Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Mountains, Mud & Marathons | Great Aberdeen Run Half Marathon

The final event in my mountains, mud & marathons challenge was not only my first ever half marathon, but the first ever Great Run to take place in Aberdeen. It's also my last!

Training was going great. I was doing at least one long run a week and dare I say it, I was even starting to enjoy it. As much as I ever will enjoy running anyway. Listening to Ben Coomber's podcast on loop, exploring the local countryside at my own pace, the sun beating down on my shoulders. I was even starting to get a bit of a runners tan!

Then race day came. I tossed and turned all night, waking up every hour and throwing up. I was literally sick with nerves. The last time this happened was 2 days before my wedding! My alarm went off at 7am and my guts were still churning. We were supposed to be leaving at 8am.

Eventually I managed to keep down a slice of toast and a cup of tea. Not the carb loading pre race breakfast I had planned. We arrived in town and I just had time to grab a banana & get myself to the start line.

Once the race started my stomach settled. I put on my earphones and plodded along taking it nice and easy. Its hard not to get pulled with the crowd at these events and start off faster than usual. I had to remind myself to pull back so I could last the whole 13 miles.

The good folk of Aberdeen were out to cheer us on throughout, there were singers and pipers and the route was brilliant apart from a couple of parts that doubled back. That was a little boring and the mind games could have set in but I used it as a chance to spot my pals and cheer each other on. I enjoyed passing the landmarks - the beach, Pittodrie stadium and Old Aberdeen - although the cobbles were a killer on the ankles!

It was all going well until the last 3 miles. My podcasts stopped working so I had nothing to distract me. The 20+ degree heat was starting to get to me, I'd drank 2 whole bottles of water and all I could think about was the pain in my legs! Thank god for all the people cheering from Schoolhill onwards. I was starting to walk a lot towards the end and really wanted to give up but I pushed on thanks to them.

I found a little burst of energy the moment I set foot back on Union Street and knew the end was near. My poor little legs somehow managed to carry me, running - if you can even call it that - all the way over the finish line. I've never been so relieved to finish a race or so happy to find my husband there waiting! I think the first words out my mouth were "I need to sit down"!

It took me a while to recover - I could barely feel my legs and my stomach was doing somersaults again! After a few nibbles on various bits out the goodie bag, a handful of peanut M&Ms, little sips of tea, water and Lucozade, I finally started to feel human again. And once I'd wolfed down a Muchacho quesadilla I was right as rain!

While I can't quite say I enjoyed the experience, I didn't hate every minute of it. Some of the 2 hours, 23 minutes and 43 seconds were actually fun. I'm glad I can tick a half marathon off my bucket list but you'll never catch me signing up for a full one! I'll stick to obstacle races. It was all for a good cause but I can safely say my long distance running career is over. The event was well organised and a great day for Aberdeen - ideal for anyone who enjoys a challenge or actually likes to run. Weirdos. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Aberdeen's Best Cocktail Bars

Is anyone else sick of the negative Nancy's of Aberdeen writing ridiculous comments on everything the Evening Express or P&J post on Facebook?

They're completely pointless, unconstructive and in some cases, not even true. It seems to me like people just like a moan. It doesn't matter what the article is about, they'll find a reason to complain. Whether it's the airport, the council or, just recently, suggestions of where to eat in the city. Yes Aberdeen can be behind the times but it has so much to offer and some people just can't, or don't want to, see whats right in front of them. 

Anyway, this post wasn't meant to be negative so I'll stop there. One thing we are lucky with in Aberdeen is the bar scene! (Insert snide comment from grumpy old Aberdonian here). We have some of the best cocktail bars in Scotland right at our fingertips, not to mention the award winning bar tenders working their magic behind them. And hey, who doesn't love a good cocktail?

Whatever your tipple, you'll be spoiled for choice in Aberdeen. In no particular order, here are my top picks of the Granite City's premium bars...

