The seating plan has been finalised

10 days to go and I’ve now finalised our seating plan.  In the last week there have been new additions, lots of juggling of seats and a few requests catered for.

I’m pretty sure there’s no one from our wedding other than possibly my Mum reading this post.  And she knows where she’s sat anyway!  Plus, it’s all stuck down now…no swapsies allowed!

Wedding seating plan

As an afterthought I probably should have photographed on a surface brighter than concrete, but I photographed early this morning and the grass outside was still covered in dew.

I bought a browny-grey canvas from a local craft shop for £15 along with the tiny ribbon roses for 49p in the bargain bucket.  The ribbon was £3 from Hobbycraft and I have enough left over to use for bouquets and to help decorate our card box.  The other card was left over from when I made our invitations.

For each table I printed all guest names onto white paper, which I then mounted onto the dark brown card.  Three tiny roses are alongside the edge of each table listing, and I cut large table numbers out of black card to go alongside.

Wedding seating plan

The top table was laid out on circular white slips of paper with a large strip of brown card as the backing.

Wedding seating plan

I also printed out a list of who chose what to eat for the day to be placed on each table to help both the caterers and the guests remember.  They ordered their food a long while ago!
Wedding seating plan

I was inspired by this design I discovered on Pinterest for our seating plan.  After a bit of scouting around I actually discovered that you could order this board, personalised for your wedding.  But at a cost…£180!  Hence why I gave it a go making something similar myself.  If you’re looking for some inspiration for seating plans, I pinned several while I was deciding upon how we were going to display ours, so check out my Pinterest board for some ideas.

Have you ever been unhappy with where you were seated at a wedding?
If you are married, how did you decide who to sit next to who?

WIA back in uni

When I headed off to uni in 2004 I thought I was incredibly grown up and aware of the world…

Jess and Me at Uni

Not the case at all.  I didn’t have a clue!

The norm for my group of friends in the first year was to stay out late five nights a week.  I’d always been a morning person, but all of a sudden I wasn’t getting in until 3am and I had  9am lectures the following day?…Not quite sure how I made it to so many!

Although I’d made ‘meals’ for myself occasionally back when I’d been  living with my parents, those meals consisted of cheese sandwiches, a soup heated up from a can or a bowl of cereal.  It was a big shock to the system when I had to prepare all of my own meals.  Staffordshire University offered a meal deal at the uni canteen consisting of 2 meals per day for £75 a week, but I really didn’t fancy eating from the same menu every single day and having to go across to eat in the same place, most likely alone, as none of my friends took advantage of the deal either.

{YEAR 1:}

I was lazy and uneducated when it came to preparing my own meals.  Breakfast, if I had it at all was often 2/3 slices of heavily buttered white toast.  I skipped lunch most days but if I didn’t, would often binge on more bread and butter and tea was often a microwave ready meal.  (I had one that had been sat in the freezer for ages the other day and could not believe how disgusting and lacking in flavour it was.  Nothing on a home-made meal for sure!)  My evenings were alcohol fueled.  Mainly vodka and orange (clearly at this point in my uni life I still had money!)  I’ve looked for pictures of me eating from this time, but the only pictures I can find are of me drinking on nights out.  I didn’t exercise at all and I barely even walked anywhere, which is something I’ve always loved to do.  The halls of residence were right next to the uni itself, which had a shop of its own.  I put on a lot of weight during my first year at uni and wouldn’t class myself as very healthy at all.

Uni photo first year

{YEAR 2+3:}

At the start of my second year I moved out of Uni halls and into a houseshare with four guys.  The majority of my friends were guys, who ordered lots of takeaways and barely ‘cooked’.  Having a shared kitchen was always difficult as you were always in the way of someone and there was never enough time to prepare anything in there.  I don’t think I often had breakfast at all during this time.  If I had lunch it was a bite to eat whilst at the union between lectures – toasties or paninis.   If I planned on going out I skipped tea but if it was a night in it would most likely be chips from the chippy, a pizza, or a bowl of peas and carrots with mayonnaise.  Hardly the most healthy dishes in the world!  My weekly food shop, which usually came to about £10-£15, consisted of mainly 100 calorie or less individually wrapped items as weight loss was my top priority at this time, not (like it should be) healthy living.  We often headed out as a house for meals at Wetherspoons at the weekends and whenever we ate out I would always order healthy dishes – salads, wraps, fruit, etc.

Third year at uni

I still drank heavily about 4 nights a week, although by this point I had moved onto pints of cider as my choice tipple and cheesy chips smothered in ketchup and mayonnaise were my after a night out essential.

Cheesy chips covered in ketchup and mayonnaiseThe uni was a 20 minute walk from our house, as were the town and supermarkets, so I walked a minimum of 40 minutes every day and often for an hour and half or more.  I occasionally went to the gym, but hated being stuck inside and much preferred to head out and walk new places.  I am and always have been a get-on-the-dancefloor type of girl though and love spending the night dancing.  I also joined the University riding club and was spending a couple of hours each week out on the equestrian cross-country course practicing my jumping technique and ‘scary’ fences like benches and drops.  It was a lot of fun.  Despite not eating very healthily, I did lose a lot of weight during my second and third years at uni.

