Ben completed the 50 miles around the demonically agressive hills and single track roads that made up the Tour de Lauder this weekend. He was joined by James and Simon who are friends since their days growing up in Haddington. The trio did remarkably well considering their group training had been sporadic- Ben and James squeezed in two training rides before the event and we only met Simon for the pre-race strategy beer on Thursday.
The story of the Tour de Lauder is a teary yet inspirational one, I only learned the history by listening to Rosy Cully’s pre-ride speech. Steve Cully was an amazingly fit man who was police officer and was on the Royal Protection detail, to give you an idea of his fitness, he competed in the Marathon des Sables which is ‘ultra-marathon’ or ‘ultra’ run in six days over a course of between 150 and 156 (254km) miles and he finished. He died of a sudden heart attack at just 41. Leaving Rosy and two young children.
Two of his friends decided to organise a small cycle ride in his honour and donate any proceeds to the Steve Cully Tribute fund at Chest Heart Stroke Scotland, before they knew it word had spread and almost 100 cyclists wanted to take part in the 2012 ride. It was a smashing success and they raised 17,000 pounds in Steve Cully’s honour.
This was year two of the Tour de Lauder and there were 270 registered riders who had the choice between 50 miles or 86 miles ending on the Col de Stow- a hill with a 15% grade.
It was an especially nice day sunshine and blue skies. There was a bit of wind, but according to Ben, it did not bother them too much. Ben, Simon and James completed the 50 mile ride in 3 hours 51 minutes, with an average pace of 13.5 miles per hour and a top speed of 40 mph.
I went as a volunteer and had the pleasure of meeting many of the cyclists at the check-in table- I will always be strong support of anyone with numbers 1-70! Sarah joined me out on the course where we helped at the first water stop- they do it right, the Lady Bakers of Lauder- I am unsure if this is a real organisation, but in my opinion they should band together, all the refuelling snacks were homemade and donated for this event- I have never seen such baked-goods variety. For a healthier option there were 600 bananas and orange wedges. Sarah and I opted for the bananas.
The people of Lauder were unbelievable- Sarah and I were driven around by Carol the event organiser and she was funny and friendly. There were some scary moments on the narrow roads, but we made it back to the ‘chateau’, unfortunately, we missed the finish or our team- they were too fast. There has already been chatter about trying it again next spring and maybe even tackling the 86 miles.
Tour de Lauder- we will be back!
Complete photo set can be found here.
LISTEN UP… This week’s theme is inspired by Ben. He is competing in his first-ever cycle race this Saturday. The distance is 50 miles and he is ready! I will be return the favour of being an awesome support crew member, hopefully will get some great race snaps for next week.
Have a great weekend and enjoy this week’s mix- on Spotify.
The Business School had its Alumni Reunion this past weekend
Events started on Thursday with the key-note address from Justin Packshaw or as we referred to him in the weeks leading up to his talk, The Handsome Explorer, I think this was mostly me.
He has a fascinating profile, here are some of the most interesting:
- Fought in Gulf War I with the British Army
- Driven a motorbike through East Africa
- Represented Britain in the Whitbread Round-the-World Yacht race.
- Took part and won a 450 mile un-supported man-hauling international race to the Magnetic North Pole
and now the most impressive:
And I got to shake his hand.
Justin talked about how corporations could/should be led like extreme sport challenges and many of the attributes people need in these high-altitude, close-quarter situations are identical to those required to have a successful workplace team and company (team work, communication, drive, leadership and inspiration).
In addition to his exploring, he and his wife have a luxury cashmere goods business with a shop in London, called DeRoemer.
My two take aways: EFFORT + DISCIPLINE= I FEEL GREAT and we all need to get up an hour earlier to pack-life-in!
Good morning from Amsterdam.
I leave today for my three city, six-day tour of the sub-conitent. I arrive tonight in New Delhi, where I will spend a day sight seeing tomorrow, unless the hotel spa and pool have more appeal. Monday begins the- all work, all the time, I move on to Bangalore, followed by Mumbai.
I am leaving behind 40 degree, rain and clouds to arrive to 90 degree sunshine. Due to mosquitos and respect of the Indian culture, one needs to remain covered. A real packing challenge, not the remaining covered part (I am part Smyth after all), especially given how much I love tropical temperatures.
I have granola bars, trail mix, bug spray and Pepto Bismol tabs. I have been vaccinated and warned about rabies, the Japanese mosquito/pig disease that turns your brain to mush. I am so excited!
