10 surprising things you may not have known about Champagne!

Happy Friday!

Not that most of us needed an excuse to drink champagne, but today is October 23, otherwise known as World Champagne Day.

In its sixth year, the celebration was apparently started by a blogger in the US, as a chance for champagne enthusiasts worldwide to unite in celebration of this fine wine.

Expect that for the next 24-hours, social media will be full of pictures, videos and pledges of allegiance to the sparkling goodness that is Champagne.


Now, The Happy List originally started out as a collection of all the things that bring happiness into my life. Now, since it’s World Champagne Day, which is DEFINITELY one of my favourite things, it seemed only natural that it would make the cut.

To mark this fine day I thought I would find ten interesting facts about Champagne (preferably to be read whilst drinking a glass of Bolly), so here you go:

Fact 1:

The bubbles in champers make the alcohol enter your bloodstream very quickly—so much so that that it can can even result in a headache. So take it slow!

Fact 2:

“Champagne” is only allowed to be called so if it’s from the French region. Countries like Italy, New Zealand and Australia all give France a decent run for its money in terms of the quality of Champagne produced, but because they are unable to use the famous name, you will often get more bang for your buck.

Fact 3:

Pol Roger, the renowned Champagne house, made a special one pint bottle of champagne for Winston Churchill to be served to him every day at 11 a.m.

Fact 4:

The classic Champagne coupe was adapted from a wax mould made from the breast of Marie Antoinette.

Fact 5:

The world’s most expensive champagne is $275,000 per bottle! It is called Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck. I would love to sample this, but then again I think I should buy a house first…

Fact 6:

More people are killed each year by flying champagne corks than bites from poisonous spiders.

Fact 7:

A biography of Marilyn Monroe says that she once took a bath in champagne. About 350 bottles of champagne were used to fill the tub!

Fact 8:

The pressure in a Champagne bottle is around 90 pounds per square inch. That’s equivalent to that of a London double-decker bus tire.

Fact 9:

On the Titanic, the champagne that was served, Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut was rumoured to wash ashore several years later. It is said that it tasted great even after all that time!

Fact 10:

Four ounces of champagne is roughly 90 calories, while the same amount of red wine and sweet wine is 100 calories—making it a healthier choice for those watching their waistlines. Serving sizes for champagne are generally smaller than other alcoholic beverages too, keeping the calorie count even lower.

Cheers to that!

Do you have any fun champagne facts I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.

Coco xo


What I wish I’d known before planning my wedding: 10 tips from a baffled bride-to-be

Happy Monday!

The excitement is building, and butterflies flicker in my stomach when I think about it…it’s now just 85 days until Ben and I tie the knot!!!

Ben and I at Palm Beach Lighthouse

Ben and I at Palm Beach Lighthouse

It seems that we’ve had a slightly longer engagement than other couples we know, which has been great for us as we were able to take it slow with the planning elements, but then again we both work well under pressure so I’m sure we would have made it work either way.

The fact of the matter is, weddings are very personal and no one can tell you how big your wedding should be, who should or shouldn’t be invited or where to go on honeymoon (although many people *will* try to help—which may also make it more confusing for you!) so it’s important that you make your own choices that make you and your partner happy.

With this in mind, I thought it may be useful to impart some of my own wisdom (if you can call it that), as I near the final stages of the planning process…

1. Create a simple budget and checklist as SOON as you start planning


I have been extremely lucky in that my fiance Ben is super organised and excels at excel! Ben created a multi-tab spreadsheet right at the start, which had formulae to calculate our total cost based on how many attending guests we had.

Now, if you’re not proficient creating your own, the good news is the internet is absolutely full of free downloadable budget spreadsheets that you can use as a starting point and customise as you need to….You can find some great examples here.

In one tab of our wedding super-spreadsheet we also had a month-by-month checklist which has been an absolute LIFESAVER! Yes, I am behind on a few things but at least I am aware of it (and getting married on a Tuesday means certain things have been much easier to organise) and can’t forget anything! You can find an example here, but there are many more online that are easy to find on Google.