Second year at uni

{YEAR 4+5:}

Not technically uni years, but I was still living in my uni town as Dan had another year of his course to go.  By this point I had discovered blueberry porridge packets and had one every day for breakfast.  My lunch was normally a cheese salad roll or similar and tea would be either eaten at Dan’s (throw in the oven wedges and pizza/burger), out (usually a salad) or a shared healthy meal with my housemates.  Finally, I was eating three real meals a day!  I was at my smallest adult weight here, weighing just over 10 stone.  I felt that I was fairly healthy at the time.  By November of year 4 I was working as a manager at Frankie & Benny’s, and this meant blueberry porridge in the morning, followed by a Frankies dish mid afternoon.  I often threw together my own mixed salads whilst at the restaurant, topped with marinara sauce and a slice of the staff pizza for a late night dinner whilst working on the closedown.  The restaurant was a 40 minute walk from my house, so I easily walked at least 90 minutes a day, as well as the majority of my 12+ hour shifts spent on my feet at Frankies six days of the week.

Frankie & Benny's: A day at the racesI got into some ab work, completing several hundred crunches several days of the week and continued dancing on my nights off, although I was consuming much less alcohol by this point.  I also went on a little jog (literally only 15 minutes a time!) on each day off and I loved the way it made me feel afterwards.  This was the very beginning of my healthy living lifestyle.


So, there is my little What I ate at uni edition post!  I wish I had learnt about healthy living much sooner on and about how much better it could make my body feel.  To my knowledge there was no real information freely available to us at university, when the majority of students were in a similar situation – moving out of home and fending for themselves for the first time.  I absolutely adored my uni years and the friends I made and shared the good times with, but I am also very happy to have matured and gotten to where I am today.

When you first moved out of home, did you manage to live healthily?
If you went to uni, did you find information about healthy living freely available?

The Welly 5

Another great turn out for the Welly 5!

This is the fourth year I’ve marshaled the race, and every year it’s been a lovely day (although a little too warm for my racing needs!)

Marshal selfie

I arrived at 7:30am and got straight to work helping to set up registration.  Then I moved outside to pack up the goodie bags.  Each runner this year received a t-shirt on arrival, a medal over their necks as they crossed the line and a bag containing a carton of milk and a sports bottle.

My marshaling point was up on the road with Julie, as we had been the year before.  Our job was to stop cars from trying to park in the car park, instead, directing them to the car parking over the road.  We also had to stop runners from heading down to the starting point too early.  We have a road closure order from 10:25am on the day of the race, but up until that point we want to stay as much out of the way of traffic as possible.

After the runners had all begun we adjusted our position to welcome runners through the main gates and I moved onto the track to direct them off the track and onto the grass to head round to the finish.

Wellingborough boys

(Picture from our club Facebook page)

It’s really exciting being one of the first to see runners coming through to the finish.  Our clapping on the corner alerted spectators and marshals on the field that the first runners were coming through.  From quite a distance we could see the famous green vest as one of the two lead runners.  The finishing section is run on the Mad Mile in Wellingborough.  So we had quite a way to squint and it wasn’t clear which one was in the lead.  As they drew closer though, we could see our runner Stuart Nelson was in second place and a few seconds behind the lead runner, Andrew Siggers of Kenilworth Runners.  They went on to finish six seconds apart, with the winning time being 26m 27s!  The first woman (Rachel Cave of Higham Harriers) finishing in 30:24

Forty-seven of our runners raced on Sunday and I love being able to cheer them through onto the finish by name, just as they so often do to me at the finish of a race.

A woman runner swayed towards me from the road and I asked her if she was OK.  She nodded but immediately tripped up the kerb and swayed into the verge.  I rushed towards her, as did another club member I was stood standing with.  I couldn’t leave my post on the corner, but the club member I had been with took her arm over her shoulder and helped her slowly walk through the 200m to the finish.  About halfway a man ducked under the course barrier and grabbed her other arm and they supported her the rest of the way before she collapsed by the ambulance and was given fluids.

There were lots of trophies to give out as not only were there trophies for the Welly 5 race, but also the County Championship.  Wellingborough received several!

After getting back from the race, stopping in to the supermarket to pick up a few bits and organising myself a snacky lunch I decided to head out on a short run despite one not being on the plan.  After my first marathon in 2012 I really struggled to get my consistency back and to be able to run longer runs without stopping.  In reality I could have still run, but I struggled to slow my pace to fit.  I believe what helped me come back from my depressing dip was consistent running.  I took a 10 day unplanned break when I travelled to Africa and my luggage (including running clothes and trainers) didn’t arrive.  I then ran at least half an hour every single morning for the rest of the month that I was there.  Not hard, just consistently, without stops.  I continued to do so when I returned home, and gradually built my daily running up to 6-7 miles and pushed my longer run at the weekend.  There were odd days that I missed but they were few and far between until I was back up to 6-7 miles of consistent running and I went on to PB at 5k, 5m, 10m and half marathon distances that Autumn.