The highlight: In Mumbai I will meet Rahul, Rahul was a classmate of Ben’s and has moved back from Europe. We will have an afternoon of visiting the former Bombay and seeing the sights with a native.
I land in Edinburgh next Sunday morning at 10.00 a.m.
The people who have been to India either love the experience or hate it, I will report back and if I do not have my fill of India this week, another trip is scheduled for May, when it will be even hotter.
We had our first friends for dinner this weekend. It was great fun. Enjoyable company.
We voted the menu as one of our best. We are very biased.
Starter: Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
I found the perfect cake pan for making six inch layer cakes. I did a test and now I am prepared to bake a delicious birthday cake in two weeks time.
My quest for grace (of movement, to be clear) continues. I started my next set of ballet classes. Same company, Dancebase, different location and most importantly, a new teacher; she is so great. Lauren was a professional dancer before working as a teacher for clumsy adults (me). She makes sense of ballet. Explaining every part of each step as we went along, I understood the whole hour, a new ballet record. I parted knowing exactly what I need to work on for next week. Watch out world, I am spinning!
BEST YET… Last night, best ballet class since I started! No special attention needed, remembered about 75% of the steps without watching my neighbor (I was at the end of the barre, again). I did decide I will not join the recital in early December, but I am considering registering for the next round of classes beginning in January. Have to give my shoes some more wear. I might be ready for a spring performance.
Have a great day.
My Grenoble running buddy Reia and I registered for the Paris Half Marathon on March 4, 2012! Whoop-whoop! There is no turning back, I have booked my ticket and everything. We are up for the challenge of long distance training from a long distance.
I have tried to find a motivating training program, something betweenRunner’s World, Get You Round where day one is a 15 minutes of jogging and the Sweat Shop:We Know Running’s schedule that begins with a morning run of 40 minutes followed by an evening work out 4 x 6 minutes at Threshold with 1 minute jog recovery, I do not know what threshold is.
Do any of you have any suggestions for a great half-marathon training program?
This will be my first long distance ‘race’ in 6 years. The last considerable distance event I did was the Dublin Marathon in 2005, it rained almost the entire race, to stay ‘dry’ I ran in a garbage bag for about 15 miles. I was ready to give up, but I really wanted the t-shirt, I don’t really remember what it looked like, but I am sure it was 100% cotton and worth it.
Since then Ben and I have done several short charity runs in Grenoble and were persuaded to run for Grenoble Ecole de Management last year in a profile-raising event. I did my first (mini)triathlon with my tri-buddy, Sarah in September 2010, so I have remained competitive!
I want to challenge myself, maybe even try for a personal best. I think my best half marathon time was 1:47, I was 20. Fifteen years later will I be able to compete with my younger me?
“Buffy, take my hand”, this is what is said to me each week while I am ushered aside and individually shown this week’s ballet steps. This is week four and I am unfazed by the need for extra guidance.
My mom always said to never be embarrassed to ask for extra help. This explains my fearlessness in high school, asking for after school assistance in math, English, computer science and physics! Lesson learned Mom! It is serving me well in my adult ballet classes as well.
Once I receive my private lesson, I able to stay with the rest of the group, until we switch from the right side to the left! In addition I find myself at the end of the barre, so 50% of the time I have no one to copy. Quel Catastrophe!
Two funny things happened yesterday linked to ballet. First off, the beginner class (my class) was invited to participate in the Christmas dance recital. Our teacher asked us to put our names on the list if we wanted to join the fun. I told him I needed to consider it and you should have seen the look of relief on his face! He tried to cover by saying, we are just starting and we would be mingled with the other levels to disguise our lack of skill and grace. For our costumes, we would have to wear wings. Me in my Nike running tights, my pink Vis Girl t-shirt, my pink ballet slippers and wings, I am undecided if this is a draw or a deterrent. Leaning towards deterrent.
Later that evening, I told Ben about the recital and then showed him the steps I would perform, Ben burst out laughing as I twirled and jeted across the apartment. I think I have my answer, support from the audience is just as important. Maybe next time!
This week we learned the arabesque.
I found a video from Disney’s 1940 classic film Fantasia which featured unlikely animals doing ballet, ostriches, alligators and hippos. These animals seem to have more grace than I will ever have. A bit sad really.
This week, I found myself the most comfortable in the back row, I need to keep my eye on the teacher the whole class or I quickly lose track of what step comes next. During class, I flashback to the small part of the basement in the house where I grew up. I had to practice my ‘moves’ to prepare for my yearly dance recital. My dance teacher would record a cassette with the chosen music and voice over the steps. I had to prepare two numbers, a ballet and tap. I hated practicing, ballet is not like riding a bike, after three weeks, I continue to give it my all!
