The real cost of the London Marathon and eating healthily on a budget

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Yesterday I sat down and worked through our money and looked how much we have left for the month (not much!)  I hate going through our accounts and sorting out the money and should really go through it on a weekly basis, but I tend to put it off for at least 5-6 weeks at a time lately as it is so depressing!

This month has been especially low on money.  Not only have we had to pay out for solicitor and mortgage fees for the house move, but we are now just over fifteen weeks away from our wedding with companies starting to ask for the next chunk of deposit and we traveled down for London marathon last week.

Ever sat down and worked out how much it costs to go to a big city marathon?  Well, I just did…

Race entry – £31
Race expo visit – £28 – I didn’t have to go down beforehand, but having never been and wanting to look round all of the stands I didn’t want to do so the day before the race in the busy crowds and have to be on my feet for the full day.  I’m very glad I didn’t leave it until the Saturday as my feet ached all night after traipsing around on the Thursday.
London marathon top – £32 - Again, something I didn’t have to have but not knowing if I will ever get another place in London marathon a VLM training top was definitely something I wanted.

VLM training top
Hotel for two nights - £202 – Not essential for two nights, we could have returned after the race but it was nice not to have to rush back as soon as the race was over.

VLM hotel

Our hotel was not what we expected – twin beds facing each other and I couldn’t even see the TV from my one!

Two meals out£26.20 (Love that our pre-marathon meal came to 26.2!) + £35.65 after the race.  Pizza was essential the night before the race as I know my stomach copes with running on it.  The meal after the race was kind of a treat for Dan for traipsing around London supporting me for the weekend.

Post VLM meal

We had a lovely Thai meal for after the race. The portions were spot on as I usually really struggle to stomach food after a long run, but I worked my way through this little lot!

Train tickets – £119 – This covered the train tickets down to the hotel and back again and also tube tickets for Dan the day of the race.  (Marathon runners travel free on the Sunday.)

Obviously we could have saved money by staying for just one night, Dan staying at home and cheering me on from infront of the TV and taking packed sandwiches with us for the weekend but I’m not sure I would have had quite the same experience.  All in all, the trip came to £438.20.  I thought running was a cheap sport?!

We did a Tesco shop last week which ended up coming to £30 more than it usually does (always does when I take Dan…he’s like a big child and things keep finding their way into the trolley!)

But anyway, now…now we have very limited funds for food and other necessary items over the coming months!  I tweeted earlier asking if anyone had any tips for cheap meals and received quite a lot of responses

I’ve sat down and worked out a meal plan for the remainder of this week using items we still have in our cupboards/freezer but once those are gone, I shall have to get creative!  My favourite tips so far have been to cook a whole chicken at the beginning of the week and then use the meat for several meals and to make use of the slow cooker, which I have been doing just lately anyway.  I also try and make use of the reduced hour at my local Co-op as it is only at the bottom of my road.

I did enjoy a sweet baked potato with scrambled egg and some plum tomatoes on the side for lunch this afternoon, but I shall have to think hard about my thrifty lunches next week!

Sweet potato with egg and tomatoes

A quick couple of London marathon related links…
Some great London Marathon 2014 facts from Runner’s World.
Steve Way’s Garmin stats from London marathon. .. – (Third Brit finisher.)  Check out that pacing consistency and such a low heart rate!  Amazing!
A cheating marathon runner… – what satisfaction comes from cheating?!
And the reward that has been offered to the cheat…. – Love this!

What are your favourite thrifty meal tips to add?

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The end of Easter


So today Dan has headed back to work and tomorrow it’ll be my turn.

To be fair, this holiday has felt like it’s lasted quite a long while, but I’m still not ready to go back!  I had the first week off on my own but Dan had last week off as well.  Is it just me, or is it much harder to get anything done when your boyfriend/husband has time off too?!  I feel like I’m behind on housework, schoolwork, blogging, marking, running and everything else I normally fit into each day!

