Monthly Archive: May 2015

Paris Marathon: The Aftermath

It just doesn’t seem as big of a deal as I would expect….as people led me to believe.  Calling a big ole bullshit on Susan here:177edd0d01fff5469ebed0e9777943cd

I thought I’d be bawling crossing that finish line. But I shed a couple tears and was happy and was on my way. I  cried more when I first arrived to Paris and saw where the start would be then when I actually crossed the finish. I certainly cried more in any given day when I thought about the race (prior to and during training) then when I crossed the finish. I thought I’d feel…different? I thought my life would be forever changed. I thought I would be forever changed.  But I don’t really feel any different.  I’m not sure what it is. Did I put too much emphasis on this race? Did I think it would make my life better? Solve my problems? Give me purpose?

I mean don’t get me wrong- I am super proud of myself.  I did things I thought impossible (more than just actually running the marathon, but the training, being dedicated, keeping with something when it was hard, hurting, and down right sucked.)

E says I have a problem setting too high expectations and so that nothing can ever live up to them. Normally that’s pretty accurate. Although I set crazy high expectations about my wedding day and that really knocked it out of the park. And marathon’s day just about as epic as my wedding day…so I thought it would deliver. Maybe it will…..maybe it will take some time though.

I don’t have any regrets though….when I think about my “wall” (which wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be), I did have to dig deep…and I definitely feel (if I really look back and consider it all) that I left it all on the course. I don’t think I finished with more to give in the tank. I finished on empty and I’m happy with that.

With that being said, I’m quite confident I could do loads better. I think if I weighed less and had an overall improved fitness I’d be better off. And more than anything, I think if I wasn’t injured I would do loads better. So maybe the fact that I was injured has left me feeling this way. Yes, I gave it my all on April 12….but I feel sort of cheated because if I hadn’t been injured (pretty out of my control) I would have been able to give more.

I’m trying to stay positive though. I accomplished a huge feat. I stuck with something despite being injured and (physically) not really made for running. Despite never running more than 16 miles- I didn’t really hit a wall until 23 miles. I never stopped to walk. I set a goal and stuck with months of hard work to accomplish it. I pushed past pain. I ran 26.2 freaking miles.il_570xn_399837482_g17k-e1418525207372

I knew going into this I wouldn’t be a one and done marathoner. I think you have to run one to see what your up against, to get a baseline, and to learn all about the process. I definitely want to run NYC, but I’m almost positive I will wait until 2016. I also really want to run Chicago at some point, but that point might not be until I’m 40. I would like to have a better training cycle without injury and give NYC 2016 my best, and then I think I’ll be happy. If at some point (perhaps after kids or when I’m at a different place in my life) I want to run another, I think it would be beneficial on a different level.

But I just can’t get behind running a yearly marathon unless every year I’m in a much different physical and psychological place. I think in the next year I have loads of room to grow and better myself, so I want to do that. But I don’t really get signing up for the same torture year after year, without seeing the potential to do better.url

So what’s looming ahead on running front: recovery, losing weight, lifting weight, getting faster, and in better shape.   I got through my first race post marathon (see here), but am feeling a little a lost/unmotivated/sad. I don’t know how or where to jump start into those plans and if I don’t have a very clear goal, I have a hard time staying motivated. I’m looking forward to scheduling some scenic Scotland races (looking at the Aviemore Half and the Fare Challenge’s 5K) and some hikes. Also I’d really like to up my spin game and get back into practicing meditation and some light yoga. I think I’m finding it extra difficult in the moment because there is so much going on with moving, traveling, and guests. I’m not really having any specific routine until September….it’s going to make it tough.

The Downside of Expat Life

I think it’s easy to assume being an #expat and #expatlife is fabulous…and my life is pretty sweet, I know….but there’s definitely a downside to moving to another country. We had a cultural awareness training when we moved here, which kinda seemed like a joke since life in the UK isn’t all the different that the USA, it’s not a third world country or even one that speaks a different language…but in the training they explained that there are highs and lows to moving abroad. And it’s not just readjusting to the specific culture of the UK, but just the entire dramatic change it can be from how life used to be. And it is different.

I’m know I’m lucky that I’m in an expat situation where:

  • We’re on an expat package.
  • I get to explore and pursue a ton of interests and passions.
  • I get to travel with some regularity.
  • I have {some} family members and friends with means to be able to come visit.
  • I don’t have to be a slave to the man.
  • There’s technology like facetime, texting, vonage, and emails to stay connected.
  • I get to come home and see family at least once a year.

