14 Races To Tick Off The Bucket List

    Not gonna lie, I mostly enjoy doing races for the medal afterwards. And the sense of achievement, I guess. They’re always fun and it’s great to see the variety of people that turn up. It’s also great doing a run in a new place and seeing new things! I keep spotting races that sound awesome, so here’s a little race bucket list of ones I’d love to do!

    Tough Mudder | Race Bucket List

    Photo: Gameface Media. Thanks to Jodi from Tough Mudder for sending!

    Tough Mudder

    If you’ve never heard of Tough Mudder before (have you been living under a rock?!) it is basically just an obstacle course. Except it’s pretty tough. And muddy. Currently I’m pretty sure I’d have the stamina, but I don’t have the upper body strength that would be really useful with this race… I really want to do one though!

    Race For Life Pretty Muddy

    In the same vein as above, I’d love to do the Race For Life Pretty Muddy. Similar to the Tough Mudder, only a lot easier I imagine! I haven’t been able to do this yet because of the dates and being busy each year, but I will get to one eventually!

    Paris Half | Race Bucket List

    Photo: Jon Furniss. Disneyland Paris Press

    The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

    Who wouldn’t want to run through Disneyland Paris, let’s be serious now. Imagine running through the streets of Disney, passing the castle and knowing that the characters are dotted about to see as your run progresses. It just sounds like a dream, and I’d get to run through gorgeous countryside too. I’d love to try the American ones too, but let’s hit Paris first eh? There is a medal that you can get for doing both the US and Paris halves in one year!

    The Great Wall Marathon

    Because how amazing would it be to run along the Great Wall of China? Plus there’s the option of shorter distances, like a half or 8.5k. I’ve always wanted to see the Great Wall though, and it makes sense to get both things done in one. Obviously. Will it ever happen? Who knows.

    Lanzarote Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

    I’ve been to Lanzarote twice, and I took my running shoes the second time so I could go explore. I loved running along the coastline and finding new places and I think I’d like to go back to complete an organised race. It’s a lovely country and hey, I could gorge on a delicious Paella afterwards. What’s not to love about that?

    Midnight Sun | Race Bucket List

    Photo: Truls Tiller. Thanks to Midnight Sun Marathon for sending!

    Midnight Sun Marathon

    This takes place in Norway, starting in the evening time. Yes, that photo above was taken at NIGHT TIME. Amazing right?! The time of year it takes place means that the sun doesn’t fully set, so I’d be running at night time but in ‘daylight’! They have a 10k and half-marathon distance which is more likely to be the ones I’d choose, rather than marathon. Cool right? I’d also just love to visit Norway so you know, killing two birds with one stone and that.

    London, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York & Tokyo Marathons

    The World Marathon Majors. Is this ever going to happen? I’d say more unlikely than likely but hey, it’s up there. London and Boston are the ones I’d like to do the most – Boston even more so after watching Patriot’s Day recently. It just seems like an amazing place, with super supportive residents and a great outlook on life. But yeah, I’d really love to hit the 6… Just look at the finisher medal!

    Race The Train

    I only discovered this quite recently, but Race The Train sounds like a stunning run. You’re ‘racing’ a steam train and running through glorious countryside. There’s a 14 miles, 10km, 5.5 miles or 3.5 miles. It’s based in Wales so you know you’re gonna get some brilliant views along the way!

    Great North Run

    The Great North Run is just one of those that everyone seems to want to do. It’s the largest half marathon in the world. That’s pretty exciting right? I can’t even add anything else to this, I just know I want to do it.

    So that’s my (provisional) list. A lot of marathons in there…
    Right now that distance terrifies me haha! What’s on your race bucket list?


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    Wigan Half Marathon Recap: 13.1 Miles of Hilly Hell

    It’s been a week already! Running the Wigan half marathon was THE hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it was so worth it!


    The Start

    The Wigan 10km didn’t have staggered starts, so I wasn’t expecting the Wigan half marathon to – and it didn’t. This meant it was a little slow setting off for us in the middle and at the back. I crossed the line at around 2 and a half minutes, but I was off and then the roads were pretty open thanks to them being closed or managed by marshalls.

