Monthly Archives: April 2013

HALFIE RECAP

Since I have been hyping this weekend’s half-marathon more than I should have, I owe you an equally engrossing recap, however I fear the video I posted just the other day sums up the experience in a wind-tousled nutshell.

Picture it- Sunday, April 14, light breaks through a cloudy sky, Reia and Buffy ask themselves- how can rain be vertical and horizontal at the same time? It is impossible, but in Edinburgh our fearless twosome soon realize it is happening before their sleep-encrusted eyes.

Out the door they head, Reia dressed like a true runner in her Falke gear and Buffy like a adopt-a-highway trash collector- hi-vis yellow. Followed closely by Ben- support crew and official photographer of our backs.

Exhausted by the time they arrive at the starting line- curses you hills, Reia and Buffy attempt to stay warm by jogging in place, hopping from one ice-blocked foot to the other and giggling about the male racers relieving themselves in the Queen’s well-trimmed hedges.

Finding themselves in corral 8 meant they had to wait an additional 10 minutes before they would even step foot over the starting line. When it happened, they were good to go- passing people at a steady rate. They even saw the sun for a minute or two.

They pass the first band- trying to play and sing through the wind, they pass the second- Reia continues to give Buffy updates on their pace. Buffy gets annoyed and tells Reia she doesn’t care. Reia keeps checking her watch- they are seaside now along the promenade in Portobello (Buffy has been here before). Support Crew member Ben is supposed to me them there- he is no where to be found.

Out of Porty, they head to Duddingston and tackle the first hill. They crush it. Nice work Reia and Buffy. Due to prior injuries, the runners pull over to stretch and respond to a text from Support Crew Ben.

Hill Two- again taken down by the girls. Nearing a flat area they speed up- Reia still checks her watch. Buffy gets excited, it’s Ben, he is cute and wet. He takes photos- later Buffy realizes they are unflattering and she questions her running style. They don’t stop, they keep putting one foot in front of another.

Another hill, this time, the hill wins. Walking a bit helps the runners relax. Once at the top it is smooth sailing down through Holyrood Park. Reia checks her watch- she says ‘Oh we only have 5 miles to go’, Buffy says ‘huh?’. Reia does not realize they had just passed the 10 km marker and for a brief moment Reia thinks a half marathon is only 12 miles. In their cupcake-fill dreams. A major mental bummer for these two.

Up though Grassmarket, the rain has stopped and they see a rainbow, one of the benefits of living in a rainy land. There is another hill, this one is a slight incline which Reia and Buffy think they can take, they were wrong, because then they turn the corner and bam another short-steep number that makes Reia’s tendonitis go crazy and Buffy’s quads and hammies squeal.

By the Meadows now, they are excited for two reasons- only three miles to go and Support Crew Ben is going to be there with friends Sarah and James. Buffy’s phone rings, Buffy answers, it is Ben tell her where to look. Posters are held up, more pictures of backs are taken as Reia and Buffy wave and run by.

The pace has slowed- Reia knows this because she is still looking at her watch. They are conscious they need to stick with the blue pacer balloon to beat Buffy’s mother-in-law’s time from her last half marathon which she did on a flat course in perfect windless and rainless conditions. Maintaining her athletic superiority over her 61 year old mother-in-law is important to Buffy, less so to Reia.

They reach the top of The Mound- the shouts of you are almost done do not help- especially when shouted by people with cigarettes in their mouths. Down The Mound- ouch-down hills hurt by this point. Through the National Galleries- Reia is getting the best, most-painful tour of the Scottish Capital.

Through the Princes Street Gradens and past the Scott Monument, this halfie is winding down. Up to the Royal Mile, the home stretch, man, would they ever arrive at the end, Buffy was trying to motivate Reia using old sayings from her days as a cross-country runner- Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forver, Running is 90% Mental and 10% Physical and Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body- sayings even 16-year-old Buffy never beleived- sorry Mrs Gavic (Buffy’s cross country and track coach).

Support Crew Ben had made it to the finish line to get additional photos, hand in hand our heroines crossed the finish line. They collected their medals and feasted on bananas at the post-race banquet. Too cold to concentrate, they left before they found where they could collect their finisher technical t-shirts.

The official time posted after showers, scrambled eggs and naps was 2.17.16.

High-five Reia and Buffy!

EAT UP: PETER’S YARD

Given how much time and consequently money Ben and I have spent over the almost two years at Peter’s Yard, I think it deserves a bit more of a shout out. I am thankful they have a loyalty card, take that Peter’s Yard- loads of free coffees.

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The first summer we lived in Edinburgh, it was the only place which opened at 7.00 a.m., this meant Ben and I could have a Friday-morning coffee date. A ritual we still to adhere to week after week when I am around. It is the best way to start the Friday. 

