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My first Marathon – Isle of Man 2015

It’s been whole week since I ran 26.2 miles on the Isle of Man for my first marathon!

And now G’s boyfriend Chad is (not really) forcing me on my first run after my mini recovery. I’ve bumped into so many people in the past week who have mentioned my blog that I thought it would be best to write a little post about I felt it all went.. Maybe when I’m preparing for my next long distance run or race I’ll look back and feel a tiny bit more ready than without it.

Where to begin; so way back when in June when deciding on a fundraising activity (to fundraise £800 for VSO) I chose to run a total of 600 miles because it’s equivalent to the width of Kenya. Where I’m going to volunteer in September FYI.  Me being me, I had to take this one step further and enter a marathon.

So I was home alone in Spain, bored and armed with Google’s help to find a decent marathon near me. I found the Isle of Man Marathon and booked it immediately, only informing mum and dad later on that they should probably come and support me.

I arrived on the island the day before feeling pretty ready for the big day; I’d spent £16 on one pair of socks (craaaaazy I know!), I had energy tablets, gels, jelly babies, belts, multiple outfit options and heaps of excitement. The day before was spent strolling on the beach with our dog Peachy and grabbing a few last minute things in town. I had a bath that evening with Radox Muscle Therapy Herbal Bath and some  salts and it was the best thing ever. I put out my clothes ready for the morning, got some last minute advice from Frankie (running buddy and experienced marathon runner lol) and got a good nights sleep.

Rewind a day or 2 and I was crying my eyes out thinking I’d have to drop out. All because I’d reached that blissful moment that most girls experience every month, only mine had come over a week early. I don’t know why my period had come early but you know, i really wasn’t loving mother natures decision to bring me a gift because it basically fucked up my plan to run a smooth 26.2 miles. I frantically googled possible solutions to running whilst feeling like crap and most people had written on blogs or forums that they inevitably had to drop out or just run half. This wasn’t an option for me as I couldn’t let anyone down after some generous donations and I couldn’t waste all that time and energy I’d spent training for it. At the same time as my stressing I read about Kiran Gandhi who ran the London marathon whilst on her period… She decided to free bleed which I’m not really sure about. I don’t think it’s a feminist movement or ‘bad-ass’ in any way, I think it’s kinda gross but whatever. Anyway, I decided to push through and run despite this not so great gift, I just used every home remedy to speed it up in the hopes that by Sunday I wouldn’t be in too much pain. I’d never ran during my period and it would just so happen that I was now running the furthest and for the longest I ever had.



Race day!

I ate some granola and a banana at around 6:30am and had a few bottles of water, I was also loading up on Ibuprofen to reduce my cramps before we drove through the foggy hills to reach the small town of Ramsey. I collected my number, time tracker to go round my ankle and put my named Lucozade bottle in the box for mile 17. We hung around for a while before going to the starting line and I had a few jelly babies. It was predominantly an old run, with loads of men in their 40s, 50s, 60s and older, a fair amount of women who looked mid 30s and up and then little old me looking like the baby of the pack. I didn’t feel too nervous at the start as I was just concentrating on running half. I knew I could easily do 21km and a lot of people had suggested just dropping out at the halfway point if I feel I couldn’t do any more. 

The gun fired at 9 am and we set off with the sea just a few metres to our right; we were told strictly no mobile phones or music devices allowed so I just put my headphones down my sports bra until I was well on my way (there was no way I could prepare myself for almost 5 hours of running without any music). I’d been told a million times to start out slow and save my energy, but theres something about being joined by so many others and having all the adrenaline building up that makes you want to rush. Partly because you don’t want to be last, partly because you want to be surrounded by the stronger runners from the start and partly because you want it to be over quickly! I stuck around with the speedy guys and gals for about an hour; chatting about our training and past marathons we’d done, obviously not me but I was talking to a guy who’d ran 150 marathons and he’d only started running at the age of 55?!

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We’d been told about the hill at mile 4 and sure enough it approached and it was hilly. Like really hilly. After what seemed like a lifetime of snail speed jogging to the top I felt a tiny sense of relief; I knew I’d have to face that hill again at mile 17 (the course was 2 laps of the same course) but I could handle it one more time. Then as I turned the corner I saw another massive hill! Basically there was about 2 miles of hills and I was not a fan. After i lost the main group I’d been sticking with I met a girl (I think she was called Alyssa..?) who was the same age as me and told me about how she’d been in hospital with severe neck problems like a week ago but had done too much training up to that point to not run the marathon. Her story made my problems (achey shins and a bit of a dodgey ankle) seem very insignificant. Plus it turned out she completed it 20 minutes faster than me, what a ledge.

