Lately: The BT OpenReach Debacle

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

So, it's been a while. Mostly because BT OpenReach are the single biggest example of incompetence I have ever experienced. Our shiny new office (which is also part of my parents shiny new house) has been finished for 2 months, and the broadband/phone line has been on order for 4 months- yes FOUR MONTHS and we're still not online. Needless to say, our work set up has been severely disrupted and has largely involved my pokey dining table and an internet phone. Oh, did I mention it's our busiest time of the year. Yeah.

On a happier note, I reached peak adult this month and bought a car. A necessary purchase for the amount of time I spend between London and rural Cambridgeshire. It's distressing to me that it's cheaper to run a car per annum than to take the train even once per week between the nearest station (20 mins drive) and Finsbury Park.


We see to be a bit good at expensive bank holiday adult type purchases... Previous gems include sofas, TVs and I can now add a car to the list. #adulting #seat #carowner

When not working, I seem to have spent a lot of time eating or drinking- aided greatly by some of the beautiful late summer weather, there have been a handful of afternoons which have turned into very late nights thanks to either our garden terrace, or a pub with a nice outside space.... My liver will probably thank me for slowing down a bit in the last week or so...


Sunny St Pauls Sunday #london #stpauls #londonliving #lbloggers
Sunny Sundays at St Pauls

There are worse summer Sunday view to have... #hmsbelfast #cityoflondin #londonlife #londonliving #home #lblogger
Sunny Sundays in front of HMS Belfast

Super sunny #southbank after visiting #imperialwarmuseum #london #londonliving #wineoclock
Sunny Southbank drinks after a visit to the Imperial War Museum

Oh and events season, that's probably not helped either. For me, September-November tend to be the busiest part of the year for social events- both trade related with work and with Tom and his Army stuff. Naturally the first event of the season required Tom & colleagues to wear their wool mess dress when it was 30+ degrees outside. I've never been so glad to have the freedom of the civilian black tie dress code...

Late night selfie after an Army Function that was actually fun. Shout out to all the army girls having to wear will mess dress tonight though!
A very late night selfie, after mixing our drinks. On a school night. 

Food and fitness wise, I am a complete disaster. My training is but a dim and distant memory, grocery shopping has had to become a daily trip to Aldi for something half prepped or at the very least can be assembled on a foot of workspace with no cooking required. It's hard to believe that this time last year I was on my final 2 weeks of a marathon training plan. One brilliant discovery though....

Sub a massive cliché but these Skyr yoghurt a from Lidl are awesome. Layer of fruit in the bottom, just the right size for individual portions. They're 'low fat, high protein' and this week I discovered they also come in a multitude of flavours (as well a
Lidl Skyr pots

These Lidl high protein yoghurts with fruit compote in the bottom- raspberry, blueberry and natural (they do a tropical one as well I think but I've not tried it). They're 99p each and make a great snack or breakfast components. I also jumped on the sweet potato toast bandwagon this week....

I wouldn't say we were a cliché but.... poached eggs and avocado on sweet potato toast (complete with sriracha, obviously) after doing the crossword in bed with coffee... #brunch #saturday #lazystart #london #lifestyle #lblogger
Sweet potato 'toast' with avocado, eggs and sriracha

The verdict- nice enough but a massive faff- Tom cut these about 0.5cm thick, and it still took 3 rounds in the toaster- less of an issue if it's just you, took ages to do enough for us both.

Getting a bunch of #PollyPocket toys ready for eBay and I still can't believe how complete some of mine are. Bit of nostalgia happening over here right now. #vintagetoys
Polly Pockets!

A load of my stuff also just came out of storage, including half a dozen Polly Pocket toys. It turns out most of them were complete or at least 80% complete, so although I've kept one for posterity, This one and some others are all up for sale on eBay- go for a trip down memory lane and view them here if you're that way inclined!