After my disappointing performance on Thursday night I have run for half an hour each day.  It has been slow and I have started out steady, although picked up speed as I have felt more comfortable later on in the run.  I have been averaging just over 10 minute miles, but finishing at more of a 9:40mm pace that I used to comfortably be able to run 10 miles at.  Oh, how long ago that seems now!  I had a great run last night, and probably one of my best since London marathon as I felt really in control of my pace, breathing and form once more.  It’s all about knowing how to assess my current capabilities and know just how much I can push before burning out.  I plan on running the same route today and tomorrow morning.  I’ll then run the club tempo run tomorrow evening, and go for just a half an hour walk on both Wednesday and Thursday to conserve a little bit of energy before the Grim Reaper 70 on Friday.  I hope to be able to run a few very slow miles each day from Monday next week until the wedding and then I shall return to building up my mileage once more after I return from honeymoon.  It’s worked before, fingers crossed it works again!

Does your club have any club races that they put on?

Little voices in my head

It is now less than one week, – six days – until I do my best to run the Grim Reaper 70 mile event.  S e v e n t y m i l e s . . .  Despite that being a pretty long way and something I have never yet to attempt, I was actually more nervous about my race on Thursday.

Thursday night was our running club 5 mile BBQ race.  On the last Sunday in July each year, Wellingborough & District AC holds an annual 5 mile race, the Welly 5.  The Thursday before the club race is held, the club runners and their families are invited to run the route.  It is tradition that the runners chosen for Sunday’s team marshal the club members race and provide a water stop at the halfway point.  Then, once every runner has been cheered over the finishing line, we head to an enclosed area for a BBQ.  Every year we update our club website photo as all runners congregate in a group along with the banner before the race begins.

W&DAC at the Welly 5 BBQ runI felt a lot of pressure to perform well, and with all runners as members of our club it was difficult not to automatically ‘place’ myself as to where I felt I should finish.  I picked a target runner that I aimed to beat and ensured I passed her early on.

But before we passed the second mile marker, my head was telling me something was wrong.

“Wow, this is feeling really easy.  I’m running sub 9mm and I feel great!”
“You know this means you’ll burn out later on and end up having to walk.”
“But what if this time that’s not the case? What if this time you can maintain 9mm all the way to the end?”
“You’re lying to yourself if you think that can happen.”
“OK, I’ll slow down a little…”

“Told you you were going too fast.”
“I’ll be fine, I’ll just walk this little hill.”
“You know once you walk a little bit you’ll have to walk again.”
“That won’t happen this time!”

“OK, I’m going to have to walk again.  I’m such a weak person.  Why do my legs feel so heavy?  I’ve only run 4 miles so far!  I’ve got to run 70 next week!”

“At least the support at the finish is strong.  Oh look, see I do still have energy…why can my legs move at a sub 8:30mm pace for the last quarter of a mile?!  They lied to me earlier….is that the finish line?  Oh please let that be the finish line…Yes it is…there’s too many people around it!  Where am I going to lie down the second I cross that line?!”

Me at the Welly 5 BBQ run

As I crossed the line I flung myself onto the grass to the left in a dramatic fashion to lay flat out.  I quickly leapt up again though as I realised the weeds I’d laid upon were covered in tiny barbs which were now embedded in my skin and stinging as my sweat was pouring into the holes they’d made.  Perfect end to my awful race!

Entirely my own fault though.  It was hotter than I would like and I was too pig headed to slow down more at the start.  The lady I was aiming to beat strode out past me about 3.5 miles in and went on to beat me by more than a minute.

As is often the case though, a great run follows an awful one and I headed out on a lovely 6.5 mile trail run in Kettering last night with fourteen others from the club.  The weather was much cooler and we were out on a beautiful new route out around the water.

Running club nights are actually Tuesdays and Thursdays, but there is usually an informal road run on Mondays, trail on Wednesdays, trail ending in pub on Fridays, and early morning long runs on both weekend days.  As Dan was off on his stag do in Manchester this weekend I took advantage of the pub run (although this time, not resulting in a pub finish!) and made my miles up to 9 for the day, as per my plan.  Some horrific images of Dan wearing just an oversized nappy and a baby bonnet were circulating on Facebook last night…I think it’s best I stay away from Facebook from now until the wedding!

I won’t be racing on Sunday, but instead providing a road block at the start and marshaling on the finishing straight, just like last year.  But if you fancy racing a fun fast, flat 5 miler in Northamptonshire, then check it out!  Online entries are now closed but there will be entries taken on the day.