What to take to a race

Well I was up bright and early (due to neighbours mowing their lawn at 7.30am with a strimmer. Seriously.) and ready for the race. Even though I had done this race before I still had pre-race nerves! Silly. Anyway I got everything ready with plently of time.

My list is:

Sun-cream on

Mp3 player charged

Water left in fridge over night

Safety pins on race number

Timer chip on laces

Tissues in pocket

Sunglasses on

The race starts in the village of Wheathampstead, and there were car parks available only a short walk from the start. We had to walk through a field full of BBQ’s, bouncy castles etc (plus loads of sweaty children with their medals from the 2k race going back the other way). It has a good family atmosphere. Last year when I did this race it was my first “proper” race (e.g. a chip timer one, men competing, people with running club vests etc) but it was pouring with rain, and I struggled as that was the furthest I had ever run.

This year was the total opposite; waiting at the start there was no shade, so I was hot before we even started. The race is mostly uphill (I had forgotten quite how much uphill it actually was), and a lot of it was exposed as it was through fields. Some of it was in the shade, and occasionally there was a breeze. I started off hoping for a time of 60 minutes, but after half way I was a little behind (34 minutes) and it was so hot that I decided to finish without getting heatstroke (hopefully). There was no clock on the finish line, but I had managed to press go on my Nike+ as I went over the starting mat, and it said 63 minutes, so I was pretty pleased with that! Will have to see what the official chip time was, but I am happy with that as a time.

Once you finish there was a welcome banana ( I always love a banana after a race) and more bottles of water. The water in my hand bottle had got really warm, so I tipped it over myself and drank the cold bottled water.

After a little wander around the fields we headed home, and am now having lunch (wholemeal tortilla spread with light cream cheese, red pesto and sprinkled with sundried tomatoes= yum) after a nice cool shower. Phew.

National Vegetarian Week

Last night after work (well, really yesterday afternoon) after a little berry cheeky bar I had a quick run to stretch the legs. As I have my race on Sunday I didn’t want to be doing a long run on Saturday morning, plus after body pump they were a bit stiff and needed a stretch. I had the same new route that I did on Monday, which was mostly in the shade so good for a sunny warm day. I felt quite springy and managed the run a shade quicker than Monday. I was rather warm when I got home so I sprayed my legs with the cold shower. I have read that is good to stop the aches (I think horses get hosed down with cold water after a race)- the idea is that the cold water constricts the blood flow, and then once you warm up after the blood vessels dilate again and bring new blood to the muscles to help repair them. I like it in the heat to cool me down too.

I had a tasty dinner (Rachel Allen’s Sausage bake without the sausage and with added veggies- not such a catchy title!) and some home-made bread. I have had some rye flour for a while and have not been that successful whenever I have used it. I was looking up recipes online and reading the pack and it seems that rye is low in gluten, so not so good for springy loaves. So I did half rye flour and half normal bread flour, a little olive oil and then tried that. The dough did rise, not massively, but it is supposed to be a denser bread than usual. I also tried out home-made tiger bread (it seems to be a secret but I think the topping is maybe sesame) so I put some tahini on top before it cooked. The bread was tasty, nice and dense, but the tahini on top was a bit squidgy though. I think next time I will add the tahini to the dough (instead of the olive oil maybe) to bind it together and get the flavour going through the bread.

After that it was still such a nice evening so we went on a nice long walk (for nearly an hour) and then went to water the garden.

This morning we have been planting out all our plants in the new veg patch that was dug earlier in the week. We got some canes to tie the pumpkin plant to (it has already grown some tendrils for climbing), planted the sweetcorn, courgettes (some already have flowers), butternut squash and red onions (they didn’t look too healthy though). It looks pretty, much better than the paving stones that used to be there. Fingers crossed something will grow from it.

OK so next week I think I am right in saying is National Vegetarian week. So I am going to explain how I came to be a veggie (no preaching I promise).

Basically I have never liked meat or fish. When I was younger I would eat meat if it was chopped up and covered in sauce, but I never liked the texture or flavour. My Mum would never let me as she thought it was not possible to get all the proper nutrients from a veggie diet. But as I became a teenager I became more fussy as I just didn’t like the idea of eating something that was dead (and probably my diet was awful as I just omitted meat when I could instead of having a replacement). Once as a family we were walking and came across a dead sheep, all rotting with flies feeding on it. The image of that really disturbed me and made me even more determined not to eat meat. When doing Home Economics GCSE I had to do a project on a vegetarian diet, and I think this proved to my Mum that I could still be healthy. So since then (since I was about 15 I think) I have been vegetarian (and that means no fish, no fish oil capsules, no gelatine, no animal rennet, no wines made with animal by-products). As I have got older my diet has become much healthier. At first I ate a lot of carbs (pasta with tomato sauce was one of my staple dinners), whereas now I eat a lot more protein in the form of beans, some quorn, nuts, yoghurt, lentils, quinoa….I never used to like beans on toast!

