St Albans half recap

Hey peeps!

So, first up, the resting worked! Last night we watched a movie and generally chilled out. I got everything ready for the morning, so I would not have to be racing around in the morning (even pinned my number to my top so I would not be trying to find safety pins).

The weather said it would be cloudy at first, but sunny later, so I had chosen a vest and capris to deal with the heat later. I had toast and jam for breakfast, plus a glass and a half of water.

When I started running longer, I used to take a bottle out with me, but I found that it made my arm ache. So then I switched to a waist pack (and I think if I was marathon training I would go back to using that)- but it is a bit annoying. So I have not taken water with me on any of my training runs. Most of them have been during cooler weather, but some have been hot. During Brighton I really struggled near the end, and part of it was down to a stomach ache, which I think is down to drinking while running.

Ages ago I heard a marathon talk interview all about hydration (Episode 127– worth a listen and you can skip to the “training talk” section if you just want to hear that), and they were saying that more problems were caused by people over-hydrating as then their salts etc get dangerously diluted. Elite racers used to be banned from drinking at all during marathons (decades ago)- you couldn’t imagine that now. Some dehydration is natural during activity and of course everyone needs to find what works for them, but I have found I have been fine running with no drink, and just make sure I am hydrated the day before, and drink when I get back. So, I was not taking my bottle with me. There is also a bit of information about the dangers of over drinking here.

We picked up Andy’s brother and then headed to the start line- we were there 45 minutes before, and it was quite chilly! I wished I had packed a jumper to wear, as we had packed a bag for the bag drop. I sort of felt like I needed the toilet, but I have decided that a lot of that is psychological too, and I knew there were toilets on the course, so I told myself if I really needed I could stop en-route.

I met a couple of people from the Sweatshop run, although I lost them before the start line. We lined up and luckily in the starter pens it was a bit warmer as we were out of the wind. I wanted to beat 2.19, and had written down the pacing times for 2.15 and 2.10 (good to be optimistic)- either 10.18 per mile or 9.55 per mile. In the end I remembered those two times and just checked that my average speed was in that range. Andy and his brother set off at the same time but were ahead of me before we crossed the start line!

Mile 1- Fairly flat- through the park. A lot of people watching and cheering.

Mile 2- Uphill but not too steep. Seemed to go by fast.

There were so many marshalls lining the course- the most I have ever seen at any race- and they were all cheering and enthusiastic, it was lovely. One group of people were playing music from their car- when I got there it was the Benny Hill music so that was in my head for a good few miles!

Mile 3- Mostly downhill- we sort of loop back at that point back towards the park.

Mile 4- The dreaded Bluehouse Hill- a long hill that gets steeper as you go up it. One of the Sweatshop girls overtook me at that point- we chatted for a minute before she headed off. The road was lined with loads of kids so I concentrated on high-fiving them- took my mind off the hill!

Miles 5-6- Along a road and then into country lanes- would have been pretty exposed if it was sunny, I was thankful for the clouds.

I had a couple of sips from one of the water stations at this point, and used the rest to wash my face (getting salty) and my hands (sticky).

Miles 7-9- I had no idea where we were! It has all blended into one already. The course was undulating- some nice downhill bits but some short and steep uphill sections too. It was also quite twisty. Tried to get past a man who kept burping so loudly it sounded like he was going to be sick- had a brief panic that he was going to be sick on me!

I went over the half way mat in 1.03 (although I think it was a bit before half way) which worried me a bit- was I going to blow to pieces later? But I was feeling OK.

I opened my little pack of jelly beans (a Sweatshop freebie) and had a few- I wasn’t feeling hungry but I was conscious that I wanted to have a little energy boost before the end. I also had a few more sips from a water station- I think I got water at two or three altogether, but only a sip from each cup.

Mile 10- I caught up with Andy’s brother- we ran the next mile together and chatted which meant the mile flew by. By that point we had run 10 miles in 1 hr 40, so I knew unless something went badly wrong I would beat 2.19.

