Tangent Tuesday

 

Today’s post is brought to you by Tangent Tuesday. Because I want to list my favourites, and because I’m on a night train to London (it’s Monday night people. See, I do actually prepare these posts somewhat in advance). I’m sore from yesterday’s race and I’m not looking forward to wearing heels tomorrow – there will be muchos protest from my calves I think! I deliberately didn’t bring my running gear to London to give myself a chance to recover, and to hopefully encourage more core work to happen….

 

These tangents are things that I have come across or seen over the past few weeks. I spent a week in Stockholm, and so let’s kick things off with some Scandi-love.

 

  • Fotografiska – This is a photograph museum in Stockholm, and was recommended by some friends. The main exhibition was by a guy called Anders Petersen, and he really captured the intimacy and vulnerabilities of his subjects, which made me feel sad. Don’t you think photography exhibitions are strange? The subjects are all out there, either living their lives or not.  Then I left, walked back to my hotel & thought about how I’m almost ready for my own Scandi crime drama after being so contemplative in a photography museum in Stockholm. At least, that’s what I told Gilly, anyway.
See? Sad photos!

See? Sad photos!

  • My Swedish running top! Since it’s dark for about 60% of the year, Stockholm has loads of really expensive good running shops. I bought this cute vest which will help running in Durham, as it’s also dark there for about 40% of the year. Sadly I can’t remember the brand – I’ll check it out when I get home.

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  •  Kylie – She came to Newcastle!!! Hurrah. She always puts on a good show: she sings live, doesn’t forget the classics, struts around the stage, and has the best wardrobe ever. She’s an awesome entertainer and this time she didn’t disappoint. I would say it was the best night of my life, but what about the other times I’ve seen her?

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  • Karl Stefanovic – hero. For the Aussie readers, did you ever think you’d see that sentence written down? Karl is a morning TV presenter in Australia who revealed that he wore the same suit every day for a year. Yep. A whole year. He did it to show how little people care about what male presenters wear: people actually judge them for what they say and the work they do rather than on their appearance first. Now, Karl may not always be so astute, but this was a pretty good experiment with the point well made. Well bloody done, and get yourself a new suit.
  • The G20 – nothing makes me as happy as seeing all the world leaders get together, and if it happens in Australia, then even better. They always look so proud and excited, like it’s the first day at school. As if these people run the world. And there are so. many. awkward photos flying around. Here are my favourites from this week.
Awww. BFFs.

Awww. BFFs.

No one's even pretending to have fun here.

No one’s even pretending to have fun here.

It turns out all you need is a Koala to ease international political tension

It turns out all you need is a Koala to ease international political tension

And here he is: the Coolest of the Cool joining in on the fun. With his side kick.

And here he is: the Coolest of the Cool joining in on the fun. With his side kicks.

 

Well. I think we can all agree that today’s Tangent Tuesday was a action-packed: spanning from Scandinavian art to world leaders and gender politics. I am going to celebrate with a chocolate bar, and consider what kind of Scandinavian detective I could be in my new series for the rest of this train journey.

 

Ellie B

Last Race of the Year and SA-Yes!

Saturday is my last race of the year! Unless I sign up for more.  First of all, I can’t believe it’s November 12 already. Second of all, this has made me all nostalgic for the year just gone. Let’s all ignore the fact that it’s still technically ‘only’ November: there are Christmas decorations in the shops, so it’s definitely not too early for a yearly-round up.

 

So today, ladies and gents, I will look back at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of running in 2014!

 

The Good:

  • I started the year with my favourite race of the year: the Stubbington 10k, with two of my oldest friends. Sunny race by the Solent, followed by a pub lunch. Running at its best.

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  • THE MARATHON! My first and absolutely not my last, even though I still hear that voice at mile 18 saying Please don’t ever make me do this again. Please. This was a definite life achievement, and I’m still stoked with the time of 3:43.
  • Running in Stockholm was an unexpected delight, and gave me some of the prettiest running memories

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The Bad:

  • 20 miles in the pouring rain. They were the longest three hours ever. Longer than being stuck on a plane for 24 hours, longer than waiting for my meal to arrive after I’ve ordered (I’m a very impatient restaurant diner), and longer than Christmas Eve. Thank god for Beyonce telling me who runs the world (GIRLS!), and for Hamish & Andy keeping me company  on the way around, or I might have cried.
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This is Beyonce’s outfit of choice when she’s running. Away from Cops. Don’t worry – this is for a music video only. Source

  • Not being able to do either a half marathon or an obstacle course this year :( The half is my favourite distance, and I like to do the obstacle courses so I can show off how hard I am. That is, until someone mentions snakes, and then I turn into a trembling wreck. So take note: obstacle courses with mud, walls and electric shocks are ok, conversations about snakes are definitely not ok. 

