Sunday, 30 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday: seeing in 2013

This meal plan sees out 2012 and welcomes 2013 with a vigorous handshake and big hug. Resolutions to keep, weight to lose, it's a biggie.

Monday (New Year's Eve)
We're at a party tonight, seeing in the New Year around the world. So we start with India at 8pm, Russia at 9pm, Greece and Italy at 10-11pm, then UK, and if we make it, Brazil. We've been allocated Russia.

Homemade blinis, with soured cream and caviar or smoked salmon, and beetroot and goats cheese.

Black Russians and Moscow mules to drink.

Tuesday (New Year's Day)
Roast lamb (if we can still see after all the vodka).

Leftover lamb soupy stew thing

Spaghetti bolognaise

Chicken balti

Cottage pie

Roast chicken

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Splurging and getting away with it

In the months I was training for my marathon I gained about a stone in weight (that's just over 6 kg for those of you who work that way). I remember weighing myself and being completely horrified. Surely I shouldn't GAIN weight if I'm running so far?

Truth is, I was constantly hungry, my body was obviously saying to me "What are you doing woman? Stop running so far, I can't keep up!". I think I was also saying to myself that I could eat all the chocolate and crisps in the house because it was justified.

A bit of refocusing in September and I managed to lose half the weight I'd gained, and creep back under my "Don't Go Over This Weight" level that I'd set myself last year. Then I stopped running for a few weeks because of my knee injury, so I became even stricter with myself about my diet. Although I refused to weigh myself because I decided there was no point. Plus, I could still fit into my jeans!

By 7 pm on the evening after I'd run the marathon, I had only eaten 1 bowl of porridge, 3 mini flapjacks, 2 cereal bars, and about five carbohydrate gels, plus several litres of water and a pint of cider. I was probably 2000 calories in deficit what my body needed! For the next 4 hours I proceeded to drink 2 bottles of prosecco and eat ALL the Chinese food the takeaway man could provide. This eating all the food and drinking all the wine has basically continued unabated until this week.

I didn't dare weigh myself until today. I thought over the past 2 weeks I must have gained that half stone back and be over my "Don't Go Over This Weight" level. But I had somehow lost 2 lb. It seems running so far takes a lot out of you (who'd have thought that?!), not just mentally and physically, but nutritionally. I'm surprised the effects are so long-lasting. I've not been exercising regularly enough to burn excess calories, so it's not that.

I've decided 2 weeks of splurging is probably my limit, so I'm back being sensible with my diet. It's quite hard though since I'm so used to eating 4 small meals while my kids are at school!

I'm back running too *happy face*

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Running target

At the beginning of 2012 I was set a target by a friend to run 1000 miles in the year. This total meant I would need to run just over 80 miles a month, and about 20 miles a week. I decided the target was very achievable, since I would be training for a marathon during the year.

I've been logging all my training on January to April saw me achieve my monthly targets, helped along the way by a couple of races that I had to train for. May was the first month in which I ran more than 100 miles, but I had a "rest" in June and only managed 65!

With marathon training underway, I attained 100+ miles for the next 3 months. But then of course, October came, and I stopped running completely until just before Preston Marathon. My monthly total was 40, two-thirds of that was my race!

There are 7 weeks to go until the end of 2012 (not that I'm counting). My current total is 930 miles, so I have to crack 10 miles a week between now and December 31. That's half the weekly total I originally had to meet, so at the rate I was running earlier in the year, I would easily achieve the target of 1000 miles. However, I'm not running as many times a week now, or as far as I used to.

Will I do it? Will my dodgy knees hold out? I'm not as confident as I was in January, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Preston Guild Marathon

It's over a week now since I ran Preston Guild marathon, my first marathon. Yes, I ran a marathon! All the way.

The race was the first weekend of school half term, so we travelled up to Preston after school on Friday evening, to stay with my parents. I packed about 4 different sets of running gear, just in case I felt uncomfortable in something on the day. I didn't pack a long sleeve top or a jacket though, because I'd not trained in one, but I would regret that decision!

The day before the race was dry but cold. I travelled to Preston with my family to attend the race expo, where I collected my race number and chip and received my souvenir T-shirt. I also met up with my schoolfriend Damian, who I was going to run the marathon with. We saw Liz McColgan and Helen Clitheroe at the event; apparently Liz McColgan was telling people she had to have a toe amputated. That's some reassuring running advice for you.

1130: sadly not the time I would be finished by!

Some friends had warned me SNOW was predicted for Sunday. Nooo! I didn't have any warm clothing to protect me from snow other than a pair of gloves and my hat. By Saturday evening I was resigned to the fact it was definitely going to rain. The weather forecast had a big blue patch over the whole of Lancashire for the whole day. But I decided rain would be OK because it would raise the temperature, so I wouldn't be cold! I finalised my kit, deciding to put in my gloves just in case it was cold first thing. I also sorted my food and drink, a bottle of an isotonic drink (not advisable to race with an untried food or drink, but I was worried after my Baldock Beast experience that I might need the energy) and three flapjack fingers that I'd originally bought for the kids' lunches!

Sunday morning, I was up at 5:30am for porridge. The clocks had gone back an hour overnight so I didn't feel too bad at the early start, plus I'd slept surprisingly well. By 7am I was on my way to Preston with my mum and dad (my husband and children were coming along for the finish, because of the cold weather and long wait between start and finish). It was FREEZING. Really cold. And it started to rain heavily just as we arrived in Preston. Marvellous. Inside Race HQ it was much warmer. I met up with Damian and we discussed whether we should wear jackets for the race. We decided not to because the rain had stopped and we would warm up as we ran.

My race number under my T-shirt makes me look podgy!

Heading to the start was exciting. So many other runners, probably similar to Standalone 10K in number but the noise was intense! We placed ourselves in the 4 hour group to avoid being passed by too many faster runners but to ensure we didn't have to pass lots of slower people. I had my phone in a bum bag tucked inside my running trousers, I had bought an app called MyWhereAbouts that was set up to tweet and post to Facebook every 1 mile, and I started this 5 minutes before the race start so I wasn't fiddling about. Garmin was ready to go, and then the crowd cheered and the gun fired and we were off!

Just before the start. Happy and relaxed. And no rain!

The first mile was crazy. Loads of people around us all settling into their stride. The route was downhill for the first few miles, so we were quite quick. We soon settled down into a good pace. The first water station at mile 3 had water and gels available. I took both to make sure I was hydrated and I was still worrying about any potential lack of energy.

3 miles in. Copyright R&R Photos

I had gloves on at this point, but by the time we got back to Preston at 5 miles I was hot. I saw my mum and dad again and handed them over. I regretted that decision about 10 minutes later, when the rain started. A downpour. And not just rain, but wind. Cold wind. Unfriendly weather.

