Photo Friday

 

 

Today I am flying back to the UK after a week in Oslo. And for fun, because it’s Friday, I thought I ‘d show you how my week looked in photos. Soooo.. Enjoy!

 

It started on Saturday with the Night We Took All The Selfies. My camera is full. of. them. It’s like a time lapse video.

 

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And the next day, I got the best present. It came in a huge purple box and contained two very important items:

 

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On the same day, I saw this on Twitter and thought it’d be fun to do:

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You can catch my very exciting #BookadayUK updates on Twitter here: @ElinorJR

 

Then in Oslo, the day after birthday Tiramisu, I went for a run:

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It was a slow run because I kept stopping to take photos. Oslo is great for running  – it’s pretty flat, and has wonderful waterside views. It was cold though!

 

And today I saw the best taxi in the whole wide world:

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I would literally pay someone to drive me around in this all day long, and all my money would vanish.

 

And finally – in our Oslo office, I saw these words of wisdom on the wall:

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Have a fabulous weekend everyone – go out there thinking that you CAN!!!!! (Whatever it is you want to do)

 

Ellie B

 

 

Asics Gel Evation Review

 

In the words of U2, ‘GEL-EV-A-TION! WHOOOO hoo! WHOOOO hooooo!’

 

Or maybe they were singing ‘El-e-va-tion’. Hard to say.

 

Anyway, last month I was the lucky recipient of a new pair of Asics Gel Evations! That was an exciting day, let me tell you. Everyone in my office knew about it. When I entered the Neon Run with my pals, I mentioned that I would be running in my Asics Kayanos, which qualified as entry to the competition, and then two months later they told me I’d won. :)

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Recently I have favoured my Nike Free 4.0s to run in, as they are lightweight and don’t have the same stress points on my feet as my Brooks (thank god for no more ugly blood blisters!). Like my Frees, the Evations are designed for a neutral tread, and are designed for people with little pronation in their running. I actually over pronate, but I much prefer neutral shoes since the marathon.

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The Evations are light, like the Frees, but they also have a raised heel – officially called the ‘Rearfoot Gel Cushioning Syste’. This is designed to lessen the impact of a heel strike. I always land on the balls or mid-foot, but what I found is that the raised heel contributes to a really good arch support, which is needed thanks to my ridiculously high arches. My arches are so high your momma makes herself right at home under them Terrible attempt at a joke. Turns out there’s nothing funny about high arches.

 

They are a snug fit too. The fit is something I find really challenging about shoes. Certain models are perfect, and when I’ve bought an exact replacement, they are too big. These are a much closer fit to any of my other shoes, however, I haven’t had any blisters with them. So things are looking good. They shoes also boast a removable sockliner to work with orthotics, and an open mesh top to help ventilation.

 

Running in these shoes took a bit of adjustment. Although the shoe boasts AHAR+ outsole material (which is supposed to help grip), I personally felt that the grip on the foot doesn’t feel as secure as some of my other shoes, so in wet weather I have to tread carefully. Initially I kept rolling my left ankle too: perhaps the neutrality of the shoe impacted the support, and needed a little getting used to.

 

Now I’m accustomed to these small differences, I am really happy with them. Whilst I found the grip to be a little weaker, the combo of the gel cushioning and the AHAR+ means that the impact of each step is reduced, so they are very comfortable to run in.Whilst not quite as light as my Frees (and this is based on feel rather than strict measurements), they are still very light, and they don’t put the same pressures on the balls of my feet that other shoes do. So after a month of trailing them out, I can heartily recommend them. Just be careful of your ankles…

 

In other news, I am now another year older. I am old enough that people feel it’s ok to say ’21 again – HAHAHA!’ Thanks, guys. Way to make a girl feel better.  I spent the day as any birthday girl would hope: in management meetings in Oslo.

There may have been meetings, but there was also DESSERT AND SPARKLERS!

There may have been meetings, but there was also DESSERT AND SPARKLERS!

 

Actually, as you can see, it was a great birthday. My colleagues were absolutely lovely and treated me to champagne, pizza and tiramisu. And there’s nothing like a room of 50 Scandinavian colleagues singing happy birthday to you! I also had a night out on Saturday which was more than enough to last til Tuesday.

 

Ellie B

Reality Check: I’m Ready for my Close Up

This week’s theme is reality.

