All about the cake

Now I have had this song stuck in my head after St Albans parkrun posted some photos of the lake, saying something like “we’re all about the lake, about the lake…”. I don’t even know the song, such an earworm!

Anyway, last weekend the cake I went for was a red velvet cake. Again, from the CCC book- never had a bad recipe from it.

One of the ingredients was buttermilk, but having never even seen that (well apart from when we made butter at school) I googled for an alternative. BBC food assured me I could sour normal milk by adding a few drops of lemon juice, so I used that instead.

It was baked in two pans, and you were meant to cut each cake in two, so you ended up with 4 layers, but my cutting is terrible and I didn’t see the point, so just went for the two.

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It had a cream cheese frosting, which I made, but about half of the suggested quantity, and that turned out to be plenty. In fact I could not shut the lid on my cake box! I had to cover it in cling film and hold it on my lap as Andy drove- goodness knows what it would have been like if I had made it all.  A few sprinkles for good measure, as otherwise it looked a bit bare. The book has it covered with dried cranberries, which went with the red theme, but I didn’t have any (it’s not Christmas) (although I think they are Christmas sprinkles…).

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We even had a few slices left over, so I had one on Tuesday after a tough run. Usually I add a bit on before Sweatshop, but I had a late meeting this week so knew I would not be able to. Coupled with being on a course on Tuesday (meaning I got home early) plus trying to give myself time before the 20 miles of this Sunday, meant that is was sensible to go out before the club run instead. I drove to our meeting place, did 2.7 miles, and then met the girls. There were only two of them, and they are the fastest ones- I managed to keep up for the 5 mile loop (apart from the dreaded Hill where they had to wait a minute for me) to total 7.7 miles. I was pleased with that, but once home and showered I started to feel pretty awful. I think I had not drunk as much as usual, but I had eaten well so it wasn’t that. Anyway, the cake was to help!

Another great recipe from that book anyway.

What are your weekend plans? I am trying to focus on Saturday and forget that Sunday is going to be dominated by such a long run….

Jantastic week 10- when the going gets tough

The tough go to sleep?

So it seems that the 20 mile run last weekend totally wiped me out. We had a walk in the afternoon, and I had a sleep, but the next day I was really stiff.

Monday– Rest day. Walk after work, foam rolling and bath with Epsom salts helped.

Tuesday– OH club run- 5 mile route but reversed so included a big hill. Tough. I kept up with the front girls for the first mile but after that my legs were not playing ball. It was frustrating as even going up the hill my breathing was not challenged but I just could not move my legs any faster. Luckily I packed my torch as two of us ended up running down a pitch black alleyway to get back to the car park (turned out we went the wrong way).

Wednesday– After the day before I ducked out of SRC and opted for a run on my own. Went on the fields but by the end it was totally dark so had to come back via the streets. Got jumped at by a dog- possibly a boxer (my google search of “horrible dog breeds” showed me a few pictures of them)- it had about 6 inches of drool hanging out of its’ mouth and kept jumping up at me. I stopped (I normally stop anyway if I come across a dog off a lead as it seems they find the running more exciting)- anyway the person walking it was saying “heel” in the quietest most un-commanding voice ever. I surprised myself by shouting at him to please control his dog and speak to it in a commanding way so that it actually followed his instructions (normally I am too scared of them setting their dogs on me, but this guy was very drippy in his behaviour and I wanted the dog to stop jumping at me). Honestly I really get annoyed by dog owners who are not responsible (eg who do not pick up dog poo etc)- if your dog can’t be safe off the lead then keep it on a lead- it’s not that complicated!!!!! Rant over.

By the time I got home I was properly shattered and my legs were so tired- another 5 miles done anyway.

Thursday– Pump. In the biceps track I decided to tack some extra weight on the end to see how I would go- my friend commented that she was surprised I was trying it, so I was extra pleased when I got to the end of the track without having to knock them off!