Yesterday I got up early and met with two others from running club to run the Stanwick 10k course before the race began.  None of us were entered for the race itself (a sell out every year!) and I’d never run the race, despite it being within walking distance of my house.  I did go down and spectate last year though and cheer the club runners on.

Karen and Laura are much quicker runners than me, with 10k PBs of Sub 50minutes (mine stands at 58:35).  I was rather worried about slowing them down but they assured me that they were just after a casual social chatty run…Well it might have been casual and chatty for them!  Running Sub 9:30mm pace was easy to begin with, but then we hit several hills that took quite a lot out of me!  I’d started off chatty but it soon turned to grunts in response to questions!

Stanwick 10kWe got round though, and the guys running the chip system who had been setting up the start/finish line as we began cheekily told us that we were too slow and had taken over an hour!

After this Laura and Karen picked up some bacon rolls, we all grabbed a drink from the pub and set up by the finishing corner to see our club runners start/finish the race.

We had quite a turnout!

stanwick 10k runnersAnd just as many local runners from our club turned up to support which was great.

The juniors ran a speedy 2k, with W&DAC taking second place.  I love watching the kids race.  They move so quickly and are so enthusiastic.  I watched the boy who came second come running up to his coach (stood near me) after the race and excitedly give him a race breakdown and inform him that he had taken second place.  One poor girl was crying with her arm across her front, clearly with a stitch.  Our supporters made so much noise and encouraged her through the final 100m to finish where she beamed as she received her medal.

The club took first place for the 10k race as well.  Stuart took third place two years ago, second place last year and this year was finally his year, where he finished first in 33:32.  How is it even possible to run that fast?!  He had a 100m lead on the guy in second at halfway and had taken more than a minute’s lead by the finish!

After I’d seen the last runner in I headed home to enjoy some more of my Chokablok Easter egg from Dan and make myself a quick Jacket potato with cheese and beans.

After the football (Dan was very happy with the Wolves result!)  we rushed off to catch an afternoon showing of The Amazing Spiderman 2.  It was OK.  Quite cheesy in places and I think I prefer the first take on the Spiderman story with Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire.  Dan and I both agreed on a 5/10 rating.

I feel like I’ve been all out of routine over the past few weeks so it was odd to see Dan ironing shirts after dinner last night.  Although I’ve obviously still been running, my meals have been different due to Dan being home and feeding both of us for two meals daily.  I’m looking forward to getting a bit more variety back in my diet again.

Did you find it tough heading back to work and normality this week?




Marshaling at Northampton Running Festival


Today I worked at the Northampton Running Festival in exchange for a free entry at the Shires & Spires 35m ultra in June.

Northampton Running Festival race startThe Running Festival consisted of a 10k, half marathon or full marathon in short laps around the lake.  Three laps for a 10k, six for a half and twelve for the full marathon.  Each lap you ran you were given a coloured hair scrunchie so that you could easily keep track of how many laps you were on.  I’ve never run a lap race before and to be honest had been put off them in the past, but the feedback we received from runners was great and I’m now of the mindset that I would prefer counting to 12 than I would 26.2!  Lovely seeing your support every couple of miles as well I would imagine.

With the hot weather we’ve been having lately there have been a lot of flies out around the lake, but the weather today was forecast as rain all day.  Luckily, we got the best of both worlds – no hot sun and no real rain – so no midges and no soggy spectators either!

My first job was on the registration desk and this was got busy very quickly!  I vaguely remember hearing that we had had an extra 70 people sign up on the day at one point.  My main task was to hand out packs for pre-registered 10k runners but I jumped onto the half marathon pile when Laura got busy and passed race t-shirts out as quickly as possible!

After this I got to play with all of the shiny awards for winners on the prize table.

Northampton Running Festival trophies


Probably the closest I’ll get to any of these beauties.  Boo hoo…One day…!  :P

Then I moved over to the drinks table where my fingers got progressively more and more purple as the cold wind blew over the spilled water on my hands!  As runners went past us for their next lap we had two people each side of the track handing out water/energy drinks/jelly babies/gels and 9bars.  I filled water, moved water to front of table, cleared up discarded cups, repeat!

