2013 Travelling Tales and Race recaps

So, of course, today is the final day of 2013 so a recap post is due. I think these sorts of posts are really fun to write- I love going back over old race recaps and looking at photos.

This year we have had some awesome holidays, which can (through a rather convoluted set of circumstances) link back to when I was really ill a couple of years ago. I ended 2011 in hospital- this turned out to be due to a large ovarian cyst that had to be removed. We were meant to be going to New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Florida for the Christmas holidays, but had to cancel as I was not allowed to fly. Luckily we had insurance, so claimed it back (or cancelled things) but before we knew for certain Andy said to me that if we did have to cancel we could go to Hawaii in the summer (2012) instead. So we did. It was amazing. On one of the islands we went to Volcano, a National Park, and it turned out cheaper to buy a yearly pass than for the days we were there. So then we returned home with a pass for the year for all US National Parks….

Easter saw us visit Disneyland in California, before an epic road trip across several western states. We went to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley (not a National Park, but Andy wanted to see it)

We went to Zion National Park.

And Bryce Canyon for the day.

Plus Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and the most amazing place, Yosemite.

I am still not sure how we managed to fit all of that in the Easter holidays!

In the summer we had another epic road trip, starting in Seattle (went to Victoria in Canada for a couple of days) and taking in more National Parks including Olympic, Glacier, Mount Rainier, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Grand Tetons…

We did a 10 mile round trip hike through grizzly bear country to see this beautiful lake filled with icebergs (and saw no bears).

The next day we did a short walk (2 miles) and saw several bears, including a very close encounter!

“There’s a bear in the bush”!!! Exciting and also terrifying!

We certainly got good use of our year pass.

(This has reminded me that I have not posted a holiday recap on here for that holiday- something for a rainy January day perhaps).

This year was a great year for me running wise too. I finally felt like I was back to full fitness and not only got back to my old times, but achieved pb’s in several race distances.

I ran the Brighton Half marathon in February, and got a pb- this race was great to do because I couldn’t do it the previous year as I was still waiting for my op. I also met the lovely Lara in the starter pen ūüôā

I have been trying for ages to get my 10K pb under an hour, but at my first attempt this year I didn’t make it, (60.34!!) although this was a cross country course. I made up for it back in Brighton in November, when Andy paced me around and I managed 56.14! I also coined the phrase “Royal Flush negative split” which I am pleased to report has been used several times on Marathon talk now! (Each mile faster than the previous mile).

In June I managed another half marathon pb, getting my time down to 2.10.09, and then in July I had the most fantastic experience running 5 miles in the Olympic Park. Most of the course was not that interesting, but coming out onto that track at the end was just amazing. I met up with Anna briefly at the end too which was lovely. That was a pb too, as I had only ever run one 5 mile race before, which turned out to be a cross country course.

The race I most enjoyed (apart from the final stretch of the Olympic run) was probably the local 10 miler I did. It was a week after another half marathon (that didn’t go so well), it was cold and pouring with rain, but it had the most marshals I had ever seen, it was so friendly, there was a cow on the route- what more could you ask for? Again I got my fastest 10 mile time but that is because my only other 10 miler was the Great South run a few years ago.

I also started going to Parkruns this year. My Dad persuaded me to go, and I am really glad he did. I have been to 11 this year, and helped out at about 3- I don’t go every week but when I do manage it I love it. I have managed to get my 5K pb down to 26.29 which I am really pleased with.

There have of course been some disappointing moments this year. I developed a bad cough in the summer, so could not do a 10K race I had signed up for, and I have spent the last month with this little hip niggle. But I am so pleased with how my running is going- I think running with Sweatshop has helped me run faster over slightly longer distances, and going to Parkruns has helped me to get used to that feeling of really pushing yourself. I also did the marathon talk Jantastic challenge (Go Team Run Blog Bake!) and I am sure having a good base of training at the start of the year helped. All my times have gone down this year, so I am hoping 2014 can continue. When I finished the Stockholm marathon back in 2011, I felt a bit like I had unfinished business. I would love to do another marathon, but I wanted to be faster over shorter distances first, because being out running for over 5 hours is just really tough. And I am getting closer to my target time so who knows in 2014 I may sign up for another one. Maybe.

