Australia – Sydney

 

Australia- Sydney

Our Australian adventure started in Sydney.   We arrived on Saturday evening, had a quick bite to eat and headed out to Newtown, King Street to stretch out our legs and have a few drinks.

We stayed at Meriton serviced apartments in Mascot, close to the airport, the train station was a 2 minute walk away from the apartment with regular trains into Sydney. Mascot is only two train stops into the city centre. The apartment was clean, spacious and had air conditioning (essential in summer!)

On Sunday we had a leisurely start to the day, with late Aussie breakfast (avocado and poached eggs) and headed to Bondi beach. To get around Sydney we chose public transport using Opal cards, similar to London’s Oyster card for trains, buses and ferries. The Opal card gives you cheaper travel and sets a limit of cost per day $15. The card itself is free, all you need to do is top it up to pay your fare. Bondi beach isn’t next to any train stations, so we travelled to Bondi Junction and got a bus to Bondi beach. We sunbathed all afternoon, and had a dip in the sea. Bondi beach has good waves, strong rifts and most of the beach is used for surfers, one section of the beach is flagged for swimming and the life savers and lifeguards monitor this area from 7am to 6pm every day. This beach is where the famous TV programme Bondi rescue is filmed; lucky we didn’t see any rescues whilst we were there.

In the evening we stayed in Bondi for a few drinks and nibbles at Mamasan, the cocktails were good and the Asia fusion tapas was delicious, we would highly recommend it. We went on for a few more drinks at Beach Road Hotel outdoor area and then Bondi Hotel.

I was still training whilst on holiday (less than normal but enough to not hinder the last few weeks of training). Monday morning, I headed over to North Sydney Olympic pool, it’s a very picturesque pool with amazing views of Sydney harbour bridge. The outdoor pool uses seawater, but is cleaned so the water is clear. Great facilities, big pool and sun loungers. Make sure you apply sun cream prior to swimming; I totally forgot and got a burnt back afterwards!

The rest of the day we fully embraced being a Sydney tourist. We walked over the Sydney harbour bridge, and walked to the Sydney Opera house. We had lunch at one of the outdoor  restaurants at Sydney Opera house overlooking the harbour bridge, called Opera Kitchen. The Food was nice, a little more expensive but worth it for the views. I had chicken laksa and dumplings and the portion was massive, I couldn’t finish it!

In the afternoon we got a ferry to Manly beach from the harbour. The slow ferry takes 30 minutes and use can use your Opal card. There is a quicker ferry which takes 16 minutes but costs more and you cannot use the Opal card. We took the slower ferry, it operates every 30mins and you can take bikes with you at no extra cost.

Once you’re off the ferry it’s a short walk to the beach, Manly is a vibrant town with many shops and restaurants. Manly beach is much bigger than Bondi but personally I preferred Bondi. We spent the rest of the day on the beach, soaking up the sun. On the way, home we had a cheeky doughnut from Doughnut time, I had the salted caramel one. I found it quite doughy, the filling is put in the top of the doughnut (instead of the side) so it wasn’t evenly spread but still enjoyable. Maybe I just chose the wrong one.

Tuesday, we got up early, 4.45am and not for a flight! We got early tickets to climb Sydney harbour bridge at 6am. Prior to traveling to Australia I was contemplating whether or not to pay so much to climb the bridge (it was $565 for two adults). All my friends who have been before raved about it so I kind of thought-would I get this chance again? I chose the early slot as we had plans later in the day but it was also the cheapest time to go. When we arrived, we were put in groups, had a full safety briefing and changed into ‘jazzy’ boiler suits and caps. Our group had ten people in and we were guided up the bridge by Chris our climb leader.  The climb isn’t too strenuous, it’s a slow pace and we stopped a few times during the climb for photos taken by Chris. There are even water fountains to have sips of water during the climb. We were given headphones prior to the climb and Chris describes the climb, bridge and local landmarks with a few jokes for good measure. The climb up and back down took about 2hr 30mins in total (about 3 hours from entering to leaving). I really enjoyed it, the views were amazing, going early meant it wasn’t too hot and we had the rest of the day to do other things. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, thanks to Fiona for encouraging me to book it!

After our climb, we went to FairPlay cafe by the harbour for breakfast, it did not disappoint. I had breakfast bruschetta, we shared corn fritters and Sam had a chicken sandwich, all very scrumptious, I particularly enjoyed the corn fritters.

