Race Report: London Winter Run

 photo 10959432_10205095882829357_2614190683230695110_n_zpsb8068cf5.jpg
 photo 10933868_10152946970570813_3685631235126730270_n_zpsebdc98bd.jpg
 photo 72121_LWR15_AU3_005994_zps1752a536.jpg
 photo image27_zpsbf7b9b73.jpeg
 photo 72121_LWR15_QUV_005160_zpsbd629630.jpg photo 10882253_10205104883014356_4055379775163623559_n_zps59d3523c.jpg photo 10959139_10205103320055283_3538165556313698792_n_zps97f0d8f8.jpg
 photo 1503583_10205104873934129_5046830420036799840_n_zps474eb394.jpg

A few weekends ago I took part in my first race of the year, the London Winter Run, with my cousin, B. It was a gloriously sunny morning with blue skies, though utterly freezing temperatures, but we were raring to go come race morning. Both of us had been suffering with various injuries leading up to the event so it was touch and go as to whether we would compete, but after agreeing that we would just run the 10K for fun and whilst trying to listen to our bodies throughout, we decided to just go for it and enjoy. We took a rather laissez-faire approach on race morning, waking up in Marylebone about an hour before our wave was due to start in Westminster, which is incredibly unlike our usual control-freak personalities, though still allowed time for a quick bowl of porridge before hopping on the tube to the start line (first time in my life that I have ever been glad to catch the toasty Bakerloo line!).

My first impression of the race was that it was incredibly well-organised with plenty of enthusiastic helpers ready to point you in the right direction. Hardly surprising considering Human Race were the organisers. My second thought was that there were so many competitors, and so it was clearly not going to be a fast race or one for a PB – I think approximately 15,000 people took part. B and I decided to run together throughout the entire race, which was the first time we had competed together since the London Triathlon in 2010 (which was quite frankly a disastrous race for me), and meant we could be our own support crew as our partners were occupied with other things.

And so there we were, in the starting pen, surrounded by hundreds of other really enthusiastic runners and with music blaring and various warm up exercises happening around us. Whilst this was all very nice, we just wanted to get running as I was struggling with the freezing temperatures at this point. We gradually made our way closer and closer to the start line, expecting to start – only to be stopped once again and then having to wait another 5 minutes before they finally allowed our wave to cross the start line.

The start was slow…very, very slow. We seemed to be in with a complete mix of abilities, some people were choosing to walk right from the very start, and some resorted to walking after 1K. All well and good, however it would have been nice if they had moved to the side to allow a clear path for those of us who were running. Unfortunately the entire race was a case of people-dodging, however this really was the only downside. At about the 6K mark I could feel a few niggles creeping in but I was expecting this to happen and it wasn’t anything significant enough to make me want to slow down or stop, in fact, all I could think of throughout the entire run was how great my body was feeling. I suspect it had something to do with the epic carb-loading session we had the evening beforehand, as usually my downfall with running is the fact that I struggle to fuel my body properly for mid-distances. We ran through a few snow zones, which were fun in terms of the gimmick-factor, but not so fun when you ended up with a mouthful of snow. The race seemed to go incredibly quickly, although that perhaps had something to do with the fact that we were enjoying talking to each other throughout the entire route.

Soon enough we were at 8K which was the furthest I had run in training (I adopted the marathon approach by not actually running my full distance, and even stopped running entirely for the 7 days before race day due to aches and pains) and I still felt very strong. Then the 9K marker appeared and a huge feeling of pride came over me as I knew that my legs had plenty more miles in them and that I was nearly at the finish line. As the finish line came into view, B grabbed hold of my hand and we went in for our usual sprint finish, and my gosh, it felt spectacular. Our time was 1hr3 (I technically came in a fraction of a second before B, which sufficiently fuelled our ‘sibling rivalry’) which we were incredibly satisfied with.

