Running: Brooks Brighton 10km

Brooks Brighton 10km 2012 & 2013

2012 vs. 2013

This time last year, I entered the Brooks Brighton 10km as my first proper race. I remember being absolutely terrified, to the point where I felt almost sick with nerves and hardly slept the night before. I’d run the distance a couple of times and I knew it’d take me about an hour, which meant I was thrilled to bits when I crossed the finish line in 56:47.

Fast forward one year and a few more races (including two half marathons) and I decided to run the race again to get measure of how much my speed has improved. In training, my 10km PB was 51:49 so I was hoping to come in at around the 50-minute mark… but I absolutely SMASHED last year’s time and crossed the finish line in 48:1o – knocking almost eight and a half minutes off my course record. BOOM!

The Brooks 10km is a brilliant race to run if you’re a first time racer. Around 2700 runners took part this year which means it’s great practise for getting used to the race environment if you’re training for a bigger event. Everyone is always really friendly, there was no pushing and shoving, the crowd were in high spirits and I got chatting to so many runners who’d travelled from all over the country to take part – including quite a few who had never entered a race before.

After two years I still firmly believe that running is awesome. And I cannot WAIT to get stuck into training for my first ever marathon with my fantastic women’s running club, FitBitch – though I’m more than a little bit terrified too. If you have any marathon training advice to share, please do leave a comment below – all training and race tips will be gratefully received!

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Elwood Tasting: Producer’s Dinner with Bodega Norton

elwood blog

Written by Alice Reeves

Last week, elwood launched a new event series in a new venue, holding their first Producer’s Dinner at Blanch House. Brighton’s original boutique hotel – just recently re-opened – this gorgeous Georgian terrace is a chic, stylish, friendly little place in Kemp Town; the perfect spot to showcase a vineyard with a pretty quirky story…

About Bodega Norton

It was an immense pleasure to meet with, chat to and hear from Bodega Norton’s representative Diego Surazsky, who captivated everyone with the tale of the winery’s unusual beginnings. Founded in 1895 by Edmund James Palmer Norton – an English engineer working on the railway connecting Mendoza to Santiago – it all began with a love story. During his time in Mendoza, Norton fell for and married an Argentinean girl, whose family presented him with some land as a gift. It was here that he decided to…

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Run, Fatgirl, Run: why running is awesome, even if you’re rubbish at it to start with

I was one of those kids with a permanent note to get out of PE, and the thought of willingly subjecting my body to exercise horrified me. Lessons that I couldn’t escape from usually involved me evading as much action as I could – being the goalkeeper in netball, making sure I was caught out immediately in rounders, or doing such painfully slow laps of the field that I got away with two when everybody else had to do three.

If you’d have fast-forwarded to my mid-twenties and told me that not only would I be choosing to do exercise without being held at gunpoint, but I’d actually be enjoying it, I’d have laughed and told you not to be so stupid. But secretly hoped it was true.

Last autumn, after a depressing visit to a doctor who told me I was overweight, I decided that instead of dieting – which sucks, let’s face it – I’d start running. It was something that didn’t cost anything, and that I could do on my own whenever it suited me.

The next day, I trundled along to Sports Direct and bought some cheap running leggings, a top and an armband for my phone. I did splash out on some rather expensive trainers from Sweatshop, but I’d been told that I’d do myself an injury if I didn’t have good shoes. And I’m never one to argue with the importance of shoes.

I thought it’d be best to ease myself in gently, so I downloaded the Get Running app for my iPhone. A brilliant way to get started and keep motivated, it’s definitely worth the £1.99. Following the tried and tested Couch to 5k training programme, the aim is to be able to run 5km without stopping after eight weeks.

Breaking training down into manageable chunks, week one sees you alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 minutes of walking. Easy, right? No. I had drastically underestimated not only how long a minute actually is, but my own level of fitness. Despite ten years of absolutely zero exercise, I set off at a sprint. Within ten seconds my body was screaming, within twenty I couldn’t breathe, and after a minute I felt like crying. And I had to do this SEVEN MORE TIMES? Oh God…

After a couple of weeks of intense sweating, turning beetroot purple, being unable to breathe and feeling like I was going to throw up, it started to get easier. I could feel my body becoming stronger, I bought some pumping music to run to and I wasn’t getting out of breath anymore. Within five weeks, I could run for 20 minutes solid.

My stumbling block was Christmas. Having reached 30 minutes of continuous running in November, along came December with its parties, mince pies, cakes and mulled wine. It was wet, it was cold, and it was frosty. I made up plenty of imaginary notes for PE. Old habits die hard.

Come February, I decided that I needed to get off my lazy bum and get running again. I began by testing myself to see how far I could do, starting off with ten minutes of running, five minutes of walking and ten minutes of running again. After a couple of weeks I was back up to 20 minutes – it’s astounding how fast your fitness improves.

Keeping motivated is hard when you’re running by yourself – especially when it’s dark, or rainy, or you’re hungover, or all of the above. When I’d got myself back up to running 5k in roughly half an hour, I joined FitBitch Running Club in Brighton on a training plan to get my distance up to 10k.

