Algarve Spring Training Camp 2017
By most pure string of serendipity, whilst searching for a fall marathon for 2017 after an awesome race in Athens (yes, I'm well and truly addicted!), I stumbled across 209 Events. They are one of only TWO tour companies that offer all-inclusive entries to the New York Marathon. Since at the time it was WAY too early to be checking for such entries, I clicked on their website and spied the "Spring Training Camp" with running, sports massages, yoga and one-on-one coach time! Add that to the fact it was in Algarve, Portugal - I was sold.
Of course I mentioned it like 500 times to my friends, whilst bookmarking and emailing the organisers about possibly getting a lift to the hotel a day early (yes, I'd checked flights - £39.98 return with RyanAir!). Sadly (for them) my friends were not as keen. And you didn't have to ask me twice before I'd booked my flights and paid my down-payment for the week!
I know you're curious about it. Too bad, I'm telling you anyway!
Athens Marathon 2016 : the Authentic!
I know you are all ready to re-live the experience with me. (Photos of actual race by Marathon Photo!)
I'll set the scene.....
Pre-dawn: found my way down to Syntagma Square (central Athens) and caught one of many air-conditioned buses to Marathon with my friend, K! Whilst enroute, we were reminded of the historic importance of this route and to drop off our bags promptly on arrival by a pre-recorded message in English and Greek. My friend and I ate some of our snacks on the way (Natural Energy Bars by Tribe and some fruit) whilst we took note of the gradient of the roads. Just how hilly was this going to be?
As the Sun peaked its head over the horizon, we arrived in Marathon and started making t-shirts out of waterproof plastic bags as we had to give up our long-sleeved jackets and trousers. The bag drop vans (by DHL) were ready and waiting to relieve us of our burdens.
The next order of business was to take numerous pictures: of the Marathon signs, the stadium, our national flags and with other competitors of note (see below). The latter included the Spartans from Poland who marched (and ran) as a troop with their spears, shields and swords!
Finally, it was time to get into our respective starting pens and take the Athlete's oath (first in Greek then English). Soon we were toeing the starting line and ...we were OFF!
Travel Blog- ATHENS
I finally achieved one of my five-year plan goals: merging my love of travel with my love of running. This was meant to have also happened back in October with the Lisbon Half-Marathon but....too tired to travel at that point.
So I went to Athens, Greece for the Authentic Marathon 2016!
I arrived at Athens International on Thursday 10th of November around 3pm and made my way to the metro station. After standing in two wrong queues for machines that either were not for the Metro (#1) or not working (#2), I chanced to meet 2 lovely ladies from USA who had flown in from Germany. Let's call them K and H! K was also going to run the Marathon (yes!) and H was there for moral support.
As we got on the Metro, we realised we weren't too far from each other centrally (Air BnB for them, Acropolis Select Hotel for me!) - so we decided to explore Athens together. This was definitely part of the Serendipity of this trip.
I'll split this post now into my hotel, the restaurants and the sights. My training will be sprinkled in but the main blog post for my Marathon experience will be a separate one.
Yes, you guessed it! I went to Copenhagen, Denmark!
Why? You ask... Why not? I'd never been there and we figured we should get a fresh perspective on the New Year. So we went in February! lol! (More pictures below!)
Seriously though! We were just so excited to have a great deal to travel and Air B'n'B, that we signed up and went back to work.
Only to realise as the day grew closer that YES, we are travelling to another COLD country and we are sightseeing! *yikes*
The trip was very early in the morning (another thing about cheap tickets!) and we were suitably tired on arrival in the colourful, bike-filled city! We managed to eventually by train tickets out of the airport to the centre of town and we walked from the station to our new digs. And walked around the block in the wrong direction! Yep, sleep-deprivation does that to you!
Finally, we were welcomed warmly by our hostess' housemate, M who pointed us to the room where we ooh'd and aah'd about the space and the view (over a beautiful river parted by a statuesque bridge)! Our hostess (also an M) joined us soon and we were encouraged to do a bit of exploring with the aim of finding food nearby.
Well, we found a lovely Turkish restaurant where we were served a portion that could have fed 3 or 4 people (but we handled it well, doggy bag please!). Humus, Tzatziki, Falafel balls, Bread and 3 types of salad with a side of ....crisps! Yummy!
