Sweet and salty

In half term I was meeting up with some friends, and knew I fancied making something with chocolate and salted peanuts, I just didn’t know what.

A quick google found this Nigella recipe. Chocolate? Check. Salted peanuts. Check. Honeycomb? Well, not on my original list but it makes it sound even better.

I have made honeycomb before, but when I was buying nuts in the little health food shop I found a bag of honeycomb, so bought that for ease.

I ended up following the recipe here, because I really don’t like recipes that use cups- they make a lot more mess for one, and just are not as accurate. I had no golden syrup so used either rice syrup or agave, I can’t remember.

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Then I only took one photo, of a piece left over. But trust me, it was amazing. And very easy to make- basically melt stuff in a pan, add nuts and crushed honeycomb. Pour into tin. Cool. Try not to eat all at once.

Enjoy 🙂

Jantastic week 7- high mileage!

Half term seems a long time ago now!

Monday– 16 mile run (due to being away at the weekend). No heating made this not fun at all, because I knew I was coming home to a cold house. 3 + hours, then a visit home for a shower meant that it felt like it took up most of the day.

Tuesday– Rest. Visited some friends, played games and ate cake (and crudites!). Returned home to a warm house- phew.

Wednesday– Waffle House brunch with some friends. 8 mile Sweatshop in the evening. Feeling good.

Thursday– Walking in London (another brunch with another lot of teacher friends). Body Pump was fully booked so did the instructor’s earlier class, Body Conditioning. I remembered while doing it that I used to do that class before I tried pump. Pulled up my leggings and heard a rip- turned out I had ripped the pocket off- I was very worried for a few seconds there!

Friday– 4 mile run- I saw an owl. It was amazing. I was running along and could see this huge white bird sitting on a post. As I got closer it took off and swooped through the trees, and then looped back again. I tried to take some photos, but as soon as I stop running my glasses fog  up, so it was a bit difficult!

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In the top right hand corner of the photo you can see the n shape of the owl against one of the trees.

I ran out and back, and as I got back to that part it flew across the path in front of me. Amazing. I went for pancakes at my parents’ house and my dad told me that owls section their hunting ground into quarters and search it very logically, which is what the owl appeared to be doing.

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Anyway I was finding it quite tough and that was just what I needed to remind me why I love running.

Saturday– Lots of walking around Brighton.

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Sunday– Brighton half marathon! Hooray! And then more walking around the town, and the train stations, and the underground….

So, 4/4 workouts done. Max distance of 16 miles done. Weekly total of 41 miles!

I also had a look and I have run 91 miles in February so far (as the week before last I only managed two short runs)- if all goes to plan I will get over 100 in a month which seems like a big amount to me!

Brighton Half 2015- working out what I am capable of!

This is going to be a long post, so you might want to make a cup of tea before you begin!

On Friday we travelled down to Brighton- we had a lovely walk in the evening around the town, and dinner at Bill’s.

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Saturday was a gorgeous day. We went out for breakfast (Cafe Coho by the station- I had these amazing nutella and banana pancakes, and Andy had some sort of scrambled eggs and bacon thing), and then had a long long walk along the seafront.

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Colourful beach huts.

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It was a really high tide (the highest for something like 18 years) – only a few metres of the beach was dry for walking.

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Perfect. We went around the shops for a bit, and shared some lovely lemon cake as an afternoon pick-me-up, before resting for a bit in the hotel (just back to see Mo Farah having his new world record time confirmed), and then went to Pizza Express for dinner.

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Then we had another walk to see the Pavillion lit up at night- it didn’t come out well in the picture though.

Luckily on Sunday the weather was fine- it had originally been forecast as rain, but thankfully that was pushed back to the afternoon. When I did Brighton before I remember being boiling hot, so I deliberately only wore a thin long sleeved top, with my OH vest over the top, and left my gloves behind.

2015-02-18 14.42.57I had an oatmeal raisin clif bar as breakfast, and packed some bear yoyo’s in my Spi-belt in case I felt like I would need a boost.

I could not quite decide what to aim for. My last two half marathons have been tough- Bath was my fastest ever time (2.06 something) but I felt pretty awful for most of the race, and was really shaky at the finish. Then I did Ashridge trail, which was just a super tough course on a hot day, taking me around 2.45. So I wanted to banish those demons and finish feeling strong. I used the free pacer band creator on the Lucozade website, and made one for 2.05, and one for 2.10 (2.10 would beat my previous Brighton time, and 2.05 would be a pb) and I was thinking I would finish at around 2.08. Basically I had to keep my miles between 9.35-9.55, so those were the numbers I kept in my head.

So, onto the race. We walked down from the hotel- as Andy wasn’t doing it I could wear my coat and give it to him at the last moment, so I stayed pretty warm- the pavements were icy and I saw a few people fall over on the way. Once in the starter pen (I ended up being right at the front of the 2-2.15 pen as that was the first opening I found) I could no longer hear the tannoy, but on walking down I had heard of an 80 year old man running it on his birthday- amazing stuff (he is in the video here). I bumped into a friend from SRC in the starter pen, which helped take my mind off the miles to come.