    One of my favourite moments was spotting a 40-odd year old man stopping to either give something to his parents or get something from them in the first few miles of the race. They sent him off with a “See you soon sunshine” and he was like “Ah, perks of having your family there to cheer you on.” It just made me laugh, but they looked so proud though. Cute.

    The first half of the race was alright. I was feeling okay, but I knew the rest of it would be tough. The rain also decided to make an appearance at the half way mark, so we were all soaked. I don’t really mind running in rain, but it’s awful when everything is wet and you can’t wipe the rain off your face with anything dry. Also glasses. I should have taken a cap…

    The Hill

    We were running down a canal at this point, which was lovely but also pretty windy (which didn’t make the rain any nicer) along the water side. And then I saw the hill. The hill which, in relfection, was nothing to worry about. Nothing compared to the mountain that followed! Never in my life have I walked into Haigh Hall through the plantations, so when people said there was a long hill incline I just thought ah, it’ll be tough but my park run is hilly so I’ll be fine. Ha. Ha.

    This section was KILLER. Absolutely killer. From roughly 6-10 miles we were heading up, with the hardest bit being from 8-10 miles. Actually just as we were at that bit someone ‘helpfully’ shouted “Come on guys, just 2 miles to go and we’re out of this hill”. Cue a few exclamations of “STILL 2 miles to go?!” It was hard because the hill was really winding, and we had people coming back down the same way as we were going up. Every corner I’d be hoping this was the end, and it wasn’t. It just seemed to last forever. I made it most of the way up and then I just had to walk a little.

    That’s one of the hardest things for me. I know it isn’t, but it just feels like a bit of a fail when I have to walk. Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and give yourself that break. We had two gel/water stations through this hill though, and that was a god send. As always, plenty of people helping you along and once we did get to the downhill it was great. I mean I still felt bloody awful, but at least I was going down!

    We had one last hill before getting out of the Haigh Hall section and there was a couple stood here cheering us on and repeating “Look, the gate’s just there. You’ve done the hard bit now!” It was coming up this last hill, between the 11-12 mile mark, where I was completely and utterly struggling to keep going. I could feel the tears appearing, but I didn’t want to cry. I’ve never felt so emotional during a race or run and it wasn’t a great feeling to be honest. Upon leaving the park though we passed a runner sat on the floor surrounded by paramedics (she looked okay – just exhausted) and I knew I needed to keep going and finish.

    The photo on the left was taken at around 9 miles or so I’d guess, after the humongous hill and surprisingly I’m looking pretty good. The one on the left was just coming to the finish line and well, you can see how I was feeling by this point!


    The finish

    From Haigh Hall we had just over a mile to go, back on the roads. The support here was greater and there were so many people out cheering us on. A really fab marshall was shouting at the top of her voice to keep up going and it was great. I really needed that push at the end. I have to say though, that last mile was SO hard.

    My legs were just so tired and sore, especially the muscle all around my hips and the inside of my thighs. My thighs and hips were actually giving me the most pain I’ve ever had running, and I’m not entirely sure if it was the distance or the hill. I’m thinking the hill mostly because it was tough. When I crossed the line, my body was just shaking like mad.


    The Massage

    I must have looked a sight as I walked to the end of the race pen area. Actually I know I did because my boyfriend said I was walking like bambi haha. Again I felt like I could just break down into tears but I held myself together – just about. The pain was mostly the cause of this emotion but I was also super proud of myself. I don’t think I gave the 13.1 miles enough credit before actually doing the race. They really are a great feat, and you can see how much it means to others.

    One of the best things about race days though is the massage afterwards, and I’ve been lucky enough to get free ones in all the races I’ve done. That said, the massage I had after my race was honestly the most painful thing I have ever felt. Seriously. I had two people working on my thighs because that’s where I was in pain… I couldn’t keep still and they had to keep asking me if I was okay because I was clearly hurting haha. It definitely helped though and the pain started to disappear as the massage went on… But then I had to get up and walk to the changing area and if I’m honest I don’t think I was completely with it!

    All good and well though. I got changed, stuffed my face at The Chinese Buffet and then went on to watch the rugby. Even though my team only just scraped a draw… Was still good. An eventful day to say the least! The Wigan half marathon was definitely one to remember, and I’ll be there next year!

