Thursday, 26 July 2007

Freefall posting - no notes, no diary - just trying to remember a holiday.

warning long rambling post used as a vague diary whilst travelling.

Right - the basics are that I´m in Rekyavik´s seedy underbelly (otherwise known as an internet cafe). We´ve been here only 2 days and its been quite incredible. Travelling with TheO´s entire family is quite an experience. (Lets just say that whilst I love my nephews I may not like them for much of the time.)

So arrival involves flying across a massive ice flow - v v cool. Genuinely overwhelmingly wonderful.
Landing at a small and somewhat deserted airport - then getting a taxi into the "city". Travelling across miles of black, weird, lunar lavaflows. Quite incredible but also a shock to the system. BUT wonderful to be somewhere, where - on landing - the first thought isn´t: Oh look - it´s just like Scotland but not quite as pretty.
Our first treat was to drag our massive luggage to The Blue Lagoon which is a complex of natural pools heated by geothermal energy. It was stunning, relaxing, incredibly beautiful and the perfect start to any holiday - floating in the salt rich waters eased away any travel stress. (And there had been some due to inept bus from THEWORLD´sSHITTESTHOTEL - grrrr.)

That was all we really did on the first day with some wandering and photo taking - apart from go to our first gay bar. Hilarious. Together 8 years and our fist gay (v relaxed, v mixed) was two days ago. It only seemed fitting to discuss the forthcoming non-uptials. Great to have time to chat to each other. Hell it was just great to go out and have a drink and be able to walk home. There are some simple pleasures that I occasionally miss about country life.

Relaxing with incredible scenery but not a picturesque town is how I would describe Reykavik. It does feel like a frontier on the edge of a wilderness. Outdoorsy chic and a 4x4 are de rigeur. The women are beautiful, the place is ultra-relaxed and that relaxation seeps in under the skin. Once you´ve picked yourself up off the floor at how damn much everything costs. No. Really. Even with a terrifying exchange rate of 100 ISK to 1 GBP simple things cost more than ever seemed possible. A simple pizza - at a cheap take away 18 GBP!! It´s crazy, our Rough Guide was 29GBP - but supposedly the average wage is far higher than in the Uk and it all works well. In a Capital city over 3 days I have seen no vagrants or beggars. Their health system seems to rock and there is v little crime.

I love it here. You wander down streets of simple houses and suddenly views across the bay with incredible cliffs and mountains rise up and surprise you. It really does take your breath away - as does it being midnight and still light. Sunset was about 11pm last night and it was so incredible that even Icelanders were stopping their cars and getting out to take pictures.

Our first tourist day didn´t involve doing too much but we saw The Culture House with incredible manuscript exhibitions of the sagas - where I discovered that Old English (which I studied as a masters) is much older and very firmly the basis for Icelandic - shame I can´t bloody remember any. Also a display about Surtsey which is a *new* island which appeared thrown from the sea in a volcanic fit in the 1960s. Delightfully fitting in a quick coffee is a delightful experience as the island is said to run on cups of the black stuff. (You might bankrupt yourself but hell, good coffee makes any day better.)

So wandering, settling in, buying basic provisions etc have been done and we took our first mini road trip today. We saw Gullfoss an incredible waterfall and gorge that blows the mind.

The AlĂ°ing - the original seat of the lawspeakers and the formation of the Icelandic Parliament - a fabulous valley of steep rocks splitting the earth and overlooking lush plains which slowly rise into snow tipped mountains.

Then - our geology day took us to Geysir to see geysers. They really did spurt boiling water from the earth about 40 feet into the air. The small crowds were restrained in their appreciation. (I think restraint in all things apart from drink might be part of the Icelandic peoples´personality.)

Our fab taxi (more like mini buss with 7 of us) driver also took us to a surprise crater at the end of the day with a crazy azure/green lake in the bottom of a huge circular chasm.

Ooo and for those still paying attention we went for a run today round the lake in the centre of the city. Not massivly picturesque but really very pretty and full of ducklings queeking out the way. Running/Jogging does not appear to be a cultural thing here. A great evening and no other runners in the perfect park - v strange. But we managed a rather leisurly 2.5 miles in 27 min. It was both slower and shorter than I would have liked but I was running near TheO and our time between getting back to our place and having to shop/return to the family base was extremely limited.

I can´t quite get the measure of the place, it seems elusive and withdrawn whilst simultaneously being welcoming and relaxing.

Crikie - last word - love the food too. Great fish and good bread plus smoked/cured meats which are divine. Although they are lacking in pud ... hell who needs it.

It all seems to be going so fast and like we´ve done so much but there´s still so much time left - it´s incredible.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Ooooooo I almost forgot.

