A TOPP WEDDING: Asking the Bridesmaids

When we got engaged I already knew exactly who my bridesmaids would be (read about them here) and couldn’t wait to ask them to play a part in our special day. However, I had one bridesmaid in New Zealand, one in Canada, and one travelling through India. While I was ridiculously lucky to catch them ALL on skype (even Natalie who randomly was in wifi in India when I messaged her) to share the news of our engagement, I knew I wanted to do something a little different and special to “ask” them to be my best girls.

I spent hours trawling sites like etsy and pinterest, looking for the perfect gift or card. Everything seemed either too soppy, or too tongue in cheek/ brash for me. I had come across the idea of putting together little boxes with treats and letters which I quite liked – but postage costs and customs restrictions were out to get me (who KNEW, but you can’t send things like nailpolish back to New Zealand due to various security risks!).

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

I decided that a nice card would have to do, and I found these gorgeous ones online which I could download for free – and they were just the right colour scheme as well. I started writing a letter introducing the girls to each other – they are all friends from different areas and stages of my life and hadn’t met before!

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

I printed some pictures of dress ideas and colour palettes that I liked, to include in the envelope too.

Suddenly Jase had to take a whirlwind trip back to New Zealand, and with two days notice I realised I COULD do my little gift boxes after all! I raced to Boots for nailpolishes and mini treats, hit Paperchase for gift boxes, ribbon and tissue paper, and finally M&S for some sweet goodies. With the time pressure on to get the boxes together and in his suitcase it actually meant I made decisions really fast – rather than spending hours and hours second guessing what to include. The boxes winged their way to New Zealand…and I sat back to wait for the girls to receive them.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

Here’s the items I used and what I included in the “Will you be my maid” boxes:
Black square box from Paperchase
Heart tissue paper to line the box from Paperchase
Ribbon to tie the boxes from Paperchase
Gift tag to label the boxes from Paperchase
Free printables “will you be my bridesmaid” from Love vs Design

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

Inside:
Heart chocolates from M&S
Mini bags of Percy Pigs from M&S
Mini heart tissues from Boots
Soap & Glory Handcream mini from Boots
No 7 Nailpolish from Boots

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

Letters:
The Girls – a breakdown of who they each were and how our friendship had developed over the years (you can read an abbreviated version here)
The Day – I included the details that I knew about the venue, the date and time, the way I envisaged the day would run, the vibe and theme
The Dress – I outlined my thoughts and expectations around their dresses. I’ve left it in their capable hands to choose their own, within a certain colour palette
Your Role – I wanted to be clear from the get-go about when and where I would need them on hand, and what I would need their help with (especially planning a wedding from overseas)

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Box

While Laura received her box as soon as Jason landed in Wellington (and screamed YES so loudly I could hear her from London!) I had to wait a week for the box to reach Natalie (now in Auckland) via NZ Post. It was another 6 weeks before Aleisha returned from travelling around South America, and I had my fingers crossed she would say yes. After a week of her being home and hearing nothing, I finally asked her if she had received the box (all the time, cursing Jason for not remembering if he had addressed the package correctly!) …and she went on the hunt. Finally a courier package was unearthed from the corner of her parents study, where it had been put for safe keeping and forgotten about. With a final “I can’t wait!” text – my trio of girls were locked and loaded! Hooray!

How did you, or would you, ask your friends to be your bridesmaids? Have you ever been asked to be a bridesmaid yourself?

The Run Down – September

My monthly Run Down showcases new products, studios, classes, races or concepts in health, fitness and nutrition that I have got on my radar. Let me know if there is something specific you would like to see here. Got a product/ class/ race/ concept that you want included? Get in touch.

OKOBAY COCONUT WATER ICE

Okobay Coconut Ice

I’ve blogged before about how nuts I go over anything coconut – and it was no different when I was given the chance to try the Okobay Coconut iceblocks. Made of Whole 30 compliant ingredients, I was pretty happy to have a few of these tucked in the freezer to come home to on the hot sweaty summer days. Delightfully refreshing and not overwhelmingly sweet, the coconut flavour isn’t too strong – instead it’s cooling, hydrating and very more-ish. Unfortunately the iceblocks come in packs of three, which makes sharing them out evenly rather hard (but you can bet on who got the last one!).

Okobay Coconut Water Ice are available from selected stores in the UK including Tesco and Wholefoods. Click here for stockists.  

JUICE ME
Last month I was lucky to attend a very cool bloggers event hosted by Curry’s in associated with Phillips Juicers – where we got to try out making our own juices. I’ve been regularly having coconut milk based smoothies for a while now, but I have never tried juicing so I found the evening really interesting. I liked how Derry Temple, a PT and Nutritionist from Urban Kings Gym presented the the pro’s of juicing – such as getting your 5+ a day, a quick way to ramp up antioxidants and vitamins in your diet; but he ALSO talked about the con’s too – like missing out on the fibre of the fruit and veges, and creating blood sugar spikes from the increase in fructose.

Currys Introjuicing

We were then let loose on the Phillips juicers and given free reign to put whatever we wanted into our juice – I threw in cucumber, pineapple, blueberries, spinach and an apple. It was delish – but a little sludgey looking, so I clearly need to work on my fruit/vege colour combinations!

