Training has definitely rammed up and I’m starting to see improvements in the weather and also my fitness. I am finally managing to get out on my bike outdoors regularly, hooray!
The start of the month I was in Devon for Easter weekend, visiting family but managed a couple of runs and a 60mile ride from Hatherleigh to Torringdon and along the Tarka trail with my husband Sam.
I was away in Mallorca for training week in April with my coach. I had a great week and did lots of cycling around 400miles in total! I am now seeing the benefits of this trip, my speed has increased, my bike handling is much better and I am much more confident going downhill. Highlights of the trip include cycling up Sa Calobara and Puig de Major. I also enjoyed swimming in the clear sea at Porte de Pollencsa. See my previous post for the details of the trip.
After Mallorca I was unwell for a few days due to throat viral infection so had a rest week instead of a recovery week as planned. I think my body particularly my legs were pleased, they felt pretty heavy and sore after all the cycling In Mallorca.
Swim 10.4miles (16.7km)
Bike 651.8miles (1048.9km)
Run 49.1miles (79km)
Swim mileage was similar in March, I’m happy with my pace, just need to get a few longer swim sessions in. In Mallorca I swam in the sea a couple of times, trying out my new wetsuit which I love, great flexibility and fits me well.
Cycling has massively improved since Mallorca. The mileage is much higher than last month, hopefully I can keep it up!
Running… I feel I have been neglecting. I know I haven’t done enough, I should have run more in Mallorca and throughout the month. Running has always been one of my strengths and this year I have been racing less so taken this for granted. Last year I was stronger runner (but a slower cyclist). I have only a few weeks until Celtman so I am going to focus more on my running and not miss any run sessions (or any training sessions).
I’ve also got a little confession… I started having the occasional alcohol beverage after stating I wouldn’t have any until after Celtman. After a little peer pressure and not much persuading… I’ve had the occasional drink. Overall, I am still not drinking much or any. I did have a few too many drinks at a friend’s wedding in April but that was a one off. I am just going to continue to be sensible and have the occasional drink if I want.
In May the training volume is increasing in all disciplines. Longer brick sessions and practising kit, food and race conditions. At the end of May I am going up North to recce Celtman bike and run the course with fellow Celtman competitors.
I’ve been really excited about Mallorca over the last few weeks. The weather has been so bad in the UK that I haven’t been cycling as much compared to last year. I’ve also never cycled in Mallorca before and lots of my friends told me of the great road quality, warm weather as well as the many climbs!
The training week was organised by my coach Barron and, sharing lead rider duties, assistant coach Kevan. The week was predominantly focused on bike volume, with options of adding swimming and running if you wanted. We were sent an advance itinerary of the week and kit list.
I knew a few coming along to the training week including my husband. He decided to bring his bike, and I opted to hire a bike in Mallorca. Six of us were flying from Edinburgh and the rest of the group met in Mallorca. In total there were fourteen of us including the coaches.
Day one; we arrived early morning in Mallorca and were transferred to our accommodation at Aparthotel Duva, Porte de Pollenca, in the north of the island. We spent the late morning to early afternoon building bikes or picking them up and settling into our accommodation. In the afternoon we rode an easy ride as a group, testing out the bikes and getting our legs spinning, ready for our first proper day of training the following day. We rode along the coast from Porte de Pollensa to Alcudia and climbed up to Ermita de la Victoria. We had a quick stop and headed back- 24 miles in total. It was good to get used to my hire bike and get my legs spinning after an easy week on the run up to Mallorca.
Day two; we rode together, acclimatising to riding in a group. The ride was based on the Mallorca 70.3 route, on the climb up to Luc, we had a fitness threshold test. At the bottom of the climb we commenced the test and finished the test when we got to the top, or twenty minutes from starting the climb (whichever comes first). Coll de Femenia is a 7.6km climb with an average gradient 6% and was a taste of the climbs to come! During the climb I saw Emma Pooley fly past whilst I was a slow salty mess! The test is based on heart rate and power. I don’t have a power meter, but I do have a heart rate monitor and my heart rate threshold increased, which is an improvement!
After the climb we had a stop for coffee and almond cake. We proceeded down the other side of the climb and continued on the 70.3 route to Muro. After our break, it started to rain; luckily after the descent. Unluckily, whilst cycling in a group we had a crash on a bend. Three of us, including myself, came down but other than a bit of road rash, grazes and a bit of shock, we were all fine. My bike was fine but the other two needed to get repairs. The group continued to cycle in the rain. When we finished the ride it had stopped raining, typical! Just shy of 60miles and I finished with a short 3-mile brick run. I spent the rest of the day chilling by the pool in the sun.