2. If you have overseas guests, give them as much notice as possible


This is partly from my experience on the other side, being an expat from the UK living in Sydney, Australia. I pretty much let people know as soon as we got engaged, at least those closest to me – when we intended to get married and indicated if they could make it I would love them to be there. This was so important for us as we chose a date that was a. close to Christmas and b. Sydney is one of—if not THE—farthest and most expensive destination for Brits to visit. However, Ben and I are planning life about a year in advance, including any trips back to the UK or anywhere else – so we’ve missed out on a few friends weddings because we weren’t given enough notice ourselves. It doesn’t even need to be formal (I just sent informal Facebook messages) but once you know the date, make a list and go from there.

3. Don’t be afraid to break traditions


This is a big one. Families are complicated and there are a lot of things and people to consider. Each of us has our own family dynamic. Let me stress here, ultimately it’s up to you on the choices you make BUT let’s not forget we want to focus on the happy day, celebration of your love here and not make anyone feel uncomfortable.

You don’t have to have a maid of honour and one best man (I don’t have one and Ben has three best men!) – and table plans, speeches etc don’t need to be how they used to be back in the day. We live in 2015. We can do what we want and it’s totally acceptable. It’s also the norm now to ask for cash or a contribution to your honeymoon instead of gifts. Do your research, and think about what’s going to work well for your particular situation.

READ: 8 Wedding rules that can be broken

4. Try on dresses before you lock in your bridal style


I did not grow up with any idea of what my wedding day would be like, not a single thing! And even if I did, it’s highly unlikely I would have guessed I would be marrying an Aussie in Sydney, Australia with 25 UK friends and family members coming all the way over to witness it! Dresses were stressing me out—I decided I hated all wedding dresses and I had a Pinterest board full of what I thought I loved—bohemian, Grecian, hold the sparkles.

When I finally tried on a selection of dresses, guess what? I felt and looked my best in the exact opposite to what I liked in pictures. Your body shape will determine what looks best on you, so head to the bridal store with an open mind, but have your budget locked in. Another tip – don’t even try on dresses out of your price range – I didn’t (thank goodness) and have heard of this ending in tears or a huge credit card bill. I knew when I found the one. And funnily enough it was the first dress I tried on! The shop assistant obviously knew what would work on me.

5. Pinterest is your friend


Flowers, cake, dress, bridesmaid dresses, hair pieces, hair styles..even dog outfits. Pinterest has it all. If you don’t already use Pinterest, it’s basically an image based social network. You create ‘boards’ where you can search a huge database of images relating to pretty much anything you can think of, and virtually ‘pin’ them to your boards for inspiration.

I used Pinterest to actually see how colours and styles work together, as well as finding inspiration for hair styles. It’s also collaborative, so I have been working with my friend who is making my cake—she can pin suggestions to me, and I can show her what I like. This saves us a lot of time which is great as we live far apart.

6. Expect the unexpected

It’s important to be flexible and willing to compromise on the less important parts of planning your wedding. Things will come up, people will not be able to attend (And I believe we might encounter this nearer the time) but you have to go with the flow. Wet weather backup is an absolute must! We almost forgot about this, assuming it’s going to be 25 degrees and sunny in Sydney in December (which it might be, we hope it is, but there’s a good chance it could rain) and it ended up taking quite a few weeks and stress to formulate a suitable backup plan.

Nothing is certain, but as long as you are your fiance are there on the day and there to make this special commitment to each other, I think anything unexpected CAN be dealt with.

7. Do you get dress codes?


I don’t! Or at least I didn’t. Ours ended up as “daytime semi-formal”, but I came up with several custom dress codes that I thought were obvious. Luckily I have a few friends with plenty of event-organising experience who assured me people need an official dress code otherwise their interpretation could completely miss the mark. I will add that even my “official” dress code ended up with a few confused emails, so I made sure to contact all guests with the link above just to clear up any confusion. I really don’t want anyone in jeans at our wedding, and I heard at least one or two were considering it.