    You can see the full overview of my run stats on Strava here!


    That is an actual mountain… Right? Blue is pace, shaded is the elevation.

    Ever done a Half Marathon? Has my recap put you off haha?


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    The Easy Way To Clean Your Car With Williams Waterless Wash ‘N Wax*

    I’ve had my car for four months now (boy, that went quickly!) and well… I hadn’t washed it until this week. Nope, not once..


    Before I got my own car, I pictured myself cleaning it regularly, keeping it nice and tidy inside. In reality, I’ve managed to hit the four months mark without once cleaning the outside of my car. Glamorous.

    I’m just lazy and well, it’s been cold outside. Who wants to stand outside with a bucket of water and wash a car down? Not me! When I saw a post about trying out the Williams Waterless Wash ‘N Wax, well, I jumped at the chance to test it. No water, as easy as squirting the liquid and wiping away. Sounded like my kind of thing…


    I was gifted a bottle of the Williams Waterless Wash ‘N Wax and two microfibre cloths – both necessary to get the full effect of the product. One cloth to do the cleaning, and one to do the buffing afterwards. To clean your car all you need to do is spray some of the liquid and simply wipe/scrub it away. I was surprised at how well it did work to be honest.

    I mean, just look at the difference in the photo below… Yes my car really was that scruffy looking. I didn’t actually realise how dirty it was until I used this product and could see how clean it could look. The liquid spray was quite thick really, probably because of the wax in there, but it was easy to wipe away and you could see the difference it made straight away.

    The formula contains hydrocarbon ingredients and carnauba wax, giving your car that shiny look as well as giving paint protection too. It’s supposed to help protect your car against the elements and actually when I left for work in the rain the morning after I did notice that the raindrops looked more like they were just sitting on top rather than really wetting the car. That’s hard to explain…

    Anyway, once you’ve wiped all the dirt away (and disgusted yourself at the now dirty cloth), take the second (clean!) cloth and buff your car. Keep buffing until it’s nice and shiny!


    Now I’m not gonna lie, this is still hard work. It’s easier than using water and soap because it takes less time, is less messy and you don’t get cold thanks to working with water. However, arm ache is still a thing and by god, I was hot and sweaty after this!

    Thankfully it only took me around 15-20 minutes to do my car, so that’s not bad. And that’s with photo breaks… I could have buffed it a lot better though, let’s be real now. Like I said, arm ache is a thing. And hey look, my car is actually glittery/sparkly. Who knew?! (It actually does have glitter in the body paint… Never noticed that before.)


    The 1L bottle should fully clean up to 5 medium sized vehicles, so that’s pretty good if you ask me. You’ll most likely only be cleaning your own so depending on how often you clean your car, it should last a while! Even longer if yours is little like mine…


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    *This post contains items that have been sent for review however all opinions are my own.

    Book Reviews, Books

    Book Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

    This book has been majorly hyped – I’ve seen loads of people talking about it on twitter and instagram. Well, I didn’t love it.

    Book Review: Caraval - Stephanie Garber

    Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . . Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

    Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story and idea, but it just didn’t hook me in straight away. It actually took around 2 weeks for me to get through this, and I thought I’d devour it in a few days. Doesn’t the cover look pretty though?!

    The whole premise of this book sounds wonderful, and I love the idea of a weird magic game, something that is almost a performance, something people don’t really understand or know much about. There’s so much you could delve into with this, and for me honestly the story just lacked that context. We didn’t really find anything out about the worlds or Caraval itself – which obviously is a mystery to the characters so I guess stayed mystery for us – nor did we really learn anything in depth about the characters.

    The writing was just strange. Like, descriptions were never really ‘proper’ descriptions, and I found it hard to imagine a place or what was happening sometimes if I’m quite honest. Maybe that’s just a lack of imagination on my part. I feel like this kind of writing will either appeal to you or it won’t. This mystical, secretive kind of writing and story style isn’t for me. That said, there was always something happening, something amazing or frightening that Scarlet was experiencing so the story moved quite quickly. Chapters were short but it seemed like each one had importance to the story.

