1. I joined a running group
Boutique Sport’s Whole Food Run Club to be exact. Every Monday evening from February to April, we’d meet for a 6.5-9k run around town and then head back to the wonderful Whole Foods’ store near Piccadilly Circus for coconut water, snacks and chat. Not only did I meet like-minded people but I made a few friends along the way. It really was an awesome way of bringing together women who simply love to run.
2. I travelled…
To Paris, Sri Lanka, Aberdeen and Girona, Spain (Catalonia). As Saint Augustine of Hippo said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. I managed to plough through a good chapter this year. Paris is and always will be one of my favourite cities in the world and ever since I lived there from 2003-4, I have to go back at least once a year to walk along the Seine, flex my credit card in Galleries Lafayette or soak up the atmosphere in one of the many brasseries. But the big holiday was our two week tour of Sri Lanka. It had everything that we wanted: sun, seaside, wildlife, spectacular sites and tasty vegetarian food. From climbing up the famous Sigiriya rock, whale watching and going on safari to trekking to the famous World’s End, visiting Dambulla’s cave temples and dining on the white, sandy beaches of Mirissa, lit up by twinkly fairy lights, Sri Lanka was the complete package. After a brief hiatus on home soil, we headed north to Aberdeen for a weekend and its bleak and beautiful surroundings. And finally, south to Girona in Spain later on in the year.
3. We celebrated good times
I was born in September 1982 and as the school year in the UK falls from September to August there were many a 30th birthday party celebration to be had. Coupled with my big bro’s spectacular wedding in Girona and a surprise but equally intimate marriage of a very good friend in Nottingham, 2013 was indeed packed full of parties and celebrations.
4. And finally moved on
Moving on can be hard but once you’ve made that commitment to change, it’s worth sticking with. Moving home was one of the best decisions we made in 2013. And while we no longer have the lure of Stoke Newington Church Street and all its bars, restaurants and cute vintage shops on our doorstep, we now have quiet, trees and a space to think. We also have a brand new project 2014 and I’m sure I’ll be moaning about the paint in my hair, dust and many trips I’ve had to make by foot and by bus to Homebase in the not too distant future. But my, oh my, our new home is going to look spectacular.
5. I got my running mojo back
It was tough at the beginning. What with a pretty snowy and cold start to 2013 and plenty of excuses not to push myself plus (what was in my eyes) a disastrous London Marathon, I thought I’d lost the running plot. But never one to be defeated, I ran an insane marathon pretty soon after, which consisted of laps around a cycle track. Then as my final affirmation that I can run that kind of distance, I tackled the very hilly (and picturesque) South Downs marathon. Oh and just for fun, I decided to sign up for the Royal Parks Ultra Marathon in October – 50k of trails across London’s beautiful Royal Parks – and completed it in 4:08:09 (not bad at all). I also nailed my first Duathlon, got back into cross country and was placed in a few 10ks. It has to be said that 2013 was one of my best years for running.
6. And my confidence
It always surprised me when I first arrived at Durham University (pretty posh) at how so many of the kids there were so confident of their abilities. Maybe it had something to do with their schooling or their upbringing. I was always focused on what I wanted to do but somehow lost this inner belief to put myself out there. I could never connect the two and questioned whether I was really good enough to do this or that. On paper (academically at least) I was a high achiever but I missed out on opportunities to meet these expectations in terms of my career. I was way too modest for my own good and this persistent attitude of being what a colleague once called a “quiet overachiever” haunted me throughout my 20s. For one thing, I’m not all that quiet and as for achievements, I feel like I’ve yet to make my mark. So in 2013, I swept aside all these doubts or what I think of now as nonsense and started putting myself out there. And it will pay off in 2014.
7. I enjoyed writing my blog about running
Ok, let me be honest here, I don’t always enjoy writing. When faced with a choice between writing my blog and trying to re-hash copy that hasn’t been explained or briefed properly, I know which one would be more preferable. I need to earn a crust somehow and actually, I stick by the idea as told by Heather Rabbatts, director of the Football Association, to Woman’s Hour that women should always have their own liquor money. But I’ve really enjoyed sharing my race reports, tips and insights on running in 2013. I also attended conferences with Write This Run to help improve what I write about and meet other running bloggers. If anything, 2013 was the year that opened my eyes to the amazing running and fitness community in the UK and beyond.
8. And fashion and beauty
Like most people, I have many interests and alongside getting muddy and sweaty, I not only love to look glam but enjoy finding out the history behind fashion labels. Not everyone can pull off what they see on the catwalk but, in my mind anyway, they can take elements of these creations and find their own voice in the way they express themselves visually. This year, I’ve really enjoyed taking a look at some of my favourite French fashion brands, (Oxyde, Maje, Tara Jarmon, Bensimon, ba&sh) participating in Rentez-Vous and BuyMyWardrobe events and generally indulging in my passion for fashion and beauty. That being said, I think it’s time to redefine my wardrobe in 2014 as it’s currently bulging at the seams.
9. I became a model
I’m not deluded. I’m both too old and too short to be a model but that I had loads of fun getting all dolled up so my lovely photographer friend could take pictures of me for an exhibition or posing for the wonderful BuyMyWardrobe crowd. When I’m old and crinkly, I can look back on these photos and pretend that I looked like that everyday instead of a bespectacled scarecrow in running gear.
10. I looked forward but also lived in the moment
I’m a planner, as in I like to plan and organise things, and am in constant possession of a notebook with umpteen ‘to-do’ lists inside. This is not a bad thing because if you break down your tasks/goals, it becomes a whole lot easier to finally achieve them. The downside to this constant planning/organising is that you often forget to appreciate the here and now, what you have, the simple things like what it feels like to run on a warm summer’s day. You also worry when you’re not doing anything seemingly productive. Although I’ll never shake off this zest for “what next?”, I’ve tried to take a few steps back and enjoy what I’m doing, like I did to the max on New Year’s Eve 2013.
11. We became members of the Royal Academy of Arts
So what, big deal, you may say but I would reply it is so worth it if you enjoy going to exhibitions. Not only is the RA, slap bang in the middle of Central London (only a stone throw away from Oxford street), they also have some amazing shows not to mention the Summer Exhibition. The membership may be under my partner’s name but every time he goes, he can invite a guest (aka moi!). You’ll also receive money off in the shop and a fabulous new bar has recently opened for a cocktail or two. And finally, you can just dump your bags for free in the cloakroom and waltz straight in to the exhibition without having to queue.
12. I discovered PayasUgym
The problem: you’ve planned a long run through town or a race the other side of town but also want to spend time with your loved one, which involves going into town. You’re worried that the 40 minute journey there and back will eat into your day, which equates to moaning about your priorities. You have three solutions: either suck it up and do the there and back journey, take a shower at home and suffer with Mr Grumpy all afternoon, mooch around town in your sweaty training gear and not only suffer from Mr Grumpy complaining that you haven’t made an effort but also feeling too subconscious and smelly to try on that must-have dress from Tara Jarmon. Or plan to meet in town, find a council gym or PayasUgym nearby, pack a bag of clean clothes plus wash stuff with you and have a wash at the chosen gym. The downside of this is that you have to carry your stuff with you all day but the upside is that you don’t have to dramatically change your training plans, you don’t waste time and you can arrive to meet your loved one looking and feeling great.