Now, you all know about my knee troubles in the weeks before this event. My physio had advised me to carry painkillers and use them at the first sign of pain. At about mile 10 I started to feel a niggle in my knee, nothing massively painful, but I wanted to be safe, so I took my painkillers and felt good. Unfortunately, less than a mile later, Damian suddenly said he had to walk, his foot was really hurting. I didn't mind a walk at that point, gave me a chance to eat something. But bloody hell Damian! It was supposed to be me not you getting injured!

We continued running and walking for another 10 miles. It was a good strategy really. Meant I was not too tired, well hydrated, and full of energy gel. We kept passing and being passed by the same couples of runners. That was quite nice really because we struck up some good banter and made the experience even more fun and enjoyable. Everyone enjoys a moan about the weather. I was also happy to hear my phone beeping every mile or so, knowing that it probably meant another tweet had been sent and someone was wishing me luck. Those random beeps really kept my spirits high, it's a self-centered thing to say, but I felt happy knowing people were thinking about me.

I should say something now about the marshals, before I forget. They were simply brilliant. It was pouring down, really heavy rain. We were soaked through, but we were moving. These guys were stood for several hours providing support. They were drenched, cold, but never miserable. They always had something cheerful to say to us. And the spectators too were great. I made a point of chatting to as many people as I could, thanking them for coming out in the rain. And the little children too, they were so happy to be shouting at random people!

Anyway, now we are passed mile 20. The time is 4 hours; I'm getting cold and really want to be finished within 5 hours. Damian suddenly tells me he has to stop because he's not feeling great, and I decide now is the time we're going to have to run alone. I felt very very bad for leaving him, especially because he didn't look good. But it was definitely the right time (don't worry, he was fine!). I felt rested, surprisingly, and full of energy. I ran the next mile in less than 10 minutes I think! I eventually settled down into a steady pace. Just kept pushing myself on, telling myself I had 10K to run, then 5K, then 1 mile. I was also enjoying passing all the runners who had passed us earlier. I do like picking people off. I have no compassion.

I wasn't exactly sure how much farther I had to run. My Garmin didn't seem to accord with the mile markers. As I passed the mile 26 marker, we turned onto an off ramp from the bypass. It took us down and under the road. What goes down must come up. The final uphill stretch was so steep, my knee finally decided it had had enough and started to be very painful. I did shout a lot at that point. I was running so fast too. I could sense the end, and my watch said 4:58:00. I was going to make sub 5 hours! As I rounded a corner into the finish straight I was struck by two things: the clock said 4:59:30, and my children, husband, niece and nephew, sister, brother-in-law, and my parents were all there cheering me. I completely lost it.

Me, blubbing like a baby

As I crossed the line I heard the commentator say "And ladies and gentlemen a big cheer to this lady who is the last runner to finish under 5 hours", and I did get a big cheer. I was a bit shocked. I started to hyperventilate a bit. Needed to calm down! I received my medal and stood in a bit of a daze for a minute until I saw my family again. I then most importantly stopped the app on my phone, glanced at it quickly to take in the extent of the messages I'd received, WOW! I had 100 mentions in total. You guys are great x

Mouth full of flapjack, soaked to the skin, phone in hand
Post-race changing is always a bit tricky. I was cold and wet, but very thankful I'd packed warm dry clothes to change into. Not so happy about having to walk up two flights of stairs to get changed. We met up with Damian again (he finished in 5:17) and enjoyed a pint in the dodgiest pub in Preston before heading home for a bath and some food.

Tired and a bit achey, but very pleased

I don't think I'll ever run another marathon. The training was so hard and the event is very tough. Perhaps I had a poorer experience than other people because of my knee trouble and the bad weather on the day. If I do run another it'll have to be a special one!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Self-doubt (and one week to go)

This time next week I will have run my first marathon. And quite probably my last marathon. Even if I have to walk or hop, I shall complete the course.

My knee hasn't been miraculously cured, despite 4 weeks of physio and lots of rest (no running--I missed Standalone 10K it was that serious). I was diagnosed with "runner's knee"; my kneecap doesn't move as it should and my body has compensated by causing instability elsewhere. According to my physio, I've only been using my hamstrings to run with. I didn't know that was possible.

I've now started Pilates to strengthen my core, bring some feeling into my gluts and hip muscles (bum clenches anyone?), and learn to stabilise my body. I also swim once a week to get some cardio exercise in and work further on my gluts. Add to that my physio exercises and I'm not really missing the running.

Except I can't ignore the fact I have a marathon to run. It's this Sunday. I've raised almost £200 for my kids' school through sponsorship and a sweepstake. So I can't cancel the race like I did Standalone.

I'm not nervous. I've run 18 miles before. I've run/walked 20 miles. I know I can do the distance. It's the time I'm unsure of. And how much pain I'll be in at the end. I'm worried about when the pain will start too. Previously it was kicking in at 10 miles; last week I did a test run and it started about 1 mile in.

Keep your eye on Twitter. I'll be autotweeting every mile via MyWhereAbouts, with the hashtag #prestonguildmara

Meal planning Monday: 22/10/12

This week's meal plan is quite an important one: I have food to use up in the fridge, and I'm running a marathon on Sunday. Oh my goodness, I think I'm about to faint.

Thai chicken curry and rice

Peppered steaks, new potatoes, and salad

Slow-cooked BBQ pork with mash and sweetcorn

Chicken drumsticks, chips, and veg


Simple meat pasta dish

A banquet

Friday, 28 September 2012

The History of Hurty Knee (and 4 weeks to go)

Marathon race day looms (4 weeks!), and sadly so does the realisation that I have more than just "hurty knee".

The History of Hurty Knee is quite dull really. It started in early September during one Sunday long run, I was supposed to run 18 miles but cut short at 13 when my knee became painful. That was the sensible option.

Icing and rest that week saw me feeling better, so I attempted my first 20 mile run, which I had decided was to be 3x 10Ks and then "a bit", to make it easier to persuade friends to join me. That was all going well until 10 miles in, when I decided I needed a walk because of my sore knee again. I only managed another 4 miles running before calling it a day and walking the last 6 miles. But, I had covered 20, so psychologically I was happy.

Lots of ice and rest for about 10 days (OK, not strict rest, just no midweek running or circuit classes), including a sports leg massage, then I headed back to run club for some short runs, before another 18 mile attempt last Sunday. Again, 10 miles in, I get knee pain. I stretch my IT band, calves, and hamstring. I run again. I walk a bit, I stretch more. I get quite cross and decide I'm never going to finish the marathon. But, I manage to cover 18 miles.

So this week, I decided to properly enforce my rest. NO running AT ALL, no classes, nothing. Until last night (Thursday), when I walked up to run club to collect my new club top and ended up being asked so nicely if I could take the intermediate group on a 5 mile run. Since I was "feeling OK actually" I agreed!