8. Online RSVPs are awesome

Have you heard of rsvpify.com? We went against advice given to us of supplying stamped envelopes with return cards and integrated an RSVP form into our wedding website. The brilliant thing about this app is that once people have submitted their response, you can use a drag-and-drop feature in to your table plan and move people about quickly and easily. We tried printing everyone’s names out and placing them on to tables, but this ended up as 120 scrunched up pieces of paper in the bin.

9. …As is weddingpaperdivas.com

I did so much research on wedding invitations and had about 20 quotes made for us. I was shocked to say the least about how much these can cost, especially if you have letterpress or foil invites, which was what we wanted. I then stumbled across Wedding Paper Divas—a US based company that has everything you could ever want printed for your wedding: save the dates, place names, menus, and everything in-between. We had some wonderful high quality foil invites printed and shipped from the US for about half of what it would have cost here in Australia. This company is highly recommended by me!



There are moments where one or both of us has been feeling the pressure, or stress about making the right decision. One of the best things about our relationship is I think we’re really good at balancing each other out, so we remind each other of what’s important on a regular basis, and then it goes back to being fun again. Yesterday we had Spotify open and drank a few beers while organising songs for our ceremony and reception. We laughed, cried and it was really fun…I think that is what planning your wedding should be like! So my last piece of advice is: stay grounded, remember what’s important to you and your fiancé…and have fun!

Happy wedding planning!

Coco xo

5 important lessons I learned from a running injury


It’s taken me a while to get here, but I’ve finally written a new post for the blog – on my 28th birthday!

I will be honest…I have had a few challenges over the past few months, and I think it made me feel a bit down. However, I feel like I have come out the other side, and things are starting to improve again!

If at first you don't succeed...

If at first you don’t succeed…

I was training at full throttle for the Gold Coast Airport marathon (which is this weekend in fact!) and unfortunately right at the start of May I got injured. I couldn’t run for a few weeks and subsequently fell too far behind on my training and had to pull out.

I enjoyed taking a few weeks off from training properly, and it gave me a chance to reflect on what I should have done differently. I did find that I felt worse about myself and life in general when I did less exercise though, which is a big motivator for me to get back into it.

A few things I learned from my injury:

  1. If you try and compensate for missing periods of training, you will likely overtrain and get injured!
  2. One session of cross training per week is not enough.
  3. If you get injured mid-run, STOP immediately.
  4. Swimming is your friend during knee/foot injury – low impact, relaxing and a great way to start the day.
  5. If you stop training, don’t continue eating the same as you were before (I have gained about 3kg/6-7lbs).

I have started running a few times a week, just short distances of 5-6km to let my body get used to it again. And we’ve moved to Manly, living right by the beach so it’s quite nice getting outdoors and seeing the sunrise while I run.

Tomorrow I have an assessment with a new personal trainer who I will be working with for the next 6 months to prepare for the wedding! It’s only 5 months and 3 weeks until the big day now so I have to get cracking. And I think the added strength training will help me become a better runner. I will do a marathon, eventually. But I’m going to take it slow and train properly.

We’re still going up to the Gold Coast this weekend…we had already booked our flights and hotel so we’re off to visit some theme parks and have fun.

Despite a few setbacks over the past few months, I am genuinely feeling a lot more positive and happy – I didn’t think I would but it just took some patience and reflection…

I’ll try not to leave it so long next time and post an update on my training!

Coco xoxo

Rome wasn’t built in a day…but I (sort-of) became a Roman chef in a day!

Ben and I recently arrived back in Sydney from a three week whirlwind trip to Europe.

I was a bridesmaid for my best friend Melissa as she married her now-husband Bradley in Cornwall, UK which was the main reason we went. But we wanted to make the most of that ever-so-long flight.

Me with the beautiful bride, Melissa.

Me with the beautiful bride, Melissa.

So, we were lucky enough to fit in a few short trips before we travelled over to the UK, to the city of love, Paris and then on to Rome!

We had a wonderful first day seeing the sights – the Colosseum, Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II and the Trevi Fountain. We sampled delicious pasta, ice cream and pizza – and the sun was shining gloriously.

Me at the Colosseum

Me at the Colosseum

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our final day so we didn’t get to see the Vatican, but day two was truly the highlight of our European adventure.