Day three; this was the first of our longer rides of the week. We started early and split the group into two: based on ability. I really didn’t want to hold up the group so went for the slower of the two groups. Our ride took us back up Coll de Femenia, with a short climb up to Coll dels Reis from the aqueduct. We went down to the famous Sa Calobra to the village, 9.5km of descending, with a short stop at the bottom to regroup then the long climb back up to reach the top of Coll dels Reis -9.5km with 7% gradient. We set off early so our descent down was quiet. On the way back up it was busy with many other cyclists and traffic including big buses. After the big climb we had some lunch, thankfully as I was getting very hungry at this point.
The second half of the ride was back down Coll de Femenia to Port de Pollensa, up Coll de Sa Creueta -3.7km 5% gradient- to Formentor (Lighthouse) Mallorca’s most northern point. We regrouped at the Lighthouse and some of us made friends with the goats! At this point the group had different energy levels so we made our own way back to Port de Pollensa at our own pace. 86miles and over 9,000ft of climbing. In the group there was varied ability to climb and descend so the ride for me felt a little disjointed rather than a fluid ride. I did really enjoy the route: quite challenging with good company and a beautiful sunny day! The rest of the day was spent by the pool.
Day four: this was a recovery day. I caught up on sleep and took the opportunity to test out my new wetsuit. I bought an Orca Alpha wetsuit at Christmas when on sale and hadn’t tried it out yet. Pier, Vicki, Eilidh and myself had a short swim in the sea at Port de Pollensa. The sea was very clear, and I was watching the fish swim beneath us as we were swimming. We swam at a steady pace between buoys, in total we swam for about twenty minutes. I am really impressed with the wetsuit. It’s designed for swimmers, so the arms have less neoprene so there is much more flexibility and easier to rotate my shoulders. The fit is good, I tend to have problems as I have broad shoulders (for a woman), the thinner neoprene arms help so it’s not tight and I don’t feel restricted when swimming. (This is not a sponsored post).
In the afternoon we rode as a group at an easy pace to Coves de Campanet for lunch and back. My legs were very heavy from the climbs on the previous day, 30miles in total. Afterwards, I did lots of stretching and foam rolling to try and loosen up my legs.
Day 5; this was the longest ride and the most climbing of the week. My legs were feeling surprisingly fresh after an easier session the previous day. I went in the faster group after guidance from the coaches. I was initially worried that I would hold everyone up but this spurred me on to cycle faster to keep up. The route follows the Tramuntana epic ride and follows the majority of MA-10. We started at Pollensa and out to Alcudia then on to the foothills of the Tramuntana, Alora where the climbing begins. We started the ride quickly working as a group. When the climbs began we regrouped at the top or bottom whichever suited. We had a quick coffee stop (or juice for me) after two hours of riding we started climbing. We climbed Orient Valley and descended to Bunyola where we stopped for a quick lunch. I don’t think I will eat baguettes again after this trip!
After lunch we cycled to the coast, climbing up smaller hills and mountains to Deia. It was much warmer- 22 degrees and I was feeling it, the sun felt strong. We stopped at a petrol station to refuel. After this stop we descended to Soller. This was my favourite descend of the holiday, big wide roads, beautiful coastal views and probably my fastest downhill speed of the week. Getting back to sea level and 70miles into the ride we started the long climb up Puig Major, Mallorca biggest climb -13.9km, average gradient 6.2%. Barron stayed with me throughout the climb coaching and pushing me. I could see Sam ahead and was determined not to let him get away from my sight (which I didn’t). I was done when I got to the top. Eilidh took this photo at the top, I look happy, but I was pretty spent!
We descended back to the aqueduct, refuelled and headed back to Pollenca. Luckily, it was mainly downhill and slightly undulating. At the bottom of Coll de Femenia, it was a fairly flat back to Pollenca. I was struggling, I had been dropped by the group, so Barron waited for me and pushed me to catch up, I held on to Barron’s wheel (for dear life). We just managed to catch up when we arrived back at the apartment, I was well and truly broken and had given it my all. I had intended to do a short brick run but every fibre of my being said no. Instead, I jumped into the pool, had a pint of beer (carb loading) and sun bathed. I really enjoyed the ride and had never been pushed like that during a ride before. In total 105miles, 10,000ft of climbing. Thanks coach Barron and the team for looking after me!
Day 6; thankfully we had a late start at 9.30am. My legs were sore this morning! Initially, at the start of the ride I had issues with my gears which seemed to resolve by itself. I usually take a few miles or an hour to get properly warmed up on the bike, the faster group were too fast for my tired legs and I kept getting dropped on the climbs. We were doing the same route as the other group and I waited to join them. Luckily, they welcomed me back, I struggled for the first 30miles, legs were so heavy, and I felt I couldn’t climb any incline. Once my legs had warmed up and loosened up a bit cycling felt normal again.