I don’t tend to set new year resolutions or anything like that, but I like to have goals to work towards. I have signed up to the Bath half and the Oslo Rock ‘n’Roll half marathon (so excited about this) so would love to beat my half marathon time in one of these races. I also need to work on my flexibility so will be carrying on with my physio stretches and looking at booking some sports massages in the new year. But really I just want to keep enjoying running- that is why I do it.

How was 2013 for you? 

Holiday snack food

Hey peeps!

So on Monday night I impressed myself by staying awake until 10pm! I usually do have a little sleep after a night flight, but the combination of sleeping aid tablets (they are not actual sleeping ones, but can make you drowsy- over the counter ones not prescription strength) + sound reducing headphones + eye mask meant that I had some sleep on the plane. I am hoping it carries on. Tuesday morning I went on a 3 mile run, just to check I still could! I went faster than I thought (still 10.30 ish min miles) and felt OK, although as soon as I got home I felt shattered. This morning I went to work, and am planning on the Sweatshop run later.

I found that the new series of the Great British Bake Off has started! I managed to watch episode one on i-player and have the second one waiting for me on the box.

Anyway, one of the great things about holidays is the different food you can have while you are away. We visited some lovely restaurants, including a vegetarian cafe (where you could adapt things to be vegan- they would even sub cashew cheese or avocado for no extra cost!) but that will have to be in another post! Most days we would have breakfast (sometimes from a cafe/ the hotel, or sometimes cereal bars and fruit in our room) and then have snacks during the day (bananas, cereal bars, peanut crackers) and then dinner in the evening, as otherwise it gets expensive plus the portions are rather large. On our first day we were hungry (I think due to jet lag) and shared a pb&j (with fresh raspberry jam) Рit was huge and way too much for one person.  So while I wait for Andy to get all the real photos off the camera, here are the ones I took of our snacks!

At the start of the holiday (the second day) we got the ferry to Victoria, on Vancouver Island in Canada. We had to be at the ferry terminal early (7.30am I think) and it took around 90 minutes.We walked around for a bit, and then saw a tea shop (Murchie’s) that offered all sorts of tea lattes, plus you could have soya or almond milk. I went for a latte with raspberry black tea and a hint of chocolate, and it was gorgeous. We shared the enormous cookie!

This day we had been up early for a big drive (300+ miles) and stopped at a Trader Joe’s, and could not resist this falafel wrap to share- it even came with a little tub of hummus for dipping.

Popchips make great snacks! My faves were the sweet potato ones (Popchips! Please release them in the UK!!), and Andy loves these the most . I took the photo as the bag inflated loads as we drove to higher elevations- not sure if you can really tell but it looked funny to me.

Iced tea! I love it, and usually have just plain unsweetened iced tea if we went out for dinner, but I also love this peach iced tea. It is sweetened with sugar (way better than the high fructose corn syrup in most things in America), but only a little, plus the peach flavour was summery.

Fresh fruit was delicious! Dark sweet cherries, juicy peaches, sweet nectarines and crunchy apples were my favourites, and we often had bananas for when we were out walking. The only problem I find is washing it so often I would buy some but have to wait until we got to a hotel to wash it before I could eat it. Although this does not bother me at home so much.

I got a bit over excited when I found these little hummus pots- this was red pepper hummus with little pretzels to dip in. I had them a couple of times (whenever I saw them basically).

We bought warm fresh pretzels from a German bakery in Leavenworth (the Bavarian town)- Andy had a salted one and I had a plain one- they were huge and lasted us into the next day (although by then they were a bit hard).

And of course we had a few visits to Starbucks (although most of the time we were in the parks so no-where near anything like that)- either we would share a large chai latte, or get a small drink each, but on this occasion there was a mix up (the person ahead took our drink and they gave us a small one instead of a large, they then made us a large one too, instead of giving us another small one to make it up to us)- we didn’t drink them all as that day we had a long drive (400 miles) so could not risk too much drink!

Our B&B in Leavenworth served dessert in the evening, so we sat outside on the decking and enjoyed black forest gateaux with an Earl Grey- perfect.