Despite the fact that my body feels wrecked after every training session – these ladies are seriously tough – I’m enjoying running with a group far more than doing it solo. The main difference is that when you feel like you want to die, there’s always someone that looks just as exhausted as you do and somebody else spurring you on.

Getting guidance from a running coach has also taught me how to look after my body better and prevent injury. After some serious jip with my shins and paranoia that I’d somehow shattered my bones beyond repair, it turned out that I just wasn’t stretching my calves out properly. Oops.

I’m signed up to the Brooks Brighton 10k in November – so there’s no going back now – and I’m thinking about doing the Brighton Half Marathon. I’m fairly sure that I still go bright purple when I run – drawing sympathetic yet encouraging looks from passers-by – but I don’t care. My stress levels are lower than they’ve ever been and I’ve shed an entire dress size. And I’m still drinking just as much wine as ever. Result.

Event Review: Elwood Wines’ Summer Tasting

Elwood Wines Summer Tasting at Lighthouse

(c) Elwood Wines

Last month saw the showcase of Elwood Wines summer collection at Lighthouse. Wine-lovers and business folk from all over Brighton gathered to taste a fantastic range of 47 reds, whites, rosés, ports, sherries and cognacs – including some incredible home-grown wines from Sussex’s very own vineyards.

As well as a plethora of wines to suit every palate, La Cave au Fromage were there to showcase their sensational selection of cheeses; while the wonderful Hove-based Chocoholly brought a devilishly delicious table full of hand-made chocolate delights.

Adding an element of fun to proceedings – as if tasting almost 50 different wines wasn’t fun enough – Karl and Tracey organised the Vinolympics to inject a little healthy competition between attendees. Unfortunately this didn’t involve us performing gymnastics on the serving tables or swimming through pools of Pinot Grigio – instead we had to rank six wines out of 20 and guess which was the most popular of the evening.

Chocoholly

Chocoholly’s table of treats.

Alas I didn’t win the top prize, but did manage to pick out that the Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc 2010 – grown right here in Sussex – was well worthy of the gold. In fact, my personal picks of the evening were mainly English wines. Here are a few of the bottles which I enthusiastically circled on my list and ended up treating myself to:

Foxwood Dawn Picked Viognier, Languedoc 2010 (£7.95): Medium-bodied white with characters of summer flowers and citrus fruit – fantastic value at less than £8. Elderflowery and refreshing, I’m looking forward to cracking this one open.

Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc, West Sussex 2010 (£14.95): Served on board the Royal Barge during the Queen’s Jubilee flotilla, this is a wine deemed fit for royalty. Think pears, apples and crisp orchard fruits – perfect for summer picnics. Oh, and it was the Vinolympics winner!

Nutbourne Vineyards Bacchus, West Sussex 2010 (£13.75): If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll LOVE this. With summery notes of cut grass and gooseberries combined with peaches and orchard fruits, this is a bottle well worth spending that little extra on.

Nutbourne Vineyards Sussex Reserve 2010, West Sussex, England

Nutbourne Vineyards Sussex Reserve 2010. My favourite!

Nutbourne Vineyards Sussex Reserve, West Sussex 2010 (£9.95): Blend of Bacchus, Huxelrebe and Schoenburger. Deliciously aromatic with zesty citrus notes on the nose, a supple creamy texture and racy acidity. Probably my favourite wine of the night.

The Exhibitionist Merlot, One Chain Vineyards, Western Australia 2008 (£9.00): Packed with super-ripe red berry flavours, this is one of the best Merlots I’ve tasted in a while. Easy-drinking and great value at less than a tenner, this is a red that benefits from being slightly chilled.

Mompertone, Prunotto 2008 (£12.95): Loved this wine from the second I tasted it. Great complexity on the nose with notes of plum, cherry, coffee and peppery spice with a deliciously plump taste. Will most likely be saving this for a tender, rare sirloin steak.

Lo Tengo Malbec, Mendoza, Bodegas Norton 2011 (£8.95): Being extremely partial to a good Malbec, this is a good value wine from one of Argentina’s most renowned producers. Full-bodied and spicy but still quite fresh, you can’t go wrong for this price.

Swishing is the new shopping…

Like most women, my wardrobe spends most of its time being 50% full of stuff that either: a) I’ve only worn once, b) I have never worn or c) I bought because it was a total bargain but doesn’t suit me OR go with anything I own. While a good number of these clothes end up at the local charity shop or in the recycling bank across the road, most are just too damn nice to give away.

The solution? Swishing! Not only does it mean I can get rid of the aforementioned articles safe in the knowledge that they’ll be taken home by someone who’ll cherish them, but I can swap them for stuff I actually DO want. It’s a total win-win, and fabulous fun.

Brighton’s My Swish was set up by Sarah Maddox and Leila McKellar in order to help women across the South East with the same dilemma as mine. As well as bringing swathes of fashion-loving women together to drink tea, eat cake and cleanse their wardrobes; these charity-linked events are good for the planet and the soul.