For that day we hired road bikes from Livelo Sydney, good quality bikes with all the extras (bottles, puncture repair kit, helmet), all we needed was our bike shoes and they put on the appropriate pedals prior to our arrival. The staff were friendly and very accommodating. We headed north through Sydney and over the harbour bridge. Initially, we cycled on the A8 but the road was very busy, so we went along the coast line, stopping at most of the beaches to top up our water bottles. We ended up at Newport Beach and stopped there for lunch. Afterwards we cycled to Manly beach and got the ferry back to Sydney, 46miles in total. It was 34-36 degrees, very hot, so we took the ride easy and enjoyed the scenery. Ideally we should have cycled in the early morning when the temperatures are lower and less traffic on the roads. I’m at freshwater beach in this photo, sadly my phone battery died so didn’t take many photos that day.

Wednesday, we dropped the bikes off and I ran back to the apartment. We headed back to Bondi, I had a swim at Icebergs, outdoor Olympic pool by Bondi beach. The pool is filled with sea water and every Thursday they empty the pool to clean it. Swimming on Wednesday meant the water was quite murky, I couldn’t see the bottom of the pool and much in front. This was good practice for the open water conditions I require during open water swimming in triathlons. Being so close to the sea, occasionally you may feel the waves crashing over the sides into the pool as you swim. I was at Icebergs late morning, early afternoon and the pool lanes were not marked by ability but lucky the lanes are wide enough to overtake with ease. The swim was an experience in a beautiful setting.

From Bondi we walked to Coogee beach with my little brother James and Sam’s friend Jordan. The coastal walk takes you along seven beaches before getting to Coogee. It took us all about an hour and a half to walk at a leisurely pace in the heat.  At Coogee beach we stopped off at the Pavilion for a few drinks and food. The pavilion has spectacular rooftop bar, with views over Coogee beach. The pizzas were delicious and very good value, although you had to go downstairs to order and eat them.

James and I, with Bondi beach in the background.

Tamarama beach

Gordon’s Bay

Coogee Beach

In the evening we went to Sydney festival, a music, art and performance festival across Sydney. The festival is free and many of the acts you don’t require tickets in advance. We watched a few cabaret acts, pole dancing, singing and aerial hoop at Hyde park.

Thursday, we continued our holiday to Melbourne.

48 hours in Berlin

 

48 Hours in Berlin

Berlin is a huge city and you won’t be able to see it all in 48 hours. It’s a vibrant and multicultural city full of history, food, art, culture and nightlife. It’s one of my favourite places and this was my fourth visit.

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Last week my friend and fellow Midwife Fiona and I flew to Berlin for a small mini break. We left Tuesday morning, landing in Berlin early afternoon. We checked into the hotel at Alexanderplatz and were upgraded to a suite! Thanks Hotel indigo! Our room was in the top floor with a big balcony (sadly too cold to use), the suite was beautiful and the beds, big and comfy!

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I’ve been to Berlin a few times before, Fiona hasn’t and she wanted to visit the Currywurst museum. Currywurst is a German delicacy of sausage and a special curried tomato sauce, sprinkled with curry powder. After we checked in, we made our way to the museum. Our ticket includes a sample of the sausage and entry into the museum. The currytwurst itself was nice but the museum quite small and amusing. Don’t expect to learn much but you’ll have a good laugh. I would recommend going to one of the street vendors and trying out the Currywurst instead.

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We went on to checkpoint Charlie (checkpoint C) the famous western Allied Berlin Wall crossing point between West and East Germany during the Cold War. It was one of the many checkpoints representing the separation from the West and East Berlin. We looked around a free gallery by the checkpoint, telling the stories of people who escaped, those who sadly failed and those who also lost their lives. The checkpoint Charlie museum continues this with more detail and tells the history of the Berlin Wall. Definitely worth a visit.

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After We headed to Augustiner’s to enjoy German beer from a barrel and eat more sausage with sauerkraut. Both were delicious!

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For dinner we went for Thai, at Thai inside. We had Mai tai cocktails followed by Chicken Satay, vegetable gyoza and chicken pad Thai all to a good standard and reasonably priced (cocktails were excellent).

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We continued our evening visiting microbrewery, Lemke Berlin and onto ‘the pub’ pouring our own Berliner pints of beer.