Mile 11- There was a short uphill section that was so steep- I really wanted to stop and had to remind myself to pump my arms- funny how when we are tired even the natural things go out the window. Still the route was through little country lanes so it was very pretty. At one point along a narrow lane a horse (being ridden) came towards us- that made me a bit nervous as I usually like to give horses a very wide berth!

Mile 12- Nearly there!

Mile 13- Back out to the top of the dreaded hill, down the hill- check my legs- they are feeling super tired but they are still moving! Down to the bottom, a little loop back- on my way back up I saw Andy’s brother so gave him a wave and a shout. Then back into the park for the final stretch. Normally when I can hear the tannoy announcer at the end I get a bit of an adrenaline rush (which is often counter-productive as it comes too early and leaves me with wobbly legs coming up to the final section), but I didn’t get one. I was still keeping a good posture, I was feeling OK, and I knew I was in with a chance of getting a pb! The very last section was on grass and the fences were lined with people- I even heard Andy’s brother’s wife giving me a shout!

I think I was grinning from ear to ear as I crossed that line- my watch said 2.10 something! Amazing!

Photo: St Albans Half Marathon done- 2.10.09 new pb!!

Then I was given an ice lolly (an orange juice one= amazing!), a bottle of water, a goodie bag and a cup of water, plus a medal. It was quite chilly so I put the t-shirt on and then went to find Andy and his family. We had packed some nuun tabs in the bag drop bag, so I had one of those in my bottle of water, and we shared a clif bar on the way back to the car.

The goody bag was good in my opinion as it had things I would actually use/ eat- a clif bar (although I got blueberry flavour- boo, Andy won with a peanut butter one!), some rehydration tabs and a few race leaflets, plus the t-shirt which came in handy right away.

On the walk back to the car I also got a text message with our times- my official time was 2.10.09– so a new pb by 2 minutes! I am so pleased 🙂

Then it was time for a shower (I used some of that ice gel after which really helped my legs) and lunch. I wasn’t feeling that hungry, but I knew I would crash later if I didn’t eat something. I made some sourdough toast (different bread to the morning!) and once I had that I realised I was hungry, so had melon, strawberries, a cup of tea and then some lovely fruit tea bread.

So good.

I didn’t eat all of my jelly beans- they were in my little belt along with hand sanitiser (in case I needed to use the port-a-loos)- I left everything else in the bag drop.

I think the not drinking really helped me- often in the latter stages of half marathons I get a sort of bloated feeling in my stomach, and I think that is due to the water. I prefer to sip water from a bottle, so the water stations aren’t ideal when they are in cups, but I didn’t get that ache at all. Of course I have made sure I redydrated later on, but I am convinced that this is what works for me.

What do you do about drink/ water when working out?

Phew- what a mammoth recap! Off to rest now 🙂

Trying to rest!

Hey peeps

I hope everyone has had a good week- I have been trying to take it a bit easy before the half marathon tomorrow (eek).

Wednesday -which apparently was Running Day or something? As if you can ONLY run on those days- I saw a comment on a blog (a blog I find very annoying but I can’t get it out of my dashboard so I sometimes read it to annoy myself- it worked) going on about national doughnut day, and someone commented “I wish we had national doughnut day here in Canada”– Why? I mean, I am sure there are Tim Hortons on every corner- just buy one if you want one- they are on sale every other day too). Ahem. Anyway, on Wednesday I went to the Sweatshop run, and we went for the fields route. I didn’t want to go too fast, and so I ran near/ at the back most of the time. I chatted to the guy from the store (and even got complimented at the end for my even pacing- pretty much 9.32-9.42 per mile), and enjoyed being out in the sunshine, although I was super hot when I got back!

I made us cold chai lattes to cool down with – almond milk, Tea India marsala chai and some chai syrup (just a little splash- maybe a tbs between us). I love that unsweetened almond milk.

On Thursday I went to get my haircut as body pump wasn’t on- good timing really as I think even though I say I will have lighter weights I still end up with achey legs. I was worried about making it as traffic has been bad this week, but I ended up with some time so went for a chai latte while I did some marking.

