Sunday, 30 May 2010

Even before the London Marathon ended, we knew Joe's chances of running the Edinburgh Marathon a month later were very slim.  We also knew that even if he wasn't gonna run, we were still going to head up there come hell or high water.  We had some crazy friends we wanted to support regardless and WE needed a holiday!

And boy, Edinburgh did not dissapoint.  The Old City was stunning with its winding cobblestone roads, dark and mysterious closes and gothic architecture. 

The New City was equally intriguing and with the amazing weather bestowed on our week there, we couldn't have asked for more.

National Trust did not dissappoint with free access to some fantastic period properties and some fab NT volunteers who seemed to have bottomless knowledge of Edinburgh's history.We went to the castle of course:

We also managed to go on a bus tour to the Highlands which was really fun, even if we were the oldest members of the group!  The bonus stop was the castle used in Monty Python!

One day we spent 12 hours on the road travelling from east to west trying to take in as much of the Highlands as possible.  Man, words cannot express how breathtaking the scenery was!
We visited Kilchurn castle, a ruin, but very well preserved and in such a lovely setting at the tip of Loch Awe.

My favourite castle was Inverary castle, a real life Disney Castle whose actual 30-something year old couple inhabitants are what dreams are made of.  What a surreal reality that must be for them.

We also found a great little garden tucked away in the village we were staying in.  It was lovely!

To top off a fab week, we got to cheer on some of our friends on the hottest recorded day in May for Scotland as they pounded through the heat to finish the Edinburgh marathon.  Considering that I was feeling heat exhaustion just standing there watching, Joe and I were amazed how great they looked at the end, bar the amazing sun burns they were sporting!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Salthrop House

Here is the beautiful Edwardian House we have been telling you about - isn't it lovely.  It just glows with the sun beaming onto it! 

Set on 70 acres of farmland and woods, it is so tranquil and lovely.  Horses, cows and two crazy dogs inhabit the grounds making for a fun adventure each time you set out to expore the land.

Just a 10 minute walk away are some great blue bell woods - not the best we've seen, but with it's high elevation the views are breathtaking!


With a description like this:

"At the heart of this tranquil rural estate is Mottisfont Abbey, set in glorious grounds alongside the fast-flowing River Test. There are many layers of history for the visitor to explore, including the Gothic remains of the original 13th-century Augustinian priory. In the mid 20th century the final private owner, society hostess and patron of the arts Maud Russell, used the Abbey as a base for her racy and intriguing life. The River Test is one of the finest chalk steams in the world and the walled gardens house the National Collection of old-fashioned roses"

who could resist going to check this place out?! 

Well, we ended up finding a back entrance into the estate by mistake and proceeded to ramble for 1.5 hours without getting near the estate house or gardens....what we did find instead were some fabulous blue bell woods and a great stranger who tried to set us on track but whose efforts were lost on us!

We plan to go back soon to actually see the buildings, river and roses.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

London Marathon is over!!!!!

After four months of training; 5am wake-ups getting to the gym; those horrific long run weekends; and living, breathing and talking about everything having to do with running, my London Marathon experience came and went without too many hitches.

Well, that is if you don't include the numerous injuries suffered amongst my group of friends and fellow training partners.  Swollen bones, dodgy knees, calf muscle tear and lower back issues are some ailments, to name a few, which were suffered during the race and continue to effect us all!  My running guru (you know who you are) said recovery should be one day for every mile ran in the marathon - so we have a month of chillin' ahead of us.  In Joe's case, a month of crutches followed by a longer period of rest.  Yep, the poor guy had to hobble a good 10 miles with a bad ankle, thus exasperating the problem which has led to an MRI scan to which we don't have the results just yet.  I managed an injury free race but the body started cracking the Thursday after - a day I walked a bit more than the usual in heels.  Now I have a bum leg and back which a hope a few sessions of physio are going to fix.

Enough of the pain though, because the pleasure of the marathon is just as intense! 

It is difficult to describe just how crazy London gets on marathon day.  It is as if everyone stops what they are doing and comes to support the runners.  The scream your name, handout candy and fruit (Joe managed a 1/2 pint!) and just keep you moving.  I'd say it is one day in the year that you are definitely proud to be a Londoner - what a feeling!  Once into central London, they are lined up 5-7 rows deep just yelling and cheering.  It really is something quite remarkable.

With 37,000 odd people running, you see it all - everyone has their own reason for taking up this incredible challenge and their stories are inspiring.  While running, I got choked up everytime I saw a runner get noticed by his/her friends and family - the screams of support and the happiness on the runner's face was just so great to witness.  I, myself, was motivated by the prospect of meeting up with my amazing cheering section just after mile 13, and boy they did NOT dissappoint!  I also had a smaller crew at mile 23 which was great to see at such a painful part of the race. 

Looking back now, it seems as though it didn't happen.  There is definitely a void in my life - a good 2-3 hours of 5 days a week are now free which feels odd to me.  I didn't think this was possible, but there is such a thing a post-marathon blues and I have been feeling it. During the race, I tried to soak up as much of the atmosphere as possible so I could remember it clearly in my mind.  But, to be honest, my mental focus in just trying to run through the pain and get over the finish line meant that much of the excitement of the event was in the peripheral of my eyes and mind.  So much so that when I think back on the race, much of it seems like a blur.  So, I just pinch and remind myself once in a while that I did do it and that's when a big beaming smile lights up my face!

Here is a slideshow of pixs taken by our great support team and a few from me too.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Silverstone Half Marathon

Well, all I can say is THANK GOD I didn't run this particular race - it did not look fun.  In fact, at this point in our marathon training, I was nursing a "stress reaction" (a wussy version of a stress fracture) in my foot, so I was dedicated cheerer.
Funny to see the photos of how cheery-faced the runners were that day, as if they didn't really comprehend that this was just the beginning of marathon training hell....

With heavy winds and an incredibly winding/overlapping route, all 4 of them managed to complete it intact.
I won't elaborate on Joe forgetting his shoes at the gym and having to run in very old trainers.....the photos say it all!