Fred Hughes 10- freezing my crumpets

I ordered some crumpets this week, but they had a short date so I put them in the freezer- Andy asked what I was doing and I told him the same as I would be doing on Sunday- freezing my crumpets. That is what happens on cold runs.

So a while back I did the Hatfield 5 and at the end was given a leaflet advertising the Fred  Hughes 10. I had looked at it a few years ago but it was cancelled due to ice and snow, so then I was pretty glad I hadn’t signed up. But the 10 mile distance fitted well into my marathon training plan, and at £18 (including a technical T) it was good value, and pretty much on my doorstep. I think it was also the first race I signed up to and got the affiliated discount! How exciting!

Earlier in the week I saw the weather which forecast heavy rain for all of Sunday morning, so I was not looking forward to it. Then we had a bit of snow yesterday, and I was then worried about icy pavement. Luckily this morning was cold, but there was no ice, and no rain.

I had a clif bar for breakfast, as the race didn’t begin until 10. Normally now I would run 10 miles and then eat, but I thought it would be a bit too late to eat by the time I got home.

The race HQ was in a school- a bit of a faff as I was told the car park was full, but as I was leaving a marshal came and told me they had opened up a new car park so I had to try and turn around in the road with cars trying to turn in- not so easy!

Anyway, I picked up my number, chatted to some running buddies, and then went back to my car to sort out what I needed to leave behind (extra jumper etc) and what I needed with me (gloves).

Then I walked to the race start, which was 400m up the road. It was very very cold- I had worn a long sleeved top with a t-shirt over the top, my buff (neck thing) and a thin head band for my ears, but I was wondering if I should had worn more.

The starter horn went and even though I had started at the last possible time marker (100-110 minutes) floods of runners were overtaking me. I spent a bit of time feeling a bit inadequate as all these speedy club runners whizzed past, but then gave myself a bit of a talking to. There was a 2 hour time limit, which I was perfectly capable of doing. I didn’t need to get a pb, I was running to get my distance up as part of my training. I wanted to enjoy it. According to the website it was the County Championships, so probably attracted more club runners than most, so I spent a lot of time looking at the vests and wondering where they were from. There were plenty from London as well as Herts, Beds and Bucks.

My mind wandered for a while, pondering the names of the clubs. Near me there are the Ware Joggers (they organise the Ware 10 which is possibly my favourite race)- their tag line is “we run for fun” or something, and I think they sound welcoming. To counter that, there are the Harpenden Arrows, which just sounds too competitive to me- I can’t run as fast as an arrow so the name puts me off (I do know someone in that club, and he is friendly, but also pretty fast). A few others I noticed- Leighton Fun Runners (I like the sound of them), lots of .. Road Runners (I like roads, but I like fields too), and the one that kept confusing me, Fit 4 Fitness- shouldn’t it be Fitness 4 fun,  or fit 4 life, or something else?

Anyway, back to the race. It was pretty undulating- you ran out for 1.5 miles, then a loop of 3.5 miles twice (not so good seeing the 8 mile marker on your first loop, especially when being overtaken by people on their second lap!) then back to the finish. It was good though- country lanes mainly, so there was nice scenery. But there were a few hills that were not my friend- one had a photographer right at the top- what lovely grimacing he would have captured!

The sun came out, and then my arms were warm (as my top was black)- I even took my gloves off for a bit. But for the final couple of miles the clouds came over and it got so cold- I was back to seeing my breath again. I was glad to see the 400m to go sign, and had enough energy to finish strong.

2015-01-18 12.19.00

I then picked up my t-shirt (you could even choose your size), got a banana and a cup of water, and then began the walk back to the HQ. That was the only downside I think, as it was so cold, and as soon as I stop I cool down really quickly. I could have put the t-shirt on for an extra layer I suppose, but I didn’t think it would do much. They did have tea and cakes inside race HQ, but I stopped at my car to put on my jumper and coat, and just wanted to head home at that point.

After a cup of tea and a hot shower I had some of my pre-frozen crumpets and yet more tea to try and warm up, before heading to the shops to pick up some bit for dinner.

I am really glad I signed up for this- I think had I not, I would not have got my long runs up to quite this distance just yet, whereas now I am pretty much level with my plan.

Official time: 1:37.41 (Position 636 of 732)- not a pb (stays at 1:36.12) but pretty close.

Which running club names do you think sound friendly/ elitist? 

Teapigs matcha challenge week 2

So, now I have been having some teapigs matcha every day for the past 2 weeks.

2015-01-16 07.02.05

I loved the little card that came with it, with suggestions as to how to drink it.2015-01-12 07.02.45

I don’t mind the flavour in water, but I prefer it in milk (usually almond milk). I had some chocolate almond milk and I enjoyed it in that for several mornings, but my favourite milk was the Rebel Kitchen chocolate mylk- it is so thick and creamy and frothed so well too.

2015-01-10 11.05.45

I also tried it stirred into porridge. No, it did not look pretty, but I had it with some mince pie filling and it was lovely.

