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The ‘strong’ friend

Taking a photo takes just 2 seconds. There are 8,6400 seconds in a day.

Adding a filter, a caption and choosing the hashtags before uploading to Instagram takes less than a minute. There are 1,400 minutes in a day.

Then throughout that day, friends, family and random followers will like that photo. Depending on how good your grid looks, how frequently you post, how popular you are and how engaging your content is will determine how many people like that photo.

People will then look at the post and they decide your life is perfect, that everything is going great for you and therefore they do not like you.

I have been seeing a few posts on social media recently about ‘checking up on your ‘strong’ friend’ and it really hit home. For starters, what defines somebody as ‘the strong friend’ is this the person who puts on a brave front and helps everyone else, the person who appears to be happy? It’s the use of the word ‘strong’ that confuses me. To me, the ‘strong’ person is the person who asks for help. The person who is honest when they are feeling troubled and confides in other people.

The truth is, I think we all need to support eachother and look out for one another. There is so much hostility in the world and why should we just be checking up on the ‘strong’ friend. We should be supporting ALL of our friends. WE should also be supporting those who we don’t even know.

Being nice to people is important, is it not? We are all going through our own dramas. We all have our own demons. It is easy to look at other people and think ‘you are so lucky, your life is so perfect’ but we only post about the good things. A photo takes 2 seconds to take and less than a minute to upload, but there are many more minutes and seconds left in each day. There are many days in the week. What does that one photo really tell us about a person? Who are we to decide by looking at an Instagram grid that a person is ‘too lucky’ or everything in their life is ‘too perfect’.

We share on instagram the photos of our afternoon tea, or tough gym session. We post our pool pictures when on holiday, or photos at gigs and festivals. Does that make life perfect? You can create the illusion it is perfect, sure… but what do you really know about that person who appears to be really popular and living the perfect life?

Jealousy is ugly. I’ve never really understood it. We can envy each other, but should we not be encouraging happiness? Should we really be allowing ourselves to make the assuumption that everything is perfect, just because one photo that took 2 seconds to take and 1 minute to post tells us that an entire week was flawless?

I don’t think that is fair. Don’t just check up on your ‘strong friend’. Check up on ALL your friends. Be nice to everyone. We don’t know what struggles any of our neighbours are currently facing and a nice conversation or even a smile can really go a long way towards lifting someone elses day.

Lets not be jealous of the happy Instagrammer. We all pose for photos. If we smile for a photo when we were not smiling before it was taken – then doesn’t that tell us everything we need to know about photos. We shouldn’t rely on a Facebook or Instagram feed to check up on friends and family. We should be doing that anyway.

My London Marathon Experience, in 2,593 words!

It has been over 1 month since the London Marathon, whaaaat. I started writing this blog the week after the marathon and never got round to finishing it. So here it is, a very delayed blog post about the day of the London Marathon.

It felt as though the London Marathon had begun on the Wednesday, which was when I travelled to London with two friends and we visited the Expo to collect our race numbers. We were handed our race packs and tags upon entry, then we spent the rest of the time visiting all of the different exhibition stands, admiring all the fancy running gear that was for sale and even managed to listen to a talk with Martin Yelling. We actually met Martin after his talk. He was really lovely and gave us some great advice. I had watched so many of his videos and listened to his podcasts, so it was really cool to get some advice first hand.

I bought some Runderwear to wear under my shorts. Runderwear are a brand who design underwear that prevents chaffing whilst running. I knew I wouldn’t have time to practice in them, but for £28 I had hoped the will be ok – so I took a gamble (there is more to this story which I’ll get to shortly). The Expo was so much fun and really added to the overall experience of the marathon.

Saturday afternoon after I stopped off at my hairdressers, Dyson Brown, (and they kindly braided my hair for free!) We grabbed a coffee from the station and the lady who always serves us insisted we have them on the house as well. We felt like celebrities, it was so surreal!

I had been so nervous all day. I had come down with a really bad head cold and was sneezing and sniffling constantly. I have never experienced hay-fever, so of course, typically the day before running my first marathon I got hay-fever. I felt so emotional after saying bye to Joe and my family, knowing I wasn’t going to see them until the race was pretty scary. My mum sent me such a lovely text whilst we were eating dinner (in Wagamama’s) and I just burst into tears! I had been so emotional in the weeks leading up to the marathon, so everything was setting me off.

We arrived at the Premiere Inn Hub at Kings Cross at about 9pm. The staff were so welcoming when we walked in. Most guests that night were running the marathon so they greeted us with confidence and excitement which was exactly the sort of welcome we needed! I had about two hours sleep that night. The hotel was so cosy, I was just too nervous to sleep. I was thankful for a good night sleep the evening prior. I started getting ready at 4.15am.  It felt so strange to put my running gear on – I had been staring at my vest for months and now I was finally wearing it. It just didn’t feel real!

We headed down to breakfast for 6am and the hotel had laid out bananas, bottles of water, bagels, porridge, fruit, toast – everything you could want for a pre race breakfast.  After breakfast we set off for Greenwich and people in the street were wishing us luck and even clapping us. It was pretty humbling. As we got to Kings Cross we were joined by a few more runners and that made us feel slightly at ease, firstly because we didn’t feel so alone anymore but also it meant we knew we were going the right way!