So, that's effectively my last 8 weeks in a series of Instagram pictures. My parents are sort of in at their new house, and we're sort of in a temporary office, and I have grand plans for a new training plan and a bit of a reset on some of the bad habits I've fallen into when it comes to my diet, I live in hope that we might actually get to move into our massive shiny new office any day now, but I sense that may be vain hope at this point. And you never know, I might actually have the time and resources to get back to blogging, which I miss. But somehow, I daren't hold my breath on that either!

Life & London

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer is a peculiar time of year for me. It's by a long shot the busiest period of the year for business which generally means I'm shorter on free time, it's time when there's often plenty of socialising to be done, a time when opportunities for all day adventures on my bike pop up, and for the last couple of years, it's also been a time where Tom is often away doing *something* or other with the Army. But the extra hours of daylight, the haze of barbecue smoke hanging over the laughter in my garden on a Saturday night, the long work days that leave me invigorated and the the never fading tan lines my cycle jerseys give me.... they leave me brimming with ideas and things to say, it's just that it seems I never quite have enough time to sit down and put fingers to keys and get it up here. And that's ok, because my blog is my hobby, but I also miss my hobby when so many other things come along- yes I do want to have my cake AND eat it, and Instagram it, and enjoy it in a world class location.

So what's all that got to do with London? Well last weekend, I took a moment to appreciate just how much I love living in London. Not in the sense of look at this crazy bar, and we also went to a museum and then we went to the theatre and we even made it to afternoon tea all on the same day, but in a 'we could do pretty much anything you can think of today' kind of a way. So in celebration of my moment 'Love London' moment... here's 3 awesome things you can do, because London.

1. Enjoy the view... 

There are worse summer Sunday view to have... #hmsbelfast #cityoflondin #londonlife #londonliving #home #lblogger

I love the City of London- having lived in the East End it used to be a bit my 'local' lots of things, these days I just really love taking a second to enjoy the sheer scale and the decades of changing Sky Line. FYI, that's HMS Belfast creeping in on the left hand side of the picture and there are scores of bars and cafes with a view across the Thames whilst taking a break.

2. Eat.... Dangling Above The Southbank... 

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For real. You can have a meal cooked for you by a world class chef, all whilst dangling 25m above the Southbank... Last year Tom & I had breakfast cooked by Martin Morales and his team as part of the 14 day pop-up. It's run by Events in the Sky, more info on the latest dates HERE

3. Take part in pretty much any sport going... 

I still can't quite believe my 100km challenge is run and it's only 3 days until my birthday AND I knocked 5 mins off my 10k time yesterday. Last running spam (until track night tomorrow), but for now- look at my fly! #runningblogger #thisgirlcanrunning #

I like to run, and to cycle, but there's virtually no limit to the sports on offer in London- Horse riding in a park, water sports at Lee Valley, Olympic level facilities in Stratford, running closed roads past major landmarks, finishing a cycle race outside a the home of royalty, extreme trampolining...

4. Leave London 

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Stay with me here... I can be at Stansted in under an hour. There are 4 other airports that are technically in London as well as Luton just outside.. and that's without the Eurostar. Access to international travel has allowed me to see Vietnam, Paris, Las Vegas and more in the last 2 years, with trips to India, Croatia and Spain all in the planning stages.

And it's not just international travel. In the last 12 months, we have:

LeavingLondon

Been to Royal Ascot for Race Day, spent an afternoon at Dreamland in Margate (the renovated amusement park, it was a blast), eaten ice cream on the seafront in Southend. Twice. Watched lions, tigers, leopards, ocelots, jaguars and reindeer at Paradise Wildlife Park (as well as the tiger cubs at London Zoo). All of which are less than 2 hours on the train from major London stations.

I'm under no illusion that London and Londoners do not enjoy a pleasant reputation for many who live outside of the city, but there are also lots of things to celebrate and I count myself as incredibly lucky to enjoy some of the things that London affords us- and sometimes it's as simple as enjoying the view on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

LondonBridge HMS Belfast

Ride London 100: My Photo Diary

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Just in case you've missed the myriad of posts and social media posts, I took to the closed roads of London and Surrey on Sunday to take part in Ride 100 - a 100 mile cycle taking in some of the major London landmarks and the surrey hills heading out as far as Leatherhead before a grand finish on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. I was extremely fortunate to be offered my place by Skoda who are sponsors of the Ride London weekend- there's a big free for all central London cycle, a women's pro race- The Classique, a men's pro race- The Classic and a 46 mile ride amongst other things.

