Reykjavik, Iceland – part 1

I’ve never been on holiday on my own so I was quite nervous when my friend sadly had to bail out at the last minute of our trip to Iceland. Instead of just cancelling it though I thought I’d still go and enjoy myself. It would be an “experience” and a good time to get away from it all. I’m so glad I did go because I had a fantastic time. Though I was alone, I was never lonely.

I’d planned to do my usual tradition of going to Jamie’s Italian for a big dirty fry-up before flying but was aghast to find that Gatwick South Terminal didn’t have one. Despite this, I was spoilt for choice and almost went to Nando’s (I know, I know, I’m obsessed) but in the interest of trying something different I chose WonderTree as it seemed quite unusual and had a good menu. I ordered the ‘Woodstock’ with a side of bacon and sausages (because I’d been craving them).

Woodstock - Wondertree

Poached eggs, avocado, hummus, roasted cherry tomatoes, labneh cheese, za’atar, baked potato wedges and basil-parsley oil

Very tasty. It did feel weird sat there on my own but I enjoyed people watching and reading my Kindle (“My Sister’s Secret“- very good).

I arrived in Keflavik airport after an easy three-hour flight and got a transfer to the Blue Lagoon en route to Reykjavik where I would be staying. I really recommend this as it’s half-way there so you don’t need to waste time during your holiday to drive back out there. I used FlyBus which was great.

Blue Lagoon 2

The Blue Lagoon was really something else. I changed into my swimming gear and did the mad “omg it’s so cold out here” dash from the lovely warm building into the water.

Blue Lagoon 1

It was fantastic. I waded around (it’s fairly shallow, but enough so you can submerge your body) and just relaxed. It was cold and windy outside but deliciously hot in the water. It’s probably hot tub warm, though I found an area which was SUPER hot (it’s clearly marked as a hotter area so there’s no danger of accidentally going there). There’s also an area where you can put the white silica mud on your face and body. Lots of fun, though I did get my arm stuck when I foolishly tried to fish some out without using the special ‘stick thing’. It was one of those panicked moments where I tried to pretend it wasn’t stuck so no one would notice but at the same time try to desperately free myself.

A few tips if you ever plan on going there:

  • Take a towel, your swim gear and flip-flops with you (you can upgrade your ticket to include a towel, bathrobe and slippers but it’s over £7/10$).
  • DON’T get your hair wet as the water is so full of minerals it will dry it out (I read this beforehand luckily).
  • I took my waterproof iPhone cover so I could take photos easily without worry.
  • Be prepared for naked bodies in the changing room. Europeans are quite “free”. There are changing rooms but only a small number.
  • They have shower gel and a strong conditioner there (if you did get your hair wet).

Then I showered and got dressed (naked bodies ahoy!) and got my transfer to my AirBnB in Reykjavik. At this point I was beyond hungry as I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast (which was around 10am). By the time I got to my accommodation it was almost 7pm and I was HANGRY. I won’t lie, the choice of restaurant was more on “what’s closest” than any other value. But it was a great choice! (And TripAdvisor is so handy to do a very quick check). It was a restaurant called Meze which was Turkish/Mediterranean style.

I wanted to try to eat as much Icelandic food, and different food, as I could on the holiday. I also decided fairly early on not to worry about cost (to an extent obviously!) or about being particularly healthy. This holiday was about relaxing in every sense of the word.

Meze Reykjavic

I had a cheese platter (halloumi, feta and mozzarella) to start, followed by a lamb shish kebab for main and a melt-in-the-middle chocolate cake for pudding. OK so Turkish food isn’t exactly Icelandic food, but I was keen to try the lamb as it’s well-known that Icelandic sheep graze relatively freely and are hormone-free, meaning the meat is of fantastic quality and the animals had a happy life.

But I will stress that Iceland is not a cheap place at all. An average three-course meal was around £35/$54. To get a main course cheaper than £15 was rare.

The next day I’d planned to do a three-four mile run. Sadly there are no parkruns in Iceland, though I can attest to some fabulous locations where they could easily have them!