I fancied a little change so I now have a bit of a side fringe, although I can’t decide if it is going to annoy me or not. We will find out when I have to dry and style it myself! I had to pop to Waitrose for cornflakes and milk for Andy- not a good idea:

Cinnamon popcorn! Sounds yummy! I have tried the tea already and it’s lovely (blackcurrant and acai- very fruity) and I had the apple crunch nakd bar at breaktime on Friday and really liked it. I am saving the mango coconut water for tomorrow, although on reading it I prefer the ingredients on the Vita Coco mango and peach one.

After that we went to the allotment for a bit- Andy did some planting while I did a lot of weeding.  I also picked some rhubarb and dug up a couple of leeks to have for dinner. It is lovely going up there in the evening, but quite hard work too!

On Friday we went again to finish planting (I wish I had taken some photos as it looked lovely in the evening sunlight) and do some more weeding. I had considered a short run on Friday evening, but decided against it in the end to be a bit more rested.

My Friday dinner was some bean burgers from the freezer (I think they were sweet potato and kidney bean burgers- I never remember to label them), sweet potato mash with leeks, and a few more leeks on the side. They were strong!

Even though I didn’t run this morning I still fancied pancakes for breakfast. These were made with 20g peanut flour, 20g wholegrain spelt flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp chia seeds, a drop of almond extract and some almond milk (perhaps 150ml) all left in the fridge overnight. I cooked them in the pan although for the second batch I had a lot of batter left. Served with fresh fruit, a little nutella and a little coconut pb.

After spending the morning doing work, we popped to Ikea (this ended up being a 3 hour round trip) as we wanted to buy a new sideboard, and had been sent a voucher which runs out tomorrow. Not sure if that was ideal half marathon prep as I am pretty tired now!

We had smoothies when we got home- made with frozen mango, pineapple and kiwi  (a mix from Waitrose), a frozen banana and some almond milk.

I have started to feel nervous about tomorrow now- I am not sure why I get so nervous before races- it is not as if I am in a position to win them, and I won’t be at the back either, and even if I was, I know that there is nothing wrong with that.

I did this race back in 2010 (you can read my recap here) although this year they have changed the course. I know that the evil hill at mile 3 is still there (Bluehouse Hill for anyone local!), but apparently after that it is slightly less hilly. I would like to beat my time, which was 2.19- I am not expecting a pb. I am not sure if there are pacers either- if there are I will keep an eye out for the 2.15 pacers again. Right, off for some dinner and a relaxing evening.

Runners- do you still get nervous before races/ events? I say events, as I get nervous before Parkruns too!

Half term shopping

So the one problem with half term is that I end up with time on my hands to go shopping, and also as I am meant to be writing reports I end up ordering things on the internet instead!

So, these are the things I have been buying!

A couple of Thoosa tops. I love Thoosa workout gear. It is the most flattering, comfortable and good quality kit I have ever bought. It is more expensive than some, but I think the extra money is worth it. I have 3 pairs of tights and they have seen me through several years, whereas I had some other ones which only lasted a year before they were stretched out of shape. These vest tops are so comfy as they are loose (I hate tight tops as they make me so hot in the summer).

They have nice wide straps on the shoulders, but nothing digs in. Plus the gathering under the bust is more flattering than most.

They also have a little pocket on the back at one side- it easily fits my mp3 player in (and often a tissue too)- nothing bounces out because the pocket has a little cover on the top part too. I am a sucker for things with pockets, and means I can leave my spi-belt for my phone and key.

I went to the health food shop in search of nutritional yeast as I have run out, and they had this coconut oil on offer, so I bought some of that too. I also bought a nakd strawberry crunch bar (I tried this the other day and loved the crunchy bits, although I think the berry flavour is not as good as the apple one- will be keeping my eyes out for those) as I love the sound of them.

I went to Aldi and noticed they now sell flaxseed mixtures. I spent a while deciding between the flavours- there was another one I liked the sound of (possibly with raspberries and something else) but it had banana powder in the ingredients and I am not a fan of banana flavour things. It was only £2 for the packet which seemed a bargain to me. (Also I have only just noticed that Kara coconut milk is now Koko coconut milk!)

