London Winter Run 10K

A few of my club mates signed up to the London Winter run this year- last year a big group did it and the medals were so pretty that it was on my list!

Whatever virus I had last week came back towards the end of this week, so I didn’t go to parkrun on Saturday as I wanted to be OK for Sunday, and not make myself worse. I was still feeling dizzy on Saturday but thankfully when I woke up this morning I felt fine.

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Last year the club made vests for the event, so someone passed theirs to me to wear, which I loved.

I had some toast, as it was going to be about 3 hours before we started running, and then we headed to the tube. It was a good journey- just 40 minutes and we were in Leicester Square, but when we came out it was drizzling.

We had about 45 minutes to spare before out (very specific) start time of 9.54am, so we popped into Pret as some of the girls wanted to use a toilet, and it was lovely to wait in the warm! We then headed to the bag drop, which was so well organised- the first one we reached was busy but the marshals told us that the next one along was quieter, so we went there, reasoning that it would be quieter at the end too. You had to use the official bag drop, which was a bit of pain because my big coat would not fit inside, so I had worn a long sleeved top, the snow (sn-oh) vest top, my parkrun hoodie (to go in the bag drop) and my running rain jacket, as I could tie it around my waist when I got too hot. So in Pret I had taken off my hoodie and braved the cold. It was still drizzly but we headed to the start and joined the long procession of people making their way to the start. They didn’t seem to be strict about start times, and even though we were in the pen in plenty of time, it took ages to get to the start line. They were letting people go in waves, and I think around 10.05 we set off, so not too bad.

I had hoped we would run as a group, as I thought it was that sort of event, plus I didn’t want to push hard as I had been unwell earlier in the week.

In the end, I ran the whole way with another girl from the club, and it was lovely, as we chatted the whole way around. She did tell me to go ahead a few times, but I was perfectly happy to run together rather than go a bit faster on my own. It was a good route around central parts of London, although it seemed to twist back on itself a lot (several times I thought we were running past people behind us on the other side of the barriers, only for us to turn and go that way!)- it messed with my sense of direction. Along the route were a few snow cannons, penguins (well, some people dressed up, and some big models of king penguins), snowmen (although they were way too skinny for snowmen), and an impressive drumming group which we passed twice.

There were loads of lovely marshals, and the St John’s Ambulance people were doing Mexican waves and cheering people on too- it had a great atmosphere. Despite the rain there were lots of people watching too, which always helps (but not too many for it to feel claustrophobic). The km markers whizzed by for me, as I was enjoying our chatting. It seemed that quickly we got to the “500m to the finish and polar bear hugs” sign- although I was not a fan of that idea, especially if it was a man in the suit and not a woman!

The two of us crossed the line together, and my club-mate Sarah was thrilled to see she had managed a 10k pb- awesome stuff! Despite it being busy, we met up with the other 3 within minutes of being given our medals, water and coconut water, so we walked back past Horse Guards’ Parade to the (nice and empty) bag drop.

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Photo from Louise- me and Sarah have matching trainers although hers are less muddy! I love this photo, because it was just brilliant to all go there together, and to run together- that’s what our running club is about- encouraging people to do their best, and to join in, and to have fun. 

We had a photo with the London Eye in the background (most people had the same idea). I had packed tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt as well as my hoodie, so I put the bottoms on over my tights, but my vest and long sleeved top were soaked so I took them off in the bag drop tent hoping no-one I knew would be looking!

There was a stage in Trafalgar Square set up for medal photos (with a sign that said “10K pb”) and I did suggest it to Sarah, but as the queue didn’t seem to be moving we left it, and headed to Pret for a hot chocolate- my hands were freezing and I had wished I had worn gloves. Anyway, after warming up, we headed straight to the tube (where at least it is warm) and then drove home.

I really enjoyed it- it was a very flat route, although a bit twisty in places, but you could get a fast time as it was wide and never felt congested. The medal is so pretty, it was very well organised with signs and marshals everywhere. But it was expensive, so I am not sure I would sign up again (unless a group of us did it again). I do think they could have done with foil blankets at the finish, as although it wasn’t a long walk, it was a cold wet day, so I got quite chilly before getting back to the bag drop.

