Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Month in Review: (an optimistic) January 2018

The first page in a clean notebook.
When the 1st of the month is a Monday.
Clean sheets, clean PJs and a clean towel all at the same time (the Holy Trinity, made even better if it's an early night on a Sunday).
Week 1, Day 1 .

All the new starts that give us a little spark, the thrill of starting something new and the resolve to use our best handwriting, finally fill in a personal finance spreadsheet or remember to pre-cleanse, moisturise AND apply eye cream each night. So why does it seem, all of a sudden, that as soon as New Year rolls around, that it's a bit passé, a bit basic and all round looked down upon to set resolutions or try and up your game in the New Year. There's a level of smugness at which I check out, but on the whole if you're choosing to use the New Year as a chance to reset and achieve something, then I hear you, well done, me too.

I'm saying a massive fuck you to basic and doing it anyway. After all, what other people think about you probably says more about them than it does you anyway.

This month I've used the New Year momentum to set in place a regular training plan again- I'm currently using the Kayla Itsines app which is working for me as it's short resistance workouts I can do at home before I got work without needing to get up too much earlier than I would anyway.

Hashtag 6am Club *yawns*

I finally made it to training with a new running club. They're friendly, they train in a way I'm familiar with and they go to the pub after training. I think I've found a new running home.

I tried a running crew- Club running is so much fun but I wanted to try something that was a bit different. Backpackers are part of Chasing Lights Collective, they meet at the Lululemon store on Regents Street each Thursday and I can't think of anything more joyful than running about central London looking for Lumiere installations than doing it with people who took a genuine interest in encouragement and getting to know each other.

I dragged Tom around a 10k race (first race of the year, bring it) whist it was sleeting and snowing. There were a few points where I wondered exactly why I was running in the sleet when I could still have been in bed, but I'll take my 1:01:31 time as a nice start to the year on a hilly course off the back of a bit of a bit of a hiatus. Major kudos to the marshals and RunThrough team for bringing all the enthusiasm, because I was cold, but they were standing around in the very same weather conditions and must have been freezing their bits off.

I also signed Tom up to volunteer (are you sensing a theme here...?) on the same days I'm booked in at parkrun, he whinges like nothing else about getting up early the night before and always has a blast when we get there. I'm pushing on with being a Run Director at Walthamstow parkrun and challenging myself to get my really quite lazy behind out of bed to run a few more parkruns this year.

My mate, neighbour and work buddy who we'll call Bear has been making noises about exercising more this year so I've been signing us up to anything that looks fun nearby to our home or the office in a bid for us to find something fun as running and cycling aren't her thing. So far our clear winner and the class we've returned to is Bounce (trampette based) which I count as my full body work out for each week.

Because we work together, Bear & I have also been sharing lunch duty. In a bid to spend less and eat better one of us brings in lunch for us both. Not only do we get to eat decent homemade food, it also forces us to take an actual lunch break away from our desks as we work on different floors and generally need to divvy out the contents of our lunch before we can eat it. YAY for lunch breaks.

My very same mate also came with me to do look at swathes of white fabric for the first time ever.

And in the spirit of New Year joy, I also topped off this month with booking a holiday. In 4 weeks time I'll be back here and I already can't wait. So go forth, roll your eyes, mutter your 'Basic Bitch' grumbles, but I'm not waiting for spring to be full of the joys, and next time you find yourself feeling less than charitable about someone's renewed efforts in a fresh year, maybe give them some encouragement to keep up the changes they're trying to make in their life.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

One, Two, Skip A Few... 2017 in Review

I seem to have lost a few months off the end of 2017 there... Last time I wrote a blog post I reviewed September which was a full month after I'd started a new job, returned to living at home in London full time and done a final stint covering for my old job as part of my exit. To say the autumn was hectic would be an understatement of fairly epic proportion. but in the spirit of completeness, I thought I'd take a look back on 2017, another crazy year!

I started the year how all good years should start... on holiday. We took a quick break in Spain and enjoyed a lot of good food and some bonus winter sun.

Training for my first half marathon got serious with 10 weeks from the start of the year until race day. Training was greatly helped by officially joining a running club, March AC features heavily through the rest of my year...

My focus on running for joy got me a spot on the MyProtein Women social media this month as I continued training in earnest for the Cambridge Half. I also got serious about getting in the gym regularly to try and build strength to avoid injuries which have been problematic before.

And just to cap it all off, I discovered I had a place in the Royal Parks Half via the ballot, giving me an autumn race to aim for.

First half marathon completed (despite having run a full 26.2 in 2015), Cambridge was the race that went mostly to plan, a good day was had by all and I got my name in the paper (even if they did spell it wrong).