And that’s a lot better than a lot of expats even have it, but even so, I’ve definitely been riding a low on the expat experience train.   I’m pretty sure it’s relatable in some way or another to a lot of expats. It seems my previous understanding and knowledge of “home” is changing and influx and at this moment, and I don’t like it….

I went to away {3 hours} to college and was pretty well adjusted, but after that I went to San Diego and was pretty miserable for about 8 months before coming into my own…and that could have only been because I knew we were leaving shortly after a year. Since then I’ve lived in Chicago only an hour from where I grew up. I didn’t have a ton of friends in Chicago, but I had some good ones. And I was so close to my hometown, I saw my parents and my brother and sister in law {and in-laws} pretty much monthly. And when I was home to see family, I was also able to see old friends as well- if not friends- at least familiar faces and places.  And the 12 months leading up to our move, I somehow saw my NYC brother 5 times I think.

So for the last 6 years my “home” has been very comfortable to me {even right when we moved to Chicago since it was an area I knew pretty well and had been visiting since I was a child} and I was able to see many of my closest love ones very regularly. And now I can’t. And that great technology that allows me to be kept in the loop is exactly what brings me down. I am sitting here in rather brisk conditions being over exposed to:

And every day in the summer has loads of options to play.

Every summer day I’m missing tons of fun in Chi-city.

  • Pictures of my friends and family that I miss so damn much!
  • Pictures of my nephew Max and pseudo niece Calina growing up.
  • People enjoying rooftops and sunshine in Chicago.
  • People enjoying great food in Chicago.
  • Posts about all the amazing and fun things happening in Chicago this summer that I’ll be missing out on.
  • Posts about things that have changed in Chicago that I’m missing out on: Soul Cycle and Dylan’s Candy Bar?! Damn it, I would murder for either of these right now.
  • Just pictures of totally stunning Chicago.
  • The Blackhawks in the playoffs.
  • New workouts or my favorite old boot camps and boutique gyms that I’m missing.
  • American shopping.
Chicago is so damn pretty.

Chicago is so damn pretty.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.46.07 PMI’ll stop there. I guess we can sum it up as homesick. And it sucks. And I haven’t really figured out the way to fix it. So for now, I’ll try to remind myself that being an expat is a great experience and life is cushy and further convince you that being an expat is only fabulous….

In the next 3 months I’ll:

  • Travel Turkey
  • Explore Lisbon
  • Cruise the coast of Croatia
  • Go to the British Open
  • Golf Turnberry
  • Golf a lot
  • Hike lots and see tons of gorgeous Scotland
  • Kick it in Edinburgh several times
  • See Elton John
  • Watch dudes in kilts toss telephone poles several times
  • Be visited by a good friend, my aunt and cousins, my in-laws, and my mother

#WHATPITYPARTY?

10 Essential Scottish Shoesies

Moving to Scotland? Ya better rethink you shoe game before the movers come. Because I guarantee you’ll need to enhance your shoe collection and it’s a lot cheaper stateside than it is here.

My mother would claim that I couldn’t possibly need more shoes. But she would say that if I had one pair. Yes, it’s true most of my UK friends think I have an obnoxious amount of shoes. But I’m actually not a huge shoe person. I swear. I’ve got nothing on my friends that are real shoe gals. And the shoes I do lust after tend to be sneakers. And have you know…I’ve only bought one pair since I’ve moved here. And they are amazing. And I get compliments wherever I go in them. The availability of sneakers in Europe is a lot sweeter than in the states. I digress….