The train from Cannon Street was packed with runners. It was the marathon train! Everyone on the train was a runner. We met a really nice guy (I didn’t get his name) who was one of the Good For Age runners, so he got his place because he can finish a marathon within the time that is considered good for his age. He chatted to us the whole way to Greenwich and helped us find our start zone. He told us that he ran the previous hottest London Marathon on record in 2007 and that we should just enjoy the experience, not focus on getting a good time. He also told us that he ran marathons all over the world. I don’t know if I find that inspiring or slightly mad!

We met our friends Terry and Nathan at the start zone and took our bags to the bag drop together. I then met my charity for a quick group photo. Saying bye to Terry, Nathan and Fil was emotional. They were all in a different starting pen to me. I headed to my starting pen but didn’t know anyone. I couldn’t see anyone from my charity either. That was when I got a tap on my shoulder. A girl named Michelle had recognised me from Instagram as we follow each other. She was really lovely. We started the race together and it was just so nice not to be waiting in the pen on our own.

As the cannons went off and the music started, we were on our way. It was so weird, after months of planning and preparing, I was finally running the London marathon! The first 3 miles were fine, although very hot. I was running at a good pace and sticking with the 4.45 pacer. I had expected to see my colleague at mile 1-2 but we missed each other.

That’s when everything started to go a bit downhill. My stomach began to hurt a few miles in. The Runderwear I had spent £28 on earlier in the week felt too tight and like it was pressing up against my stomach. I decided to slow down and go to the toilets to try and sort them out, the queue took 10 minutes! I sorted my shorts out as best as I could and continued on with the race.

The heat seemed to get hotter at every mile. We had trained through such a cold Winter and now we were running the hottest London Marathon on record?! I knew I was going to see my friend at the Cutty Sark which was mile 6, so decided to push forward knowing I would get a boost of encouragement in a few miles time. When we arrived at the Cutty Sark though, it was wild! There were so many thousands of people, it was like being on a football pitch in the middle of a crowded stadium. The crowds were going insane. There was no way I was going to spot Alan and no way he was going to spot me, so sadly we missed each other.

I knew my family and friends were at mile 9 though, so I had just two miles to push through to get to see them. Those two miles were horrible. They felt like they were never ending. I had so far stopped at every single water station and at toilets twice. Mile 9 was Surrey Quays which was crazy as well. I was worried I was going to miss my family just like I had missed Alan and my colleague. Then I turned the corner and saw them all stood there in their bright orange t-shirts, waving the banners they had made. If there is ever a moment in my life that I would want to relive again and again and again, it would be this one. I could hear them cheering and see them all waving and it was amazing. It was exactly what I needed to help me through the next bit. The moment can only last so long due to running past them – but it was the best 5 seconds of my life!

My friend Pete was due to be at mile 11, so I knew I had enough adrenaline from seeing my family to help me get to the next bit. Unfortunately I missed Pete and he missed me, so I pushed on towards Tower Bridge where I knew my next charity cheer point would be and also the halfway mark of the race. To my surprise I could hear my name being screamed so loudly, it had to be someone I knew and not someone who was reading my top. In amongst the crowds of people I could see my running club holding out a sign that said ‘MEL COX, DON’T BE A SUCKER’. It was excellent and really cheered me up when I needed it.

The first half of the marathon was pretty lonely. It was tough. Everyone was running their own race. The only friends I made was two guys who were picking up water bottles from the floor and sharing them with me… I know, yuk. Between mile 11 and 13 there was NO water. Both water stations had ran out. It was horrible in that heat. So all rules relating to personal hygiene and other peoples germs just went out the window. During my training I hadn’t got along with Gatorade drinks so wanted to avoid them on the day, but desperation kicked in as Lucozade was the only liquid being handed out and I took a bottle. This probably didn’t help my bad stomach.

The best bit was when I saw the ‘Water Aid’ sign and ran over to a group of people stood by it wearing ‘Water Aid’ t-shirts, before realising it was the charity, not an actual water aid. By now the 5.15 pacer had passed me and I had three options, try to catch up to where I should be, run at a reasonable pace to get a 5.15 (30 minutes longer than I had planned) or slow it right down and just enjoy the experience. I decided this was my first marathon and so I was just going to enjoy it.

Tower Bridge was like nothing I have ever seen before. Honestly, if Megan Markle was overwhelmed by the crowds who cheered her arrival at the Royal Wedding, then she has never experienced Tower Bridge during the London Marathon! It was amazing but also pretty scary. I then saw my charity and that was so nice. It reminded me why I was doing this, who I was doing it for. It reminded me that I HAD to finish.

Mile 13-18 was the worst but I ran it with a lady called Debs who was running for Arthritis Research as well. We really helped each other through. I lost her at Canary Wharf as I saw my mum and some friends. I stopped at this point and told them the amount of pain I was in and that I didn’t know if I could get to the end. But they encouraged me and told me they knew I would do it.

So I carried on and 2 minutes later I saw my friends from work, who went absolutely mad when they saw me. That was amazing. So I carried on and then I got chatting to a girl called Lucy who was also running her first marathon. She had entered the ballot and got in first time. We passed the 20 mile mark together and that was the longest distance we had both ever done. We ran together for a couple of miles and then I decided to run ahead.