It was also for a great cause (Cancer Research UK)- they even had a mention of this at the start, so if you would like to sponsor me, you can click here.

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Such a pretty medal! (And blue nails to match of course)

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Official time- 1:11:20

ComFit foods

I was recently asked to take part in a campaign to encourage people to swap comfort foods for ComFit foods.

Apparently over 70% of us will resolve to be healthier in the new year, but research from Sainsbury’s reveals that in fact two thirds of us will spend almost a full day more (22 hours) watching TV in January and 1/3 of us end up eating more comfort foods in January than any other month. Sainsbury’s recognises how important a healthy, balanced lifestyle is for their customers, without having to compromise on some of the most enjoyable things in life. So, inspired by this latest research and love of good food, Sainsbury’s is launching a campaign called ‘ComFit Foods’ – classic comfort food dishes, but with healthier twists.  

ComFit foods include one little twist to transform mid-week meals at a time where customers are striving to be more health conscious. The dishes all have elements of excitement and experimentation, but still utilise every day store cupboard ingredients in a healthy way. There’s a feeling among consumers that warming winter foods are automatically unhealthy, but these recipes show we can all still make feel-good-food without the guilt. Sainsbury’s hopes to inspire little changes which help make a big difference to overall nutritional value.

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I was sent a few recipes, and decided to cook the Pear and Coconut Crumble (see below for the recipe), as it sounded delicious. I like crumble toppings, but I like them to be super crunchy and the addition of the seeds sounded so good.

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It was simple to make- cook the pears, melt the coconut oil, mix the crumble mixture, top and bake. Just a bit of chopping and stirring. I left the skins on the pears as I like that.

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It smelled so good as it was baking- I think it was the coconut oil as well as the cardamom.

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We had some along with some custard (as I didn’t have any crème fraiche), and it was so good. The topping was much tastier than a traditional crumble mix, and the lime and coconut gave it a bit of a tropical feel.

We saved some in the fridge for another day- perfect post run food.

Here is the recipe if you fancy trying it (and I will make it again because it really was simple and really delicious):

Pear, Cardamom & Coconut Crumble

Serves 4

6 conference pears, peeled, cored and chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tsp ground cardamom (lightly crack pods, and grind the seeds)

1 tbsp agave nectar (I used maple syrup)


3 tbsp walnuts, 1 tbsp roughly chopped (I used flaked almonds)

5 tbsp rolled oats

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp agave nectar (maple syrup)

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp coconut flakes, toasted

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
  2. Make the pear mix. Place pears, zest and juice of lime, cardamom and agave nectar in a saucepan and bring to medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to soften pears for about 6-8 minutes. They should still retain some bite.
  3. Make the topping. Whizz 2 tbsp of walnuts in a food processor (or alternatively, use a pestle and mortar) to grind. Mix together with the chopped walnuts oats, oats, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, agave and salt.
  4. Place pear mix in a ceramic ovenproof dish, followed by the topping. Place on baking tray for 20-25 minutes, until warmed through and light golden brown on top. Finish off with toasted coconut flakes. Serve with low-fat crème fraiche.

They have also produced this recipe for avocado mousse which I might try at the weekend:

Avocado, banana and cacao mousse with coconut

Serves 4

2 ripe avocados, de-stoned

1 ripe banana

2 tbsp raw cacao

4 tsp agave syrup

2 tsp desiccated coconut, to serve

Place the avocados, banana, cacao and agave in a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Spoon into 4 small tumblers and sprinkle over a little coconut before serving.

What is your favourite comfort food? 

*I was sent a voucher to purchase the ingredients with. All opinions are my own.

Fred Hughes 10 miles (round 2)

So I did this race last year, as it fitted into my marathon training plan. I wasn’t going to do it again as it is fairly hilly, and a bit stressful with the car par filling up quickly and things. But then quite a few girls in the club signed up, and so in the end I decided to as well.