These are the shoes that I feel are essential to have in Scotland.Slide1

  1. Wellingtons aka Wellies – Obviously. Don’t send these in the sea shipment- get them in your suitcase or at least your air shipment. I know Hunters are all the rage, but I stand by Burberry wellies. I’ve had these beauts since 2006. Worth the cost for sure, although I think I deserve an upgrade. (Cough, cough E)
  2. Wellie-bobs – In truth my wellies were in the sea shipment that got delayed and I needed wellies ASAP due to the fact that I have to take Stella out and didn’t want to ruin my trainers. So I went out and got some cute little wellie-bobs. They’re super easy to slip on for a quick dog wee. And bonus- I got ones that are fleece lined! Even in August, it’s not warm enough (especially when raining) that fleece lined wellie-bobs will make your feet sweat.
  3. Waterproof Hiking Boots – Even if you’re not the sportiest, these will be a good investment living here. And actually, they are the #1 footwear I recommend when coming to visit. Just ask my mom: she’s so glad she got a pair. Scotland is gorgeous.   You are going to want to explore it thoroughly. And a lot of that is done walking. Also, Scotland is not flat. So some ankle support never hurts. And a lot of the walking is on trails. And trails and grass are muddy. And covered in sheep and horseshit. If you get one pair of shoes moving here, it should be these.
  4. Hiking Shoes – I like to have a more casual pair of hiking shoes. These are great for walks on the beach or casual strolls in the woods when you don’t need waterproof-ness or a ton of support. I really hate getting sandy trainers, but sometimes full on boots just seem too intense. That’s when you wear these gems.
  5. Extra Trainers – this is only necessary if you’re running outside and going to the gym. Because you’ll be running in rain, mud, horseshit… you don’t want to track that into the gym. More importantly, they don’t want you to track it into the gym. You should have some clean trainers to get you through your indoor workouts.
  6. Short booties – I would recommend black and brown. They are dressier than sneakers and are the answer when you don’t want to wear heels.  And in all honesty, it doesn’t really pour here all the time.  If you don’t want to look like a frump-ball, you need booties for the rain.
  7. Golf shoes – Um, hello? It’s Scotland. You’re gonna want to get on the links.
  8. Tall boots – Okay, these aren’t essential in Scotland. They were essential in Chicago though and I won’t give them up. But in actuality, I can’t believe how infrequent I wore equestrian style boots in Scotland.  But see note about short booties, same applies.  You can’t tromp around in rubber boots all day.
  9. Slippers – I’ve mentioned you should also get these in your air shipment if not on your person when you arrive. The houses here are cold unless you have heated floors (and even still, my kitchen tile isn’t heated and is deathly cold) you’ll need these.
  10. Sandals – oh no, not for Scotland. For someplace warm where you’ll holiday. Coming up on my diary: Turkey and Portugal.

And to be fair, I did note that some might be considered optional in your life. But none are optional in mine.  Honorable mention goes out to my trail shoes!  I never needed trail shoes before and I still feel damn cool in these light weight, super tread shoes.Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 8.40.49 PMAny pair I forgot or you disagree on?  Don’t get me wrong, it does get warm enough to wear cute flats, but they wouldn’t really be necessary I don’t think.  I also did not put in Uggs because they’re not the best for wetness.  And even though I brought both my regular shearling Uggs and super industrial lined snow-proof, water-proof, -20 degrees fahrenheit Uggs….I wore them the one day it was snowing…and they were completely unnecessary, as hiking boots would have been fine.  But who knows, maybe next year I’ll need winter boots AND sandals in Scotland.  Global warming is a tricky b.

 

Race Recap: Baker Hughes 10K

My Jog Scotland Thursday running group

My Jog Scotland Thursday running group

On Sunday I took part in what I think is really the only race actually in Aberdeen: the Baker Hughes 10K. A description of the race:

The course is based around Aberdeen beach and harbour area and has some spectacular views of the North Sea and the famous Beach Ballroom on the route. The race started as a marathon and in 1987 changed to a 10K which it has been ever since with a number of different courses.

It’s kind of funny because Aberdeen was trying to get a marathon this summer, that got pushed back to next summer, which got shot down. But now that I’ve run the 10K, there’s a lot left to be desired in a marathon or half marathon. I can definitely say I wouldn’t be signing up had it gone through…

On to the recap!

Cost

£22 pounds for me, £24 for E. I got a £2 discount for being a Jog Scotland member. In Conversion, this is pretty close to a standard “big” race in Chicago…but for that price in Chicago you generally get a pretty good t-shirt, a beer, and some carbs. But I’ll get into all those specifics later….that being said I felt it was a little steep. The Aviemore Half Marathon and 10k for a few quid more and the Fare Challenge 10K for a quid less….and those are all much more scenic, and I know at least the latter has better swag and goodies. C

Registration

I’m not sure what they’ve done in the past…but I know this year was new for them. They were shipping everyone their race tshirt and bib #. I’m not totally sure if they did that before and this year they just used a different carrier this system? Or if the whole thing was new. I LOVE the idea. I hate taking a trip and paying for parking just for packet pickup. Unfortunately- there was an issue. I never received my packet. It was kinda strange since E got his and I registered us both under the same ticket. They sent out an email saying there were issues, but assuring everyone would get their bibs by Saturday, but just in case…you could get a new # the day of. Well of course mine never came. Besides that, it seems a lot of people got crumbled balls for bibs…hope their chip still worked.