I find it hard when on holiday (especially in Europe where they don’t understand it- like the royal family “what about wafer thin ham?), and I don’t like going for dinner at other people’s houses as I don’t want to be the fussy awkward one (plus I panic about what might go in- at one persons’ house they were making food and a bit bottle of Worcestershire sauce was by the oven and I didn’t know how to get it into the conversation that it contains fish and that I would not eat it- luckily it came up and I said I didn’t like spicy foods so it didn’t get added!). Plus I get annoyed in restaurants when they claim a dish is vegetarian but then it has parmesan (one of the few cheeses that is always made with animal rennet).

I don’t mind other people eating meat, my boyfriend eats meat and we cook it at home, so I never try to stop anyone eating meat. But to me the idea of something dead getting into me is quite gross, so we would always cook meat and my things in separate pots/ dishes as I don’t want any of the meat “juice” leaking into my food.

I do eat eggs (free range eggs or ones from my Mum’s chickens), and I have milk and yoghurt (organic because I don’t want loads of antibiotics in my system and the animals are cared for better). It does not cause many problems because now I know which products are veggie friendly (and lots of companies are happy to help- I recently had some goats cheese which didn’t say either way, so I emailed them and they replied to say they only even used veggie rennet)- the hardest ones are yoghurt because of the gelatine and also the cochineal. At the mo I am loving Rachel’s Organic Yoghurts as they are all veggie friendly, organic and super tasty!

So there you go.

Now I am off to do some baking to take into work in exchange for sponsorship to my Race for Life, and I am also going to be drinking lots of water ahead of my 10k tomorrow. The weather says it is going to be hot hot hot!

Reasons to run

Ok so today I didn’t go on a run, I walked to and from the cinema instead (such a nice evening for it). I have been pondering reasons to run, I know a few people who have started couch to 5k programs, and a few more who need the motivation.

I originally started running because I wanted to run the race for life. I had previously walked it and been inspired by all the people running, all ages, all shapes and sizes, all raising money for a passionate cause. So I decided that the following year I would run it (it’s a year away, I kind of put it to the back of my head). Well I signed up and the time got closer and I had no idea how I was going to do it. I found a beginner runners guide (see my beginner runner post for the plan) and followed it to the letter. Fitting 3 runs a week around work and life seemed hard, and some days I had to get up an hour early (takes me ages to dry my hair after a shower) so I could run before work, just to fit it in. Each week I found the progression hard, but each week I amazed myself and managed it.

The race for life was looming, and I had managed two 15 minute runs with a minute walk break in between, and had convinced myself that I could take a walk break if I needed it. But one of my friends joked that she would only sponsor me if I ran the whole way. So run the whole way I did! I even bounced on the spot when I was waiting at the narrow places to get past! I found it very hard (it was a very hot summer day) and emotional, reading all the messages on people’s backs, but I was so proud of myself for accomplishing it.

I had thought I would stop, but I didn’t, I found that I enjoyed running. So if you don’t want to run for charity (my first reason) here are some other reasons!

  • When I am at work I look forward to some thinking time where it is just me and my thoughts.
  • I look forward to listening to different music.
  • I love the changing countryside and views.
  • I love running to different places (I don’t very often try out a new route but when I do I love it).
  • I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish a challenging run.
  • I love getting outside in the fresh air.
  • I love the post-run feeling of tiredness and satisfaction.
  • I love that fact I sleep better after a run.
  • I love the feeling of making my legs, heart and lungs stronger.
  • I love the tasty treats I “earn” while on a run (and the fact I crave healthier foods usually).
  • I love having a challenge to train for such as running a race.
  • I love the feeling when I cross the finish line on a race (and the medal after!).

 

I am sure there are other things I love too, but those are enough for today. Now some people ask me why, as if it is a bad thing (these are the people who now believe that there is no point eating fruit and vegetables each day as some study said it was inconclusive as to whether they reduce cancer risk- don’t get me started on that!). These people say things like “it’s bad for your joints” (it isn’t, studies show no more knee replacements or other joint problems in runners compared to non-runners), “your heart only beats so many times in a lifetime to running makes it go faster so you should stop running if you want to live longer” (not sure if I believe that, but surely running reduces my resting heart rate so overall it will last longer!), “I don’t have time to run” (I make time to run- instead of coming home and having a cup of tea and watching TV, I go on a run, instead of laying in bed all morning at the weekend I go on a run- it can be done).

