Rebecca Merchant at the Great Birmingham 10k

Say whattt, a vlog?!

To be honest I will probably never do a vlog again, however I thought to gradually improve my video editing skills I need to edit more videos and after writing a lot of race recaps recently why not talk about the Birmingham 10k instead! In my vlog I cover my thoughts before and after the race and what was in my race pack. Although I forgot to include that my race pack also included a coupon for Compeed blister pads and a free swim in the Aston Uni swimming pool!

Thespending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.”

On Saturday, I jumped at the chance to see what Britain’s second city has to offer.

Image of the outside of the Boston Tea Party.

Getting off the train at New Street, I wanted some breakfast so wandered over to Boston Tea Party, situated on Corporation Street. Boston Tea Party recently introduced no single use cups in their cafe and use ethically sourced ingredients where ever possible. I was eating in and decided on the Sweetcorn hash, a vegetarian breakfast meal consisting of sweetcorn hashbrowns, avocado sauce, eggs and halloumi cheese washing it down with a hot chocolate. Yes it tasted as amazing as it sounds. Sound good so far, why don’t you check out Hotels in Birmingham, in preparation for your trip?

Image of the Sweetcorn hash, eggs and halloumi to the left. On the top right there was an image of the hot chocolate and the bottom right a variety of cakes.

Afterwards, I moseyed over to Digbeth. Digbeth is a ten minute walk from New Street Station and used to be where the factories were based but has regenerated into a unique, quirky area – home to the creative industries. Cow is a vintage shop in Digbeth that sells amazing, good quality vintage clothes and was my first port of call.

Cow vintage shop front filled with clothes and artwork.

Image of the inside of Cow vintage. Lots of clothes on hangers.
Image of an outdoor fountain with two plastic flamingos in.

Next is the Custard Factory an area in Digbeth, aptly named as it used to be a factory that made Birds Custard! I had a look at the artwork within the Zellig building situated there before going for a another hot chocolate at 7 sins and a mooch in The Clean Kilo – the UK’s largest zero waste supermarket. I had seen these zero waste places on the TV but never been in one myself so was interested in seeing what it was all about.

Image of the inside of 7 sins cafe. There are sofas, tables and a pencil installed on a wall.
Image of seven metal people suspended in the air.
An image with two graffiti images.

Digbeth is world known for graffiti with graffiti artists from all around the world coming to spray on Digbeth’s walls. I took the opportunity to take some snaps of the graffiti. The image on the right was created by Justin Sola.

An image of one building covered with graffiti.

My next location I visited is ThinkTank – Birmingham’s Science Museum, located at Millennium Point next to Birmingham City University. It is a museum for the kids but there are enough exhibitions for the big kids, like me, as well. I had a nice couple of hours browsing the exhibitions. There is a nice medical one, a Spitfire, lots of cars and steam engines. The exhibitions have a Birmingham and Midlands slant with exhibitions marked where ever possible. Heading back into town, I dropped into the Bullring, Birmingham’s largest shopping centre and got a couple of bits and pieces.

Three image montage. The first vertical image of some steam pumps. The top right is of a metal lightbulb and the bottom right is of a car.
Image of the outside of the Second Cup Coffee Company.

Before going home I quickly nipped into Second Cup Coffee Company, a Canadian coffee chain. It has such a cosy atmosphere in there. I often see people working on there laptops. I grabbed a vegan Oreo chocolate brownie for my partner before heading home.

Rebecca holding up her medal from the Great Birmingham Run 2017

I ran a half marathon.

I have officially joined the half marathon club!

On the 15th October 2017 I completed the Great Birmingham Run in a time of 2 hours 34 minutes. I am so incredibly proud of what I have achieved. I knew that I would be able to do it mentally but physically I wasn’t sure if my body would hold up. I know it is a cliche but I enjoyed every mile and it really didn’t feel like I had ran a half, it felt like a 10k! Today I am going to chat about my preparation leading up to the half, what I took with me, my thoughts on the day, how I am recovering and what my next challenge will be.

Why Brum?

I had decided on Birmingham for my first half, because it is a city where I live close by so there wasn’t much travelling involved. In the past year I had started spending more time in Brum getting involved in a couple of blogger events, a few concerts and eating out- so it seemed natural to try and run it. The Great Birmingham Run is run by the Great Run company. The Manchester 10k was also run by them and it was really well organised so I knew it would be well organised – large event (read here on my experience of running the 10k).

Preparation

Moving from 5k to 10k is a lot smaller jump than a 10k to half. When I had booked this challenge back in August, I was fully aware of this. I had the Stafford 10k and a Go-Tri Duathlon beforehand but knew I had to get the miles up. I started running in the week after work more but then I started to stop as I was getting a nagging feeling in my right knee and foot. Around the same time I also stopped going to circuits as my favourite circuit session was in Stafford and when you work in Wolves I was not just going through one town in one rush hour – I was going through two. It was just too much. As it was getting closer I was getting more panicked, the duathlon in Newcastle-Under-Lyme I completed in an 1hr 1min 22secs, I found it tough and my legs felt like lead.