This morning I had no pain, but my leg was clicking! Weird. During the morning my ankle and hip started to ache, not acute pain, just feeling weak. So I decided, that's it. I need to see a physio.

Thanks to my friend Becca I've got an appointment next Wednesday. And some reassurance that I might be OK in a few weeks.

Just need to get past Standalone 10K next Sunday and then I can rest properly. Until marathon day anyway!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Meal-planning Monday: 24/9/12

No weight loss last week, but I'm still happy with that. Although, I've eaten a lot of food this weekend because the in-laws were visiting (they make me GORGE), so I'm expecting to have put a few lb on this week. That's not reflected in my meal plan. It's currently raining so I'm thinking about hearty stews, mash, and the like.

Sausage, egg, and beans

Chicken and bacon casserole with rice

Scampi, chips, and salad

Lamb kebabs with pittas and salad

Pork steaks, mash, and veg

Eating out/roast dinner

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's blog for other plans, and Twitter too.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A whispered conversation

My husband likes to whisper words to my daughter, who then passes on the words to me. Bit like Chinese whispers except she usually translates correctly. Teaches her some terrible phrases but anyway, he's just a BAD MAN :-)

4yo: Would it kill you to put some coffee on?

Me: *laughing* I'll do it in a minute, I'm just cooking dinner.


Me: OK!!

4yo: I'm not getting any younger over here.

Me: I can see that.

After about 5 minutes

4yo: Have you gone to Brazil for the beans yourself?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: 6 weeks to go

I changed my training plan 3 times last week! Ended up doing an interval session on Thursday evening at running club, 6x 400 m at 5K pace. I managed them fine and was very pleased with the results. Add to that a 10K on Sunday with some friends and now I am raring to go with some speedwork again. How did that happen?!

This week I can't do my long run on Sunday because we have guests all weekend and my daughter has a party to go to on Sunday, so Friday morning it is. I'm also doing an "hour of planks" challenge this week that Pete Luxford has set via Facebook. So I shall have abs of steel by Saturday!

Circuits AM
5K at pace



2 miles with beginners group
4-6 miles with intermediates

16 miles


4 or 5 miles

Now is the time to start nagging you all to sponsor me too. I'm raising funds for St Mary's Academy in Stotfold. There is no online sponsor page so I'll be running after you all with a sponsor form and pen. I hope you can run faster than me if you don't want to sponsor me...

Also, I'll be running a Marathon Sweepstake, if you can guess my race time you will win a prize, either a bottle of something nice or a box of something sweet, depending on age and preference. If you want to take part I'll be at St Mary's Academy Autumn Fayre on Saturday October 6th from 2 pm. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Meal-planning Monday:17/9/12

Happy Monday! I woke up before my alarm today, I'm feeling remarkably chirpy. It won't last.

Last week I lost another 4lb, I've managed to get back running, 20 miles on Sunday followed by a few sessions in the week, so of course I'm losing weight again. Need to find a balance, it's so tricky.

This week we have evening commitments and weekend visitors, all good fun.

Grilled gammon steaks, potato wedges, and salad

As with last week, bake the wedges in the oven and the fat content is reduced from chips.

Cheese toasties for the kids, something for me and hubs...

Today is after-school hectic madness. As long as my children get fed I don't mind what we eat!

Spaghetti bolognaise

Eat less pasta to reduce calorie intake, I weigh the pasta before I cook it so I know I've not cooked an excessive amount.

Scampi/fish fingers and chips, with salad/baked beans

Cottage pie

My husband eats this with white bread. He makes cottage pie sandwiches. (I wouldn't recommend this as a weight loss idea. Just saying!)

Eating out

Roast beef

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's blog for other plans, and Twitter too.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Meal-planning Monday: 10/9/12

Back on the diet and back losing weight, just what I wanted to see! 3 lb lost last week. I was a bit unhappy that I couldn't run or exercise during the week because of a knee injury, so I was determined to make sure I didn't snack too much.

I kept reminding myself of a phrase I saw earlier in the week on Twitter: "Why Am I Eating This?". I think it's a good phrase to keep in your head because it makes you think about what the food is you're eating and the reasons you need it. So if you have your head in the fridge and are contemplating a piece of cheese think about why you need the food, and remember cheese contains fat! Cheese also contains protein so if you've been running it's probably OK to have a small piece! (A glass of milk would be better though.) That phrase stopped me eating crisps and chocolate last week, and from drinking wine. At least midweek anyway!

Now to the meal plan, with a few calorie-cutting tips thrown in.

Slow-roasted lamb shoulder with new potatoes and veg

We should've had this on Sunday but went to an impromptu BBQ instead! A lovely Monday dinner though :)

Egg, chips, and beans

Nice simple tea because we have evening commitments and need to be fed and out. To cut fat I poach the eggs.


White fish with a pea risotto

I've put white fish because it depends what the shop has. I've been buying River Cobbler a lot recently because it's a really meaty white fish and very cheap. It does need flavour adding, a lime and chilli dressing would go nicely with the risotto.

Spaghetti bolognaise

I've made this with lean steak mince and lots of hidden vegetables so my children are getting their 5-a-day! To cut calories further, turkey mince is a good substitute, but make sure you season well because it can be bland otherwise.

Honey pork chipolatas and spicy potato wedges

Potato wedges are easy to make yourself and are healthier than chips. Use a spray oil to reduce fat and bake in the oven.

Saturday and Sunday meals are always decided on the day. Gives scope for takeaway (or a meal in a restaurant, I can dream!).

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's blog for other plans, and Twitter too.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: 7 weeks to go

Last week's plan didn't go well! After writing it I changed the tempo run to Monday to accomodate a Tuesday evening night out for my husband (which he didn't go to, grrr), so I subsequently aggravated my sore knee from Sunday and had to spend the rest of the week on the sofa. NOT HAPPY.

Anyway, the Sunday 20-miler is STILL ON, so that's good news. If all else goes to plan, the rest of the week should look like this.

Monday: A massive rest (including a sports leg massage!)
Tuesday: 2-3 mile walk then a core workout at home
Wednesday: Circuits (yes I will take it easy)
Thursday: Club night (tentative!), 2 miles then 4 miles (slowly, hopefully)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: More rest
Sunday: Standalone 10K route, at my planned race pace.

EDIT: I've revised this plan since I wrote it on Saturday. I didn't realise how sore my legs would feel after the 20 miles (ran 14, walked 6). Intervals doesn't seem necessary at the moment, I might do them next week in preparation for Standalone 10K and since I won't have done a long run on Sunday.

As you can see, plans can be changed! Don't be ruled by the plan!