Reykjavic running

I scientifically tested how cold it was outside by sticking my hand out the window. It wasn’t too bad so went with shorts but wore a long-sleeved top (which later felt far too warm). I had a very vague idea of where to run as I’d Googled some routes beforehand, but I knew I wanted to get to the Hallgrimskirkja church as it looked so awe-inspiring.

Hallgrimskirkja run

Running so early in the morning (well, 7am) meant the streets were clear and there was no one around to get in my photos. It was very calm and peaceful, probably because they all went to bed about 5am judging by the sounds outside my flat. Reykjavik is also surprisingly hilly as you come away from the coast edge!

As I had a kitchen in the AirBnB I decided to save money (and time) by buying oats and milk and making porridge in the morning. I love my breakfast so I didn’t mind. It also meant I could sleep a bit more.

My plans for my first day was going on a tour of the Golden Circle. I used the tour company Iceland Horizon, which were fantastic. I was in a mini-bus with about 10 other people and our tour guide was both interesting and funny. I met a Portuguese girl and a Canadian guy around my age who were both solo travellers as well so we instantly bonded.

The Golden Circle consists of the national park, Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss, and the geysirs Geysir and Strokkur on the valley of Haukadalur. We also saw the Faxafoss waterfall too.

The Golden Circle tour

L-R: the national park, a glacier in the distance near the Gullfoss waterfall, the Gullfoss, a geysir

The tour was great as the guide told us lots about Iceland and the areas we were visiting. I found the random facts the most interesting, such as most of the larger trees in Iceland come from Aspen (apparently a well-known joke in Iceland is that if you get lost in a forest, just stand up, as all the Icelandic trees are tiny. Incidentally a lot of teenagers will earn money over the summer planting trees). In the national park you can see the connecting points for two tectonic plates, the Mid-Atlantic ridge and the North American plate.

The Golden Circle

L-R: The thermally active geyser, the small Faxafoss waterfall, the tectonic plate ridge

We had enough time to look around the different sites and half-way to grab some lunch from a little restaurant en route. I had the Icelandic speciality, “meat soup”. The meat was lamb and it was amazing.

Icelandic meat soup

I’d dressed appropriately for the weather so I wasn’t cold but I was very wind-swept so the hot soup was much appreciated. If you’re planning on doing this tour, wear sturdy boots as there’s lots of walking and a mini-mountain you can climb (I saw a girl in Converses struggling…). The weather in Iceland is extremely changeable. One moment it can be sunny and bright, then the next clouds have come over and it tips it down. Be prepared for all weathers!


My two companions were good fun to be with and it was nice to turn around to someone and say “this is amazing”. And to take photos of each other as well. There’s only so much a selfie can achieve 😉

The tour was pretty much all day and I definitely felt like I got my money’s worth. I saw so much! I have so many photos it’s ridiculous. I had a lovely cheeky nap on the way back to Reykjavic to rejuvenate myself a bit.

I was fully ready for dinner after getting back and tidying myself up a bit (oh my hair…). I’d done a bit of research before coming to Iceland for some good restaurants but in the end I decided to walk down the main street, Laugavegur, to see what took my fancy. It’s quite tricky when you’re on own as you have no one to discuss with what you fancy eating! I literally could go anywhere I fancied which was both amazing and overwhelming. I knew I wanted something quite big though as I was hungry and was chuffed to find a fish buffet restaurant called Restaurant Reykjavik. It was quite expensive, but for all you can eat fresh and local fish I was swayed! And it looked very posh inside.

Restaurant Reykjavic

I literally tried everything. There was smoked salmon, cooked salmon, herring in several different sauces, pickled fish, ceviche, marinated fish, salted cod, fish stew, shellfish, soup, salad, vegetables, potatoes…so much food!! And randomly a leg of lamb that the chef would calves for you with a delicious red wine sauce.

Again I sat with my Kindle and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course there was a pudding buffet as well, and it would have been rude not to have tried some…I had blondies, rhubarb and oat cake and mango cheesecake. Yep I was stuffed!

