Now and then

So as the weekend draws closer, I am veering between excitement and terror as to what lies ahead. The rational part of my brain is telling me to trust in the plan, and trust my training, and trust myself. The irrational part is panicking about everything going wrong- setting off too fast, getting too hot, running out of energy…

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I finally made a Simnel cake- this one was from the CCC book and contained pistachios as well as marzipan baked into the mixture. 

When I was looking for marathon training plans, I found it quite hard. When I did Stockholm (back in 2011) it was my first marathon, so it was easy to find a “get you round” plan for a first timer. But now, things are different. Back then I had only been running for 3 years, and had only run a few races (including two half marathons) in that time. Now, I am a more experienced runner (10 half marathons now), and I know a lot more about myself. But I am still pretty much a novice marathon runner- running one hardly makes me “experienced” in that field, so I am still finding a lot of it pretty tough as it is all fairly new.

However, I need to remind myself that my running experience is going to stand me in good stead. Anyway, here are my worries:


Back then I would not run without my water bottle, and now I know I can run a half marathon without drinking water on the course. I was worrying about not carrying my water bottle with me (as I did last time) but there are water stations on the course so I can drink pretty much when I want to. I did take nuun with me on my last marathon, and without a bottle on me this won’t be an option. But before my long runs this time I have been having a tab in water with my breakfast, so I will continue this. I worry a bit about hyponatremia but if I don’t have water with me I won’t be tempted to drink so much anyway. And I will have another nuun tab in water when I finish.


Back then I tried gels and they were horrible! I settled with clif blocks, jelly tots/ jelly beans, and nakd bars. Recently I have gone off using jelly beans in races (the sugar just seemed to leave my mouth feeling dry and thirsty) so have opted for fruit yoyos and some sort of cereal bar. I might pack some jelly beans for the final few miles as I have a little bag of them, and maybe a few dates. I used to have porridge before long runs but that has not worked so well this time. What does work is toast, coconut oil and jam, so I will be taking that with me. We are staying in an apartment so hopefully there is a toaster there!


First of all, how are you meant to work out your marathon pace? I could work out a 5K pace because I run 5k most weeks and know what it feels like to push myself and still be able to finish. But even in my training runs I have not really hit a certain pace- the advice tended to be to run them as slowly as felt comfortable, and to just complete the distance. Last time my time was 5.21.59 (I was aiming for 5 hours, but I was on antibiotics for a UTI which turned out to be the cyst that had to be removed)- this time I want to beat that and I feel that 5 hours is an achievable target for me. I have looked at the pacer bands (make them here, I love them), and I would need to do 11.24 min miles. I think that is OK, but some of my longer runs have been around this speed (the 17 miler and one 20 miler) but others have been faster (my first 20 miler). So am I capable of going faster? I don’t know! I don’t want to mess a 5 hour potential time going for something shorter, but also being out for that long is tough, so if I can be out for a bit less time it might not be so bad. The logic is disappearing…


I can’t control this, I know that. But the weather for Stockholm was pretty much perfect. A bit cloudy, and cool. All my training has been done in the cold- I think I wore capris once, and wore a t-shirt once to a parkrun and was pretty cold. But this week the weather has been hotting up. I am planning on wearing my club vest, and was originally going to wear it over a thin long sleeved top, but the way the weather is going I might just wear the vest. I will pack my visor and capris and sun lotion, and just hope for some cloud.

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I bought some calf sleeves this week to put on when I finish- I do love compression socks for after a long run but they can be a bit of a battle to put on, so I am hoping they might be easier for immediately after.

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And I bought this top (John Lewis were having a sale on sportswear)- might have it in my bag for when I finish.

Letting myself down 

I am not running to raise sponsorship, I am just running to beat my time pretty much, or to finish a marathon while I am healthy. With Stockholm, it ended up being very tough, and part of that was my cyst for sure, but being on antibiotics and flying the night before didn’t help either. Originally my plan was to sign up for a second marathon once I did a 2 hour half, because I felt that running for nearly 5 1/2 hours was such a long time to be running. I got close at Bath last year (2.06) so decided to sign up, giving myself a year to make that target. In the end I didn’t achieve that-I only ended up doing two half marathons- one half was a hilly trail, my slowest ever, and the other was in the midst of my marathon training (Brighton- 2.04) so I didn’t want to push too hard and jeopardize my marathon. I feel a bit like this is my only chance to beat my time, because the training has been so tough- I took on more responsibility at work this year so the hours have been harder, and I have found myself pretty shattered at the weekends. I am not saying never again, but I can’t see myself signing up for another one in the near future (Stockholm was my 30th birthday present to myself, so maybe for my 40th I’ll do another?…), so I want to make the training count for something.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. I have put all of this pressure onto myself, and of course ideally I would get my ideal time, and enjoy it, and finish it. But if I have to stop, then who cares? Only me. If I struggle and finish slowly, who cares? Well, maybe Andy because he will be waiting for longer, but they have deck chairs and beer….

Tess wrote a super blog post this week (15 Taper Commandments)- which reminds me, I need to go to bed a bit earlier. She also linked to a previous post (You Are Ready) which made me tear up a bit.

I think I am ready. I know I am ready. I want it to be over. I want to enjoy every second. Why did I sign up for this again?

How do you calm the pre-race nerves?

Creme Brulee experiment

(And because of how I roll, I have got that High School Musical song in my head)

Sainsbury’s kindly sent me a creme brulee kit (sorry, can’t work out how to insert the right symbols), so this weekend I had a few attempts. I have never made it before, or made any fresh custard thing as I always imagine I will end up with a pan of scrambled eggs, so it seemed a good way to try it without that fear.