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I felt confident for the whole of the first half even though I was convinced I was going a lot slower than planned and guessed I must be in last place. I was daydreaming of jelly babies and a few words of encouragement from mum and dad at the half way point. I ran downhill through the village before reaching 21 km at exactly 2 hours and could see mum, dad and dog in the distance. But there were no jelly babies in sight. I ran towards them yelling  ‘jelly babies! I need to babies!’ and they just looked at me in despair. I didn’t have time to stop so just carried on going with no more sugar and a belly so empty it screamed for something to fill it. I tackled the ridiculous hills once more at mile 17 and grabbed my huge bottle of Lucozade sport which gave me some well needed energy. Around the 19 mile mark I began feeling sick; I had nothing in my stomach, hardly any energy and the wind and rain was pushing against me. I carried on swigging water and Lucozade but just vomitted after every mouthful. It sounds gross but I couldn’t stop drinking because in my head it was giving me short bursts of energy (it probably wasn’t as it was coming straight out but your mind goes a bit squishy when you’ve been going for that long) so as I continued sipping I carried on being sick every couple of metres. 

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I’d only resorted to listening to music for about half an hour as I’d enjoyed the sound of the sheep, cows, spectators and listening to stories from other runners. The last 7 miles felt ok, I was getting cheered on by every marshall and most seemed really surprised I was still going! ‘Oh darling, well done! You’re doing so well, you look great’ – hard to believe when I was covered in salt crystals, was a weird shade of red and was limping like a lost dog but it was nice to hear. At the same time I was thinking a lot about ‘hitting the wall’ and was pleasantly surprised that that hadn’t happened.. At that point i was so close to the end and knew what to expect from the final mile, I was excited to reach the village, go down hill, see my fam and reach the finish line in the stadium and naively believed I’d be so excited to finish that the final mile would be a breeze. Oh how wrong was I. I saw the mile 25 sign and my legs buckled. I couldn’t move. It’s the weirdest feeling as your brain is screaming at you to keep going but your body just shuts down. You can’t imagine the feeling if you haven’t experienced it. It’s almost like wading through treacle; you’re going nowhere. This probably only lasted about 20 seconds but felt like forever and I couldn’t see myself  carrying on and finishing. I honestly thought that was it for me; I contemplated just sitting down, calling mum and telling a marshall that I’d just end my race there. Eventually, after using every bit of energy and enthusiasm I had left (and a voice in my head saying I’d sound like a right idiot if I told people I pulled out at 25 miles), I pulled myself back into gear and went at snails pace through the village. 

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I’d been chatting to one guy for a while who’d been at my pace for a few miles before dropping back and walking. Just after my near-giving-up experience I saw him hobbling along in the corner of my eye. ‘I’ve just remembered I need to catch the bus at half 2!’ he said as he proceeded to sprint past me. I’d missed my chance to finish in 4 hours 30 mins (my very very very optimistic aim) because of all the sick and the 20 seconds of thinking ‘THIS IS THE END’ but knew I didn’t have far to go and could probably get my medal and goody bag by 4 hours 50 mins. My phone had been tracking my run and announced ‘Congratulations, you have completed a whole marathon!’ – I’d ran 26.2 miles but wasn’t at the end yet; all that dodging, weaving and changing sides of the road means you’re actually running almost 27 miles, ouch. Anyway, I passed the village and could see my mum in the distance; I start waving to grab her attention and the people she’s standing with start to cheer for me. Then, with my eyes set on them and my music on full blast I failed to spot the curb beneath my foot and stacked it like an idiot. 

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As I turned the corner I entered the stadium and U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’ came on shuffle on my phone, so cliche, so emotional. The crowd cheered and I saw the massive clock read 4 hours 36 minutes. I’d done it! I’d completed a marathon! All in under 5 hours on my 21st birthday, I’d imagined this for a while and never thought it was a tangible dream but I’d actually done it! My legs didn’t know how to stop going so I kind of stumbled over to mum and dad and dog. I went for a well deserved massage after but actually didn’t feel too achey, the guy standing in front of me was from Edgemead (according to his t shirt) which is where I briefly lived last year in Cape Town! Unluckily I didn’t get the chance to talk to him but small world eh.

