Climbing the Pitons

Hiking the Pitons Fit Holiday

Hiking the pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

Although I knew I’d given Hiking the Pitons as one of our activity options, we had both come to St Lucia completely unprepared for hiking. We didn’t have a backpack, hats, snacks or water bottles, and no idea of the intensity of the climb.

After a 2 hour drive along some of the windiest, most terrifying roads, we reached the base of Gros Piton, the larger but easier to climb of the two Pitons. We borrowed a backpack from our tour leader, and filled it with water and cameras.

The climb itself was 2 miles up, and they estimated it would take about 2 hours, with four mini stops along the way.

I think we weren’t the only ones who had underestimated the intensity of the hike, as people dropped out along the way, preferring to wait for us at the quarter and halfway points for us to pick them up on the way back down.

Hiking the Pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

 

Hiking the Pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

The views at the stopping points were huge incentive for us to keep going, despite the sweat pouring off us. The 31 degrees and high humidity meant we were all dripping almost as soon as we started.

The hike is classed as moderate to hard, with the first half as the moderate bit. This includes some quite steep scrambling over boulders and grabbing at trees to hoist yourself up to the next bit with some interludes of flatter parts. The second section is steeper with no flat bits. I didn’t snap any photos on the way up because my camera was in the bag, and I definitely needed both hands free.

Reaching the top was incredible- with views across the North of St Lucia, and most importantly a light breeze to help us cool off. I sat enviously watching others tuck into their snacks wishing we’d brought something to eat, until a lovely British couple shared their bananas with us. Word to the wise- bring snacks or at least cash to bring snacks, street vendors don’t take credit cards!!

Hiking the Pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

 

Hiking the Pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

 

hiking the pitons

 

Hiking the Pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

The way back down was easier on the lungs, but just as tough on the legs and took even more concentration. It took us around an hour and a half to descend the mountain, watching out for every foot hole to ensure we didn’t twist an ankle.

It was such relief to make it back to the base, and head off in the van for some lunch. I was absolutely starving. Our guide took us to a local cafe overlooking the Pitons so that we could admire our morning’s work whilst eating Caribbean cuisine, before a dip in the sea.

Hiking the Pitons St Lucia Fit Holiday

If you’re in St Lucia and after a challenge, then climbing Gros Piton is brilliant, however do not underestimate how tough it is. The guide told us that our group did it faster than most, however I do think that a few signed up without the level of fitness required for it.

When we returned back to our hotel, Sandal’s Le Toc, there was a freshly run bath waiting for us to jump in to soak before our massages (the best planned massage ever!). Tom had his first massage, and I think he enjoyed it, although he was horrified by how much they cost. Completely worth it in this case! Our evening was rounded out by an incredible 5 course meal on the beach- I would gladly hike Gros Piton again for the amazing post-hike treatment!

Honestly…

Hiking the Pitons Fit Holiday

On the internet we often present ‘our best life’. The things that are photoshopped, the workouts we smashed, the carefully constructed meals and outfits, and while that is what people want to see (I certainly look out for beautiful pictures of food and fashion), it’s often not an honest reflection of that person’s life. So here are a few honest truths from me to you. Thank you for reading.

  • I just got back from the most amazing holiday, yet my stress and anxiety meant that I don’t think I ever fully relaxed. It’s keeping me awake at night, and is really horrible at the moment, and the more I think about it, the more I stress out.
  • Our flat is being redecorated at the moment, which is really exciting, however it means that Tom and I have had to move out for a month. I am currently swapping between staying at a friend’s house and staying with my parents.
  • I haven’t really done any exercise, certainly no running since the Berlin Marathon 3 weeks ago.

Running the Berlin Marathon

  • I’ve written up a couple of blog posts but uploading the pictures is driving me mad- they keep having errors.
  • I really want to run the Chicago Marathon 2015, or at least enter the ballot and cross my fingers, but Tom has said no to a marathon next year. He finds it quite stressful, and to be honest training for a marathon puts quite a lot of strain on our relationship and tests his patience. I wish it didn’t but that is the truth.
  • Tom got into the London Marathon for next year (ironically). He has said he categorically does not want me to run it as this is his marathon, his time to shine. Completely fair enough, but I am sad that we can’t do my hobby together. He doesn’t want my advice on training, which I think could get quite stressful in March/April.
  • I am a little scared of the dark, but love sleeping in a total blackout.
  • I love my new WordPress site, but I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing on the backend. I keep having to text Leah to ask for help.
  • I’d really love to develop my blog further, but it feels really overwhelming and I’m not sure where to start. It’s quite scary to put yourself out there, and even scarier to think that no-one is reading content that takes a lot of time and effort to produce.
  • I want to run 1.45 half marathon next year.
  • I’ve just finished The Minimalist’s #minsgame http://www.theminimalists.com/game/, where you throw one thing away on the first day, two things the second and so on for 30 days. We played as a group of 6, and I am ashamed yet a little proud to say that I was the only one to last all 30 days. I threw away/recycled/sold a lot of crap, including more clothes than I care to mention. The sad thing is, I could keep going with this. I have hoarded things for years, my clutter has taken over the flat and enough is enough. Tom hates my mess, I hate my mess. Time for more minimalist living.

tower of books

  • I’ve streamlined my wardrobe and still have too many clothes, yet I always feel like I have nothing to wear. (A common dilemma.)
  • I worry that the more I change, the more distant I’ve become from some of my friends. I hate it.
  • I want to be nicer, more patient, kinder.
  • I love quotes. They make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And sometimes make me cry.

