my failed personal best in the sea. I had a little chat with myself and promised that I would remind myself of how terrible I felt and then consequently forgive myself for not beating last year’s time. But do I forgive myself? Ah, sus- yes, I forgive myself. Yes, Brian pooped on my party but it might well have been hit or miss as to whether I achieved a PB anyway. It was an incredibly challenging run but I’m already excited to return next year.

Great South 3

Runners + Supporters

I reached the last 800m not feeling all that relieved. Only thinking, “800m never used to be this long.” By this point every other gust of wind felt like it was physically stopping me. Much like “the wall” in Run Fat Boy Run, only six miles or so too soon. The 400m sign passed me and I felt some kind of relief. I realised I felt really uneasy but stronger than before. I knew something bad was going to happen as soon as I stopped but, oh my, I couldn’t wait to stop. I apparently looked alarmingly red and yet ghostly white as I ran the last stretch I normally like to sprint with everything left in me. My feet passed the finish line and my energy came back up. Yup, in front of a hundred or so people, I threw up. I was ushered to a seat and my disorientated self can be spotted in the Great South Run coverage that aired on Channel 5. Hey mum, look, I’m famous!

I completed the Great South Run 2017 in 1:29:24, about four minutes slower than last year’s time but three minutes faster that my first recorded time at the Great South a couple of years beforehand. It’s easy to feel overcome by personal competitiveness as a runner. After you run a single event it’s as though you have a goal you have to reach in every run following. I wanted a personal best this year- I wanted to finally get my absolute goal: 1:23:00. But I’ll get there! As soon as my legs have stopped throbbing I am getting my training game ON. The wind was an invisible obstacle for my ten miles this year but 1:23:00 wouldn’t have been reached, that’s for sure. A little shoutout to Aaron and his incredible 1:19:50. He too felt restricted by the wind but AHH, what a time!

 

~ Kat ~

Dear Sexism | Feminism Up

Dear Sexism,

I was working an evening shift not too long ago when I came face-to-face─well, stomach-to-hand─with you. While you’re sometimes quiet and sneaky, that night you were loud and arrogant.

The evening was unassuming; a retiring Monday that promised an early night. Then a sexist walks into a restaurant and takes a seat. Little did I know, the doors would be locked at nine p.m. but your self-proclaimed punch line lingered loudly all the way through the week. Sexism, you joked and I laughed politely. I served you and you did utter gratification. As you cackled at yet another witticism of yours, your greedy hand met my midsection. “Hello,” it sniggered as I struggled to protest. I have chastised my dismissal ever since but, as my brows knitted together with shock, I simply didn’t say anything. Your force left me feeling off balance. Your actions left me with no words other than, “Enjoy your meal.”

In the name of feminism I take back my silence. I’ve been told countless stories of friends’ nights out that include young men touching them without their permission. No means no isn’t acknowledged; consent isn’t even asked for. We are so frequently robbed of our right to say no; our right to have a choice. So, Sexism, I challenge your choice to touch with no request. If─when─we meet again, I’ll battle the confusion lodged in my throat and I’ll teach you a lesson you, to this day, haven’t learnt.

I encourage everyone to speak out if they can; to correct you, Sexism. To tell you we won’t let you get away with it. Yet, with the yellow glow up above my head helping me see the very face of your beliefs, I didn’t practice what I preach. Your beliefs overpowered mine but next time I’ll tell you to shut the feminism up. Sexism, I am a woman and a waitress. The “look and do touch” attitude towards women and waitresses and anyone is supposed to be in the history books. I’m a human being and I won’t shyly ask for your respect; I will demand it.

Regards,

A Waitress Who Didn’t Give You Permission to Touch


This is my first article in issue #5 of Feminism Up (released earlier this month). Feminism Up is my passion project that aims to encourage conversation about inequality and sexism, in turn encouraging the term “feminist.” After experiencing something in my place of work last month I felt the need to write about it. If you’d like to read the rest of the issue, feel free to subscribe HERE! If you yourself would like to write an article, please drop me a message! ❤