Now, I have no idea whether the matcha has given me extra energy- of course I am not a scientific test, but I have been feeling good these past few weeks. Partly this is due to finally getting rid of that cough (I do keep on about it, but seriously I felt so awful when I had it that I just feel miles better), but my running has been going well, even with the increased distance, and going back to work after the Christmas holidays.

2015-01-01 16.58.33

So, I suppose the question is, would I keep having it? The short answer is yes, especially at the moment as I have some left in the tin. I am still pondering how to use some in baking, so if you have any recommendations let me know please.

2015-01-16 07.02.14

The powder is quite expensive, but then the tin will last a while. I think it would be something that I would not have all the time, but might treat myself to every now and then.

Would you be tempted to try it?

I was given a teapigs discount code to share with everyone- the code is RUNNING and is valid until the end of Feb 2015 for 10% off (excludes matcha kits, pick & mix, cheeky deals and subscribe and save).

*I was sent the matcha kit in exchange for reviewing it on my blog. All opinions are my own. The discount code is just that- I do not receive any benefits from the link. 

Jantastic 2015 Week 1- Feeling optimistic

So Jantastic started this week. In case you didn’t know, it is a (free) motivational challenge organised by the Marathon Talk boys, although this year it’s bigger, better, happier, more productive…. I mean, more companies are involved and stuff. They have linked with Strava, so I have now signed up with them. I was on Daily Mile (I like to see the stats of how many miles per week/month/year) but for 2015 I thought I would start with Strava instead.

In January you pledge how many runs you would like to do each week (I have chosen 4, as that is what I feel I should be doing but it is easy to let the 4th one slide). You can also add other sports like swimming and cycling this year.

In February you do this, and also state the length of your longest run each week, and in March you do both of those things, and predict your time over the distance of your choosing.

2015-01-04 11.04.06

The spooky scary cows on my run last Sunday- I ran through that field very fast I can tell you!

Since joining the running club I have been mainly running on a Tuesday with them, so generally my week will be:

Monday: Rest. Possibly a walk if I don’t get home from work too late.

Tuesday: Running club run

Wednesday: Sweatshop run. Run there and back various routes to make it longer.

Thursday: Body pump

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Parkrun

Sunday: Long run on my own or with the club depending on the route.

So before it began I did parkrun on New Year’s Day, then 6 miles on my own on the Friday, a rest on the Saturday, and then on Sunday I was going to go out with the running club, but it was cancelled due to the ice so I went around the fields later on, for 7 muddy miles. The first parkrun back was not the best- better than my 25th one, which perhaps was not such a good idea, but I struggled to get my breath and although I loved it, I was much slower than usual.

But this week I have been getting closer to my normal running self.

On Monday I was home nice and early so we had a walk before dinner.

On Tuesday I did a club run- there were loads of people there, so we paired up and then every now and then ran back to join on the end again, so no-one got too seperated. 4 miles complete.

On Wednesday I went to Sweatshop. My marathon plan said 6 miles, but it started back in December so I am playing a bit of catch up at the moment. I didn’t get home too late, so I left with enough time to run the long way to the shop- 2 miles before it even started. Then 3 fast miles, before running home, for 5.55 miles. Not too shabby, and close enough to my plan to keep me feeling happy.

2015-01-03 12.16.44

I won this hand torch on Beki’s blog so I tried it out that evening. I was really impressed- most of our runs are well-lit but in a few areas the trees cast shadows on the pavements so it was helpful then. It has a rear red light too, and an alarm. I don’t think I would take it out all the time, but on club runs I would as I never know the route we are going to do.

Thursday was body pump. This has nothing to do with Jantastic (although I have worked out how to add it onto Strava which I am quite pleased with). Anyway, it was the new release, and I hadn’t been at all in December so it was quite a shock. Plus loads of new people came so it took 75 minutes to get through! The back track was so tough as you had to keep on adding more weight, and although I only finished with my normal weight it felt super super tough.

Friday was a rest day. I went straight out from work and got home at midnight so not even a walk after work.

Saturday was busy. I did parkrun first thing (31.41- beating my 32.19 on 1st Jan)- the weather was actually pretty kind- it was misting with rain (not even drizzling) on the drive there, but after the first km it stopped. There was wind, strong wind, but we were running into the wind on the downhills, and the wind was behind us for the final uphill slog to the finish. I treated myself to a chai latte from the coffee van, as I was pretty cold and had to walk back to the car. After driving home (in the pouring rain- it waited until I got back to the car at least), having a shower and some porridge, we went into town to pick up an online shopping order, and then after lunch we walked up to the shops as Andy had ordered something to be delivered to the amazon lockers (which by the way are the best invention). I was pretty shattered after all that walking (we probably walked about 4 or 5 miles).