I saw my family again at mile 23 and some of them ran with me (for about 10 metres) but that was lovely. Then we reached the tunnel along Embankment. Everything went silent, there were no crowds, just runners. As we got into the tunnels I could hear the crowds on the other side going mad and I just felt so overwhelmed and started crying. The tears wouldn’t stop. A really nice lady (I forgot her name) started talking to me, she really helped me. We ran together for 2 miles before she saw her family and stopped.

I carried on and saw my friends from work again who once again went mental when they saw me. I had just 1 mile to get through now and I knew I was there and I could do it. The Embankment crowds were even more crazy than Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge, it was mad. Words cannot describe what it was like. It was just insane. Everyone was so supportive, they were all screaming to cheer us on and push us through that final mile and so I ran… I had just conquered 25 miles but I still needed that sprint finish so I ran as fast as I could, using all the adrenaline and energy I could muster.

The signs read ‘600 METRES TO GO’, ‘400 METRES TO GO’ and ‘200 METRES TO GO’ all of which felt like they were spaced 26.2 miles apart from each other. I sprinted trough the finish and then was hit by an overwhelming feeling of pride.

As the medal was hung around my neck I couldn’t believe what was happening, or what had happened. For over a year it was all I could think about, all I talked about and all anyone could ask me about and now here I was having a medal hung around my neck. I had done it! I had trained at 5am most mornings and to 11pm some evenings, I had ran outside when it was freezing cold, I had lost toenails, experienced blood blisters, done bake sales, pub quizzes, charity bootfairs and music gigs, I raised over £4,500 and now I had done it, I had run 26.2 miles, the hottest London Marathon in history.

All of my finishers photos showed me puffy eyed, and red faced from the tears, but it was worth every single second. Every mile in training, every single second. Strangers were hugging me and congratulating me but it was like I wasn’t there. It was almost like an out of body experience. I sat down by a bollard (as there were no chairs at the finish) and before I could check my phone or make any calls I had to just sit and take it all in. So for about 5 minutes I think I just sat and cried to myself ha!

When I had composed myself the calls started coming in from family and friends who were trying to find me. The signal was terrible so I told them I would make my way to my charity after party and meet them there. I was met at the family meeting point by my friends from work who were waiting for me and they walked with me to the after party. I bumped into Joe, Danny and friends en route to the after party and met the rest of my family there. The charity cheered and clapped as I walked in.

Getting home was hard, my legs hurt so much. We had to make our way to St Pancras and then board the train back to Ashford. On our train there were several people with medals around their necks which was such a nice sight to see. We all shared stories about the day and congratulated each other.

When I came home Joe had decorated the flat with balloons and banners to say well done. Overall it was an experience I will treasure forever and am so grateful to have been part of. A year ago I couldn’t run 5km and now I have run the London Marathon! If you are reading this (firstly well done for getting this far through the essay) and have thought about doing the marathon but are not sure if you can… do it! Don’t let anything stop you. It will be the best day of your life.

4 days to go

4 days to go until the London Marathon… whaaaaat?! I don’t understand how time has gone so fast.

I’ve now hit my target which is just incredible. I am so close to breaking £4,000 (inc GA) and that is nuts. I can’t believe the amount of support I have received from friends, family and even complete strangers. It truly means the absolute world.

I don’t think I have ever felt this nervous about anything in my entire life. Every night I am struggling to sleep, then when I do sleep I am having the most vivid dreams. I’ve dreamt that I slept through the marathon, I have dreamt that I turned up to the wrong place and couldn’t get to the right spot. I have dreamt that my family missed me run past. I dreamt that I ran the marathon and couldn’t remember doing it. Then there is the butterflies, every day I am feeling the most intense nerves, even when I am not thinking about it!

This really is the biggest thing I will probably ever do in my life and I just can’t believe it is almost over. Last week my mum surprised me with two journals that have been inc circulation for the past few months, without my knowledge, amongst family and friends. The books were full of precious messages from loved ones to encourage me through the 26.2 miles. They are now the most precious things I could own and I’ll treasure them for the rest of my life.

People really have been so generous with their donations as well. I have received some big donations from people I have never even met! Not to mention some of the donations from my friends and family. I am just so overwhelmed. People have given whatever they could, even if they could only spare a few pounds and that is just so humbling.

Tomorrow I collect my race pack from the ExCel Centre in London. It’s just becoming so real! I am so paranoid about getting an injury or ill now. Everytime someone coughs or sneezes near me I give them the look of death. I am going to attempt one more run tomorrow to test out my running gear and then it’s show time!

The next blog I write will probably be after the marathon, so if you are reading this and haven’t yet donated, please give whatever you can:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MelCoxMarathon

Cya on the otherside!

Mel x

Lydd 20 Miles for London Marathon training

Today I took on the challenge of running 20 miles as part of my training for the London Marathon. I booked this race last year, knowing it would fall at a perfect time for my London Marathon training. I am so glad I did this with hundreds of other people as I think I would have really struggled if I attempted such a huge distance on my own around town.