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Wednesday we headed out for brunch at the house of small wonder. At the entrance you walk up a beautiful spiral staircase, to this green and quirky cafe in Mitte. Serving Japanese and breakfast cuisine. I had Croque Monsieur and mint tea and Fiona had the homemade granola with Greek yoghurt. Both were filling, delicious and good value.

berlin

berlin

We walked off our breakfast, visiting the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, now known as The East Side Gallery, near Ostbahnhof in Friedrichshain. The Wall was constructed in 1961, to stop Eastern emigration from communist East Berlin to free West Berlin. The wall is now a memorial for freedom, with paintings by artists all over the world. It was last renovated in 2010. Sadly, they have now put metal fences in front of most of the wall to stop people graffitiing, so it was hard to take photos. Most of the photos below were from a previous trip three years ago.

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Late afternoon, we visited one of my favourite places in Berlin Markthalle Neun which translates to Market Nine. In the heart of Keruzberg, this market sells an array of foods, alcohol and street foods. Every Thursday evening, they host their street food market and throughout the month they host special markets e.g. Cheese, Mexican food etc. It was quiet this afternoon, which I enjoyed. Previously I’ve been on the weekend and you are fighting for seats. We both had a ‘small’ meat platter of pulled pork, salad and potatoes, best meal of the trip! Followed by baked cheesecake and washed down by a Moscow mule and a large glass of Pinot Noir.

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After a big night on Tuesday, we decided to have an early night and get up early before our flight in the afternoon.

berlin

Thursday morning, we intended to go up the TV tower (Fernsehturm), the mist had finally lifted from the last two days. The queue was large so we decided to give it a miss, on a previous visit I went up the tower, you get great views of across the city and can have a cheeky cocktail at the bar. Instead we walked to see the holocaust memorial and Brandenburg gate. When we got to the memorial and the gate, sadly, both were cordoned off by police due to President Obama visiting. Normally you can walk through the memorial and feel the soberness, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide. I managed one good photo of the memorial (without police and riot vans).

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We headed back to the hotel, picked up our bags and set off for the airport.

A few other places I would recommend visiting is Judisches (Jewish) Museum, predominantly about the events of World War II but also gives the history of Jewish people in Germany. This museum is vast, make sure you have lots of time to visit. Tiergarten, Berlin’s biggest park, with the zoo at the south west corner. In summer, hire bikes, the city has many bike lanes and flat terrain, easiest way to get around the city!

Jenwaar

Staffordshire 2016 Ironman 70.3

Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 12th June 2016

I’m really sorry for my lack of blog posts recently, I’ve just been busy having fun and now I’m back at work. In the first week in June I was away with friends to Barcelona for Primavera sound music festival, followed by a trip to Wales, completing Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 and then down to Cornwall for a friend’s wedding.

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In this blog post I will be about my Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 race.

The two weeks before my race weren’t really ideal… I think I enjoyed tapering too much.  For friends who aren’t into fitness, tapering means reducing exercise before a race/competition so your performance peaks on race day. It doesn’t mean you should stop training altogether, just that you should cut back on the volume and intensity prior to race day. In Barcelona I ran once, had one gym session and drank lots of cocktails… Oops!

I arrived in Staffordshire Friday evening before the Ironman 70.3, my parents live locally to the race so I was able to relax at home and have Mum’s home cooked dinner. I read the race pack, double checked my kit, completed a full check on my bike and had an earlyish night. I noticed at this point I didn’t have any bike leavers in my puncture repair kit, panicked and then realised I would be going to a triathlon expo tomorrow morning so could buy some before dropping off my bike in transition. I ran three miles after all my preparations to calm my nerves and help me sleep.

triathlon

On Saturday morning I went down to Shugborough Hall for the triathlon expo and race briefing with my Mum. I checked in and got my race pack.  We arrived early on Saturday and the bike stall wasn’t open, a very kind man on the stall beside them for Staffordshire County council gave me some leavers for free, I was so relieved and thanks again Staffordshire County Council!

Ironman

I had three ‘firsts for this race’; it was the first time I had to drop my kit off the day before a race, first Ironman event and also my first point to point race. This means there are two transitions, I had to sort my kit into two bags, drop them off in two different places and also rack up my bike. I think I felt more stressed about this than completing the actual race! I’m used to arriving race day with all my stuff and just laying everything out by my bike in transition about an hour before it starts.

I usually always forget something on race day, this time was my race belt with a pouch. Lucky I had my other race belt in my bag so no big problem. I was going to put my flapjack in the pouch but my tri suit has pockets, so placed my flapjack in my bike bag and hoped I would remember on race day (which I did).