Monday, 3 September 2012

Meal Planning Monday: 3/9/12

I've not written a meal plan for months, but I need to get back on them because I've gained a lot of weight in the past 2 months. I'm under the false impression that I can eat what I like because I'm running so much at the moment. That's not true, I can't eat my bodyweight in pizza (I have tried). So, I need to plan healthy, family-friendly, suitable-for-marathon-training meals.

Baked potatoes (tuna, cheese, beans, etc)


Prawn or chicken salad with new potatoes



Scampi, chips, and salad


Beef casserole


Chicken in black bean sauce and rice


Roast dinner

Please check out the other meal plans over on Mrs M's blog, and on Twitter.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: problems and solutions (week 12)

In 8 weeks time, I should hopefully be sitting in in a warm pub eating my bodyweight in steak (or if I'm unlucky, in a cold bath). Yes, race day approacheth.

I've come a long way from those early long runs when I was struggling at 14 miles with glut pain and odd cravings :) Despite the obvious fatigue and soreness, I've found the 16-18 mile runs fairly manageable. I've made sure I've been well hydrated and carried food with me (or taken money), so I've not had energy issues. And the leg pain seems to have abated.

Today saw my first setback, so to speak, when my planned 18 mile run ended in knee pain at 13 miles. I was disappointed, but on reflection I can take positives.

  • 13 miles is better than nothing at all. 
  • I recognised I was in pain and stopped before it got serious. 
  • I ran the Standalone 10K route twice, so I'm very familiar with the hills and flat sections now ready for that race on October 7th.
  • I had time to think about future long runs, plans for routes, and how to tempt people to join me!

When I've had company on my runs in the past, I've enjoyed them more and run slightly faster than I would on my own, so I'd prefer to do this more often if I can. Also, splitting long runs into several shorter loops means that I can meet people at different points (at an acceptable time for a Sunday morning!), and I can refill my water bottle and pick up food.

Something I still need to work on is my speed work. I'm acutely aware that I have a 10K race coming up, and I would really like to finish it in about 47 minutes (7:30 min/mile pace). To do this I need to work on getting faster but, at the moment, I'm struggling to maintain a fast pace during a tempo run, I'm just unable to push myself on my own. The fastest I've achieved over a mile since June is 7:46 and that was really hard. I've not had much motivation to run during the school holidays. With very little time to work during the day, my evenings (when I would usually run) have been taken up working. I've also gained near on 10 lb since July, which will definitely not have helped. I'm going to have to get to grips with eating and drinking properly and planning speed sessions to do on my own.

Anyway, back to marathon training. (My aim with that is to finish, and hopefully within 4.5 hours.)

Week 12 (Sept 3-9)
Monday: X-training (circuits)
Tuesday: 1.5 mile warm up, 4 alternating 9:30/7:30 pace, 1.5 cool down
Wednesday: X-training (circuits) followed by 3 miles easy
Thursday: 2 miles run-walk followed by 4-6 miles of some description
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles easy
Sunday: 20 miles: 3x Standalone route (about 6.5 miles each loop), plus a bit :)

I'm hoping to tempt a few intermediate Stotfold Runners to join me on the 10K runs, they need to learn the route anyway ;-)

Monday, 27 August 2012

Wii Fit Woe

I've just weighed myself to see how bad the holidays have been (and they're not over yet either). They've been bad! I'm a bit sad now. Oh well. One last camping trip and then I'm back on the soup and salad.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Local library summer reading challenge

On the first day of the school holidays I took my two to our local library. We always go in the summer; it's something to do that takes up a bit of time, and there's nothing wrong with reading a few extra books! This year (as usual) there is a Summer Reading Challenge, this one is called Story Lab.

When you sign up at the library you get a cardboard "lab" to take home, and every time you read a book you get a set of stickers that complete the picture on the "lab". Once you've read 6 books you get a certificate to say you've completed the challenge.

The Story Lab
All the stickers in place :-)
My two have really enjoyed this year's challenge. They've read lots of different books. My eldest has taken a few non-fiction books out and has been telling me all about countries around the world or supercars! My youngest took out a book called How High Is The Sky, a really lovely story with facts at the end about our atmosphere and space. 

We went into the library on Monday to return our books and get our stickers and were told there was a treasure hunt to do around the library too. They both rushed off to do that, which gave me time to browse the fiction section for a change!

There's still plenty of time to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge at your local library, or if you don't fancy that you can sign up on the Story Lab website

Monday, 13 August 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: weeks 9, 10, and 11 training

Looking back at my plans for weeks 6-8, I did both the runs while I was camping, and my mother-in-law even went for a run while we were there. It's all the rage don't you know?! Last week I made club on both days and ran 7 miles (2+5) at each session. The intermediate sessions both turned into 5-mile tempo runs, some good speedwork but I was so tired after! So on Saturday I decided to run 4 miles rather than the 8 I had planned. The 17 miler on Sunday was broken up into 7 miles with Pete from club and then 10 miles with my friend Scott (another club member). The pace was slightly faster than previous long runs, which gives me some hope of running the marathon faster than I am in training.

I went through my marathon training plan this morning (12 weeks to go!) and revised it, adding in detail about the types of runs I want to be doing each day and the routes. I've been thinking about my training a lot during the Olympics, our Gold Medal rush was very inspiring! I definitely want to increase the cross-training I do because it's fairly evident from photos of our athletes that one of the keys to success is a strong core.

This is where I insert a gratuitous photo of Jess Ennis and her abs.

Courtesy of

So anyway, the next few weeks. This week is "cutback week" since I've had 3 consecutive weeks of long runs now (16.5, 16, and 17).

Week 9 (Aug 13-19)
Monday: Rest (I AM RESTING!) Might do some ab work later.
Tuesday: 2 miles with beginners group at running club then 4-6 miles with the intermediates later.
Wednesday: Circuits
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 30 minute run, including hill sprints
Saturday: 45 minute run
Sunday: Rest

Week 10 (Aug 20-26)
Monday: 7 miles.
Tuesday: 2 miles with beginners group at running club then 4-6 miles with the intermediates later.
Wednesday: Interval session
Thursday: 2 miles with beginners then 4-6 miles with intermediates.
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 7 miles, running fast up the hills
Sunday: 17 miles (my "plan" says 13 of these should be at race pace, I'll revisit this nearer the day!)

Week 11 (Aug 27-Sept 2)
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 30 minute run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 40 minute run, including hill sprints
Saturday: 4 mile tempo run
Sunday: 18 miles

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: weeks 6, 7, and 8 training

Week 6 (July 23-29)
Monday: 6 miles planned but I missed this run
Tuesday: 7 miles (2 + 5 miles at club). Missed the 5 miler due to feeling unwell
Wednesday: circuit training (did the 5 miler this morning)
Thursday: interval training (actually ran-walked 2.5 miles then ran another 4 at an easy pace)
Saturday: 6 miles (was a very hot day so ran 3 miles instead)
Sunday: 16 miles

I've just finished week 6 by recording my longest ever run so far, 16.5 miles. Safety came to mind today; I kept seeing the same man around Letchworth and I was a bit creeped out. In the end I aborted the route I was going to run (which became fairly secluded at one point) and ran up and down residential streets, in case I needed help. I need to rethink my running routes and strategy for the future, perhaps asking a friend to come along for some of my run, although I doubt many friends will want to get up at 4am to join me!  