I had a clif bar first thing- it seems like ages since I have needed to eat before a race, and I could not decide what to do. I had to leave home just after 8am to walk to where I was being picked up (I ran, because I left a bit late!)- but the race didn’t start until 10am, so it was hard to know what would keep me going until the end. We arrived with loads of time, got our numbers and milled abot chatting to other runners. It’s a big one for clubs, and there were huge groups of clubs nearly taking over the hall. We managed a couple of little photos (although a few of ours were in various queues when we took them I think), before walking to the start, 5/10 mins down the road.

I look very excited here!

At the start! I love the guy photo-bombing us in the background!

I had no idea what to aim for- last year I did it in 1.37 something, but after being a bit unwell this week I knew I should not push it or anything.

We started off in a fairly big group, running and chatting when we could. The first mile sped by, (then it’s single figures to go) but then the hills started coming. It is fairly up and down.


The elevation does not look too bad here, but you can see it’s not flat anywhere. You go out for a couple of miles, then do a loop twice, before heading back. It’s all fairly undulating, and most of it was fine. We stayed in our group for the first lap (getting lapped by the front runners of course- amazing to see how fast they run), and most hills were OK, but there is one, with the 8 mile marker (and the first time you do it, you are only coming up to 5, so not even half way) is really tough. I walked last year I think, and when that thought popped into my mind I promised myself I could walk up it the second time around.

In the middle of the second lap I lost the group I was with, as I had to catch my breath- it wasn’t even a hill, it was a flat bit of residential streets, but for some reason I could not get my breathing down. I made myself look at the nice scenery (apart from a little bit of residential, most of it is through country lanes, past cottages, farms, woods and fields), but then the hill came. I decided to run up half of it, but stop and walk at the 8 mile sign (at least the second time around, it’s correct!)- I decided that as I wasn’t aiming for a time, why stress myself out and struggle, when I could walk for a bit and enjoy the last two miles. I was overtaken by a lady who said to me “there must be a better way to enjoy yourself on a Sunday morning, but I haven’t found it yet!” Just after I had started running again, there was a water station (there is only 1, but you pass it 3 times) so I decided to have a drink as it was really mild. I had worn a long sleeved thin top with my vest over the top (and a jacket to tie around my waist for the walk back to race HQ, as I got so cold last year) but I was very warm at times and I think I overdressed.

Once this was done, I was finished with the two loops, and on the home stretch- still a couple of hills to go, and I had another walk break on one of those hills. But then after seeing the 9 mile marker I had a talking to and tried to pick up a bit.

On the final stretch (they have 400m and 200m to go signs, but I have no idea how long that takes me!) I was overtaken by a guy going so fast, so I shouted to him “good going” or something- when I finished he came up to me and said “well done” which was nice- I think looking in races can look competitive, but actually everyone is really cheering everyone on to do their best.

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As you went down the finish funnel, you were given a medal (also a bottle opener), and a buff with a fleecy section on it- fab! Then someone handed me a banana (I looked like I needed it!) and you could choose your crisp flavour from a box (which I like, because last year you got given a bag with leaflets and crisps inside, and I got cheese and onion, when everyone knows that only salt and vinegar will do). I went to get some water, and then met up with the club girls who had already finished. They also did print outs of the time, so I went to get mine- 1:40:50– so only a few minutes behind last year, and according to Strava, although I am trending slower on this route (having only run it twice!) I did my fastest loop- a positive split I think- whoops!

There were a few girls behind me, so we cheered them over the line before walking back to the HQ- that was when I was very glad of my layers. Race HQ were serving huge cups of tea or coffee, and lovely home-made cake (it rivals the spread I have seen at cross country races!) so I got a piece of fruit cake and a tea- started to feel human again!