I was given three bags, blue for the swim to bike transition, red for the bike to run transition and white for after the race. The bike to run transition (T2) was at Shugborough hall so headed back to the car, put my running shoes and extra gels in the bag. I checked the bag a few times and dropped it off in the transition tent, on a peg with my race number. The swim to bike transition (T1) was at Chasewater reservoir about 12 miles away, so after a 30 minute drive we arrive at the reservoir. In the car park, I labelled my bike and helmet and packed my blue bag. This bag had my bike shoes, helmet, socks, cycling gloves, towel, race belt, gels, and flapjack. I checked the bag a few times and then racked my bike and put the blue bag on my peg in the transition tent. I got my race chip and then went back to my bike to remember where it was racked in transition ready for the race the following day. I then realised the bike was being left in the elements overnight and it was forecast rain overnight, I did not bring a cover and just used a plastic bag to cover the chain. I walked around transition entrance and exits to familiarize myself ready for the race the following day.

ironman

We headed back to Shugborough hall for the race briefing and then headed home to relax. I finished packing and setting up my swim gear (tri suit, goggles, swimming cap, anti-chafing glide, wet suit) and also the white bag which contained my dry clothes for after the race. I then applied my race number tattoos to my arm and leg, it was beginning to very real. It was my older brother’s birthday so Mum cooked a curry in the evening and we all went to bed early.

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Race day

 

I got up at 4am! I had a little pre-race nerves and excitement, when the alarm went off followed by an elbow jab in the abdomen by my husband. I headed down to the kitchen for my usual breakfast prior to any race: green tea and porridge (made with water) with blueberries and honey. Examined my kit, put my tri-suit and clothes on and made sure I ‘evacuated’ before I left home (sorry for all non-runner/triathletes). We arrived at Shugborough hall with plenty of time to get the shuttle bus to Chasewater reservior. I bumped into a fellow Edinburgh Triathlete Ian Gillon and we sat together on bus, wondering why we signed up, my race nerves had well and truly commenced! The athletes got priority first buses, so my husband and parents waited for a later bus.

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At Chasewater I got to the bike transition and checked my bike, removed the plastic bag over my chain and checked my tire pressures. After two minutes I was done and realised I was just staring at my bike and then race day nausea kicked in. I had a chat to the ladies next to me and left transition to get ready. I had an hour and half to kill before my swim heat, so I went to the start to watch the elite and earlier waves. Sadly I missed watching the elite athletes as I was in the toilet queue but I wanted to make sure I went again before the start. I donned my wetsuit and warmed up. We were unable to warm up in the water as the reservoir is a place of special scientific interest and you can only swim in for the Ironman event.  I found my cheer squad (my husband Sam, Mum and Dad) and we all watched earlier heats start whilst I checked out the buoys locations and exit layout.

Swim (1900metres/ 1.2miles) 33 minutes 48 seconds

The swim course is one loop, with just two turns and in a reservoir so no choppy water which I prefer. This year they introduced a rolling swim start. We were divided into our predicted swim time groups and each group commenced a rolling start based on these times with the fastest athletes first. Each athlete’s race started once they crossed the swim timing mat. I was really pleased about this change because it can be really hectic and dangerous with everyone starting at once.

I lined up in my zone group 30-34minutes and put my swimming cap and googles on. I made a massive error when packing my kit, I only packed one pair of googles and they were broken so I had to buy new ones for race day. I bought the exact same googles but I hadn’t swum in them before.

ironman

We started on a jetty and after the horn sounded a few seconds later I jumped into the water and started swimming. The water temperature was twenty degrees which is fairly warm (compared to Scottish Lochs!) and the water clarity was good. No strange or funky taste and I could see my arms whilst swimming. The water was calm even with other swimmers around me. I always have a mini panic at the start of any open water swim, usually takes me about five minutes to relax properly and settle into my stroke and breathing pattern. This has improved with the more races I’ve done. I just have to keep telling myself to keep calm and then I’m fine. The rolling start definitely made it better I didn’t have to swim around (or over) other swimmers and settled into the swim much quicker.

