Recovering after the race

Right. Yesterday I was so very stiff and so very sore. Even putting my socks on hurt (well the standing on one leg bit did). It was lovely at work because all the children brought in their medals to show, and they were so proud of themselves.

After work I had a nice walk (well, a hobble) and did begin to feel a little better. I was ok if I kept moving but if I sat still for a while and then moved I was so sore!

Anyway today I normally have aerobics, but after the last half marathon I went along to aerobics and was in agony, and then I took ages to recover. Even the weekend after I tried a 9 mile run and I was totally exhausted. So I decided to have another walk instead, do some stretches, and I will have a run tomorrow. I feel I am missing the runners’ high as well- the excitement and adrenaline from the race has definitely worn off and now life is back to normal so I think a run tomorrow will sort me out.

On to other things; I tried a new sandwich filling (well it went in a little wholemeal English muffin)- basil tofu. I have never much liked tofu before, I think mainly because it tends to be more oriental flavours which I am not keen on. I saw this in Waitrose the other week and have been looking forward to trying it. I had it with cherry tomatoes and some basil (yay the home-grown stuff that I have finally eaten!) and it is so delicious. I would thoroughly recommend it.

Half Marathon Report

So today was the St Albans Half Marathon. It was only my second half marathon, my previous one (Berkhamstead which has evil hills!) I did in 2.32. So I was hoping for 2.30 to beat my time. I got there about half an hour before, and went to the schools’ bit to see all the children getting ready for their fun run. Then off to left luggage before going to the start line. No time for a toilet trip as the queue was massive and by that point I had ten minutes left. The line of people at the start was so long, I think the limit was 3000 people and they had no on the day entries so I am guessing they sold out. I know people who signed up on Monday and got numbers in the 2500’s. Anyway I set off and was keeping a pretty good pace- I reached the first mile marker in just under ten minutes (which is fast for me) so I was not sure I would be able to keep it up. There was a very steep hill after mile 3 (not as bad as Berkhamstead though) and a few other shorter steep hills. The 6 mile mark passed at 61 minutes so again I was a little fast for my final estimate. The day was overcast, it even spat with rain when we were parking the car, and there was a bit of a breeze so that definitely helped. I was doing ok; each time there was a hill I did some good old fashioned positive thinking (yes you will get out of breath but you will get it back on the flat). I had my cherry raisins (thanks Nak’d) after mile 8, as I was beginning to struggle a little. By mile 10 I was feeling tired and getting a bit stiff. My water in my bottle had basically run out (save a dribble which I kept for emergencies!) so I had to stop at the remaining few water stations. I really find it hard to drink from a cup, so I had to slow down and walk at the last 3 stops to get some drink. That is when it got really hard- I almost get a head-rush to my legs once I start running again- I much prefer to keep on going. But anyway the last mile was thankfully downhill, then the last little bit was along the flat. I crossed the finish line and my chip time is 2.19.17- so I beat my time by 13 minutes! One minute per mile quicker! So I am super pleased! I walked around for a bit before giving my chip back, getting an ice lolly (I do like a banana but it was quite warm so the lolly was nice), some lucozade light- summer berries stuff (which was weird and odd tasting), a t-shirt and the all important medal! The race was really good- it has been going for 29 years now so they learn from the past. There were so many marshals all around the course, they were cheering everyone on, there were water points every 1.5 miles for the start, then more than every mile by the end. The left luggage was good too (I have only ever seen unattended ones before)- you got a tag with your race number on and left your bag, then when you collected it someone matched up your race number to your tag and went to get it.

I have not done much for the rest of the day! By the time I finished I was covered in salt, so I made sure I drank all the lucozade to help re-hydrate me. Once home (and after a shower) I had some Vita Coco coconut water (do you know apparently this can be used in emergency blood transfusions as it is so similar in makeup to human blood?), as well as a quesadilla which I made with 2 mini wholemeal wraps, red pesto, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Plus a nectarine and some yoghurt. Boy I was hungry!

Later on we visited some family and I am now planning on having a bath this evening in the hope of stopping me being quite so stiff!