March was a half marathon month, after running Cambridge, I volunteered at my first really big event- the North London Half. Tom and I got up at the crack of dawn (actually a bit before) and spent the morning cheering runners on at the half way point of the race as they came out of the Allianz stadium, a great experience and one that inspired me to do more volunteering.

Spring is for frolicking right? I threw myself round the Inflatable 5K course with friends. It was a blast but I ached like nobody's business the following day.

I also cracked my bike out for some very Sunny Easter weekend riding which was joyous and made EVEN better by the dog on the roof of the pub. No, really!

I got cheer marathon finishers as the came through the final finish area at the London Marathon, which is always a humbling experience AND I went to BeFit and got GLITTER BRAIDS.

I kicked off the first weekend with the Wings For Life World Run because why wouldn't you want to be chased through the Cambridge villages by David Coulthard?

I got to help Alzheimer's Research UK kick off their summer campaign to #RunDownDementia with a pledge to run 200km before October 31st and after a phenomenal PB at the London 10000 in 2016, my face could not hide my disappointment on the line as I ran over 13 mins slower in 2017, but finish lines before finish times- it's still a great course and I'm already signed up for this year.

May & June are often busy with fun things because my birthday falls right at the beginning of June and Tom's is only 2 weeks before. this year was no exception and June was MAYHEM!

I kicked off my birthday with a full day first aid course so I could progress through a training course in July, the upside is that it was a beautiful sunny day and I spent most of the late afternoon enjoying drinks on the South Bank Centre terrace. Unfortunately my birthday is June 3rd and returning home to the breaking news of terror attacks in places filled with people who had been doing exactly the same thing was sobering.

The following weekend, for my sins great and many, I found myself in the car on the way to Reading, to spend 24 hours running 5 mile laps and camping. Yes. I know. But Endure24 was a real experience. I ran as part of a team and whilst I'm not sure I could cope doing it year in, year out, it was an insane experience to have completed. Also, the medals are massive!

I drove straight back from Reading for a shower and quick change before we headed to the airport. 2 weeks of R&R on the Costa del Sol. The recovery was much needed although getting out of my seat when we landed was.... interesting.

The return home included more racing, this time a touch more appropriate  for post-holiday- a Prosecco Run. 10k (although I think we ended up doing more like 11 after a detour) and a frankly obscene amount of prosecco. Not a bad way to spend the weekend after 2 straight weeks on sunshine!

July turned out to be another exciting month. It kicked off with an unexpected change in career. An opportunity popped up at the right time in the right place and I made the decision to leave my job with my parents and their company to something completely and wildly different, not to mention being back in London full time.

I ran a super slow 10k at the British 10k which although a pricey race entry (I used a free place from volunteering) is a truly brilliant route through Central London including Westminster.

I also completed Ride Leader training with British Cycling to start running Breeze rides- free bike rides for women which are open to any and every ability.

And yet more excitement- The World Parathletics Champs came to London and we headed over to Stratford for the penultimate night and got to watch some truly thrilling athletics. It was a bit of a spur of the moment night out but I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone who fancies a varied and exciting night of sport!

My final full and official month working with my parents was bittersweet. An exciting new challenge beckoned but I also found myself leaving behind friends and the start of a life I'd started to build in the area I spent most of my week in.

At the end of the month as I moved back to living at home full time, I headed to my new nearest Parkrun and ended up as unofficial run director a little unexpectedly.

Completing the first few weeks in my new job was a bit insane. I got back into cycle commuting- a joy once more! Started finding my feet a bit in a new industry and a new role and tried to find a new routine. I did better at some of these than others!

I went to my first live football match with work and to the recording of a new comedy show due to air this month, so there was entertainment to be had all ways round.

September wasn't exciting to look at like this but for me it was all change!

This month I did my final weeks of cover for my parents as part of my exit strategy, when I returned to my proper job, I realised I'd already carved a niche that was noticed in my absence. I also headed off on the first of what's becoming a fair few work trips to Alicante. October was probably low point of the year as I struggled to find any kind of meaningful rhythm in my personal life with no real running or training happening and trying to meet new people. I also ran a shocking half at the Royal Parks Half Marathon, which I didn't rate at all.

I did appear (or rather my t-shirt did) in Runner's World as a little claim to fame.

For me this means my favourite night of the year- Fireworks at Alexandra Palace. We had our usual enjoyable evening of much food, mulled wine and lots of big bangs and flashes!

Remembrance has typically been a hectic time of the year for us, but this year less so. I ran a pleasingly speedy 10k despite my poor running in October and a struggle to train or other winter races.