The kit contained a mixture (made up of cornflour, sugar and free range egg) to which you added cream and milk. It then magically thickened as you heated it.

2015-04-03 18.26.48I used Alpro cream because when I went shopping the dates on the normal creams were not good, and I also thought it would be more fun (?) to try something I had never made before and not follow the recipe. Anyway, it worked- phew!

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It looks very pale here because we have no natural light in our kitchen, and it was night time anyway.

You then just poured it into ramekins and chilled, before topping with demerara sugar (also included) and grilling.

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That part didn’t go quite so well for me- I think I should have smoothed out the custard before chilling- for some reason I thought it would settle down but of course it didn’t. This meant that the sugar crisped up in places, but didn’t make the proper crunchy top layer. Anyway, it tasted good.

As the pack contained 4 servings, I decided to make something else with the other half of the mixture- a sort of hot cross bun bread pudding (yup, carb loading here). A good way to use up any left over buns.

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The start was the same- make up the custard part using the mixture, cream and milk.

I then cut up the hot cross buns, spread them with a little marmalade and poured the custard mixture over.

2015-04-06 20.50.57I baked it in the oven for 15 minutes just to warm the buns through. Super tasty and pretty easy to make.

Are you a creme brulee or custard fan? I quite like them but they are never the top of my dessert list.

*I was sent the kit but all opinions are my own.




Penultimate week

Although Jantastic has finished, I have enjoyed doing these weekly reviews for my marathon training. Last weekend I did my long run on the Saturday, to combine it with parkrun, so on Sunday I only did a short run (I was relieved as the weather was horrible- so windy and rainy). I then went out for breakfast with friends- the place even had a log fire burning- very cosy indeed.

Monday: I kept it as a rest day, although my long run had been earlier, I don’t do too well running more than 2 days in a row.

Tuesday: OH ladies run. Most of the runners cancelled for various reasons, so it ended up being just two of us. We did an out and back, fairly hilly course, and both of us were surprised with how fast we went (I think we were trying to outrun the wind and storms that kept blowing over). 3.5 miles in 34 minutes- not bad considering the hills.

Wednesday: Nothing. I was going to run, but work has been so manic and I felt exhausted, so was sensible and rested.

Thursday: Body Pump. Also the start of the Easter holidays at long last!

Some yummy chocolates and cards from people at work:

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Friday: 4 mile run first thing- it had stopped raining so dashed out before it started again. Achy legs from pump meant it was a bit slower but not too bad (41 mins I think). Later on we walked around the town and did a bit of shopping.

Saturday: Parkrun! Hooray!  Just me this week, but I met a running buddy at the start line- she is usually faster than me but had hurt her knee and had not run for a few weeks, so we ran together, chatting (well, at times- not on the hills!)- very enjoyable and I think my third fastest time at Panshanger. Later on, more walking as on Friday my click and collect order was lost, so I had to go back.

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I won some Hot Cross Bun tea from the Bluebird Tea facebook page (the awesome tea shop in Brighton) and it came on Saturday, so we enjoyed a pot of that in the afternoon. Scrumptious! 

Sunday: 8 mile run. I decided to do an out and back route, because my usual loop is closer to 9, with added optional extras, and I wanted to be sensible. I decided to aim for 10 minute miles, and apart from the first two (and at the start of the second I had to slow to take my jacket off) they all began with a 9. I felt good.  Just two more and a bit to go next weekend…

While I was out my phone beeped, and when I got home I saw it was a reminder for the marathon next weekend (as if I could forget). I listened to the latest Marathon Talk (well, the first 80 minutes) and their training talk was just what I needed to hear. They were talking about long runs, and how to approach the final few long runs (a bit late for me to change anything, but it helped to set my mind at ease). They did have a rule of thumb for the longest 3 runs to total 60 miles, and mine don’t quite (I think they total 58), but they were also talking about going beyond 20 (I did- 0.6 beyond!) and not going on time but going on miles (which I also have done). Some more reflecting will come later in the week, but I am feeling alright about the training now it is basically done.

So, 4/4 runs. 18.7 miles.

Most of the people I know training for marathons are training for London, so they are still in full swing, and it does feel a bit strange having less miles to run, but I am trying to embrace it and trust in my plan.

How have you been spending the long weekend?

New baking supplies

Recently there has been a lot of running, and not so much baking, but that balance is about to switch. Last week I was kindly sent some new baking supplies from a German-based website, MeinCupcake.DE. (They do have a UK website too,

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Once I had chosen the items (from the huge extensive range of goods available including baking equipment, decorating supplies, flavourings, cake boxes and stands) they arrived within days. I was sent emails so I could track the parcel too.

I chose a bundt tin (I have been tempted by them for a while now), a loaf pan (my current one was going rusty and was too long for the loaf liners), a rolling pin for icing, and some straws.

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Andy recently bought himself a mini smoothie maker (this one – a total bargain, easy to clean, and blends ice and frozen fruit), so this weekend after my 12 mile run he made a berry smoothie for us to share- any excuse for me to use the pretty straws!

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On Sunday evening I decided to make some banana bread for work, using the excellent CCC recipe. I was very pleased to see that the new loaf pan was a perfect fit for the loaf liners.

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It’s also dishwasher safe which I like, especially as I added in some butterscotch chips and some of them had burnt to the tin!

I have not used the bundt tin yet, but this recipe popped up on the CCC facebook page last night, so I might well be tempted. Although I think I would use mini eggs as I am not a creme egg fan.

Any good bundt cake recipes for me to try?

*I was sent the baking items for my blog, but all opinions are my own.