When I did my 18 mile run, a friend joined me for 14 miles of it and the rest I did on my own. Not having any marshalls, water breaks, or an atmosphere of people cheering me on made the distance even more challenging. I think when you hit the half marathon point, anything extra is more of a mental challenge than physical.

I had put today at the back of my mind in the weeks leading up to the race because I really didn’t want to stress myself out thinking about it. The nerves definitely got the better of me before I left the house this morning. I felt sick and unsure if I would be able to finish the distance.

Things changed when I got to the race though. The buzz of seeing my friends really helped to get me psyched to race. When the race started and the music was going I felt ready to do the challenge. A lot of people who were there today were also training for marathons. It was great chatting to people along the route and that definitely killed some time.

Quite a few of my friends were doing the half marathon distance which took place along the same route. One of the highlights of the run was seeing those I knew running past me as they headed back along their half marathon route. Things started to go a bit downhill when I got to the point where the 20 milers headed off in a different direction. The fun of seeing the half marathon runners run past had ended and it was now down to me and my fellow 20 milers to get through the next 13 miles.

The next two miles were really tough, the scenery became a bit boring and the sun came out which meant I was battling against the heat. It was only when some of the speedy 20 milers started running past that things became a bit better again. I saw a few of my friends and highfiving each other as we ran past added some excitement and certainly killed some time.

The hardest bit of the race was after turning the corner for the home stretch at 10 miles. It had felt like the longest distance ever. I have run several 10 mile distances now, but that one felt by far the longest. At first the excitement of turning back was great, but very quickly it dawned on me that I had to do everything I had just done AGAIN.

At 12 miles I got chatting to a really nice lady called Kelly. We realised that we were both running the London marathon for the same charity, Arthritis Care and Research. Considering this is one of the smaller charities, it was so unexpected that we would ever run in to eachother.

Kelly was great, her phone was playing the best playlist of some of my favourite musicians; James Bay, P!nk, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Jess Glynn and so many more! She also came equipped with tissues, jelly babies and lucozade, so all of a sudden I felt better and safe. We both took on a bit of a walk/run pattern together and that made a really challenging few miles so much easier. At 17 miles I told Kelly to go on, my legs were aching a lot and I felt like I was pulling her back.

A couple of miles earlier we had got talking to another really nice girl called Hannah. Hannah caught me up at mile 18 and she was who I ended up finishing the race with.  We pushed each other forward for the last two miles. It was tough and painful.

I love a sprint finish whenever I do a race. As I turned the corner, I saw my mum and dad cheering me on and bolted to the finish line. It was pretty emotional. The crying almost effected my breathing, but running through the inflatable finish sign was just the best feeling.

1 Epsom bath, large Starbucks coffee, 2 Instagram posts and 3 episodes of The Good Place later and I’m feeling a bit better, however my blisters on my toes are very painful and my legs are throbbing in pain.

During the race, I remember thinking to myself ‘why am I doing this?!’ But nothing can beat the feeling of finishing a long race, seeing your family cheering you on and knowing you gave it your all.

Today really was incredible. I can’t believe I did it. I was much slower than I would have liked at 3 hours 54, however if I go at the same pace for the London Marathon then I should be fine to achieve my goal of a sub 5 hour.

14 things that have made marathon training a bit more enjoyable

I was fortunate enough to find out from my charity that I had a place back in June. Most people don’t hear until at least October so I guess I had a bit of a head start with my training. This allowed me a bit more time for trial and error and to figure out what helps me both mentally and physically. There are a few things I’ve discovered that make training that little bit easier/more fun:

1. Joining a running group

Due to work commitments, I can’t run with my club every week, but being part of one has really helped me. To have a group of like-minded friends who are all also training for a marathon or other running events makes it less daunting. There is always someone to ask for advice about running gear and different races and always someone to give you a kick if you’re starting to lose motivation. Everyone in a running group is (usually) really supportive and it’s a great way for making new friends.

2. Route planning
I find route planning before a run is the best thing to do. To know where you are running before you get there is just a bit easier for the mind. As you pass certain points it feels like you are ticking off the long list of things you need to pass before you’ve completed your run.

3. Treat ya’ self!

Running gear is expensive. However buying new running gear always hypes me up for a run as I can’t wait to wear it! Even if it’s some snazzy new touch screen running gloves, or a new headband, I think it’s important to treat yourself to new running gear where you can. You are training bloody hard, you deserve it.

4. Trial and error
Try energy gels, new shoes or new running gear on 10k runs or less, don’t use them on a long run day or race day until you know they are going to work for you. I made the error of trying energy gels on a 16 mile run. It was not pleasant.

5. Books

I’ve read a few running books that I recommend. They are true inspirational stories of others who have ran the London Marathon before. The books I have read are Run Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley, Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson and Don’t Stop Me Now by Vassos Alexander. Reading these books just makes you want to get up and go out for a run!

6. Strava
Strava is great for tracking your stats from running and comparing your time with past runs you’ve done of the same distance. It’s also interesting to see who else has ran a particular route before you and at what pace they ran it. If you haven’t heard of Strava, it is basically Facebook for runners/cyclists. I’ve tried RunKeeper, which is a similar model, but actually prefer Strava. I find the online running community on Strava is larger than RunKeeper and I find the app in itself a little easier to manage. It is free to use (unless you go Premium) and is a really great tool.