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I said to mum that I felt the same as after I completed the Paris half marathon in March, which shows what a huge difference a good training plan can make, along with eating right and being in the right frame of mind. I wore my medal with pride and raided my freebie bag for a flapjack. We enjoyed the mini buffet before going back to our hotel in Douglas. I had a quick shower and chill before we went out for dinner, I kind of forgot that it was still my birthday. I finally went to the toilet too, which was so weird as that had been my main fear during the run. That I wouldn’t have a place to ‘relieve myself’ but I guess I just sweated everything out as I was fine the whole way through despite drinking litres of water and sports drinks. My legs felt stiff but no worse than after a normal run of a few kms. However the next day I had to shuffle myself around and go down the stairs sideways.

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We stopped in Liverpool on the way back and i even drove from Birmingham to home in Hertfordshire. I can’t explain the feeling of acheivement I got and how uch I actually enjoyed running most of the marathon. I know it’s been said a million times but it honsetly is the toughest but greatest thing I’ve ever done. And throughout my run I was already thinking of what marathon I could run next. 

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I’m so so so grateful for every encouraging comment, text, message, tweet etc and obviously anyone whose been generous enough to donate. Although I love running, I also put myself through all this to raise money for VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas, the charity who I’ll be volunteering for in Kenya in September. If you’d like to donate please text YAAS69 plus to the amount, either £1, £2, £5, £10 or £20 to 70070 (e.g. YAAS69 £2) or visit my JustGiving Page by clicking HERE!

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6 months ago I could never even imagine running for that length or distance and my doctor in Paris was even surprised I’d entered a half marathon, hinting that I really wasn’t fit enough. But here I am now, one marathon completed in a decent time with hopes for many more. As soppy as it sounds, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. 

Here’s to the next step!

Mary x

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I’ve ran a total of 200 miles! – MazRuns600

I’m running a total of 600 miles for VSO ICS who are sending me on a voluntary trip to Kenya in September! I’m running everyday and adding up the miles to a grand total of 600 as that’s he equivalent to the width of Kenya, wowzaaaas. See more here :D

click the button to go to my JustGiving page;

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!



And read about
my first 100 miles here!

Now I’ve completed 201 miles, meaning I have 399 miles to go until I reach my target. I’d planned to have a little bit more completed by this date but I’ve had to force myself to rest at times to avoid injury. I’m so impressed and pleased with the support from everybody and the donations so far, so a massssssive, genuine thank you if you’ve donated. You guys are da best.

In 3 weeks I’ll be adding 26.2 miles as I’ll be completing a full marathon. Ahh even typing that freaks me out a little. This will be my first marathon but hopefully not my last. It’s the Isle of Man Marathon on 9th August which just happens to be my 21st birthday. So obviously donations are welcomed in place of presents :) And instead of a boozy night out in the evening, I’ll probably be in the bath with blistered feet and sore knees..

The past 100 miles (basically since my last blog post about it) have been nice but challenging as I’ve done a few long runs including 2 half marathons. I’ve hiked, jogged and sprinted. I’ve listened to a lot of Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Strokes, SBTRKT, Mumford and Foals. I think its time to retire the indie/folk/rock and get back to my RnB and hip hop!

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Any marathon runners got any advice for me?! I think I’ll feel a bit underprepared until I can go and stock up on more gear back in England and actually train without the fear of passing out in the crazy heat. Yeah I’m still complaining about the heat, sorry!

Last gentle reminder of why I’m doing all this; for this fab charity VSO – ‘Voluntary Service Overseas  is an international development charity with a vision for a “world without poverty” and a mission to “bring people together to fight poverty“. VSO recruits professionals to work as volunteers, living and working alongside local populations in developing countries. Founded in 1958, VSO has sent over 50,000volunteers to over 140 developing countries.’

click the button to go to my JustGiving page;

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Follow my daily progress on instagram – @marymandefield

or follow me on nikeID – marymandefield

Thanks y’aaaaaaalll.

Mary x

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#MazRuns600

https://www.justgiving.com/Mary-Mandefield/

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The novelty of travel.