How it works

First, you need to collect up all of your unwanted clothes, bags, jewellery and shoes, then chuck away any that you’re pretty sure nobody would want. You know that diamanté-studded denim stuff that was cool in the ’90s? Yeah, that. The same goes for that well-worn Primark T-shirt.

When you check in your pre-loved bits ‘n’ bobs, you’ll be awarded either 10, 20 or 50 points per item depending on quality and label; so the better the things you bring along, the more swishing points you get to spend on new stuff. Result!

Once you’ve checked in your clothes, there’s around an hour-and-a-half before swishing starts as everything gets sorted – that means you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and some cake (included in your ticket price) while everything gets sorted out and priced up.

As soon as the call to start swishing goes out, it’s an every woman for herself frenzy. Within minutes the rails are empty, but there’s no need to despair. As people try stuff on and reject it, it all goes back out there. The changing area is awash with women dishing out compliments whilst doing a remarkably good job of masking their jealousy at stuff they’ve missed out on – it’s also a great place to lurk if you want to nab the unwanted items before they head back to the public domain.

After the first My Swish event I went along to, I came away with two pairs of shoes, two dresses and a handbag; this time around the total went up to two more pairs of shoes, two more dresses, a cardigan and a golfing jumper. Much cheaper than a weekend shopping trip would’ve cost me, and I still got my “look at all my pretty new things” fix.

If you don’t spend all of your My Swish points in one go, just bring your little card along with you next time and carry your swishing currency over to the next month. So there’s no need to worry about not getting your money’s worth.

Sound like fun? Make sure you don’t miss out on the next Brighton swish at The Blind Tiger Club on Sunday 1st April. Tickets are only £6.50 in advance, 10% of which goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. See you there ladies!

Bookstock Event: Ghost Stories at The Grand, Brighton

What? Ghost Stories at The Grand Hotel with Rob Marks, author of The Ghosts of Brighton’s Lanes

When? Sunday 12th June 2011, 7pm

Where? The Grand Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton

Come along to the stunning candlelit Regency Room at The Grand Hotel for an evening of ghost stories with Rob Marks – actor, entertainer, storyteller and author of The Ghosts of Brighton’s Lanes.

For many years, Rob divided his time between teaching theatre studies and entertaining. For seven years he ran the popular ‘Ghost Cruise’ in York, which is reputed to be England’s most haunted city.

Always a big fan of Brighton, Rob moved to the city in 2008 after researching and scripting ‘The Ghost Walk of the Lanes’. A familiar face around the City, Rob performs the walk around Brighton’s most haunted quarter for eleven months of the year in the guise of the mysterious, yet endearing Victorian character, Silas the Ghost Walker.

Rob also writes regular features and reviews for the Brighton Visitor magazine and is an active member of the Brighton Tourism Alliance. Last year Rob’s book, The Ghosts of Brighton’s Lanes, was published. This modest tome elaborates on many of the haunted places, buildings and taverns in the Lanes and has proved a popular seller with locals and tourists alike.

Rob is now moving into performing in-house candlelit ghost nights, a Jack the Ripper night, Victorian days for primary school pupils and is currently working on a book of ghost stories from England’s most haunted cities…

Rob’s book, The Ghosts of Brighton’s Lanes will be available to buy on the evening.

All profits from this event will go to The Variety Club children’s charity.

Bookstock: the first ever Brighton Book Festival

(c) Sian Beeton

Along with a fantastic group of other Brighton-based book lovers, I’m very excited to be working on bringing to fruition the first ever Brighton Book Festival — ‘Bookstock’.

From Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th June 2011, we’ll be delivering a ton of book-themed events in venues throughout Brighton & Hove.

So why have we named it ‘Bookstock‘? Well, because we want to deliver a friendly, fun festival with a 60s Woodstock vibe, celebrating our love of the written word and bringing book lovers together to talk, listen and laugh. Our aim is to combine everything that’s wonderful about Brighton with all that people love about books.

The events already planned for Bookstock include quizzes, discussion groups and talks by authors covering children’s stories, arts and crafts, non-fiction, 21st century reading, poetry, ghost stories and much more.

We’ve got local authors including Claire Carpenter, Rob Marks and Isabel Losada coming along to entertain and impart their passion, enthusiasm and wisdom. As we confirm more events, we’ll add them to our events listing.

Want to get involved with Bookstock? Here’s how you can help out…

  • Volunteer – we need lots of help, from running individual events to general promotion
  • Sponsor Bookstock – we’ve got various sponsorship packages available at different levels
  • Come along to a Bookstock event… and tell your friends all about it!
  • Buy merchandise – mugs and badges coming soon…

Here’s what Ian Jones, our Overlord/Festival Director says:

The team behind Bookstock all have an amazing passion for reading, book discussions and for Brighton. At Bookstock, we want to see happy book people engaging with other happy book people and raising some money for worthwhile causes as well. You know that feeling that you get when you’ve had a really great conversation about a book? Your mind is just alive. If we can give more people the chance to have those experiences, and also meet others and find new books and authors… well that would be superb.

Visit our website at brightonbookfestival.com

Follow us on Twitter @btonbookfest