Eating our way through Lockdown

Usually by November each year, I have the whole next year planned out… as far as racing, travel and how I’ll use all my holiday days is concerned anyway. Last November we were on our honeymoon gallivanting around Philippines, Vietnam and Laos thinking that this year, we’d be racing the Manchester Marathon, traveling to Miami for Alexandra’s Bachelorette, Saint Petersburg over Easter, home for Patrick and Alexandra’s wedding, a birthday surprise for my Mom’s 60th in August, and a reserve of holiday days saved to move house.

Race – Home – Travel – Buy a house. That was the 2020 plan. But as we all know, 2020 had different plans for us all.

On March 13th we started working from home full time. On March 23rd, England declared a nationwide lockdown which had all non-essential business close. There was limited ability to socialize/get out of the house all the way up until the 4th of July.

As many people did with so much time at home – we cooked/baked/ate our way through it. So, here are my favourite food moments during lockdown!

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We love Laos

Destination 3/3 on the honeymoon tour… we flew into Luang Prabang from Hanoi on 11 November with 6 days and 5 nights left of holiday.

The drive from the airport to the city center is a short 15 minute ride. We were settled in before we knew it. The only thing we had booked in Laos was a hike with MandaLao Elephants in the middle of the week. So we needed some time to get our bearings and figure out exactly what we wanted to do with our last week of holiday.

The villa recommended we go to Utopia for lunch – we wandered there slowly, temple spotting on our way. Nobody rushes in Luang Prabang… it’s so chilled. And Utopia is a travelers oasis. You can go there, use the wifi and relax. They do Yoga in the morning, serve food throughout the day and at night it’s the place to be for drinks.

We got there midday, ordered some lunch, chilled out and started our research… planning our next move with a Beer Laos in hand. It was perfect.

We decided to mix it up – we’ll enjoy the relaxed vibes of Luang Prabang, become best friends with Elephants, chase some waterfalls like TLC would want us to, and then venture down to Vang Vieng (central Laos) for hikes, the famous blue lagoons and the notorious back-packer tubing experience.

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Xin chào Vietnam!

Destination 2/3 of our ‘honeymoon tour’. Arriving after A week in The Philippines meant we could hit the ground running – no jet lag!

We landed in Hanoi knowing three things: where we were staying that night, where we wanted to go next, and when our departure flight was booked to leave.

Other than that, we had nothing organised. We did have some great advice from friends and family on where to go though, so we weren’t short on ideas. And there is so much to see! So the hard part was prioritizing how to spend our limited time there in the best way possible. Of course we (I) got a spreadsheet going… my adventurous side only goes so far…

Hanoi

Roaming the streets of Hanoi you are consumed by the buzz of the city. Particularity in old town – there are scooters everywhere. Nothing is still. Crossing the street is like an organised game of chicken: You cannot overthink it or second guess yourself. You’re almost better off not looking at all and just going; confidently crossing the road at a predictable speed so the scooters can just flow around you… like a stream of water would as if you were crossing a river. It is wild! There are loads of markets, art galleries, independent retailers via storefront/cart/market stalls, tourist shops, restaurants and hostels all over the old town.

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A week in The Philippines

We barely scratched the surface of what The Philippines has to offer; we had 7 full days there (23 October – 30 October), and we were working for 5 of them. We packed as much in as we could, had an incredible experience, and now we know for sure we have to go back. Back for… the seemingly untouched beaches and crystal clear water, for the people we met, and the simple things of daily life that are just so different from our norm here in the UK/Canada. We particularly loved El Nido, Palawan.

Although – what’s normal anymore? I’m writing this in a COVID-19 quarantine daydream… reminiscing on the days we could travel half way across the world for a fresh experience/perspective, and escape from the daily grind.  

The Philippines was destination 1 of 3 of what we called our “Honeymoon Tour”. We already had plans to be in Vietnam on 31 October and Laos following that. With work bringing us to Manila the week prior, it just made it more challenging to pack… work laptop, business attire, beachwear? To add to the complexity, we also had the Amsterdam Marathon we were training for. The race was on Sunday 20 October only one day before we’d have to fly out… so we had a mish-mash of commitments to pack for when we left London.

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Amsterdam Marathon 2019

Goal: race a sub 3:45 marathon so I can put in a good for age entry for the 2020 London Marathon.

I did the training and I was ready. Especially motivated after watching Kipchoge make history the weekend before as the first person to run a sub two-hour marathon. It was incredible watching him run… making a 2:50 min/km pace look easy.

To break 3:45, I’d have to run 42km at a pace of 5:19 min/km. My PB (personal best) at this distance is 3:55 (pace of 5:35 min/km).

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Summer Solstice I do’s!

Weddings are amazing. It’s such a rare thing to have all the people you love together in one spot. Everyone is so happy for the couple. There’s nothing but support for them and well wishes for their future. Buzzing on all of that, people are quick to keep the energy high and get on the dance floor. It’s just the best. I love going to weddings – especially when the couple getting married are close friends or family.

Being the couple actually getting married, hosting the wedding, and having all of our close friends and family together in one spot to celebrate OUR future. Wow. It was the most intense feeling of love and support I have ever experienced. And it is impossible to put it into words.