Ben turned 30 at the end of March, and his sister Claire very generously booked for the two of us to attend Cooking Classes in Rome.

Cooking Classes in Rome is Run by Italian Chef, Andrea Consoli. Visitors to the city can sign up for a five hour class beginning at 10am, where chef Andrea educates, entertains and carefully explains how to prepare four courses of traditional Roman dishes.

Chef Andrea with Ben and I

Chef Andrea with Ben and I

Classes are held for up to twelve people at a time and when all food has been prepared, Andrea turns into your waiter and serves the food in his dining room, with accompanying wines if you choose (and of course we did!).

This is a very popular thing to do in Rome, for good reason, see the TripAdvisor reviews here where it is rated #1 of classes and workshops in Rome, so expect the class to be full.

When we arrived at the location, we were sat at what would later be our dining table, where we got to know the other students and were served some delicious coffee and snacks. We were then taught about the dishes we would prepare, given aprons and directed into the kitchen. At first glance it’s a fairly small space, but this works out well as you’re forced to “get to know” your fellow students quickly and you truly feel like part of a “real” kitchen.

In the middle of the room all of the fresh ingredients were laid out. Andrea explained the importance of using fresh seasonal produce for the best flavour.

Fresh Ingredients laid out

Fresh Ingredients laid out

We were told many interesting facts about Italian food – the origins of different dishes e.g. Spaghetti alla puttanesca AKA “in the style of the whore.” – Chef Andrea explained that this dish was a favourite of these women to prepare as it was cheap and quick. They would leave steaming bowls of it by the window to draw in hungry patrons!

Chef Andrea explains...

Chef Andrea explains…

We were then divided up into pairs and helped with preparing and then cooking the dishes. Chef Andrea was never too far away and happy to answer any questions. He would stop us from time to time and show us how to do parts which were a bit trickier. He also called us out on our often patchy understanding of Italian food…

He was particularly unimpressed by my assumption that there is alcohol in tiramisu! Well, I now know that alcohol is only added to the tiramisu if it has not been eaten quickly – due to the raw egg content – as a preservative!

Starter – Carciofi alla Romana – Roman Style Artichokes


Preparing artichokes…

We were taught how to prepare and carve the artichokes – which was definitely not my strong point – there wasn’t much artichoke left after I’d finished! Then we stuffed each artichoke with mint, salt and pepper after which they were steamed in olive oil and water.


Artichokes in oil

First main course – Homemade Cavatelli shaped pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil leaves

Chef Ben!

Chef Ben!

This was probably the most interesting part for me – making fresh pasta from scratch. The pasta was made with semolina or durum wheat flour – no egg (which may surprise you) and water. The flour and water was kneaded into a dough, then using the below device and a special technique we learnt, it was rolled into the cavatelli pasta shape! It was then boiled until the pieces floated to the top. The end result was “al dente”, still firm.

Making the dough

Making the dough

Making pasta

Making pasta



When we returned to the UK we actually made this dish again for my mum, dad and sister – I forgot to take a picture but I can vouch that it turned out exactly like it did in the cooking school. We will certainly be preparing this dish again, nothing beats fresh pasta, it is divine!

Second main Course – beef “carpaccio” with cherry tomatoes, arugola and shaves of Parmesan Cheese

This dish contained thin strips of beef, which were fried lightly with garlic then mixed with arugula (rocket) and fresh diced tomatoes. I’ve never fried rocket before, but the end result was really tasty.

Lightly cooking the beef

Lightly cooking the beef

Side dish – Broccoli Romaneschi (Roman Style Broccoli)

The Roman broccoli is quite strange looking and took a long while to prepare. Ben and I were tasked with the titillating job of removing each tiny broccoli floret, and then pulling off the even smaller parts, before it was fried with garlic and chilli.

Roman broccoli

Roman broccoli

I have to say this may have (surprisingly) been my favourite dish of the day! It was aromatic and delicious.

Dessert -Traditional Tiramisù

Some of the group were surprised to find out that real tiramisu contains no cream, it’s egg whites, yolks and mascarpone cheese that provide the dessert’s creamy element.