Ninety-nine Bar & Kitchen - Tucked away just off Union Street, 99 is my go to for a day/night out with the girls. Food is served through the day but the bar really comes alive in the evening, when the drinks are flowing and the DJ is spinning some funky tunes. Cocktails range from a classic martini to literary inspired masterpieces like Don's Treasure Island and Tequila Mockingbird. My personal favourite is a fresh and fruity concoction from an older menu - ask for a Care Bear!
1 Back Wynd, Aberdeen

Orchid - Home of Porter's gin & 2016 mixologist of the year, Nick Gordon. While 99 is my go to with the girls, Orchid is my date night favourite! A night out in Aberdeen with Gordon will often end at Orchid, especially when Blair McLeod is providing the entertainment. (You'll find him & his guitar in 99 midweek). The menu is ever changing but they make a mean Long Island Iced Tea and I recommend their staple Pink Orchid! Expect table service and spontaneous ceilidh dancing.
51 Langstane Place, Aberdeen

The Tippling House - For a more laid back vibe this "subterranean late night tavern" is the place to be. Its a place to enjoy some good chat whilst sipping on an expertly crafted cocktail. Many an accolade has been won by The Tippling House including SLTN 2013 cocktail bar of the year and 2015 mixologist of the year. I loved their Almost Famous from a previous menu (top) but the current drink list is my favourite yet! Jindea single estate tea gin features heavily and I'd highly recommend the West Bengal Punch and Tea-na Colada. For something a little different you have to try the Ageing Pornstar - a twist on a pornstar martini, where a "Viagra" pill fizzes up a shot of white wine ready to add to the passionfruit mix. Alternatively, if you want to make like Mel B and spice up your life, try the Verdita!
4 Belmont Street, Aberdeen

Tell me, where's your favourite Granite City cocktail bar?

Friday, 8 September 2017

A Healthy Guide to Glasgow

Is there anything better than getting away for a long weekend? I spent my bank holiday down in Glasgow with Gordon, and while we didn't particularly do much we had a great time. We shopped, we ate, we explored and it was just what the Doctor ordered. I've been feeling a little under the weather lately and have decided to get my diet back on track, so we hunted out healthy eateries and ways to stay relatively active in the city.

Where to Eat

Kcal Kitchen - The gift that keeps on giving! Macro trackers will love this café which lists carb, fat and protein content for every item on it's menu. You'll even find them on MyFitnessPal. My favourite thing about Kcal is that it doesn't look or taste like "diet" food. You'll find burgers, pizzas, peanut butter cups and even protein doughnuts. The Himalayan Salt & Chilli Chicken is to die for - proper fakeaway right there!
130 West Regent Street

Prep Fitness Kitchen - I'm not going to lie, I ate here when they first opened and wasn't all that impressed. Another macro counting café but this one caters more for the "bro food" gym lifestyle. The protein pancakes are good so I'm willing to give the rest another go.
22 Bath Street

The Hanoi Bike Shop - Viatnamese restaurant where dishes are packed with veggies. Even the spring rolls come in salad leaf wraps! The Bike Shop isn't necessarily trying to be healthy, so you'll find a few naughty treats among the nutritious pho and various tofu dishes. Head across the road towards the twinkling lights of Ashton Lane for post dinner drinks.
8 Ruthven Lane

Down to Earth Organics - Unfortunately they were closed for the day when we tried to visit but I've heard good things about D2E and even Paolo Nutini is a fan! Expect cold pressed juices, baked eggs, daily specials and plenty vegan options.
351 Dumbarton Road

Primal Roast - A coffee shop owned by a Crossfit instructor, specialising in clean eating/paleo food with a fully vegan menu available too. We went for brunch and can recommend the breakfast burrito and clean breakfast. And what's brunch without cake? The lime and coconut raw cheesecake was a delight but the vegan caramel slice was even better.
278 St Vincent Street

The Left Bank - Not exactly a healthy eatery but the Left Bank does have a variety of nutritious options on it's menu. Between soups, wraps, super salads and noodles you'll be spoiled for choice. I had the Hoi An grilled chicken in a wrap and it was packed with greens and peanut goodness! 
33-35 Gibson Street, West End

Things To Do

Glasgow Mural Trail - Designed to add some colour to buildings and vacant units in the city centre, the mural trail is a fabulous curation of local street art. It's easily walkable in a day and you might even accidently stumble across some of the installations. We spotted a few while shopping and then made a point of finding more the next day. My personal favourites are the Glasgow Tiger and the World's Most Economical Taxi, closely followed by the recently added Billy Connolly portraits!  

