Archive | October, 2013

Moving is the worst

24 Oct
The worst part about moving is how every part seems like it’s the worst — dealing with estate agents and securing a new flat, packing, cleaning the old flat to get the deposit back, going without Internet for 48 hours as it switches to the new address, and then the stage I’m at now, which is the worst: tripping over boxes as I try to find space for everything in the new flat because DEAR GOD WHY DO WE HAVE SO MUCH STUFF AND WHY AREN’T THERE MORE CLOSETS?!

The actual move was probably the easiest part — we had three hard-working movers who helped us finish packing then loaded and unloaded everything into the giant mounds of boxes now occupying 90 percent of our floor space. They were funny guys — one of them drew smiley faces on each box because, “you have to have a sense of humour to do this job.” As much as someone could enjoy carrying someone else’s stuff from one apartment to another, these guys seemed to.

The day after the move I stuffed a mop in my trolley and made the mile walk to our old flat to clean, which, of course, was the worst. We haven’t heard back yet if it passed the inspection ::fingers crossed:: but it was definitely cleaner than when we lived there. In a way I considered it penance for not cleaning well during our tenancy and it inspired me to keep up with the cleaning at this new place. Although I have to say vacuuming and mopping a completely empty room is almost fun.

Even though we didn’t move that far away, everything seems different. I have to make all new running routes instead of my well-worn Regent’s Park paths. I ran around The Serpentine in Hyde Park this morning, which was refreshing, but I had to wait at far too many stoplights and run on too much cobblestone to get there. Of course it was worth it because I had a CORGI SIGHTING!! My third in three years in London, not counting the 2013 Honorable Royal Corgi Spotting of Windsor.

I also made my first trolley grocery shopping trip since the move. Remember how I used to complain about walking 1.1 miles to Sainsbury’s from our old flat? Now the closest Sainsbury’s is 1.3 miles. There’s a Tesco Express much closer which carries most things I need, but not everything, so it looks like I’ll still be making regular supermarket expeditions. The good news is there’s an Iceland near the Sainsbury’s, which as you know, I’m a big fan of. I also discovered (after I got home) there’s an Aldi just down the street from the Iceland, which made me way more excited than someone should be about groceries. I’ve never been to an Aldi, but I love Lidl and oh crap I’m rambling about grocery shopping again and you don’t care. Here’s a PSL to make up for it:

pug psl

(Pugkin Spice Latte, of course!)

My running goals

18 Oct

I hear it’s important to have goals, especially when you start out running. Signing up for a 5K or a whole marathon keeps you focused. While I’m still intent on running the Thanksgiving 10K, I set another personal goal for myself, one that’s been in the back of my head even before I took up running.

I had to find George Michael’s house.

Let me stop here and tell you that I’m not some crazy stalker. If I came face to face with the man I wouldn’t know what to say. My mom was a big fan of George and Wham! when I was growing up, and she passed the torch to me. I knew he lived near Hampstead Heath since he crashed into the Snappy Snaps there (someone wrote “Wham” on the site of impact, which still makes me laugh!)

snappy snaps george michael wham

Mostly I was just curious. So many celebrities live in London, but I never seem to run into them. I did some Googling and found out that George Michael — along with Jude Law, Sting and Kate Moss — all live in Highgate. Thanks to the Internet, I even found the exact street they all live on. I’ve never been to Highgate, so I made it my goal — I would become fit enough to run the 3 miles there and back (for a total of 6 miles, or 10K).

I pushed this goal to the back of my mind, preoccupied with all that goes into moving (or “moving house” as they say here, which seems redundant) until it dawned on me — when we move in three days, I will be even further than 6 miles away from Highgate. So I had to add one more thing to my Moving To Do List, after packing, cleaning and spackling — run to George Michael’s house.

I tried to talk myself out of it. I was set to go on Tuesday, but then I decided to go grocery shopping instead. Then Wednesday it rained all day. When Thursday came and the sun was finally shining, I knew it was now or never. I plotted the route on Google maps, emailed the screenshots to my iTouch and set off. I ran up and down Primrose Hill (not the wisest decision, but I never get tired of the view), up across the greens of Hampstead Heath, then up to Highgate West Hill. They aren’t kidding with that street name — it was quite a hill! Having only run in the pancake-flat Regent’s Park, I was struggling and eventually had to walk. It was exciting though — running somewhere new and with a goal in mind. I passed private gated street after private gated street, no doubt home to other big names, until I finally reached The Street. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit of a letdown — it was an average street full of average-looking houses (though allegedly with impressive backyards that aren’t accessible from the street). But that’s the thing about London — some of the most expensive, decked out places look like rubbish on the outside (aside from the ridiculous mansions on Avenue Road). I slowed to a light jog to savor the moment — I did it! I ran three miles to Highgate to see George Michael’s house! I wasn’t a big enough stalker to get a house number, so I made a lap around the street. Unfortunately, he was not out walking his dog, nor were Jude Law or Sting sitting on their front stoops. I still felt victorious, until I remembered I was only halfway done — I had to run 3 miles back. Luckily most of it was downhill and I was on a runner’s/goal achiever’s high. I accomplished my main running goal, and now I know I am actually capable of running 10K and am ready to take on the Thanksgiving 10K (as long as there aren’t any massive hills).


Concrete for breakfast

6 Oct

A couple months ago I started to get this crazy idea. It was just a faint whisper in the back of my head saying, “race.” I’ve been running for more than four months now, and while it’s good exercise, I’m curious how I stand up to other runners in my age group. I want to know what it feels like to push through the desire to crap out because there’s a finish line, other runners, and people cheering you on. So I looked up the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. I thought it was a 5K, but it’s a 10K. And that’s when the whispers got louder every time I ran — “10K. You can do it.” That’s 6 miles, longer than I’ve ever run before, but that’s what makes it alluring. I haven’t registered yet — I hover over the button every few days — but I found a good 10K training plan and have been following it. Everything has been going really well.

Until today.

I left the flat this morning debating whether I wanted to do the usual 5K/3 miles or push myself to 4 miles since I ate too much Chinese food and cake yesterday.

I made it 2 minutes. I was going around the Outer Circle of Regent’s Park, which was covered in leaves. I thought I was dodging them well, but apparently not that well. One second I was listening to my podcast, getting into the groove, the next I was eating concrete, completely sprawled out on the ground, iPod flung 10 feet in front of me.

panda slide

Another kind jogger stopped to check on me and handed me my iPod and water bottle. “That almost happened to me yesterday,” he said. I thanked him and began to assess the damage. I was able to brace myself as I went down, which meant my knee and palms took the brunt of the damage. I stood there for a second starring at the skin peeling off my hand, blood starting to surface, and my first thought was “What a waste of a run.” But obviously there was no way I could continue. I rolled up my leggings to expose my skinned knee, and made the walk of shame back home. While I was cleaning up my hands and knee, I realized my elbow hurt. I looked over and it was completely scraped and bleeding. It’s funny how the body works when injured — at the time, the adrenaline made me want to keep running, I didn’t realize the extent of my injuries or pain. But now they sting like nobody’s business.

I’ve heard countless times that running is a dangerous activity and almost everyone gets hurt eventually. I’m very thankful that I came away from the incident with just scrapes — not a broken leg or twisted ankle. The worst part is that all my injuries are near joints, which make it hard for bandages to stay on. I’ve definitely learned my lesson about jogging in the fall (avoid tree-lined paths!) and hopefully can get back to training soon.