I had to work a Sunday which happened to mean heading to the ATP World Tour finals at the O2... there are worse ways to spend a working Sunday, especially if you happen to be the plus one along for the ride like Tom was!!!

Work continued to be insane for my, super busy, lots to learn and more trips, the highlight was a day trip to Geneva. What I saw from the taxi was stunning.

In amongst the mayhem I had some good things to look forward to, not least a little jolly to Lanzarote with my running club from Cambs. I really missed my friends and it was a welcome chance to have some fun and catching up with with them all. I'd intended to run the full marathon distance but given my training had gone so badly, I opted for the half instead which was challenging enough as it was. It was also my first official disqualification (only because I started on the half line with my assigned marathon bib- with full permission from organisers I should add).

And just like that, the C Word... Christmas. Not my personal favourite time of the year and this year was even more intense with work related functions. But as the big day rolled around we settled in for a night in with our neighbours (and good friends) and then a day at home indulging in good food and quite a lot of wine.

We did our usual family rounds between Christmas and New Year, and headed home o try and finish the year with a bit of a kickstart in looking after ourselves- eating a bit better than we have been (note to self, wine is not a meal at the end of the day) and getting some exercise back on track.

In all, 2017 has been a very intense year. There's been a lot of change, some awesome highlights and a worrying decline in taking care of myself which I'm on a mission to resolve this New Year- back to a regular training routine- hello 6am club, eating a full quote of meals- I repeat, wine is not dinner. And making time to get back club running. I've earmarked a few local ones to try and I hope it'll bring me the same joy as my beloved March AC does. Not necessarily resolutions, but a hit of the refresh button.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What A Difference A Decade Makes

Autumn is a very reflective time of year for me.  Like a lot of people who have passed through the education system, it tends to mark milestones of beginnings and ends- new institutions, jobs, changes and time served.

It's 10 years this week since I started university proper and I honestly had no idea how my life would look on graduating from university or if I'd even make it to that sometimes, let alone what to expect a decade later when I'd be closer to 30 than 25.

18 year old Chloe was a bit fragile, a bit awkward and didn't know where she belonged in the world. In the decade since cheap vodka and dodgy nightclubs, that's sometimes still true, but a lot of things have changed...

My 18th birthday

I cut my hair and owned darker lipstick... My hair used to be super long and I loved it- it was low effort- no need to blowdry and easy to pull up into a messy bun, but a couple of years ago I realised it didn't really have a style and was making me look younger in a not so great way. Whilst I miss the days of being able to leave the house after air drying my hair, I love having more 'grown up' hair. As for the lipstick, now I just feel like I look washed out without it. Sometimes you just need to find the right colour!

In the past 10 years I've lived in 4 different countries and called 11 different rooms, flats & houses home. The flat Tom & I share in North London we've been in for two and a half years and it's the longest either of us has lived anywhere since 2007.

Talking of Faceache, I'm not sure 18 year old Chloe ever thought she would be cut out for a forever relationship. A lot of that has to do with my own self worth but Tom & I have been together for 7 of the last 10 years and we're in it for the long haul.

Stupid grins before the Parathletics Champs this year

Taking about family and the one Tom and I have created for ourselves, there was the year I decided to let go of toxic family relationships too. A lot of the issues I was struggling with a decade ago stemmed from an unhealthy relationship with my biological father. Letting go of that and making the decision to walk away remains the single best thing I could have done for myself and although it took several years for me to process that and learn to feel worthwhile, that decision changed my life for for the better. I wrote about my recent experiences with estrangement and the affect of a death within that circle and you can read about there HERE

And that leads me nicely into self worth and something that definitely wasn't on my radar 10 years ago...


I have cycled countless miles including the 100 mile RideLondon, I've run hundreds of miles including a marathon, 2 half marathons and a 24 hour endurance run. I've tried everything from Clubbercise to circuit training and I now can't imagine my life without activity. This month I was even part of a Runners World magazine feature, well, my t-shirt and my story were.

Sports gave me the empowerment that nothing else in my life, even Tom, has been able to- cycle to work is not only a more enjoyable experience than London Underground but it's also a reminder of my own independence. Running has it's trials and troubles (remember that marathon....) but it also gives me an enormous sense of power- it makes me feel strong, in control of my own body and my own destiny. It's brought me closer to other people and provided me with a social circle that is diverse and that inspires me to do more and be better in all aspects of my life.