 

The Ugly:

  • There’s only one proper contender here: my marathon-blisters. These bad boys developed about half way through my training, and got bigger and bigger til the week before the race I was running an average of 1:30min slower than I wanted. Luckily on the day, I pulled it out of the bag, but these war wounds hung around for about 8 weeks afterwards. I felt bad for everyone who attended my pole classes at this time, and had to see them.
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I’m sorry, everyone. But if I had to look at them, I think you should too. At least I’ve made the photo smaller for you all.

  • The end of the marathon: my face was covered in a grit-like substance, which I soon realised was dried sweat mingling with my foundation. I looked like something from the Zombie apocalypse. Smarter people would choose to run without make up on, I guess….

 

This year I’ve covered loads of different distances and events. If I’m honest, I’m not in the shape that I wanted to be for the end of the year thanks to a really busy August-November. However, looking back on all this reminds me that for me, running is 50% fitness and 50% because I love it: the places I get to see, the experiences, and the memories I now have. So there you go. A bit of personal growth thrown in here today too.

Saturday’s race is a 10 mile road race from Brampton to Carlisle. In keeping with my new approach to charity running, I chose to support a charity which works to protect children who are vulnerable to being trafficked at my last race. For this race, I wanted to choose a charity that supports young adults. SA-Yes works with young adults in South Africa who have been in children’s homes, providing them with a support network once they leave the social system and have to look after themselves at the age of 18.

 

I was an emotional ball of mess at 18: I was both terrified of the world and scornful of it, and I was really naive too. I relied on certain mentor-figures who helped me work out my values and priorities. So now I would like to support young adults who need the same guidance, but who are in much more vulnerable situations. I needed help on what to study at university, but these teenagers need stability, and help to finish school, and in finding housing and jobs so they don’t end up in trouble.

 

Anyway, that’s my chosen charity for this event, and I have made a donation. If you are interested, you can also make a donation here.

 

I hope you’re all having a wonderful Wednesday!

 

Ellie B

 

 

 

Oh the places I’ve ran…. (with work)…

Hey y’all. Thanks for your patience while I was a little bit AWOL last week. I started my week in London and ended it in Berlin: quite the schedule considering that last weekend was spent in Yorkshire, and the week before in Stockholm.

 

Yep, it all sounds peachy. And mostly, it is. But it also impacts your life in ways that all add up: I go to bed later, I rise earlier, I drink more, I eat more, and I run less. A week of travel can leave me 60% elated and excited, and 40% adrift and out of touch. But don’t get me wrong – I’m always grateful, and know how lucky I am to have these opportunities.

 

Over the past two weeks I’ve only ran three times: once in London, once in Yorkshire and once in Berlin. I’m feeling bloated, heavy, too-full-of-chocolate (the treat size bag of m&ms I ate today don’t help with that), so to help me clear my funk, I’ve thought of my favourite running experiences whilst on work travel:

  • Edinburgh, August 2011: This was back in the day when running 5k at 6.30am was a big deal for me (to be honest, I’m still amazed when I do anything before 7am). My hotel was in the suburbs, and so I didn’t see any  sights, but I felt proud that I was out running before a workday that I knew would last until at least 12am that night. I was still adjusting to life in England, and adapting my running habits to UK running. I don’t have a photo of this run because I was such a novice that it never occurred to me to take a photo while running (I’m sure some people would say it’s not great running etiquette…).
  • Stockholm, March 2014: This 10k route was recommended to me by my CFO, and takes you through the town to a body of water called DjurgÃ¥rdsbrunnsviken. I ran at 6am, just after the sun had risen: everything was cloaked in a fresh, golden light and the water was so still that it looked like a deep silver, silk carpet. I saw the typical Scandinavian colourful houses, as well as crystal clear reflections and dappled sunlight through tree branches. This was definitely the run that made me immediately want to go home and write wonderful poetry that so perfectly encapsulated the experience that there’d be a new literary movement called ‘Runmantics’ – like the Romantics, but running (or maybe that final sentence shows why it’ll never, ever happen).