Also, I was very excited in Denver airport to see a froyo chain (I thought they were called Toby but on googling it seems they are called TCBY) making fro-yo using almond milk, although we didn’t try any. It make make it over here in 5 years!

I got my reminder email about the Marathon Talk Magic Mile- I had forgotten all about that! I think I have until next weekend to run and log my time, although I am not sure when I will do it yet. I want to leave it later so I can get my normal speed back- don’t think I will be breaking any records this year!

Do you watch the Bake Off?

Anyone sign up for the magic mile?


Unpacking the souvenirs

Hey peeps- I am back home after a wonderful holiday- I will cram a post full of photos at some point, but not today! We left Denver yesterday lunch time, arrived in Newark (New York) and had about 3 hours there, before we flew home. The flight was so bumpy, and the headphone socket didn’t work, but that turned out OK as I put on my big headphones and loaded up some film podcasts, put on my eye-mask and managed to doze for a lot of it. We landed just before 10am and were so speedy getting through (even though they did an extra passport check as soon as we got off the plane)- we were home before midday. I usually have a sleep in the day (just for an hour or so) but I felt OK so have pottered about. Mainly unpacking the fun things!

We are a little obsessed with collecting magnets for each place we visit now. We realised too late that we bought 2 of the same style (the old poster styles for both Glacier and Mount Rainier) although at least the shape of the mountains is different (and accurate!). We’re going to need a bigger fridge!

In Victoria in Canada we went to an amazing Coffee/ Tea/ bakery shop called Murchie’s– they did all sorts of tea lattes and you could even have almond milk! There was a shop attached and they had one of those cool tea infusers for much cheaper than I have seen in the UK, so I bought one. It seems to have survived the flights OK!

We also visited David’s Tea (we saw one in Boston but it was closed when we were there)- we tried some amazing iced teas, and I ended up with some black mint loose leaf tea, and a pouch of some amazing smelling apple tea (which you can eat- the lady recommended putting it on porridge once you have brewed the tea). She also gave me some great hints on how to make iced tea, and also how to like green tea (apparently the water should be off the boil, like for coffee, as the boiling water makes it taste bitter, so I might have to have another go at trying it!). It was such a cool shop, with shelves and shelves of massive tins with loose leaf teas- all the flavours and kinds you could image (except black cherry tea).

In Glacier park they used these posh tea temples (Tea forte) which I loved, and when I saw coconut chai latte tea in the shop I had to get a pack!

While wandering around Leavenworth I was given the hard sell on some Chukar cherries (in that she let me try a few samples, and they were amazing)- dried cherries with no preservatives or anything, so I bought one packet coated in dark chocolate, and then one lot flavoured with almond. We found a Trader Joe’s and I bought some coconut chips, and some chocolate for us to have on holiday, but we didn’t have any of it so it came home. Plus pb, and dark pb cups of course.

I also bought non-food related items! Some cute PJ’s (Huckleberries were everywhere- they are similar to blueberries but aren’t cultivated)- they say “I’ll be your Huckle-beary”- we saw lots of bears in Glacier so I thought it was appropriate too. Plus some Huckleberry honey (honey, huckleberry juice and pectin)- I got a bit obsessed with huckleberry flavour things while we were away!

Last but not least, I could not resist the cups. Andy’s one is in the middle, and the other two are mine. The Yellowstone one is a minty green, but that hasn’t come out well. Plus a spoon rest (for when we make tea but the dishwasher is running).

I have had quite a productive day- sorted through the post, hung out one lot of washing, unpacked some bits, and booked a shop for tomorrow.

I feel like my eating has been totally messed up though. Yesterday we had a cereal bar for breakfast before heading to return the car etc, and then at the airport we had an early lunch from Caribou coffee (the huge “Pumpkin season” poster grabbed my attention)-a piece of pumpkin bread and a spiced pumpkin soya latte, plus some fruit salad to eat on the plane. Our flight from Denver was about 4 hours I think but then the time-zone changed from Mountain to Eastern time, so I think it was later than it felt. Or maybe the other way around. Anyway we needed some dinner so bought pb&j’s at the airport, and shared a bag of popchips, and then right before the flight I had a chai latte (two latte’s in one day, not good!) as psychologically it made me sleepy, plus we shared a brownie. I dozed through the food service (and we had not managed to book a veggie meal anyway) but I did have a fruit salad and mini criossant before we landed. When we got home this morning I was starving so had some tea and toast, but I suppose that was really lunch time? I know all the advice is to get back to your normal routine asap, but I think right now it is maybe 8 or 9am back there, and it is coming up to 4pm here, so it is a bit adjustment I suppose.

