To coin a cliché: what a difference a year makes. Yesterday afternoon, at about 4pm, I was walking along the seafront in Portsmouth, talking life and business plans with my dearest friend Naomi, after spending the day doing a promotional photoshoot for a very exciting project (which I will come to very shortly). The day before, I'd finished my third long-distance running race - a ten-mile scarper through a World War Two aerodrome and the nearby, rural Surrey town.
I'm not naturally an early riser, so to be greeted by this, at 6:30 on a Sunday morning is rather nice.
Dunsfold Aerodrome was built by the Canadian Army in WWII. Now it's home to the most
laddish of TV shows, Top Gear. And some planes. Which I saluted.
laddish of TV shows, Top Gear. And some planes. Which I saluted.
I finished it in an all-time personal best of 1:24:44, which means I ran at an average pace of 8 minutes 30 seconds per mile, 15-seconds per mile faster than my pancake-flat half marathon a few weeks back, even despite the hills, even though I had a stinking cold. My dedicated training over the last few weeks paid off and no mistake (my brother pacing me also helped!).
I'd chosen to do that particular race for a few reasons: the picturesque and indeed historic location (which also happened to be in fairly close proximity to my parents), and the fact that it nearly fell on my running anniversary. My runniversary, if you will. Because, at 4pm yesterday as I gazed out to sea, the ghost of my running past was pulling on a pair of borrowed running shoes, a t-shirt and a pair of American Apparel shorts; and heading out the door to see how far I could go. And how fast.
The answer was, of course, not very, and really not very. I think I did a total of two miles around the block, the first in a very slow and painful time, the rest punctuated by stops and walking. I sweated, I puffed and panted, it hurt. But there was absolutely no doubt that after I got in, collapsed on the sofa and had a bit of a breather, I was extremely proud of myself for taking that first step. And many more continued. I went a little further each time, felt a little fitter, puffed a little less... hurt a little less, too! It wasn't long before I'd got myself some properly fitted trainers and some lycra (because clammy cotton is not fun to run in) and started
It's not that running and vintage style are mutually exclusive - they're not. I've done training runs in lipstick and with my hair pinned in a sort of retro-esque updo. This fabulous lady, Sheryl Yvette manages to go running and look amazing from start to finish. So does Sofia Hedstrom. But I always seem to chicken out at the last minute. I think that despite everything I've just said, I don't know if I feel like a 'proper runner', and that once I crack 8 minute miles, maybe I'll do it then. When I can run a half-marathon in 1:45 or something. Once I'm doing so well that people will be judging me on the start line for wearing lipstick but then see me fly past... or maybe I'll keep these two parts of my life separate forever. Who knows! I do know that I intend to get even better at running, I just need to keep reminding myself that it's only been one single year since I started. I've always been the kind of person who will unfortunately put absolutely no effort into things that don't inspire, move or motivate me. Put me in a boring job with nowhere to go, and I will underperform. But when I get it into my head to do something, I work and work at it until I have achieved my goal. From passing my driving test within months when I decided I wanted to, to getting into my chosen field after uni (then finding it cripplingly dull, but that's another story), to forging my current career, to building my vintage wardrobe, and now running. Improving at running is a metaphor for chipping away at any of your goals in life - you get out what you put it. It's also, as my mum would say, like eating an elephant. You can do it, but only in small bites.
Maybe this is a little tangential here, but indulge me for a moment. Because I've been thinking recently about how well-suited running and vintage are as lifestyles, and am surprised more don't do it (though I know I've inspired lots of you, and that's why I keep including it instead of moving it elsewhere).
The fact is, that most women who wear vintage each and every day are strong minded, thick-skinned, fierce and quite frankly bad-ass ladies, who do as they please. Sure, there are plenty of more gentle girls who claim to simply long to be old-fashioned housewives, and that's absolutely fine too, but on the whole, the act of simply wearing these weird old clothes every day requires a certain confidence and single-mindedness. Otherwise we'd all be nervous wrecks, frankly. Above all else, running has made my clothes fit better. When you've got a natural girdle and waist-cincher, everything hangs as it should. We won't talk about my monstrous calf-muscles though.
My friend Bangs and a Bun recently started a site aimed at bad-ass ladies of all sartorial persuasions, Spikes & Heels. Her intent is to take the pink/fluffy/weightloss aspects out of ladies' fitness; and I'm finding it super inspiring. But I won't lie, I'd like to feel more fabulous on race days as well as rest days. But having followed her life for the last couple of yearsm I keep thinking that maybe I can learn (or rather borrow...or even pinch) from her and get a group of amazing vintage running divas together for a future half-marathon... I keep thinking about how I'd feel so less self-conscious if I was in a starting pen with a group of other girls in indelible red lipstick and a tightly pinned victory roll or two. We could get Maybelline to sponsor us with some 24-Hour Superstay. 13.1 miles of red-lippied smiles. What do you think? ;)
Anyway, back in reality, as I celebrate my year of running, I'm starting to knuckle down on the others things I really want to make happen in the next year. I have a particular goal that is in sight and I look forward to filling you all in with my progress as and when it happens. And don't worry, it's actually got nothing to do with running!
But after nearly three years of being self-employed and doing things I enjoy and am good at every day, things are starting to happen. It's a struggle at times and I could do with any number of tips about hustling for work. I'm great at networking and making friends, but less good at approaching people and asking them to hire me. It's also definitely time to add some new business strings to my bow. But when I'm working, it's joyous. Take yesterday, I was hired to do some modelling, for promotional materials about the new Victorious Vintage festival that's going to take place at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Jubilee Weekend. I'll be posting more about this as details are confirmed, but here's a sneaky peek of the photoshoot!
I'm wearing a playsuit/skirt set by Miss Hussy, which I believe is sadly defunct. Miss L Fire shoes!
Finally, I'm going to leave you with what is probably going to be my new favourite outfit for the spring. I rarely buy new clothes these days, so when I do, I like to really treat myself. I've wanted a pair of Bernie Dexter Pin Up Capris for absolutely ages, and finally, a couple of weeks ago, I gave in. I am SO glad I did as they are absolutely amazing! I asked Bernie herself about sizing and went for the small as my measurements are 26 waist and 39 hip and she said the 26/36 would fit. She was right! But crikey, I better not put on even an inch. Sorry for the rubbish backdrops...
Plain outfits allow loud jewellery, of course (not that I usually follow this rule, the louder the better!), and I LOVE this Carmen Miranda inspired necklace that was generously sent to me by Bow and Crossbones. I've actually bought a number of their lovely bamboo bangles in all different colours in the past, and I'll be digging the credit card out soon, to buy the matching pieces of the fruit range as well. So THANKS B&C for enabling me so perfectly with your 'kind' gift. ;)
Actually, I'll leave you with a different thing: my favourite Instagram picture since, well, the last pug I photographed. My neighbour's 11-week old pug puppy. I am dead from the cute.