To play while you read :)

I feel bad for my baby blog. Yep, lots of bloggers describe their blogs as their baby. I get where they’re coming from but mine is so neglected that if it were to be an actual baby, social services would’ve taken it off me weeks ago. But yeah I feel bad as it’s been put on the back burner whilst I’ve thrown myself into running and everything that comes with it as well as work, Kenya preparation and generally enjoying Spain. Anyway, let’s see if I can keep people updated for the next few weeks whilst I temporarily move back home and do boring adult stuff while everyone else is excited by the thought of a summer holiday.

That’s the thing with living overseas; I’m now getting into my head that it’s likely I’ll have to return to the bright lights of Welwyn Garden City for a month or 2 every summer or winter. This is to give myself to recuperate, see family, sort out my possessions, go to the doctor, make some money and plan my upcoming trips. Oh and see friends aha. This is a blessing and a curse as I hate the thought of not fully moving out (even though I’ve only been at home for about 5 months in the past 3 years!) but I guess it’s good to catch up with everyone/everything.

So I have a week left in Murcia, Spain, and I know it’s going to fly by. For everyone asking; I leave for Kenya on September 23rd so you have 2 full months to see my pretty face! As always towards the end of a trip, I’m having a reflective moment – mainly because I’m poor so am sitting at home doing a whole load of nothing. I’m thinking about the novelty of traveling and how I think it’s worn off. Most of my mates are now graduating and a lot of people are planning trips to exotic locations because of all this new found freedom they have. It’s cool but I can’t help but be a bit jealous of their excitement! It’s like anything else; once you’ve done it for a while the honeymoon period dulls down and it becomes more of a routine. You don’t wake up early and plan your outfit and make sure you’ve got your packed lunch ready and message all your friends before work everyday like you might have on your first day. Because after a while, going to work is just routine. It’s normal.

This is almost how I feel about traveling. It probably sounds dumb as each new place is different and I’ve only seen a very small percentage of what the world has to offer, but in my head most travel is pretty similar; like the actual travelling and preparation takes up most of your time and energy and the gorgeous sunsets, fun days surfing, bizarre meals etc that you post to your social media is a tiny part of the whole picture. I’ve been looking back at videos we use to make in Namibia and South Africa and things were just so much more exciting to us! Every little part of it was new and fun and now I kinda know how it goes. The getting up early for trains, flights and weird ferry journeys. Getting bitten by half the cast of ‘A Bugs Life’. Packing and repacking and then realising you have way too much stuff, repacking again 10 times. Arriving in a new place with the wrong currency. Not knowing the language at all or knowing enough to hold down a conversation but not knowing enough to form your desired opinion. Awkward opening hours and overpriced bars. Noisy guys in your hostel. Cheap clubs but full of creeps. Bloody selfie sticks.

Of course most of being overseas is ah-maaaa-zing and I like totally love the ‘GARP YAH’ life and slowly fulfilling my life goal of being a crazy hippy lady living in the forrest and braiding my hair. But sometimes I feel a bit ‘over it’. I’m not desperate to take photos, videos, keep a diary and every ticket stub I collect. I don’t care for a selfie in front of every landmark (That’s a lie actually) or telling all of my close friends where I am or what I’m doing in each new location.

BUT HEY I hope that just means I’m ready for a change.

Kenya will hopefully prove me wrong that travelling can get a bit same-y.

Kenya is going to be about others and less about my own mood so let’s see how it turns out. I’m excited for the new challenge and to be working in a big group. Who knows if they’ll be annoying me with their over-excitement for the trip and treating it like one big instagram opportunity or maybe they’ll inspire me with their energy and make me feel like one big ungrateful whiner. I hope they’re nice and have the same good intentions for the trip as I do!

I’m also thinking about life after Kenya. Many have commented that I’ll probably stay longer and be reluctant to come home, but due to visas and my general lack of money I doubt that’ll happen. I’m desperate to go Central America to surf, chill and improve my very very basic Spanish. Who knows if I’ll go through with it as my plans pretty much change on a day to day basis. I’d like to go with other people but not as a ‘oooh we’re travelling. Let’s pack our go pros and chocker necklaces!’. So any non dickhead takers for a year in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil (olympics!) and maybe Jamaica please raise your hand…

Errrrm, I think that’s me done. Please let me know in the comments if you ever feel the same or even get what I’m going on about?! I’m super grateful for what the last 3 years have handed me and I’ve fallen in love with so many places I just think this weird lull in mood and motivation happens in my last weeks in a place. I really and truly love living in Spain but I’m ready to land back in the UK and for my dog to jump into my arms and watch Disney movies in bed without having to worry about crap wifi. And maybe even see a cloud or 2.

