The year of the half

So it’s that time of year when we all start thinking about the year that is ending. When I started looking back I was quite amazed to see how many running goals I managed to achieve.

2010 began with me signing up to a half marathon (my first) which seemed like an impossible goal at times . It was such a hilly course, but I ran the entire way and was ecstatic to finish in 2.32 🙂 I think that was the point that I began to see myself as a runner. Even though I had been running for a couple of years (since my first race for life), and had run 10k races, I still could not match up the “me” with a runner. That was way back in March, and I went on to get a pb for my 10k in (on such a hot day), a 5k pb for my race for life in June, a faster half marathon, close to the hour mark in another 10k, volunteered at a race (this reminds me I should do that again) and had unexpected fun at a surprise cross country race in November!

I also started this blog! I could ramble on for hours; this year has had it’s ups and downs as most years do, but I am feeling optimistic about the year ahead. I have signed up to my first Marathon, so I am looking forward to that challenge.

How are you feeling about the year ahead? Any goals you are aiming for?


So here is me thinking I have not bought anything in the sales. Well, it turns out I have bought more than I thought! Online shopping means it is easy to order things quickly, without a 3 hour battle for a car parking space, or a long queue at the checkout. Today the door went twice- first of all were my new trainers from Sweatshop;

They are too pretty and clean to wear outside in the grey slush and mud!

Then it was my parcel from Wiggle;

My waist pack for water and some clif bars.

Also I took a picture of the bargains I picked up yesterday;

A silver sparkly scarf and a trio of measuring cups from Waitrose (I saw them in M&S but didn’t get them)- there is a 1cup, 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup that all fit inside each other.

I have also ordered a dress from Animal which has yet to come, so in fact I have bought quite a lot of things!

This morning after breakfast I was off on a long run. I decided to try out my new waist pack, and was pleased that my old bottle (which even though I wash it in the dishwasher still smells slightly of squash due to me having Nuun in it) fitted in the bottle holder.  I could not decide where to wear it- I started off with the bottle in the small of my back, and kept on needing to tighten the straps as I ran as I had made it too loose at home. This was not really uncomfortable, but it was great either, so I ended up sliding it around so the bottle rested on the back of my left hip- that seemed to make it bounce less and also meant it was easier to get the bottle in and out. Andy told me before I set off (in a sarcastic tone) “you look cool- how far are you going?”- I feel I would like a sign that says “I am running 8 miles” so people do not think I am out for a 20 minute jog with all the gear! Anyway, it was much better than getting an aching shoulder after carrying a bottle in my hand the whole way. My run was a steady 8.5 miles, in 93 minutes (with a few stops to cross the roads)- around the park and back while listening to the marathon talk podcast review of the year- I was again laughing out loud at points. If you have not listened to one yet then I really recommend it- it’s informative, funny, light-hearted, interesting, inspiring, and helps the miles fly by.

I did not try the new shoes as they were too pretty to get covered in goose poo (I ran to the park if you didn’t guess). I logged into Nike+ the other day and it was so funny- I have the sound off on the laptop and suddenly a video of Paula Radcliffe popped up. I put on the sound and played it again and it was because I had run 500 miles! I had not even noticed. But those 500 miles have been in the same pair of shoes, so no wonder I needed some new ones!

This afternoon I am mainly relaxing- watching Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs, and maybe making some spiced nuts. By the way, I had the easiest meal the other day- (for 2 of us) we cooked 2 sweet potatoes (in microwave and then finished in the oven), heated a pot of Sainsburys fresh 3 bean soup (it is tomato soup with beans and veggies but it is thick, like chilli)- had this on the sweet potato with some salad. Amazing, so lazy but much nicer than a ready meal!

Later, dudes 🙂

Kitchen creativity

Evening all

So I keep seeing cinnamon buns on people’s blogs at the mo, and I keep being tempted to make them. I have also been loving stollen, and have seen some “mini bites” which I was tempted to attempt. So in the end I combined them, and have made stollen whirls! I was impressed by my kitchen creation!

I based them on the stollen recipe in Bake , but I think I have made enough changes to make it my own. I think it is worth doing- there are lots of steps so you have to do a bit,then do something else and come back to it a bit later, but the finished article is well worth it.

Begin by putting 150g mixed dried fruit and 50g cranberries in a bowl with 50g ground almonds and 25ml rum/ whisky (or apple juice). Leave thiswhile you make the dough.

Warm 60ml milk (I do it for 25 secs in a microwave in a little cup) and add 1tsp quick yeast. Leave this for a bit.

In a big bowl put 250g plain flour (I used white spelt) with 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 1tsp ground cardamon, 1tsp ground cloves, some grated nutmeg (basically whatever you love)….

Use a big wooden spoon to make a well in the flour, and pour in the milk/yeast mixture in, mixing it up until it loosely forms a dough.Leave it covered for ten minutes.

Then add in 60g butter (I use pure dairyfree) and 50g caster sugar and mix it in. At this stage it might look like breadcrumbs, but if you firmly push it together it will form a stiff dough. Leave again to rise (for 2 hours).

To prepare for the last bit, roll out 100g marzipan into a rectangle, and also grease a square tin.