Currys Introjuicing

We were lucky to receive a juicer from Curry’s and Phillips after the event, so I am really looking forward to adding a regular juice into my diet. I think that especially with winter coming up it will be a great way to add in extra bug-fighting immunity-boosting ingredients – maybe something like carrot, ginger and orange! Yum!

RACE ME UP – EALING HALF MARATHON

Despite already being registered for ALL the races possible in September, there always seems to be room for just one more. Rated as one of the top half marathons in the UK, I couldn’t say no to heading along to the Ealing Half Marathon on Sunday 28th September – plus the bling is pretty epic!

Ealing Half Marathon

If you fancy a last minute half marathon too, then enter using the code TwitEHM2014 and you will go in the draw to win a Ealing Half Marathon T-shirt and hoodie! Already entered? You don’t have to miss out on the prize – just tweet the below for the chance to win too!

On 28 Sep, I’m running the UK’s Best Half Marathon @EalingHalf. Enter today & #RunEalingHalf too http://www.sportsystems.co.uk/ss/event/EalingHalfMarathon2014

RUN OR DYE

Sadly one event that I can’t fit in the diary is the upcoming RUN OR DYE (London, 27 September). I had so much fun at The Color Run earlier in the year (read my top 10 tips here) that I would have relished the opportunity to cover myself in colour bombs again while jogging a fun 5k with friends. These races are so much fun – they should be on everyone’s must-do-list!

MostColorfulMostFun-NEW

I have TWO FREE entries to give away to YOU though – valid at any of the upcoming Run or Dye races across the UK. There are some great locations still to come including Nottingham, Liverpool, Southampton, Guildford and Oxford. Simply enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Run or Dye

You can also use the promo code: SIMPELLE to get £3 off your entry if you can’t wait.

What’s on your Run Down right now?  

RACE RECAP: Spitfire Scramble 2014

In the post Adidas Thunder Run come-down I literally had to sit on my hands to stop myself from signing up to MORE MORE MORE team trail races. It seemed like there was a plethora out there, just calling out my name – Equinox 24, Helly Hansen Beauty and the Beast, Berghaus Trail Chase… Luckily I already had one in the diary – the inaugural Spitfire Scramble. 

Spitfire Scramble

Rewind a few months ago and I had seen a competition to win a VIP entry to Spitfire Scramble on facebook. I encouraged the Team Naturally Run girls to enter for a place with me, and then promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t until I was sunning myself by a pool in Greece when an email pinged into my inbox from the organiser Danny saying “you’ve won!” that I remembered. It looked like Team Naturally Run was going to the ball (errr…24 hour trail run) after all!

Spitfire Scramble

Team Naturally Run – ready to boss the Spitfire Scramble

With Spitfire being held in Essex, it means that the venue was easily accessible via the tube – so bright and early on Saturday morning I rode the district line end-to-end (and now I can tick that off the list and NEVER do it again). I met up with my fellow team mates – Emma, Becs, Katy and Jen had been part of the stellar Adidas Team 2 at Thunder Run, and we had newbies Beki, Nikki and Charlie joining us.

Spitfire Scramble

My Purple tent from Mountain Warehouse – it’s fab! 

With our tents up, fab Crewroom kit on, we started to talk strategy and made a vague roster of who would run and when. After a quick race briefing, the horn went – and the race kicked off! While Becs sped around the course – the rest of us proceeded to lie around the campsite, eat, catch up, and foam roll. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Spitfire Scramble

Becs, Nikki, Charlie, Katy, and Beki all completed their laps and we were doing well. With the course coming in at 5.8miles (9.4kms), and the course being reasonably flat – it meant that we were well under our 1hr-per-lap target. Beki passed the baton to me and I headed off across the grass, interested to check out the course that the girls had described to me.

Spitfire Scramble

Speedy Becs taking on lap 1 

Hornchurch Country Park is just lovely! I ran across wide open fields, along tarmac paths, past a pond with geese, and along gravely trails. There was zig-zag hill (where you could have easily cheated and taken a short cut – but by the time I registered the short cut was there I had passed it anyway!) which gave you wonderful views back towards the London skyline.

Spitfire Scramble

Nikki coming through on her first lap

A steady rise kept your legs awake for the rest of the course, as did a few gates and bridges that you had to cross or step over. The final 1.5kms had you running across a wide open ridge where you could look down and see the campsite briefly, before (hurrah!) you popped in to the trees for a short downhill blat (too short!)…and suddenly you were back in civilisation, catching sight of the portaloos before turning on to the home straight.

Spitfire Scramble

Charlie smiled the entire weekend! 

As I mentioned – the course was a LOT flatter than Thunder Run, but I kind of found it a bit more boring too. There was plenty to look at  – but I did really miss the dodging and ducking of the technical trails. There were only just over 200 runners taking part in the event this year, so you could go for miles without seeing another person in front of you or behind you. The marshals were GREAT, but sparse, and there were plenty of places that you could have gone the wrong way – it was like a treasure hunt trying to spy the next faint arrow on the ground, or a bit of tape flying from a tree. I hope for next year that a few more marshals stations are put in place – especially at night.