How have you been? We had internet access in a few places and I have been reading some blogs but I am sure I have missed some things.

How do you cope with jet lag?

Back from Yosemite etc

Hey peeps!

(To the tune of Back in the USSR) Back in the UK we are!! (Sort of works?)

I’ll try to be quick (haha- I think the lack of sleep is warping my mind).

So, after our stop in Monument Valley we were on our way to Zion Canyon. The drive was long so we had a night half way, and that was near a horseshoe bend in a river.

It was amazing to see, and unless you knew it was there you would not have come across it. We parked and then walked for about a mile up and down steep orange sand dunes (past the warning signs about there being no railings and that the rocks can crumble at any time) and then suddenly the floor opened up and you could see the river way below. It was hard to get a photo as I didn’t want to get too close to the edge (I am not a fan of heights or steep things) but I am sure you get the idea.

Then it was on to Zion National Park. Which was amazing, but I don’t have any photos at the moment (both myself and Andy took some photos with our phones to email to our parents etc, but none of Zion it turns out, so will have to wait for Andy to sort out the 1000+ pictures on his camera (and that is not even an¬†exaggeration).

We had a day trip to Bryce Canyon, nearby, which was full of rock formations like enormous stalagmites. Impressive. And also no phone photos. It was cold there though, with snow on the ground. We even saw some pronghorn deer- very exciting.

We then had a long drive back towards California- we drove the loneliest road in America, one day during a snowstorm (that was a surprise when we saw the car in the morning).

We had one night in Lake Tahoe (which is very beautiful and surrounded by snow capped mountains) and then we drove to Yosemite- I was so excited!!

Road trip supplies! Well, sat-nav, map and iced chai latte to share (although some days we had 5 hours of driving so then not so much drinking went on!)

Photo: From Yosemite valley

That was our view from the lodge we stayed in! Amazing.

We did loads of walks around the valley, up into the hills, including some very steep walks/ hikes. One started off on very steep trails (and I got annoyed as there was a man in front smoking a cigar- seriously who does that??? and in the end I had to run (up the very steep trail!) to get past him), anyway, as the trail carried on it went by a river, towards some waterfalls, and ended up on steep steps that were soaked by the spray from the massive waterfall. I went up a bit, got scared, came down, waited for Andy (who had gone up in search of the perfect photo), then got worried about mountain lions, so went up again, and this time I must have climbed these steep slippery steps for about half an hour, and still was nowhere near the top, so came down again. My legs were broken after that!


I did get views like that though, so I think it was worth it.

Photo: Waterfall after hiking for an hour uphill

According to someone coming down I still had half an hour of terror to go, so that’s when I turned around.

Does not seem that steep, but it was, and each step was higher than my knee.

Looking down the path- you could see the spray from the waterfall floating way up and out.

We also drove out for a bit, for views of the valley from afar:

Photo: Yosemite valley

And went to some giant redwood trees (some were over 2000 years old!!!). It was all just wonderful.

On our final day we had to drive to San Francisco for our flight home. We were hoping to have time to go into the city, as we both love it there, but the drive was much longer and we didn’t want to risk missing the plane, so we went to a place across the water called Sausalito, for a walk by the water in the sunshine, and then drove up to an overlook for the most amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo: Golden Gate Bridge- great way to end the holiday


Then we had an overnight flight to Toronto (on a side note, I bought an eye mask for this holiday and I am converted to not only using it on the plane but also just when the room is light too), and then a day flight back home, arriving on Saturday night.

Yesterday I went to the allotment to do some digging- I was loving that sunshine! My Dad had done some digging while we were away, so I just had to carry on where he had started, and also do a bit of weeding. I was pretty pleased with my efforts. The leeks are looking good, and I will pop down later in the week to cut some daffodils as they are all in bloom too.

