The end of October

I love sitting in a taxi speeding through London late at night, eyes blurring with sleep, a memory on every street. It is Halloween and the pavements are busy – it’s over 20 degrees on the 31st October and London is bathing in the late warmth, drunk zombies, nurses, vampires, Cowboys…. And fireworks going off into the sky.

I can’t believe we are in November now – it might get dark before I leave work, and the streets might be orange-brown from fallen leaves, but the blue skies and the warmth have made it still feel like summer! Just over the weekend the temperature has plummeted  and today is a gorgeous winter’s day.

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October was a busy month for socialising but not so much for exercise…..

So in October I….

Cycled just over 232km – thank god for that one 100 mile cycle as other than that, cycling to work and the occasional spin class I have done very little cycling!

Ran 24.4km in 4 runs – one run home from work, two loops around the Serpentine in my lunch break, and one run around Brockwell Park. I meant to do Park Run every Saturday this month but failed every time, snuggling back under the duvet with my book when the alarm went off! Oh well.

Swam 6300m in 4 swims – one a week will do for me in the off-season!

I also read SO many books after a few months of reading very little:

Dervla Murphy – Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle – This book is FANTASTIC and I would really, really recommend it

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – FeminismNot sure this can really be counted as a book as it’s just a short written down version of a lecture Adichie gave, but it’s really good, especially on the issues of race and feminism.

Chrissie Wellington – A life without limits – A link to my review below, I LOVED this book, Chrissie is incredible and again I would hugely recommend this.

Dervla Murphy – Wheels within wheels – Dervla Murphy’s autobiography of life growing up in rural Ireland, caring for her disabled mother for around 17 years. A really interesting, searingly honest depiction of the impact of a religious upbringing, a love of books and the outdoors, growing discovery of sexuality, and the difficulties of caring for a loved one. The end of the book is incredibly sad as Dervla hides nothing in describing the toll that giving up her youth to care for her mother had on their relationship, and on Dervla’s mental health.

Jane Shemilt – DaughterI was really gripped by this book and finished it in a day – while I found the end disappointing and slightly rushed, overall I enjoyed it. The main character is a mum, a busy GP, who’s teenage daughter disappears. The story switches back and forth between the current day, around a year after the disappearance, and the time immediately leading up to and after the disappearance. Like all of these stories, nothing is quite as it seems. Just a shame that the last 1/4 let the book down.

On the blog there were…..

A lament for the days of open water swimming with some tips for keeping the swimotivation in the off-season

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Followed by …. Swim sets! A long one, a fast one, and a technique set (body rotation and using fins)

A description of my first 100 mile cycle around the South Downs

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Book reviews! 10 reasons to love Chrissie Wellington after reading her autobiography, A Life Without Limits, Dervla Murphy’s story of cycling alone from Ireland to India

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My best moment in October is again a toss-up between:

1) finishing my first 100mile cycle and the ginormous sense of achievement that brought. I couldn’t help but remember how much I had struggled around 45 miles just two years ago and how far I’ve come since then. I shed a little tear of pride and tiredness as I drove back up to London that night; and

2) some wonderful opportunities at work, meaning I haven’t been able to stop smiling whenever thinking or talking about work all month. I am so incredibly lucky currently to be getting paid to do work that a) is so interesting, b) means so much to me, and c) is with such inspirational people.

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Right now I am….

Reading – more Dervla Murphy! In this book she is hiking through Ethiopia. I am not enjoying it quite as much as the Ireland to India book – it is slightly later in her career, but before she became really passionate about politics, and so there are quite a few dry historical passages that seem to have been mainly taken out of a guidebook. But as always, her dry comments on her physical state and need for a beer/cigarette after a day of hard walking always have me smiling, together with her no-holds barred comments on Ethiopian people and culture.

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Excited about:

bonfire night! James is away so I’m going with some friends to Brockwell Park fireworks show. Time for hot mulled cider held between gloved hands and pulling a hat close down over my ears. Although given the current weather it could be a bonfire night in shorts and t-shirts!!

a holiday to Spain with mum. We’re going for five days to the mountains in Andalucia, between Córdoba, Granada and Madrid. We’re staying in a lovely, tiny boutique hotel and plan on hill walking and trail running, perhaps with some open water swims if the water’s warm enough. Oh and lots of tapas and sangria of course.

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