7. ParkRun

Oh, Park Run <3 Most towns/cities will have at least one park run. You can find one near you on their website.  It is free to sign up online and free to attend. You can print your personal barcode from their website and take with you for them to scan after your run. Most ParkRun events take place on a Saturday morning at 9am. After the run they send you an email with your time. It is great for self improvement as each week you’ll want to compete with yourself from the week before to try and improve your time. The first time I went to ParkRun I found it really daunting. Everyone has their own little circles and being a newbie is scary. Be bold and confident and introduce yourself! Everyone is so friendly.

8. Plan

It goes without saying, but plan! Decide what days you are going out and what days you’ll be resting during the week. If you know what days you are training, there is more chance you’ll stick to it and you will feel more prepared when you do it. I have been working with a great Personal Trainer in my area called Reece Edmonds from REPT Fitness. I pay £25 a session and each session is 1 hour long. Reece has planned all my weeks for me so that I am not over working or under working each week. I would definitely recommend this, if you can afford to do it. This is my trainer’s Facebook page.

9. Get involved

For the London Marathon in particular, there are events organised in advance of the marathon. These are there to help you with your training. If you are running for charity then go to any events your charity plans. If you live further out then it is hard to get to everything, but if you can then I definitely recommend going to meet your run team.

10. Enjoy your fundraising

Fundraising is really hard. It’s the bit you don’t expect to be hard. Some people who you think will support you just won’t! You can’t rely solely on donations from friends and family. This is such a huge thing and you want to raise as much as you can so plan some fun things, as disappointing as it may be when certain people don’t support you with what you are doing, don’t let that get you down. Pub quizzes, music gigs, bake sales. They are stressful, I won’t lie, but so worth it when they finally take place. It is a great way to get all your friends and family together. Enjoy it!

11. All the gear, no idea

Who knew running could be so expensive? It doesn’t have to be, but I think having better gear does help. I invested in a running watch. It was pretty pricy but having one is so much better than relying on my mobile. There is nothing more disappointing than finishing a long run and realising your phone didn’t record anything! I also spent out on a hydration pack for long runs as I find it so much more comfortable than carrying a water bottle. Some things are just worth spending the money on if it is going to make training a bit easier.

13. Instagram
I started an Instagram account last Summer to log photos of my journey. I have followed lots of other London Marathon runners and there is a whole online community who support eachother. It’s really nice to be part of that.

You can follow my page @marshmallowstomarathons

14. Pre Marathon Races

I have now done about 8 different races since I signed up for the marathon and I really recommend doing them. The atmosphere and the excitement of getting a medal really does help gear you up for the big day. After a race I am always full of energy and motivation. Besides, running long distances with others if much better than running on your own right? And you get a medal at the end! I think it is a good idea to mix your runs so you are not always running with others or always on your own. It’s good to do a bit of both.


So there you go. The things I have found helpful with my training so far! This may not help everyone, some people may have other ideas of what helps them. But hopefully it is useful!

Thank you for reading!

Living With Someone in Marathon Training (by Joe)

I know, I know. I’m not the one going through the hardship here. But still, there’s certain things you need to be prepared for if your other half decides to do something ridiculous- like run the London marathon for example. Mel’s doing a ton of training and I’m incredibly proud of her- but there’s things that you’ll face as the partner of a trainee that I for one wasn’t expecting.

The training

Ok, so I was aware that running 26.2 miles would involve some training. I think if it were me I’d need.. actually no, I’d never do it. But yeah, a lot of training is involved. Some of it very early. Training for something like this can’t just be done on a weekend, it has to be done before or after work too. Mel mixes this up. So some evenings I don’t get to see her if she’s doing a run or having a PT session. This isn’t too bad. I write a lot and evenings are normally when I’m able to be at my most creative. The 05:45 alarm clock that goes off a couple of times a week though- not so fun. Sure, some people get up at that time every day. This household is not one where people like that live. But basically, just be prepared to see much less of them whilst the training is going on. Be supportive about it and think ahead to the day the marathon is done when you’ll get them back again. And if you do start to get annoyed, just sit back and think “at least I’m not out running in this weather”; it really helps.

The Food

This will likely only have an impact on you if you share meals. Mel is now on a diet that even a rabbit would turn its nose up at. OK, it’s not quite that bad, but when you love steak and one of your friends on Instagram sends you daily pictures of some of the best food I’ve ever seen, well it become tiresome. You can handle this in a number of ways. You can cook your own stuff, although as I pointed out, the cooking time for meals would double (I mostly do the cooking) and the cost of food would jump up. If you’re fine with that, then you have no problem. I’m not fine with that, so yesterday I had a fish cake and some sweet potato mash. I was left with a feeling that I hadn’t really eaten anything. But, I also look at it as a chance to be healthier myself. With a wedding getting ever closer, it is a good time to lose some weight and at least I don’t have to go run x amount of miles before or after it. Whatever you do though, don’t complain about the meals. From personal experience, this can lead to a dramatic storm out of the room and complaints that you aren’t being supportive. Again, grin and bare it while trying to see the positives. You’re still putting in far less effort on a day to day basis than they are.