Egg whites

Egg whites



We dipped ladyfinger biscuits into freshly brewed espresso, then whisked the egg whites with sugar. The yolks were then whisked with sugar and mixed with the mascarpone cheese. It sounds a lot easier than it was, but the finished dish was by far the best tiramisu I have ever tasted.

Time to eat!

At the end of the cooking class, we were sat at the table to devour our creations and a few glasses of wine – matched perfectly with each dish.

Beef with rocket and tomato

Beef with rocket and tomato

Cavatelli pasta

Cavatelli pasta



Roman Broccoli

Roman Broccoli

Tiramisu with a personal touch!

Tiramisu with a personal touch!

Cooking students dining together

Cooking students dining together

I can’t recommend Cooking Classes in Rome highly enough, it was interesting and so much fun.

It is a refreshing break from the crowded tourist traps and a productive way to spend your time in Rome if you only have a few days.

I’m certain if we go to Rome again, we will return! You can check out their Facebook page here.

Coco xo

5 tips for surviving (and enjoying) your first hike

Despite living in the land of swimming, surfing and sharks, and try as I might to fight it, I much prefer land activities to watersports – unlike my fiancé who is a complete water baby.

I have become more appreciative of the outdoors since living in a warm climate. It helps that it is easier to get up and about when the sun shines more often than not, and you rarely have to wear a jacket.

Over Christmas, Ben and I decided to take our first non-Europe/Australia holiday to New Zealand. Just a short three hour flight; I expected it to be similar to Australia but boy, was I wrong.

My first ever (proper) hike – The Milford Track

The biggest achievement from our two weeks in New Zealand was completing the Milford Track – a four day hike, carrying 10+kg backpacks, combatting relentless sandflies, staying in basic huts and preparing our own food – mostly freeze dried – that we carried with us in our packs.

Me on the boat from Te anau downs to the start of the Milford track

Me on the boat from Te anau downs to the start of the Milford track

The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ of which there are nine. It covers 53.5 km in Fiordland National Park, which is situated in the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island. You are in the middle of nowhere, and have to take a two hour boat journey from the nearest town, Te Anau to get to the start of the track.

There are two options to complete the route: a guided walk and an unguided walk. We did the unguided – which takes a day less, but is very basic and requires a reasonable amount of preparation including ensuring you are fit enough to carry a heavy pack for several days.

Ben and I at the start of the Milford Track

Ben and I at the start of the Milford Track

You begin the hike in groups of around forty, and have a day to reach each hut, but you can walk at your own speed. There is sufficient time to stop along the way – for a snack, a swim or even spend a few hours reading if you find somewhere scenic to relax.


At one of the highest parts of the track – snow in December in the southern hemisphere!


The hike was absolutely beautiful, and I often had to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming.

It evokes a real sense of freedom to be far from civilisation on an enforced digital detox! There were moments where I wanted to give up (although that’s not an option, unless you want to pay the extortionate chopper fee!), but the sense of achievement at the end was totally worth it.

There were some unexpected parts along the way, and things I wish I’d known beforehand – so I thought I’d share some advice to any newbies like I was.

Five tips for surviving and enjoying your first hike

…from absolute firsthand experience!

1. Do your research on bugs

It sounds like it wouldn’t be a huge deal – I mean, I live in Australia, there are mozzies here – no big deal, right? WRONG! One of the most challenging parts of the Milford Track was dealing with the sandflies. Trust me – even this guy agrees: ‘Sandflies are almost more annoying than mosquitoes, they are smaller but their bites itch even more than mosquito bites.’

At some of the huts I felt like I was going crazy! If I had known before, I would have bought industrial strength bug spray, but I only had some natural eucalyptus stuff which didn’t do a thing. One time I was in bed and they were flying around my face and I had a small hissy fit, a guy leant me his bushman repellent, two sprays and they left me alone. Lesson learnt!