Today I went on a short run after work- I only had about 3 hours sleep last night, so I thought some fresh air might help to tire me out some more. I was so excited to get changed so quickly though- all I needed was capris and a t-shirt- no head warmer, no leg warmers, no gloves, no buff, no jacket…


This post has taken ages, mainly because the photos have taken ages to load for some reason. Anyway, just seen the awful scenes from the Boston marathon- so frightening for all those people. The marshals look amazing though- on the footage some of them ran right towards the injured people instead of running for cover which is amazingly brave considering they are there to help hand out water and medals etc. 

Holiday recap

This is going to be a long one, but it seems some people won’t be going anywhere all weekend, so I figured you would have the time to read it!

Hopefully I will remember it- seems ages ago now!

So, on the Friday we rushed to the airport after work. Luckily the roads were fine, and I was so tired from work that I managed to sleep quite a bit on the plane (I am getting quite good at this now)- by the time we arrived at our hotel in New York it was about 1.30am, so nearly 24 hours since I had got up and gone to work.

But of course we were awake very early- we went for some breakfast, got a hot drink to take with us and had a long walk around Central Park.

Lots of people ice skating.

It was freezing! There was snow in the air, but it was not settling at all.

All the buildings had decorations, and it all felt very festive.

I was most excited to see the big tree at the Rockerfellar centre- so pretty!

We did some shopping- including braving Old Navy- everyone was buying everything it seemed! I think we were in the queue for about half an hour- I was losing patience then! Luckily we had eaten lunch first (we came quite fond of sharing a tomato soup and grilled cheese). We had a little rest in our hotel in the afternoon (needed to warm up) and then out again to see the tree in the evening. It was packed, there was a one way system going, but it looked so pretty all lit up at night.

Lots of other decorations too.

(Andy trying something with a blurry background).

We have been to New York before, but never found great places to eat. I am sure there are loads, and we tried looking on the internet (Trip advisor etc) but didn’t find anything that looked great- either sandwich shops, fast food places or really touristy places, and we found a Wholefoods shop near Central Park, so we went there for dinner. Because they have the hot food bar, and a salad bar, it suited us both. Then we picked up a few bits of food (and water) for our room, including the most amazing mini gingerbread scones (seriously, they were amazing).

The next day we were off to see the Rockettes- we had some of the scones for breakfast (yummy), and then went to see the show.

(It looks better at night, but we went to a morning show).

This was a fab show- I was not sure what to expect- we had tickets last year after (randomly) my hairdresser recommended it to me. I thought it would be mainly dancing, but there was a story (about a mum and girl shopping for Christmas presents)- anyway the dancers were amazing! It was so festive too, with people in the audience wearing santa hats and things- I wish I had packed my Christmas hair band!

After that, we got the underground downtown, first stop, lunch at Peanut Butter and Co! Although we didn’t take any photos of us there. It was a lovely tiny cafe, with so many options. In the end I went for a very sweet sandwich with chocolate pb, cherry preserves and coconut (served with a little bag of crisps- that salt was needed, and some carrot sticks for health!). They also let you choose your tea bag, (I had vanilla) and the mugs were massive. We bought a few bits in there- Andy liked the sound of the spicy pb.

We are going to recreate some of these at home for sure.

Then we got the subway again, all the way to the World Trade Centre site. We didn’t realise we would need a ticket for the memorial gardens, so once we had that we had a couple of hours to spare before going through all the security.

The new building is well on its way.

So we had a walk around by the water (Statue of Liberty in the distance) and then warmed up in a Starbucks again.

We had to go through security to enter the gardens, luckily this was inside as I didn’t fancy taking my coat off outside.

The gardens have been done really well I think. The waterfalls in the footprints of the two buildings are really beautiful, and it was a very peaceful and reflective place.

I still found it strange to see people posing for photos in front of it and things though (like when we went to Pearl Harbour in the summer).

Anyway, after that we went to the Rockerfellar centre- that is the best building to go up in New York, because you get the best views of the Empire State Building, Central Park etc.

Lit up with Christmas colours!

The glow from Times Square. Andy must have been out there for a good 45 mins in the end- after a while I went to wait inside as it was so cold up there!

