Helsinki trip…..

Went to Helsinki with my mate Bo, same guy i went to Norway with last year. The trip started for me in London, where Bo lives. He lives in the Queens Head, a pub in Piccadilly. He owns the pub, just to clarify that. Spent the day/night in London then headed to Heathrow to catch the plane.

Leaving London, and arriving Helsinki!

We had a day/night in Helsinki to start, we had an Air BnB in the city, which was a really nice apartment and about a 5 mins walk from the main city centre. The city is not really that old, its around 200 years old, but then there was a fire, so most old buildings are around 150 years old. So in city terms its quite modern!

The city is quite, well compared to the likes of London or Paris its quite. Which is good, they have everything you’d expect a European capital to have, its just easier to walk around, get a table etc. They have a metro, which has one line! can’t get it wrong, they have trams running through all parts of the city and the trains are fast and cheap! As we didn’t really have much time on the first day, i dragged Bo into Hard Rock cafe Helsinki, on the basis he’s never been to Hard Rock Cafe. And taking him their made me laugh!

The next day we were picked up to be taken to a hotel we were staying at about 30mins form the city centre. the hotel was awesome, hidden in the trees, and right on the lake. All wood and glass! was brill. We started our Kayaking from there. Around Helsinki is 100’s of islands, so we kayaked the Baltic, around some islands and then got off and had a walk around an Island.

After the Kayak we went back to the hotel, and had a swim in the baltic. The sea was an amazing 25 degrees (Celsius). Finland also has an extraordinary amount of Saunas. Population 5.5m people, Saunas 3m!! they like saunas. So we embraced this and had a sauna, after 10 mins in the sauna, jumped in the Baltic and repeat. Ok the desired effect doesn’t really work when the fucking sea is 25 degrees!

The day after the Kayaking we went bike through the forest and along the coast line. In winter you can actually bike on the sea as its frozen!

 

After these activities we went back to Helsinki and had a few days there. We went to the 1952 Olympic swimming stadium, and had a swim. 50m pool too which was a novelty to swim in. It’s also outdoors, so i can only imagine they use it for 3 months of the year.

We went on a boat tour around the islands which was good, we also went on the stupid red tourist buses and did some exploring. We found some good bars and nice restaurants. One of which we had Reindeer, well worth it if anyone ever comes across it, very nice. They have a few bars that have outdoor swimming pool areas, and surprisingly saunas. One bar on the harbour had a sauna, and little jetty so after the sauna you could jump in the sea! then grab a beer! We somehow managed to walk into Helsinki’s football clubs ground, and there training pitch, while they were training! We went paddle boarding twice! as paddle boarding for two hours is cheaper than a beer! From where you start paddle boarding you can make your way into the Baltic sea! I’d highly recommend doing that!

Helsinki is a awesome city, and if you like outdoors and outdoor activities you should defiantly go. If you want to go for the night life and beer, don’t bother, there isn’t much and the beer isn’t cheap. Apparently the locals get a ferry to Estonia, as its cheaper. Its also pretty much crime free.

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Running Adventures

So….. my plan of updating this thing every week properly backfired! about once every 3 months currently!

Anyway, lets say I started the Hardmoors 55, seems better than saying i did it, as ‘did it’ would imply a finish! Which i didn’t do. It was my first DNF, thought i would feel a lot worse for having a DNF. It bugged the shit out of me at the time, felt like a failure and that maybe i had overreached  “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” Arthur C. Clarke

So i beat myself up a little bit (the exact same way i do when i start a sentence with ‘so’), realised that i just need to slap myself, have another go and train smarter! I think the training is the area i need to improve. I dropped out at around mile 30, just before the 3 sisters. My hip started hurting around mile 15, which didn’t bother me too much until about mile 25. I must have been compensating for my left hip on my right side, as my right hamstring and glute started hurting. I just thought dropping out was the most sensible option, to not get too drastically injured and still be able to do the other events i’ve entered. I also pretty much decided the moment i’d quit that i was going back next year. To fucking smash it 😉

Now the weather was bad, with snow, sideways sleet and wind. But i had the right gear and never felt cold or wet, i can’t even blame the weather for sucking!