I dabbled a little with a bit of swimming and a few trials at different sports clubs at uni but overall, not my thing. after some pretty horrendous accidents taking part in PE at school, which I wasn't that interested in anyway, I wasn't all that keen. My kind of power hour turned out to be the kind where I took a shot of more-vodka-than-tonic every minute for an hour. I got serious about being more active when I thought about joining the Air Force to work in intelligence after my undergrad degree but didn't pass my medical due to sight issues and I didn't engage with sport again until late 2012/early 2013. Sports was something I never felt engaged with- it didn't speak to me. Even when I did pick up cycling as a way to get to work and save money as well as trying to keep my weight stable, it wasn't for joy, it was for purpose. I learned to love cycle commuting but my intro to running a few years later was much the same- it was a means to an end as opposed to v3. or whatever we're on of Chloe. I choose cycle commuting because getting on the tube everyday is grim. I run with a club for joy and purpose. I plan my weekends around races I want to run and I drag my friends along to classes that I think sound like fun.

My career was the biggest thing I was working towards at 18- I went to university as a means to getting a job, I wish I'd understood better what other options might have been available to me, but ultimately I had no idea what I wanted to do and when I finished university 4 and 5 years later it was still a struggle. What I wanted proved to be out of reach and I worked with what I had- having started what has the potential to essentially be my dream job this September seems a little serendipitous or perhaps synchronous. Perhaps it's this that has made me so reflective of the decade that has passed.

A few other little things I've ticked off in the last 10 years:

- Travelled - I've visited and loved some amazing places including Vietnam, Leipzig, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Las Vegas, Valencia, Carcassonne, Nigeria and Madeira to name a few

- Educated - Those who missed the years of dodgy outfit posts taken in my room in halls might not know that I have a BA Hons degree which is equally weighted across 3 languages making it a triple major and I have a Graduate Diploma in Law as well as having taken courses specific to marketing, speedwriting, recruitment, HR and most recently I qualified as a Ride Leader with British Cycling. I also learned more than I could ever have taught as a guest lecturer on a very memorable week long trip to Nigeria.

- Partied - as a sucker for a freebie I've spent a lot of Sunday morning dawns waiting for a nightbus after a night watching world class DJs whilst a family member managed Ministry of Sound

- Coffee AND Wine - 18 year old Chloe didn't like either, these days they are 2 of my main food groups...

Have I done anything exceptional in the last decade? No, not really. I am in many ways unremarkable- I can't tell you stories of making the world a better place or overcoming extreme adversity but what I do know is that working out who you are and what you stand for and being comfortable with that will stand you in good stead to spread good karma- be that letting someone past you in the supermarket queue, donating your organs, making an academic breakthrough, it's for sure easier to see the opportunities to make the world a bit brighter if you can honestly say- I am who I am.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Month in Review: September 2017

Well. It was a bit quiet around here in September and as is often the way for me, the complete opposite is true of my life offline.

In August I chatted a bit about accepting a brand spanking new 'proper' job after 3 years working as an ops manager for the recruitment company my parents founded. It's been a massive shift as I've moved into a completely different industry so it's been what you might call a steep learning curve!

One of the many benefits to my new challenge is a return to cycle commuting since I'm now living just over 10km from my office instead of 80 miles worth of motorway driving.

That means these awesome and light up tights are back out and in force. It also means I'm getting a solid hour of exercise in 3-4 days per week which is good because my running and other training is a bit all over the place with trying to establish a new routine.

I'm still very much running and have in recent months truly learned the joy of parkrun. I've never really been a morning person so getting up earlier on the weekend to run 5k didn't appeal but after a few irregular appearances, the joy of the community hooked me in. After a plea from my new home run at Walthamstow, I accidentally ended up as Run Director this month...

Yup. Accidental RD. They even gave me an Airhorn of Power which is almost as good as the time someone gave me a Megaphone of Power....

Tom & I went to Leeds to visit his parents this months and demonstrated to the fullest extent an example of piss poor planning. From booking the wrong hotel to not going out for dinner, to holes in my only pair of jeans, we well and truly ballsed it up. On the plus side we did both discover the joy of a GAP outlet store just off the M1 on the way home because we neither of us had enough work clothes. Oh. My. Exciting. Life.

I found myself at my first football match this month. Craven Cottage is a nice ground, although it helped that I had a pass for their newly open wine lounge....

So there's a small handful of things I did do, but probably a few things I didn't do say more about my September than anything else...

I didn't cook much and I definitely wasn't feeling inspired in the kitchen. This whole change in routine thing played havoc with trying to eat properly. I've eaten a lot of take-out salad and a lot of cobbled together meals.

I didn't make it to a single training session with what I hope will be my new running club and I'm missing club running so much. Here's crossing fingers for October.

I didn't race at all in September. But given I've got a busy autumn season coming up, I'm not so worried about that. I've had a pretty phenomenal summer season without really realising it- I knocked almost 2 minutes off my 5km PB and had a blast doing it surrounded by brilliant people.