The, erm, well the farting

I remember when I was about 18 or so and I was in a relationship with someone whos sister used to do a lot of running. My girlfriend at the time told me how bad her sister smelt when she farted as a result of the excercise she was doing and the food she was eating as part of her diet. I recall thinking “at least I don’t have to deal with that”. Fast forward far too many years and now I’m dealing with that. This likely won’t be a problem that every marathon runner’s other half faces but in my case, I’m dealing with farts that make me jump at least three times a night. It’s barbaric. I was watching an action movie earlier today and I heard it over the TV-she was two rooms away. She was never like this before (mostly) and it started not long after her training began so I can only hope and pray that the two are linked. Basically, just grin and bare it. Leave the room if it gets too bad. I had to at 2am not too long ago. I’m hoping this side effect diminshes farly quickly after the marathon is complete.

There’s other things you’ll have to deal with. They’ll be tired a lot more so, certain activities, not be quite as enthusiastic as they once were. You’ll have to help with various fundraising events which can actually be fun, and you’ll have to be on hand to assure them that they won’t fail miserably. On average this is once a day, sometimes more. Oh and don’t forget to sponsor them – that’s definitely one way to get in the bad books. Speaking of which, here’s a link to her fundraising page if you have a little to spare. She’d appreciate it!

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/melcoxmarathon

But really, you don’t have to do too much more other than being there for them when they need someone to be supportive and reassuring. I can’t even imagine running to catch a train on time, let alone running a bloody marathon. With Mel, I’ve seen how much effort she’s putting into this and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Of course, her bodily functions of late have also made me a little scared of her, but above all else I can’t wait to see her complete it and get her medal at the end; she will 100% deserve it.

2017 highlights

2017 was mad. Just mad. It wasn’t easy narrowing down the highlights for this post as it was such a crazy and busy year, but I think below are my top favourite moments…

Dublin for St Patrick’s Day 🍀

In March myself and two friends took a trip to Dublin for their St Patrick’s Day carnival. This was such a fun trip. We stayed in an Air BNB. Everything was so overpriced, so all we could afford, that wasn’t 10 miles away from everything, was a room in a Polish family home. They were very nice and accommodating and didn’t mind that we were pre-drinking until 11pm and stumbling in around 4am each day.

We dressed head to toe in green all weekend, went to a lot of fun bars and pubs, whilst also doing the dutiful touristy activities and experiencing some traditional Irish culture.

London to Brighton 🚴


The first half of my year was spent mostly training for my London to Brighton cycle. Most weekends I was squeezing in long distance cycles across the county with friends. It made me appreciate the beautiful areas that surround Ashford. We cycled through the forests, past the sea, up cliffs, through wheat fields (Theresa May, eat your heart out).

Finishing London to Brighton was so rewarding. Somehow I managed ‘The Beacon’, which is the biggest, longest and most brutal hill EVER. I didn’t actually plan to cycle this, it actually happened by accident. It’s a cheeky hill. It starts relatively steep but manageable. So I didn’t actually know I was on it to begin with. It was only when I noticed everyone around me (even some serious looking male cyclists dressed head to toe in expensive lycra pushing very demeaning looking bikes) that I realised I was 1/4 up the Beacon. I spotted my friend half way up and she shouted some motivational words at me. It was adrenaline more than anything that got me up. When I got 3/4 of the way up, I decided I had come too far to quit and carried on until I collapsed at the top. It was the hottest day of the year and was such a challenge that day but the feeling at the end when we finished together was just incredible and quite emotional.

London Marathon place 🏃 


In June I found out I would be running the London marathon for Arthritis Care. This is a charity that means a lot to me as my mum suffers with it in both of her knees. I was both terrified and grateful when I received the call.

Since I got my place, my best friend and I have teamed up to fundraise together as she will be running for Mencap. We had a successful pub quiz, did two charity bootfairs, were featured in our local paper, I did some bake sales at work and best of all, we organised a music gig which was a huge success and we raised £800 between us.

Belfast 🤓


Every year there is a huge Arts Marketing Conference held by the association (AMA). It’s in a different city every year and this year it was in Belfast. During the day there are various seminars and some are really inspiring. Then in the evening there are organised social events where you can network with other like-minded individuals and put faces to names that you email on a daily basis. It was a fun few days and visiting Belfast was definitely a highlight of my year.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿


I work in the arts and I had never been to Fringe. I had also, until recently, never been to Scotland! So this year I decided to change that and my mum and I went to spend a few days at Fringe. Anyone who hasn’t done this should definitely give it a go. I really want to go back.

There is something for everyone. Edinburgh is a beautiful city and every corner of every venue, bar, club, closet is used for something different be it comedy, magic, plays, dance, theatre. There are also a lot of free shows. We saw so much in the time we were there. When we weren’t watching a show, we were exploring the city. I even took part in the Edinburgh park run along the promenade.

VFestival ✌️ 


The week after Fringe I was off to V Festival with my mum to see one of my musical heros, P!nk, who never fails to put on a show. I was glad my mum got to see her live with me. She loved it. There were some great acts across the weekend and we were quite lucky with the weather.