As I’ve mentioned before I love being able to support runners at races and feel like I’m giving something back by cheering runners on.  This was a great spot, and with it being a multi-lap course we got to know several of the runners’ quirks over the next five hours.

A gesture that really touched me though was from Carol-Ann, a member of the 100 marathon club.  I’ve seen her several times before – chatting to her for quite a while at the Milton Keynes marathon last year, and then passing her at Shires & Spires last Summer.  She is quickly heading up to the 300 marathon mark at the moment!  I love hearing from runners in the 100 Marathon Club and we had quite a few in Northampton today!

She sped through the finish on her final lap to ask us how many more laps ‘David’, the youngish runner behind her had to go.  He thought he was on his last lap, although his Garmin was telling him he was only at 22 miles.  Carol-Ann thought he had probably miscounted but he was getting very frustrated that he would have to go round yet again, having spent the last twenty minutes believing he was on his last lap.  We confirmed that he did indeed have another lap still to go, and despite having just finished the last lap of her own marathon Carol-Ann quickly grabbed a bottle of water, removed her chip and number and encouraged the remaining crowd to cheer the guy through, then went on to run the final lap with him so that he didn’t give up on his goal.   Such a small gesture, but one which I know was appreciated immensely by David and his family.

We had been giving out spot prizes of Easter eggs throughout the races, and these two each received an Easter Egg.

Northampton Running Festival Easter eggs

The last lady through the marathon was over six hours and it was nearly 5pm by the time I left Delapre.  I was ready for a calzone tea when I got home!

Sausage and beef calzone


This time I put beef, sausage, leek and mushrooms inside.  Yum!

Dessert was a nibble on my Easter egg from Dan.  I picked him up a Guinness egg yesterday, and he got me a ChokABlok berries egg.  I love white chocolate and berries, so this was the perfect dessert!

ChokABlok Easter egg

What small gestures have touched you or have you seen make a difference to somebody this year?
How many Easter eggs will you be munching this week?!  Did you have a more traditional Easter dinner?



Double the babies, double the gift!


Today I headed to Stoke for my friend Amy’s baby shower.  It was a lovely sunny day and Amy’s younger sister had done a fantastic job with pink and blue decorations.  She didn’t choose both because Amy doesn’t know what sex the baby is, but because she is having twins.  One of each!

Amy baby shower giftInitially I planned on making something for the babies, but I’ve just not had time over the past few months so in the end bought two little hedgehog toys, some squirting duck bath toys, fun animal pacifiers and a handprint set in each colour.  I did pop Amy and husband’s wedding invitation into the basket as well, although I know they are unable to make our day.  Amy’s husband is usher at another wedding on the same day and Amy would be unable to drive the four hours to our venue with two small fortnight old babies!

Baby shower confettiMost of the people at the Baby Shower I had only met before at either Amy’s hen last year or her wedding.  I always wonder how many people I’ve met at events like this – thinking at the time I’ll probably never see them again, forgetting the other events that follow the hendo!

Amy's baby shower

I’ve been getting lots of little snippets of information about my hen do this weekend.  But I don’t know how much of it is true and how much has been made up to make me feel uneasy!  At one point I was asked if I’d had my scuba outfit dry-cleaned recently?!  It’s now just four weeks until my hendo as I was reminded by one of my bridesmaids, Vicki when Dan and I met up with her and her boyfriend last night.

Vicki and I at the dogs

Dan and I at the dogs

And just sixteen weeks until our wedding.  Putting it into weeks now rather than months has made it seem so much closer!

Tomorrow I’m marshaling at the Northampton Running Festival for Go Beyond in return for a free entry to Shires & Spires 35 on 1st June so it will be a busy day for me!  I hope the weather stays nice.  Initially I’d planned on running home after I was done for the day along with a few other runners, but think I’ll give my legs a bit of a rest and trial them over a shorter long run distance where I can cut it short if need be.

If you’re married, did you know anything about your hendo before the day?