Race for Life report

Well today was the day of my Race for Life. Yesterday I had a walk up to the shops in the afternoon, but mostly pottered around, made some caramel shortcake (for someone who sponsored me) and also fudge.

I didn’t sleep that well (I never do before a race, always worry about missing the start or forgetting something) but I was glad to see the weather when I got up; overcast, cool but not raining (thunderstorms had been predicted). I had put my water bottle in the fridge overnight, and this morning I added some ice cubes. I got together my kit (mp3 player, Nike+ band, water bottle, number and safety pins, tissue) and after my cornflakes headed out.

I met my friend there (we did it together last year too) and we did the warm up. I ended up leaving my water with my boyfriend so I didn’t have to carry it around. Normally on training runs I would only take water if my run was over 45 mins, or if it was super hot outside. Then I joined the runners section! So exciting! Normally I join the joggers bit, but I wanted to get round in 30 minutes (previous times are 34 mins for 5K) and seeing as this year I have already done a half marathon and a 10K race I figure I am a serious enough runner to go in that section. My friend hadn’t done much training this year (she has just bought a house so her time has been taken up by that) so I left her at the joggers. Normally it’s me who gets left in the slower race pens and my boyfriend heading up to the front! How novel!

It still surprised me that within 50 yards of the start line people were already stopping and walking- I know it’s all for charity but can’t they go in the joggers section?

Anyway, I didn’t see the 1 or 2km markers; it was so busy and congested at the start as it is quite narrow in places. I was overtaking people a few at a time, but also got stuck in a few places behind people holding hands and so on. At one point by one of the lakes I was worried about being knocked in as I was overtaking people on the lake side and a lot of people seem to veer from one side to the other without warning. Thankfully I stayed dry!

I got to the 3km mark in just over 17 minutes, so I was pleased to know that being stuck at the start hadn’t got me off track at all. There was a steep uphill bit, and I made sure I concentrated on breathing (last year I had a bit of trouble at that point- I can start almost hyperventilating and my chest/ throat gets all tight) and managed a good steady speed. After that it was generally flat so I started to push a bit harder (got a stitch then but I kept telling myself “only a mile to go, not far). When I could see the finish line I was so amazed- I started proper sprinting only for 3 kids to run out in front of me (from one side of spectators to the other)- one girl saw me and dogged out the way but I was so close to taking the other two out! Honestly what were they thinking??

Anyway I crossed the line- my time was 28.10 which I am super pleased with! That is way faster than any of my previous times! Yay!

My friend managed it in 33 minutes which was amazing as she was aiming for 45 minutes! I got to see her run over the finish line and cheered her in!

I do love these races; seeing everyone dressed up and the range of ages is amazing and inspiring. There were 2 girls running along handcuffed together (fluffy pink ones of course), so many people with fluffy bunny ears, fairy wings and tutus (kind of like a massive active hen do). I even had a pink top (normally I run in black tops but recently treated myself to a couple of brightly coloured vest tops) so I didn’t feel left out!

I have my medal now, and have had a lovely lunch  (wholemeal toast + almond butter + cherry spread, apple, cherries and also more banana “ice cream”- this time (served 2) chopped 1 frozen banana, about 150g low fat custard, 1tsp peanut butter and 1tsp agave nectar= mmmmm so creamy).

Now we are off for dinner at my boyfriends parents, so a lovely relaxing evening ahead is planned (plus the finale of 24).

Friendly running

To wave or not to wave? Or to smile or not to smile? Those are the questions I am pondering today. More on that story later.

Yesterday I went to Bletchley Park for the day (where all the code-breaking for WW2 took place- like the film Enigma). It was really interesting; the buildings are in lovely grounds and there is a lot to see. We went on a guided tour (along with 30 or 40 others- it was busy) which went all around and lasted nearly 1.5 hours. It was super hot there though, as none of the buildings had air conditioning, or even big windows, and lots of them had the machines running which added to the heat. It was so interesting to see though, and the volunteer who did the tour had a lot of interesting points to make.