Reading Festival 🎤


Joe and I hired a car and drove to Reading for the day to see Eminem. This was my first time at Reading and it was massive. I barely saw much of the festival itself as we were only there for a day and it was so busy. We found a ‘safe area’ and stuck to it for most of the evening. We did get pretty close to the front for Eminem but claustrophobia kicked in, so we spent 20 minutes of the show trying to escape the crowds. We eventually found a great spot on the outside of the crowds which gave us a much better view and we could move our arms above our heads without taking out somebodies eye with our elbows.

My 1st half marathon 🎽

I took part in my very first half marathon in Canterbury for the Pilgrims Hospice charity. This was a tough challenge. The weather was unbearably hot. But it was so incredible. Finishing that race and seeing my family and Joe waiting for me at the end meant so much to me.

Iceland- our 4 year anniversary/proposal! 💍


In September Joe and I took a little trip to Iceland to celebrate 4 years together. I would recommend this country to anyone. We stayed in an Air BNB in Rekjavik but spent the majority of our time driving around the country in our hire car. I’ve never been somewhere so pure and so stunning. It was the trip of a lifetime, we saw waterfalls, we experienced the Northern Lights…. and we got engaged! Joe popped the question and of course, that was the biggest highlight of my year.

Theatre week 🎭


I had a crazy week where I watched not one, but three theatre shows! After a year and a half of waiting I finally went to see Cursed Child with some friends, which was just as incredible as I had hoped. I also got to experience The Book of Mormon again and took Joe who hadnt seen it before. I then saw The School Of Rock which was amazing. I had the pleasure of watching so many great shows last year. Other favourites include Aladdin, The Addam’s Family and The Curious Case Of The Dog In The Night time.

On the road with Sting 💼🛫


I then went on a crazy 3 day road trip with musical hero, Sting, for work. We visited 5 cities in 3 days; Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester and Liverpool. 3 days I’ll never forget.

Prague 🇨🇿


Straight after getting home from travelling the UK and Ireland with Sting I was onto another plane within 24 hours to visit the stunning Prague with my mum. It was cold, but it was beautiful. The Christmas markets were great and I have been craving Chimney cakes ever since.

New Years Eve 🎆
Joe and I had a perfect cosy night in for New Year. Now we are saving for our nuptials we decided to stay home and watch movies. It was lovely. Then at midnight I received a call from one of my best friends to say she was engaged and it was such a perfect way to end one year and to start another.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Mx

 

How I am fundraising for my London Marathon charity place

When signing up for the London Marathon, all I initially thought about was the physical commitment. The financial commitment didn’t really cross my mind. I didn’t anticipate that the fundraising would actually be a huge part of this challenge and at times it can be really tiring as well. Below are the fundraising things I have done so far and also what I still plan to do between now and the marathon. Hopefully if you are reading this and looking for fundraising inspo – this may help!

  1. Bake sales

Never underestimate the power of cake! I did a bake sale at work a month ago and was really surprised with how well it went down. If you work in a small team, then you could try organising one amongst friends and family.

A few colleagues offered to bake for me. We made over £100! As this was such a success I have planned another bake sale for next week which will be Bake Off/Halloween themed. Those who are baking are competing for the title of ‘Star Baker’ and will win a small prize. The Star Baker will be voted by everyone who purchases a cake. As the Bake Off final is the same day, its perfect timing!

2. Pub quiz

I did a pub quiz last month and so many friends and family members turned up. This was a joint event that I organised with my friend Fil, who is also running the London Marathon.

The pub quiz was on a Thursday night (almost all pubs will refuse to do this on a weekend without charging). The pub staff were very supportive on the night. They organised the Quiz Master, who gave up his evening in exchange for a few beers, the pub also helped out with other things such as decorating and selling the raffle tickets for us. On top of this they donated a couple of bottles to the raffle. Not all pubs will be as generous, I think we were very lucky.

The prize for the winning team was half of the kitty, however the Quiz Master asked the winning team if they wanted to donate their winnings back to the charity. The winning team was made up of family and friends, who were obviously happy to do this.

We also bought some chocolates and alcohol and ran a raffle on the night which was very popular. We split all the takings from the night between both charities.

3. Music gig

On 4th November my friend and I are holding a music gig. We contacted multiple bands and singers months ago and in the past few weeks a few have had better offers come up and dropped out, which is always a risk, luckily have now found replacement acts.

For ‘Music for Marathon’, I designed some leaflets and we have been handing them out around the town.

At the event we are also doing a few games like ‘guess how many sweets in the jar’ and we have put together a raffle with some great prizes. We contacted local businesses such as theatres, escape rooms, independent restaurants and shops and who came back and were very happy to offer us something. We did only hear back from about 5% of the people we contacted though – so be prepared for this if you decide to do something similar.

The event is being held at a music venue which is owned by a close friend, but most music venues will be happy to do something if you give them enough notice (3-4 months in advance).

4. Charity bootfair

A couple of months ago Fil and I did a charity bootfair. We sold things we no longer wanted and also put some posts on Facebook to see if any friends or family had anything they were happy to give away. We received many generous donations for this. On the day we decorated the stall with balloons our charities had sent us and also made some bunting and signs so people could see it was for charity. This went very well and we made £200.