So my advice to you, do some thorough research on any creatures – bugs or animals that may impact your experience and be fully prepared 🙂

2. Bring books and activities to pass the time

If you finish the track several hours faster than expected (which we did a few times) – you have quite a lot of time to kill in the huts. And you can’t go onto the next hut as everyone must stay in a group – there is also a group ahead of you, and behind. I was really glad to have a book with me, and we wish we’d also bought cards.

3. Chat with an experienced hiker before you go

We’re lucky because Ben’s mum is a seasoned hiker (or tramper as they call them in NZ). She goes on many trips – usually solo – all around the world and has done the Milford Track several times. She lent us cooking utensils, clothing, packs, waterproofs – she was a lifesaver.

She also advised us the best frozen packets of food to buy and other things we would never have known! I’m certain if not for her guidance beforehand, we would have forgotten several important things.

An example of the culinary delights available for pack hikers.

An example of the culinary delights available for pack hikers.

If you don’t have someone to check in with for advice, there are quite a few guides online and the Great Walks have a packing list here which is a good place to start.

4. Don’t underestimate the weather

Prepare for the worst – the weather took a turn for the worse on our last day. There was flooding on the track and more rain headed our way!

Being told the bad weather news.

Being told the bad weather news.

The ranger came and told us that we might not be able to leave as planned, which we were quite disappointed about given it was new year’s eve and we were looking forward to partying in Queenstown.

The track ahead of us was closed, so there was literally no way out!

There's no way you're getting past this piece of string...

There’s no way you’re getting past this piece of string…

At 6am on new year’s eve we were awoken by a ranger and ushered into the communal kitchen. We were you must pack and we must leave in 30 MINUTES or you won’t be able to leave the track and may have to pay to be choppered out!

So, we all packed and got ready to leave. In single file we were told to follow the ranger – and we did so for around 3 hours out of the final 6. We had to wade through flood water up to our waist, in the pouring rain. It’s one of those situations where at first you’re squeamish and uncomfortable – but you get to the point where you accept your fate and just focus on getting to the end.

Without wearing waterproofs and having sensible footwear, we might not have made it out in such good shape. We were wet, like everyone else, but thankfully we had our waterproof pack covers and waterproof jackets so it could have been a lot worse!

5. Be mindful and slow down

I found myself drifting off and focusing on the track ahead rather than my surroundings – especially after a few hours – I had to drag myself back into the present so I was able to look around, reflect and appreciate the beauty.

Being aware of how much better life is when you practice mindfulness is essential to being able to do it. Check out this guide from Zenhabits for some useful tips if you are not familiar with the concept.

And it’s not just a tip for hiking, it’s probably worth another blog post altogether because it is easy to underestimate the effect that being present in each moment has on the enjoyment of everyday life.

I look forward to returning to New Zealand sometime and tackling a different walk – it’s a wonderful place and so easy to get to from Australia.

Have you been hiking before? Where did you go? What advice would you give to a first timer?

Coco xo

2015 so far: sunshine, beaches & a PR

After a two month hiatus, I’m back!

I have had a busy few months – Ben & I went to New Zealand in December, and I unexpectedly had to return to the UK in January as unfortunately my grandmother passed away over Christmas.

I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to head back to England in September to spend some time with her, when she was almost fully aware, and able to recognise me. Dementia is an extremely difficult and upsetting illness for both the sufferer and the sufferer’s family. I would not wish it on anyone, but my grandma passed peacefully surrounded by family, which I am very thankful for.


RIP Nanny Miriam, you were a very special lady who will be sorely missed.

On to some happier news from the past weekend, where I entered into my first 10K race for some time, as I begin to train for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in July.

The Sun Run is a fairly challenging course, beginning at Dee Why Beach and ending at Manly Beach with a few hills along the way. There are two course distances – 7K and 10K – I entered into the latter with my father-in-law-to-be, Kim who is always up for a challenge.

Me & Kim before the race

Me & Kim before the race

The beautiful 10K coastal course is as follows:


And with perfect conditions of 16-18 degrees and bright sunshine allowing optimum performance, I actually ended up running my fastest ever 10K at 55.40 – despite a serious lack of training! I was enjoying the scenery and keeping a faster than usual pace with the other runners which allowed me to maintain a 5.34/km average page vs my usual 5.50 or so.