My aim was to run a solid 10K whilst enjoying every moment, and that is precisely what I did. Placing that medal around my neck made me realise just how far my running and frame of mind has come and I knew that I could have easily pushed myself to run a sub-1hr run if I had really wanted to. My next 10K race is at the end of March which I will push myself in and am already really looking forward to.

 Shortly after crossing the finish line, we met our uncle in Trafalgar Square who treated us to a hot chocolate to help us warm up. And then we headed back to the house in Marylebone for a shower before indulging in the most wonderful brunch at Daisy Green’s – we both opted for The Bondi, which was utterly delicious.

All in all, a fantastic race, and one which I intend to run again in 2016.

Oh, beautiful Oslo!

 photo 7_zpsf82f9367.jpg photo 6_zps59d71fc0.jpg
 photo 5_zpsbbcaec03.jpg
 photo 4_zpsb5d55f4a.jpg
 photo 3_zps85748a7d.jpg
 photo 2_zps93c45289.jpg
 photo 1_zpsc3805362.jpg

 (All photos from my Instagram and taken on my phone)

Last month I visited Norway for a few days of work, and what a spectacular place it is! I only spent time in Oslo but already know that I will return for pleasure in the near future as there is plenty to explore both in the city and further inland which would suit our adventure-lust perfectly. Oslo itself has to be one of the best European cities I have ever visited; it has amazing infrastructure, the friendliest of people and is just so beautiful and cosmopolitan. Of course it helped that it snowed whilst we were there so everything was glistening in the dull light that stayed with us for just a few short hours during the day.

On the first day we visited The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design where I was lucky enough to have a very informative tour with one of my colleagues (a Professor of Architecture, no less!) before heading to work for the afternoon. The next day was a rather full on work day where I met some wonderful Norwegian students who were so engaged in education and an absolute pleasure to speak to, before collapsing into bed after a quick session in the hotel gym. The gym was actually more glamorous than it sounds; it was on the top floor of the hotel with panoramic views over the city which looked absolutely stunning at night time with everywhere lit up. The third day involved more work before heading off to explore the city with another colleague – we started off at the Opera House just as twilight was setting in and took the most stunning photos before traipsing in the snow along the coastline (in suits and smart shoes, not an easy task) to The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, where I had yet another private tour with my colleague who’s a History of Art lecturer, so again, I was in the best company for absorbing some culture. The modern art museum was in the wharf area of Oslo which certainly had a Canary Wharf vibe to it, though felt much more serene and well-maintained. All I could think about whilst there was wanting to have a dip in the ocean as it looked so inviting, though the freezing temperatures and the almost-definite onset of death deterred my adventurous soul this time round.

All I can say is that Oslo is a magical little city and certainly one worth visiting. The more I visit Nordic countries, the more I fall in love with them and their relaxed lifestyle. My mind and body felt so at peace whilst I was there, it definitely felt like an escape from the rat race.

New Forest Adventures

 photo 10802082_10204626332930903_8016373533334946696_n_zps2b300fae.jpg photo 10450239_10154892879225557_1086059404430873563_o1_zpsbaed3487.jpg
 photo 10750064_10154892873885557_4650496276937275774_o_zps4c2f5056.jpg
 photo 10710492_10154892879720557_7752632396394227979_o_zpsf37c3d3c.jpg
 photo 10380122_10154892875545557_3157183837778917952_o_zps378bc4b5.jpg
 photo 10633878_10154892877400557_2064617663312614487_o_zps9f5d7ef9.jpg
 photo 10344427_10154892878060557_5088381800388902053_o_zps7fc4175d.jpg
 photo 10626418_10154892874300557_4298511629049345307_o_zps2b3e6d0a.jpg
 photo 10648234_10154892872210557_5879309373316719299_o_zps48b57471.jpg
 photo 10750033_10154892869000557_2342590607616596266_o_zps561d8ed2.jpg
 photo 10636418_10154892878635557_5927076887580056848_o_zps73274ee1.jpg
 photo 10842285_10154892881800557_71045305849147524_o_zps83692b42.jpg
 photo 10835265_10154892874645557_6858809878940426104_o_zps1b40903d.jpg
 photo 10683587_10154892875035557_3765358366859436974_o_zps3111755b.jpg
 photo 10679684_10154892873575557_6329645013280919436_o_zps8bf4bd91.jpg