In the final week going into the half marathon I decided to focus on my mind. I downloaded a brand new playlist (ironically called the survival playlist) memorised the route so I knew in my mind certain points I could work towards and just reminded myself that I could least to get to 10k as I had ran 10k before.

The day

With the race starting at 1.40pm I had plenty of time to get ready. I took with me my running belt, three race gels, my debit card, phone, headphones and two bottles of water. I had joggers and sports jacket over my shorts and race top. I took the gels every 5k and every water stop I drank all the water. I learnt a lot from doing the Manchester 10k earlier on in the year. I hadn’t drank all the water properly and I was so dehydrated at the end that I had a banging headache. So now I drink at every opportunity even if I don’t want any.

When I started I didn’t have a time in mind, I just wanted to complete the half. I started off a bit slower than usual because I didn’t want to start at full pace and knacker myself out.I felt so good all the way round, everyone was fantastic coming out of their houses and cheering people on. I always enjoy the local support.

I have heard that the course was difficult with the ‘hills’ but I didn’t find it that challenging at all. I personally think it is the perfect beginner half really.

The day after the run before

As I am writing this up my legs are stiff. I decided to take the day off so I could sleep and give my legs the chance to relax and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel afterwards. I am weary that staying still isn’t healthy so I will be giving myself the fun task of cleaning the house.

Were you at the half marathon or did you run the full? Are you planning on running one? Let me know below.

Blue vintage caravan selling cocktails

I went along to the Birmingham Seasonal markets in Brum today. It was located in Digbeth at The Bond Company. I had been to the winter market before and although it was very cold I had an amazing indian fish and chips and spiced apple drink. Part of the reason I went to the summer one was the Original Patty Men was going to be there and I heard good things about them so I was eager to try one.

What venders were there?

If you have been around the street food markets in Brum then you will recognise the vendors, as well as the O.P.M there was Bournville Waffle Company, Pietanic, The Middle Feast, Buddah Belly, Leave it to Esme, Low ‘n’ Slow, The Jabbywocky and Banh Cuon. There was also The Little Gin Company and The Bus Bar Company.

In addition to this there was an arts and crafts and food market indoors. Lots of vendors selling cakes and postcards which is always a great addition as you can take something away!  The vendors included: Peel and Stone ,BAKE, Pip’s Hot Sauce, Jam Vs Custard, Sarah’s Feisty Flavours, Buzzards valley, Barrel & Bone, Baladee, and The May Bakery.

The crafts included: Sarah Ray, Known as Unknown, Kimberley Simone, Dotmoth studio, Stained and Fused Glass Art, Curate, Hannah Stevens Illustration, Automaton Ceramics, Lily & Giraffe, How Brave is the Wren, Rolling Roses, Upsydaisy Craft, Tatie Lou, Kitty & Min, Lulu In Stitches, PrettyPolitical, CraftyBun Studio, The Peaky Squirrel

What did I eat?

Original Patty Men Burger

I had a strawberry and lime cider and Original Patty Men cheese burger. This will be an unpopular opinion but the cheeseburger was ok. I really did not understand what the hype is about. They do have a restaurant which I have been told I need to try so I am willing to give it another go. I also had shared a brownie from Bake which I have had before and was lush. Overall, it really was worth going for the £2 entry as there was so much on offer.

People at the Birmingham Summer Seasonal Food Market

 

 

Hannah Witton and Lucy Moon on stage live at the Glee Club, Birmingham

The other day I headed to Birmingham’s Glee Club to watch Doing It! live. I like Hannah Witton’s YouTube channel. I have said in the past on Twitter that Hannah Witton’s videos about sex should be shown in schools because they are educational and bloody funny, which is perfect for the hormonal 14-16 year olds. Therefore, it was a no brainer when I saw the tickets go online that I would have to go along to the show that was accompanying her new book. What was even better was when I found out that one of my other favourite youtubers Lucy Moon was joining Hannah on tour.

The show is set around the six stages of getting down to doing it. This is because as Hannah explains herself she talks about sex but not how to get down to ‘doing it’. Hannah took us through the realms of doing it which included education (a competition which mimicked drunkenness as two girls were blindfolded, spun around, and tasked with putting a condom on a banana, a great way in portraying how dangerous drunk sex can be). Live matchmaking where the audience filled out sheets about who they were looking for and added it into a box and Lucy picked them out and invited them onstage. Also a live version of drunk advice (where if you don’t watch Hannah Witton, it is her filming herself drunk dishing out advice).  The best part of the show I felt was the chatting up scene, which was really clever as Hannah talked about dating as being like a job interview as you are finding out if you are compatible with each other – like you would a job. Hannah also spoke about losing her viginity and read out a poem she wrote about it at the time. That was quite sweet.

The show was an hour long with a twenty minute break in-between. To be honest we could have done without the break (it was a school night and I had a twenty minute train ride and 30 minute drive ahead of me!). I was a bit older than the age range for the show (14 to 23) and I am, ahem, 26 but for £14 it was worth it. I think it was a smart move Hannah inviting Lucy along as a double act – I couldn’t have imagined even though Hannah is very talented it working in the format it did on her own or not with a fellow youtuber. If you like Hannah Witton or very funny tales about sex then you would have enjoyed the show.

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