Sunday I was up early but this time opted for a solo run. I am so behind on my marathon talk listening that I heard my “rate your run” from the Brighton 10K back in November! It was beautiful weather- cold, but clear and bright, although as I ran the wind picked up and my last couple of miles were quite tough. I just wanted to get some distance under my belt, as I have a 10 mile race next weekend. Originally my plan said 11 miles for this weekend, but that was with longer runs the previous weekends. Anyway, in the end I did 9 miles so I am really happy with that. It wasn’t my fastest (in fact it took me the same time as my last 10 mile race) but the distance is what counts at the moment. I needed the confidence before next weekend that I can do 10 miles, and they have a 2 hour cut off so I was a bit worried that if I needed to walk I wouldn’t make it.

2015-01-11 09.07.48

So, week 1 done. 4 runs completed (and logged- peeps if you are doing Jantastic don’t forget to log your runs) for a total of 21.9 mile (how I love Strava for all their stats) and a much more optimistic feel about marathon training now. Phew.

How has Jantastic been for you?

Anyone else on Strava? Which websites do you like to use to track workouts?

teapigs matcha challenge week 1

I was kindly sent a matcha kit by the lovely folks at teapigs, in exchange for taking their 2 week challenge, where you have some matcha every day.

2015-01-01 13.59.39The kit included a tub of matcha powder, an aerolatte whisk, and a very cute teapigs shot glass.

Now, I thought I sort of knew what matcha was, but on their website teapigs have a very interesting page all about it. To summarise, the tea is grown under cover for the final few weeks of growth, to encourage the plants to produce more chlorophyll. Then the leaves are hand picked, the stems and veins removed (they can taste bitter), and they are ground to a fine powder. You stir the powder into water, milk or juice, or have it in yoghurt or porridge, so instead of just having the steeped water and throwing out the tea leaves, you consume the whole plant.

Anyway, onto the challenge.

2015-01-01 16.58.33

I have tried it in a few ways this week.

2015-01-02 20.48.19

With milk is my favourite so far. I have tended to have it in the morning before breakfast. I have tried it with water but am not so keen- it’s not bitter, but it does taste quite green if that makes sense, and so not my favourite first thing.

2015-01-03 11.16.55


One day I tried it without the whisk, but I found it very hard to stir and mix and it stayed lumpy, so for me the aerolatte is the way to go.

I ordered from Ocado one of the matcha drinks- the elderflower was out of stock so I went for the apple flavour.

2015-01-06 19.45.23

This was really good. The ingredients are water, apple juice and matcha powder, and it had a lovely light apple flavour- like apple juice but less sticky if that makes sense.

So far I am enjoying the challenge for sure.

Have you ever tried matcha? I think next week I shall need to do some baking with it, but not sure on what just yet.

*I was sent the teapigs matcha kit in exchange for writing about it on my blog, but all opinions are my own.

Farewell festivities

So, back to work and back to reality it is this week!

Although at the moment our tree is still up- we put it up late as I wasn’t really very well, and because we were away we have not had a lot of time to enjoy it.

2014-12-20 19.22.58

I love putting the lights on and lighting candles.

2014-12-20 21.05.01

It just seems so cosy. I think this evening may be my last chance. We do normally put it away before I go back to work, but we were out yesterday evening so decided to delay it a bit.

2015-01-02 18.40.47

Last week I finally got around to decorating our Christmas cakes. I had not even put marzipan on them because I didn’t think anyone would want me coughing all over it! The robin one was for my parents. We took it around on Saturday as we had a belated Christmas celebration with my parents, Auntie and cousin. We do a sort of secret santa game thing, with a theme, and I was very excited to bring home nuts and a nut cracker-  I have always wanted one!

2015-01-02 18.40.58

Then a big gingerbread man cake for Andy’s family, and one for us. We took theirs around on Sunday- better late than never! (The holly leaves were bought decorations- I could not do anything that fiddly).

This year there was a bit of a theme to my presents- tea and chocolate being the main ones!

2015-01-01 13.42.37I am especially loving that huge mug- I might have to have a hot chocolate and one of the vegan marshmallows floating on top. The Whittards Baked Apple tea is just amazing- it has almonds and hazelnut brittle in there as well as dried apple pieces and is just delicious.

2014-12-22 16.26.46

We did take a few Christmas goodies with us- I bought the gingerbread snowman at the Pret at the airport as I was getting a peppermint tea. The Hotel Chocolat gingerbread men are lovely, and the M&S fruit/ nut mix was so good too- almonds with salted caramel coating, milk chocolate brazils, and clementine-flavoured cranberries coated in dark chocolate. Very festive indeed!

2015-01-01 17.09.58I have been curing my January blues (not that I really have that) with a spot of sale shopping. The picture came out very badly, but Sports Direct (I don’t normally shop with them as I had trouble once with a refund) had super super cheap Karrimor running tights- £7 a pair, so I got black ones with yellow bits, some purple ones and some blue ones.

2015-01-04 12.07.46

I even tried the blue ones out on a run on Sunday and was very pleased to notice that they matched my nail polish perfectly!

Are all your decorations away now?