Tuesday, October 5, 2021

A Bi-Annual Blog Post: A Sedate Summer

 Yup... still sort of here. But it seems I'm into a habit of posting twice a year.... 

I sense I'm not alone in feeling like the summer months have been a bit nothing-y. Spring seemed to blur into supposed summer with lots of things still hanging in limbo with confusion around UK restrictions, and nothing being quite as it was supposed to.

Despite feeling a little bit underwhelming, there's been some good stuff over the last 6 months....


The boiler exploded. Literally. Tiling walls is a shit job. I shall rename this month: Mundane May.


Eyes on the prize, training seemed sensible as it looked more and more likely the London Triathlon would go ahead and my place was deferred from 2020. The wetsuit was retrieved from storage and I set about trying to remember all the drills I learned in 2019 prepping for Swim Serpentine. 

As a first dip back into open water, with a couple of friends who were also signed up fo the event, we booked tickets for a 'campfire' event at an open water venue that's a sensible distance for all three of us. Highly recommend making your first open water swim or first one in a while is not only with your mates so you can laugh about how ridiculous you look trying to get your wetsuit on, but also involves food, drinks, fire pits and marshmallows afterwards. 


Look at our happy little faces... 


I got rained on for three consecutive Tuesdays whilst locking a tempo run back into my routine, not a highlight, but it sticks in my memory. One major win, despite the water falling from the sky, even when it wasn't forecasted to do so, was discovering heart rate training. I've been aware of the concept of running your session according to the zone your heart rate falls in as opposed to pace or feel, but have never tried it. Given my post-COVID struggles with running, I figured it might be what I needed and I loved it. It enabled me to build some base endurance back into my runs without being completely exhausted. I'm still learning and reading lots around HR training, but I wish I'd gotten stuck into it when doing more distance running. 


Visual representation of the feeling when I stay in my HR zones for a whole 40m...


A new job and a new sport in the space of three days! 

London Triathlon, completed. 

After applying myself thoroughly to (and very much enjoying) tri training, the main event brought three seasons in two hours and although it wasn't perfection in execution, I had a great time and can say with some certainty that 2022 will include a Triathlon season for me. 


So much fin.... So much exhaustion...

I also willingly went open water swimming, even though I didn't need to and realised that somewhere along the journey, I had learned to love it. I'm not sure I'll be the person who wants to get in all year round, but the sense of space and peace compared to swimming in a pool is really something. 


My pink hair got pinker (if you don't know what I'm talking about, then come and follow me over on IG). 

My wonderful friend Alice (who was also a training partner through our triathlon journey) rode her first century and I revisited one of my favourite annual rides; London to Southend. We lucked out with perfect weather conditions, ate fish and chips on the seafront, only two people tried to kill me and I'm STILL learning how to clip in efficiently. 


SEASIDE... Got to be done right?! 

Although the ride was great in many ways, it also made me a little sad as I realised how much I'd fallen out of love with cycling. Bikes became a part of my life back in 2012 when I was too broke for a travel card and I loved racking up the kilometres on it, and got a little bit geeky about bikes. Somewhere along the way, that faded. Albeit that this September ride was tough thanks a injury, I had an amazing day out and it really made me pause to consider how I can bring some of that joy back more regularly. 

And now it's...


As is always the way with new jobs, it's taking a little while to find my feet in a new routine. We're also embarking on a final phase of house renovation, although we're using a trusted contractor, because neither Tom nor I have the skills to tile and fit a bathroom. It will conclude two and a half years of destruction but we have literally replaced or repaired everything in the house... yeah, I know. 

It's a bit of a running theme that when I come back to this blog, to writing, it's because my head is busy or the short form style of blogging offered by other social media platforms isn't serving me. So who knows... maybe this will continue to be a very quiet space, maybe there's more to say than just liking to talk. 