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Awww how can you not love it?

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  • London, 2011-14: London is one of my favourite running cities. Unless you go first thing in the morning, it is stupidly crowded with people, but even at these times I love it. London is made up of thousands of tiny streets: running through the narrow and dark alleys like Milk Street, Bread Street and Smithfield Market, I can imagine what life would have been like 200 years ago. If I ignore the music pumping in my ears, the City Boys with their beards, pinstripes, and aviators, and the H&Ms on every corner. But! Then you reach the Thames, where you can run for ages and ages, taking in the sights of London while improving your lactate threshold. Is there anything better?
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London Summer Running

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London Winter Running

  • San Francisco, January 2013: This route took me from Union Square, through the FiDi (totes  just learned that means the Financial District in SF),  along the water to Pier 39 and back. It was about 8k in total I think. I ran at 7pm, when it was cool and dark, so until I reached Pier 39, the route wasn’t anything special to look at. But it was ace seeing the skateboarders doing their thing, seeing the lights of Pier 39 get closer and brighter, and feeling the fresh Winter air blowing in from the bay. And it was a long way from Europe or Australia.
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Love Hearts at Union Square

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Did you ever see such a typically American restaurant?

  • Berlin 2014: So this one happened this week, which is why it’s made the list. :) And also because Berlin is the coolest of the cool. Our office is in the East side of the city, with MTV just down the road, so you know, that’s how we roll. It’s a really creative area, with people playing music on the streets until well into the night, loads of clubs which don’t close until the sun has been up for at least 8 hours, and fancy pants graffiti on any surface that will hold it. Shoreditch graffiti looks like a GCSE art project compared to Berlin graffiti. This run took us across the Spree, with a fab view of the Molecule Man, and into Treptower park, where I got my fix of running beside water (see Stockholm, SF and London!).

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So – are you still with me after all of this?

 

The week in Berlin was great, and on Friday there was a regional party. On the way there, I saw this sign:

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So I did what it said. Eleven hours later, I found myself going to bed (the sun was about to come up, people!), and now four days later, my quads are still sore after all that boogying.  It’s not that I’m #TooOldToParty. If anything, I’ve found a great way to cross train. Same effect as running uphill: dehydrating, crying legs, a sense of disbelief as to what’s just happened.

 

And to close, here is some Berlin wall graffiti for you all:

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Ellie B

 

Skins: wicking and winning

 

Hej! Lycklig Torsdag!

 

In case you’re not fluent in Swedish, that was ‘hello! Happy Thursday!’ in my spiritual language, from my seat at a rooftop bar in my spiritual home of Stockholm. Life is pretty good here in Summer: the whole city seems to live at outdoor bars and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve put in some serious work hours this week – but now I have the chance to enjoy moule frites (not Swedish, but still good) and catch up with my favourite blog.

 

Anyway. Last month, #100MileJuly gave me the perfect opportunity to test out some new gear. Skins AU were kind enough to send me a sports bra and some leggings to test out, and believe me, I have been putting them through the ringer for the last four weeks.

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Skins AU specialise in sports compression gear for both men and women. Compression gear is kind of like the socks that I never you’re supposed to wear on long haul flights to prevent DVT. The theory behind compression gear for sports is that the compression increases blood flow, which in turn keep the muscles warm, preventing injury, lactic acid build-up and fatigue. It’s also thought to encourage speedy recovery. By the way – Skins is a global brand, and there’s also a Skins UK.

 

Now, as we all know from my complaining blogging, my biggest issue when marathon training were my feet. But, post-run, my calves and legs would ache with tiredness, but thanks to my angry feet, my legs never got much sympathy. So I was really keen to see how the compression gear could help with muscle ache.

 

The first thing to say about the set is that they fitted like a dream. I’m wearing a small in both, and often I find the length is wayyy to long for my hip width in leggings. I don’t know who these gazelle-women are who have a 26 inch waist, and legs that reach up to the ceiling. But these leggings were a great overall fit.

 

Ah, ok. That's who. Thanks Giselle.

Ah, ok. Giselle: that’s who.