Maz x

 (me crying as I left Barcelona. lol maybe the novelty hasn’t worn off)

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The first 100 miles – MazRuns600

So, this is a little overdue as I actually reached my first 100 mile milestone a week ago but y’know life has been busy busy. Here’s a quick run down of how I’ve been finding my sponsored run; the good, the bad and the ugly..

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The Good

I’ve loved my long runs more than I first thought I would. It’s so nice to get off my phone, laptop or tablet, not worry about replying to whatsapps or checking daily mail (zero shame hunnies) and just have time to myself. Most of y’all that know me well will probably know that I love being alone anyway, I’m literally my fave person so why wouldn’t I want to chill as a lone wolf. I’ve been using my runs to listen to albums I’ve been meaning to get round to for months. Sometimes I listen to podcasts; Scott Mills because his show is hilarious and other time Grimmy and Greg James. Another great thing is seeing more of my city; even after 2 months there’s so many places and parts I haven’t seen yet so it’s nice to deviate from my usual walking routes and discover cute parks, bridges and buildings.

I hate to be a narcissistic prude because obvs this is all for charity but I have lost a little weight. I’m nowhere near as toned or slim as I was way back in the good old days of 2010 but I’m slowly getting away from chubby Maz in Africa who couldn’t go a day without chocolate or homemade fudge.


 

The Bad

It’s been a hot topic all week (OMG PUNNNNNY) but I’m guna join in – THE HEAT. Mate I don’t live in the UK, I live in the south of Spain. It’s hot all day everyday and it makes training a million times more difficult. You can feel the warmth even before sunrise. And the evenings can still reach 35 degrees. If I’m happy to run on the pavement I’ll set off at midnight and be back by 2am, but if my knees are hurting and I therefore need to go on sandy gravel I have to leave the house at 8pm and get home just after sunset because there are no streetlights on the gravel road. This also means planning my meals accordingly and often sacrificing social plans.

I had been doing some short runs at the gym but the gym is so old fashioned that it’s actually more difficult than it should be. The air con is poop, there’s no water fountain, no TV and the opening hours suck if you’re a night owl like me. I have managed to squeeze in a few pilates classes though which have been good.

Yesterday I went to the gym with a film ready to watch on my tablet and hoping to do 15KM on the treadmill only to be told my membership was up?! I swear they told me I’d be good until 20th July, so that sucked a lot. I can’t afford to shell out for 3 weeks so I guess I’ll have to get used to the sweaty great outdoors.

Lastly; food! I am not a foodie but things are definitely changing. I can’t afford to skip any meals, binge or eat mounds of crap, plus I need to eat a lot and constantly fuel my body otherwise I’ll legit pass out. Tinie Tempah style. This isn’t necesarrily ‘a bad’ but it’s restrictive and another thing to worry/think/stress about.

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The Ugly

Flies. I’ve eaten about 20, inhaled a few and have even felt them go up my nose. Mmmmmm.

Let’s touch all the wood because luckily I haven’t had any injuries yet and I intend to keep it that way. I also have been mostly super happy and motivated (especially when I get a donation!) and I thought that would be my biggest obstacle so it’s all good.

p.s. disco fanny ew.


Thank you so much for the amazing support so far; from a simple ‘like’, ‘share’, encouraging comment or dontation it’s all appreciated more than you can imagine. Help me to help VSO make positive steps in global aid and volunteering. If you can afford to donate £1 then go for it, I won’t offended. If you can afford more than obviously I’ll be a happy bunny. I’ve still got a long way to go in completing a total of 600 miles but every donation keeps me motivated.

Currently – 126.2 miles (203KM!) ran, 473.8 to go.

click the button to go to my JustGiving page;

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Maz x

 

 

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MazRuns600 – sponsored running for VSO

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‘Mary, why are you running so much?!’

To go & volunteer in Kenya in September I need to raise £800 for the charity VSO. All the money goes directly to the charity and ensures they can keep the programme going for another year. Whilst I’m away I’ll be volunteering full time, staying with a host family and living like a local (food, activities, facilities) so don’t worry; I’m not going on an extended holiday!