I was a little concerned how my stomach would react to all this food as I had planned to run 13 miles the next morning (my last long run before the marathon). Because my tour the next day wasn’t until 1pm I could have a luxurious lie-in and a late breakfast. Thankfully I actually felt pretty good the next morning. I woke up naturally before my alarm (which had been set to 8am) and got ready to go.

I was initially nervous about running 13 miles in a new city but because I’d already done one run and lots of walking about I vaguely knew the area. I could run along the coastline quite easily and keep the sight of the church constantly in view which I knew was near where I was staying. Very handy!

Reykjavic running

I felt really good on this run. I listened to a podcast and just zoned out. I felt strong running and didn’t really think about my pace too much, except when I started going too fast. Near the coast it was very flat but it was a bit breezy. The weather was beautiful so I was pleased to whip out my MarathonTalk t-shirt from last year’s Run Camp.IMG_4646

Have you ever been on holiday on your own?

Do you enjoy running around new cities? I found it such a great way to get my bearings and see the sights!

These feet were made for running

Hello! I’m back in the UK again now after a fantastic holiday in Iceland. Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough and I’m so glad I got to go out there (all that passport drama was worth it!). I’ll obviously do a full recap but as I only got back last night it’ll have to wait for a bit.

Until then I have a review of a foot care product called Flexitol. Flexitol have created a range of products that are aimed to treat those dreaded foot issues, such as dry and flaky heels, hard skin and also more serious ailments associated with diabetes.

Now, as a runner my feet are obviously hugely important to me. I need them to be shipshape in order to survive the miles I run on a weekly basis. However, as long as they’re functioning well I tend to ignore their appearance. I will rarely show my feet off or walk around barefooted in front of people. As you can imagine, running doesn’t do much in terms of making my feet look particularly nice. I’ve had my share of black toenails, blisters and dry skin. Aren’t I delight??

Running photo

My feet don’t usually get the love and attention that they deserve. So when Flexitol sent me their moisturising foot cream to test out, it was quite a novelty for my feet. [Don’t worry, there won’t be any bare foot photos in this post as I’m sure I’m not alone when I say no one wants to see my feet (or feet in general).]

Flexitol moisturising cream

The cream was really quite light and absorbed into my skin easily and quickly. I hate it when a cream leaves you feeling greasy (body butters, I’m looking at you). The cream’s enriched with lots of good stuff:

  • Urea: Helps to increase the amount of water that the skin holds, whilst decreasing the amount of water lost from skin’s surface. It also helps to gently exfoliate rough and dry surface skin
  • Lanolin: Helps to restore and maintain moisture balance
  • Decyl Oleate: Promotes long-lasting softness and smoothness of the skin
  • Vitamin E: Helps the skin to be quickly restored to its silky-smooth and well-nourished, conditioned state


My mum gave the seal of approval as well. Now she is a lady who shows of her feet! She had bunions years ago but underwent a double operation to effectively break her feet back into place. For years she was embarrassed about her feet but now, since the operation, she loves showing them off and getting pedicures. She does have lovely feet – not runner’s feet like me! I let her try a bit of the cream on her feet and she loved it too. She often suffers with very dry heels (probably due to inadequate foot wear at work *cough cough*) and found using the cream helped relieve them and improve the skin quality.

The moisturisers is also good for people who suffer from Eczema and Psoriasis – you just need to use a bit more on those areas.

I definitely recommend it to keep those valuable runner’s assets in tip top condition! And maybe even make my feet a bit more worthy of the light of day…

How do you look after your feet?

Do you moisturise regularly?

**Full disclosure: I was sent the Moisturising Foot Cream for free in exchange of a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Iceland here I come!

My passport THANKFULLY arrived on Wednesday. What a relief! And I made sure to keep it far, far away from any washing.

So happy :-) I’m currently sat in the taxi on the way to the airport. Fingers crossed for smooth and easy travel!

Last night I had a great run with the club. All my recent runs have felt sluggish and tired so it was nice to finally feel strong again. It probably helped only going to the gym twice this week. I’m sure the gym hasn’t helped my runs to feel easy! But no more gym before the marathon now.