So on race day we headed down extra early to deal with whatever incompetence await to get a new bib. It was actually very seamless, and they updated my info ASAP because I still got a text after the race with time result of my new bib number. So a slight fumble, but overall it worked out just fine. And I was the only person I knew (out of about 20 running) that didn’t get their bib. I’ll let this one slide. A-

Parking

Because of aforementioned missing bib, we arrived super early and got to park on a street (free on Sunday) before the roads were closed. If you didn’t get there super early before the roads were closed, you were pretty much screwed. I mean, if you know parking in Aberdeen, you know it sucks. This is no exception. We actually drove our friends and their kids back to their car that was parked all the way across town….good for them as it started pouring and they would have had a miserable 30 min walk with wee ones. C

Bathrooms

I thought there were plenty of port-o-potties when I needed em. Again, I was really early and got in two nervous poos without anyone even in a port-o-pottie near me. Then I had to wee right before the race…and there was this epically long line for the bathrooms. It was huge. And it seems everyone was just standing there waiting in one line for the 2-3 potties in front of them?! What was that? Normal protocol is a new line every 2-3 potties. I just walked through this line and went to the far end and went wee. It sounds like I’m a jerk…but I’m telling you there people at the front of the line couldn’t even see those potties because they were in a L shape. But that massive line was so weird….I imagine if everyone lined up like normal runners I might have had to wait 2-3 minutes. But not really my problem. I guess maybe they need some potty marshals? But I can only say my personal experience was A+ no wait.

Timing

On the bib, just how I like it. I’m really confused because I know at the 5K mark I ran over a timer…and yet they are not posting your 5K times….odd. A-

Course

Only picture I grabbed of the course.  Big sky, eh?

Only picture I grabbed of the course. Big sky, eh?

Ehhhh. Aberdeen is not a gorgeous city. No offense, but you’re not going to walk downtown and fall in love with Aberdeen. Fall in love in Scotland- yes. Not so much actual Aberdeen. So they made a race trying to utilize a pretty bit- the long stretch along the beach. Unfortunately you have to add on at the front and end running around what seems to be Section 8 housing and seedy harbor businesses. And even when you’re running along the beach…on your other side is Pizza Hut and ASDA (Walmart for those not in the know). I mean, I can’t really fault them. It’s the only race in actual Aberdeen and they worked with what they had. Oh but that hill at the end blows. B

Goodiebag

Well there was a tech shirt. But they only offered men’s sizes and the front is completely white (weirdest thing ever). From the ones of the past I’ve seen, it seems every year is white. They need to shake it up. And really- too cheap to have something printed on the front? Now I understand why everyone at run club on Thursday was gushing over my Chicago Spring Half Marathon shirt. When you crossed the finish line you got a bag with some pantene shampoo samples, some paper, and a tea bag. You could grab a water bottle and a thing of concentrated water flavorer. No bananas. No bagles. No dry toast even. CIMG_2169

Competitors

It was my {new} hometown so I knew quite a few people there. Only one situation wasn’t great when turning a corner and a man was pretty aggressive with his arm up and shoving me over. Seemed a little unnecessary at 1K in buddy. A-

Medals

You got one! People wear them! Again, if it’s your thing- it’s there. I did like the pop of color and the date engraved on the back though.

Time

57:47 – a personal best I think? And again, I’m so damn fat. Must lose this weight. And further more- great considering my hip is still buggered up and I have only run 4x (most 5 miles) since the marathon.

Would I run it again? Um, maybe. I guess probably. I do like big races and this is the biggest I’ve experienced in Scotland with 3,900 runners (I know Edinburgh and Glasgow have large races- just saying.) But it’s really nothing to write home about – it’s a race. It forced me to lace up my trainers probably much sooner than I would have post marathon so for that, I am thankful.

Me and E pre-race

Me and E pre-race

Quickfire Scotland

Our second (and third) houseguests were here this past week!  E’s cousin who was doing a few weeks in England with her university had a couple days off and came up to visit us with a friend. It was a short trip (arrived late Saturday, left first thing Tuesday) so we knew that they wouldn’t be able to get the full taste of Scotland, but we wanted to give them as much as possible. I had emailed her a list of about 10 things we could do and it was decided that we were going to shoot clay pigeons, go to a whiskey distillery, see a castle, and have an afternoon tea. Not too ambitious and a good sampling.

Shooting and hunting in Scotland (and I’m assuming most of the UK) is a very posh event. In general it seems it costs a lot to go on these expeditions and it’s just an all out formal affair down to your dress. You need a game license, and you need permission to hunt on whomever owns the land. In hunting certain breeds- the permission needs to be in writing and very detailed reports must be kept and submitted for anything shot. So you can’t hunt unless you have land, or have a friend with land, or pay to use someone’s land.  And as I said….the apparel. Perfection.

Definitely can get behind this for the outfit alone.

Definitely can get behind this for the outfit alone.