~ Kat ~

How to Actually Write a Book

Ever since I was nine years old Microsoft Word has been my best friend. I have been writing “the next best seller” for over twelve years, each fresh attempt at becoming an author bringing a story to the world that was my “best yet.” After a few weeks of being so in love with my new world, characters and words, I would hit a wall. The famous writer’s block strikes again. And a couple of hundred pages too soon, THE END was written; another idea unfinished and forgotten within a week. So many of us throw around the well-intended promise, “I’m going to write a book!” as we smugly smile. We say this, ignoring the fact that simply saying this doesn’t equate to getting the job done. Here’s how I’m approaching my next attempt book-writing adventure.

meThe To-Do List: I’ve started my very own new chapter and am holding myself accountable this time. I have a date set for when I must reach the finish line; I have a minimum amount of words I must write a day. So as not to tempt fate I won’t share The End Date (dum dum duuuum) with you but, I’ll share with you my Write Every Day World Limit. Five days a week will see me writing at least one hundred words. At least. I have an approximate end date for each quarter of the book and,n as organisation is my best friend, I’m feeling pretty pumped about it.

The Addition of Hygge: Lit candles, my favourite blanket and a cup of tea. I am hygge-ing up my writing process and I couldn’t recommend it more. Comfort is your biggest cheerleader when you’re writing what feels like the most illogical sentence ever written or finding the worst plot holes known to man. Hygge may just save the day when I inevitably experience the “I am so done with this” moment every writer writes for themselves. The End Day (dum dum duuuum) will only grant a big tick next to the task “write a book” if you enjoy the experience. Other ever-so-Hygge writing additions include:

  • Disney instrumental soundtrack
  • Fairy lights
  • Chocolate digestives
  • Cosy jumper
  • Pyjamas

Just Keep Writing, Writing, Writing: I have recently been given the advice to not go back and edit. This may just be the piece of advice that lands me my writer’s happily ever after. I have returned to the book idea I had and gave up on a few months ago. Looking back, I think I began feeling infuriated with this very idea because I was obsessed with checking over it. Editing the first chapter over and over again. This led to me feeling uninspired by the time I got to writing chapter two. I wrote chapter two and it sucked. End of story. I’ve turned a new page and have decided not to be such a perfectionist. While I will, once a month, have a cheeky edit, the main edit will be a task for after The End Day (dum dum duuuum).

What are your writing tips?

~ Kat ~

Five Things I Love About Autumn

October has officially rolled its very own autumnal red carpet, made from orange leaves that crunch beneath our boots. Our collection of jumpers wave at us every morning when we are getting ready before we sometimes leave our homes with a raincoat hugged to our chests. From the window, however, some days are overlooked by a blue sky and fluffy white clouds; we breathe in the crisper-than-it-used-to-be air but don’t feel resentment towards it. Autumn is at our doors and I’m excited to welcome it. Here are five things I love about autumn.

autumn 2ONE: The Cosy Vibe: Autumn is when I remember about hot chocolate, bath bombs and blankets. Candles should be lit as evening approaches and a new book is then to be opened. Working in hospitality means evenings off aren’t as frequent as they used to be but I plan to schedule in a completely free evening very soon. After a bath with my new Lush bath bomb, into my pyjamas I will slip before I make a hot chocolate and read a book by candlelight as a blanket protects me from the cold.

TWO: The Colours: Autumn litters the streets with the most lovely colours. Reds, oranges and browns create the filter we live in and I love it. I like the grey days and the blue days that I wake up to throughout September, October and November. The colours make for the best runs, the most chilled out walks and therefore, the most beautiful Instagram theme.

THREE: The Fashion: I’m very much a high-waisted shorts kind of girl, but I’m very excited about jeans, jumpers and coats this autumn. I’ve recently become the biggest fan of loud shirts and I plan on rocking these (or rock them as much as you can rock such lame shirts) all throughout autumn.

autumn oneFOUR: Pumpkin-Carving: After years of not caring at all about Halloween, I became pumpkin-obsessed last year. Aaron and I carved our very own pumpkins and it was FAR too much fun. As soon as possible we are going to go and pick our own pumpkins and have another carving competition. Autumn provided me with a new festivity to fall in love with last year and I just can’t wait for all things Halloween.

FIVE: Great South Run: I consider myself somewhat of a Great South regular. The last two years I have run the South Coast’s ten mile run in late October. And I adore the run. Autumn is the season that accompanies the Great South and it’s, for me, the main event of autumn. Both of my experiences at the Great South Run have seen the sun in the sky, providing what feels like a summer’s day run after a few miles in. Larvely. Less than two weeks to go!