The other thing to note about this week is flexibility. I have a plan and I try to stick to it, but I don't beat myself up if I miss a run.

Week 7 (July 30-Aug 5)
Tuesday: 40 minute run
Thursday: 30 minute fartlek
Saturday: 6 miles
Sunday: 16 miles

On my hols this week, so I've not planned runs of a particular distance, just to time. This is to avoid putting pressure on myself to find a 6 mile route, and to stop any family tension, so I can just say "I'm going running, I'll be back in half an hour" and that sounds acceptable!

Week 8 (Aug 6-12)
Monday: circuit training, taking my kids so they can see what I do!
Tuesday: 8 miles club run. Hopefully with the club but might run early for work and family reasons
Wednesday: circuit training
Thursday: some sort of speedwork or tempo session
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 17 miles

I'm trying to follow a principle I read on Hal Higdon's marathon training guide about running half your long run the day before so your long run is on tired legs, to simulate marathon conditions. It frankly sounds terrifying, so I might make Saturday's run a fastish 4 instead!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

How low in fat is "low fat"?

Sorry, this is not an intelligent post about hidden fat in so-called "healthy" food (although I watched a TV programme about that recently). This is me, wondering aloud to myself exactly what I can eat now.

My doctor told me today to avoid "fatty foods" (and alcohol *sob*) because my gallbladder is inflamed again. Darn it. My summer of camping trips full of alcohol and barbecued sausages and burgers looks to be IN TATTERS!! (I'm full of woe, just ignore me.)

My idea of fatty foods are those full of saturated fat: pork and lamb, cheese, chocolate, crisps, all the good stuff. But what about polyunsaturated fats? Can I still eat those? Nuts and seeds, oily fish? Can I eat ANY fat (I do love a bit of cheese)? Questions I should've asked my doctor this morning. Gah.

So here I am, hungry and craving that Crunchie in the fridge or a packet of crisps. I guess I'll just have to buy more apples.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: weeks 3, 4, and 5 training

I'm now on week 5 of marathon training. Looking back to week 2, I fell ill with cholecystitis at the beginning of the week, so that first weekend's long run didn't happen. I made up for it with a 13 miler in week 2, but it was not great at all (I ran the afternoon after a party and took no water, very bad of me). Two of my planned midweek runs didn't happen either. Oh well.

Week 3 (July 2-8)
Tuesday: 6.5 miles (2.5 miles easy and 4 miles tempo)
Wednesday: circuit training
Thursday: 8 miles (2 miles run-walk and 6 miles fast-paced)

The 6 mile run was complicated by abdominal issues again, this time I disagreed with a carbohydrate drink I'd had before I set off. If you are running for longer than an hour you need to take some form of sports drink or gel to replace energy you've used. It's a good idea to try out drinks and foods to find the one that suits you. I've used gels and beans before. I don't suit drinks, that's fine though! Now I know.

Friday: 4 miles easy
Sunday: 15 miles

On Sunday I ran at 3 pm, not the usual time of day I run. Plus, I'd worked out I had to be home in 2.5 hours (for dinner), and that meant running at 10 min/miles. A bit too fast to tackle my first 15 miler. Anyway, I did it but it was painful, especially in my right glut and hamstring. And I was craving ice water with lemon slices when I got to 14 miles.

Week 4 (July 9-15)
Tuesday: 3 miles sprint intervals
Wednesday: circuit training
Thursday: 2 miles + 4 miles, easy paced
Friday: 3.5 miles easy
Saturday: 15 miles

Another crack at 15 miles early on Saturday morning (4:45am!). Much better pace this time, only took me an extra 10 minutes but the slower pace meant I didn't have much discomfort. This run I took lots of water and a small flapjack for energy. I've not eaten Real Food on a run before so this was something I wanted to try. I didn't get indigestion or feel nauseous, so that's a good sign. Still had a niggling pain in my right glut, but a walk and a massage of the sore area at 14 miles helped a lot. This week I was craving digestive biscuits and lucozade original at 14 miles.

Week 5 (July 16-22)
Tuesday: 6 miles easy
Wednesday: circuit training
Thursday: 2 miles easy + 4 miles tempo
Saturday: 8 miles

Cut back week this week so my long run is an "easy" 8 miles. And my fourth run has moved to Monday in week 6 (6 miles easy) to fit in around family events. So week 6 will be a fun one. Perhaps I'll remember to blog it in advance too!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Meal planning Monday: 16/7/12

A shorter plan this week because weekend meals will be eaten elsewhere.

I was originally planning sausages and mash but my children have both just declared "we had mash yesterday!". I didn't realise it was illegal to have mash twice in 2 days. Anyway, now we are having...

"Pork meatballs" with chinese-style sauce, fried rice, and vegetables

(When I say vegetables, I usually mean tinned sweetcorn and frozen peas...)

Spaghetti bolognaise

I made bolognaise sauce at the weekend and there is loads left. I might let them have garlic bread if I'm feeling kind.

Cheese and beans on toast

I blinking love cheese and beans on toast.

Tuna and egg salad

Bit like tuna nicose but not as posh.

Don't forget to check out the Twitter hashtag #mealplanningmonday and the link up at Mrs M's blog for other meal ideas.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Meal planning Monday: 9/7/12

I didn't plan meals last week because we had so much party food left. We just ate cheese and beef all week. Terribly healthy.

This week should be more interesting because we went shopping and bought food.

Pizza and chips

Oh yeah, interesting! My daughter had a friend over for tea and asked for pizza, so we all had it.

Sea bream with tomato couscous

Hubs and I want to try different types of fish since cod is expensive and salmon from Tesco looks well manky these days. The Saucy Fish Co had a deal on sea bream with a tomato dressing this week, so I think I'll cook it with roasted tomatoes and couscous.

Spanish omelette

I'm going to make this, they will all hate it. I'm doing it anyway.

Piri piri chicken with rice and sweetcorn

Sausages and mash

Eating out.

Roast dinner of some description.

Don't forget to check out the Twitter hashtag #mealplanningmonday and the link up at Mrs M's blog for other meal ideas.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Meal planning Monday: 25/6/12

Hello. Bit behind schedule this week but better late than never. This week we are Busy with a capital buh. School summer concerts mean we need early and easy teas on two nights. There's also some sort of party a-happening at the weekend...

Fish fingers, chips, and baked beans

Oven-baked risotto

Cheesy pasta

Who said Pasta N Sauce? No-one, that's who.

