Brownies and marathon pondering

I got up this morning to rain! What a shock! I am very glad that I did my long run yesterday and so today is a good old rest day. Alongside my cornflakes I had a yummy smoothie from Innocent for breakfast (Honey, lemon and ginger). It had a free packet of bee friendly seeds which I may plant later if it stops raining.

I have been watching the London Marathon on TV; I do enjoy watching events like this (Great North Run, New York Marathon and so on). It’s so amazing how fast they go! Seriously they finish the marathon quicker than my half marathon time. Some of their miles are on the 5 minute mark! It is so impressive that they can keep up a sprint pace for the entire distance.

It got me thinking about my own running “journey”. This time last year I had run a 5k race, and signed up for a 10k (my first) and I was so nervous about not being able to finish. When I ran the 10k the last mile was really hard and the backs of my legs felt like they would give way and I did think that after that I would not attempt any other longer distances. But then During the summer I did two more 5k races and had started naturally increasing my long run to 5 miles or so each week, so I decided to sign up for another 10k in the autumn. As I knew I could finish I had almost less pressure on myself. After that my long run was getting even longer (7 miles) and so I decided to sign up for a half marathon. Again I was so worried about finishing but one of my training runs (by mistake, I mapped it out wrong before I left) ended up being 12.3 miles, so I knew I could make it. To my surprise I really enjoyed the race, it was probably my most enjoyable race so far. I ran most of it with my younger brother, but we finished separately, so maybe having someone to run alongside helped (although I normally run with music so I cant hear my breathing and I kept my music on the whole time). It was such a massive achievement for me, I think I was on a bit of a post run high for the following week!! Even so that was going to be the only half for me, but I have again been persuaded to do a local half this summer! My Dad has been interested in doing a marathon and has been researching different ones. I think it is achievable, but what worries me is the amount of time for training; even if my longest run was 18-20 miles that would take me nearly 4 hours, so the time commitment would be huge. I could do a long run at the weekend but doing longer runs after work would be hard to fit in. But anyway it’s something to think about; who knows what the future holds?

I suppose for the people running today at least the rain will help to cool them down a bit, and they won’t be right in the sun as they would be on a clear day so may stay cooler.

I am seeing family later so decided to make a batch of brownies. I have a brilliant tried and tested recipe from a really old book (think I got it from a discount book shop years ago) but I still like to try new recipes. I used the recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and it does smell pretty good! Although in the book they dust it with icing sugar but that really annoys me (when you inhale you end up coughing all over the place!). The ingredients are simple; butter, dark chocolate, sugar, plain flour and eggs (no baking powder or cocoa or syrup or anything). It was easy to make and is now cooling in the tin before I slice it up.

Feeling hot hot hot!

Ten miles planned today and the weather is hot! I had a yummy breakfast (cornflakes and Dorset Delicious Muesli, plus half a banana) and then made some dough before I went out. By the time I left it was half ten which wasn’t so great as I knew I would be ending my run in the heat of the day. Oh well, I need to get used to it as my next half marathon is in June, pretty sure it will be hot on that day! I felt good on my run; my legs had recovered from body pump and I managed to keep up a consistent pace, finishing the ten miles in 109 minutes (so about one mile per 11 minutes); if I manage that for the half marathon I would be very pleased with myself. I was brave and wore my vest top with running trousers; it takes me a while to move over from taking my jacket with me- it’s a bit like a security blanket and having it tied around my waist doesn’t bother me. I feel quite exposed with bare arms as I would not normally wear vests, especially at this time of year. But I got no horrible comments or looks (one car toot but that tends to happen on most runs and doesn’t bother me- today it was when I was a few hundred metres from home so I had a bright red face!) and I was cooler than I would have been in a t shirt.

To combat the headaches as soon as I got back I had some water (but it felt like I had too much in my tummy as I had drank on my run), the other half of the banana and half a Trek Mixed Berry energy bar. I also sprayed myself with cold water after my normal shower; not quite an ice bath but I find it does help my muscles. After my shower I made some more foccacia bread with sundried tomatoes and basil (I didn’t take a picture as it looked the same as last weeks one), and had it with Covent Garden Butternut Squash soup, yum. Plus the other half of the Trek bar.

Those people at Natural Balance Foods were so kind to send over all those samples so here is my review:

The bar has a good short list of ingredients; dates, oats, soya crispies (soya, tapioca starch, salt), raisins, apple juice, maize starch, raspberries, strawberries, ginkgo biloba extract, ginseng extract, natural flavours. The bar is 68g and had 204 calories, 11g protein and 38g carbs, so a good balance of nutrients. The bar is fairly moist but not squidgy, and has a nice berry flavour that is quite sweet. You can see little flecks of the strawberries and raspberries all through the bar. Compared to a flapjack it has way less fat but still moist (due to the dates I suppose). I definitely recommend you to try one if you haven’t already.

As for the rest of today I have made some pasta sauce (roasted vegetables; I make a big batch then freeze it in little tubs to defrost when I want it) and might potter about in the garden. Even more of my courgettes need potting on, plus the tulips are flowering so I might cut some to have in the house. If I do any baking I will post later on!

I may have a nice afternoon snack to try and keep a headache at bay; my Graze box came today. One of the mixes (Aztec gold) has green raisins, almonds and dark chocolate coated cocoa beans- sounds amazing so I may have to try. (Code KKJX34J for a free box).

Body pump ow ow ow!