My new googles back- fired on me, after ten minutes my googles had steamed up and I had really poor vision. I was swimming beside two swimmers with similar abilities so I used them for direction. The first buoy came quickly and I felt good and comfortable. One of the swimmers besides me went ahead so I latched on to her feet. I was drafting for at least five minutes but after a few mouthfuls of water I decided to go it alone, massive mistake! I couldn’t really see the buoy properly until I came close and kept swimming quite wide. In hindsight I should just stopped for a second and demisted my googles but in race situations you’re not always thinking logically.  As I result I kept changing my swim pattern which I think slowed my swim time (as well as the extra distance). I got to the second buoy and knew it was a straight line to the finish and it easier to sight the activity centre by the swim exit. Towards the last 200-300metres I swam around some swimmers in the earlier heats including one man doing backstroke, crazy! Reviewing my Garmin stats after the race I swam an extra 160metres, I really need to work on my sighting and remember to bring all my kit, so annoying!

Swim to Bike transition (T1) 7 minutes 11 seconds

I got out the water no problem, I wasn’t dizzy and my legs felt good. I ran along a long the gravelly tarmac path to the transition tent. Surely they could have put a mat down? I saw Sam and Dad when running along the path to the transition tent, Sam even ran alongside me cheering me on, then I looked at my watch 34minutes I was really gutted. I am a strong swimmer and can easily swim faster than that but it was done now so I focused on getting to the tent. I arrived to the transition tent collected my blue bike bag, wet suit off, helmet on, towel dried my feet, socks, shoes, sunglasses, race belt and gloves on. I remembered my flapjack and put it in my pocket. I put my wetsuit, googles and cap into the blue bag, tied it up and threw it into the drop off point. I took my time in transition as I didn’t want to panic and forget anything. I ran to my bike, picked it up and ran to the out of transition to start cycling.

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Bike (91kms /56miles) 3 hours and 7 minutes exactly

The first couple of kilometres started slow due to speedbumps and a gravelly road but after that I got into my stride. The first few kilometres the roads were narrow and twisty. I was in one of the last swim heats so the roads at this point were very congested with other athletes and hard to overtake. After 10 kilometres the roads opened up and I could easily overtake. I felt really good during the bike and pushed hard in the first hour.

The second and third hour consisted of torrential rain. I got cold at one point and this massively affected my nutrition. I find it really hard at the best of time to eat whilst exercising and with being cold as well made it even harder. I was managing to drink and have gels regularly but I pretty much forced myself to eat most of my flapjack. I know I didn’t drink enough as well again down to the cold factor.

Ironman

The bike course was well supported by locals and beautifully scenic. The volunteers at the feed stations were great, smiling and cheering even in the pouring rain. The rain definitely slowed me down, I was much more cautious around corners and going down hills. I had a toilet stop at the 37 mile feed station, which added about 2.5minutes onto my bike time (now I understand why people wear two piece suits for longer distances). The last 30mins on my bike the rain eased and I got warm again ready for my run.

Bike to run transition 3 minutes 4 seconds 

I jumped off my bike, ran with it to the racks, racked my bike and ran to the transition tent. I saw a long queue for the toilet, I was so relieved I went to the toilet during the bike course. I threw my bike gear into the red run gear bag, changed shoes, had a sip of water, tied my bag, passed it to a marshal and ran off. No dramas and a fairly quick transition.

Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 49minutes 5 seconds

I came off the bike feeling pretty pleased with my bike time, out of transition I felt pretty good and the weather improved. In my head all I was thinking this was the last leg, not long now. I wanted to finish the race in one piece and also enjoy it, checked my Garmin and saw I was going a little quick and slowed my pace. My ankle had been playing up again a few days before the race so I continued steady for the first lap and would see what my legs felt like in the other two laps. At the first feed station I saw my parents and Sam cheering me on, just what I needed.

Ironman

The run course consisted of three laps around Shugborough hall grounds and through two villages, Great Haywood and Little Haywood. The run had mixed terrain of tarmac, trail, mud, gravel and grass which included one big hill, which we had to run up 3 times!! In parts it was really muddy and only one runner could pass so got a little busy in places and slowed my pace. I steadily went past other people, and generally felt pretty good in the first lap. I didn’t take any nutrition or drinks in the first lap.

Ironman

The support from the spectators on the run was amazing, spectators pretty much the lined whole run. The locals in Great Haywood and Little Haywood were in good spirits and recognised you each lap, which really spurred me on.

Second lap didn’t feel too dissimilar from the last. At mile 6 I had a sip of water, just after the hill. A mile later I started to feel tired. The next feed station I took my own gel and had some water, I walked through the feed station as I haven’t mastered the art of eating a gel, drinking and running at the same time.