It goes to show that (good weather,) attitude and determination make a huge difference. I was in a such a good mood – see the below pic at the start for proof of that!


I’m considering trying out some trail running next, as it really helps when you are absorbed in your surroundings rather than stopping at traffic lights every 5 minutes. I’ll keep you posted what happens with that!

My training schedule for the next 5 months looks something like this..

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 2.45.27 pm

However, I have some horrible blisters at the moment because my trainers have been rubbing, so I am going to spin and swim while they heal this week. And I think it might be time for a new pair.

I also need to incorporate some strength training into my schedule, so I think I will either add in some extra evening sessions or add some weights before or after my runs. Any advice would be appreciated, so please let me know in the comments 🙂

Until next time!

Coco xo

The importance of setting ‘unachievable’ goals

This week saw the start of the Aussie summer! And as it’s almost the end of the year, which got me reminiscing about the past twelve months.

It’s been an eventful 12 months full of good news, bad news and hard work, both in and out of the office. The past few weeks have been particularly intense, as I have been supporting my fiancé Ben with a 6 days a week training schedule – partly dragging him out of bed in the mornings, partly keeping temptations away from him.

Ben and I set ourselves the “unachievable” target of completing one half marathon in 2014. Well, as we near the end of this year Ben has completed three and I have completed two. So we exceeded our goal. And how great that feels!

Not content with completing Blackmore’s Half Marathon, four months ago Ben decided to sign up for one of the greatest challenges out there, the Ironman 70.3.

The Ironman 70.3 is a long distance triathlon organised by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC). The “70.3” number refers to the total distance in miles (113.0 km) covered in the race. It begins with a 1.9km swim, then a 90km cycle and finally a half marathon (21.1km) – one after the other with no breaks!

Well, after finding a 16-week, extremely ambitious training schedule, Ben signed up and the training began. The early mornings and anti-social weekends were a challenge, not to mention having to give up his McDonalds habit (read back on some of his thoughts on the experience here). But 16 weeks later, and a fair few kilograms lighter, the day finally arrived and last weekend we travelled to Penrith for the big race!

High spirits during the run

High spirits during the run

Ben was spectacular and we were all immensely proud of his finishing time, 6 hours and 6 minutes. That’s a huge feat – particularly in 35 degree heat – and a brilliant finishing time for a triathlon virgin! Not to mention he raised over $1500 for the Redkite charity which supports young people suffering from cancer and their families.

For those not quite ready for a solo 70.3, there is also a team option where one person takes part in each stage. I think this could be quite a fun taster, and we’ve discussed entering as a team next year. I think I could handle the run, and maybe the cycle but my swimming isn’t really up to scratch as the cut off is 1 hour and I think I’d need double that :).

Ben cycling

Ben cycling

Beyond the Ironman 70.3, or a half Ironman as it is otherwise known, there is a full Ironman, which is double (!) the distances of the 70.3. Ben has spoken about doing this event sometime in the future, but I think for now he needs to allow his feet to heal as he suffered from Plantar Fasciitis throughout his training, and despite multiple warnings from the physiotherapist, he decided to continue training. Not exactly advisable, but he is stubborn 🙂

The lesson learnt for 2014, is that you shouldn’t shy away from setting yourself a seemingly unachievable goal.

You can and will prove your expectations wrong. It’s a new mind-set. It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary, stressful and hard work but believe me, the high you get from crossing the finish line of an event you never thought you could complete beats any other. And it’s not just the physical finish line after an event like this, I think the same principle can be applied to a challenge in any area of your life.

I’m feeling a bit anxious about attempting a full marathon next year, but that will be my ‘unachievable’ goal for 2015 🙂

We’re off to New Zealand over Christmas and New Year, travelling around the south island. So I’ll definitely have some adventures to report back on in the new year too (including a four day pack walk, staying in huts!).



And of course, many congratulations to Ben, you are my inspiration and I’m so incredibly proud of the strength of character you’ve shown over the past few weeks and months.

Coco xo