It is weird now though as I have no more races that I am signed up to. There are a few 10k’s in the autumn which I have my eye on, but for the moment I am looking forward to running the distance that I fancy, instead of knowing that I have to run, say, 11 miles at the weekend as it is in my training plan. I have enjoyed it but sometimes I have felt under pressure to do a certain distance. I have really enjoyed 8/9 mile runs, so I think when I have the time I will aim for them, and then other times a 5/6 mile run after breakfast is perfect because I still have loads of energy left for the rest of the day. But for now I am having a few days off!

Bread baking part 2

So today we are having pizza for dinner and I have taken some pictures as I went along to show how simple it is! Excuse some of the pics- battery ran out so I used my phone for some of them!
I used a recipe from The I Diet , but I have adapted it a bit (made it veggie, removed some of the stuff, swapped the toppings over).
Step 1- Put flour, yeast, salt and tsp oil in a bowl. Mine has 90g strong white flour and 90g strong wholemeal flour.

Step 2- Pour in warm water (I use some from the kettle and some from the cold tap) and mix together a little bit. This needed about 140ml water.
Step 3- Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and don’t panic when it looks messy! Stretch it about a bit (this works the gluten in the flour) and keep on kneading it, After about 5 minutes you should have a ball of lovely smooth dough.
Step 4- Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for around an hour.

Step 5- Pre-heat the oven. Flatten the dough into the pizza base shape that you want (I like on massive super pizza that I can slice once it comes out the oven), then go crazy with toppings! I spread red pesto over the base then covered it with sliced pepper, sliced courgettes, and light mozzarella.
Step 6- Put in the oven only once the oven is super hot. Cook for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the edges look brown.
Step 7- Remove from oven, slice up and serve with a massive salad. Yum! I did mean to put some fresh basil on it after (from the window-sill) but I forgot. Oops.

I also experimented today with the blondies from Rachel Allen’s Bake. I have read that you can swap some of the fat in a recipe for apple sauce. After those muffins I made the other week I decided to try it with a different recipe. So I used 50g butter and 50g apple sauce. I also reduced the sugar and used a little agave nectar instead, and used wholegrain spelt flour. They are very tasty still, although I think I would cook them for a little less time as they were a bit more like cake and less like brownie. I do like brownies that are nice and squidgy.

While we are on the subject of food, I made some delicious fake frozen yoghurt today, and I even took a photo! In my mini chopper I put 80g frozen raspberries, whizzed them up a bit, then added 100g Rachel’s low fat cherry yoghurt, whizzed it up some more, and served. I did think it might need some sweetener as the raspberries can be a bit tart, but actually it was good. There is sugar in the yoghurt so that’s probably why it was ok.

I haven’t been up to much else that is of any interest; I did some work, I went on a walk, I went in the garden (the apples on the tree are getting big eeeee- one is the size of a cherry tomato!), I did some housework. I have been drinking lots and trying to get everything ready for my half marathon tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Bread baking part 1

So after work today I came home and made some bread. I have really got into making my own bread recently. I didn’t use to eat it that much as I was never really keen on shop bought stuff; too squishy. Also I have been reading up more about where food comes from (I like Michael Pollan’s books) and recently read “Not On the Label ” by Felicity Lawrence. She has an interesting chapter about bread made in factories. Sometimes we would buy some nice ciabatta bread which could be heated up alongside dinner, but it was pretty expensive and still had additives and stabilisers in. So I decided to get some bread flour and make it myself. Since then I have made loads of breads (including tear and share garlic bread, cinnamon raisin bread and sun-dried tomato bread- yum) and people always assume when I say I made it that I use a bread-maker. But I make it properly using my own fair hands! It doesn’t take that long so I think we should all have a go. When I got home I popped the kettle on for some warm water, then weighed out the flour (Dove’s farm Malthouse), added the yeast and salt, and mixed it all up. Then (because I was making tomato-basil bread) I added a tsp olive oil, some basil and some tomato puree. I kneaded it for a few minutes, then left it in a bowl to rise. I went out on a walk (what a lovely evening) and while I was doing the rest of the dinner I made it into the loaf shape and left it on the tray to rise again. So although it takes some preparation (e.g. I can’t bung it in the oven straight away) it doesn’t take long actually doing it, it just needs time in between to rise. But not that much time! Plus now I have the right measurements I don’t get really sticky messy hands.