    And the characters… Scarlet. She just really grated on me. So many times I just wanted to shout at her and tell her to shut up and listen to people, or to actually think instead of reacting on impulse. I don’t know, she just annoyed me from the beginning and I kind of wish we’d had Tella in the main narrative! Scarlet is supposed to be clever and adventurous but she was just naive and annoying 80% of the time. I quite liked the roles of Julian and Dante though as I thought they added the perfect sense of mystery. I never knew who to trust from the people surrounding Scarlet so that made it more interesting.

    We did get a few plot twists and unexpected happenings throughout and to be honest, I never really knew what to expect for the ending. I think that’s why I kept reading on. Despite all the above annoyances, I was kind of hooked on seeing what happened. Who was Legend? Were the rumours true? I really think it’s an interesting story idea and I’d love to delve more into Caraval, the performers and how people from the outside view it.

    I just wasn’t a fan of the writing style and I guess this book was just too overhyped for me. Would I read the sequel? I don’t know. I feel like I’d have to, to see what happened next and to see if anything changed within the writing. Doubtful but you know, I am an optimist!


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    Half Marathon Training: The Final Countdown

    Two days. Two days and this half marathon will be over! I’m filled with a mixture of excitement and nerves.

    Half Marathon Training: The Final Countdown

    Why Do I Always Get Hit With A Cold The Week Before A RAce?

    Seriously though. My last two 10k races I’ve gotten a cold in the week before, and it has happened again. Except this time I’m doing a half marathon. The only positive is that the cold appears a week before, and not the day before. Then I’d have serious problems!

    Because of this cold, the last run I did was on Saturday at Park Run. Is it bad that I’ve done hardly any running in the past two weeks? I don’t know to be honest. My legs are definitely well rested though and that’s better than burning out!

    I guess any struggles on the day will be more of a mental thing, because I’ve done plenty of training (in fact I’ve done LOADS compared to my usual pre-race struggle to cram the miles in) and I know I can definitely run for at least 2 hours. I didn’t post as much as I thought I would but this year has been a really good year for running so far. I’ve felt more motivated. It helps that I discovered the #ukrunchat on twitter, and I’ve been following more runners on my fitness instagram. (@runliftkt if anyone wants it!)

    I’m expecting it to take me between 2 and 2h30 to finish but to be honest I’ll be happy whatever time I cross the line. My longest training run was 16.5km (so pretty much just a 5k off the total) and I was pretty pleased with the time I did it in. I’ve also discovered that the race will have two gel stations as well as water, and it’s the High5 Gels that I’ve been training with so that’s great news.

    A post shared by Katie Halsall (@runliftkt) on

    It’ll Be A Busy Day…

    I’ll be kept company with my boyfriend this time, how strange! I’ve never had a boyfriend come to a race and support me. Always my mum and dad haha. He’ll have to take the role of photographer for a couple of hours, and of course wait around for 2 hours in a strange town… But then we’ll be stuffing our faces with chinese buffet food and then heading off to see the rugby. Important post-race fuelling. Obviously.

    When your team plays on the same day and your race medal gets you in for free, you can’t say no can you? We’ve won 4 out of 4 games now in the league so I’m hoping this will be number 5. It’s my boyfriend’s first rugby league match so we’ve got to impress… I can’t wait anyway, it’ll be a good day!

    My next running update will be a race recap… Keep your eyes peeled!


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    5 Signs You’re Already a Crazy Cat Lady

    I am a crazy cat lady. I am. There’s no denying that. And there’s nothing wrong with it, nothing at all… I swear.

    5 Signs You're Already a Crazy Cat Lady

    #1 – You own a frightening amount of cat-related items

    Those in the photo above are just the tip of the iceberg… I also have socks (at least 4 pairs that I can think of), a cushion, more ornaments, prints, pyjamas, earrings, a necklace, purses, a calendar, tote bag and a lunch bag with cats on. And those are the items I can remember! I’m sure there are many more hidden away. (Proudly on show)

    #2 – You’re reminded regularly about becoming an old crazy cat lady

    I get tagged in cat videos or memes. I get cat-related presents. People just know. I don’t know, I guess I just give off that vibe… Even though I now have a boyfriend and am not the only single one haha. I guess I’m still the one with the cat…

    5 Signs You're Already a Crazy Cat Lady

    #3 – Snapchat is filled with cat photos and not drunken nights out

    I mean, you’ll get the occasional night out (like twice a year or something…) and you’ll also see food or gym stuff but 80% of my content on SC is Charlie either giving me her resting bitch face look or sleeping on me in weird positions. If that sounds like your kind of thing… my username is katehlouise. Thank me later.