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I was sent some high protein pasta from the folks at My Protein this week, so I had that with pesto, veggies and pine nuts before pump. The pasta is made with pea protein, durum wheat and eggs (which must be free range, as it has the vegetarian society symbol on the website) and is 50% protein. We mixed it with some normal wholewheat pasta as we had some in the kitchen already, but I could not tell the difference in texture or taste. I do like pasta but as I don’t have meat it tends to be a lower protein meal, so a little boost can’t hurt.2015-03-12 17.53.31

I also had a mini panic when I realised this marked 1 month to go.

Friday– Rest. We went into London to see Idlewild- it made us feel old as I think the first time we saw them was about half our lives ago! Anyway, it was fab, but my leg was feeling a bit sore, and so standing for all that time wasn’t good, and walking down the steps at the tube station on the way home was a bit painful.

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Saturday– I had arranged to go to parkrun with my dad, but in the morning I could not decide as my leg/ hip was a bit stiff. I did some jogging in the living room, and soem dynamic things (yes that is the proper term) like leg swings and lunges, and I felt OK, so I decided to go, but tell my dad to run ahead as I needed to take it easier. After the first mile I felt pretty good so decided to speed up a bit. I also just totally loved the run- the sun was shining, there were lambs in the field that was run down through, the lakes at the bottom were beautiful blue colours and glinting in the sun. I even surprised myself by overtaking some people on the final uphill stint- I am not celebrating the act of overtaking (one girl told me “great work” as I ran past her- I love parkrun) but the fact that I was feeling strong enough to take it on. I think it was my third fastest time on that course, not bad at all. Later we walked around town, did some jobs at home, and had a walk in the evening, but the late night combined with a busy week (3 before-work meetings and 3 after work meetings) meant I was totally shattered. We spent a lot of time watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which is just so funny- anything Tina Fey is involved in is great by me, and then watching a lot of Songify the news (have a look here as I can’t explain it)- sort of Flight of the Concords meets Day Today crossed with the trapped in the closet song. Anyway he did the theme tune to the TV show.

Sunday– *Only* 12 miles was on my plan this week, and initially I had grand plans of going further, but that soon changed! I was so tired on Saturday, and looking back I don’t think I have not set an alarm for 3 weeks at least. I have had a few busy weeks at work, and I really think the 20 miler took it out of me more than I initially thought. So I set my alarm as a back up, and ended up waking up at 9.15am after probably nearly 11 hours of sleep. I clearly needed it! I had to map out a route as I hadn’t done that yesterday, so it was gone 10 when I finally set out. I didn’t have breakfast, because I wouldn’t normally for a run of that distance, but looking back I should have, because of the time of day. The first part of the run went fine- I had a bear yoyo at mile 8 and another at mile 9, but then my legs got very stiff (I think actually it is my lower back, but that seems to affect my hamstrings) and I was shuffling for a bit. By the time I got home I had managed 11.96 miles and I felt so shattered that I could not even contemplate running up and down the road to get the full 12. I felt so cold when I got inside, and after getting a drink and an apple I had to sit down for about 20 minutes before I could even get the energy for a shower.

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I made some chocolate pancakes this week- one egg, 5g cocoa powder, 35g buckwheat flour, almond extract and almond milk to make the batter thin enough. Alongside some cooked blueberries, Alpro coconut yoghurt, vegan butterscotch sauce (that little jar is lasting an impressive amount of time) and chocolate pb on the pancakes. I had coconut water while I was cooking them, and a teapigs chocolate flake tea with the pancakes, and still after that had a lie down on the sofa as I felt so awful. I think the last time I felt this way after a run was at the Bath half just over a year ago.

So, 4/4 runs done. 24.9 miles. Long run of 12 miles missed by .04. Next week will be better. And I have learned a lesson- just because I can run 12 miles before breakfast, does not mean that I always should.