Pork steaks, mash, and vegetables

Scrambled eggs on toast (yes I know it's Friday!)

Party food! Homemade pate and guacamole, French sticks, sausages, cooked meats, CHEESE. It's going to be delicious and gout-inducing.

Nothing ;-)

Don't forget to check out the Twitter hashtag #mealplanningmonday and the link up at Mrs M's blog for other meal ideas.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Preston Guild Marathon: weeks one and two training

Earlier this year I'd started thinking to myself that I'd like to run a marathon, just to do it once and say I had. I'm a bit mental like that. Probably didn't help that a lot of my running pals were in training for the Virgin London Marathon at the time!

I decided I would have to run a marathon in autumn so I could fit in long-run training during the light summer mornings and evenings. I searched online for events in September, October, and November, and finally found a link to Preston Guild Marathon. It's fairly special because the Guild is only on every 20 years. Another bonus is that it is close to my family, so I'll have a place to stay before and recover after.

My winter and spring season of races ended on Friday with Marston Forest 5K, and I'd always said to myself that marathon training would begin on Monday proper. I'm already trained up to half marathon standard, and I have run up to 15 miles in the past month, so I'm starting my training at about 10 miles and building up from there. With a lot of 5K runs completed in the past month, I'm also keen to continue with speedwork, because this will help me improve further.

Week one looks like this:

Monday: 4 miles speedwork (I actually did a fartlek run, which is a run of varying speeds)
Tuesday: 6 miles "easy" (I ran with my fast friend Ralph, so this turned into another speed session, getting progressively faster with each mile)
Wednesday: X-training (circuit training)
Thursday: 4-5 miles "easy". It's Club night, so this run will break down into a 2+ mile run-walk session followed by an easy 3-5 mile run, depending on who I need to run with.
Friday: REST!
Saturday: 4-5 miles easy
Sunday: 10 miles easy

Week two

Monday: X-training (circuits)
Tuesday: Club night, hoping to make a run with the club tonight, 3-5 miles easy
Wednesday: 4 miles speedwork (whatever I fancy!)
Thursday: Club night, total 5-8 miles easy
Friday: REST
Saturday: 3-5 miles
Sunday: 11 miles

Monday, 18 June 2012

Meal planning Monday: 18/6/12

Last week's plan went well, the homemade fishcakes were rather too mashy and not enough fishy, but that's just fine tuning for next time. They still got eaten. We had steak on Saturday rather than bolognaise because we invited friends over for an impromptu dinner party. This means I have already spent the week's food budget in one day, so this week's plan is about scrimping from the freezer and cupboards.

EDIT: my mum emailed me to say she doesn't eat pork, "I told you this before", so I have amended Friday and Saturday evening's meals! I'm still doing bacon baguettes for lunch though ;-)

Kids: Cheesy broccoli pasta
Us: Homemade chicken curry and naan bread

My son is at a Beaver's event tonight so he will need to eat early with his sister. There is some leftover chicken from Sunday, so I'll make a curry with that for us.

Burgers and chips

I bought fresh burgers for Friday evening but didn't use them all, so these need eating.

EDIT: scrapped the baked potatoes in favour of instant noodles (kids) and poached eggs on toast (us). One poorly daughter and one slightly poorly mum needed nice simple food.

Lamb koftas, pittas, and salad

Lamb mince and pittas are in the freezer, easy.

Fish pie with mash topping, and spinach and broccoli

It's an iron fest because I think we all need some.

Bacon and brie baguettes for lunch.
Turkey and bean chilli with rice (not too spicy because my kids won't eat it, but a bit of mild chilli and some cumin never goes wrong)

Roast chicken

Don't forget to check out the Twitter hashtag #mealplanningmonday and the link up at Mrs M's blog (when it goes up!) for other meal ideas.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Happy Weekend

It's Sunday evening and I'm finally sitting down to relax and think about next week's activities (and write my Meal Planning Monday blog).

Today has been really great. It's Father's Day, so I wanted to treat my husband. We had a very lazy morning, and then after a late breakfast we got the bikes out and set off for a ride around our village to look at the Scarecrow Festival, which is organised by our local church. There were more than 30 scarecrows dotted around the village. My son rode on his new bike and did really well, 2 hours cycling when you're 7 years old is a long time. My daughter has now progressed to the "bike-on-a-pipe" pulled by my husband. After the ride she had a go riding on her own around the park by our house. She did manage a short time without stabilisers on my son's old bike, but finally decided she preferred to be on her own bike. That's still progress, before today she wouldn't even pedal her bike, and now she can.

While at Church after seeing the scarecrows (we had to vote for our favourite, and of course have some tea and cake!) we got talking to a lady about their Jigsaw Festival that they have in November. It sounds very strange to me, but basically throughout the year people make up jigsaws onto a board and then in November they are displayed in Church for people to look at and then buy if they would like. So we have ended up with two jigsaws to complete! My husband has spent the afternoon (while I was cooking dinner) starting the first.

On Saturday I spent a couple of hours at our allotment, I sowed some sweetcorn, squash, and beans. The allotment is still not where I want it to be, we've had so much rain and the ground is still so damp, seeds are rotting or getting eaten. Anyway, I was quite pleased to see my strawberries were almost ripe, so I'll be picking those in the week. At home I started on the garden, we took down the children's old playhouse and got rid of a lot of old toys and garden junk (therapy!). I put bark chips down in the front garden and we have a bench there now so we can sit and watch the children at the park in a bit of comfort. The back garden got a bit of a tidy up too and I'm quite pleased with it now.

Friday evening, I had a 5K race at Marston Forest Centre near Bedford. It's a lovely setting, as a course for a race it is flat and the path is gravelled mainly. A few other members of my club were running, so it was quite a nice evening all in. Some friends came back to our house afterwards to watch the England game, and we had dinner and drinks long into the night! A very good evening.

So now to next week. The car is in for a service tomorrow, which I really hate dealing with but never mind. The boy is at Beavers Monday and Tuesday on various activities. And at the weekend my parents are here for a visit. So that's something to look forward to! It's also Stotfold Festival, so there will be plenty of events on in the week and at the weekend.

I've not even mentioned marathon training...

Monday, 11 June 2012

Meal planning Monday: 11/6/12

I've not blogged my meal plans for several weeks now, due to either laziness at having to type them out or me being busy with work. Anyway, they're back, for this week at least. I'm still inflicting new recipes or foods on my poor unsuspecting family, trying to get us all to eat healthily, and minimising (for me at least) carbs in the evening.

Slow-cooked BBQ pork, with mashed potatoes and vegetables

The BBQ pork recipe is one I made up. It's great for using up leftovers from a Sunday roast (would be gorgeous with beef or lamb, maybe with a few tweaks to spices). To a casserole dish I add a chopped onion, the leftover sliced meat, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a good shake of Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of chilli powder, and a couple of tablespoons each of honey, white wine vinegar, and HP sauce. Just mix together and put in a low oven for a few hours, stirring every hour or so.