Have a great weekend!
CANDID… Our friend Nina, snapped this picture during a walk up the Bastille in Grenoble. Cent pourcent candide. Nina has entered it into a photo competition and we hope Nina crushes her French competition. All those French men in her photo group who have said her photos are not as good as theirs. Take that.
I have rolled up my Pilates matt for the next 8 weeks and have signed up for Beginners Classical Ballet. The first class was last night, so many mirrors. I thought it was going to be easier this time, I thought not being able to distinguish my right foot from my left foot was all that held be back when I took ballet as a little person. I fear that was not my only problem. At least my French vocabulary is there, I might not be able to relevé as well as my fellow dancers, but I know what it means!
More ballet adventures to come!
My definitions are all wrong, these are all sewing terms. Terms that I was unfamiliar with my whole life until recently when I had the ‘pleasure’ of participating in a two-day extravaganza known in inner circles as The Stitch Lounge. The simple goal of the weekend was to create a garment that you could wear on the round ‘runway’ on Sunday night.
Having made a Mickey Mouse apron when I was around 10 and growing up with a mother who was a Home Economics teacher before she gave it up to live her dream of making play-doh and dying dried pasta for her four children’s amusement, I was certain I could handle this. Especially thinking back to all the buttons my Mom has covered in her day, most recently for my wedding dress! I was not going to let my recent sewing mishap deter me.
Sew, the recent mishap you say? Well in June, I borrowed my mother-in-law’s sewing machine. I have great plans to make cushion covers for the throw pillows on the daybed. Ben was even kind enough to pick out some fabric remnants on one of his exploratory walks of our new neighborhood. After practicing on basic shapes, I was certain I could handle more, if I had mastered a square and a triangle what was stopping me? Pyjama bottoms for Ben was what I planned to tackle. Pattern purchased, plaid fabric selected, my Mom consulted, I was ready. I was going strong through the pinning and pattern cutting, I was ready to hit the machine, I got set up, and started and just kept sewing and sewing all the way to the end of the leg, not stopping for the crotch, one giant plaid tube was completed. Oops. The p.j.’s are now in a plastic bag in the closet waiting for me to find my sew-jo.
Part of Ben’s well-intentioned plan to get my sew-jo flowing was to sign me up for The Stitch Lounge. I was a bit hesitant about joining in, but then I remembered, everyone speaks English, so refreshing.
While some of my fellow seamstresses paged through the September issues of Italian and French Vogue looking for inspiration, I wanted first dibs on the beginner patterns. Rumor had it the dress pattern I chose was quite easy and could be completed in the time allotted. It was a popular pattern from the May edition of the same sewing event. I feared I had chosen an H and M pattern and would see myself coming and going, but I wanted simple. I was lucky enough to find a helper in Marise- one of the Stitch Lounge sewing expert volunteers. She was incredibly patient with me as I fumbled through the steps. The pattern I chose had 9 pieces!
During the weekend, I learned how to read a pattern and could probably continue this on my own provided it is an easy one, I changed to the zipper foot on the sewing machine to put in my hidden zip, I hemmed my dress, I finished the neck and armholes and I added my own touch-the Obi belt, to give the plain grey dress the added pop it needed for its runway début.
I think the last time I ‘modeled’ was for a Mother/Daughter Style Show at the Woman’s Club in Minneapolis. I am sure I looked cute with my giant-crooked toothed smile holding my Mom’s hand as members looked on. How things change. The runway was round and narrow, I was panicked that I was going to go down, I did not look up or smile, it was not my shining star moment. Elite models will not be calling. Ben was in the audience cheering me on. I think he came primarily for the gluten, dairy and meat free canapés that were served. All the food for the weekend was provided by Ziggy’s, an Edinburgh-based catering company focused on 100% healthy and energy inducing foods.
The next Stitch Lounge is tentatively scheduled to take place in February. The organizers are hoping to incorporate LED lights and other circuitry into the projects to be designed and displayed that weekend. We had a brief tutorial about implanting a LED light into a fabric cuff, I was not impressed. It could have been the delivery from the Stitch lounge volunteer, she seemed to only want to help the advanced participants (not me).
For the moment, I have ripped the seam out of the plaid-pant-tube and will attempt to complete Ben’s pyjama bottoms. They remain in the plastic bag in the closet. I feel more confident with my abilities now so I might just give it another try. Then again, my mom is coming for a visit in February so I might save these as a bonding project for us. In case we run out of things to chat about (highly unlikely, but always a minor fear)!