Another December tradition of ours is to head down to my family’s holiday cottage in the New Forest. It’s a little chocolate box cottage situated in a tiny hamlet just outside of Lyndhurst and is so wonderfully festive at this time of year. I just adore the New Forest – it is perfect for outdoorsy people like us with wonderful routes for walking, trail running, cycling, and even locations for sailing, open water swimming and kayaking. It really is an excellent little retreat and I think we’re planning on spending some more time there during the warmer months of 2015.

A Festive Skate

 photo 10846430_10204720314040372_1749134914842878154_n_zps9f66a7e6.jpg photo 1477400_10204720315480408_8687842141095940082_n_zps118960de.jpg
 photo 10801905_10204682430533308_5907171438071919315_n_zpsd1849c59.jpg
 photo 10847927_10204720316440432_6299230727794249588_n_zps92bab138.jpg
 photo 10858390_10204720318200476_6099468071145484670_n_zps94986fb7.jpg
 photo 10686904_10204720316080423_8487122625656945285_n_zpsdfce43bf.jpg
 photo 10849923_10204720317680463_7065339328511625254_n_zps02b65171.jpg
 photo 1510561_10204720316760440_84482719830375201_n_zpsbab7042e.jpg

After finishing work last Friday, I met up with Sahdya to take part in our annual festive ice skate at the Natural History Museum. This has been a tradition of ours for three years now and one which always puts me in a cheerful Christmas mood. We started the evening with a light supper at Muriel’s Kitchen (South Kensington branch) which I can highly recommend for fresh, healthy and wholesome food, before wandering along the road to skate. I much prefer skating here to Somerset House because it doesn’t feel quite as touristy or busy. We only ever spend half an hour on the ice before growing bored of the crowds and heading off to get our shoes and bags early to avoid queues, oh, and of course to visit the Lindt Chalet. Whilst the Lindt Chalet was a little disappointing, we did end up engaged in some great conversation with the people working there (and we may have given them an education on Jesus and the Middle East as they were oh-so-misinformed – we just cannot help ourselves, apologies). All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening!

A Day in Bruges

 photo 10321753_10154920460370557_1140996961836033243_o_zps1b5ceb5d.jpg photo 10869882_10154920497790557_201646296564580674_o_zps23b16fe9.jpg
 photo 10847465_10154920534635557_8832878635518540381_o_zpsb452cb4f.jpg
 photo 10517645_10154920473025557_3934975565174978434_o_zps7225d2d8.jpg
 photo 10854233_10154920557745557_6593664435365581475_o_zps75af0e90.jpg
 photo 10499462_10154920589830557_2948560691502463503_o_zps97c93751.jpg
 photo 10842236_10154920590795557_647987346427480392_o_zps7269ea19.jpg
 photo 10869482_10154920588470557_7304008048379744935_o_zpsb2c987b7.jpg
 photo 1669875_10154920593870557_5588211668874537294_o_zps4aca4bfd.jpg
 photo 10865772_10154920442330557_7357381919450298124_o_zps69033289.jpg
 photo 10866216_10154920583440557_688812009621319918_o_zps54ce440e.jpg
 photo 10856568_10154920592215557_8117522509144113953_o_zps7ef985b8.jpg
 photo 1932505_10154920585065557_5662750260780825916_o_zps7a42ab19.jpg
 photo 10847712_10154920606975557_2374918040512003999_o_zps87d5eedd.jpg
 photo 10860851_10154920598185557_4505811460492902673_o_zpsaa05debc.jpg
 photo 1913436_10154920605410557_7007614600580198301_o_zpsff2c2b93.jpgI know, I know, I am a terrible blogger – I simply don’t have the time to update regularly anymore, however this week I’m on medical leave from work (read: seriously bored) and so I have a little more time on my hands than I’d like, hence this post.

