Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hampton Court Palace Swim

Last week I participated in my first UK open water swim in the mighty Thames. I have always enjoyed open water swimming but up until last week the Pacific Ocean had been my venue of choice. It was therefore with great apprehension that I dove into the Thames. Sure a shark attack is unlikley, but the water is murky and you can't be certain of what is lurking (living or dead) beneath. At 3.8km, the swim was also the longest open water swim I have done. In true British style it was cold and raining, but nonetheless, we doned our wetsuits and took the plunge. And I was glad that I did. There is an unrivalled sense of freedom that comes with swimming in open water and I had forgotten how much I loved it.

Pre-race excitment

The Champions


Friday, 8 July 2011

Always Pack Your Running Shoes

Last week I travelled to Belfast to attend a conference. Belfast is one of those places you can see in 30 minutes*.  I know this because on a previous trip to Belfast I did just that in the taxi ride from the airport. For this, and other reasons, I was not looking forward to going. But as I discovered, like most places I have visited, Belfast has its own unique appeal.

When I travel I always pack my running shoes. With the baggage restrictions that airlines enforce, this usually comes at the sacrifice of other essential items - hairdryer, straighteners, a pair of high heel shoes, etc. I have always found that the joy of running in a new city more than makes up for hair that lacks volume. Setting out early in the morning with only a vague route planned, you really do get to explore a city before the tourists do.
On a recent trip to Rome, Mum and I went for a walk early one morning and stumbled across the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is beautiful, but I am sure that anyone who has seen it would agree, it would be a whole lot more beautiful if people weren’t pushing you in the back. Visit the fountain early in the morning though, and you have it yourself.  But I digress.

So up early one morning, I donned my running shoes and headed out into the quiet streets. I had somewhat of an idea of where to head – through the botanic gardens and along the Lagan River. The Lagan River is more the size of the Yarra than the mighty Brisbane, but none the less beautiful. I followed the river for 2 miles or so, enjoying the serenity (How’s the serenity? So much serenity...), and marvelling at the wildlife, before turning back. 

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures to show (of the river or of the Trevi Fountain) as the joy of leaving everything behind (including your camera) is one of the best things about an early morning run. Later that day a friend and I wandered back through the botanic gardens and stumbled across a beautiful rose garden. So to compensate I have posted a picture of me taking the time to stop and smell the roses. 

If you are ever in Belfast (though I suspect you won’t be) you must also check out the City Hall, where we were lucky enough to enjoy a super scrumptious meal.

*Yes I realise the irony. Many would say the same thing about my favourite city in the world, Brisbane.