Kindness quotes

Fueling for a Marathon: Eating in Berlin

Before stepping on a plane to somewhere new, I will have usually googled places to eat a few hundred times, and written down a list of options for breakfast lunch and dinner. This doesn’t always work out, as often they are fully booked, closed for refurbishment with no notice on their website (thanks Fraulein burger) or just not convenient when we are actually hungry. And sometimes I get a little stroppy about this.

But other times it works out perfectly, or you receive a great recommendation whilst in the new city/place and you end up having the best cinnamon bun of your life.

Breakfast in Berlin

For Breakfast/Coffee: Zeit Fur Brot 

This place was so very trendy, with Berlin’s equivalent of yummy mummy’s enjoying breakfast with their perfectly behaved babies in tow. Inside the grey painted, Scandi looking, urban cafe were rows of cinnamon buns of varying flavours, some of which we could translate from German, many we couldn’t. Other options included Birker muelsi (huge, you can share), sandwiches, pretzels and freshly baked bread from the onsite bakery. The coffees are also delicious, although the place to go for the best coffee in Berlin is apparently The Barn- one of those slightly pretentious, actually not open when you want coffee, sort of places. We tried, it was closed.

Breakfast in Berlin, Berlin Marathon

Breakfast in Berlin

Breakfast in Berlin, Berlin Marathon

For Burgers: Shiso Burger

After unsuccessfully trying Fraulein burger, we stumbled upon Shiso burger, a Korean burger joint around the corner. It was buzzing, which we took as a good thing and joined the queue. Burgers, fries, edamame and the like are served promptly in bamboo steamers. Service is friendly, and if you don’t mind potentially sharing a table with strangers, then the queue moves quickly. My Bulgogi burger, rather than a patty, was tender strips of beef marinated in a slightly spicy Korean chilli sauce. Delicious, and great value.

Berlin marathon fueling

Berlin Marathon fueling

berlin marathon fueling

Berlin Marathon Fueling

For organic, veggie, sustainable food: Lokal 

I’d been recommended this by a few people on twitter, so booked it as a post-marathon dinner treat. The portion sizes were epic, and I couldn’t finish any of my courses, despite having run a marathon that day. The food was delicious, fresh tasting, with real flavour in the veggies. There were some interesting combinations, and plenty of raw food, which wasn’t my Mum’s cup of tea, but I loved it. The staff were incredibly friendly, and impressed with the medal (come on, the only time you can wear it is that evening)! I’d highly recommend Lokal for a romantic supper or a boozy dinner with friends.

berlin marathon fuelling

DSC_0459

Berlin Marathon fueling

For Schnitzel and Beer: Augustiner am Gendermenmarkt

After the marathon, we congregated at Augustiner am Gendermenmarkt for the best salty schnitzel, chips, beer and coca-cola of my life. German food never tasted so good. Located within walking distance of the marathon finish line, and right next to Ashley’s hotel, it was the perfect meeting point for post-marathon recovery food. The service wasn’t brilliant, but everyone arriving with a medal got a rowdy round of applause from those dining. Its classic German menu had everything you could possibly want from Pork knuckle and sauerkraut to currywurst and pretzels, plus a huge selection of Steiner’s.

 

Ashley and me with our medals!

Berlin Marathon runners

SBC: Skinny Bitch Collective

 

Well Fit Festival

I am so excited by the fitness scene in London, it is currently booming, with new studios and exercise classes popping up all over the place. It also seems to be encouraging a growing number of people, women in particular, to make fitness a key part of their week, making it a fashionable thing to do (although this does mean that there are girls with full faces of makeup in classes!) There are more lycra options in shops, boutique studios and fun health and fitness events to attend than ever before.

My friend Loz first brought my attention to The SBC- Skinny Bitch Collective, a workout class led by Russell Bateman, and popular with models and celebs such as Millie Mackintosh. The SBC often posts pictures onto instagram of girls in the class doing strange moves; crawling around, doing handstands etc, so I was intrigued to try a class. However getting yourself signed up to attend a session proved to be harder than getting a table at The Fat Duck.

After unsuccessfully getting our names on the list for a class, we spotted that Russell was teaching classes at Well Fit Festival-a day of workouts, health talks and delicious, nourishing food, held at Frame in Shoreditch. It sounded like the perfect reboot that we both needed after the Berlin Marathon, and a chance to try the class (and for Loz to hear Millie Mackintosh speak- she loves her!)

Skinny Bitch Collective Class

skinny bitch collective

We caught the tail end of the class before us, and saw that they were all dripping in sweat from their 30 minute workout. I knew SBC was effective having seen the results so obviously it was going to be a tough session.

We began with a warm up in a large circle, before bunny hopping and crawling on our hand and feet around the studio.