Whoa body pump was hard last night! As I had 2 weeks off I was kind of expecting it, but during the lunges track my legs were seriously wobbling like jelly near the end and I didn’t think I would make it! Once I got home (after a shower and putting on PJ’s) I sat down the watch the debate, and treated myself to one of the lovely dark chocolate organic bunnies (my prize- am I getting obsessed with this prize??) from the lovely nak’d people. I had a little look at the website and they do so many amazing looking things. I am most impressed by the ingredients list which is just organic cocoa, organic sugar and organic vanilla. They are very rich (70% cocoa) and perfect with a cup of chai.

After the debate and question time it was certainly bed time! Today I was paying for it; I managed a walk after work but am feeling so stiff! Have ten miles planned for tomorrow morning so I am hoping it will be better by then.
When I got home I found the Nak’d Cashew Cookie wrapper on the table (from the lovely folks and www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk) … empty! To be fair I had left it out for my boyfriend to eat as he liked the sound of it. His review; “it was really nice, I thought it would be crunchier but it was soft”. I did take a photo of the wrapper (cute wrapper with bumble bee on it and everything) to be added later.

We had a nice dinner; sausage and bean bake (from Rachel Allen’s Bake) only with a veggie sausage for me. I used to love the Grassington’s courgette and pepper sausages, but I can’t seem to find them anymore and I keep trying other versions but I don’t like ones that pretend to taste like meat, and cannot find one I like. I also made some bread (maybe I should change the name of this to the Rachel Allen appreciate blog?)- after re-watching her on Bake I have tried to copy her kneading style from the cookery school bit, and it really works! I think it helps having nice flour; am still using Dove’s Farm Malthouse Flour which is super tasty.
I have spent a lovely evening chilling out in front of the TV relaxing before my run tomorrow.

Fairtrade ramblings

Today I have been thinking about Fair-trade items and other “ethical” food purchases after getting those Divine chocolate eggs from the lovely folks at natural balance foods. A while ago when I was shopping there was a Fair-trade stall in the shopping centre and they were encouraging people to swap their usual items for fair-trade. Although I was aware that Sainsbury’s did fair-trade bananas and sugar I had never actively looked for the logo before. I had a look in my kitchen and was pleased to see that my normal tea is also fair-trade (but not the chai tea), so I ordered some Fairtrade chai from www.planetorganic.com (and some little bars of Divine chocolate- the chocolate orange one is very yummy). We don’t drink coffee but if we did we would definitely get Fairtrade (after reading Not On The Labelby Felicity Lawrence), and the only other items seemed to be things like biscuits which I don’t really buy (I make them instead!). I have been tempted by Ben and Jerry’s Fairly Nuts flavour (fairtrade vanilla with nuts and caramel- sounds amazing)…

Today has been good; a tasty breakfast (my new fave with Dorset delicious muesli and chopped apple), work was fine and am having lovely Meridian pesto (one of the only veggie pesto’s which uses cashew nuts instead of parmesan cheese) with veggies and spaghetti for tea before I am off to body pump (Tonight’s gonna be a good good night). Plus the sun is shining! After work I popped into the garden and it’s all starting to come alive; my new apple tree has got pretty pink blossom on it, the tulips are flowering, lots of other plants that died back are coming back and everything is covered in buds- Hooray!

A box of goodies!!

I am so excited again! You know the other day I said that I won an easter egg hunt on the natural balance food website (nak’d and trek bar site)? Well, they arrived today. I have won a lovely bag of Divine chocolate dark chocolate eggs (Fair-trade chocolate- very good) and a box of Organic Dark Chocolate “Cheeky Bunnies”. They look lovely and I will look forward to trying them during the next few days.

I also received a box of samples from Natural Balance Foods (www.naturalbalancefoods.co.uk) and will be reviewing the products on here as I make my way through the box. After work we walked to the cinema, but by the time I got home I was very hungry so I took a Trek Cherry Crunch Protein Flapjack with me to eat in the cinema (I know it’s against the rules but I didn’t want popcorn or ice-cream). Ten grams of protein in a very tasty flapjack bar, it has Nak’d cherry raisins in it and had a strong cherry flavour. The bar had 240ish calories so much lower than a “normal” flapjack and way tastier (in my opinion). My boyfriend had the Oat Crunch Trek Flapjack and this also received thumbs up on taste. I always used to think that a flapjack was a healthy option (due to the oats) and it was only a few years ago (when I started reading labels) that I realised just how syrupy and fatty some of them are. A Blackfriars Cherry and Coconut flapjack has 441 cals and 20g fat per 100g. The original one has 457 cals and 21g fat (I chose these are they are similar flavours to the Trek ones, but some of the ones I looked at has 24g per 100g, and the bars are a pretty hefty size), and apparently these have won a Healthy Magazine Readers Choice award (that’s the Holland and Barrett magazine). I imagine that was for flavour possibly and not because it is a healthy option, but the trouble is things like this are marketed as healthy. Anyway I digress…..

After the cinema (The Ghost, which was ok, not keen on all the dodgy voices and not the best ending) I walked home and cooked dinner. I had a lovely homemade veggie lentil moussaka (made a few weeks ago and frozen- how organised!!) with some butternut squash and green beans- yum.

My back was feeling very stiff after aerobics yesterday, so it was nice to not run today. Tomorrow is supposed to be Body Pump but at the moment I can’t seem to book it so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is on as I have missed the last 2 weeks (was away one week and it wasn’t on the next). If not I’ll have a run tomorrow but I do think it is important to do some strength work and I know I would never push myself as hard as a class does.

Gosh that was a long post!