Prawn or tuna salad, with new potatoes

Wednesday has been attractively nicknamed "egg night" by my husband, who thinks we don't eat enough simple meals like scrambled eggs on toast. My kids tend to alternate between scrambled eggs/baked beans on toast and cheese toasties. I prefer an omelette, and this week I'm planning mushroom omelette with a green salad.

Homemade fishcakes, with mushy peas

I blogged last week some of my foodie ideas and this was one of them. I might make these using a tin of salmon, mashed potatoes, and grated onion and carrot. Something very easy but tasty too.

Eating out

Spaghetti bolognaise

Jamie Oliver's Incredible Roast Shoulder of Lamb

My husband discovered this recipe while searching for a slow-roast lamb recipe. The lamb is so tender you can carve it with a spoon, and leftovers are fantastic reheated and served with pitta bread, houmous, yoghurt, and Greek salad.

Please check out Mrs M's linky and #mealplanningmonday on Twitter for other blogposts and ideas.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Foodie ideas

I love to cook and try new recipes. The dozens of Meal Planning Monday posts (which have fallen by the wayside somewhat recently) are a testament to my sad planning nature. But when I was writing those I always tried to include something new once a week (most evident during the Great Green Bean Glut of 2011).

I've been compiling another list, one of recipes or foods I want my family to try this year.

Pizza Bianco
Simply, pizza without tomato sauce as a base. My son just does not like pizza, at all. He gags at tomatoes bless him, so I guess they are his "thing". But he does like pizza-style garlic bread, so perhaps he might like this. I'm thinking of a base with garlic butter, broccoli, and cheese on top, all things he loves :) (Or maybe a green bean pizza later in the year!)

Having established last year that my children will eat mildly spicy food (eg, Thai curry or Moroccan spiced lamb) I'm fairly confident that they will at least try this. As my son loses more and more of his teeth, he's been finding eating quite tricky. I made him a vegetable and lentil soup a few weeks ago and he loved it, so he has no excuses! I just need to convince my husband, who has promised to leave me if I ever make him eat lentils.

The best pie
Oh we do love a pie in our house. I saw this recipe months ago on Mrs M's blog and I'm desperate to try it. I can't see my children eating much of it though so it might have to be saved for a day when I'm entertaining.

I blogged a few weeks ago about quinoa. I quite like it, and I think I could get the family to eat it too, if I prepare it in a way they'll like. I really fancy this recipe for spicy laksa, which might work for the family if I used korma paste. I also fancy making something based on this stew recipe, but without so much spice or fruit, since no-one but me willingly eats fruit in dinners. My children have already decided they like couscous and risotto, so I should have no problems persuading them to eat quinoa!

I get annoyed at my children sometimes for their inability to eat food that is all mixed together. For example, spaghetti bolognaise must be plain pasta, sauce next to it, and a bit of cheese on the side. It bugs me so much! And the moaning when I produce a casserole. Anyway, they both now eat risotto and pasta bake (as long as there are no tomatoes in the sauce...), so I think paella could be a great option for a family dinner. Especially because I can create my own version based on the vegetables and meat or fish they like.

I try to include fish in our family dinners at least twice a week. My son loves what he calls "fishcake", which is actually cod roe from a tin (it sounds disgusting and I won't eat it!). My daughter is not so keen, but she does like tuna, salmon, and white fish. She also likes my homemade meatballs, burgers, and kofta kebabs, so I think homemade fishcakes could be a good way to get everyone eating fish in a different way.

Cinnamon bread
I've had this recipe saved in my Twitter favourites for a few months now. It looks delicious and perfect as a treat for my family, who love their cakes. We've got into baking bread recently, using ready-to-bake packs from the shop (just add water!). The kids love kneading the dough and watching it rise. I suspect this might be a lot of fun for us all to make together one wet weekend or on a day in the holidays when we're a bit bored.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Things I Hate While I'm Running

I like making lists. Although they're usually very dull and revolve around planning stuff (shopping, present ideas, chores). My "Things I Hate While I'm Running" list is an exception (although it could still be very dull).

1) Dogs

I really don't like dogs. I'm frightened of them after being jumped on by several when I was little, and then I was bitten a few years ago by a Jack Russell (which according to its owner "doesn't bite, only chews"). Yeah, tell that to my bleeding hand.

Dogs aren't too bad when I'm running if they're on a lead and the owner is paying attention. I can handle a bit of woofing or restricted-by-a-lead jumping up. But I can't stand crazy dogs that run around my feet and try to trip me up, or those that jump up at me because they're "very friendly, sorry" and rip my running gear.

But the worse part about dogs is running past one that's taking or just taken a dump in the grass and all you can smell for a minute after passing it is steaming dog crap. *gag*

2) People who smoke

You know when you're trying to breathe?

There is nothing more disgusting than running (or walking) past someone just as they exhale a big cloud of toxic smoke in your face. I expect some smokers might even do it on purpose, as a joke or something. I suppose they need something to laugh about.

Oh I know, I'll probably die before all you smokers from being run over while running, yeah, irony.

3) Organised walking groups 

I like walking and admire anyone who gets off their arse and does something outdoorsy. But I'm not very keen on enthusiastic old women with sticks who walk four abreast and TALK VERY LOUDLY. And tut at runners and cyclists as they squeeze past them on the grass verge or in the mud.

4) Inattentive people

This is a broad-ranging group and includes people daydreaming while walking (I include myself in this group), children, people on their phone (also me), and people stopping for a chat at inappropriate places (see number 3 also).

So that's the list, at present. I saw all of them on my run today. My legs were giving up yet, at 12 miles, I had to sprint past two groups of 10 walkers (one lot were Cubs, who fancied trying to race me) before I got stuck behind them at a kissing gate.

The run was good, I'd planned 10 miles but failed to run 5 miles on Saturday, mainly due to me drinking too much during the day and then eating late. (I don't have my reputation for nothing you know, it's carefully nurtured.) 15 miles run (I forgot to start my watch and I never start it near where I live because there are some weird folk out there), no stopping for a walk (except to take a photo), and no massive pain. OK, some massive pain. Left knee was sore from the off, right hip ached after a few miles, then my left groin, and then both my hips! I felt like I was running sideways at one point and had to keep looking down at my legs to check.

Cold bath when I got home has helped calm my legs down, although my feet and toes were hurting so much for about an hour after I got home, not sure what I should do about that. I think my toes are beyond saving though.