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I’ve only ever shot anything once with a groupon in Michigan. Mostly handguns and a massive AK-47, because it’s America! (ugh) But I actually hated it. It seemed…well it just wasn’t my thing. And my (limited) experience with hunting is a bunch of rednecks drinking shitty beer, wearing camo, and shooting stuff. Definitely not my thing. So I was pretty skeptical when it came to clay pigeon shooting- but I loved it!   I wasn’t very good, but with every station got better and more comfortable. I think a lot was nerves, and after that horrible eye sight, and after that, the fact it felt like the rifle weighed 100 lbs (I was told it was the lightest one and probably weight like 12 lbs, but I was sore for daaaaaays after). But definitely enjoyable. Just about 15 minutes from Aberdeen is Seal’s Cove Shooting Ground. For £35 a person, our group of 4 was out for 2 hours going about from 4-5 different stations with different kinds of shots. During the whole thing we had instruction with a very patient instructor: Ian. He was a saint! And of course tea, coffee and biscuits afterwards.IMG_2100

Of course I rock Burberry boots to shoot guns.

Of course I rock Burberry boots to shoot guns.

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Actually, there is a “Ladies Shooting Club” in Aberdeen called Glad Rags and Cartridge Bags….ya never know. I need a new hobby.

Next we went to Glen Dronach Distillery. The girls had never had Scotch and I hear it’s something Scotland is known for or something?  Kidding…To tell you the truth, I’m fine with never going to another distillery ever again. It just seems to me everyone would be the same. It wasn’t awful by any means…but. I don’t even like Scotch. And even if I did- I was dd so I couldn’t have any. But what a true Scottish experience for the girls! And the drive out to the distillery was gorgeous full of blooming gorse and sheep as far as the eye could see.

The only one of us who liked the tasting.

The only one of us who liked the tasting.

Not such a fan...

Not such a fan…

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Came home to a slow cooked pot roast that was cooking all day. A smidge dry but what can you do…

On Monday, E headed off to work. I took the girls out to Drum Castle and dropped them off while I headed to my golf lesson. I haven’t personally been to Drum Castle but the girls seemed to really enjoy it. And it’s part of the National Trust for Scotland, which we’re members and thus get free access, so I’m sure we’ll check it out at some point. Especially because it’s so close!  That afternoon we headed to a scaled down afternoon tea at Cup in downtown Aberdeen. It wasn’t awful….but it was no Marcliff. They did have a pretty epic tea selection, including adorable iced tea. Oh and nutella paninis…can’t go wrong with that.IMG_2129

I then left to sewing class (my Mondays are quite busy) and afterwards met E & co at Adelphi Kitchen to treat them to some good meat before they had to head back to London and eat on a student budget. It was a quick trip, but I think it provided a great taste of Scotland

Our First Houseguest Recap

We had our first houseguest! It was my momma. She came for 11 nights and roughly 11 days since her last day she went to the airport at about 11am. I am pretty big into itineraries…I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m flexible. I can adjust. But I like a list of things we’re going to do. I don’t want houseguests sitting around bored or a situation where we want to do something but can’t because it’s not open on the day we decided to go out and do it or anything like that. I will say, I don’t back down on plans for weather. Not here. We had some awful, AWFUL weather forecasts, and (thank you glittery, purple Jesus) we actually only had one awful day. You just can’t trust Scottish weather. You must embrace.

Anyway, wanted to recap the trip. You’ll see what a good little planner I am, my mom’s holiday will live on forever on the internet, you’ll realize Scotland should absolutely be on your bucket-list, you’ll get a little jealous of my fab. lady-whom-lunches life, and you’ll start getting ideas of what you want to do when you come visit me!

Wednesday – A sleepy Sandy arrives, though I immediately take her to Costco because we have no wine. You hear that, no wine for Sandra’s arrival?! It was damn near a national emergency. Anyway, got wine, put her to work cleaning my microwave, and had a nice little dinner at home (feta stuffed chicken burgers), and then went to take a look-see at our new place! Though we couldn’t go in because the leasing agents are assholes…but that’s for another day.IMG_1910

Thursday – Sandy cleaned some more, of course. In the afternoon we took the walk down the old Deeside Train line to Duthie Park with Stella. We tied poor little Stella up outside and went into the (free) indoor gardens. E got off work and came to play with Stella and drive us home since the temperature started dropping and the clouds looked a little ominous (I’ll note that it did not rain though).

Mum & Nessie @ Duthie Park WInter Gardens

Mum & Nessie @ Duthie Park WInter Gardens

Friday – We waited for E to get off work a bit early and we all went down to Stonehaven. Stella included. E dropped us off by the harbor to take the walk up to Dunnottar, while he drove to the castle parking lot so that we didn’t have to walk all the way home (and he could do some work).   The first bits the worst, and after a few, “I think I’m going to die”s Sandra got her Scotland legs and enjoyed the rest of the walk though opted out of climbing all the way down and back up into the actual castle. The view though, is all you really need.