Speaking of Aldi, I got a super cheap workout top from there a few weeks ago- it was only £3.50 so I thought it would be worth getting- sometimes I run out of them if I have not put a wash on for a while, or good for a race as I won’t mind it being spoilt with safety pin holes. They seem to have random things like that- one week they will be in stock and then they will be gone and replaced with something different, so they are worth a look every now and then.

I was sent some money off vouchers for “free-from” products, via the Buzz Agent website, and so I have been trying some of those this week. The chocolate macaroons are by far my favourite item.

Especially with a hot chocolate (although they are massive so I had one and Andy had the other one).

Ocado now do a lot of this range so I bought some chia seeds and more cocoa nibs as I love them on everything at the moment.

But now I am back to work so my spending will be back to normal!

Do you go through phases of buying things/ having shopping trips?

PS A massive thank you to everyone who has voted for my blog in the Whittards blogger competition- I would love it if anyone else fancied voting too (my entry is number 10). Cheers 🙂

A little plea + caramel shortcake recipe

Hey peeps!

First up I was very excited because over the weekend I got an email to say my entry to the Whittard Afternoon Tea Blogger Carnival had been selected as one of the final ten! I would love it if you would vote for me (mine was number 10- the info is all here)- all voters get entered into a competition to win a year’s supply of tea! And if you don’t want to vote, have a look as there are some very pretty and tasty entries.

On Sunday I did some baking- it is Andy’s brothers birthday next week, and his favourite is caramel shortcake, so that is what I made for Sunday tea.

The base for this is super easy- combine 100g margarine (I use Pure spread) with 4 tbs brown sugar, and cream together. Stir in 125g plain flour and 45g rolled oats, press into a pan (I use a brownie pan lined with baking paper) and then bake for 20-25 mins at 180C.

The caramel is pretty easy too- in a pan have 25g butter, 25g brown sugar and a tin of light condensed milk, and gently heat. Keep stirring. Once the butter has melted, let the mixture bubble away; keep stirring- it will eventually thicken a little and darken.

The base needs to cool for a bit before you pour the caramel over it (only for 5 or 10 minutes).

Yum look at the swirly caramel.

Then melt some chocolate for the topping. I like to add a little coconut oil as then the chocolate won’t reset completely solid and be much easier to slice. I probably used 100g plain chocolate, then 50g white chocolate over the top (but this ended up being too much white chocolate).

Leave to cool, and then slice.

It is not actually shortcake/ shortbread, but I prefer this base as it is more crumbly, and the oats add interest to the base. Plus the caramel is much softer than some recipes (some of them it goes more like toffee and is hard to slice/ chew)- this is a gooey oozing caramel, seriously it is gorgeous.

I left some slices large to take around for tea, and then cut the rest into smaller squares and took them into work today- they were all gone by lunchtime!

In running news, I was feeling fine today, but I went out on a 4 mile run and kept having to stop and walk as my legs were so stiff. So I promise I am going to get the foam roller out this evening, and perhaps have a walk tomorrow to help loosen them, if I have time.

Night! And thanks in advance for anyone that votes for me 🙂 (Andy would call you all enablers as you are supporting my tea addiction, but hey, he has that addiction too!!)

Anything you are slightly addicted to??

Focusing on the positive

Hey peeps

I hope you all enjoyed the weekend- it has flown by!