So the positives and lessons learnt are that, i did 30miles, no small feat in itself. The course is worth running more than once, and i’ll get to! The weather makes the adventure. Fucking stay over, getting up at 3 in morning to run 55 miles is fucking dumb. My flexibility and mobility is zero, i need to work on this. Just because on a training run you can comfortable do 20miles, does not mean you can do 55miles, and doing 40-50 miles per week is not enough. One long run a month of a marathon or more is on the cards when in training for an Ultra.

 

The above stories are a huge over reaction and absolute bollocks. Whoever Bethany Lodge and Graeme Hetherignton are maybe they should have asked the runners, or got off their lazy arses and run it themselves to find out. Useless twats, being good at you job and having some integrity would help.

Last weekend i did the Great Lakeland 3Day event, this is a Mountain Marathon event 3 different classes (as with most mountain marathons). The event is 3 days in the Lake District, Run/Hike camp everyday. You get given a map and have to navigate to the check in points, these are just electronic markers, no people. There is no aid stations so you have to be self sufficient on the Hills/Mountains.  The event was brilliant, on day 1 i did the the Elite class, 30 miles with 3,000 metres of elevation. Day 2 and 3 i dropped down to the lowest class, covering 20 miles on day 2 and 10 miles on day 3. I’ve been to the Lake District before, but not like this weekend. This was up in the Western Lakes, a place i’ve  never been before. It’s part of the Lakes that isn’t really busy compared to Windermere or Keswick way out. There is basically no one on the hills. We started from Ennerdale, went up Hen Comb, down to Crummock Water, up on to Dodd and then up again onto Whiteside running the ridge past Hopegill Head onto Grisdale Pike, back down and then up to Barrow, from their along the ridge onto Scar Crags and Sail, then a steep down and up to Knott Rigg. Down from there all the way over to Dale Head, over to Hindscarth and onto Robinson. Finishing at Buttermere, the new camp site. Second day was backup to Hindscarth along to Dale Head, and down into Little Town, where i had Soup and a roll 😉 From there up back onto Knott Rigg and back down to Buttermere. The 3rd day i just walked it back from Buttermere to Ennerdale. I would defiantly recommend the Great Lakeland 3Day, the adventure and exploring is amazing.

 

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Now it’s onto some triathlons…………

Norway Adventure & a Marathon

So…. in September (after the Amalfi Coast) i went to Norway Kayaking down the Fjords, camping and some hiking. I went with my friend Mr. Robert Swift, he has a pub in Piccadilly called The Queens Head, check it out, they also do awesome pies and have created a new company called Piccadilly pies, go have a beer and a pie!

Anyway, we flew from Gatwick, in Bergen. Which must have the most photographed sign of any airport.

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From there we went to Voss for a night, this is a beautiful place, kind of like Windermere in the Lake District, but with bigger mountains and lakes! Plus they have Voss Water, apparently this is somewhat famous. Each pint in Voss is about £10, luckily there are only about 6 pubs, we still went to them all though!

From Voss we got a bus to the start of the kayaking. We kayaked for maybe 2 hours, got out explored a waterfall and had some food, started back up for a few hours then pitched tent. A few things to note, there is nothing there, take food and beer! Once you hit the Fjords and get on the water there is no shops, pubs, restaurants or toilets! You are in the middle of nowhere! BUT the fucking 4G works everywhere, and i mean everywhere! It is pretty awesome that it does, but pretty sad that although you are in the middle of nowhere your wife can still call you, or work can email you! Just leave your phone at home!

The below is our tent, and for a few days what we saw every time we left it……..

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We hiked up to the top of a Fjord, which there and back was around 22km, there was one steep bit towards the end to scramble up to the top, around 2km or so. I have yet to make this into a Strava segment! The walk up was amazing, we got to see some amazing views and the countryside around us was spectacular, Norway is a must go to place.

I got back, spent a few days in London, had a few too many beers, then back home!