When we got home I decided on a short run. I have my race for life on Sunday so didn’t want to go out Saturday as I want to give my legs a rest. It was so hot, and although most of my run was in the shade the last part was in the sun so cue a red face for me when I got home. We were seeing friends later so as a last push for sponsorship I made them some peanut chocolate cookies (I added cocoa powder instead of some of the flour to make them super chocolaty).

But on my run there is a bit where I run out for a mile, turn around and come back. On my way out I passed a man running in the other direction, so I smiled at him (I like to be friendly and so normally smile or nod or something) but he gave me a funny look. Oh well I thought, never mind. But then on my way back I passed him again (he was doing the opposite of me and had turned around at the other end) and again I smiled at him and again he gave me a weird look as if to say “what are you smiling at?”. Honestly. It’s not like I run along with a manic grin on my face, but I do like to be friendly. I do find that I get more smiles during rubbish weather (more of a “what are we doing running in weather like this eh?”), and normally girls smile more at me (maybe us girls are a friendly bunch). Anyway, I will continue to smile at people I pass in the street.

I made my own muesli!

I love the holidays!! This morning after some cornflakes I headed out on a run. I went up to the lakes and around both lakes. When I was near to the first one I was relieved to see one lot of geese and goslings on the river and not on the path, so I went past them no problems (I did almost get a massive stick thrown in my face as a man walking his dog didn’t see me coming! I am a blur when I run!!). Further around the other lot of geese were sat right by the lake so I gave them a wide berth and they did look at me but no hissing or anything. Phew. It was such a lovely sunny day, and I did get hot but as it is quite shaded by the lakes it was really nice. I also saw a rabbit very close to the path. I do love rabbits!

The run was just under 6 miles and it took me 61 minutes, so not the speediest (not my slowest either) and I did have aerobics last night so didn’t want to go crazy.

Once I got home I had a lovely carrot and apple muffin and then got on with work. But good news; I have finished all my work so I actually have the rest of the week off hooray! Lunch was the other part of the orange cranberry bread (reaping the benefits of my baking the other day) along with pear and yoghurt.

This afternoon I have tried my hand at making my own muesli. All the recipes I looked at were more like granolas, where the oats are coated in a mixture of oil and syrup and then baked. So I went freestyle!

I could have used them raw, but I decided that lightly toasted flakes are the way to go.

So on a baking tray I put 150g oats, 100g millet flakes and 100g quinoa flakes (I either got them from ethical superstore or planet organic, can’t remember) and sprinkled with cinnamon. I toasted them for about 15 minutes on a low heat (I kept on checking as I didn’t want them to catch).

Meanwhile I mixed together 50g cranberries, 60g raisins, 30g desiccated coconut, 25g almonds and 25g hazelnuts (I kept them whole as I prefer that).

Once the flakes were toasted I mixed them all together in a jar- I added the dried fruit mix slowly and mixed loads so the raisins didn’t form big clumps- and put the lid on ready for tomorrow morning!

The whole mix made 510g- probably the grains lost water when being toasted so they weigh less, plus I did manage to spill some on the work surface! But still that’s a good amount to make (nearly the size of a pack of Dorset muesli) and should last me a while as usually I have 30-40g along with an apple and yoghurt.

Tee hee making my own muesli I am a “proper” veggie now!!!!

Oh I tried Rachel’s pouring yoghurt with honey this week and I will not be buying it again. I love the natural pouring yoghurt, and the strawberry stuff was delish too. But the honey flavour is so sweet, not good for breakfast. I will finish it but will be looking out for the other flavours from now on.

