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Balmoral: The Queen's Summer Home

Balmoral, in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, is the Scottish home to the Royal family; I prefer calling it Liz's summer home because, well, she's super adorable and she has a serious crib for her summer home. We paid a visit here on our drive from Fort William to Ballater, our stay for the next three nights. The castle is only open from April to July, so we got lucky to get here on the last day it was open. Was Queen Elizabeth there??

As for Royal homes, I've been to Tower of London, Kensington Palace, and Hampton Court Palace. If I had to rank Balmoral, I'd put it behind Hampton Court Palace. There are quite a few similarities between the two, mostly due to the extensive gardens, which doesn't exist in near the scale at Tower of London nor Kensington Palace.

We had a couple of hours to spend here, so being the tourists we are, we went with the audio tour, always a favorite of mine so that I can listen and look without needing to read to much. I find I enjoy this way…
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Fort William Marathon: The Best Kept Secret in Racing

Earlier this year I had been training hard for the Limassol Marathon, through ice and sleet and snow, only to have what I considered a disappointing race. I struggled to recover mentally, but I knew I had another race on the horizon...the Fort William Marathon. This event was my first marathon back in July 2015, shortly after the family made the move to London. The main difference this time, though, was that we're three kids lighter with Michael and the twins all back in the US for some time with their friends.

I hadn't thought much about running this race again until Chris, the race organizer, reached out to me to offer me a complimentary spot. This was incredibly generous and given how much I liked the race the first time, there was no way I was going to refuse. Granted, Chris made this offer well before the race in Cyprus.

The posts-Limassol blues stuck around for much longer than I'd expected. I was really down on myself, questioning why I put in the effort and the tr…

You call this a taper?

My 6th marathon is coming up and all of the training plans I've followed previously have included a pretty drastic decline in mileage the last two weeks. For this marathon, I decided to follow the Hanson's Marathon Method after reading their book.

The plan includes 6 runs per week, whereas I was running 4 days per week previously. For some context, the highest mileage week on Hanson's is 57.5 miles and my first "taper" week was still at 49.5 miles. I've been feeling great following their plan so I'll trust they know what they're doing.
Monday - 7mi easy I've been loving the easy runs. I actually get to enjoy running rather than slogging through every workout being tough. I love running through Hyde Park, so my route went from Hammersmith Station through Hyde Park then to work. I wrote a more extensive post about this particular run here.

Tuesday - 6x1mi @ marathon pace - 10 sec + 1.5mi warm up/cool down I tested out some super light race shoes Tu…

Palaces, Parks and Churches

Commuting to work by foot has to be my favorite way to start the day. The roads and parks are pretty much empty, the air isn't quite so polluted and I get my blood flowing for the rest of the day.

It's getting lighter out pretty quickly. Sunrise was at 6:37am, which means most of my run I could actually see where I was going. Today's 7 mile route took me from Hammersmith to St. Paul's via Hyde Park.


Just a couple weeks ago when I would run this same route, Hyde Park would be pitch black. There are very few lights in the park, which made it very tough to see where I was going...go figure! But now that the sun is up, I get to appreciate it for all of its beauty.

I entered Hyde Park at Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana lived until her death in 1997 and where Princes William and Harry were raised. Many Royals still live here today. Definitely a place to visit if you come to London.


From there, I headed to the north side of the park then headed east, going past the s…

Tips for Visiting the U.S. Embassy in London

I started the process of getting a new passport back in November (I ran out of pages in my old passport...first world problems) and got notification in late January that it was ready for collection. Normally it doesn't take this long, but apparently I forgot to pay them. Details, details.

Given I had upcoming travel to Germany in February, I decided to delay picking it up and risk not having anywhere for passport control to stamp my passport. Fortunately that all went well. When you receive a letter for the US Embassy that you're passport is ready, they "encourage" you to use their courier, DX. This involves a not very cheap additional cost and when you schedule a pick up, you get an 8am-6pm time window. Seriously! They must have learned this from the people the cable companies.

Knowing first hand how underwhelming the service from the courier is, I decided to show up at the Embassy on Wednesday to pick up my new passport. I was quickly turned away by a crotchety old…

The Beast from the East Run Commute

Unless you're living under a rock, you'll have heard that the UK is having some horribly cold weather, snow, etc. It's basically like the apocalypse. It chaos everywhere. Ironically the busses seem to run just fine, yet the trains have major problems.


Today is especially cold. It's below freezing, but what made it particularly awful is the gale force winds.


Check out those wind chills! And while you're at it, look at the direction of the wind; it's coming from the ENE. That's right in my face for the entire run. This sucked!

The alarm went off at 5:35AM, I caught the bus to Richmond Station, did my warm up, and off I went on my 12 mile commute to work. As soon as I got around the corner from the train station...BAM! The winds, RIGHT...IN...MY...FACE! Like brutal winds where you feel like your pushing up against a wall.
For two miles, I pushed against the wind with tiny snowflakes seemingly piercing my eyes. It was painful to look up. Really, my only goal t…