February – into spring

Pretty pleased February is over – although it’s been short it’s been a tough month. The start of spring has coincided with the return of some wintery weather so it was time to get out the gloves and overshoes again when cycling into work. I was mainly based in the UK this month with a quick trip to New York and a weekend at my mum’s on the south coast.

My most popular instagram posts (I’m @adarling575) were:


1. Sunrise my first morning in New York from my hotel room
2. The stunning view from Top of the Rock
3. Running over Brooklyn Bridge in the sunshine
4. And a stunning sunset over the statue of Liberty

Swimming
: one swim! And I loved it and swore I would get back in the habit then…. Work. (And a hangover on a Saturday where I had planned a run and a swim and only managed the easy run due to spending the rest of the day in bed….)

Cycling: 61.8 miles ….. Phew! Still not great admittedly but at least I have actually been cycling, a few days of commuting to and from work. I had a huge shock the other day when a girl in front of me came off her bike, head over heels in the middle of the road. She was right in front of me and I had to swerve out to avoid her, all the time thinking that I wasn’t going to manage and I was going to cycle right into her. She was wearing a helmet and she was fine – her lace had gotten caught in her chain. So if you’re not wearing clips and proper bike shoes, please make sure your shoes are laced up!

Running: 82 miles of half marathon training. This will pick up in March as I get some long runs in as we approach Paris marathon…


Yoga
: not one single yoga class. I have even signed up for an online yoga studio membership in the hope that would make it easier but so far it hasn’t worked and has just been a waste of money. I guess I need to think about a time I can do it and just make sure it fits into my routine.

Cross-training
: for a short month with a holiday I didn’t do too badly as I managed 3 proper sessions and 4 shorter workouts.

Favourite run: the Heartbreaker Half Marathon which I will be writing about properly soon – the race went really well in terms of time but I was also just enjoying it so much that the miles flew by.
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Read
: so many books this month! Which is what going on holiday will do for you. And actually it has been a very good month for reading – all the books below were brilliant.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen: a brilliant novel about a Vietnamese Communist spy who escapes to the US after the fall of Saigon. It is wonderfully funny and lighthearted while touching upon issues like what it means to be a refugee, identity, family and friendship. I loved it.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang: a small, brutal and beautiful novel set in Korea which I reviewed here.

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: a violent, brutal novel about slavery that opens on a plantation in America. It reminded me of one of my favourite novels, The Book of the Night Women, in the way it refused to shy away from some of the most violent, most horrific parts of slavery. The strength of the characters makes it a really gripping read – I could not put it down.

Grief is the thing with Feathers by Max Porter: I read this in one sitting, a novella telling the story of what happens to a family – a dad and two small boys – after their mum dies suddenly. It is so well written, so very sad, absolutely lovely.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller: another book about grief and the impact of loss on a family. Ingrid disappeared 12 years ago, leaving behind a husband and two small children. The book intertwines the story of her two daughters, now adults, still coming to terms with their loss and what may have happened to their mum, and letters Ingrid wrote to her husband that tell the story of their marriage. It’s a lovely book.

Runner by Lizzy Hawker: a story by one of the world’s best ultra runners of how she became an ultra runner, what it means to her and why – read my review here.

In the beginning was the sea by Tomás González: a novel by a Colombian author about a couple who move from the big city to live their dream life on a tropical island… Things gradually take a sinister turn in this great novel with that wonderful Colombian magical realism. I really do look out Colombian novels purposefully to read these days.

My best moment in February was
sat at the top of the Rockefeller in New York with James, with glorious blue skies, a warm sun shining down on us and beautiful views.

Right now I am:

Reading
: The Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance – I have almost finished it and I am loving it. We always think in England that America doesn’t have a class system, and it doesn’t in the same way we do over here, but this book is really bringing home to me how simplistic this analysis is. It is really such an interesting book.

Listening to: Homecoming, a podcast series that’s a bit of a psychological thriller – every episode you’re trying to piece together what has happened and what’s going to happen next. The episodes are quite short as well which I like – I listen to so many podcasts that if they were all at least an hour long I’d never get through them!


Enjoying
: running!! Although I don’t want to overstate the position as it was only last week I had a run I hated. But after one race that went well I am now feeling on top of the world about running. And work – with James being away I have spent a lot more time in the office both working and socialising. It makes such a difference working with people you both really respect and get on with really well, it makes all the late evenings go by so much faster when you can pop into a friend’s office for a few minutes chat. I do love my work at the moment.


Looking forward to
: going skiing! I am off to the Alps just next week and I’m so excited. Fingers crossed for perfect snow and beautiful weather (although, to be honest, with my skiing ability as it currently is I think I would take the weather over the perfect snow if I had to!).

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