I’m just pleased I finally felt back to normal and can enjoy my holiday (and do some runs in Iceland too I hope!).

Right, catch you soon! I hear a Jamie’s Italian fry-up calling my name…

Bath Two Tunnels Half Marathon

There’s nothing quite as good as using a race as a training run, especially for a long run. You’re running with others, there’s a set course so you don’t need to worry about where to go, it’s catered and you get a medal.

With three weeks until Bournemouth a few of us decided to sign up to the Bath Two Tunnels Railway race series. One of my friends wanted to race it because he’s in great shape and PB’d in a training run for his current half marathon time but wanted to see if he could make it ‘official’. His pace was around my long run speed and I didn’t feel up to racing the half so decided to run with him and try to help him.


Another one of my friends, Kate, decided to race the 10k and a few more from the club were doing the half and one the marathon (her first marathon!). Kate, Mike and me travelled down to Bath on the day which meant me being picked up at 6.30am on the Sunday (ouch). It would take about 2 hours to get there and Kate’s race started an hour before ours. I had a banana bread Trek bar and an Americano for pre-race fuel to keep things simple and we arrived at the park and ride in good time. It was all very smooth and easy to get to, though it didn’t feel like we went that far on the park and ride bus to be honest!

Bath Two Tunnels HQ

We met up with the other club mates and then milled around on the large grassy expanse. Relish Running are the race organisers and I’ve done quite a few races with them now (Cheddar Gorge being one of them). I would say that while they do put on good races, there are some rough edges…Their website isn’t that clear for finding information out and you don’t find out crucial race information (like start times) until much closer to the time. We had more emails about them needing marshals than the race itself. That said, the races are always very scenic and personal-feeling because they’re quite small.

Bath Two Tunnels start area

The race area for the short colour race

There were several races going on and different waves and start times which was a bit confusing! We got to cheer off the marathon-runner, Lisa-Lou, and then cheer off Kate.

Bath Two Tunnels race (14)

Then we had just less than an hour to hang about…we watched some very strange warm-up routine going on while which was somewhat amusing.

Race warmup

Just as Kate finished (she came second female and PB’d – whoop whoop!) we got ready to start.

Bath Two Tunnels start line

The start was on grass which was a bit annoying. Anyway we headed off at a comfortable pace. Straight away it was clear this wasn’t going to be an easy race for me, or an easy PB-achieving race for Mike. It seemed to go uphill straight away and just felt tough from the outset.

Bath Two Tunnels race

We got to the first tunnel fairly quickly. It was about 400m long. It was nice and cool inside and fairly dark. We were slightly behind our target pace but due to the uphills at the beginning we weren’t stressing about it because we believed we could pick it up later.

The next tunnel came around quickly afterwards. It was about a mile long, very dark (with cat’s eye lights), narrow and very chilly. It was novel at first but then it got to be a bit wearing. It felt like you were on a treadmill as there was nothing really to look at. As none of the roads were closed quite a few cyclists had to navigate past us (runners going both ways as a 10k wave were coming back) which made things a bit tricky. There was a radio playing classical music which was nice and atmospheric so that’s something.

The tunnels, as expected, buggered up our Garmins. My watch was completely out from the mile markers so I just used the stopwatch and try and do the maths as we ran. The mile markers though seemed to be out as well. We got to five miles far too soon (it would have been close to my PB, which we definitely weren’t!) and this meant we were left running blind, just going on feel.


Race selfie required

The race had been advertised as fast and flat but it clearly wasn’t either. There were some nasty steep inclines, steep steps to navigate down and twisty turns. I found the course quite challenging and I know Mike was struggling too. I think we were both tired from marathon mileage and a bit misled by what we thought would be a PB-potential course. As we chugged up a really steep hill I asked a marshal (or gasped), “I thought this was supposed to be flat?” and he laughed and replied with an evil grin “Yes, compared to our other races”…having run a few of their other races I could agree. But they shouldn’t mislead people by saying it’s flat!