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It is a Swedish bakery with the friendliest staff members who have begun to recognize us even when we cross locations form the original location in the Quartermile area to the new Stockbridge outpost.

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Top treats include the fresh-baked buns- the employees have t-shirts with FRESH BUNS inscribed on the backs. A reason enough to look for a job there, if things do not work out for us in our current roles! I am partial to the cardamon bun and Ben always chooses the ones with custard. 

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They are known for their loaves of bread with impressive oven-spring and uniform crumb. We were gifted a loaf of the carrot variety and I could just feel my eyes getting brighter- a real health food! Their scones always fluffy a real feat when compared to my hockey puck versions. Crammed full of rotating goodness in the form of fruit, seeds and nuts and a savory variety. 

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The past few weeks Ben and I have been following an eating plan called Whole 30 and we have eliminated gluten (and many other things) and have been bun free since April 1, but our coffee dates continue and we take advantage of the free smells!

 Another Peter’s yard visits: I, II, III

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LISTEN UP… Inspired our recent Neil Diamond tribute concert- here is a mix of several other well known artists who have covered versions of original Neil Diamond song. There certainly are some obscure singers on this list. I tracked all the songs down on a fun site called Second Hand Songs, SHS catalogs your favourite artists’ original songs which have been recorded or performed by others. 

As you might be able to guess, the most covered Neil songs are Sweet Caroline (even Roy Orbison performed this one) and Song Sung Blue (this version by Bobby Darrin is especially peppy)! With 31 recorded covers each. 

Unfortunately some of the versions I thought would be excellent additions to this week’s Listen Up are not available on Spotify- imagine Shirley Bassey singing Love on the Rocks orWaylon Jennings’ rendition of Kentucky WomanHow about a sing off between Harry Belafonte and Josh Groban as the battle for best cover of Play Me

Hope you enjoy- if you are on Spotify, listen up here!

NOTE: The last song is not a cover, it is a duet with Neil and Natalie Maines who is one-third of the Dixie Chicks (notice a theme?)

NOTE II: The links take you to the youtube versions! A good giggle for the weekend.

CAKE… Vicky and Ray, two of our fun friends, got married around Christmas, it was a small family affair- Ray does not like crowds or attention, so as their first compromise they hosted a bash for all their friends, unfortunately we were unable to make it- Thailand took us away for a different kind of fun.

In exchange, we invited the newlyweds round for an American-themed wedding reception dinner- steak, potatoes and wilted spinach. All elevated- a steak like Heston, individual ramekins of gratin dauphinois and wilted spinach with nutmeg butter. All that was missing were butter rolls and warm glasses of milk.

And since I think all the rage for wedding cakes these days remains red velvet, we had one of those topped with our asexual hugging salt and pepper shakers proving we too believe in marriage equality! 

Have a long and happy life tougher Vicky and Ray!

Apologies these photos are not that great- night photography is something I need to improve.

  • The mobile coffee bus from the Stockbridge Market
    The mobile coffee bus from the Stockbridge Market

AROUND TOWN… Greetings from Moscow! Safe and sound after a very early start this morning. I am only here until Friday- I did not even bring my camera.

I take quite a lot of pictures which are never displayed on this blog and I am going to change that. These are from a recent saunter around our ‘hood and some of the surrounding areas. This set seems very wrought-ironed themed. For those of you who have not visited Edinburgh, it is a stunning city and I still cannot believe we live here. 

AIRPORT… Today’s adventure is taking me to Moscow- three days. I have never been in this side of the Edinburgh airport- I miss @britishairways . Who leaves at 5.45 a.m.? #britishairwaysisbetter

TOUR DE LAUDER

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Ben completed the 50 miles around the demonically agressive hills and single track roads that made up the Tour de Lauder this weekend. He was joined by James and Simon who are friends since their days growing up in Haddington. The trio did remarkably well considering their group training had been sporadic- Ben and James squeezed in two training rides before the event and we only met Simon for the pre-race strategy beer on Thursday.

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The story of the Tour de Lauder is a teary yet inspirational one, I only learned the history by listening to Rosy Cully’s pre-ride speech. Steve Cully was an amazingly fit man who was police officer and was on the Royal Protection detail, to give you an idea of his fitness, he competed in the Marathon des Sables which is  ‘ultra-marathon’ or ‘ultra’ run in six days over a course of between 150 and 156 (254km) miles and he finished. He died of a sudden heart attack at just 41. Leaving Rosy and two young children.

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Two of his friends decided to organise a small cycle ride in his honour and donate any proceeds to the Steve Cully Tribute fund at Chest Heart Stroke Scotland, before they knew it word had spread and almost 100 cyclists wanted to take part in the 2012 ride. It was a smashing success and they raised 17,000 pounds in Steve Cully’s honour.