Spitfire Scramble

Me finishing off my first lap

I handed the baton off to Jen and raced straight to the one thing I had been dreaming of the entire 9.4ks – Lissy’s dark chocolate banana bread (recipe on her blog here). It was AMAZING. With Horchurch Park being a reasonable distance to central London – we were so lucky to have supporters come out to visit us (and bring foodie treats) – thanks Lucy and Glen, Lissy, and Laura! You guys are superstars and we really appreciated it!

Spitfire Scramble

Spitfire Scramble

Lucy with her fab sign! 

As darkness fell we all kitted up with our new super dooper headlamps (thanks LED Lenser). Having run one lap in the daylight, I was a little nervous about taking on the course on my own – so we refined our strategy to double up. Beki and Nikki headed off together, Katy ran one alone and then a lap with me, and then Jen and Emma doubled up together too.

Spitfire Scramble

Headtorches on

Because we had made up so much time, my 2am lap crept up and at 11.30pm I was waiting in the cold for Katy to come through and join her for a lap. Thank you to those who were up on twitter and kept me from going to sleep! Our campsite was dead quiet as everyone was trying to catch some sleep, and I felt terrible having to wake Jen up to let her know she needed to be prepared for the next lap. Katy crossed the timing mat, I joined her by her side, and we headed off in to the darkness together.

Spitfire Scramble

I’d been having a bit of a problem with my right knee for a few weeks prior to this event – I thought I had just bruised it at the River Rat Race (I knew it wasn’t ITB as I had had that before, this was different) but as soon as I started running on this lap I knew something wasn’t right. Katy and I took it slowly together – our conversation distracting me from the pain in my knee.  We power walked up zig zag hill, but it was actually easier to just keep going than to stop-start with running and walking. I really wanted the lap to be done, and with the last few km’s I was doing a weird limp-shuffle-run. The stillness of the night was just stunning though – I tried to take it all in. You really do feel invincible when you are out on the course, all alone (apart from Katy huffing and puffing beside me!) and you can see the stars, the lights of the city, and there is only the beam of your headtorch in front of you.

Spitfire Scramble

Jen passing the baton to Emma

I limped back in to the campsite, handed off the baton to Jen and Emma, and hobbled my way straight over to The Flying Physio tent. Jason was amazing – he had been at work all day, and was still up at 1am! He prodded my knee a bit, confirmed it was patella tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon which runs over the kneecap) and taped me up. He said we should reassess in the morning as to whether I could do my third lap (he was reasonably positive!) but I knew I was 100% out.

Spitfire Scramble

Whomp whomp. Patella probs 

I told the girls that were awake that we were going to have to rejiggle our roster as I wouldn’t be able to do another lap. Around that time, Jen and Emma returned – Jen also was in bad shape and didn’t think she could do any more laps. It was in the dead of the night that our teamwork really shone. Becs (who was nearly delirious from no sleep) headed out on her third lap at 2am. Charlie was woken up early, hours before she thought she was needed and told to get out there and run – and she did, no questions asked. Beki ran a lap, and then Charlie turned around and went out on the course again, and then again – completing an epic 5 laps with barely any sleep!

Spitfire Scramble

Katy finishing her lap in style

Spitfire Scramble

Beki coming home feeling strong 

As the sun rose, and our weary and (in my case) broken bodies emerged from our tents, we realised we were well ahead of achieving our goal of 24 laps in 24 hours. We were now at a point that we could continue running if we wanted to, but we could also just stop, we didn’t have to continue, we had nothing to prove to ourselves any more.

Spitfire Scramble

Emma flying across the finishing mat

But the determination and strength of these ladies shone through – one by one they stepped back out on the course, with Nikki and Emma walking the last lap together. As the clock clicked over the 24 hours there was no epic nail biting emotional finish – instead, as Nikki and Emma came around the final corner on to the home straight we gathered as a team and limped, hobbled, jogged, (and in Charlie’s case) strutted our way across the finish line together!

Spitfire Scramble

The icing on the cake was that we won our division – first team of 8 women – which meant we got trophy’s!

Spitfire Scramble

There’s the teeny tiny detail that we were the only team of 8 women that competed, so we kind of won by default, BUT laps & time wise we still ranked in the top 50% of all competitors – something we were pretty damn proud of.

Spitfire Scramble

With tents and sweaty kit packed up, we jumped on the tube and celebrated the way all champions do – by drinking prosecco out of our trophies. Winners.

Spitfire Scramble

Spitfire Scramble will be back in 2015 so make sure you register your interest – it was a fab event this year, and will only get bigger and better!

Thanks so much to Danny and the team at Spitfire Scramble for choosing Team Naturally Run as your VIP winners, and making our weekend so wonderful. Thanks to Run Active for the shoes, LED Lenser for the headtorches, and Crewroom for our fab kit. Thanks to Mountain Warehouse for my tent (second use this year!). Thanks to Julie and the team at Freestak for looking after us. And a BIG thanks to the girls in Team Naturally Run who were total superstars – I had such a fun weekend with you all!

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