I am looking forward to experiencing all four seasons without the stress of lecture notes, essays and exams. Of course I shouldn’t have let these things rain on my seasons but I definitely did sometimes. I am hoping without the weight of student worries I’ll feel more welcoming to the relentless pitter patter of UK weather. Bring on the pumpkins!

What do you love about Autumn?

~ Kat ~

The Wanderluster’s Collectable

As of today I am coining the word “wanderluster.” I shall define a “wanderluster” with the definition, “a person who is fuelled by wanderlust and, importantly, always dreaming of the next place they must visit.” Hidden definition: probably follows far too many travel accounts on Instagram. I am a wanderluster. After my brother gifted me with the Rome 2017 Lonely Planet guidebook earlier this year, I became a little obsessed. So obsessed that I purchased the 2017 Paris Lonely Planet guidebook after I visited in March because I want to collect every Lonely Planet guidebook for every place I visit. Let me explain why. *Stares at mini collection lovingly.*

IMG_4571.JPGWhy would you buy a book you no longer have use for, you ask. I have a daydream I can’t let go of. I often fantasise about my future home, furnished with a coffee table that shows off all of the spines of my Lonely Planet books underneath my Anthropologie coffee coasters. I am so overexcited about the idea that I’m also hutnting down the 2016 Dublin Lonely Planet guidebook as I mostly want to focus this silly collectable obsession on the city breaks I’ve been on. As I’ve excitedly explained my plan to friends and family, some have rolled their eyes. Kath’s going on again. Some have clapped (no one has clapped) at my efforts. Haters gonna hate but my future coffee table is going to look sick.

Why do I love Lonely Planet so much?

  • These books offer a diverse range of activities for tourists to do; whether you want to be a traditional backpack, cap and camera round the neck tourist or more of a “I’m pretending to be a local” tourist.
  • Every page is jam-packed with recommendations, tips and facts about the titular place.
  • The pictures inside alone will get you beyond excited to hop on the place and to your next destination.
  • These Lonely Planet books, specific to the year of travel, also set out what’s going on in that destination in each month- SO HELPFUL.

These Lonely Planet delights make planning a trip so easy and super exciting. My friend and I are currently planning for our trip to New York and my 2017 New York guidebook has provided us with plenty ideas. From vegetarian restaurant recommendations (my friend is veggie!), to iconic New York cocktails, to tricks and tips about the big city, we are sorted. I am obsessed with my silly little idea because not only do the books help me plan and save my life when I’m in a city (pop it in your backpack and you can never go too wrong!) but they act much like a theatre programme. Once home, I have a play-by-play of the destination I’ve visited and I can nostalgically stroke the cover and dream of my lovely memories made. *Hears how weird I sound and shrugs.* What can I say? I’m a wanderluster.

What do you collect?

~ Kat ~

Goodbye Christopher Robin

When I am a fan of something, I am the number one fan of that something. Whether that be McFly, Hamilton, Topshop crop tops or the city of Dublin, I go next level of fangirl. I was thinking about this yesterday when suddenly it clicked. Maybe the start of this fangirl pattern was my childhood love for Winnie-the-Pooh (which never wavered as I grew older). I loved Winnie-the-Pooh so much that my favourite colour was yellow (and still is) because Winnie-the-Pooh is yellow. I would argue with anyone who told me I was “too old” for the honey-loving bear and re-watched The Tigger Movie just the other day. Maybe my love of crop tops even boils down to Pooh bear. Long intro short, I went to see Goodbye Christopher Robin on Sunday and it was fantastic. WARNING: Contains spoilers.

IMG_4544.JPGI really didn’t know what to expect going into watch Goodbye Christopher Robin but I certainly didn’t expect to cry so much (much to my boyfriend’s amusement). The film is shot through what can only be described as an Instgram filter; the brown and yellow-y feel throwing us back to the early 20th Century and A. A. Milne’s life. We see how Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends were birthed from A. A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin’s own imagination and cuddly toys. Although based on real life, the film doesn’t entirely follow stick to A. A. Milne’s real life story, but it delivers a poignant story that leaves the audience exploring different themes way after the credits have rolled.