Then we did what any two jet-setting women would do: went home to catch some Z's!
I won't give you a play by play of the next 2 days! Here are the highlights:
1) Went to Manfreds and tried a 7-course taster menu with a naughty Red wine (for my friend of course...I'm a good girl!) and felt thoroughly stuffed!
2) Ran 8-miles around Copenhagen on the Saturday morning to afternoon to see the "Little Mermaid" statue, a Star-shaped castle and battlements and Christiania (a commune-style dwelling with alternative market stalls and bars! Hipster haven, perhaps? It's found in Christianshavn)
3) Went to a Jazz Festival show at the ... and ate them out of Peanuts (kidding, they had loads left)!
4) Ate at Maven, a posh restaurant which gave us steak and chips! Yep, you can take us out of England...hmmm!
5) Ran another 14 miles on the Sunday morning (I had to, I'm in training!). I also bounced mid-run on a set of Trampolines in the centre of town!
6) Enjoyed looking at the canals and eating out at the Market stalls which stocked pretty yummy deli foods.
So, I feel it was a good trip but next time, we're going in Summer!
Although the same temperature as London, it was just too cold to be fully immersed in the atmosphere! We needed more than one sunny day (the day we arrived) and we wouldn't have seen had as much without the running we did (to keep warm as well).
Have you been to Copenhagen or some other part of Denmark? How did you find it?
Have you been anywhere this year (other than your home town)?
In other news, I'm running the London Marathon at the end of April (24th to be exact).
I am raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support who provide counselling and so much more to people with a diagnosis of cancer.
Please do sponsor me and follow my training journey on my Youtube channel!
Sponsorship page: www.virginmoneygiving.com/lolaruns
See you in the next instalment! (pictures below)
Ps: check out the "Lola Bakes" blog for all things food and cakes!
Vancouver | A Girly Guide!
I promised a Part 2 so here it is!
Since I stayed in Vancouver for the majority of my visit to Canada, I thought I would make the rest of it about this beautiful city.
Let me warn you first:
Although most people say the weather is "similar to London, UK," it isn't! It's quite a bit colder - at least it was for my time here in late November!
I went outdoors for a run a couple of times but I'll be honest:
I was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G!
Minus 4 Celsius most mornings! I am not built to withstand those temperatures! I am AFRICAN! lol! So, I bundled up like an eskimo on my last run. I was also very afraid of falling on the frost-covered walking paths. I totally broke the rules a little and ran on the cycling path for some of my Seaside run (shhh, don't tell anyone!).
In between those outdoor adventures, I gave into the indoor swimming pool at the hotel (25m and not deep) and the gym downstairs - ran my 5K then played on the elliptical machine! And who wouldn't say yes to the Hot Tub (deserted), Sauna and Steam rooms (great for hair conditioning sessions)?
I even planned to try Ice Skating for the first time in my life.... only to find that the rink opposite Nordstrom wasn't yet open. =(
*I have to add here: Canadians are MAD about ICE HOCKEY! There was always some mention of Hockey and even the walk through exhibit at Canada Place had Ice Hockey cutouts to stick your face behind! Okay, I've done my bit for the national sport. lol!*
I did get up to a lot more walking adventures, so check out what I got up to below! (Pictures galore!)
My first stop was to properly explore what Stanley Park had on offer.
Discover Canada | A Girly Guide!
So this month (November 2015 in case you are tuning in later), I ventured to the other side of the world...at least it feels like that!
I'm in Canada!
You may have noticed the snow-filled backdrops of some of my recent Instagram posts. lol!
Visiting a friend in Calgary (Alberta), Canada then we quickly headed to Vancouver (British Colombia) for the remainder of my week here.
So far, I've seen snow (oh so cold in the mountains of Banff), light drizzle (welcome to Vancouver) and Sunny days (oddly enough, Banff and Vancouver). We have been really lucky with the weather being around 1 to -2 Celsius most days. In Calgary it was a lot colder but that is neither here nor there.
Here are some highlights so far (pictures below):
I'm Lola - a hair obsessed doctor who stumbled into running long distances and baking all the cupcakes.
I blog about life, running and of course, hair! I'm an Altra "Team Red" Sponsored Athlete, so I will do the occasional running shoe or gadget review.
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I do not own the copyright to all the pictures so I will credit the source, where that is the case.