We then lay on our backs, and when Russell shouted a number, we had to jump up and do that many of an exercise, such as lunges and burpees. The act of getting up off the floor, doing the move, then getting back into position ensured that you used the entire body for each move.

The class used all body weight exercises, although we added a resistance band (black, with the highest resistance) in for some of the thigh burning moves, to ensure that the right muscles are working hard. Russell had us doing star jumps with the bands on, as well as squating, jumping and burpees.

Skinny bitch collective class

 

skinny bitch collective

 

A lot of the class was done in a circle, with planks held inwards, and moves passed around the group, such as press ups. It was a great way to have the class interacting with each other, plus with people watching you are more likely to push yourself further. Another bonus was I couldn’t stop smiling, laughing at the ridiculous moves, the pain of the workout and the faces of concentration around the circle.

My favourite bit was the handstand mountain climbers against the wall. These were tough but fun, although I probably wouldn’t do these at my gym.

skinny bitch collective class

 

skinny bitch collective class

After our class, we were able to attend a short talk given by Russell about SBC and his techniques. I know that some people are put off by the name Skinny Bitch Collective, which I understand, however what’s interesting is that the class isn’t designed for girls to get skinny, there’s a mix of cardio and strength for ‘girls to train the way should be training- not just plugging away on the cross-trainer’ says Russell. It is designed to be animalistic in nature, moving in the way we used to move, plus the workouts prove you don’t need a gym, just some space to exercise.

Russell also told us all that we should be our own guinea pig, you don’t have to follow a regime or a plan, discover what works for you and do it. Make your own decisions- your priorities will affect these decisions. Above all, worrying about what other people think is the worst mistake you can make. And don’t forget, what you’re putting into your body after your workout is just as important as the exercise.

Loz and I took part in another class, after the talk, called Bend it Like Barbie, that had us stretching our partners into deep shoulder, hip and quad stretches- and felt a little like we were at an anti-natal class. Fun but I wouldn’t love doing it with someone I didn’t know!

I really enjoyed attending the talks and classes at Well Fit, however I think the ticket price was quite high considering it didn’t include any food or drinks. It will be interesting to see if they offer more for the ticket, or reduce ticket price if they decide to host another Well Fit Festival- I do hope so!

Win Tickets to an SBC Class- If you want to try a SBC class taught by Russell, Sweaty Betty are giving the chance for you and a friend to win tickets to a free class at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. Just fill in your details to be entered to win tickets here.

I was given complimentary tickets to Well Fit Festival.

Segway Tour of Berlin

segway tour berlin

photo-70

We arranged a Segway tour around Berlin for the Saturday before the Marathon for two reasons; one- I felt like my legs had been sore after walking around Paris a lot before the marathon, not the ideal way to start 26.2 miles, two- we’d tried to do a segway tour in New Zealand a few years ago but they were fully booked, and we were keen to try them. I had however forgotten just how accident prone I am, and how mal-cordinated I can be. I was the only one in our tour doing the marathon, and of course, the only one to fall of the segway… twice.

Luckily I wasn’t hurt, just a little shaken and very embarrassed, and the bruise didn’t affect me on marathon day at all. Plus the tour was a lot of fun.

We started with a warm up session, learning how to use the segways, get on and off, go over speed bumps etc in the relative safety of a pedestrianised area. Our small group were all really friendly, but it was still intimidating having to go one by one to demonstrate your capability on the segway. Half an hour of zipping around and we were ready to be let loose on the roads. We would travel to a location, mostly using bike lanes so it wasn’t too scary, before hopping off the segways and learning a little about the location and its history.

Berlin segway tour Berlin marathon running

segway tour berlin

segway tour berlin

Segway tour Berlin

First stop was the antiquities museum, where we got up close to the big marble bowl outside- they’ve left the bullet holes in it, and in numerous places around the city as a constant reminder of what happened during the war.

One of the highlights of the tour was Checkpoint Charlie, an American checkpoint station along the Berlin Wall. We had a little time to explore the museum that talked about the ways in which East Berliners tried to cross the wall, some successful, but many not. It’s horrifying to know that this happened not too long ago, and that the border guards had a shoot to kill policy.  As part of the tour we also visited a Sentry watch tower, and another part of the Wall, where we heard about a man who zip lined his family to safety from the East to the West side.

segway tour berlin

segway tour berlin

Other points of interest along the trip were an art installation to remember the burning of the books, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Both very stark and harrowing. On my last trip to Berlin I visited the museum below the memorial, and although incredibly upsetting, it is worth a visit.

segway tour berlin

 

The last stop on the tour was the Brandenbourg Gate. This was of particular interest to me as I knew the next time I would be seeing it, I would be running under it during the final stage of the Berlin Marathon. The area was cordoned off, with a lot of setting up for the following day going on, including the all important beer tents.

segway tour berlin

I cannot recommend a segway tour of Berlin with Fat Tyre tours enough, it was a brilliant way to see the city, and learn about its history. We also picked up some interesting facts that I don’t think we would have found elsewhere. For those that aren’t sure of a segway, they also offer cycling tours too.