I didn't read very much either. I'm making up for that this week and next as I'm fulfilling the last bit of my exit from my previous job covering some holiday but here's a few things that did catch my eye...

Casquette on how women in sport are basically taking over the world

An absolutely brilliant restaurant that is the best definition of unstuffy dining taken to the next level, Elystan Street won an AA Award AND got their first Michelin Star this week. Phil Howard and his amazing team are worth a follow on Twitter & Instagram for envy inducing food pictures and an injection of joy back into the catering industry. 

You need this autumnal squash & sage bake that features all the cheese by Sarah. 

We need to remember why Tessa Jowell was so impactful in giving women in particular a voice in British politics without demeaning her to being the Mother in Law of someone else. 

I'm pretty hooked on everything that Emma makes since she started creating beautiful things from silver, but she also writes very candidly about her experience with breast cancer and her post about feeling angry in the aftermath of that is important.

And lastly, I felt super old when I worked out it was 10 years this weekend since I started university. As a fresher I had no idea at all what my life would like when I graduated, never mind in a decade. It's been a twisty turny road so far, but I feel satisfied that I've grasped every opportunity and made the best of them all as they've come my way. I've made peace with many of the things I allowed to hold me back. I wish I could claim this picture was artistically created on my first night at uni back in 2007, but the truth is a combination of cheap vodka and a phone by a brand that doesn't exist anymore.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Month in Review: August 2017

August, what a month. It feels like it's been a busy month and it's been one of firsts and lasts.

I willingly went to my first 5th birthday party- my second cousin's eldest daughter (we think that makes her my third cousin....) ran riot on cake and turkey dinosaurs whilst her dad got the barbecue going and supplied the booze for the grown-ups. For someone who just doesn't do kids, I had a great afternoon- Oliver stood up to his daddy duties to make sure not even rain could stop play...

After my very first DNF last month- click if you missed my post about Did Not Finish status, I ran another well under 30m 5k- not enough to beat the PB I set in May but well under my previous long standing PB. I also soaked up the (fake because results are age graded) glory of being first home for a club race. It was a reminder that running is as much about believing that you are strong as it is about how fast you can put one foot in front of the other. It also goes to show how much I've benefited from the encouragement and experience of all our March AC runners this year.

ZSL collaborated with Oasis to produce some beautiful fashion pieces. I could not resist tiger trainers but this shirt is also beautiful and has become a new favourite. There's still stock on the website and some of the items are even in the sale.

And food, I didn't cook a lot in August but spent a lot of time using up things from the cupboards as I clear out my space at my parent's house where I'm based for part of the week for work. This one was a big plate of comfort joy- pork battered out, breaded and shallow fried (sort of schnitzel) with spaghetti & courgette tossed in pesto.

We said a final goodbye to my great-grandmother this month. She passed away at the end of July after a monumental 15 year struggle with dementia. I'll use this as a cue to remind you that you still have until 31st October to take part in #RunningDownDementia to raise £100 for Alzheimer's Research UK. That's 60 more days to run 100km, 150km or 250km. Go on... you know you want to.

Another personal one, I talked about my fear of being found out this month and a few days later had an unwitting brush with someone who didn't recognise me but would have known me if I'd told them who I was. Do not let your past define who you 'really are' We are all defined by our history and our choices but not exclusively. Click if you missed it.

I wore more proper clothes this month too. This one is from a day I spent in my new office before my official start date. Sometimes my version of adulting includes galaxy prints, ok? Click if you missed the full What I Wore post

I've now completed my first week in my shiny new job- I'd forgotten how much work it is to be the new girl, but I'm getting there and it's certainly the vast shift in career that I thought it was going to be. Oh, and the novelty of going home to my flat every night of the week hasn't quite worn off yet either, especially since I've nailed my cycle route into the office (Google really doesn't like the Cycle Super Highways does it?!)

So what have I been reading... Here's a few things you should have a flick through....

A massive and very swear-y FUCK YOU to clean eating. Read it immediately.

Hayley over at London Beauty Queen wrote this incredibly well informed and balanced post about using app based contraception which was a timely reminder that we must be responsible for making informed choices when it comes to the products we use and our bodies. 

Another post by Hayley, even more important perhaps- Fat shaming or any kind of shaming is NOT ok and calling people out directly is necessary but it's not easy. 

People talk about the life changing magic of not giving a shit, or the life changing magic of tidying up. Phoebe chatting about the life changing magic of getting on with shit is everything I live my life for, and probably a reason that Tom doesn't always know whether he loves me or hates me...