Running, Travel

Corfu 2016: Hot & Hilly

Last Friday, my family and I set forth on our holiday to the beautiful island of Corfu. None of us had ever been there before and we were all incredibly excited. Myself, I couldn’t wait for the sun, the pool, the sea (and the running). The villa we were staying in was gorgeous with a rustic feel to it and its views of the sea and mountainous area around were stunning! It also had a great pool with lovely outdoor seating areas and indoor air-conditioning (a much appreciated bonus).

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Our brilliant pool

The whole experience was highly enjoyable. Throughout our trip we managed to visit Aqua Land (a massive water theme park) which was super fun – I have never been down so many crazy water slides in my life! We also spent countless hours on the beach (occasionally snorkelling and dodging sea urchins) and in the pool (including time trials of who can ride along the pool on an inflatable crocodile the fastest – Sam won) and we got to dine out at multiple Greek cuisines – it was a slight struggle to find vegan options so I commonly ordered a few starters instead of a main but it was all delicious.  In addition we celebrated my younger brother, Sam’s, 11th birthday in style by hiring out a motorboat and travelling between the beautiful bays. This was very exciting as I got to drive the boat the majority of the time and I was able to conquer my fear of sea urchins by swimming among themselves. Along with all this, we were able to dedicate quite a lot of time to relaxing – not a common activity of mine as it simply makes me agitated (ironically). To prevent this, I managed to devour my way through two books during the week, attempt some poolside yoga, practice my meagre swimming skills and even try a little bit of painting (which is not something I usually do at all). However, much to my surprise, I eventually got used to not having a plan and grew to quite liking the freedom that came with this. Because after all, that’s what holiday’s are (meant to be) for right?

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I am now an accomplished sailor.

 

Corfu itself was stunning with crystal clear waters and beautiful mountains. The locals were all very friendly and we struggled to find somewhere that didn’t speak English (slightly annoying for me as I had dedicated a large portion of the journey and before learning basic Greek). Just a short walk away from our villa was a gorgeous beach that we spent a lot of time on: mainly basking in the sun, playing a combination of water polo and volley ball which Sam ingeniously named “Water Volleyball” and snorkelling with some quite impressive fish! In fact, thoroughly our whole holiday, enjoyment. was never far away. Despite this, there were a few issues we came across throughout the holiday. For me, they can be summed up in one word: insects. Over the course of the week, I managed to receive no less than 40 mosquito bites and was constantly in hiding from the giant queen wasp which would occasionally make an appearance. Perhaps worst of all was when I got too close to comfort with a giant locust which had climbed onto my neck whilst I slept (causing much hysteria when I discovered it).

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Breakfast + amazing view!

 

Now onto perhaps the most exciting part of the holiday: the running. Running on holiday is always the most fun as you get to explore the area whilst doing so making it much more interesting whilst running at home. Unlike many people, our holiday runs offered no rest at all due to that the fact that, leading up to our villa, was the longest, steepest, most menacing hill any of us had ever seen! It was quite frankly the King Of All Hills: 500m long and 66 incline. A true beast! Although I was slightly apprehensive, I saw it as an opportunity to improve my hill endurance like no other. Everyday (except rest day Monday) my dad and I (once joined by Sam) completed the same run. We made sure to set out early to avoid the bulk of the sun -but no matter what time we went, it always worked up a sweat. The run started severely steeply down hill and continued down hill for the majority of the first half. This, however, inevitably meant that, on the way back, an abundance of hills (each steep and sizeable) had to be conquered – ending with the beast. Phew! Although it was only 3-5k (depending on if we ran to the beach or not), the run certainly made up for what it lacked in distance with its incredible intensity!

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To be fair, having the mini mountain at the end of the run was quite useful as it made the other hills seem meagre (which they certainly would not be in normal circumstances). After battling the giant, I don’t know how I will every find any hill intimidating ever again (slight exaggeration): The first time I scaled it, I wasn’t expecting the challenge at all and ended up going only just quicker than walking pace.  Only sheer grit got me up it at all! I knew straight away that my goal of the holiday would be to ascend it at a decent pace. To my relief, everyday I progressively got faster. it was really rewarding – yet incredibly painful. Honestly, I will be very annoyed if this hasn’t improved my hill running because it truly relied on pure mental strength to get myself out of my nice, air conditioned room and out on to the hot and hilly roads. Thankfully, I was always lead by my trusty running buddy of a father who helped me push up the hill with the motivation of beating him. Our runs were generally followed with a jump in the pool and occasionally a 5 minute plank (if we weren’t too tired!). We also did a lot of swimming and walking (up the very same hill) making for a very active yet relaxed and enjoyable time – just the way I like it!

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The happiness of ending the run was immense
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Hill conquerors!

To conclude, our trip to Corfu was a great success both in running and in normal holiday stuff 😉 It was a bit of a shock to return home to the wet and cold London but at least there aren’t anymore mosquitoes planning my downfall. I hope that one day we can return to Greece and explore more of the stunning island. But until then, on to more adventures!  In addition, our hill training has got me fired up for more cross country practice and I cannot wait for our trip to Norfolk which is sure to be full of beach running and more hills. I am also inspired to do more swimming when I get back home to hone my, shall we say…less than brilliant skills – maybe even try some cycling too!  I still have four weeks left of the holiday and I am determined to make the most of it!

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I really hope you enjoyed reading today’s post! On an extra note, the Olympics is starting in tonight! In my opinion, it is the greatest show ever and I can’t wait to watch it and be inspired. Who else is as excited as I am?

In the meanwhile, I hope you are having a great holiday and thanks again for reading,

Ellie xx

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