Goodbye Christopher Robin tackles PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder); we learn how it affects two characters in the film as they return home, traumatised from the experiences of war. At one point in the film, A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard are discussing ways in which the war has tainted post-war life. E. H. Shepard says something along the lines of the two of them needing to “sort out up here.” Up here being their minds. I found this part of the film to be wonderfully sharp; fleeting but its importance not so fleeting. Mental health is never far from being in the spotlight of Goodbye Christopher Robin and I was so happy to see such an important topic being brought to centre stage.

The cast were fantastic. I fell in love, naturally, with Olive’s (Kelly Macdonald) and Billy Moon’s (Will Tilston’s) relationship. Domnhall Gleeson played A. A. Milne, a deeply troubled writer unbelievably well. Margot Robbie, while we don’t like her character Daphne, was, too, superb. Interestingly the film addresses an issue that has recently been a point of discussion in the UK. Daphne experiences a traumatic childbirth; she was labelled as “unprepared” or something similar. While there were complications, it brings up the issue of women feeling as though they aren’t ready for labour beforehand; afterwards knowing they were unprepared. It sparks an interesting discussion about whether women should be properly informed about the facts of childbirth.

I remember being maybe seven years old and ill around the time of the Christmas holidays. I watched The Tigger Movie and filled in the Winnie-the-Pooh annual I received from Santa for Christmas. This memory fills me with the kind of nostalgia that really takes me back to the exact sofa I was sat on. Probably because it’s the exact sofa I’m sat on writing this blog post. I have owned Winnie The Pooh The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems since… well, for ever. I have since received a newer version of it and I cherish both with their lovely poems (one I learnt off by heart for school once) and gorgeous illustrations- illustrations I adored seeing come to life in the film. I have been pretty attached to these books over the last couple of days, reading the story of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends with a smile on my face.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is nostalgic. It’s sweet. It’s sad. I ached for the characters and felt sorrow for the loss many of them felt in many different ways. Goodbye Christopher Robin is my favourite movie of 2017 so far. Have you seen Goodbye Christopher Robin? Let me know your thoughts below if you have!

~ Kat ~

Feminism Up: Issue #5

Feminism Up, as of today at 8:30pm, will be five months old. Eek! Feminism Up is my monthly online newsletter that aims to encourage everyone to discuss sexism, inequality and thereby promote the term “feminist.” It includes two pieces by me and should, every month, include four guest writers. This month only includes three guest writers but they are brilliant ones with wonderful words. While issue #5 will be released at 8:30pm, if you’d like to subscribe to also receive issue #4 (and to do so you must subscribe before 8:30pm today), you can do so through THIS link. So, what’s issue #5 about?

Feminism Up Issue 5This month’s issue includes pieces by Joshua, my mum (Tina) and Eirlys. Joshua challenges the stereotypical image of a “feminist” and writes about what might put men off the term “feminist” and also “feminism.” It’s a fantastic piece that importantly sheds light on men’s issues. My mum then writes about bookmarks that named particular authors as “male lit” and particular authors as “chick lit;” “male lit” only included male authors and “chick lit” only included female authors. My mum, however, was confused as she had read (and loved!) as many of the male authors as the female. I love this piece. Eirlys then tackles mental health, body image and how the two are intimately linked with feminism. It’s a poignant piece that will hopefully encourage readers to rethink particular thoughts and social assumptions. It certainly got me thinking.

My first piece is an open letter to sexism. I’m a bit nervous about this piece as it’s a bit on the creative side (which is what I love writing the most and yet what I share the least). It does, however, expand on something quite important. While working recently a male customer touched my belly. It was bizarre and invasive and I regret not saying anything to him. My final piece shares three books I believe should be on any feminist’s reading list. I find reading about feminism where I learn the most. I’ll learn different points about feminism; different thoughts. Books encourage me to make my own mind up and these three are some of my favourites.

Let me know if you do check it out; I’d appreciate the feedback! In November’s issue I want to focus a lot on men’s issues. November 19th is International Men’s Day and I used to chastise the presence of such a day. I’ve realised my ignorance and it’s important to me that issue #6 has a strong focus on men’s issues. If anyone would like to write a piece for it, please drop me a message over on Feminism Up’s Twitter or Instagram, if not in the comments below!

~ Kat~