I have been getting a little carried away with different types of flour. I have strong white, strong wholemeal (makes a nice pizza base), Malthouse, Wholegrain Spelt and Rye. The rye flour is the only one that I have found difficult to use as it seems very dry. It is much lower in gluten than other flours (the gluten is what you stretch when you knead and it is what makes bread springy), and it is recommended to make a loaf using half rye and half normal flour, which I have done and it is ok but not nice like rye bread that you buy!

It’s also pretty ecomonical to make my own bread- a 1.5kg bag of flour would make 6-8 loaves (I usually use 150g flour for a flatbread, 200g flour for a loaf) and to that I need a teaspoon of yeast (I use a little bag of dried yeast which is 99p and lasts for ages) and then any other flavours that I have at home anyway. So £3 for 7 loaves of fresh bread isn’t bad.

So I urge you all to get on and do some good old fashioned bread-making! It is therapeutic to knead the dough, and quite exciting when a “mess” or flour and water suddenly comes together into a proper dough. Plus the house smells so good when it is baking. And you can add your own flavours.

The cranberry orange bread I made was very sweet, so I think I might try it again but next time make cranberry-pecan instead. I had some of this when I was in Vancouver and it was so good.

Now I am so excited because on Facebook Natural Balance Foods have mentioned that New cocoa nudies will be coming out soon! As you all know I do love Nak’d bars, and have a hard time deciding my fave flavour. The oats ones (apple pie/ berry/ cocoa) are good for a snack on the go, filling with the oats and only 99 cals (small bars) so can be a light snack. The nudies ones have a better texture, more like a brownie, and amazing flavours (gingerbread is heaven, cocoa orange is amazing) but with the nuts they are higher in cals so not so easy to squeeze in. But as the fats are healthy fats from the nuts they are a good thing to include (gotta love those healthy fats).

Earlier on they asked for new flavours- I think I had such a long list! I wanted a chocolate mint one, a chocolate cherry one, a carrot cake one, a peanut butter one (like a mini trek bar without the crispies) and a peanut butter cherry/ peanut butter chocolate one.

So I am very excited to hear that they are going to release new flavours- can’t wait to see what they will be!

Back to the bread baking- because this weekend I have the half marathon on Sunday I am going to have pizza on Saturday night (home-made dough)- I might even take some pictures of the steps as I go along. Then Sunday I might make some dough for flatbread before we leave, so I can cook it once I get back.

The kids in my class are all so excited about Sunday- there is a kids fun run and so many of them are taking part! I love it that they are all so excited about it.

This evening after dinner I had some mango sorbet- it was so good! Such a taste of summer. Although it did make me think that with my frozen raspberry/ yoghurt combo I could adapt and use frozen mango chunks to make my own. Once I finish the tub I may well investigate this further.

Well I am off now to finish watching some of the football- Hooray for the weekend!

Eat a rainbow!

Ok so today I will do a longer post- I have been a bit brief lately! At work today we were handing out all the race numbers to the children. On Sunday’s half marathon there is also a 5k and a children’s race (1.5 miles I think) so loads have signed up. They are so excited about it, which is good, although I also found out that we are having pictures taken, luckily before my run and not after as I would look a right state!

I had an apple and a cocoa orange Nak’d bar (these are sooooo good, seriously, much more moist than the bars with oats, almost gooey with a brownie-like texture. Mmm. ) and then headed home for a run before the rain. Massive black clouds were blowing across the sky when I got home but I decided to chance it and headed out. I think it will be my last run before Sunday; I have body pump tomorrow and I think I will do lots of walking on Friday and Saturday. I couldn’t decide how far to go, but I was feeling good so I went a little further than planned, around one of the lakes (saw loads of baby rabbits eeee!) and back again. By then the sun had come out and it was boiling! I hadn’t taken any water with me so I was so hot and thirsty when I got home. In the end I went about 4.5 miles in 47 minutes so not a bad pace either. It tipped it down about ten minutes after I got home so I timed it pretty well!

After a shower I had a massive colourful dinner (I really should have taken a photo but don’t normally photo my meals as it takes me ages to get around to putting the photos on the website). Anyway it was the quinoa and lentil bake I made a few weeks ago (red onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, spinach, lentils, quinoa, basil…), along with green beans, butternut squash and baby beetroot! I think I had every possible colour somewhere on that plate! So tasty and filling, just what I fancied after my run.

I think later I am going to have some alpro with some bear granola- such a tasty snack.