Ahead of the bootfair we contacted the organisers and mentioned we would be doing it for charity. They allowed us to have the pitch for free.

5. Work sweepstake

Closer to the marathon I plan on running a sweepstake where people will pull from the hat a finishing time. Whoever gets the time closest to the time I finish will take half of the money raised, the rest will go to charity.

6. Social media

I am being careful not to bombard my social media followers with requests for charity, however every 1-2 months I am posting my link and usually I receive one or two donations from people. Most people will likely donate much closer to the event though.

If you enjoyed reading, you can subscribe to keep up with my future posts. The link to subscribe is on my homepage! 🙂

I know what I am doing for Halloween! #Ad

Last month a few friends and I were discussing what to do for Halloween this year. We went through various websites but it seemed difficult to find something to do that doesn’t have a big price tag attached to it. For instance, to go to a theme park event you’re looking at a cost of around £50 per person, plus you still have to get there and pay for food on top of the entry fee.

One of my friends has a 5 year old daughter so we’ve been looking into all options for something fun, accessible and cheap to do, during the day, that she can enjoy and that we can all enjoy with her.

This year, we will all be heading to Bromley town centre for their huge street event. There is so much to do for people of all ages, including pumpkin painting, sugar skull decorating and you can watch a professional carve pumpkins (I kind of wish I had ‘Professional Pumpkin Carver’ as my job title, just saying).
We are also going to try the trick or treat trail. There will be ten painted skulls hidden in the window displays of The Glades Shopping Centre, if you find them all you win a Halloween treat. I love hunting for things, I think I get more involved than the kids. I’m the same at Easter egg hunts, I won’t give up until I find them all. I actually once spent a day walking around the local shopping centre trying to find the seven dwarves for a Snow White pantomime competition. The competition was aimed at people who were a third of my age, but I took part anyway.

The thing thats really good about this event is that in the evening the space gets transformed into a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. After spending the day there, we will be going back to get changed and then the ‘grown ups’ will be going back dressed in our costumes for the evening activities.

There will be fire performers, a performance from the Voodoo Love Orchestra and adult face painting. All the food and drink for the event is being provided by Benitos Hat (I am yet to find somewhere who makes burritos as good as Benitos Hat do), there is going to be churros, street food, margaritas and mexican beer.
Entry is completely free for the entire event and Bromley is right on our doorstep, so why not! I am going to be going dressed as a sugar skull, so I’ll probably look like the mascot for the event.

For full details and to reserve your free place during the day or evening, you can visit www.yourbromley.com/DOTD

A reflection on my marathon journey so far

I’ve been training now for 6 months. There have been times where I’ve wondered why I’m doing this, when I can’t pull myself out of bed at 5am to go and train, times where as I’m running all I want is for it to be over. I’ve had times where I wished I could do better and I’ve had moments where I just want to quit, to withdraw my place from the marathon and say ‘I am not good enough’. Being a runner takes work and not just physically, a lot of it is mental work. But being a runner is an amazing, life changing experience.

When I say the words ‘I am a runner’ I say them with pride. I’m proud of my hobby and although I still have a long way to go before I am ready to take on London, I know I can do it.

On Sunday I took part in the Givaudan 10k which is my local 10k run. It is an annual event and this year it sold out. The whole Ashford running community came out to run Sunday and I felt so emotional and so proud to be running alongside so many amazing people. As I ran through the streets that I grew up in and past spectators who knew me, calling out my name, I felt so humble. I just can’t put into words how much I loved it.

I have met so many incredible people in the past 6 months. Similar to me, a lot of them lost a lot of weight and they’re now running to get fitter and better. This is what makes running such a good sport. I do it for nobody other than me. When I run, listening to music, it’s just me, my music and my thoughts and I feel like I can take on the world. I run, not to compete with others, but to compete with myself.

In April I couldn’t run 5km without stopping to catch my breath, now I am running through my home town with experienced runners and I fit in. As I look back on this incredible journey so far I just cannot believe what I’ve achieved. I ran one of the hardest half marathons in the UK. I did a 10mile run on a Thursday evening, after a long day at work, without stopping. I got a sub 27 pb at ParkRun just a few weeks ago. I’ve always been somebody to go out there and grab the bull by the horns. That’s just me. But out of everything I’ve done in my life, becoming a runner is the thing that’s filled me with the most pride.

I never set out to get into running. If I am being totally honest, I hated the idea of it. The idea of cars driving past as I’m sweaty and gross? No thanks. I used to run on the treadmill at the gym and I started to really enjoy it, as I saw the progress each time, I wanted to do more of it. It got to the point that whenever I went to the gym, most of the session was spent on the treadmill. I would imagine my family and friends cheering me on as I ran a big race. Then that vision became a vision of me completing the London marathon, then the next thing I know I’m signing myself up to do it. One of my best friends is a really experienced runner. She and I would go for runs in the morning. I was awful! I had to stop every few seconds. But she really inspired me and encouraged me and now we are both running the marathon next year together. I am so thankful to her for pushing me in this direction.

Training through the Winter is going to be tough. Cold, dark and early mornings. I’m dreading them. But I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.

Follow my journey in pictures on Instagram: @marshmallowstomarathons