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This was year two of the Tour de Lauder and there were 270 registered riders who had the choice between 50 miles or 86 miles ending on the Col de Stow- a hill with a 15% grade.

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It was an especially nice day sunshine and blue skies. There was a bit of wind, but according to Ben, it did not bother them too much. Ben, Simon and James completed the 50 mile ride in 3 hours 51 minutes, with an average pace of 13.5 miles per hour and a top speed of 40 mph.

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I went as a volunteer and had the pleasure of meeting many of the cyclists at the check-in table- I will always be strong support of anyone with numbers 1-70! Sarah joined me out on the course where we helped at the first water stop- they do it right, the Lady Bakers of Lauder- I am unsure if this is a real organisation, but in my opinion they should band together, all the refuelling snacks were homemade and donated for this event- I have never seen such baked-goods variety. For a healthier option there were 600 bananas and orange wedges. Sarah and I opted for the bananas.

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The people of Lauder were unbelievable- Sarah and I were driven around by Carol the event organiser and she was funny and friendly. There were some scary moments on the narrow roads, but we made it back to the ‘chateau’, unfortunately, we missed the finish or our team- they were too fast. There has already been chatter about trying it again next spring and maybe even tackling the 86 miles.

Tour de Lauder- we will be back!

Complete photo set can be found here.

  • James, Sarah and Ben- giving the cheering their all!
    James, Sarah and Ben- giving the cheering their all!
  • Wet, cold, successful- heavy medals.
    Wet, cold, successful- heavy medals.
  • See the wind?
    See the wind?
  • Ben helping me down the stairs- quads burned until- just yesterday! Must run more.
    Ben helping me down the stairs- quads burned until- just yesterday! Must run more.
  • A fan of soy lattes- Reia so excited she can get them in Edinburgh!
    A fan of soy lattes- Reia so excited she can get them in Edinburgh!

GUEST POST…  Reia- dear friend and running partner wanted to share her account of her recent running-themed weekend in Edinburgh. She also is an avid hipstamatic photographer. I will post my account tomorrow! 

Meeting up with my gorgeous running partner extraordinaire in far flung places (yes to my Tasmanian heritage running in Paris and Edinburgh is very far away) has become my crutch towards keeping a little a piece of sanity in my life. Ever since dearest Buffy moved away from Grenoble that is. When Buffy was living in Grenoble we managed to go running early mornings, with views towards the soaring French Alps. These runs and chats with the Buffster helped like nothing else to feed the soul, and our daily intellectual ponderings (really working out how  to deal with our everyday working commitments) made the simple things that much clearer and easier to achieve. 

After crushing last year’s Paris half-marathon, Buffy and I signed up (just after Christmas and in time for new year’s resolutions) for the Edinburgh ‘rock n’ roll’ half-marathon. And what a ride! You can say there was lots of rocks to run up, and the rolling down the other side was very joyful. That morning we woke up with a buzz, and tummy churnings but the sun was shining so we were ready… After a little bit of breakfast the storm clouds came out, and thank heavens we didn’t notice the wind that was to come! Getting to the course was a nice little warm-up (a stroll of 1.5 miles perhaps). And then that’s when the full implication of the meteorological outlook hit us like a brick. The quasi-horizontal rain, the gale force winds, and the icy needle pin-prick raindrops (this didn’t seem to deter the notorious pre-race male pee-ers though who had to walk up Arthurs Seat to enjoy the city view in all it’s glory, and have a pee).  

We were in Edinburgh, about to dash through this volcanic, history- steeped megalith, with some of what I imagine are typical weather conditions. The rest of the semi is a blur, except for the wonderful support of Ben, who would pop up from time to time, and some cheers from the watchers (including a guest appearance from Sarah and ???), ooh and did I forget our white rabbit, who made us run that bit faster – the superb man in a kilt (yes you can look good running in a kilt). Running down that last mile (which was partly royal) seemed to arrive way too quickly. We did it!

The rest of my time in Edinburgh was just that – a euphoric mind and physical rest. And how blissful it was! Buffy and Ben are really the hosts with the mosts. Wonderful meal prepared and cooked after wonderful meal, lots of walking around, lots of chats, lots of good coffees, lots of chats, a little bit of rain… A perfect home away from home. Thank you so much Ben and Buffy for this wonderful idyll. And do you think I can come again next year? But maybe stay for 6 months – I’m sure we can do 10 semis in that time.

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LISTEN UP… This week’s theme is inspired by Ben. He is competing in his first-ever cycle race this Saturday. The distance is 50 miles and he is ready! I will be return the favour of being an awesome support crew member, hopefully will get some great race snaps for next week.

More of our cycling adventures can be found, here, here and here.

Ben’s inspiration can be found here and here.

Have a great weekend and enjoy this week’s mix- on Spotify.

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