Bath Two Tunnels course

The course was beautifully scenic though, as you can expect with running in the rural parts of Bath. We ran a very long stretch down a canal and it was lovely. Though again we were constantly moving out of the way for cyclists, and some who were rather impatient and I’m sure expected us to jump in the canal to move out of the way!

Bath Two Tunnels course 2

Our pace had dropped and Mike decided that a PB was never going to happen. Mentally, physically and the course just went against us. I felt fatigued as well despite the pace being “easy”. So we settled in to a slightly more comfortable pace (though we really had no idea how well or badly we were doing with our watches being funny) and I yabbered away about fluff and nonsense to keep Mike’s mind off the race. It’s tough pacing someone in a race because you don’t know how much to talk and how much to push.

Bath Two Tunnels race (6)

At least I could take lots of photos and selfies 😉

And also finding conversations that didn’t require much from the other person so they could just listen. I’m sure I bored Mike to tears about my house moving problems! 😉

Bath Two Tunnels feed station

In true Relish Running style, the feed stations were very good. Lots of sweet and savoury options and electrolytes, flat Coke/lemonade and plain water. And gluten-free options! The marshals were very helpful and friendly as well.

As we got closer to the finish, with two miles to go, Mike started struggling more. I tried to encourage him without annoying him. We had a moment of respite at a set of traffic lights that we had to push the button and wait until it was red to go (yes, this is a legitimate part of the route and you can get disqualified for not waiting for the light). It was warm and the undulations still kept going. Right to the end (through a residential area) there just seemed to be incline after incline.

Bath Two Tunnels race (1)

The final straight before the grass finish (thank you Kate for the photo!)

We finally finished and both agreed it was a tough race and not one we’d do again. The course was pretty but there was a lot of running along canals which got a bit tiresome, and the hills we just weren’t prepared for. And without knowing your pace and miles it made it mentally quite tricky. I don’t blame Mike at all for giving up on his PB-attempt. I absolutely couldn’t have got a PB on that course! Especially not at the moment.

Bath Two Tunnels pace











My time was 1:56:11 (Mike was just after me) which I’m a little disappointed with I must say considering we were aiming for 1:45-48. But these things happen. The race organisers also said afterwards that they measured the course as 13.4 miles. We got some good miles in and we came out uninjured so that is a good race result three out from a marathon!

Afterwards Kate, Mike and I headed back to the park and ride bus and then drove to find something to eat. We found a lovely pub, called the Red Lion, where the menu was amazing and we all found a few things we could easily have had. I went for the butcher’s board which had chicken wings, pulled pork, chorizo, chicken liver pate, sour cream, chutney and bread.

Post race meal

It was fantastic! So, so good. Kate had the pulled pork pizza and that looked amazing too. The perfect end to a rather tough training run!

Do you like to know a race elevation profile before running it? If I’m not bothered about times (for me or pacing someone) then I don’t mind.

Do you prefer a city or a rural race?

What do you like to find on a feed station in a race?

Rants and Raves #20

My passport has not yet arrived…

Edited to add: I was literally about to post this (I wrote it yesterday) when an update occurred! 

Basically I got to work, got a text from the passport people to say it would arrive “within a few days” and panicked. People at work suggested I rang them, which I did. The passport person informed me it would arrive today and that I might need to sign for it (though it’s unlikely) so I quickly left the office to come back home to work from home. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am to have such a lovely and caring place of work to allow me to do this. No arrival as of yet!

Rant turned into a rave: Before knowing the above, I’d decided to focus on the positives of the outcome of not going to Iceland if my passport didn’t arrive in time. I could do a half marathon that’s part of our club league on Sunday (Solent half marathon). I’ve done it before but a couple of years ago and it’s nice and scenic, quite small and I can just use it to “womble” round as my last long run before the marathon. I can also use the extra weekend to get more stuff sorted for the move. I can go to parkrun on Saturday. It won’t be all doom and gloom (though it will royally suck). BUT FINGER’S CROSSED!

Rave: Getting into the Boston marathon 2016!

