RACE FOR LIFE Rochester 

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On Sunday 17th May 2015 I took part in the Race for Life, Rochester to raise money for Cancer Research UK.  I lost my Dad to Cancer on the 24th March 2015 so this was my motivation to lace up my trainers and give it my all.  Events like this are vital in funding Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work into preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. 

The race was at 11:00.  I arrived at 10, as instructed, to enjoy the warm up, soak up the excitement and be inspired by survivors stories.  As I arrived at the castle grounds I was quite overwhelmed to see a sea of women dressed in pink.  The pink army ready for battle.  It was estimated there were 2000 participants!  It had been an emotional morning and I had put off writing my back sign as I knew it would be tough.  My dedication was made to my Dad, Ray.  I was a bit of an emotional wreck until it was time to actually run.

  

We were all gathered on the grass in the glorious sunshine in front of the Rochester Castle, really fitting for the pink army.  There was a stage with a Heart FM DJ gearing everybody up.  A survivor was invited onto the stage to share her story and a minute of silence was also conducted.  A few dogs chose not to participate.  We were also told to turn round a read the message on the person in fronts back.  This set me off again.  It makes you realise that everybody at some point in their life will be effected by cancer.  

  

I took part in a pre race warm up which involved dancing, and anyone that knows me knows I love to dance, however my son was not amused.  I didn’t realise I was already an embarrassing mum!  

It was almost time.  We were asked to decide if we were runners, joggers or walkers.  I had been training for a couple of weeks prior to the race so thought I’d take up the challenge and join the runners.  

  

We then headed to the start line.  I made my way to the front with my fellow runners.  I felt nervous, again overwhelmed but determined, I was ready.  The countdown began 10, 9, 8…….GO! I began to run along the cobbled high street, the faster runners speed off.  It was very warm and after a few minutes I began to get comfortable with my pace and my breathing, then the course began to climb up a hill, I had read there were inclines along the route but the hill was never ending and hid around the upcoming corners, I still kept running, when the course levelled out and began descended down hill it gave me time to catch my breath, we were back near the castle.  The cheering clapping crowd were great motivation.  I started to recognise the route now.  First lap of my 5k was done, oh no I’ve got to go uphill again I thought to myself.  I was dreading climbing those hills again.  I was so determined not to stop and has trained myself to run the whole distance without stopping, but three quarters of the way up the hill I reached a point where I had to stop the hill was too much, I needed to catch my breath.  I sipped some water, reached the summit, composed myself then went for it, all the way to the finish line. I passed my husband’s parents with my son cheering me on, that brought such a smile to my face, then on the last climb up the hill into the castle grounds I spotted my husband and my daughter.  That was the motivation to run the last few metres.     I crossed the finish line!  A huge wave of pride swept over me.  I did it!   I claimed my medal, my pink army dog tags!  I managed to run the race in 31 minutes.  During training my best time was 33 minutes.  I used an app to track my race it actually only recorded a distance of 4.75K.  Guess the track divisors were more lenient because of the hills?! 😉 

  

I raised a total of £323, which I am really happy with considering my target was £100.  I am very proud of myself and all my generous sponsors, some of whom were people I had never met, it’s so overwhelming that strangers will dig deep into their pockets to help fight for a cure for cancer.  Thank you to everyone that helped me raise money to support Cancer research UK.  I raced for life and showed cancer that hell hath no fury like a woman in pink!

  

For my next race for life I will be upping my game and taking part in the Blackheath 10k on the 5th July.  Please sponsor me and help me smash my previous target by donating to my just giving page, just click on the link.  

http://www.justgiving.com/samanthaharding20


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Experience premium Japanese food and drink 

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I was invited to attend an experience premium Japanese food and drink event.  It was held at the InterContinental London Park Lane.  The purpose of the event was to promote the export of Japanese agriculture, marine and food products.  The emphasis was on five major categories rice, beef, tea, flowers & bonsai and marine products.  This was an extremely important event with lots of VIPs and I felt very privileged to have been invited.  

I attended a seminar in which I learned about and got to sample Wagyu beef.  This was my first time sampling Wagyu beef, it’s actually only been exported to the UK since 2014, so I was very eager to try some.  Whilst the speakers were explaining about the highly regarded beef an award winning butcher was literally preparing the beef ready for us to try.  

  

Japan’s wagyu is unique for it’s extensive marbling and very strict grading system, it also holds a logo which guarantees authenticity.  

The melting point for wagyu fat is very low and can even be melted at body temperature.  I can testify to this, I was brave enough to hold a piece of the butchered fat between my fingers and it almost dissolved into hand cream.  

  

I was given a gorgeous brochure which went into great depth about the beef and how it is raised and graded and the different ways it can be served.  

During the seminar I sampled it thinly sliced with soy sauce.  To be honest I immediately thought of a donner kebab! Once I tasted it I very quickly dismissed the thought. 

  

It is very different to any beef I have tasted before.  It has a rich taste and a deep aroma and is very succulent. It was very savoury and sweet at the same time.  It is suggested in the literature that it tastes of coconut and peach, I can’t agree I picked up on that but there was definitely a contrast in the taste.  

Once the seminars were over everyone was invited into the main ballroom where a reception was held to sample the delights Japan had to offer.

The Wagyu beef was proudly on display as well as the sake and gorgeous flowers, the chefs were busy, focused on slicing the fish for the beautiful sashimi. 

   

  

   

 Being a foodie I immediately spotted an area where there were small dishes of food all neatly displayed ready to be announced.  Fellow foodies huddled round.  We were like runners at the start line bursting to get going.  

  Char grilled wagyu sirloin, confit garlic potato purée, English asparagus tips

 Coco dusted seared yellow tail tuna, shaved fennel, orange and avocado salad   Mizo glazed scallop, soba noodles, tempura green onions

  English truffle and wild mushroom risotto, shaved Berkswell ewes milk cheese 

 Sencha poached chicken breast on a Spring salad of baby gem, green peas, broad beans, radish, lemon dressing

Once we were given the green light I pounced.  My sights were set on the char grilled wagyu sirloin, confit garlic potato purée, English asparagus tips.  Wow!  Absolutely gorgeous! Star of the show!  

 There was a truffle risotto showcasing Japanese rice, I wasn’t quick enough to sample this dish.  It smelt amazing though.  

I did get to try sencha (green tea) poached chicken breast and a Mizo glazed scallop with a delicious tempura green onion.  I also wolfed down a beautiful Japanese strawberry eaton mess! 

I got to sample some sparkling sake and a few sweet treats.  

   

     What a fantastic way to spend an evening, transported to Japan in the heart of London only just a short walk away from my office.