Ironman

The third lap was tough, ‘only 4 miles to go’ I kept telling myself. My legs were starting to get heavy. I decided to take on a sip of water or electrolytes at each feed station. My cheer squad were by the first feed station on the lap, I remember staring at Sam with my tired eyes, feeling awful and he started yelling and cheering, it was just the boost I needed. Strangely after that I felt like I was on a high, smiling and even chatting to other athletes along the way. I think hysteria kicked in,’ I can do this’, and ‘I’m going to make it to the finish’. I was slowly picking off people one by one, no one passed me on my last lap. After I got over the big hill the last time I just let my legs go, and picked up speed. I saw the 12 mile sign and that last mile felt like forever.

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I turned towards the finishing chute and sprinted down to finish and crossed the line. I looked up at my time 5 hours 40minutes 8seconds! I was so shocked by my time I had to look back and check it twice! My goal was to finish, enjoy the race and try and get under 6 hours which I did. I collected my medal and was beaming.

ironman

5 hours 40mins 8secs 70.3miles

Ironman

In conclusion it was a great race, apart from the weather (typical Midland’s weather). Overall I was disappointed with my swim, happy with my bike and satisfied with my run. It was my first Ironman and middle distance triathlon and I did it! Prior to the race I read a few negative reviews about last year’s race, this year’s was well organised and I had no issues. I had a great time and would highly recommend Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 to anyone.

Thanks again to my cheer squad Mum, Dad and Sam for helping all weekend and standing in the rain waiting for me!

My next challenge is Aberfeldy middle distance triathlon in August.

Jenwaar

Training weeks 15-17

The last couple of weeks of training has gone well. The weather has been improving and I’ve managed to get out on the bike more, slowly getting more miles in, with both running and swimming going well.

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My ankle and calf are both doing well, I’ve not had any pains for two weeks. I’ve continued the physiotherapy exercises daily and they seem to be working!

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Last Friday was my birthday, my last year in my twenties! I finished nights in the morning and after a short nap, Sam treated me to a shopping spree in Glasgow. We met up with some friends for a Mexican meal and we all went to a gig to see Marissa Nadler. I had the day off training, had a few cheeky Margaritas and was treated like a princess.! Thanks Sam!! Heavy black heart

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Edinburgh has had amazing weather over the last couple of weeks and I’ve managed a few open water swimming sessions at Threipmuir reservoir. I was pleasely surprised that the water wasn’t that cold (once I got swimming). I’ve been trying to open water swim at least once a week in the run up to the race. I really don’t like swimming with a wetsuit, I find it quite restrictive. It usually takes me a couple of sessions each season to feel comfortable in swimming in my wetsuit. I would highly recommend and or insist on practicing before a race! During my first open water race I panicked and felt I couldn’t breath even after a couple of training sessions in my wetsuit.

open water swimming

On Sunday I competed in a triathlon relay race with Edinburgh triathletes. The race consists four team members completing a mini triathlon after each other. The distances are quite short; a 300metres swim, 7km bike and 1.5km run. The team consists of two ladies and two men, the order for the race is girl, boy, girl boy. The relay was at Knockburn, Aberdeenshire at a purpose built triathlon venue. We had a glorious day resulting in sunburn on my back and forehead (I never learn!) I started the race, my swim was quick, I got kicked in the head and I couldn’t get my wetsuit off my right leg after the swim but that’s racing! My bike ride was alright and I felt my run was slow but the time wasn’t too bad. I found sprinting each discipline really hard as I’ve been training for long distance (steady pace) so after 23minutes my lungs felt like they were going to explode! The race was well organised and I really enjoyed the post race food (fancy sandwich and ginger cake). Overall we were tenth out of 24 teams so pretty pleased with the result and we all had a fun day out.

triathlon relay

Yesterday I completed a long brick session – I cycled 50miles and ran 10miles. I now feel confident enough I can complete the race. My aim in this session was just to complete it, I kept a good pace whilst cycling and ran relatively slowly. My run time was pretty rubbish but I didn’t want to push it, plus it was 21 degrees in Edinburgh! On the bike I mimicked my nutrition for the race with two gels and a porridge bar. For hydration I had one energy drink and half a bottle of water. On the run I had one gel but had to stop to buy water as it was so hot! On race day I will probably just have a sip of water every 3-4miles. When I run a half marathon I don’t usually take anything on board as it usually comes back up, so my aim is to try and take as much fluid and nutrition as I can on the bike.