No. 5 Harry Potter arrived too. Perfect holiday reading - if only I can make it last that long.


Saturday, 21 July 2007

A little brighter now. (Although the weather sucks.)

1. Thank you for the kind comments - they were much needed.

2. All is much improved. Turned out (as bloody always) that some of my black-mood was caused by hormones. The work situation has been sorted out to a wonderful conclusion & I've almost managed to get enough work done to calm myself down.

3. I went for a run (yipeeeeeee) yesterday.

4 MILES up to the peak of a nearby hamlet and back - lovely.

Ran with TheO we were 'slow as' - 12min miles, but it was a great run.
Great not to push it. Ran in the evening for the first time - set off at 9pm - was perfect. Not too hot. Light enough to be safe. Mmmmm - not to quote a well-know ad campaign, but to 'run at the speed of chat' (for me) was lovely. For the occasions when companionship is more important than competition this type of run can't be beaten. It was a beautiful night and the sky was all pink and glowing over the sea. We saw pretty chickens in people's gardens, interested horses, a turkey (!) and more rabbits than seems possible. Lifted the spirits immensely.

4. I am off on holiday soon (fly Tuesday am) to Iceland and I can't wait. Work can just chill for 2 weeks. Our dogs are being house sat by all our friends (in fabulous rotation) and life is good - I just have to calm down about it. I need an internet cafe when I'm there anyway so I'll try and give some snippets but if you don't hear from me I'm away having too much fun!

The off road driving was incredible. I had a go despite being petrified and it was AMAZING. We went down near vertical slopes, across mini lakes, climbed up giant boulders, rocked through huge ditches pitching from a 15degree angle one way to 23 the other. Got the adrenaline going and made me marvel at quite what Keith* can achieve.

* Keith is TheO's silver Land Rover Defender 90. He's usually full of dogs and surf boards, or mountain bikes. He regularly makes it up the hill to our house when Helga (my car) is left at the bottom (the snow and ice get too much for her). He has romped across TheBents on Coll (not for the faint hearted) but hasn't really been fully tested before - he loved it -like a puppy taken for it's first walk at the beach.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Broke something hideously irreplaceable in a work related thing. This was after being in a serious, full on, mope. Then ate *far too much* chocolate to attempt to feel better - this made me feel fat and hideous. And it was too hot for me to go for a run today (before the day collapsed completely).

Boo Hiss - will run tomorrow. And go off-road driving. And try to fix broken mess.


Saturday, 14 July 2007

Sunny, sunny day.

As it was so bootiful outside we decided to high-tail it to the gym (which is deserted on a Saturday - much to my surprise).

Quick weights - arms only:

biceps 12 reps x 2
triceps pull 12 reps x 3
lateral pull 12 reps x 3
tummy on weight 12. 20reps, 12reps, 12reps
tummy on weight 11 - 16reps
shoulder/pectoral push 12 reps x 2

4 miles in 40min on treadmill at 1%

30min (2.25) miles on elliptical at level 2 (Soooo sloooowwww.)

2 miles in 19.34 on treadmill at 1%

So 89.34 minutes cardio.

8.3miles total distance

Whilst running my muscles and breathing felt fine on the treadmill (if a little harder than I expected) but I had to stop (intention was to do 8 on the treadmill) as I was overheating (despite squirting water over my head and face). Extremely frustrating - just wanted to keep going but the heat was making me furious and panicy which feels bloody awful. Almost started crying - v weird. quick run to get more water and splash face then onto the elliptical for two of the slowest miles ever ... 13.30 each was enough of a break to then hop straight back onto the treadmill. The final push was worth it, left the gym feeling like super woman. Did lots of stretching in the sunshine. Feel like a new woman - weird fluctuations in mood though.

Cannot wait for the cold again - I run soooo much better.
Am going to get TheO to measure me again as I've put on about 5lb since my lightest but I don't think I look or feel any fatter. I probably am, but here's hoping it's all muscle.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Two things.

1. Last run was a delightful roughly 30min (took no watch - v relaxing) 5K through the woods. It was lovely and flat but I got bitten to b*ggery. Little black dog was delighted - she loved her run, think she might have missed our little sojourns together. TheO did a 13mile bike ride and was impressively quick.

2. Finally, after many years, TheO and I are getting 'civved up'. The venue is booked, the save the date hilariousness has been sent. The fact these things have been done on Friday 13th is only now beginning to dawn on me.

Below is the image we used on the save-the-date email.

Lets just say we're taking this seriously - just not too seriously.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Running & Standing Still

Playing Catch-Up yet again! Nice to be having some busy life rather than same-old same-old.