Each year to celebrate our anniversary, G and I catch the train to Bruges to enjoy the Christmas market and a wander around the historic city – it’s a trip that can be done in a day and leaves us feeling sufficiently festive. On Sunday we wrapped up warm (I resorted to THREE pairs of tights, a merino base layer and a running base layer under my very woolly jumper) and braced the freezing temperatures of Belgium. If you have a sweet tooth I would highly recommend a visit to this lovely medieval city as there are chocolate shops every few steps, broken up only by cake shops and restaurants all adorned with wreaths and sparkly Christmas lights. It really is a festive foodie heaven and somewhere I’m already looking forward to returning to next year.


A few days in Paris

 photo 10629317_10154632563615557_3472190442707724735_o_zps44725372.jpg
 photo 10580722_10154629373125557_8630884717024041193_o_zps7775d0ac.jpg
 photo 10697431_10154629371325557_1325155553024356794_o_zpse0b7128e.jpg
 photo 10537290_10154629368025557_4369955787626242169_o_zpscb412705.jpg
 photo 10537196_10154632579000557_7804863115238254328_o_zps124dfd51.jpg
 photo 10669359_10154632584045557_1286507026969395144_o_zps0a3d491b.jpg
 photo 10658663_10154632590700557_4512288347229342300_o_zps944ceaa3.jpg
 photo 10628799_10154632595200557_4414814967961019361_o_zpsfdcbe98b.jpg
 photo 10669131_10154632629810557_5270945504496550102_o_zpsb6f0f497.jpg
 photo 1492573_10154632599265557_1195160846977386474_o_zps016c84a4.jpg
 photo 10679547_10154632611875557_3027704477388375665_o_zps6a4ad9e4.jpg
 photo 10708576_10154632557775557_6528091014320443179_o_zps4391ed20.jpg
 photo 10505086_10154632617925557_808319364768653831_o_zps0ac01e32.jpg
 photo 10468212_10154632626665557_3899284450111821927_o_zpse0771ad3.jpg
 photo 10648253_10154635755710557_8538248895837869216_o1_zps32c789a7.jpg
 photo 10712378_10154635754820557_6162613548959469915_o1_zpsc0a2de6c.jpg photo 10712462_10154635763035557_2871039578856841022_o1_zpsab080198.jpg
 photo 10712463_10154635764500557_9060562843568144111_o1_zps4a9ea63b.jpg
Last weekend, my fiancé and I packed our bags for a few days of business and pleasure in the city of lights, Paris. Paris is my spiritual home and I adore it with all my heart, unfortunately G had only experienced Paris via the metro whilst travelling to the centre of France for his year abroad whilst at university many moons ago – and needless to say, that was not an experience he enjoyed. I knew that I could show him the delights of Paris, but also knew I would have my work cut out in converting him to city-life as he is a coastal boy through and through. We stayed in the Parisian district of Passy which is lovely as it is home to one of the best shopping boulevards in all of Paris and is still relatively undiscovered by tourists.

After dealing with some business on our first day, I took G over to the Eiffel Tower for some lunch on the Seine in the glorious sunshine. It was Paris fashion week and an Indian Summer had well and truly set in which was an unexpected treat. We spent the majority of that afternoon strolling around the area, occasionally stopping for refreshments and to people-watch before heading home for an evening picnic.

I had a full itinerary planned our for our second day in the city…and I wanted to do all 25K of it on foot. We started our day strolling past the Eiffel Tower again and along the Seine towards St-Germain-des-Prés for brunch at Ladurée. This is by far the most beautiful Ladurée in the world and a trip to Paris never feels complete without a visit. After brunch we strolled along to Notre Dame on Île de la Cité, and then onto Berthillon to indulge in some ice cream. As we were in the 3rd arrondissement I decided it would be a good idea to detour to La Chambre aux Confitures to buy some lavender honey and strawberry and rose preserve. Honestly, if you have not visited this little boutique please make sure you do on your next visit – customer service is exemplary and who doesn’t love to spend half an hour tasting preserves? Heavenly. After making our purchases we strolled back along the Seine to the Louvre which was basking in the golden late afternoon sunlight, we stopped for drinks and then walked along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe before looping back down to Passy for another evening meal at home. An incredibly full day with plenty of walking, but I certainly think G was exposed to all the best parts of Paris on our little meander.