VSO volunteers have loads of different ways of raising the money before volunteering overseas, a lot do a sponsored walk or run. I decided a 10K or half marathon wasn’t extreme enough so I’m accumulating the total of 600 miles over the next 2 months as my main fundraiser.

Why 600 miles (or 965KM)? I chose this distance because it’s the same as the width of Kenya (+ is probably the most I could handle in 2 months). I’m accumulating the total of 600 by running almost everyday whilst I’m in Spain (it’s 30 degrees most days which is ermm sweaty..) and will end with a long run in the UK; maybe a half marathon depending on dates.

You can track my progress & countdown on my instagram (@marymandefield) and will share big milestones here on my blog.
It’s easy to sponsor me on my JustGiving page and you can donate any amount or maybe choose to pledge £2 every time I reach a 100 mile milestone. This is a super tough challenge for me so I really appreciate any donations and support!

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p.s. I’ve found out it’s very likely I’ll be volunteering with people with disabilities; helping kids get into mainstream school and helping increase opportunities for wealth creation in areas of poverty in the market town of Nanyuki. I hope I can set up some sports clubs while I’m there too but obviously will have to wait until I find out more

Thanks guys & gals!

Show your support with the hashtag ‪#‎MazRuns600‬

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

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Maz goes to Mallorca

This time last year I was visiting my sister, G, in France at the campsite/holiday home park where she was working; this year she’s upgraded to starring in a dance and variety show in Palma, Mallorca so I went to go and pay her a visit.

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She’d told me how our friend Nev had booked a little last minute trip to see her and that we should surprise her – fab plan as I love a good surprise I do I doooo. The plan was to both go and pick Nev up from the airport the day after I arrived but G decided it was best I just went alone (we told Nev G would be there to meet her) just in case the flight was delayed as G had to go to work that evening. It’s a good thing she didn’t come because the flight was indeed delayed by over an hour. Nevs face was of pure confusion when I greeted her at arrivals. ‘huh what are you doing here? whaaaa?’

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Before this mini holiday I hadn’t seen G since around valentines and I think I last saw Nev in January and I probably won’t see her until Christmas time as she’s off travelling when I’ll be in the UK, so it of course was lovely to see them both as well as meeting G’s room mates Lottie and Claire.

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We all had a fab few days together but I’m guna let the photos do the talking. It was so good to have the three sisters / destiny’s child reunited for a short time :D

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Palma is so much more beautiful than you’d think and because it wasn’t peak summer season quite yet it wasn’t swarming with tourists.

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Seeing G perform in the Son Amar show was an absolute highlight for me as I haven’t seen her in a show since early 2012! (bad sister). The whole production was so professional and had a great pace, we actually didn’t take many photos as we were too busy enjoying the show.There were songs from around Europe (did make us lol a little), a contortionist in a giant see through ball hanging above the audience, MJ dance numbers, lots of spinning in a German wheel, LED light dancing and an amazing quick change act. I also really enjoyed the Spanish dancers, especially the guys as they have stamina for days! And I honestly LOVE  a quick change act; how do they do it?! HOW?!

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On my last evening Nev and I headed to Magaluf as it’s only a short bus journey from G’s and you know, why not (G was at work, we weren’t just ditching her dw). It was a mixed night and I think 1 night was definitely enough!

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We got back at 7 am and after a few hours of sleep I got ready for my super quick flight back to mainland Spain and my house in Murcia. I had such a chilled few days and would love to go back again, you know, if I win the lottery because now I gotta save up for Kenya aye aye aye.

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Mallorca was so beaut that I almost wish I was there for a bit longer but then I again I love Murcia too, and I’m sure I’ll get another opportunity to go in the future, fingers crossed G wants to get a job again there so I can visit again because I could get used to all the ice cream, beaches and pretty buildings.

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n’awwww sisters <3

Mary x

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I’m going to run 600 miles for charity

There’s no time like the present to start fundraising for my 3 month voluntary trip to Kenya with VSO!

I’ve had the idea to run the width of Kenya, all 600 miles of it… I’ve used my trusty Google Maps to calculate the distance from the border of Somalia on the east of Kenya to the border of Uganda in the west, passing through the town I’ll be living come September, Nanyuki.