 

Last week, I was all a-glow in the light of Norway (seriously – it’s never dark there. Or maybe for a couple of hours between 1-3am), drinking Coke Zero whilst looking over the harbour. Whilst there, to my delight, I did a run which was much faster than my usual speed: according to Strava, I ran 8.3km in 37:27 minutes. And then:

 

Reality

 

This week, I am back home, and what was supposed to be a weekend of amazing weather was…. not. AND I checked my Strava after the amazing Oslo run and saw this:

 

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Now, I know the run was fast, but a kilometre in 2:25? Svetlana Masterkova currently holds the world record for the fastest female mile at 4:12.56, and if my maths is correct (which it may well not be), I am actually faster than her. Which means only one thing. I’m ready for the international stage, y’all. I’m ready for my close up, to see my name in lights and to wear my country’s flag. This blogger be going places.

 

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Or maybe it could be that Strava messed up my time, and I was actually slower than I thought :(

 

Yesterday I went for a 9.5k run around Durham, and my speed was much more in line with my usual pace (5min kilometres rather than 4:30). And I found it tough! Marathon training meant that every run had a goal, whether it’s a particular time or activity, that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go and run some junk miles for the sake of it. When there’s nothing to focus on but the scenery, the breeze ….. and the stitch that’s building in your side.

 

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It just feels weird NOT to take a river pic now.

 

When I compare how Oslo’s run felt to yesterday’s run, Oslo’s was more fun, and more inspiring. Every time I looked at my phone and saw the distance I’d covered in the ‘time’, I found I had the energy to keep my pace up. Even if my first kilometre was screwed up, the rest of the run actually was faster than my usual pace. Unless Strava also messed up my other kilometres too.

 

This shows to me what a powerful tool your mind is: yesterday I’d look at the time – and see my usual pace – and chill out a bit. Last week, I’d look at the time, dig my fingers into my stitch and keep going. Usually I don’t run faster in new places as I don’t know the route I’m on, but last week I felt like I was flying.

 

I’m going to remember this when I’m out later on this week. Your body can usually handle more, but the mind urges you to remedy the discomfort you’re feeling by slowing down. During the marathon I chanted ‘main-tain, main-tain’ when the going got tough. Perhaps now I’ll chant ‘build-up, build-up’ to use my Jedi mind tricks to beat the pace.

 

I’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, please don’t call Jerry Maguire or any other sports agents just yet: I feel there might be a little more work needed before I make my international debut. Thanks.

 

Ellie B

 

By the way – if anyone wants to expand their running blog repertoire, you should definitely check out Loving on the Run by Sara in Virginia, US. She regularly features different bloggers, showcasing all the different styles and talent that’s out there, and she also has an amazing knowledge of and interest in running. Check out the profile she did of Gilly and I!! :)

 

 

 

Friday Favourites – Totes Emosh

 

This week I’ve had a sensory overload, and I’m 1000% sure that I’m not being over-dramatic. All of a sudden, everything that I see/read/listen to is amazing. ‘Totes amaze’ if you’re below 27. Or wishing you were below 27. I must admit there’s nothing to do with running on this list, but I really want to share what I’m loving this week. And what good is a blog if you can’t push your own thoughts and ideas forward? 😉

 

So, without further ado:

 

  • Coldplay Ghost Stories. Apart from having the prettiest album cover ever, this is very different to their other albums. Although there are only 9 tracks, each one has such lovely lyrics that I’m grateful there’s no ‘filler’. It’s kind of Coldplay-meets-Cafe del Mar if you can imagine. My personal favourites are tracks 5 and 7.

Ghost Stories

  • Empire Falls. It took me a little while to get into this book, but I cannot put it down now. Set in a former industrial town, it’s all about fate and choices. I want to give so many of the characters a big hug. Don’t be put off by my sentimentality – it’s not chick lit, and is definitely worth a read.

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  • Romantic Works by Keaton Henson. Keaton Henson is not a happy artist! But this album is an instrumental delight. So…. if you’re feeling pensive, contemplative, and in need of some cello/piano love then go nuts. I’ve had him on repeat since Tuesday. If you’re not in that place, then I highly recommend Katy Perry, who is always a contender for my list, but this week she doesn’t match my mood. 😉

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  • Katy Perry. Because she is awesome, and I feel bad for recommending her as a second best. When she performed at Radio 1’s One Big Weekend, she just replaced Kylie as the Pop-Star-I-Wanna-Be: that treasured title that I’m sure all female pop-stars want to hold. But where does that leave Beyonce?? 
I tell ya. It's me with dark hair.

I tell ya. It’s me with dark hair.