On Christmas Eve we had to catch a train before 7am, up to Boston. The train ride was so pretty- sometimes train tracks are in little valleys and are pretty boring, but this one went past town after town of pretty wooden houses, the sea, lovely countryside- very picturesque.

Luckily by the time we arrived we could check in to our hotel, so we left our bags and then went on a hunt for some lunch.

We were within walking distance of Quincy Market, so we had a look there, although nothing appealed so in the end we found a lovely sandwich shop and went there instead.

Then we were off to get the subway to the Boston Pops!

This was brilliant, my favourite show of the holiday. The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra play lots of Christmas carols and songs, and a choir sing along, and it is just amazing. They did the most amazing version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, with each verse sung in a different style and different tune (eg 5 gold rings was with Bethoven’s 5th¬†Symphony)- it was fantastic.

We had no idea what we would do for dinner, but came across a Cheesecake Factory pretty near the concert hall, so we went there. I love their guacamole so much (but you do get a mountain of it), so we had that to share for starters, and then I had a lovely salad with goats cheese and pecans and beetroot and things. Tasty, and it meant I saved room for dessert! They had a holiday special one, which was basically chocolate and peppermint, so we shared it.

Yummy! We walked back as we needed it after that!

On Christmas morning we woke up to snow! Lots had come down, and it was still going first thing. Our hotel had pastries and tea in the restaurant, so we had that, and then a skye call to Andy’s family. Then we wrapped up warm and headed out. It was the coldest day of our holiday. We wanted to do the Freedom Trail, as we thought most things would be closed on Christmas day, and of course it is all outside (although you have to follow a red line/ brick path on the pavement- not so easy in the snow).

There was lots of snow still in the park, but most of it had gone from the pavements.

In the afternoon we went back to our hotel (again with a Starbucks- there were some open on Christmas day) to warm up, before heading out for some dinner. We had originally booked a dinner, because the sample menu  looked like it would cater for vegetarians, but when we looked online the night before, there were starter salads and that was all (which would be fine, but it was a set menu and pretty expensive), so in the end we cancelled that, and went for a pizza. Then we went to see Django Unchained (which was really good, and jam packed)- I rather overheated in the cinema as I had 2 thermal tops on! It still makes me chuckle that Americans always clap when a film ends.

On Boxing day we walked around a bit more, did some shopping (bought some bargains in Bath & Bodyworks) and then went to see the Nutcracker. I was not sure what to expect, having never seen a ballet before, but actually I quite enjoyed it too. The different styles of dancing were really good, and I always enjoy listening to the orchestra playing.

Then we had to get our bags and head to the bus station, as we were getting the bus back to New York that evening.

I managed to fall asleep, and when I woke up I was shocked to see a lot of snow. We were about an hour behind schedule, which is not bad considering how much the roads were covered.

This was taken at the rest stop. Luckily after that, we saw snow ploughs and gritters go out, and they managed to clear the roads, and in the end didn’t get to New York too late. By the time we got there, it was just torrential rain (such fun wheeling our cases through the street rivers).

We spent our last day walking around Central Park and doing a bit of shopping:

And also having a Starbucks to warm up. I think we had one nearly every day/

We went for dinner at Wholefoods again, and then we had to get the bus to the airport (although the bus we had booked just didn’t turn up, so in the end the company took us and the other¬†passengers¬†in a little mini van- cutting it quite fine to get there on time!). I managed to sleep most of the way home (the magic combination seems to be noise cancelling headphones + sleeping tablet – only the ones that make you drowsy, not the prescription ones,+ don’t eat the food on the plane).

If I were to sum this holiday up, it would be like this:

Gingerbread scones, Wholefoods dinners, Starbucks chai lattes ( peppermint hot chocolate), thermal tops, big boots, lots of walking, lots of Christmas trees, and fun shows.

Or I could do it with a song?

(To the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas)

On my fab Christmas holiday I managed to include:

12 miles of walking

11 thermal tops worn

10 gingerbread scones munched

9 bottles of water drunk

8 thousand miles flown

7 souvenirs bought

6 chai tea lattes

5 Wholefood dinners….

4 hours in Old Navy

3 fab shows

2 cities visited

And I managed to see The Christmas Tree!

Disclaimer- some numbers in the song may be estimated