P.s. It’s actually 589 miles but let’s round it up to make it even harder aha.

Sponsor me here! Help a sister out and donate a few pennies or more if you’re a generous type ;)
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Of course I can’t do this in one go so I’ll be adding up my miles from now and hope to complete it in 2 months. I’m setting myself a massive challenge here as I’m not an experienced runner, I’m generally a busy bee and the heat of southern Spain leaves me pretty knackered after work and general errands let alone socialising, friends visiting and travelling. But I love a good challenge; Kenyans are renowned for being some of the best runners in the world so simply running something like 10km would not do the country justice! Haha let’s see how long my confidence lasts ;D

To make it more interesting whenever somebody donates (whatever amount, I’d be chuffed with £1!) they’ll have the chance to request adding something to make the journey more interesting. I’m thinking running in a silly hat, fancy dress, a weird hairstyle, face paint etc. Also you can request other sports to contribute to the 600 miles; swimming (I don’t have access to a pool but I’m close enough to the beach), cycling, walking or hiking. I’m open to some wacky ideas if you’re donating! I’ll update my blog and Facebook Page with photos and videos of proof and commentary of how it’s going (expect sweaty selfies and videos of me generally dying of exhaustion yay).

I’m excited about this as my first fundraiser for the cause and probably the toughest challenge I’ve set myself. Please share my JustGiving page if you want to support and donate if you’re feeling super sweet; stay tuned for news of how my 600 miles is going!

Let’s start this; 600 miles / over 965km to travel to Kenya to volunteer with those a lot less lucky than you or me.

Share you support with this hashtag #MazRuns600

Mary x

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So, I’m moving to Kenya

Well, not forever but I found out yesterday that I will be spending 3 months in the beautiful country!

Quick catch up; I’m in Spain at the moment, I’ll leave on 21st July to go to England then on 23rd September I’ll be travelling to Nanyuki in Kenya to complete 3 months of volunteering with VSO ICS. How exciting! (yeeeeees I plan on going somewhere else before September but maybe winning to lottery also has to be somewhere in my plans…)

I’ve only been told that I’ll be working on a programme called Secure Livelihoods; their main objective is to strengthen the ability of disadvantaged people to access sufficient food and income, and to have more control over how and when they access these essential lifelines. I’ll find out more about my exact roles and responsibilities very soon.

I’ve never been to Kenya before and don’t have many preconceptions as I don’t (knowingly) have any friends from there so it will all be brand new to me. The town of Nanyuki seems to be a market town with a lot of speeding motorbikes, hustle and a close community. It’s also on the equator which will be cool, I don’t know why but the equators always fascinated me!

In order to go on the volunteer placement I will have to raise £800 in the upcoming weeks. This is definitely going to be the toughest challenge pre-departure as I almost feel emotionally prepared for ‘African life’ already and things like vaccinations and packing lightly aren’t really an issue for me (I say confidently now ha). I have some fun ideas for fundraising and hope to do a variety of events and challenges to raise the money and not just rely on badgering people on social media for donations (although I’m sure I’ll manage to sneak some of that in too. yay sorrrrrry).

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I know a few asian countries were possible options to volunteer in but I’m grateful in a way that I was placed in Africa. Firstly, I doubt I’d ever go to Kenya alone (as in, not being looked after by an organisation) whereas I wouldn’t think twice about jumping on a plane to Asia so it’s a great chance to see Kenya more like a local. Secondly, I obviously love Africa! The people, culture, way of life, weather, everything! I also have seen the positive effects of great volunteering in Africa and would be stupid to turn down that opportunity again. The only downside at the moment is knowing how close (as in close in african terms, a few countries away) I’ll be to Namibia and Cape Town and not having the chance to go and visit my extended family. But apart from that I’m feeling so grateful to be placed in Kenya.

I will do a whole new post about fundraising very soon so will have more information about what I’m planning but it would be dumb not to link my JustGiving page here now – https://www.justgiving.com/Mary-Mandefield

If anyone reading this has been to Kenya before, maybe even volunteered there or has any advice, fundraising ideas or general words of encouragement then obviously it’s all super appreciated!