 

  • Henrik Ibsen. Oh yes, people, I went there. There’s a Nineteenth Century playwright on my list. Blame Oslo. I read ‘A Doll’s House’ for school when I was 17, and out of everything I’ve read, I don’t think there’s not been a character I think of more frequently than poor old Nora. I have a friend who may read this and smirk – I did not feel so sympathetic at 17. But now that I’m older and wiser, I can a) appreciate how revolutionary the play was, and b) sympathise with the choice that she made. And being in Oslo, where Ibsen lived, I couldn’t help but mark the occasion.
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Selfies with Katy and Henrik

So there you have it. Slightly different to other weeks – I’ve been a bit emosh recently, and these things have helped me process. Deal. Whatever pop-psychology has been necessary. And an honorary mention for the list is the beautiful city of Oslo, where I’ve been for work all week. I can’t get over how gorgeous it is. It’s not the most vibrant or happening of places, but there’s definitely something about it … maybe it’s their penchant for putting statues of random people everywhere. So here are some more pics:

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone. And if you in the mood to have a Very Serious Conversation about literature, the arts and the meaning of life, give me a call. It seems that’s where I’m at this Friday. 30 Rock jokes one day, culture the next. And somewhere in between…. maybe some running?!?!?!

 

Ellie B

 

 

Keeping it real: fitness for free

On Monday I was running with my beginner’s running group, and one of the girls told me how much she loves running since she joined our little club, and how proud she is of her speed and distance. And, dear reader*, I’m not afraid to say that my heart melted just a little bit.

 

Because, I love running. I think I might love it too much. I love it so much that I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant (Hahaha! I also love 30 Rock. Tina Fey, you comic genius). For me, running is evidence of the power of my body: there’s nothing more satisfying than running faster for longer than you have before and, rather than dying, actually feeling ok!

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This girl told me how when she had a gym membership, she never used to go. She was doing her philanthropic duty by donating to the gym for the benefit of other members 😉 I personally find just getting there a big deal: you have to have your kit  bag, your towel, your change of clothes, you have to get there somehow, and back, and if you want to do a class you have to book in advance. And that’s all before you’ve walked through the door.

 

Legal & General did a survey and found that 83% of families think gym memberships are the easiest luxury to forgo if necessary. But, keen to promote fitness still, they have created a competition for bloggers to describe how they keep fit for free. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I want to enter. Plus, the topic is cool. So read on for my tips and secrets on how I stay fit for free – this stuff actually does help me, and will hopefully help you too.

 

Wayyyy Back in the day, I started running because I was 19 and couldn’t afford a gym membership. Remember the days when you had £5 to live on til the end of the week? Thats when I found running because I couldn’t afford to do anything else. And once I started, I quickly saw the benefits:

  • You don’t have to do a lot of running to see a difference
  • You can build up your speed and distance relatively quickly if you stay regular about it
  • You don’t need all the fancy equipment to do it (though now I’m not living on £5 per week I can attest that all the ‘stuff’ is nice)

 

Running helps you keep fit when you work odd hours, or when you travel. Another member of my running group texted me today to say that she’d just been for a run on her holiday. She was able to work on her fitness and her tan at the same time! Heck, check out these photos from my own run in Oslo today:

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There’s no way I’d have seen 8k of Oslo without my free run.

 

And with the advent of YouTube, it’s possible to work out every single part of the body without leaving your living room. You do have to be smart about which video you choose, but there’s lots of good stuff there. Thanks to this blog, I found the wonder that is 8 minute abs (the fastest way to kill your abs and appreciate 90s fitness fashion). And my sister-in-law and I have been known to do the Victoria’s Secret Angel Butt workout once or twice. I mean, you cannot argue with Victoria’s Secret. They know what they’re doing.

 

Obviously not everything I do is free: races cost money, and so does pole dancing. But for pole, before I was strong enough for the classic push up, I did reps of tinned-tomato lifts to get my arms in shape. I sit my ankles on piles books when stretching my splits because they are cheaper than buying fitness blocks, in that I already own them. You can use anything for resistance – the walls, coffee table, door frame, stairs – depending on what you want to stretch. And then there’s the trusty foam roller for when you can’t afford a sport’s massage. Although you initially buy the roller, it’s around £30 cheaper than a sports massage in my experience.

 

So they’re my top tips: go running (and hopefully fall in love), find out what’s YouTube (but be smart), and think of your house as your very own gym. And you can spend the money you’ll save on gym membership on other things. Because, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy your free run in not-free-but-very-pretty-running shorts.

 

And breaking news for tonight —– Australia are out of the World Cup :(

 

I did my usual trick of watching the second half of the game and getting way too invested for someone who doesn’t usually care. But even I could see that the Socceroos played their hearts out, and didn’t go down without a fight. And because the boys were so happy to have my support for the final 49 minutes of their 2014 World Cup experience, they sent me this:

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Happy Wednesday everyone!!

 

Ellie B

 

*I have always wanted to write ‘dear Reader’. Dickens and me, spreading the literary love.