I've talked about my training over the last couple of months, last week I posted a carb loading food diary and now it's time for my photo diary from the day itself, because I only bloody well went and did it! I didn't quite make 100 miles due to a route diversion after an accident, but 92 miles is still the furthest I've ever ridden, and climbs like Newlands Corner and Box Hill are iconic. So... here's my Ride London experience in pictures...

Friday 29th July

Today, last week, last month, last year. 12 months has changed so much for me. #Ride100 I am coming for you and with massive thanks to the amazing people at @skoda_uk & @skodacycling with whom it is my pleasure and privilege to work with and the equally a

Like the London Marathon and other large sports events (especially in the USA apparently), Ride 100 participants have to go to an expo to collect their rider numbers and final instructions. There's also stands from sponsors and brands, the opportunity to buy kit and products. I managed to get away from work a bit earlier than expected so headed to the ExCel centre on Friday afternoon. It also made me think back on the last 12 months- from my first time running a whole 10km on the bottom right, Revisiting a hellish ride from a couple of years ago and having a blast a couple of weeks back, and just a week before, choosing to and enjoying running 5 miles, just because I can and because being active is enjoyable.

We've been on the Arcelor Mittal Slide (incredible, do it!), we've scoffed steak and chips and now I'm off home to paint some #ride100 nails, make pre-race pizza and have an early night because that's my wake up call for tomorrow! #earlydoors #ride100

On Saturday I took refuge in a more relaxed day... well... sort of. Tom & went to the Arcelor Mittal tower at the Olympic Park (the big red twisted tower thing) to go down the slide that is currently winding its way from top to bottom! It was a lot of fun, but definitely time to kick back for the rest of the afternoon as I realised just how early my alarm would need to be set! Early alarm is EARLY!

Rock 'n' roll for tomorrow! My jersey might at I ally be heavier than my bike with gel & flapjack. It's been my absolute pleasure and privilege to work with @skodacycling & @alturacycling on my #ride100 journey. I never thought I would or could ever be en

With aforementioned early start, I implemented proper prior planning in the hope of preventing piss poor performance and made sure my rider number was all filled out and properly attached and filled my jersey pockets with an selection of flapjacks, energy gels and hydration tabs, as well as pulling the rest of my kit together. I got wear my very snazzy (and very much race fit- hello BOOBS) Skoda jersey but the very generous people from Altura Cycling provided me with some other beautiful kit that I'll be talking about a bit more next week. But seriously, check out the ProGel mitts....

All the green goodness in from @alturacycling today! Can't wait to get some of these beauties out on the road! #cyclingblogger #fitnessblogger #ride100
ALL THE GOODIES!

And then.... it was Ride100 Day. I pulled my kit on, a little blear eyed and made my way from our home in North London to the Lee Valley VeloPark (the Velodrom that hosted the 2012 Olympic events...) to fuel up with coffee and carbs...

0545

When you're up before the sun but it's ok because it's #ride100 day and there's coffee #teamskoda #skodacycling #leevalleyvelopark #alturacycling


0700

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Ready to roll, I headed out to my starting area to be funnelled towards the start...

0730

Headed to the start of my wave... #letsdothis #alturacycling #skodacycling #teamskoda #ride100

Slowly but surely, getting to the line.... It's a long old process getting tens of thousands of riders out on the road!

From the start line... #ride100 #teamskoda #skodacycling #alturacycling currently stuck at mile 38 waiting for an accident to clear. So far... So good!

10:45

I finally was able to make my way through London- we passed through Canary Wharf and South London towards Richmond, through Richmond Park and into Surrey. It was all going rather well- those first 20-30 miles are filled with incredible sights like going the wrong way up the middle lane of the North Circular and passing by some major landmarks... and then we got a bit stuck. I reached a drinks station at mile 38 to find hundreds of cyclists at a stand still. At first I thought it might just be people struggling to get through narrower roads in a small Surrey Village, but rumours started to circulate about an accident, diversions and a lengthy wait with a lot of walking during and subsequently.