We are just so thankful for everyone who helped us celebrate, who helped us get to where we are today, and who continue to support our future. Especially thankful to our parents and our wedding party who go above and beyond. We love you!!

We have so many memories we’ll treasure… I mean, there were blood, sweat and tears before the day even got started!

Here are some of my favourite moments: Kellie (MOH) walking the Best Man down the aisle because Age-girl’s heels were too epic for grass – Giuliano’s reading – Billy’s tank top MC intro – Bike rides and kilts – Ash’s surprise song for Dallison – The speeches ❤ – Grandpa doing grace – Dan sang O’Canada – Jayce got the party started – SV high jacked the staff golf cart – late night poutine and bond fire moments – almost burning down the tent from a sparkler incident and then getting kicked out of the hotel after-party because we were belting out Alanis Morissette isn’t it Ironic WAY too loud.

Everything was amazing. And it was the unplanned bits that were my favourite.

During the planning phase I was looking all over the internet for wedding timelines and vendors etc. So to pay it forward, here’s the planned stuff…

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Infinitri Half with Tim Don

The Infinitri Peñíscola half starts and ends in a castle that appears in Game of Thrones… Need I say more?

You run into the beach like you are some sort of warrior and swim around the castle to a neighboring bay. You grab your bike and ride out into the hills. On your way back, the run is along the sunny but flat Peñíscola promenade that eventually brings you back to the castle for a picture perfect finish.

The Infinitri Series is family run. Manu is the Race Director and he has a huge presence on race day. Everything about the event was extremely well organised and accommodating to athletes of all abilities.

This event was particularly special because we were invited to it as two of Tim Don’s guests. And by “we” I mean Dan and Sam did… but Sam couldn’t go so I got to! Leading up to the race I was dealing with an ankle sprain from an embarrassing tequila inspired adventure in Cancun only 6 weeks before. It felt like it took forever to heal… I couldn’t run, I couldn’t kick when I swam – all I could do was ride. So I packed in a lot of time on the bike to build my fitness up. I was so nervous I’d show up to the race and not be able to finish because of it. Sometimes it’s nice to approach a race with no expectations. I ended up having a great race and I walked away from the weekend feeling motivated to train and get fast. I think Tim has that effect on people.

RACE SUMMARY

Total time:  5:49:29
Gender Rank: 21/ 58
Overall Rank: 353/ 800

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Family Trip to Cancun

It was pretty special to get the whole family together this year and make new memories. Being all spread out, it’s not an easy task!

Highlights: competitive game nights (exploding kittens and you’ve got crabs), hilarious telestrations (the sheep dog), family feud volleyball matches, tequila fueled catamaran, snorkeling, exploring Mayan ruins and a siblings night out at the Congo Bar.

Here’s my first attempt at a Go-Pro video!

Around Iceland in 8 days

This time last year we were getting ready to go to Iceland. Preparing for our trip felt a little overwhelming… in one way, it was half the fun of it… but on the other hand, it was time consuming and really hard to judge if we prioritized the right areas or if we were rushing through too fast.

Iceland’s Ring Road (Route 1) is iconic. Planning a trip around the Ring Road in 8 Days, means you don’t stay in one place for more than one day. So to make sure you don’t miss something, you need to have the research done before hand… At least your accommodation sorted (your start and end points for the days ahead), a driving route mapped out, and a rough idea of what you want to see.

We were in Iceland for the last week of March/first week of April – March 28th – April 4th. It was an AMAZING trip. We got the chance to see the South in Summer and the North still very much in the middle of Winter.  I would love to do it again in Spring/Autumn and see how different the landscape is.

In this post you’ll find:

  • Packing/ planning checklist
  • Downloadable Google Sheet with links of our Google Maps driving route, accommodation recommendations and suggested activities. We prepared this Google Sheet ahead of the trip and followed it almost to a T. It was our Icelandic Bible and it treated us well.
  • Photos of our favourite adventures

Bear in mind all of these recommendations are geared for people who value being outdoors, enjoy hiking off piste, and are use to long drives.

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Ironman Mont-Tremblant

The Ironman. A triathlon of ridiculous proportions. Swim 3.8km, Bike 180km and Run 42.2km.

Leading up to the race I knew I had to take training seriously. I worked towards those distances without really taking a step back to appreciate how far it really is. It’s been over three months since the race, and I have been SO LAZY lately. If I had to race an Ironman in my current condition – I don’t think I’d be able to finish it.

So now, I look back and I am amazed that I did it. 226km in total… Just me, my goggles, my bike, and my runners.

To summarize my experience, I would say it was a long day out and an emotional roller coaster.

The high’s are so high: you see your family cheering you on and you have these realizations that you’re going to do it.

But the low’s are really low: you’re out there on your own with a long stretch of road ahead of you and you think to yourself “why did I sign up for this?”

I cried twice and I barfed once… But to cross the finish line…. well that was the best feeling ever.

RACE SUMMARY

Total time:  12:46:02
Age group rank:  36
Gender rank:  182
Overall rank:  978

More on the highs, the lows and the barfing below…

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