We cycled out to Llubi onto Montuiri and climbed to the top of Puig de Randa- 5.5km, gradient 6%. It was worth the climb as it had spectacular views of central Mallorca and the monastery of Santuari de Cura at the top. We stopped at the monastery cafe for lunch. After lunch, we headed back to Port de Pollensa via Algaida, Sencelles and Inca. The ride was good as it was more undulating with less big and long hills (apart from Puig de Randa) so as a group we were riding together and sharing the workload. After 85miles my legs and saddle-sore bottom were done. We finished the ride together with an ice cream by the beach at Port de Pollensa. I possibly could and should have done a brick run but once I had my ice cream, my body was in relaxed mode, so I had a dip in the pool and enjoyed the rest of the late afternoon/evening sunbathing.
Day 7; a few of the group entered the Tolo’s Time Trial bike race in the morning. I was initially undecided on entering as I thought I would be too tired to race after a week of long distance cycling. I was so glad I did not enter, there was no way my bottom would let me sit on my bike saddle on Saturday! Instead I went for a run along the beach followed by a swim. I wanted to go for a long swim in the sea and Kevan kindly volunteered to Kayak beside me. I’ve never swam with my own security before and I liked it. The only problem was I was a little lazy and didn’t sight much as I knew I could follow Kevan. We went a lot further out in the sea and the water was still so clear! I swam about 3km in about 50mins. I loved the swimming in sea, in Mallorca, it was so calm, clear and warm, very different to being back home! After the swim we headed out for lunch and joined the rest of the group at Tolo’s restaurant. I relaxed for the rest of the day and had a couple of drinks with everyone. The next day we were flying early so it was our last day exercising.
I had a great week, Thanks to Barron and Kevan for organising and coaching us all. I am definitely feeling the improvements in my cycling since Mallorca. Thanks also to everyone who came along, everyone in the group were very supportive, friendly and great to train with (like minded nutters). I certainly will be back to Mallorca cycling again soon.
Training is going well, I’m pretty much managing to complete all my sessions with the occasional tweak due to work or tiredness.
The weather is finally getting better (above freezing) so I’ve been out on the bike at least once a week getting a long ride in, less time on the turbo which is amazing! I usually have one social ride a week with either friends or with the triathlon or cycling club, making training much more fun.
I have slowly increased the amount and the distance for running, my calf coping well as long I continue to stretch and do my physiotherapy exercises. I feel much lighter on my feet, stronger and faster on my track training days.
Swimming has taken a little bit of a back seat but mainly that’s my doing……getting more ink. My tattoo is finally finished so I can regularly swim again, but this isn’t too much of a problem as it is my strongest discipline.
Towards the end of February I had a trip up to the Isle of Skye for a long weekend with family and friends. Sadly, the weather wasn’t in our favour, it was either very windy or very windy with torrential rain. I didn’t really have high exceptions of the weather as it was February and it’s also the West coast of Scotland! I bought my bike with me thought I may have one good day to cycle however that day did not arrive but I brought my turbo trainer so training wasn’t missed. The views from the house were amazing even in the rain. I managed to either use the turbo trainer or run or both whilst away. One day I drove an 80mile trip to the only pool in Skye to get kicked out 30 minutes later as the timetable changed for the half term for family fun time (damn those inflatables!) The trip was lovely: to get away; to catch up with family and friends; and still manage to train.
I am rather anti-social at the moment, I feel I am constantly apologising for missing group social gatherings, turning up late (no change), leaving to go home early or not drinking when I do socialise. I am trying to juggle work, training and trying to see friends and family. Maybe the latter I’m not doing too well at. I also know this will only get worse as my volume in training increases as I get closer to the race. I would just like to apologise to friends and family as ultimately I’m doing this race for me and it is affecting your lives too, especially my poor husband. I should be back by July once Celtman and Ironman training has finished. I would like to thank you all for your patience, support and love, it is really appreciated.
On a more positive note, this week race season has commenced. I will be competing in the Tranent Sprint Triathlon on Saturday. I am really excited as so many other Edinburgh Triathlete club members are competing, it will be well supported and it’s my first time competing in this triathlon. I’m unsure how it will go as all my training is geared towards long distance rather than sprinting but super excited to be competing again!
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.
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.
I’ve been back from Australia for over a week (booo). Whilst away I did train but it wasn’t planned-more leisurely and when I could. I’m back to work and full time training, which was a shock to the system!