On the walk to Dunnottar Castle- at this moment a bug is crawling up her pantleg preparing for a feast.

On the walk to Dunnottar Castle- at this moment a bug is crawling up her pantleg preparing for a feast.

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Saturday – We went into town to take a gander at the local Aberdeen markets. I don’t want to get into it, but they suck. The Country Market that happens once a month and the other one…they suck. We also went into St. Andrew’s Cathedral, where whoever let us in was super nice and informative, and learned they have free concerts every Saturday and provide sammiches and tea after. Pretty sweet but we had to head out to Balmoral Castle for E to run the 10K. So off we went. We had to park miles away, so that sucked. And you couldn’t get audio guides. So that sucked. And the garden was closed. So that sucked. And Sandra thinks the fact you can only see 1 room just plain sucks in general. Regardless, I’m over going to Balmoral. If you come visit and want to go- you’re on your own. On a good note, E smoked the 10K with 44:15 on a pretty wicked course in less than ideal conditions. He is such a stud it makes me want to murder him in his sleep…just kidding. When we got home we were all pretty exhausted, but I rallied everyone to go out to dinner to Cock & Bull. It might be my new favorite Aberdeenshire restaurant and we were all super happy we went out.

Sunday – This was the day of miserable weather….and me messing up the camera. We went up to Newburgh beach to see the hundreds of seals in the icy cold rain. It actually didn’t disappoint. But, my pictures did and this was the only one salvageable. Shame too because I had some adorbs Stella-Seal pics.DSC_0954

Monday – I have my golf lesson on Monday mornings and sewing lesson on Monday evenings. Between, my mum and I went over to Seaton Park for a walk with Stella. She really liked the CHURCH, but I wasn’t able to go in with furry butt so we just kicked it in the old cemetery. No complaints. It’s a shame there wasn’t much blooming, but it’s still pretty and very close- we’ll definitely come back in summer.IMG_1946Tuesday – We were heading off to the West Coast! But of course, we got off to a late start. And before we left, I kind of realized hitting up 2 castles on the way out was never going to happen. So we rerouted and went around the Cairngorms from the North, hitting up Fyvie Castle. I really liked its gothic-ness, the mothership didn’t. Had lovely gardens and you got to see a lot of rooms, though the tour was quite dry. We carried on to the west, stopping for pictures of coo’s and of course to see the gorgeous Stalker Castle from a look out point. Arrived at our LOVELY b&b in Oban (Glenburnie House)…went out to dinner, and back to our room where I grinded my teeth all night bracing for awful weather on Wednesday while we were on a boat and outside for 12 hours.IMG_1962

Stalker Castle

Stalker Castle

My mom really loved all the Gorse

My mom really loved all the Gorse

DSC_0976Wednesday – After no sleep fretting about Scotland weather, we woke up to sunny skies. We left our room at 7am but the owner so kindly packed up a great to-go breakfast (muffins, juice, bananas, oranges, trail mix) and we made our way to the ferry. The ferry over to the Isle of Mull. Where we took an hour bus up to Tobermory. From there we got on our little boat, which we used for the next several hours. We saw dolphins, and then headed over to the Treshnish Isles (Lunga) to see the puffins! It’s been my mom’s lifelong quest to see puffins. Every time she’s gone to see them anywhere in the world, they’ve been a no-show. But I delivered!DSC_1012

Toberymory, Isle of Mull

Toberymory, Isle of Mull

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Then we went over to Staffa to explore Fingal’s Cave.

Fingal's Cave from afar

Fingal’s Cave from afar

Walking into Fingals Cave

Walking into Fingals Cave

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Happy camper right there

Happy camper right there

And then the whole trip back to Oban. Of course ending after we step off the ferry and trek up a hill a half-mile in the opposite direction of our b&b for a yummy (but overpriced) meal that we are underdressed for. C’est la vie.

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Glenburnie House sun room- I love my coos!

Thursday – We started with some salmon and eggs at the b&b and a great chat with the owner, then headed back to Aberdeen going south around the Cairngorms. Lots of stopping for coo pictures, cool landmarks, and another castle.

Rapeseed flowers

Rapeseed flowers

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Falls of Dochart

Falls of Dochart

Scotland has mountains if you didn't already know.

Scotland has mountains if you didn’t already know.

DSC_0091 DSC_0104Friday – Finally my mother got to meet my best Aberdeen lass, an Irish girl named Sarah. We had a proper, lovely tea at the Marcliff and that’s about all a day can handle.