I was thinking today about exercising inside or outside, and what I prefer. A few years ago I used to go swimming a lot, and so I joined the local gym as swimming was included so it worked out cheaper for me to join. I then had to had the gym induction, and had “phase” where I went to the gym after work and at the weekends. It was ok; you could watch TV while on the machines, but each machine had a 15 minute time limit so would be no good for running or anything. Then the gym built a studio and classes were included- result! So I began aerobics and loved it (down to the instructor, as when she has been off it has not been anywhere near as good). Later on I tried body pump and loved that too. I had also taken up running, and so was running out of time to go to the gym, and had found that running outside was so much better than plodding away on the machines. The fresh air (even strong winds!), sunlight, rain, everything made me feel awake and invigorated. The convenience of being able to come home, change and head out the door within ten minutes also won be over. Having to drive to the gym, find a parking space, change and then hope that the machines I wanted were free was losing it’s appeal. So I cancelled my membership and go to the classes each week, and supplement that with running outside. Usually it has been fine. Normally at the weekend I do one long run so I tend to watch the weather and choose the best day (unless I am busy one day and then it’s tough on me!). I have 2 classes a week indoor so I know that whatever the weather I will get some exercise done. Unless the rain is torrential I don’t really mind it- it is cooling, plus when I get home I’ll have a shower so I will get wet then anyway. The only time I fancied running on a treadmill was during all the snow this year. I did try to go on a couple of runs, but by me the pavements were not cleared of the snow; it just melted and re-froze all lumpy- just waiting to break someone’s ankle. I tried running on the grass verges but there were so many patches where there was pavement (no verge) and I slipped quite a lot so I decided that I didn’t want to break a bone and would wait the weather out. The thing is my local gym had the 15 minute time limit on all cardio machines (although some people conveniently “forget” this and hog them for an hour) so I wouldn’t have managed much anyway. Plus the treadmills are always the busiest so you always have to wait for a bit to get one.

So really I am happy running outside and am glad I am not a member of the gym any more. I think it is good for some people but I love the freedom of running, of trying new routes and of getting straight home and into my shower!

Now I have finished all my work I am going to pop over to see my Mum and Dad, before dinner. Enjoy this fab weather while it lasts!

Nakd -fuelled run

After breakfast of cornflakes and a little Dorset spelt muesli (they didn’t have the simply delicious one so I tried this one- quite nice but not my fave), I made some dough and then headed out on my run. I felt fairly tired part the way through (and spent a lot of time thinking about the half marathon in 2 weeks’ time, not sure how well I will fare on that day), but on the whole I did enjoy it. Listening to music, seeing all the scenery (lots of goslings and cygnets at the lakes again, including two geese with their goslings this time right on the narrow path- cue unexpected interval training!), getting out in the fresh air is not a bad way to spend a couple of hours. I had taken with me a packet of Nakd Cherry Raisins and had them after about an hour and a half, to give me the sugar boost for the last few miles. They are super tasty; the cherry flavour is pretty strong, more like cherry sweets than actual cherries, but they were just what I fancied. Much better than jelly beans I am sure!

Once I got home I had a banana and a Nakd (gluten free) Cocoa orange bar. These are amazing! Dates, raisins, cashews and cocoa and mooshed together into one wonderful bar of chocolaty soft chewy yumminess.

After my shower I finished making the bread. This time I used half white flour and half wholemeal flour, and topped it with red pesto, sliced tomatoes and the left over mozzarella (only a small amount), baked for 15 minutes and served with spicy bean soup. Yum. The bread was so good, I am looking forward to when I can use some of my basil on top (it is growing away on the windowsill but still not quite big enough to use the leaves yet).

After that I fancied something sweet so shared a box of Graze rocky mountain mix (pecans, cranberries and dark chocolate buttons)- it is so tasty! Along with some cinnamon chai, delish.

I have been watching the grand prix and pottering about on the internet, later on I might go and plant some potatoes. I got the seed potatoes for cheap last week and it said on the pack they can be planted April and May, and today is still May so I am hoping they will be ok (only got the compost yesterday so couldn’t plant them any sooner).

Later on I shall be having a bean burger with salad and sweet potato and watching 24, and isn’t it great that tomorrow is a bank holiday? Long weekends are just great!