Tip the dough out (I put it onto a board “floured” with icing sugar as it was the one I did the marzipan on!) and mix in approx half the dried fruit mixture and knead this into the dough. Then roll the dough into a rectangle. Spread the rest of the fruit mixture over the dough (as evenly as possible) and push it down a bit. Place the rectangle of marzipan over the top, then roll it up along the long side, so you get a long log. Cut into 9 slices (although you could make more, 9 fitted into my square tin) and place in the tin. Any left over fruit can be squashed in too!

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour, then preheat the oven to 200C and bake. These took just under 40 minutes- I kept checking after 30.

Dust with icing sugar to get the authentic stollen look!

They go perfectly with a cup of tea!

Aside from that, I managed a 5 mile run today- it was so damp and dreary and drizzly outside that it was hard to motivate myself, but I decided I should make the most of the clear pavements! Plus I felt much better once I got out in the fresh air.

Thank you by the way to everyone who replied on my post yesterday- I have decided that whatever plan I choose (well, I think it will be a mixture of a few) that I will only do one 20 mile run. That will be enough for me 🙂

I was also excited to recieve a parcel in the post!

Some yummy cereals from Natures Path. I emailed them ages ago after using their gluten free cereal in some baking for my coeliac friend, and they emailed back to say they were launching in the UK and so would send some samples to me! My fave thing was that the address label said “Running Cupcake” on it! I wonder what the delivery guy thought?

The range of cereals looks yummy (and cute names too) and I look forward to trying them all (and so does Andy!).

I also managed a pop to the local shops and got a pretty silver sparkly scarf from Accessorize. I was after a black coat but I only managed to find size 6 or size 22. Oh well I can wait! I did also find Whitards Christmas Tea for £2.50 in Waitrose- what a bargain!

Now I have a random question- I watched Fantastic Mr Fox this afternoon, and it was nothing like the story I remembered. Now, I don’t have a great memory (I have a tendancy to remember dreams and think they happened) but I thought the story was all about Mr Fox burrowing under the farms to get to the chickens etc? So am I remembering it wrong or is it actually a totally different story from the book?

Alternative uses

Well, I didn’t make any cupcakes today, but I did find an alternative use for my cupcake stand;

It doubles as a clementine stand- excellent 🙂

The weather here today was dreary- grey skies, drizzle (on Andy’s computer this is called “sprinkles” which sounds so much better), but at least a lot of the ice was melting.

I made some soup with a massive crown prince squash- I even managed to cut it in half before I cooked it! No pictures though. It made a delicious soup. After our shopping was delivered we braved the damp drizzle for a walk outside- this was made better by some teapigs tea once I returned to the warm and dry! Although there are more pavements clear so my run tomorrow might get a different route, how exciting!

This afternoon I have been chilling at home- watched Home Alone on the TV. I got around to doing another review of a cookery book- this time I did Bake by Rachel Allen, so feel free to nose. I also did a little online shopping- I ordered a summery dress from animal, and some clif bars from wiggle.

Andy and I have also decided to go away for New Years- we don’t tend to do much normally, maybe have a few friends over or watch a film, so we have booked a few nights near Bath (I have never been)- so at least we get a little holiday this time of year!

I have also been looking at loads of marathon training plans- I think my brain has got overload! I have decided that 3 runs a week will be my aim, and the Run Less Run Faster book advocates this- so long as one run is speedwork, one is tempo and one is a longer slow run which suits me fine. The next phase is to properly sort out the distances (especially of the long runs). Some plans seem to work up gradually, finishing in a 20 mile run, and other plans seem to go up quick (eg 12 miles one week, then 14, 16, 18) and then have loads of 20 mile runs (eg 20 miles one week, then 18, then 20, then 14, then 20)- so I was wondering how many 20+ miles you marathon running peeps did before your marathon? It will help me decide you see 🙂

Weather watch

Evening lovelies:)

I saw on the weather that we might possibly have more snow here tonight, so I decided to make the most of the pavements and have another run today (ah running, I have missed you so much). After some yummy porridge (I went old school with raisins and cinnamon) I headed out with the latest marathon talk podcast (and wearing my new long sleeved warm top and ear warmer headband thingy). I did think that Tonys rendition of the 12 days of christmas was so funny- I was laughing as I ran along! Thankfully the pavements were clear of people! I did 6 miles, in just under an hour, before heading home fora nice warm shower. The wind was cold out there today!

I have been watching a bit of the news and see the America is having crazy snowstorms, and it has been freezing in Florida- I am quite glad that we did not get stuck in a snow storm out there.

We needed a few grocery items (seriously, since being home we have been so unorganised- normally we order it all online and plan our meals, but I think we were not planning on being here, we have not really thought about it so we keep running out of things). Anyway, the Sainsburys is right by an M&S so we popped in (along with a million other people)- gosh it was so busy in there. Ten minutes was enough to remind me why I prefer online shopping!

One of my friends was at Next at 5 this morning, and another has spent 7 hours shopping. Craziness I say! Anyone else been hitting the sales?  I ordered myself a waist bottle holder thingy from wiggle as I get sore shoulders from holding a bottle in my hand, but that is the extent of my sale shopping so far!