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Comeback Queen or Cutting My Losses

 Comeback queen or cutting my losses… 

This is a close contender for the longest I’ve ever left between posts in 11 years of holding this space. I was in my final year of a 4 year undergrad degree when I started posting here. It was a welcome escapism from a tricky time, and a space where I found joy, friends and some of the most incredible experiences that would look very different in today’s world. 

I’ve flirted with fashion blogging- try not to laugh too hard, although I must confess to a chuckle when I think back to balancing a camera with a lower res than my front facing phone camera has these days, and of peter pan collars in my badly lit student halls room. Food has been a fixture for a fair while too. We all have to eat, right? My approach to and the way I talk about body image, food and fitness has changed a lot in 11 years too, and I’m proud of that. We owe it to ourselves to be open minded to challenge, change and to learning enough to appreciate when we’re misguided. I’m fairly sure if I were to look back in another 11 years, I’ll have a little cringe at some of the things I put out into the world now. That brings me nicely to... fitness. 

This blog has taken me through a lot, 20 year old me owned a pair of children’s trainers because you don’t pay VAT on kid’s clothes and shoes - hurrah for small feet! I also could not understand why I’d want to spend more than £20 on something for exercise, which was something to partake in only to keep my weight and dress size at a certain level. 22 year old me had absolutely no idea how far a mile was, or how to go about running one in 9 mins or less to make it through a selection test for the RAF (spoiler alert: I didn’t even make it to selection, thank you piss-poor eyesight). 23 year old Chloe got on a bike for the first time in more than a decade because cycling to work I could afford, a travel card… not so much. Since then, sport has been a constant, albeit that my journey has not been linear. Then again, whose journey is? I’ve cycled 100+ mile routes on a single speed with zero understanding of why that might be a point of interest. I’ve run everything from 1 mile time trial to marathons. I’ve completed the London Classics in a single year, learned to love throwing heavy things around and the joy of a deadlift and discovered that exercising the connection between mind, body and movement is just as important as how far or fast you can travel under your own steam. 

The most recent chapter, my 30s have been... an experience. Like everyone else, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way I live and work, not least because I lost my job shortly before the crisis hit. And then there's the virus itself. I experienced COVID-19 for myself in February and it’s left me wondering about the space I hold. About this space.

As I face down a comeback to running and other sports or exercise (incidentally my last post in June was about returning to running too…. Hurrah for the pandemic…), I’ve found myself assessing which things I want to pull forward as I make my way through another year. My thoughts have turned to running, to cycling, to the debut triathlon I might get a chance to complete this year, to my best mate and his wedding (attempt number three to plan his day, here’s hoping third time's a charm), to seeing friends, to new work projects and ideas and to opportunities that present themselves, I wonder do I want to bend and mould this space to fit around those things, have I got enough energy to bring to documenting all those things, and ultimately is it worth the expenditure of my energy if I do… 

In a world of “content” and professional website builds, photography and styling that wouldn’t look out of place in Vogue, does anyone want to use their own energy ready about a very ordinary 30 something who runs a bit, likes to cook and has a love/hate relationship with DIY and the 1930s terrace house renovation? And whilst I agree wholeheartedly we should pursue things that bring us joy regardless of whether we’re good at them or not, and we don’t need to monetise our hobbies, I find myself wondering: if nobody is reading, will it bring me joy? In times passed, a lot of joy has come from connection with others through this blog or the associated social media. I’ve done all the things we grew up being not to do with the internet: stayed overnight in a country manor house with 10 people I’ve never met before? Check. Give strangers on the internet my contact details or address, Check. Arranged to meet strangers from the internet, check. I have some fabulous memories, and although I do not yearn for those yesteryears to come back around, I suspect that the connections and  the joy of the blogging we did then, is to be found elsewhere now. 

To cut a VERY long story short, and I will always wonder by the way, how I can write 1000 or more words for my blog with such ease, and used to lose half a day finding 500 or so for academic work…. ANYWAY…. I don’t know if I will continue to hold this space or if it’s time for me to let it go, but it seemed only right that the place for my internal debate should be here. 

So long… for now, maybe for a while, maybe for the last time. Let's see...