Ride100 crash Pyford.jpg-large
Photo Credit

1220 ish

Back on the move! Sadly subject to a diversion which meant I didn't get to attempt Leith Hill, one of 3 major climbs on the route.

1350

Box Hill! I'm so sad I didn't get a chance to take a picture at the top, but after a lot of delays, space was a premium and I was keen to keep moving. I've never climbed Box Hill before and it's somewhat iconic amongst cyclist- over 2km of 7% gradient climbing. I'll be honest here, and say I didn't find it that tough going- I'm fortunate to be fairly powerful through my legs thanks to a couple of years of riding a single speed bike everywhere and a lot of running and associated cross training. The view from the top though, out of this world. Whilst I was incredibly frustrated with the delays- mostly because there was no information coming through as to how long we'd be stuck for and what may or may not be the outcome, I'm very lucky that I the diversion I was sent on only left me 8 miles short of 100, unlike many riders who lost up to 30 miles including the Box Hill climb.

The summit of Box Hill is about 68 miles into the course, so having lost a lot of time earlier on, I decided to get on with the final stretch of the course, and that I did.

1600

100m from the finish line. I fucking well did it! I rode 100! #ridelondon

Having alerted Tom when I reached the Box Hill summit, he made his way to the finish on The Mall, he took this a mere 400 metres from the finish line, I don't think I've ever been so excited to hear someone yell my name!


1605

I came. I rode. I had a blast. Thank you so much to @skodagram for having me today, it's been my pleasure and my privilege to ride in your jersey today! #takethelead #ridelondon #teamskoda #womenscyling #ride100 @wmncycling


Just about enough strength left to lift my bike in front of Buckingham Palace. My goal for Rie100 was to finish having had a good time, and that I did. I managed my furthest ever ride with a finish line smile and not suffering injury, dehydration, hyponatraemia or a severe lack of enthusiasm- I am proud that I made it, I'm proud that I enjoyed and I'm proud that I have become a person who knows she can do this.


1745

Selfie at the finish of the pro race yesterday. So incredible to watch them finish after my own #ride100 #throwback #womenscycling #teamskoda #ridelondon

Having made my way through the finishing lines and collected my medal (seriously heavy FYI- I couldn't wear it for long as my neck was a bit stiff), I headed down to the hospitality area (thank you Team Skoda for letting me in!) and sat down with a hard earned beer and some nibbles- I've never been so pleased to see a savoury nibble after 8 hours of eating flapjacks and energy gels to keep me fuelled on the ride!

We stayed to watch the pros finish- I've never been that close to bikes moving so fast- made pace looks somewhat snail like...

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And then.... well, sleep. We made our way home, I very much enjoyed a shower, sharing a cheeseboard and having an early night!

Not a bad day out you might say, with huge thanks to the Skoda team for whom it was a privilege to wear a jersey and the Altura Cycling team who have been so very supportive.

What I Eat In A Day: Carb Loading Edition

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I've been asked a lot about what I eat in a day because it can seem a bit like I'm always searching for the next snack. I posted my day in food a little while ago, and it's still one a post that gets lots of views. If you're intrigued by what a normal day of eating looks like for me, check out What I Eat In A Day HERE.

But... Race days and event days are different and for big endurance events (before I ran my marathon or in this case, the lead up to Ride100) it looks a lot different. Pushing your body and being on the move for several hours continuously requires lots of fuel, and that means carbs. There are lots of mixed opinions on how long you should carb load for, how best to do it, and whether it is worth doing at all. All I can say, is that it works for me. Having done longer runs and rides feeling wrung out and drained for a week following, I'm not in a hurry to change my routine. You'll also not I've approximated calories and although the carb content is much higher than my 'normal' day food diary linked above, the number of calories consumed are approximately the same at around 1600.