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I’m currently writing this blog on a flight to Barcelona. I’m away with friends for a week, we are going to Primavera Sound music festival followed by a few days in Barcelona, can’t wait!
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I’ve now only two weeks away from Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 (well actually 11 days), I strangely feel ok about it. I’m now going to start tapering, in preparation for the race. Perfect time for holiday (not), I intent to stop drinking from Sunday, continue running and cycling at the hotel gym. I also intend to fully enjoy my holiday!

I’m about to two weeks behind on my blog, I wrote this on Wednesday 1st June. I’ve now completed Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 on Sunday, yippee! Blog post to follow soon.

 

Jenwaar x

Training Week Eleven

Training week eleven

 

Sunday 12th June doesn’t feel that far away…..  Eleven weeks in and only 8 weeks to go!! I completed three swims and four runs this week. The weather was bad so didn’t get out on the bike; I have no excuses for not going on the turbo trainer…… oops!

blackford hill

On Monday I went for a long run with my friend Katrina and fellow madwife. We ran eight and a half miles up Blackford hill and around the surrounding areas.  I really enjoyed running with someone else, it makes a change from running by myself. Kat had just finished nights so our pace was slow but I enjoyed the company and catching up.

running

On Tuesday I went swimming between my nights. I got to try out my new long hair swimming cap. I swam 3.5 kilometres in sixty one minutes and I only needed to adjust my cap once. The cap is much bigger and able to stay over my ears throughout the swim. This has made a massive positive impact in my training allowing me to swim continuously like I would in a race. I’ve now ordered more and would highly recommend if you have a big head and long hair like me!

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On Wednesday I was a little tired but still went out for a run between nights. I’m surprised I kept up such a good pace; it was a usual run of mine and my quickest time to date! I feel my running in the last couple of weeks has vastly improved. My times are quicker and I feel my legs are not as heavy during the run.

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On Thursday I had a rest day. I was pretty tired after my three night shifts and sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your body. Sam and I went out to Oregano restaurant on Leith Walk in the evening and I stuffed myself with antipasto and Pizza. It was delicious!

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On Friday morning I ran to swim training and back. In total I ran six miles and swam 90 minutes in the pool. As you can imagine my run in was a lot quicker than the run home, but also because it’s up hill all the way back home.

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On Saturday I rested, preparing from Sunday’s race.

running

On Sunday I ran the Great Edinburgh run over 10 miles of hilly running through Edinburgh City centre. I have run this race for the last three years and it is a favourite of mine. I managed a personal best time of 1 hour 13mins and 40seconds, I was very pleased. The race day had perfect conditions, however it was little windy in places. I felt good most of the race, and even managed a sprint finish. Overall I was twentieth woman (crazy) and eleventh in my female age group 20-34!! My full race report will be in my next post.

race

Overall I’ve had a good week however lacking in cycling and brick training! I shall focus more on this next week.

Jenwaar

 

Iceland Weekend Trip

Iceland Weekend Trip

Last weekend I went to Iceland with my little brother James for four days. This will be our last trip together for a while as he’s moving to Sydney, Australia on Friday (sad face).

iceland

Iceland is so unique and beautiful, definitely worth a visit however it’s not cheap, be prepared to spend much more than on your standard holiday. The landscape is so breath-taking and diverse, one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. It feels like you’re on another planet, from open fields of lava rock, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls to the vibrant capital city of Reykjavík. The weather is quite varied, always changing and unpredictable. During our visit we experienced, snow, rain, strong winds and cold temperatures, my warm coat and long underwear were essential!

iceland snow

Iceland

We only came for a short visit and stayed in Reykjavík city centre. We focused most of our stay in the south of the island. To keep costs down we stayed in an apartment using Airbnb, just a fifteen minute walk from the city centre. We stayed with the host in our own private room; our host was great at giving advice and recommendations during our stay.

Iceland

I arrived on Thursday evening, got the bus to Reykjavik from the airport. Getting the bus is much cheaper at ten pounds compared to getting a taxi costing £60-70. Keflavik airport is about 50kms from Reykjavik, usually buses are waiting after flights for transfers.