Saturday – We tortured Sandra again with a 3-mile hike at Countesswells Woods, my favorite running trails. It was actually pretty lovely. Afterward, she solidified as the best mum ever taking us out to dinner to toast to end of a wonderful trip.

Last hike to tire her out :)

Last hike to tire her out 🙂

Sunday – Not much, just dropped mum off at the little ole’ Aberdeen airport.

Overall, a pretty damn successful trip! And we’ve already got a rough schedule for her next visit at the end of August. That trip holds less adventure, a decent chunk of time in Edinburgh, more gardens, some (east) coastal hikes, a sprinkling of castles, and a return trip to Stonehaven for a deep fried Mars Bar.

House Hunters International

Househunters_International

Well we’ve just found out the airdate of our House Hunters International airing. If you don’t know what HHI is…have you been living under a rock? It’s a ‘reality’ show on HGTV, there are a couple different versions, the most popular being House Hunters and House Hunters International. In each version someone (a person, a couple, a family) is searching for a house. They have their list of must-haves, and you go with them on a tour of 3 houses across a variety of budgets and features and see them choose the house of their dreams.

The original version is people buying a home. The international version is most often renting. I’ve known for awhile it’s not exactly reality. That the show is filmed generally after people have already picked their house and closed on it…that’s why if you’re watching and want to bet on which house they choose (which is often not the house that makes sense to choose in the viewers mind) you should bet on whichever house has 0 furniture. Some times there can be more than one of these (and maybe even all 3) but most often 2 houses are somewhat staged and one house has nothing in it and that’s the house they’ve bought. This is because the staging is done since they already own it and they can’t very well put the actual couples furniture inside or there wouldn’t be a dramatic “3 months later…” reveal. Okay so that’s what I knew going into it.

And all that is true. We filmed our HHI experience in January. Maybe some of you are smart enough to look back and see we moved here in August, maybe. And maybe, just maybe, some of you will look back and see which house we chose and you can bet big money on us when you watch the show! There’s a Vegas line for HHI, no?

But anyway, our experience filming HHI….you do get paid a little bit. Generally you’d use that to fund your flight home to film your “going away”, but we were able to film our leaving bit when we were home for Christmas. It was pretty much a full day, 7am-7pm. The rest was filmed mid-January, what was supposed to be over 3 days and ended up being 5. And you don’t really realize how much they want you outside. And it’s January in Scotland. So for about 5 days we did nothing but film and freeze our asses off and get terribly sick. And I mean all day. The day they film the ‘winning’ house, the movers come at about 6 am to move all your things out, you film all day, and then they have to move all your things back in. It’s really exhausting. If you’re filming 3 days total- the pay out is worth it. 6 days? Ehhhhh. Advice if you’re ever approached: film in the summer or start off wearing tons of layers.

Seriously, so cold.

Seriously, so cold.

"angry brother" getting mic'd up

“angry brother” getting mic’d up

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Unfortunately we don’t get to see the episode before it airs, though we do get a copy after. I am pretty sure I’m going to be mortified. If not how my voice sounds and how annoying I will seem, than at least by how fat I am. UGH.  Anyway…it’s airing next month- mark your calendars! Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 4.35.32 PM

But for positives. Our crew was amazing. Super fun, super sweet, a couple super easy on the eyes. The director was a charming English silver fox. And I don’t know, just kind of a fun experience. I actually would do it again (which they say they’re keen to if we move to another country or possible when we repatriate ourselves.)

The adorable crew.

The adorable crew.

The funny part was, one house we toured, I actually fell in love with. So much so that I was almost crying. It turns out the house was available when we moved here initially, but it was over £4k a month! Now, since the market had gone to hell, it got slashed in half. I really wanted the house. And HHI dones’t even do it justice…it had a chicken coup! It had immaculate gardens out of a fairytale! It had a sun shack that was set to be an office in the middle of the garden that roatates on a massive lazy-suzan structure to follow the sun. It was huge. It had storage beyond my wildest dreams. It had a creepy stone room where you could hang your kill and let the blood drip out. IT WAS PERFECT. Okay the last bit a little creepy, but I really wanted the chicken coup! Think of the blog posts I could have with that!20150118_131043

Old Scottish dream home.

Old Scottish dream home.

Who wouldn't want this for a home office?!

Who wouldn’t want this for a home office?!

Most adorable chicken coop!

Most adorable chicken coop!