In Sydney, I managed to use some of the amazing outdoor pools the city has to offer, I don’t think the Scottish weather would really suit outdoor pools! I swam at Sydney harbour bridge pool with amazing views of the bridge and Icebergs by Bondi Beach, again cracking views! Both 50metres pools and use seawater with some chlorine. At Icebergs you may feel the waves crashing over the sides as you swim! When I was at Whitsunday Islands I swam in the sea a couple of times, on one of my swims I got a bit spooked by seeing a large sea turtle and stingray swimming near me!
I hired road bikes, with my husband, and cycled up to Newport beach, North from Sydney and back. Both of us were not used to the heat-36 degrees- so we took it easy, visiting the beaches along the east coast. I would also not recommend cycling through Sydney in the day, it’s pretty much like cycling through London!
I did run a couple of times, however I couldn’t handle the heat too well, so I ended up doing short runs and long walks or hikes. Ideally I should have got up earlier when it was cooler but I was on holiday and enjoying myself. This me looking like sweaty mess after a short run.
Now I’m back in Edinburgh, the holiday bubble has popped and my tan is fading. Last week my coach got me back on an easy week which felt tough. I was a little worried I hadn’t done enough training over my holidays, losing the fitness levels I’ve started to build over the last 2 months. After a few days, I got back into it and the holiday fluff/ heaviness lifted.
On Sunday, was my first outdoor ride this year (in Scotland), I started out with Portovelo cycling club but after 20miles, my friend and I peeled off to do a different route. We stopped off at Bass rock for a quick photo. We completed over 60miles and I felt pretty good, so much better being outdoors than on the turbo trainer!
This week I’m continuing to build on distance and trying to get out on the bike once a week.
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.
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!
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.
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.
After We headed to Augustiner’s to enjoy German beer from a barrel and eat more sausage with sauerkraut. Both were delicious!
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).
We continued our evening visiting microbrewery, Lemke Berlin and onto ‘the pub’ pouring our own Berliner pints of beer.
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.
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.
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.
After a big night on Tuesday, we decided to have an early night and get up early before our flight in the afternoon.
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).
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!
Apologies for my lack of posts….A fortnight ago I went along to Edinburgh Triathletes winter training weekend. This is annual winter training weekend ET organise every year. I previously went two years ago. Friday evening, I headed over to Bridge of Earn in Perthshire. Friday night was spent catching up with everyone, eating pizza and have a cheeky glass of wine.
Saturday morning commenced with an early morning run, I’m currently not running at the moment, so spent an extra hour in bed! At 9.30am we went off for a group ride, two groups were formed based on ability.
Photo credit: Euan Batten
We headed off into the rain in the beautiful Perthshire countryside. After ten minutes we were all soaked but that didn’t dampen our spirits! After an hour of cycling we had a Pit stop at Loch level larder. I had my ‘go to’ cycling snack, a sausage bap and hot chocolate (this time I had a chai latte but basically a hot milk drink). Highly recommend this cafe, I have been many times before for lunch and afternoon tea.
Photo credit: Euan Batten
After our stop we continued the ride. A few minutes into the ride Paul had to stop for a puncture so a few of us in the group had a plank off competition. The girls won, sorry Pierre! Look how much mud we have on our bottoms! The ride was only 28miles but quite hilly and wet so I glad to get back to the lodges and put on dry clothes!
Photo credit: Euan Batten
In the afternoon Richard, one of the coaches, conducted a ‘Q&A’ type of talk answering all questions on everything triathlon. We submitted questions in advance of the weekend. Richard covered questions from kit, coaching, racing and training, giving tips and advice. I found this really interesting and useful. I particularly found his advice on improving my times on the bike helpful and will use this in my training and racing. It also made me really want to buy a time trial bike!
Late afternoon we had a swim session at Strathallan School swimming pool which was very cold! The focus was on technique and good form. We were practicing tumble turns, rotation, push offs, streamlining and posture. This was good session, breaking down our swimming technique to build on form to swim more efficiently and effectively. ‘Swim well before swimming fast’.
In the evening we all went out for a meal at a local restaurant, followed by a couple of drinks at the local pub.
Sunday morning, we were back in the pool for a 9am start. We warmed up with a few lengths and continuing good technique. We were then divided into four groups and started racing! Sadly, all my good form went out the window whilst racing (game face)! Individually, I came second in my heat but in our team relay we came last. I had lots of fun diving off the blocks, however need to practice sprinting, I’ve not raced competitively since I was a child.
I headed home after swimming. The rest if the triathlon club completed a mini duathlon in the rain, followed by a short trail run.
The weekend was great, I loved the relaxed nature of the weekend and socialising with other club members. Big thanks to Mike for organising the weekend and Richard and Euan for coaching!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.