Climbing Toubkal and Exploring Morocco

Who goes to Morocco to climb a mountain? When most people think of Morocco, they think of the desert. And to be honest, after reading about mountaineering for the first time, I definitely considered doing a camel tour instead… But climbing the highest point in the Atlas Mountains was way too intriguing.

The Atlas Mountains separate the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert and spans over three African countries: Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. The highest point is called Toubkal at 4,167m above sea-level, located in southern Morocco.

Amina, who grew up in Casablanca took charge and planned the whole thing, which was amazing. We knew we wanted a guide, a night or two at the refuge and that we’d want to relax afterwards to recover and enjoy the warm weather. We were in Morocco for 5 full days (28-Apr to 3-May) with an epic itinerary: 2 days in the mountains with Toubkal Voyages and then 3 days by a lake to relax and recover.

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Brighton Marathon 2017

THE SUMMARY

I signed up for the Brighton Marathon with the intention to train for a “Good for Age” finish time so I could race the London Marathon in 2018. Good for Age is sub 3h 45m in my age group, so that was my target. I finished the Edinburgh Marathon in 2013 with a time of 3:55 so I knew that with some dedicated training, sub 3:45 was within reach.

I built out my training plan and in January I was ready to hit the ground running – literally. Unfortunately in week 2 of training I managed to fall down a set of stairs and sprain my ankle…. I tried walking it off but there was no walking this one off. My ankle took 6 weeks to fully recover. I got running again at the end of February and managed to develop runner’s knee (too much to quick). All this, and I am convinced I can qualify. I knew I was stronger and faster than I was four years ago, and I figured that if my fitness fails me I’d at least have the mental toughness to make it through.

The result? I TOTALLY miss judged how tough a 42km race is. To my surprise (and probably me only), I am disappointed to report back that I didn’t get sub 3:45 as planned. But all things considered, I am actually really happy with this race. Here’s the breakdown…

  • 10k split: 52m 56s
  • Half marathon: 1h 50m 37s
  • 30k split: 2h 41m 25s
Total Time: 3h  55m 02s 
Gender Position: 350 of 4825

Crewing the Race Across America

2 weeks, 2 flights, 5 time zones, 3000 miles on the road and countless Red Bull’s crushed… where do I even start? Crewing the Race Across America was an experience unlike anything else.

I thought I set my expectations fairly well going into the race, but there are something’s in life you can’t prepare for without first hand experience… and RAAM is one of those things.

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Preparing for the British 10k + Adopt this racing mindset

Vitality British 10K London run

I am officially a race ambassador for the Vitality British 10k this year! Having run in this race before, I’m more than happy to sponsor the event.

With 15,000 runners, the course is a bit crowded at first but the atmosphere and the iconic landmarks that we pass along the way make up for the slow start.

Actually, regardless of the slow start, last year I managed to finish the Vitality British 10k with a personal best! I was completely over the moon about breaking into the ’45 minute club’ with a finish time of 45:30. My personal best prior to that was 46:26, which I had been trying to beat for some time (over two years).

I’ve now realised that I haven’t raced 10km since… which is a little scary. Knowing that I will be on the same course – doing the same distance – at the same time of year… There is no reason I shouldn’t be at least the same speed as last year right? Wrong!

Whether your personal best is on a 5k course, 10k course or longer distances, there are so many factors to consider during a race and you should never start a race with an expectation to perform the same, feel the same or realise the same results that you had in the past.

Here’s how I intend to approach the Vitality British 10k in July this year. A good mindset to have for any race…

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How to Execute an Active Holiday

I’ve always felt that exploring new surroundings is best done from ground-level.

If you’re a runner, put on your runners and run; If you’re a walker, walk; and if you’re a cyclist, grab your bike and ride.

As you may have seen on Instagram/ Facebook, Dan and I are currently in Mallorca!

Port (1)While Dan and Phil train for the Race Across America. Suzanne and I have been exploring the island.

I don’t want this post to spat out facts about the benefits of exercise, the mindfulness gained from travelling or the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors.

We all know these are good things.

I hope this post helps to promote active traveling and that you walk away feeling excited to execute an active holiday.

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Introducing RAAMIN4Charity

Race Across America (RAAM) is known for being one of the toughest ultra cycling events in the World. It involves non-stop cycling coast to coast across America. The route is 3,000 miles long with 170,000 ft of climbing; our team is targeting a place on the podium, which means we’re aiming to finish the race in under 6 days.

When I say ‘we’ I mean Dan (@DanielOJello), Phil (@Tobebythesea), Tom (@CERacing) and a fourth cyclist who is yet to be selected. Me and the others… We’ll be driving support vehicles and doing everything else in between.

The group of us have named ourselves RAAMIN 4 CHARITY (@Raamin4Charity) and our website can be found here.Driving

Our nominated charities are Great Ormond Street Hospital given the fantastic care they gave a nephew of one of the riders and Aplastic Anaemia Trust for the research they undertake in trying to better understand this rare blood condition, which one of the teams suffers from. 

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Mount Snowdon, Wales

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Last weekend we packed up our gear and drove to Wales looking for a chance to get out of the city and see part of the UK we’d never experienced before.

A road trip only one week after completing The Sugar Free Challenge was a risk… who doesn’t like to snack en route? Luckily, a 4-hour walk/scramble up Mt. Snowdon the next day seemed to balance everything out. I’ve learned that I’m much better at the big picture of healthy living… micromanaging my diet last month has thrown me out of joint a bit.

Anyway, more about our time in Snowdonia…

Snowdon is the highest peak south of the Scottish Highlands. The trails to the top are straight forward in terms of navigation but the terrain becomes quite steep and rocky as you progress up the mountain.  

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