 

When running, they were extremely lightweight: it felt like I wasn’t wearing anything. My regular leggings aren’t exactly made of cement, but the Skins leggings didn’t bunch around my knees or pinch my waist, which are my known pain points. I feel sleek running in them, and that’s a lovely feeling. You might say that I feel like Giselle-the-Gazelle when wearing them.

 

The material is designed to prevent chafing and rashes by wicking the sweat away: the material moves the sweat away from your skin to the surface. Now, England in Summer is hardly Sydney in Summer. I know that. But heck, last week we were enjoying highs of 23 degrees (try not to get too jealous). On those days, the leggings did effectively draw the sweat away from the pain points (especially behind the knees), making for a comfortable run. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with regards to compression. They didn’t feel as tight as DVT socks, but afterwards, my shins in particular didn’t ache as much.

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However, it’s not all Giselle-the-gazelle running. One downside for me with these tights is that there is no pocket. Nowhere to put your house key, let alone your iphone. For me, that’s quite a big issue: for a product that makes you feel so lightweight, it’s a shame to wear a running belt too. And, when considering dark Winter running, I’d probably prefer a few more reflective elements too.

 

Now on to the crop top-sports bra, which was my favourite out of the two. I really liked how it looked: lovely colours, pretty straps at the back, and it’s also padded so you can still feel feminine whilst wearing something that’s basically designed to strap your breasts down to nothing.

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And strap my breasts down it did. When I was fitted for my first sports bra, I was advised to jump up and down and see how much movement there was: the less, the better. This one passed the test with flying colours.

 

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Solid as a rock.

 

It’s pretty enough to wear as a crop top, which made it perfect for pole dancing: my sides were still free to grip the pole, but my boobs were protected from gravity, which as we all know, can be unkind. During marathon training, I fell victim to some nasty chafing around my bra line, but that was never an issue with this top. Again, just one minor design flaw for me: the padding is optional, and you’re able to remove it through a small hole in the side. This might suit some people, but every time I washed the top, the pads came out. And each time I put them back in, I felt like they didn’t fit inside quite as well as before.

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So. All in all, Skins AU have produced a great sports set which definitely reduces chafing, and looks really stylish. In my opinion, the lack of a pocket in the tights would probably turn me off on the shop – but if you’re not into running with your iphone, or you don’t mind wearing an arm band/running belt, then it’s not a problem. Plus, they are very comfortable, so maybe I need to get over my fixation with pockets. I will definitely look to Skins the next time I need a sports bra: I’m happy to put up with stuffing the pads back in if it means no chafing and a bit of (tightly strapped) cleavage. 

 

And you know what is the perfect way to finish off this post? A collage of some of the views that I’ve been enjoying this week.

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#IheartScandinavia

 

 

Ellie B

 

Disclaimer:  I was sent the leggings and crop top by Skins AU to try, but this did not influence my assessment and review of the products. 

Morning Run, Sweden Style

Today I missed my flight, and so now I am spending the night at Copenhagen airport. Not actually in the airport, but in a lovely, but expensive, Hilton where I am working late to make up for the time lost tomorrow when I get my next flight. Unless I miss that, too.

 

So I did what anyone would do: I high-tailed it to the hotel bar, where I’m working, eating and drinking. I just had the best chicken burger, so life isn’t too bad at the moment.

 

This morning I went for a run in Stockholm. Yesterday our CFO told me about a really 10k/6 mile nice track through parkland in the city, so today I got up before 6am – like a proper runner – to try it out. That never happens, so you can tell how excited /worried about my training* I was.

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One of my favourite things to do in a new city is to go running: you can learn so much about a city when you run through it. In Stockholm, unlike London or Sydney,  there were more walkers than runners, but everyone I saw had fabulous Winter exercise gear. Power walking has never looked so stylish.

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I decided to take it easy this morning: I wanted to see how my leg felt, there was a long day ahead of me, plus I didn’t know the route. It was awesome to just enjoy a couple of junk miles, and I stopped wayyyyy too many times to take pictures.  But it was so gorgeous! It was a little cold, but the air was so fresh and clean, and the sun was beaming down to warm things up. And I saw a house which must have been the inspiration for every haunted house in the entire world. So, if that’s not worth the early wake up call…..

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According to Strava I did 10.2k in 53 mins exactly.

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And now I will return to my work emails and Sauvignon Blanc. Happy Hump Day everyone!!

 

Ellie B