On the Sunday I thought it would be a good idea to show G the other side of Paris…as in, Montmartre. Montmartre is incredibly arty and is slightly less-refined then the other areas we had visited during this trip – I know G felt uncomfortable at times in this district as it certainly isn’t as safe and clean as what we are used to. However, I think he was impressed with the Sacré-Cœur which was our main reason for this excursion and made up for the downfalls of the area.

I am heading back to Paris next weekend too and am hoping for a slightly more autumnal visit this time round because the only thing I really want to do is drink hot chocolate in Angelina and stroll around the Jardin du Luxembourg with my family. But we shall see what mother nature has in store for us.

On another note, I realise I haven’t blogged for a terribly long time – but life gets in the way and there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and so something has to give and that, unfortunately, is this blog. At the moment I’m working full-time as a recruitment manager at a university, am in the 2nd year of an MA in International Security and the Politics of Terror, am attempting to build a house (and buy another), trying to cram in 6 days of sport each week, plan a wedding, and have the best possible relationship with my fiancé as we made a commitment not to live together until we’re married and therefore have 30 miles of travel between us. So, life is certainly not easy but it is an awful lot of fun at the moment and I feel like I am really growing into the person I want to be. I am constantly met with the issue of having to prioritise things however, and the main compromise I seem to be making is documenting all the fun I’m having – but I wouldn’t want it any other way, because I would rather be living my life to the full than living a half-hearted life in front of a camera at all times.

I seem to approach everything at 1000mph, and there’s certainly no slowing down this year.

Final Days in Reykjavik

 photo IMG_1392_zps94a9455e.jpg
 photo IMG_1389_zpsa03ba000.jpg
 photo GOPR3779_zps471713b8.jpg
 photo GOPR3746_zpsc31bf0dc.jpg
 photo P1040542_zps0add4de6.jpg
 photo P1040542_zps0add4de6.jpg
 photo P1040535_zpsa9a20b8c.jpg
 photo P1040532_zpsbda684fd.jpg
 photo P1040544_zpsf669cf33.jpg
 photo P1040553_zpsf8153b85.jpg
 photo 10543565_672923906126500_3343973639636343349_o_zpsaaedede2.jpg
 photo P1040555_zps8b81cb67.jpg
 photo P1040556_zps5d3b838b.jpg
 photo P1040566_zps700d88a9.jpg
 photo P1040569_zpsb02fad2f.jpg
 photo P1040570_zps8dd0b48f.jpg
 photo GOPR3785_zps957645ca.jpg

Our final few days were spent relaxing in Reykjavik. We visited the cathedral and the university and spent a lot of time wandering around the harbour and the beautiful concert hall. On one of the particularly sunny evenings we had, my fiancé, his brother and I decided to go deep-sea angling to catch our supper. We ended up catching a great variety of fish, including a monstrous catfish caught by me (but we had to let go – its teeth were enormous!), and took it all back to our harbour side townhouse to bake on the BBQ with lemon and salt – yet another perfectly delicious, fresh and healthy meal for all of Team Iceland to enjoy whilst sat at our dining table.

Reykjavik is a very strange city – it doesn’t have the buzz of other European cities I have visited and I have to admit I was a little disappointed overall. I definitely couldn’t have spent more than a few days there as we were soon running out of things to do and suffering from the cold. On the whole though, it was a very pleasant stay and the people were incredibly friendly – I’m certainly glad that I went as we all had a thoroughly relaxing break and an excellent adventure overall.