Friday night we walked to the allotment and ended up spending at least an hour digging up weeds. At least now I can actually see the raspberry canes again (yes it was that bad!). I was so hot and bothered, so needed to cool down. We had some of this amazing ice cream in the freezer- peanut butter ice cream with raspberry sauce, and I had made an iced tea earlier using Twinings Gingersnap peach tea, mixed with a little grape juice and a tray of ice.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early, wanting to get our run in before it got too hot (according to the weather)- luckily it stayed cool and overcast the whole time. Andy ran with me, but I was finding it so tough. After a couple of miles my right foot went totally numb- I tried loosening my shoe laces but that didn’t seem to help. I was also getting tight calves, which is not like me. We kept up a good pace, but Andy kept needing to stop and wait for me, which was making me feel (at the time) quite demoralised (silly when I look back now, but at the time I felt like crying at one point because I was so annoyed with myself for not being able to keep up, when recently I have been keeping up with him OK). I love running with him- it does make me go faster, plus it is nice to chat. But I was feeling bad as I was slowing him down (even though he kept saying it was OK)- and then because my legs were hurting it was making me more worried about the half next weekend. Then, going up the horrible hill at just over 7 miles, my Garmin ran out of battery. This wouldn’t usually bother me so much but I wanted to get up to ten miles, and I hadn’t measured out a route beforehand, I was just going to run around the block at the end to make up the distance. Anyway, a bit after that Andy left me, as he was going to do 12 miles (crazy!) so was adding on a different bit at the end of his run, so I was then trying to work out how far I had been since the Garmin stopped (Andy uses km’s on his Garmin so that was no use to me, as any regular readers will know that my maths goes out of the window when I start running), and trying to work out what I needed to add on to the run. I also wanted to know how long it had taken me, so I had to look at the time when I got home, as the Garmin website would tell me when my run started. Complicated!

On Friday evening I made the batter for post run pancakes, and that was just what I fancied. I had some almonds and a nuun drink as soon as I got in, then showered and made breakfast. This batter was made with 1 mashed banana, 20g peanut flour and 20g wholegrain spelt, and a little baking powder. Simple.  I cooked them gently in the pan, and then had them with a nectarine, some vanilla alpro yoghurt and cocoa nibs (I am getting a bit of an obsession with them). Plus a lovely Tea India masala chai tea.

Andy has been reassuring me about my run, which is very sweet of him. I did some maths, and I think that in the end my run was 9.98 miles (I’ll take that!) and took me just over 1 hour 40 mins, so basically 10 minute miles. Again, not bad, although once he was gone my pace was much slower. But when I did the Great South Run (which is a 10 mile race) I did it in 1 hr 50, so I am quicker than that. Also, the half marathon is a hilly one, and I don’t expect to get a pb, my main aim is to beat my time from the last time I did that (although the course has changed slightly)- that was 2.19. I think I should be OK to make that, and I suppose at the end of the day even if I don’t make that time, it will still be another half marathon completed. Saturday afternoon I was shattered, but then on reflection I had a hard Sweatshop run on Wednesday, ran Thursday and Friday morning, walked on Friday afternoon and tired myself out digging on Friday evening. So no wonder I was tired I suppose.

We have been enjoying my new blender to have some refreshing summer smoothies. This one was made with frozen mango and pineapple, plus Koko coconut milk.

Saturday evening we had lovely black bean and avocado wraps for dinner (this was basically a red onion cooked in paprika, then a chopped red pepper added in, a small tin of sweetcorn + black beans mixed in, served on a wrap with a chopped avocado and some lime juice)- the original recipe was with wenslydale cheese but we didn’t have any so just left that out.

This morning I defrosted a slice of our Christmas pannetone and had it with some peanut butter on one half and passion fruit curd on the other half (from the Bath Christmas markets), plus a mango, Tesco lemon soya yoghurt and those cocoa nibs.

We lazed around for a bit, I did some baking (more on that another day!) and then went to Crews Hill which is basically a row of garden centres. We got a few bargain plants for our garden and the allotment.

We were pretty thirsty when we got home, so made another smoothie- this one was frozen cherries, fresh raspberries and almond milk.

My plan for this week is to take it a bit easier than last week! I am going to have a run tomorrow- probably 4 miles. Tuesday will be a rest day as I have a lot of work to be doing. On Wednesday I shall go to Sweatshop, but not go as hard as I did last week. On Thursday pump is not on, which is probably a good thing, so I am having my hair cut. I might do a gentle run on Friday as I have found that works well for me before a race, and Saturday shall be a rest day. I think that sounds OK. I shall also be focusing on all the positive training I have had, and hopefully just looking forward to enjoying a run in the countryside next Sunday.

What are you looking forward to this week? What are you feeling positive about?