So since we last spoke the following occurred:
A lovely friend of TheO's came to stay. He's an opera singer and appears to have a fabulously glamorous life travelling Europe doing various covers (understudy part) and shows. We celebrated his getting a cover in Glasgow by going out to The Fish Restaurant which is one of my favorite places - yummmmeeeeee.

On the 6th had a fairly disastrous run. Went up the back roads where it is hilly and managed a pathetic 4 miles in 43mins. Felt very heavy, had difficulty settling and it was hot and incredibly humid.

The w/end was packed with friends visiting. Cgar and Meep were brilliant fun in that we had loads of lovely dog walks (they have an 18month bearded collie) and a really relaxed time, plus there was the drinking of champagne. Then on Sunday we drove to Glasgow to meet The Cheese Board (there's 6 of us, we're extremely close friends, we like cheese) in THE CHEESE BAR which was lovely too. Gave us all a chance to touch base and drink champagne (again).

Monday dawned with the strong desire to run off some of the cheese. Went to the gym.

5k in 26.52 whoo hooo (1 % incline)

First 3 sub 9min miles in a row ever - delighted, chuffed and can't quite believe I've knocked so much time off my PB at the moment. Got to get back to distance work!

shoulder press UP 12 x 2 and 6 x 1 on 1 (pathetic)
triceps 12 x 3 on 3
cross pull 12 x 2 on 4
tummy machine 20 x 3 on 12

Today has been all about work and the wonderful golden dog.
She's had a stiff shoulder for a while. Rest always made it better but we saw that she was slowing down a bit. Today she had x-rays. Despite only being 7 she has arthritis in both shoulders and is looking at reduced exercise and pills for life. :-( Hopefully a course of anti-inflammatories will help, then she's on supplements (that glucosamine stuff runners know and love). No more runs for her. It's no exercise for a month which is really very sad - you try explaining that to a dog when you still have to take her 'sister' out for runs.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

It must be true

Not only does the Runner's World quote bestow 'real runner' status upon me, but yesterday I collected my first (and at that price, I wish only) pair of orthotics .. *cough* I mean, my orthoses.

So having been told to TAKE IT EASY in them... I did the following.

Gym 12 min fast walking to test orthotics - weird but good. Thought I was going to have a blister on my right instep but all a-ok.

tummy machine
shoulder press
cross pull arm thingy

some lunges and free weights - generally a bit of a nasty-girlie session where I didn't have enough time and didn't put my heart in to it. Worked up a sweat though.

That evening:
run 1mile 9.09

Then 10 x 0.1 of a mile hill repeats - managed to keep to 10.09pace luckily.
Leisurely walk back in between each repeat. It was hot and horrid.

Then 0.1 mile home so 5k in total but I TOOK MY SWEET TIME

Wore orthotics the whole time - feel great when running, lighter on my feet and v supportive. My only concern is my foot seems to put more pressure on the outer edge of my bad heel; I've obviously been walking and running to protect it, and these push me back onto it. I've given it a blast with the foot file to remove a bit of the hard skin (did you ever want this much detail?) - that should help to relive the pressure a bit.

That was all yesterday - I expected some weird muscle aches from the orthotics but so far only a mild ache in my butt (which I blame on doing hills for the first time in months).

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Fame at last

It's true - I must be a REAL runner. Runner's World have quoted me this month!!!!!!
First comment under the Edinburgh 10K race report is mine.

Over chuffed by this. (V silly really.)

Monday, 2 July 2007

Bizarrely TheO mentioned today that they fancied the gym - at a time that was both appropriate and possible for me. Lawks!

5k in 28.15 at 1% rise.
Hard work but worth it.

arms - biceps triceps
back - lateral pull
chest press
leg press
tummy machine -hmmmmm

After my running hiatus (wore my new pair of OLD triax 9s today and felt no pain during or after - possibility that the triax Xs are too corrective and twist my feet the wrong way?) I've discovered that my speed has not suffered at all - I am as fast, if not slightly faster having had time off. My stamina is shot-to-shit though. Which is a bugger. But hell, I'll get it back. I'm quite surprised though. It must be the additional gym work. I appear to have put on about 2lb of muscle over the 6-7weeks. It might be fat, but I'm not usually that self deluded. (Despite necking 10 jaffa cakes in 10min whilst driving home from the meeting at 9pm. I only bought them to get the card payment minimum... there were no good magazines at the garage - only porn.)

The importance of stretching is also becoming more apparent to me as I get into the running again. My legs begin to feel tight - must get back to the yoga too.

Can I just say, SERIOUSLY - what's with all the rain - IT'S JULY! *Head bent back screaming up at the sky.*