Also Garmin keeps failing to upload my run grrr, so I can’t look at that, or on Strava, or log my final Jantastic run of the week. Sigh. I am too tired for all this nonsense!

How do you pick yourself up after a hard run?

Do you like going to see bands?

Do you get scared of dogs on your runs? (Or geese- I don’t like the big white geese either). It’s the one thing that puts me off running around the fields as I see loads more there off leads (even where the cows are, where it says clearly to keep dogs on leads, but no, of course that does not apply to your dog, only all the other dogs…)

Have you watched anything good on TV recently? 

*I was sent the pasta in exchange for a review- all opinions are my own.

Pretty baking!

Last weekend I knew I would be running for 20 miles, and we were seeing Andy’s parents after they had been away for weeks, so I decided that a pretty cake was in order.

Waitrose had a recipe card for a lemon and pistachio cake, so that is what I went with.

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Basically you make a pistachio marizipan by whizzing up pistachios, ground almonds, sugar and an egg in a food processor. Then you make a lemon cake, and then you put 1/4 of the lemon cake mixture in each of two tins, cover with the marzipan mixture and then put the rest of the cake mixture on top before baking.

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You then sandwich them together with icing- I had some Sugar and Crumbs pistachio icing sugar, so I made buttercream with that (I am not a huge fan of buttercream, but Andy and his family love it), and sprinkled a few more ground pistachios on the top. It is meant to be more stripy (as you can see in the Waitrose picture) but it was still pretty which was my main objective!

2015-03-09 20.33.55Also, it was very tasty. The pistachio filling was gorgeous- it stayed chewy, almost like the centre of a chewy meringue.

One to make again on another special occasion for sure.

Are you a pistachio fan?


Jantastic week 9- home straight

I actually had to go to Strava just now and count the weeks to check that it really was week 9.

So, this week:

Monday- Rest. Sports massage. Cleaning. I felt surprisingly good a day after my 17.6 mile run, but then was ill later on.

Tuesday– Spent the morning sleeping/ having visits to the bathroom. Had toast at lunch and felt a bit better. By the evening fancied some fresh air so had a gentle run across the fields.

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Wednesday– Meetings at work.

Thursday– Meetings at work.

Friday– Walk after work.

Saturday– Parkrun. My second fastest time on that course- most of the mud has now dried so it was much easier to grip.

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I treated myself to a parkrun hoodie this week- it is so soft and cosy- I love it! From wiggle if anyone else is interested.

Sunday– 20.6 miles.  After a shower, a smoothie and pancakes, we had a short walk (probably less than 2 miles) and the I had an afternoon nap- I really needed it!

3/4 runs completed. Joker played (as I missed the 4th run). Distance target of 20 miles done. Weekly total of 27.6 miles- should have been in the 30’s really. But there are still 5 weeks to go.

Yesterday I was not feeling as good as I felt last Monday- I was really surprised by how little my legs ached the next day last week. But I had to do a bit of foam rolling before I went to work as my legs were so stiff. I have not been hobbling, but if I sit for a long time (eg in meetings) standing up again after is interesting to say the least. I had a walk after work, and then a bath (I remembered the salts this time) and that helped loads.

Thanks for all the comments on the last post- I think that probably the 20 mile training run is the sensible choice- even though it doesn’t start until 9.30am, so I won’t be finished until 1.30pm, and home later as I will have to drive, I think the race day rehearsal, water stations and hopefully good atmosphere will help me more than just going out alone.

Next weekend I only (only) had 12 miles on the plan, but I think I might add to this a bit, so that the 20 the weekend after isn’t such a shock, but I will see how I feel as the week goes on.

20 long miles

That was the plan today.

2015-03-08 07.48.37I got my waist pack out and washed, and put some bear yoyo’s and a nakd bar into the pocket. I couldn’t decide in clothes- parkrun yesterday was OK in a t-shirt, but I was going to be out for a long time, and the wind was up. In the end I wore a t-shirt with a thin long sleeved top over, which I could take off when I got warm.