Anyway, I am not trying to convert anyone, honest! But if you are slightly considering it then I would say go for it, you will never look back (unless you are being chased by a goose).

Mind the greenfly!

Last night was fab! We went into London to see Flight of the Conchords and they were super! They did so many songs and it was so impressive that they played them all live, sang live and chatted in between. The two of them are so funny, the songs are funny so it was a great evening. A late night for a Sunday though.

Well my legs were feeling tired today (that 11 miles on Saturday was super hard work), so I decided to have a short run after work to ease the stiffness. I had a look at a new route on www.mapometer.com , and found a nice route along a fairly flat, tree-lined road. I had fuelled my run with a small Berry Cheeky bar (so tasty) and plenty of water. It was nice to get out although I was totally covered in greenfly- ew! There were so many on my t-shirt when I got home and one went in my eye- next time I think I will wear sunglasses; I didn’t today because it was sort of cloudy and I feel silly running in them in the cloud- but I don’t want flies in my eyes. My run was 2.7 miles and I managed it in 27 minutes so for me it is a good speed, ten minute miles are my absolute fastest speed so I was pretty pleased.

Once home I made some pizza dough, showered and then made a super tasty pizza. I had to use up the goats cheese from Saturday, so I spread the base with some veggie red pesto, sprinkled on chopped red pepper, crumbled goats cheese, and some basil. Baked in the oven and served with a massive salad. Delicious (although not the most protein-packed meal ever it was exactly what I fancied).

I have been making my eyes square working away this evening- don’t you just hate those weeks when the work seems endless? I have some weeks where I have a good work-life balance, and others where work is so busy, so I am sure it all balances out in the end, but its not so good in those busy weeks.
Anyway, am of to watch 24 now (missed it last night) and to have some Alpro with granola bear nibbles. Delish!

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

Close encounters of the bird kind (more on that story later)…..

So today I had breakfast (hooray I remembered a banana this week) and then made some dough for later. I had planned a new route which I really enjoyed (although I was nervous about getting lost silly me). The route was half of my old loop, then back near my house, off in the other direction to some lakes (where my race for life will be), a figure of 8 around the lakes, then back home. Just over 11 miles in 2 hours, so I was pretty slow going today. I felt tired and as it was hotter than it has been I took it easy and didn’t push myself. I decided that completing the distance was my goal. The Nike+ worked well (and I now have a medal on the profile as I did 6 runs in 2 weeks) but when I looked at the end my speed massively dropped! I was so tired and heading into the wind so not a good combo!

So the birds. Well running around lakes full of geese is maybe on reflection not such a good idea when they all have goslings! I was running around the lake and it was deserted, except for 3 geese and a gaggle of goslings. They were making their way across the path and out of my way, so I slowed down, but then they turned and went back on the path. I slowed down even more but then they started coming towards me, I even pointed to say “I want to go that way” but that didn’t help either! In the end I ran right off the path nearly into the bushes (it was either that or the lake) and managed to avoid them- phew.

I had some Nak’d Pineapple raisins on my run for a little sugar boost about half an hour from the end. They were tasty too, they did taste of pineapple, not quite like dried pineapple and were a welcome refreshing taste after all the running.

When I got home I tried some coconut water; I saw it in Holland and Barrett last week, according to the packet it has more potassium than sports drinks, plus electrolytes and things. It didn’t really taste like coconut though! I suppose for 19 cals per 100ml it would not have much flavour, but I did expect a hint. Anyway it did help to hydrate me, but the dreaded headache came back, although that could be to do with sitting at the computer all afternoon writing reports.

For lunch I had tasty flatbread with caramelised onion chutney and goats cheese- this week I cooked it for a little less time (17 instead of the 20 minutes) and I much preferred it- the bread stayed softer and less crunchy. I also had pouring yoghurt and apple topped with some pecan and treacle granola- SO tasty! I am loving the combo of yoghurt with some sort of crunchy topping, and so much better for you than a muller corner (those things are packed with sugar!). Plus miles tastier.

Mid-afternoon I had an Organic 9bar which was lovely! The thing is because I am having them all far apart from each other I can’t decide on my fave. This bar was also chewy, the carob topping was tasty (I cant tell it apart from chocolate) and the seeds make me feel virtuous! I had it with………

Cinnamon Chai! One of my birthday prezzies and the first time I tried it! It is so delicious! Like drinking cinnamon (surprise there), quite a sweet aftertaste but lovely and spicy. I love cinnamon!

I have spent the afternoon working, and am going to make some oatmeal raisin cookies now as my treat to myself, so I will put the photos and reviews on later or tomorrow.