Parks - Nobody said keeping active has to involve anything too strenuous! There are various places to get your steps up around the city from Pollok Country Park (where you'll find the Burrell Collection) to Glasgow Green and the winter gardens or Kelvingrove park and the nearby museum. You could even hire one of the pink People Make Glasgow nextbikes to travel between them all!

Gyms - For those seeking more of a sweat fest, Glasgow has its fair share of places to workout. The Club Gym is something of a destination gym, and I enjoyed functional training at Commando X-Fit! I've taken advantage of a free day pass at Pure Gym on Bath Street before which I'd highly recommend. Alternatively you can sometimes find free yoga at Sweaty Betty or Lululemon and run club at the Nike store. 

Getting Around

You can walk pretty much everywhere in the city centre - Primal Roast was the furthest distance we strolled from our hotel and took just 15 minutes. For anywhere further afield you can hire city bikes as I mentioned before, or jump on the Glasgow Subway. To get to the Hanoi Bike Shop and charming Ashton Lane we took a taxi. I recommend downloading Gett - a handy black cab booking app, which usually gives you some sort of free ride/money off deal.

Where to Stay

Travelodge - We spent the night at the new Travelodge on Queen Street. It's a handy location right in the middle of the city centre, within walking distance of Buchanan Street bus station and literally a minute away from the train station. The rooms were clean and more spacious than we expected, with a super comfy bed and plug sockets in all the right places!
78 Queen Street, Glasgow

*We were invited for a complimentary stay with Travelodge. This does not affect my views, all of which are 100% genuine.

Friday, 1 September 2017

A Month in my Shoes | August 2017


This month I've been running. And running, and running, until I never want to run again. I survived the inaugural Great Aberdeen Run half marathon - my first and last foray into long distance running! I have a lot to say on this experience so keep an eye out for a post.
We also completed a trial run of a local OCR - Mintlaw Mudder - the night before the official race. It was super fun but challenging and I enjoyed this 100x more than just plain running! OCR for life.

Other than that, my training has been pretty non existant. Running was my focus for August, so now that's over I can get back to lifting heavy things. (P.S I thought cardio was supposed to make you skinny?)
End of August Stats: 35.4% body fat, 6.12.0st muscle


Richard Froning Fittest on Earth - For someone who's never tried Crossfit, I'm obsessed with watching it on TV! This insight into the life of the fittest man on Earth was inspiring and eye opening. Super human. Crossfit gets a bad rep in the fitness industry but I have massive respect for anyone who competes in the sport.

Dexter - A nice murderer who works for the police, you can't help but route for him even though he's a serial killer! I've reached season 3 in 2 weeks. Addicted.

Where I've Been

At the start of the month we celebrated our first wedding anniversary at Yatai for our "J" date, followed by drinks at Orchid - that feels like so long ago now! The morning after was filled with Foodstory pancakes, anchor spotting in Duthie Park and visiting the Botanica pop up at Curated Stories Studio. I picked up a Juniper Press necklace which is my current go to accessory!

Throughout the rest of August I enjoyed lunch at the newly opened Craftsman Company, afternoon tea at the Tufted Duck with my gym girls, and we had yet another failed attempt at climbing Lochnagar (Scottish weather), followed by camping in the wilderness (my Father in Law's field). I'm hoping to do some actual wild camping in the remote Scottish countryside soon.

North Hop

It's been a busy month which also saw me announced as North East/Aberdeen ambassador for my favourite festival North Hop! Keep an eye on their blog, as well as here on Dinner Stories, for exciting boozy features coming soon. Early bird Spirit of North Hop tickets are on sale here!
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