Current training plan is to get myself up to 18 miles by July 15th, which is the date of the Fairlands Valley Challenge. I'm not entered, and I don't plan to enter! I just wanted to have something to work towards. And if stuff works out then I might enter. (I won't, but I might.)  I want to get to the point at which 13 miles is a comfortable distance to run. Currently I feel 10 miles is comfortable. Just. A long way to go yet before the marathon in October, but I think slowly building up at the weekend like this is the best way. I hope. And lots of hill training and intervals :)

Taken on my run, near Willian

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Oat and lemon cookies

This afternoon I've been experimenting in the kitchen. I wanted to make some dairy-free biscuits so the kids could give some to their friend who's allergic to cows' milk. I searched online and found a recipe for Oat and coconut cookies. Being impatient and not wanting to venture to the shops for dessicated coconut, I decided to adapt the recipe and make them into Oat and lemon cookies.

After the first attempt we had these! They actually tasted OK, despite looking like very thin flapjacks.

 Second time lucky (actually, the third time!), and we had this recipe:

Oat and lemon cookies

250 g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (slightly heaped)
0.75 tsp salt (just under level)
200 g granulated sugar
150 g soft brown sugar
200 g porridge oats (I probably used 220 g in the end, keep adding until you can make balls from the mixture)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
175 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
ground ginger (I added 1 tsp but can't taste it, so probably need 2 or more)

Stir together the flour, sugars, bicarb of soda, salt, oats, ginger, and lemon zest. Make a well in the centre and add the oil, lemon juice, and eggs. Mix together and form into a dough. Break off small (walnut size) pieces and roll into balls, place on a greased tray and press down slightly with a fork or your fingers. Leave a good gap between each ball because the cookies will spread a lot.

Bake for 15 minutes at 180C (that's the time and temp I eventually settled on for my fan oven. You might need to adjust).

Before baking

The finished cookies :)

They taste "OK" (they need more ginger for my tastes), my kids love them, the husband has snaffled several of the more experimental ones. Hope my friend and her family like them now!

Any other taste testers are very welcome to pop round for a cuppa :)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Some sort of running post

I've not blogged in ages, and I've not blogged about running since my slightly mental post about stuff I saw on a long run in Blackpool back in March. So anyway, updates...

1000 miles

I kind of forgot (how could I forget?!), but I set myself a goal back in January to run 1000 miles in 2012. I've been logging all my runs on, which is a running forum. It's a great resource for analysing your run stats (sadly I love analysing run stats). So, anyway, I'm currently a third through the year, so I should have run *does maths* 333 and a bit miles (is that right?). Stats coming up:

January     88 miles
February     95 miles
March      83 miles
April     88 miles

Which is 358 miles to the end of April. So I'm on target!


I've run 4 races so far this year.

NHRR First Saturday 5K (January)     25:00
NHRR First Saturday 5K (February)     23:32 (PB)
Baldock Beast half marathon (March)     1:53:40
Flitwick 10K (April)     48:16 (PB)

Really pleased to have finally got a time for a 5K, and that PB was set on a very frosty Saturday morning when it was minus 8! Flitwick was HARD, as was Baldock, two races that seemed like they were uphill all the way round.

Races coming up include the Greenway Challenge this weekend (half marathon), Marston Forest 5K in June, possibly the Hitchin Hard Half marathon in July (if I get husband's permission!), possibly another Baldock Beast half in September, Standalone 10K in October, and der der der derrrrr, Preston Guild Marathon on October 28th! Eeek, a marathon!

Club stuff

Very exciting times at Stotfold Runners at the moment too. A beginners group starts next week, with intermediates after. Lots of new people hopefully coming, so I'll be helping out with beginners run/walks. Really great to be able to give something back to the club after they got me where I am today. I was remembering my first ever run tonight, and how I gradually kept adding distance until I could run 10K. What a feeling!

Right, that's enough wittering. Feel free to leave a comment if you like, or comment on FB or Twitter. Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Quinoa salad

My efforts to eat healthily include me trying new stuff, such as quinoa (thanks Mr C for sending me the link to the YouTube vid!). This grain is marketed as "an alternative to rice or couscous" but unlike them it is also high in protein. It looks like sesame seeds when uncooked, but cooked it looks alien, a small translucent blob (the seed) with a spiral attached (the germ).

I've been attempting to cook quinoa so it is faintly palatable: it's kind of bland -- I've found chilli sauce really helps. (A friend says she uses soy sauce for flavour, which would also work...). Another friend was coming for lunch today and I wanted to make something a bit different as a salad. Searching BBC Good Food I found a few recipes for quinoa salads and, inspired, I decided to combine a few ingredients into my own Special Concoction Experimental Quinoa Salad.

Sog's Special Concoction Experimental Quinoa Salad

Serves 4 as a side

100 g quinoa, cooked according to pack instructions and well drained afterwards
(I don't like the way my pack says to cook quinoa. Next time I cook it I'm going to try the way I cook rice, which is to weigh it in a measuring jug and then cook in double the water [or stock]).

Feta cheese (about half a pack, or more if you really like it, crumbled)
About half a red pepper, roughly chopped
A small onion, finely sliced
An avocado, chopped or sliced
Olive oil (about 2 tbsp or a bit more)
White wine vinegar (just less than a tbsp, I reckon!)
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper (a fair bit)

Mix everything together. Voila! A salad!

My friend liked it so much she took some home for her husband to try :)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Carrot cupcakes

I've been a right moody old arse today, premenstrual probably. Anyway, baking cakes always makes me feel better, and reading on Twitter that my mum was preparing a carrot cake, I decided I'd make one too once N got home from school.

I searched BBC Good Food website for carrot cake recipes and came up with two: one for Yummy Scrummy Carrot cake, which I've made before for a Church bake sale, and Carrot and Cream Cheese Cupcakes, which I quite fancied because cupcakes cook quickly.

So I made my own recipe from these two. Here it is.

Carrot (, sultana) and orange muffins (makes 12)

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees for a fan oven and 180 if you have an electric all-points-blazing one. Dunno about gas, probably 4.

175 g light soft brown sugar
175 g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
zest of 1 large orange
200 g carrots, grated finely

Stir these dry(ish) ingredients together, carefully, as if you were caressing a small baby.

3 large eggs
175 ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp juice from the orange

Whisk these wet ingredients together and add to the dry(er) bowl. Combine gently yet with passion (think of bounding lambs and fields of daffodils, or something).

Put half the mix into 6 muffin cases. Add a few handfuls of sultanas to the mix. These remaining muffins are for the non-fussy family members who don't mind dried fruit in a cake.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, check after 20, you just never know. You might need to leave for 30 mins, that would be bad luck.

Add a topping such as orange icing (icing sugar and orange juice), or an orange buttercream (icing sugar, orange juice, and butter). Don't spoil them with cream cheese, that's for filling celery or spreading on Ryvita.

Enjoy! With a cup of tea.

I had a sultana one, because I'm not a fruitphobe

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