    #4 – Conversations with your cat is a thing

    If you say you don’t talk to your pets, you’re lying. I don’t believe you. The majority of conversations on my days off are with the cat. What else is there to do when you’re the only ones home? If you don’t meow back to your cat, well you’re also lying. I do speak to her in English though – don’t think I just sit there meowing all day.


    #5 – Others have couple photos, or an inspiring quote as their phone lock screen – Yours is your cat

    This is me. Someone saw it once and said “You really do love your cat don’t you?” and it almost made me change it but hey, it’s a cute photo and it looks good. Maybe it’ll change soon, who knows. (Who am I kidding, it won’t in the near future…)

    I feel like this was like a confessing session. Where are my fellow cat ladies?! (Or men, I guess)


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    5 Things I’ve Learnt After Being Vegetarian For Two Years

    Two years! In February 2015 I thought I’d challenge myself and try two weeks vegetarian. Two weeks just to see what it would be like. It was easy… And here I am, two years later without having touched a piece of meat since!


    It was weird because once those two weeks were up, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy any meat. I’d been craving chicken during the first week (so my timehop twitter updates told me) but I guess I got over that. So basically a little mini resolution changed my life, and I’d say for the better. Not just because I’m not eating meat any more (I won’t start preaching, don’t worry) but because my diet had a complete revamp. I had to look for more foods, find new recipes and try new things.

    I was never adventurous with my food. I mean, I wouldn’t even eat any cooked vegetables until I went to college/university… That was probably one of the things stopping me from turning vegetarian sooner (that, and people) because I just wasn’t sure what I would eat! Turns out vegetarians can eat a lot of foods, and it’s really not as difficult as you’d imagine.

    So what have I learnt after being vegetarian for the past two years?

    + Eating out at restaurants/pubs really isn’t that difficult.
    There’s always something to eat. Yes there may not always be great choices, but it’s not as difficult as everyone seems to think it is. It seems to be coming more and more normal for a place to have a good few vegetarian/vegan friendly meals.

    + People will still ask you about protein.
    It’s true, no one cares about macros or what you’re eating unless you say you’re vegetarian or vegan. Then they’re all of a sudden interested in your protein intake. I do still get this, I don’t imagine it’ll ever stop.

    + It’s getting more widely accepted.
    And by that, I mean that there’s just more acknowledgement and less judgement. I come across way may people who are vegetarian now and those that aren’t don’t really care about me being vegetarian. Mention the word vegan though and well, that’s a completely different matter. I don’t know why but people love to hate vegans. (This is of course just my experience with both things… I guess others will come into more criticism and vice versa)

    + I like a lot of foods that I never thought I would.
    Beans, lentils, houmous, chickpeas, broccoli, courgette, quinoa and almond milk – to name a few. I wouldn’t have tried beans or lentils (I really hate baked beans) before turning vegetarian, but a girl has got to get protein from somewhere and these are perfect solutions. I’ve also tried like a million veggie burgers made from a variety of ingredients including beans, lentils, sweet potato and other veg. The list is endless with burgers – there are so many combinations.

    + Despite what people seem to think, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
    “Do you never crave…” “Do you not miss…” Nope. I don’t miss chicken. I can’t really remember completely what it tastes like to be perfectly honest. I never liked bacon so I’ve been able to easily live without it for 24 years. People seem to think vegetarian diets are super restrictive, but I mean, I just don’t eat meat. There are SO many other foods out there. Of course there are certain things like sweets, gravy, crisps etc that have ingredients from meat/animals in there that I don’t eat but basically the point is – there is always an alternative to everything.

    I can’t imagine ever going back to eating meat. It doesn’t feel right for me any more. Have you ever tried?


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