I was up early and had breakfast (pulsin bar again) so was ready before 8am to head off. I kept having to stop at first- first at the end of my road because the pack was bounding about- I think I used to wear the bottle on my hip, but I couldn’t get it right and the bottle was banging my back and making a very annoying sloshing noise. Then I got stopped asking for directions, and I am sure something else happened too.

Anyway I did the same route as last week, only I had mapped out an extra small loop in the middle to add on the extra 2 miles. The first 10 miles were fine- I didn’t look at my watch at all so had no idea of speed or distance, so just tried to enjoy the podcasts and the sunny morning. I have been reading Tracks (about a girl hiking the Pacific Crest Trail) and she is having to carry several days worth of water as there are miles between water sources, so each time my pack was annoying me I tried to think how much worse it was for her.

At just after 10 miles it had got quite warm, so I took my top off, but that ended up being a longer stop as I had forgotten to loop my headphones through. Anyway, although my legs were tired, they were OK, and at that point I was over half way so I felt quite optimistic. At that point I convinced myself that I needed the toilet, but luckily I pass some public ones at around 12 miles, so I stopped then (had to leave my pack on the side and tuck my phone into my running bra as I didn’t want to take my water bottle into the cubicle)- it turned out I did not need it- so more minutes wasted stopping.

I started having a few sips of drink then, as it had really warmed up. At around 12 miles and 14 miles I had my Bear yoyo’s, and then started with my nakd bar at about 16 miles but I didn’t finish it as my stomach felt quite full then. By this time I was wanting to stop and walk, but knew I was on the home straight. Although I also realised that I was too far from home so it was going to end up being over 20 miles. I thought I knew a slight short cut, so I took that, but I am not sure if it was in the end. The final mile was more of a shuffle I think. At 20 miles I was tempted to just stop and walk, but of course walking takes much longer and I just wanted to get home, so I shuffled on to make it 20.6 miles.

I realised when running that I have only ever run that distance twice before- once at the South Cheshire 20 miler, and then in the Stockholm marathon itself- never on my own or out of a race situation. So I have taken from that a lot of positives- it took me 4 hours to do that, although Strava helpfully tells me my moving time was 3.42 which sounds better.

2015-03-08 12.06.39I had washed my face by this point, so I think I agree with Andy that I didn’t look too bad again. 

Andy got me a drink and then after a brief collapse on the bed I headed for a shower. He bought himself a little smoothie maker this week, and so when I got out the shower he made me a protein smoothie with banana, frozen berries, almond milk, peanut butter and oats. So good. Although I put Deep Freeze gel all over my legs, and I keep forgetting that it takes a while to kick  in, so that combined with a cold smoothie meant I was soon shivering.

A little later I had the energy to go and cook some pancakes, although my plan was sweet potato pancakes (I had cooked some earlier in the week) but totally forgot at the time.

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This was from last week (French toast instead of pancakes) but minus the banana it was pretty much the same- pancakes, blueberries cooked to a sauce, some almond milk yoghurt and vegan butterscotch sauce (which comes from here in case anyone is interested).

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They were on offer in Waitrose last week and I fancied trying them- they do have soya too, but I don’t mind that- the almond one has been good this week, but I haven’t tried the coconut one yet.

A walk is good for recovery, so after pancakes we headed out on a short walk (more of a hobble for me to be honest) and then I went for a little afternoon nap.

Next weekend I *only* have to do 12 miles- that sounds blissful to me at the moment!

Now I need to decide on the other 20 miler- I have penciled in a local race- they are training runs really- you just turn up on the day with your £5 and form, but it will be a faff to drive there and register. I did think that it would be a bonus having a route mapped out, and water en route, but now I am not so sure as I do find that sort of thing stressful, so I might just moderate this route slightly and do that instead. Decisions.

Did you have a good weekend? Would you prefer to run on your own or as part of an organised event?