I do like the 10 mile distance, but I don’t think I will be doing this race next year- partly because it covers a lot of the same roads from the St Albans half marathon, so I feel like I have run up some of those hills many times! I think if a lot of girls sign up next year, I might marshal instead. It was great to be at an event with a few more club members there- very different to racing on your own, and it meant the before and after bits were more enjoyable too. For some of them it was their first race, some of them their first 10 mile distance, so it was great to be there while people were achieving these things too.

On that note, the marshals were brilliant- in groups of 2-4, instead of just 1, and really frequently placed, and they were all so encouraging and enthusiastic. That really helped. Plus it is such good value- I think it wa £19 or something, and for that you get a race, tea and cake, banana, crisps, water, medal, buff… It wasn’t closed roads but as they are small roads mainly, and a few pavements, there were not many times when we had to move over for a car.

Because of the fairly late start time (10am) I didn’t get home for a shower until nearly 1pm, so it did take over the day a fair bit too. My phone did not stop beeping all day with girls from the club adding photos of letting everyone know their time, which made the fun last even longer.

Tail run fun

This weekend I was back at my home parkrun of Panshanger. I had volunteered to tail run a while back, because I have a 10 mile race tomorrow, but it worked out even better as in the week I got a bit of a virus, or something. On Tuesday I went out for a run with the OH ladies- we did the shorter route of around 4.5 miles, and it was so cold, and I really struggled to keep up (although looking at Strava, it was still 9ish min miles). By Wednesday lunchtime I was aching and had no energy, and had to go to bed once I got home instead of running. I still felt bad on Thursday so cancelled my Body pump class, but luckily on Friday felt pretty much normal (although no time for a run as we were travelling down to a funeral). Anyway, a tail run was just what I needed as it meant keeping it nice and steady. Or just walking in the fresh air.

My dad and brother were running, and had said they would wait for me (they are so good) but we cut it a bit fine, arriving at 8.45! Luckily I could be the last runner to leave. I had a nice chat with the run director, and also my running club leader (she was time keeping- that must be so stressful- one of the tasks I have not tried yet), before collecting the high viz jacket and bag, and heading to the back.

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I was in all the colours- purple tights, blue t-shirt, black top, fluorescent pink jacket, high viz…

Even after they had said “go”, I could see people running into the car park starting area, so I had to wait for a bit before running behind them. I then got a little cheer from the time-keepers as I went past!

Soon I caught up with a couple of ladies who were power walking, so I hung back a bit to give them space as they seemed to be together. I never know how much encouragement people want or need. As you have to collect the signs, I kept having to pop to one side or the other, getting the arrows and km markers. Each time I reached a marshal, I would tell them I was tail runner (just in case they could not tell), and so they would head back to the start while I carried on. In a few places I stopped to take some photos, before jogging to catch up.

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This is the highest point of the course, before the first km marker. It’s very muddy right now!

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At about 2 miles, the ladies overtook a man and his son, so I ended up chatting to them a bit, and encouraging the boy to keep on going.  That was really good fun, as he was quite chatty to me, and I felt like I helped as he was worried about being the last one, so I explained that that was my job, and unless he volunteered to do it, he would never be the last one. He walked quite a bit, but once we could see the finish hill, he started to run, and properly sprinted up the hill- I was very out of breath when I finished as I was trying to cheer him on a bit too. I like that side of tail running, although I think marshalling is easier to be enthusiastic as people pass you by- I worry that the people near the back would get annoyed with constant “well done, keep it up” etc.

That was my 59th parkrun (and actually, 60th, as I was a tail runner once and didn’t take a finish token- ah well). Time 54.54 (love the repetition). My brother did brilliantly- he managed his first sub-30 minute parkrun on Christmas day, and today managed 25.28! Now he’s faster than me!

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There was ice on the lake, and some huge icy puddles on the way around.

After handing the bag full of signs back, we headed off as I had to be back to finish tidying up, as we were having an open day for our house. That was a bit weird as we had to vacate for the estate agent to show everyone around. We went into town and got some late lunch (we shared a really lovely goats cheese panini and gingerbread muffin in Caffe Nero- so good), and then we had booked a viewing so went to see that house, before heading back home.