Iceland

Thursday evening we went out for dinner at Fiskmarkadurinn (Fish market). All the reviews we read in advance sang their praises. Our Taxi driver also informed us that the owner was Iceland’s version of Nigella Lawson, Hrefna Rosa Soetran, so we had high expectations. We weren’t disappointed! The décor of the restaurant was beautiful, the staff were very friendly and spoke English extremely well.  We had the tasting menu, eight courses of mainly seafood and lamb with a selection of desserts. They also have a great cocktail menu and good choice of craft beers and wines. This has to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had, every single course was delicious. It’s quite pricey but has good value for money because of the quality of the food and drink. I would recommend anyone visiting Iceland to go here, please view (drool) over my photos below.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland 020        Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

On Friday we went snorkelling and on the golden circle tour. We were picked up in the morning and taken to Thingvellir, Silfra a freshwater fissure.  This lake is so special because it’s the only place you can swim between two continents; North American and Europe. We bravely donned wet suits rather than dry suits and submerged ourselves in the gap where the two tectonic plates meet. The water is crystal clear and as pure as water gets you could even take a sip! Although it was incredible, I have never been so cold, the water temperature is 2C and the temperature outside was freezing. We got ready outside in the snow and before I took the plunge I couldn’t feel my hands and feet. I was quite surprised when I got in the water it wasn’t that cold but that’s probably because I was already so cold. The advantage of snorkelling with a wet suit is that you can dive underneath the surface and explore more. Dry suits you float along the top of the water but stay dry and keep you much warmer.

iceland

iceland snok

After warming up with a couple of cups of hot chocolate and dry clothes, we continued on the golden circle tour. Our route commenced at the national park Thingvellir where Althing the Icelandic parliament was established. It is also where the continental drift between North American and Europe plates can be seen in cracks and rifts.

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                 Iceland

We moved onto a geothermally active valley, Haukadalur. This is where the famous Geysers, Strokkur and Geysir itself which gave others their name. Strokkur erupts regularly, which we saw a few times, quite spectacular to see in person! Geysir erupts rarely our guide informed us it erupted two weeks earlier, but usually goes off about once a year.

Iceland              Iceland

Iceland              Iceland

The last stop on our tour was Gullfoss waterfall, translated ‘Golden falls’. I don’t think you can really appreciate its magnitude and beauty until you see it in person. My photos don’t do it justice!

iceland   Iceland

Iceland   Iceland

Saturday we explored Reykjavík, it’s such a colourful and vibrant city. The houses are wooden framed and clad in wooden planks or corrugated metals painted in bright colours. The centre itself is quite compact and easy to walk around. We started the day walking down to the harbour and continued onto dramatic concrete Hallgrimskirkja church. We went up the tower and took in the wonderful views of Reykjavik. In the evening we went down to the Harpa concert centre and saw a comedy show ‘How to be Icelandic’. Later on in the evening we went to a few bars, most bars don’t have entry fees and all very close to one another. Craft beer and cocktails are popular and lots of specialised bars such as Mikkeller and Friends with twenty beers on tap. Just to mention the drinking age in Iceland is twenty (not that’s a problem for me).

Iceland 117

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland                       Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Sunday we walked up to the Perlan (Pearl), which has a panoramic views over the city and a rotating restaurant. In the afternoon we caught a bus to one of the 25 wonders of the world, the blue lagoon. We took a dip in the geothermal water, it was so nice to go into warm water after our freezing dip on Friday. The water is cloudy and steam billows off the pool to make it feel mysterious. Again it’s quite pricey to go and a little busy, but it has good facilities and a nice relaxing way to end our trip. Afterwards we took a taxi to the airport for our late night flight back home.

Iceland

Iceland

iceland

iceland

iceland      iceland

iceland       iceland

During our stay we were lucky to experience the food and fun festival. Local restaurants created gourmet menus at affordable prices, using Icelandic ingredients. We tried menus at Sushi and Samba restaurant and Kopar restaurant. Both restaurants served amazing food. All the food we had on our trip was excellent, local cuisine is fish and lamb. I would also recommend Bernhorfbakari for a pastries and K Bar, a beer bar with Korean inspired food.

iceland

7th march 042

Iceland

Iceland

iceland           7th march 057

Sadly the three nights we stayed in Iceland it was cloudy and we were unable to see the Northern lights. Our flight back home was late and we were fortunate to see them from the plane.

The only ‘negative’ I would say is the recurrent smell of sulphur, smelled of rotten eggs. By the end of the trip I think got used to it. The trip was amazing and there is nowhere quite like it. I recommend anyone to visit this mysterious island. I would love to visit again and explore the rest of the island.

iceland

Jenwaar