Boston marathon 2016 acceptance email

The Boston marathon is a bucket list race for me. It’s part of the World Marathon Majors, of which I’ve already done Berlin. I was going to run London next year (I deferred my GFA place from last year) but when I got a Boston qualifier in the Liverpool marathon I suddenly thought I could apply and just go. Yes it’s an expensive race in itself (just over £150!) and then the flights and accommodation…it makes it a costly affair. But I thought “sod it”. I’m the master of my own destiny, as they say, and at this point in my life I need to make selfish decisions while I can. I qualified by over 11 minutes which meant I was almost guaranteed a place as I could enter in the second wave of registrations (it’s a stepped registration process with the faster runners getting places first). I night not qualify again, they might change their qualifying times, I might get injured (could still happen)…best to do it now! Anyway I’m hugely excited. My mum is likely to come with me and support which will be fantastic. We’ll probably make it into a 8-9 day holiday to make the most of being there as well.

Rant: Having limited furniture! I gave away my sofa to the British Heart Foundation (so handy, a great way to get rid of furniture still in good condition) and sold my dining table and chairs.

Moving house

Handy having a bean bag!

This has left me with nowhere to eat dinner or work. When I worked from home on Monday it became clear someone else had noticed a change and wasn’t too happy with just having a blanket to sit on (he doesn’t use his bed for some reason).

Moving house Alfie

And speaking of Alfie, I found this old photo of him:


What a mess! He looks ridiculous. I can’t believe we ever let his fur get so long and scruffy haha.

Rave: A last coffee with my mum in my house before I move (well, I think so anyway!).

Coffee with mum

My parents came back from their holiday in Antigua at the weekend and my mum popped over after work one evening to show off her tan to catch up. For some reason she didn’t want to sit on my bean bag and opted for the floor instead 😉 You can’t beat a coffee and a catch up with your mum.

Rant: I cleaned my oven and fridge. Neither were particularly awful but they were a pain. I can only hope my flat has a clean oven and fridge but I can’t be certain. I just think it’s polite to leave things nice. I’m such a clean freak I’ll probably get someone in to give the flat a deep clean anyway though (it won’t cost much as the place is tiny, I just hate the thought of using a bathroom someone else has used). With my current house it was great because it was a new build so everything was brand new. To be fair though the flat is fairly new and it can’t be as bad as the house we lived in during university…*shudders*.

Rave: One good thing about moving is that I won’t miss the cats on my road. SO MANY CATS. That said, I think I have a soft spot for the grumpy-looking one.

Grumpy cat

Rant: I dropped my favourite glass salad bowl on the floor (it’s probably more accurate to call it a mixing bowl, but I don’t bake and eat salads a lot more…). Sad times. A glass shard hit the top of my foot and caused a nasty gash. There ensued the race against time of trying to staunch the blood while keeping Alfie out of the way of the glass and trying to stop him licking my foot (gross, I know). Nothing serious but it bled a lot. And FYI, blister plasters do not work on cuts.

Rave: Though when Ben first got this ENORMOUS tub of protein powder I was aghast. But now I’m using protein powder (after my morning gym sessions and after my runs at work) it’s very handy he’s leaving it behind.

Protein powder

It’s not the greatest protein powder in the world for sure, but it’ll do for now! I still like my soya one though. It’s just like chocolate milk.

Rant: Running has been tough. I have to say though that I will take “tough” over niggly or injured any day. But I just feel tired, lethargic and demotivated. I still love running and enjoy it but it just feels so much harder. I know I’m close to burning out so I just need to get to the marathon (not long now) and then take a break. No more marathons this year! It just feels depressing to compare similar runs from before Liverpool (when my training was going so well) to now…

Matched runs Strava

(Follow me on Strava if you want!)

My usual 6 mile route was better than last week but still not as great as previously, and it feels it as well. But peaks and troughs happen and I’m just grateful to not be injured. So I’ll stop moaning.

What’s your next holiday?

Do you use protein powder? Do you have a favourite brand or type of protein (whey, hemp, soy, etc.)?

Would you ever spend a lot of money (relatively speaking) on a race?