Welcome to the Ride100 edition of What I Eat In a Day: Carb Loading!

Breakfast - approx 300 cals

Whilst I'm normally a protein & fruit smoothie breakfast kind of a girl, carb loading calls for porridge- yes, the instant kind because I'm lazy like that and not being a morning person, I'm not in a hurry to add 'fight with my dad for space in the kitchen' to my morning routine. I like to add either a spoonful of jam or a teaspoon of my favourite nut butter- MyProtein Triple Nut Butter

CarbLoading Breakfast


Morning

As with a more normal day, breakfast is more than enough to see me through to lunch, but down the hatch with 1.5-2L of water. I drink a LOT of water and that means I have to watch my electrolytes and sodium carefully when it's warm and during endurance sports. I've talked about drinking too much water before right HERE

Lunch - approx 550 cals

This is about the time in the day I start to find Carb loading just a bit weird. Lunch is normally heavy on salad, fats, and protein. I tend to reduce my fibre consumption fairly during carb loading too, so no avocado for Chloe, but I'm not quite ready to give up my vegetables just yet...

Cheddar, spinach, tomato and German mustard toastie. Happy Saturday.

Cheese, home cooked ham, tomato & (very minimal) spinach toastie on my own wholegrain bread.

Snacks -  approx 110 cals

Normally I'd go hard and heavy at mixed nuts or a small piece of cheese, maybe a small piece of chocolate for a snack.. Today... These small flapjack bits from Aldi are a bit of a lifesaver. They're around 100 calories a shot and being individually wrapped means I can shove them in my work stuff, I also use them as fuel during exercise whether it's long runs or long rides because they're tasty, small enough to not feel to heavy and again, gotta love the individual wrapping!  Oh, and it's only 75p for five!

CarbSnacks
Are you loving the table cloth at our temporary accommodation?

Dinner - approx 450 cals

I totally lucked out on this one, I happened to be staying with my parents who are on a mission to empty the contents of the freezer in their temporary accommodation, and it so happened that there was steak to be eaten. SHAME! I passed on heavy buttery sauces (normally I'm a sucker for bearnaise) because they don't agree with me when I have lots of sport to do, but this is carb loading, so say hello to the potato mountain. Not that steak and wedges are an especially normal occurrence for me, but I wouldn't normally be eschewing vegetables or salad, but with 2 days to go before an event, now is the time I start to reduce the fibre in my diet. It's tedious, but I've also learned through experience, that this works for me. My favourite, tried, tested, carb loaded pre-race dinner though? Homemade pizza...

If I say so myself, I make a really rather good pizza. #pizza #primitivo #carbloading


More Snacks - approx 200 cals

Something else that is incredibly unusual is the addition of a dessert or snack. It's not something I often have room for, and I still can't stomach the weighty suggestion of toast or muffins or similar after eating a full meal, but an apple with nut butter, a(nother) small flapjack or a cereal bar type snack I can usually manage. Yay... Carbs....


apple & nut butter

Ride100: A Training Update & #RaphaWomens100 2016

Monday, July 25, 2016

So.... I have a nice pretty, organised and highlighted blog schedule sitting there in my diary. And I've managed to get through a grand total of none of the planned content for the last 2 weeks. Who knew an office/business move, house move, endurance event training and social life could get in the way of productivity?

So, what about that endurance event training- because it's 6 days to go until Ride100. The 100 mile cycle that I last spoke about because I was starting to become seriously concerned about my lack of training... Remember this post about my training?

Not only did I not manage to get creep that mileage in, but I also went down a deep dark hole of 'what have I done?!'. The Fear kicked in big style, and I was all set and ready to pull out, and call it a bad job. But. And here's the big but... I did decide to have one last shot at a long ride to see how it went.

I should add in here, this is not a way I would recommend to approach a challenge where you'll be pushing your body. Going into an event undertrained is dangerous especially if you've never done an endurance event before. There are a few reasons I decided to give this a shot...

-I am fitter than I've ever been. I'm more active and I'm more in tune with my own limits.