I’m feeling pretty lucky that I can combine my love for travel with my want of helping others and living more sustainably, I can’t wait to find out more about my placement :D

Don’t hate, donate.
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Mary x

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A night in Alicante

Kloe, Jess and I took the bus to Alicante on Saturday to see Alex, Antonia (and her brother Alex who was visiting) and Betty – fellow erasmuserrrrs. The sun clearly didn’t want to say hey and we had rain and no umbrellas, cue using beach towels to get to Alex’s to get ready for our night.

Spanish weather let us down last night 💦

A photo posted by MazRuns600 (@marymandefield) on

I let Kloe do my make up and had actual eyeshadow on my actual eyelids like an actual girl. Kloe’s a make up wizard so managed to make me look half decent, what a star. I got a bit of apartment envy as the places in Alicante are so much more modern than our granny flats in Ye Olde Murcia… And Alex’s living area is probably bigger than my whole flat, not fair. We headed back to Antonia and Betty’s to pre drink and meet some of their friends. We had cups the size of our faces and more people to pre drink than the room really permitted. A few hours later we headed to Marmarela, a cocktail bar basically on the sea. I blanked out as soon as we arrived like everyone else because those cups really were ridiculously big, so don’t remember much of what it looked like but I know it was preeeetty.

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The place felt like a mini festival, was free to get in and the music was actually banging. Me and Kloe head banged for way too long and now have sore necks still 3 days later which is pathetic. The DJ kept looking back at me, if I gave him a thumbs up he seemed satisfied and got back to playing music, weird.

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We were all having a really good night until Kloe told me the police were there and drama had begun. I won’t go into detail but things just esculated quickly; a few were covered in blood, I heard a lot of arguing with the police in Spanish and then the ambulance arrived. Drama drama drama. This random ordeal went on until about 7am, then we rejoined at KFC, I ate the batter from other peoples chicken because I’m such a good vegetarian..

Anyway, apart from the unnecessary police & ambulance drama we had a pretty good night. The Alicante girls are so lovely so I hope I get to see them again at some point in the UK.

People are starting to leave Spain now because the term is over which makes me emosh, basically, I wish everyone lived in Hertfordshire so I could pop by for pesto pasta and rubbish games of ring of fire.

Mary x

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Love Locks are gone, love is still a thing…

Let me just have a moan about the ‘love lock bridge’ and share some of my favourite photos from the massive tourist attraction from when I visited and lived in Paris


‘No, that was the most romantic place in the city of love!’

‘They should just leave the locks there, they symbolise undying love’

‘Why bother visiting Paris now the bridge of eternal love is ruined?!’

Um, no one in Paris is actually that bothered about almost a million rusty padlocks being cut off the Pont des Arts – known to as tourists as ‘The Love Lock bridge’; a place to visit with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, whoever and fix a padlock with your names or initials scrawled on. You then would throw your key into the river (because this love is totes locked forever and ever) and get an obligatory selfie to remember the life changing moment… Or it was just a cute touristy thing to do and maybe come back to visit in a few years to see if you could still find you lock (probably not).

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I’m not a hater of the bridge or idea of it, I actually think it’s pretty cute and always an interesting bridge to walk across. You could people couple watch for hours if you could deal with the ‘can you possibly take our photo please?’ in a strong foreign accent every few minutes then you could have a fab afternoon in the area.

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But some people need to get over the romance is dead! notion. The bridge was crippling under the weight of 45 tons of chunky metal locks and anyone who’s walked across it will know how old and unsafe it felt. Yes, the Frenchies could of made a cool sculpture using the locks and almost continued the tradition, just on a piece of solid ground that didn’t look like it was going to give way any second. But how romantic your trip to Paris is shouldn’t be determined by your chance to put a €5 lock on a bridge and pay another euro to borrow a sharpie.

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Also, it’s not just now that they’ve decided to pull it all apart. They’ve been taking down sections for months, since October if I remember correctly. Some parts of the bridge were replaced with ugly boards of wood which obviously got covered in graffiti pretty quickly. So yeah rant over. Romance aint dead, go and do something more authentic in Paris. If putting a lock on a bridge was your only reason to visit the city then maybe it’s best you don’t go anway. The bridge would’ve fallen down at some point because science. Yes it’s an eyesore to see the naked bridge, go to Le Mur des je t’aime instead. It’s hardly tradition, it only started in 2008 lol. No Parisians ever went there anyway because it’s so not chic. The locals aren’t too fussed about it’s departure and you shouldn’t be either.

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The weight of all that love was clearly just too much..

Mary x

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