Now I am off to make some pear crumble, and to paint my nails as my pre-race ritual. Hope your weekend is going well too.

Sport Relief

It’s that time of year again (or what is the fortnight equivelant for a year?)- Sport Relief will be here soon.

Two years ago I did a 6 mile run for Sport Relief, which ended up being on a track, a 400m track, and I think only 4 people did the 6 miles (most did the 3 mile option). I actually really enjoyed it, and ended up finishing first lady! You have to be in it to win it after all. But they are not doing that event this year. I have been sent some information about cycling and swimming events, as they seem to be focusing more on this this year. It’s for a great cause, so have a look if you, or anyone in your family, might be tempted to have a go at one of the events.


 Renowned charity event returns with the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games from 18th – 20th March 2016

 More than £71 million was raised in 2014, breaking all previous records

Sport Relief is back for 2016 with the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games. The fundraising event which encourages the Great British public to do themselves proud will take place across the country over the weekend of 18th – 20th March. Participants will have the chance to walk, run, swim or cycle in the steps of their favourite athletes to raise money and help to transform people’s lives across the UK and the world’s poorest communities.

This year there are more ways than ever before to get involved with flagship events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, and in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Norwich and Sheffield. There are also hundreds of local event across the nation, so there’s no excuse not to sign up and get involved!

The public can walk or run at the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile. With a host of events to take part in, fundraisers can make every step count with events covering one, three and six miles so people of all ages and abilities can join in and help change lives.

Budding bikers can take part once again with the return of the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Cycle. Cyclists across the UK will be securing sponsorship and saddling up to raise much needed cash across the country. The pedal powered events offer a number of distances for first time cyclists and enthusiasts alike:

 3 mile Family Cycle for those that to prefer to ride as a team

 For all yellow jersey wannabes there’s the opportunity to sign up for 25 miles or 50 mile challenges, raising the heart rate and some serious sponsorship

 Simply Cycle where participants can set their own goal

Finally for those that favour the water, the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon, the UK’s biggest swimming event, will welcome eager entrants. With over 600 venues across the UK, including the London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, there will be no shortage of opportunities to get involved across a variety of distances:

 1.5 km for novice swimmers

 2.5 km for those who want to up the ante

 5 km for those looking to go to great lengths

 Those who prefer to swim as a team can join a relay over 1.5 km, 5 km or simply set their own distance in Team Swim and splash their way to super sponsorship

Michele Settle, Director of UK Campaigns and Brands at Comic Relief said of the Games: “As one of the UK’s largest fundraising events, Sport Relief aims to inspire people to do themselves proud by getting active and raising much needed funds to transform people’s lives across the UK and the world’s poorest communities.

In 2014 we broke records raising over £71 million; this year we hope to inspire more participants and raise more funds than ever before, so we can continue to support communities around the world. For 2016 we’ve got more exciting things to come and fantastic celebrities involved than ever before so watch this space!”

To take on an event and get sponsored to walk, run, swim, or cycle yourself proud, head to to locate and sign up to your nearest event.

Sport Relief 2016 will take place from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March 2016. You can run, swim, cycle or even walk yourself proud at events across the country. There’s a distance for everyone in the

Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games, whether you’re sporty or not. Find out more at


All challenges are available across a variety of distances for both solo and team participants, please find further details below:

Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile

 1 mile (walk or run)

 3 miles (walk or run)

 6 miles (walk or run)

Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Cycle

 Family Cycle: A 3-mile ride providing the perfect chance for keen cyclists of all ages to saddle up with family and friends.

 25 miles (solo cycle)

 50 miles (solo cycle)

 SimplyCycle: Create your own sponsored cycle, pick your own distance and time and participate either with individually or with friends and family.

Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon

 1.5k (solo or team swim)

 2.5k (solo swim)

 5k (solo or team swim)

 SimplySwim: Set your own distance and time and swim solo or with friends and family

Have you every taken part in any of the Sport Relief activities before? What do you think encourages people to get into sport?