 

Anyway, seeing the house is what got me off my ass to see what’s up with our lease. We realized we could break it after 6 months without any penalty providing we gave 2 months notice. Why didn’t we take that house? Well, the main reason is that E’s commute would have been a solid hour each way, if not an hour 15 home. And I’m talking about 10 miles. Not worth it. He’ll try to say that it’s also in part to the fact that every doorframe other than the formal dining room and living room was 5’6”….but I had perfect plans to bedazzle him a helmet, it was really just the commute.

A helmet would totally fix this.

A helmet would totally fix this.

Funny how now the episode is airing 11 days after we move out of the house we chose into our new place.  No chicken coop…no totally dream garden and outdoor home office…but it’s pretty damn unique and Scottish-centric.  Stay posted for a tour of our new digs in June.

Post Marathon Physical Check In

I thought I should share a little update about where I was at physically after the Paris Marathon. It’s now 3 FULL weeks past. And unfortunately I haven’t done much in terms of physical activity until this morning. I thought I just needed a week off, but I was really still feeling like shit…getting worn out very easily, fatigued, and feeling really neauseaus. And now finally 3 weeks later I’m feeling normalish. Biggest issue was getting headaches every day or so…I can’t tell if it was residual from the race or if it’s the abundance of Scotland sun (don’t laugh).

Anyway- looking back on all post race issues:

I was lucky to have put on sunscreen, but I missed the back (or front) of my calves and they got a little pink- but it wasn’t anything too severe. But I guess the lesson there is sunscreen everywhere.

I had applied Run Guard on all my crevices and tried to put it everywhere my sport bra came in contact…I would not have bloody nipples damn it. But I apparently didn’t lube right at the top (neckline) of my sport bra. So I’m left with these chafing marks- not too bad though as chafing goes!

My only chaffing!

My only chaffing!

Right after the marathon, I mean right after crossing that start line, my initial thoughts were, “oh my legs might give way” and “holy hell my lower abs are killing me.” When we got to the flat, I laid around for an hour or two (eating chocolate, watching Bravo) but didn’t want to nap because I feared I’d never move. E on the other hand napped hard – spectating as Beeker…hard work. I managed to shower and get dressed but was far too tired to blow dry and straighten… I felt tired, but not dead. But my hip pain was aching, and I really thought I was totally back to the worst point of my hip injury. Even so, I was overall feeling much better than I expected….other than the lower abs. Seriously, so sore. Had no idea!

I had trouble sleeping that night from pretty terrible hip pain. I roll a lot while I sleep and every time I did I woke up in pain. Monday was a whole new level of pain. I mean…it was just a really ridiculous fatigue and soreness in my legs (and of course, lower abs). That doesn’t sound too bad I know, just saying I was tired and sore. But it was to an insane level of soreness that cannot be described unless you experience it. It would take me a long time to get my legs moving after we stopped at anytime and when we got going, I was just a bit awkward. I felt all jelly-like from my knees up and had to be careful my legs didn’t give way. Luckily there were lots of us hobbling around the city and I think people knew what was up as handfuls of us walked sideways down the metro stairs. The worst was the hour and a half plane ride followed by walking down the little metal staircase once we landed…but again there were a few of us on the flight.

Monday (the day after the race) was the worst by far for pain. And I was super nauseous; I felt I was going to puke on our drive to pick up Stella once we got back.  By Monday night I kind of realized that my hip wasn’t all that injured. So that’s good!

Tuesday I felt loads better in terms of pain and my overall legs and was almost handling stairs like a normal human on Wednesday. But both days I was extremely nauseous and had killer headaches. I guess maybe everything in me was just so depleted. And trust me- not pregnant. I’ve been trying to stay off my feet (only getting about 3K steps Tuesday-Friday) to rest. On Friday my hip hurt worse than it had previously…but I think I just need to stretch. Because I hadn’t done that since the morning of the race. Whoops.

Since then I’ve gone on some decent walks and started easing into some ab stuff but it wasn’t until this morning I went to a bootcamp that I had even run- and that was just around Duthie Park (maybe like a quarter mile?).  But I actually miss running for the first time ever- so that’s promising.  My mom’s been here the last 12 days and I was just hanging out with her a lot.  One day I did wake up early to run but it just didn’t happen.  It’s hard to keep schedule with guests.  Anyway, the rest of bootcamp was a full body circuit using just body weight and some core work- I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow!  I’m pretty happy that it seems I didn’t totally screw my hip by running the marathon though- hurrah! Still, I have a lot of work (mainly getting a good core) to prevent it from happening again. And stretching, stretching, stretching.

Stretching with a partner is always more fun.

Stretching with a partner is always more fun.

But I’m excited to start figuring out where I’m going with my workouts and goals next. In the meantime, I’m signed up for the Baker Hughes 10K on May 17. What’s a little 10K compared 42?