When i got back i had the Sheffield 10km to run, i did this with my sister as a warm up to the Marathon, and to get her back into feeling how good it is to race and be running with everyone. My time was 46:47 which i was pretty happy with, and still felt good at the end.

After that we had the Yorkshire Marathon, this was a pretty cool day all in all, a well organised event, and a nice flat course. Worth a run if you like marathons. I had promised my sister i would run round with her and try and get a good time. I think she was a bit apprehensive, especially about the last 6 miles or so, so i said i would stick with her and make sure she finished it. I tried to average the time out to 6 minutes per km, which would give us about 4:15 finish time. She started to slow down a bit around 30km mark, so i just kept pushing her, we ended up doing it in 4:26. I was pleased with this time, even though i think i could have shaved 30mins off on my own, that wasn’t really the point. It made me even prouder of my Trail running marathon time of 4:36!

One thing i highly recommend after doing this run in them is some calve sleeves, wow, awesome bit of kit. I got the Compressport ones, i also told my sister to get them before the race and she was super impressed by them. My niece and nephew also bought me a medal hanger for my birthday. Pic below with the medals from this year on it, minus the new Marathon one.

 

Holiday in Amalfi

In August we went to the Amalfi coast, we stayed in Amalfi, went to Positano for a day, then we went to Sorrento for a few days, and had a day in Capri.

Amalfi itself is pretty amazing, its big enough that there is plenty do, with bars, restaurants, shops and beaches. Yet small enough that you don’t get overwhelmed by everything, it is just the perfect way to actually see how nothing on the Amalfi coast has really changed (especially the roads). Amalfi is defiantly one place worth a visit.

 

We found a bar that makes its own Amalfi Gin, which, if you like Gin is well worth a find (its easy to discover these things in Amalfi, me telling you will only ruin the adventure).

We stopped in the Grand Hotel Excelsior, which is a really nice hotel, you have to be prepared that there is no modern/new hotels knocking about, nothing new really gets built, but what they have is pretty good and the views are pretty sweet.

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That is our hotel, top of the hill. Its like a 15 minute bus ride into Amalfi, the busses are free and put on by the hotel. There is also some steps all the way down, now me being me, i used the steps and created a Strava Segment! They guy in the hotel says it took around 45mins, smashed it in 12mins. Please don’t try this on my very bad advice, if you fall and die it is not my fault! I literally passed no one! i also reckon i now own the record for most trips u and down the steps in 4 days, 9 down and 7 up.

The beaches and seas get pretty packed, but our hotel had a private beach which was pretty awesome, it had a bar and a snack bar on there too. The sea is amazing, and warm (in August).

We also went to Sorrento, there we stopped in Hotel Plaza. Sorrento is much larger than Amalfi and is basically and small city/large town!

They had a pool and bar on the roof which was pretty good, and a gym in the basement, and yeah i used this!

From Sorrento we got a ferry over to Capri, this is well worth a visit. The island is unreal, it is defiantly a millionaires paradise! The little town up the hill is amazing. Basically you have a square that overlooks the harbour and the sea, another square that is full of bars and restaurants, and off this is streets full of shops. However these shops are literally all designer shops, all the way down.

The Amalfi coast is definitely a place everyone should visit.

Barcelona Trip

Unfortunately this wasn’t on my motorbike, that would have been cool, but the wife wouldn’t have liked!

We stopped in the W Hotel, this is definitely the place to stay, it is unbelievable. Smack on the beach, everywhere is walkable too. Its not cheap to stay but fuck is it worth it, the food and drinks are awesome. I had to try and keep the training going so i went to the hotel gym, and ran down the beach front (not on the sand as why would i make things harder for myself). We also did a shed load of walking all over, didn’t bother with taxis and metros, just walked.

Thats some of the hotel, room, bar area and corridor (cool hotel corridor i thought). The view for the window is what you see laid in bed, the window is floor to ceiling with the bed facing out.

These are a few sights, i’m not much of a photo taker. It bores the fuck out of me, they are all just off my phone, when i remember to take some.