-On that note, I used to ride 100-120km at a time on a single speed bike (no gears) and I used to do just fine. I'm meeting this particular challenge head on with 30 gears and a bike specifically designed for the job at hand- gotta help with those hills!

-I am stronger than I think I am- this brings me nicely on to the #RaphaWomens100 ....

17th July 2016 marked my 3rd Women's 100 ride, a chance to celebrate and encourage women's cycling and all the awesomeness that goes with it. It's not a single organised ride, it's a day in the calendar on which women pledge to ride 100km world wide- solo, en masse, with friends, in mountains, by lakes and through cities. Pretty cool, huh?!

2 years ago, I rode London-Southend for my Women's 100 pledge and it was horrendous. Essex isn't all flat, and undulation in 28 degree blazing sunshine on a single speed destroyed a little bit of my soul. I didn't have fun, I didn't feel a sense of accomplishment, I could quite happily have left my bike on the rail tracks at Southend Central Station that day.The only saving grace was the ice cream I demanded we stop for at the end of the ride...

2 years ago we rode London to Southend for the @rapha_uk #womens100 and tomorrow despite thinking I'd be unable to as I'm on call, we're planning to do the same. 2 years ago I rode my single speed up 1750ft of climbs and I was miserable at the finish line
Southend 2014 

This year, I decided (with Tom in tow, because anything I can do, he has to have a go at too) to have another shot at London-Southend to exorcise some of those demons and to take one last training ride with 2 weeks to go until Ride100- which is roughly 160km (100 miles). I've mentioned my training has suffered massively, but I also know with endurance sports training is as much about making sure you can keep going for a length of time as it is about running or riding or whatever it is you do for a set distance. I didn't run 26 miles before I ran a marathon but I also knew that if I found 100km tough going 2 weeks before Ride100, it would be time to seriously consider whether I would be putting myself at risk by taking part.

Had the best time this weekend. We adulterous hard, we cycled hard and we conquered all... Well we bought a strimmer, cycled to Southend and demolished fish and chips... #weekend #loveis #onelife #cycling #londontosouthend #womens100
Southend, 2016

I had a BLAST. I'm hoping it'll remain tradition for London-Southend rides to be gloriously sunny. My tan lines are something else. I joined a BHF organised ride with marshalls & rest stops (I signed up officially, I didn't just hijack it...)  and it was lovely to see people of all experience levels setting out for the day. My bike rode smooth and easy, my hydration and fuel were bang on the money- I didn't constantly need the bathroom, but no dehydration or hyponatraemia problems, the hills didn't leave me feeling weak- one or two made me work for it, but for the most, part, I had the much sought grin and feeling of joy that first drew me to cycling outside of my commute. I finished the ride having made an effort to maintain an 'easy pace', and it showed- whilst hungry, I wasn't so shattered I could barely move, and no soreness or stiffness either!

Still trying to even out these stripes from #womens100 last weekend... #girlswhoride #tanlines #womenscycling #cyclingblogger
No soreness.... just tan lines! 

So no, my training hasn't gone to plan. No I wasn't entirely sure, and I'm still not entirely sure how 100 miles will go. But I know that I am fitter and stronger than ever before. I know that I have a better understanding of how my body performs during endurance sport than ever before, and I'm now looking forward to Sunday more than ever before.

Over the course of the week, I'll be sharing a few more Ride100 posts- I'm very lucky that I'm working with Skoda Cycling for this event- they are one of the sponsors and you may also have seen thier sponsorship of the Tour de France as well as having their own pro team. I've got some really incredible kit to show you thanks to the lovely people at Altura Cycling(seriously though, clever kit AND it's green....). And I'll be doing another 'What I Eat In A Day' post to show how I prepare myself for big sporting events. It's been a bit quiet over here on my blog lately, but I'm back, and ready to fly the flag for Team Skoda, for women who like to kick sporting behind, and for myself- let's do this!

OMFuckingG I'll have hopefully completed #ride100 by this time next week! Bring it on! #teamskoda #girlswhoride #cyclingblogger #fitnessblogger