New running kit + palm oil free peanut butter

Today I was originally going to go on an 11 mile run (my longest before my next half marathon), but the weather was forecast to be raining and I didn’t fancy a 2 hour run in the rain, so I have put it back to tomorrow. When I woke up it hadn’t started raining so I had a 2.5 mile run before breakfast. I have not done a pre-breakfast run for ages, and had forgotten how much I like them (as long as they are short). Running when the world is waking up is a nice feeling, plus getting home, having a shower and having a breakfast before most people are up watching TV in their PJ’s is so satisfying. Plus you get that post-exercise feeling all day. Great!

I managed it in just under 26 minutes (partly due to there being no traffic about so I didn’t have to stop at all, and probably partly due to the hungry feeling getting bigger!) plus it didn’t rain until I was back home-bonus! I also got to try out my new running top- it’s a Nike vest from here: http://www.sheactive.co.uk/item_detail.html?&itemno=7128&type=brand&group=00000070 and it was fab! I like sleeveless tops and the ones I have are getting a bit stiff from all the washing now, so I have been replacing them. I normally buy one, and then get another one if I like the fit, but the last one I found that I liked (a Ron hill one) went out of stock once I had the first one- so annoying! I am a bit fussy with running tops; I like sleeveless ones, but I don’t like high necks, halter necks or funny racer back styles, or v-necks (so basically normal scoop vest tops) and also I do like proper fabric and not cotton. Anyway as soon as I had tried it I went to order another one and guess what…. They are already out of blue in my size, so I ordered a pink one instead. It’s not a colour I would usually choose for running in (clashes with my red face!) but I can match everyone else at the Race for Life.

I have been working most of the rest of the day, plus reading loads of other blogs as distractions (seriously writing reports is such a boring thing to do!). I saw chocolate covered Katie has been again raving about coconut butter here; http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2010/05/28/chocolate-fat-and-a-giveaway/#comments and she is even giving away some of it. It looks so amazing, I have been searching for it online but can’t find it for UK delivery (I found a few and they turned out to be coconut body butter- not edible!). I am not sure what looks nicer, the normal coconut or the one with added chocolate. Maybe the normal one looks more versatile (would add nice flavour to plain yoghurt) but the chocolate one looks so good, it is all ready to be spread on hot toast or crumpets.

Speaking of crumpets I had a nice lunch today; 2 crumpets each with a dollop of almond butter (ah meridian I have missed your products recently) and a little blob of cherry spread- sort of like bakewell flavour! I love PB and cherry spread, and decided to try the almond butter instead. Result- a new combo that I will be having again.

I also had a pear sprinkled with cinnamon which is also super tasty.

After that I popped to the shops, one of the items I needed was peanut butter (love that healthy fat) but I was disappointed to see that Sainsbury’s own brand normal stuff has palm oil in it. Palm oil production has been credited for a lot of rainforest destruction, and so I try to only buy it in products which list they are from sustainable plantations (such as in Nairn’s oatcakes as oppose to most own brand oat cakes). The Tesco’s stuff has sunflower oil instead, and my fave stuff is Meridian peanut butter as it has only peanuts and a sprinkle of salt (they also do a no added salt one which is just peanuts), no oil added at all. The only trouble is that it is hard to get hold of (usually order online or get it from Holland and Barrett but I don’t go there that often, and don’t like paying for postage so I tend to save up items and order a big bunch of stuff all at once. Also Whole Earth only use palm oil from sustainable sources so that is another brand I am ok with. Anyway I am glad I read the ingredients as I don’t like wasting food but I would not have been pleased to have bought it. Especially as Sainsbury’s are increasing their things like Fairtrade products I would have expected them to make ethical food choices for all their products. I think I might contact them to see what they have to say about it.

For dinner this evening I have made a pizza, (basic dough) spread with red pesto, then sprinkled on chopped yellow pepper, sliced courgette and some light mozzarella. It is in the oven now and I can’t wait because I am starving! It will be served with a huge salad, complete with balsamic dressing and flax oil (another healthy fat). Yum.

I am trying to drink more water again this evening, and will have a nice walk later if it stops raining.