Then everyone was counting down and we were moving towards the start line- there was even a sort of coloured paper sprinkler thing to shower the runners with. I found the start really congested- I kept getting people from behind catching my legs which was weird (do I kick my legs so far out behind me?) and I was a bit worried about being knocked over. Also, one man spat on the ground and it only just missed me (soooo gross- if people need to do that surely they should move to the side????), and I got bumped by a few headphone-wearing runners. But anyway, of course most of the other runners were fab. I kept the 2 hour pacer runner in sight for a few miles, but once I got to the hill they were gone. At around this point I had a mini crisis of confidence- all the runners around me were super slim and athletic looking people, and I did really feel like I didn’t belong in this section of the race at all. The course doubles back and I could see the people behind me, that looked more like me. I did manage to talk myself out of it though. I didn’t find the hill too bad again- I think it is not too steep an incline so although it is uphill it doesn’t sap your energy like some hills can. I didn’t see any of the mile markers, but every time I glanced at my watch I was seeing 9 something, so that was good. After around 5 miles (I think) you turn back and go down towards the start, and this turned out to be into the wind- better that way around but it was tough and I think that mile was slower than my uphill one!

As I got towards the start line (you run past this at around half way) the announcer was shouting that the winner was just heading towards the finish! Crazy stuff!

The course then goes along the seafront in the other direction (towards Hove?)- basically where we had walked yesterday. I think I was remembering the Brighton 10k, as that is a mini version of the course, so I thought we would turn sooner than we did. I saw the 8 mile marker and checked my pacer band, and I was on track for the 2.05- exciting stuff! I wasn’t finding the wind too bad, but it wasn’t the easiest.

At this point I was running just behind a guy with “FLUFF” on the back of his t-shirt. So I spent a long time wondering- is that his name/ is that a club/ is it some sort of charity/ and also thinking about marshmallow fluff. I was also by some people with the BOSH running tops, and loads of the marshals had those tops too, so I had lots of cheers  for people around me which made things more interesting. I have seen about BOSH running on blogs, but wasn’t quite sure what it was- does the B stand for Brighton? It kept my mind busy anyway.

Finally we turned, so the wind was almost behind (sort of from the side a bit) and I saw the 10 mile sign- only a parkrun to go hooray! At this point I was feeling good- no need for any bear yoyo’s and no need for any drinks from the water station- I just wanted to get it done. I spent time here trying to work out where on the parkrun course I would be. At the 11 mile marker I checked my pacer band and I was still on track for 2.05- awesome-sauce!

I knew Andy was going to walk back down (he went to have breakfast while I was running) so was looking for him in the crowds, and then as I saw the 12 mile mark I tried to pick up the pace a bit more. I was so pleased that I had felt strong throughout. Often during half marathons I struggle between 8-10 miles, but I suppose the middle distance runs have helped me with this and I felt fine.

I didn’t see Andy (I was looking on the wrong side of the road) but with half a mile to go I saw my time and knew I could get a pb, and managed to keep my legs going.

I got that weird feeling sick feeling in the final spring (I get it at the end of parkrun sometimes) but it went as soon as I stopped after the finish line- it’s only when I push myself hard. I saw my watch said 2.04 something, so I just had to wait for the official time but was pretty sure I had a new pb. Thankfully they had foil blankets (although a big queue and the poor people giving them out were having to peel them apart as they weren’t in packets)- then I walked along further and got some water, further still for the goody bag, and then finally got my medal.

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Check that baby out!

I met up with Andy and put my coat on over my foil blanket, and then we walked back to the hotel. I was impressed with how good I felt- my legs did feel a bit stiff but I managed to jog a bit to meet up with him.

Brighton beach

I had a nuun tab in the water, and then had the yoyo’s on the walk back to the hotel. The bag was rubbish:

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The paper looks OK, but seriously who wants crisps, a frostie bar or jelly babies? Not me! Not even a banana or anything.

Once back at the hotel I had a shower (check out was 12, but we were offered a late check out so I had time to wash and dry my hair), and then got the text confirming my time: 2:04:10!!! Phenomenal!

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I tried to take a photo to show how red my chest was- the skin got so cold and then when I have a hot shower it goes red and itches for ages after, but the redness doesn’t really show well in the picture.

Andy had to head off to the football, so I went out for some lunch (lovely Iydea), got an amazing tea latte from the Bluebird tea company (they use almond milk! Yum), and then got the train home. (Which sounds simple, but as there was no through service it was a train, then the underground, then another train). I think all the walking around the underground and stations helped though, as although my legs are tired, they are not very stiff.

I am really really pleased with this. Mainly it has been another confidence booster, as I can see that my long runs are actually making me a stronger runner. If the half had been the main race I was training for, I could have gone faster, but I wanted to feel strong (I did) and enjoy it (I really did). Andy joked when I finished about how I should be able to do it all again- I obviously couldn’t have done that, but I felt like I could have carried on, and of course running longer I would run a bit slower, so it has really helped with how I feel. Although I then panicked myself realising that the full marathon is only 7 weeks away. How is that possible??? Hopefully my next trip to Brighton will be just as enjoyable…

2015-02-22 17.07.29Finally check out the medal size! I found Andy’s 2012 and my 2013 medal, and this year is much bigger! It was the 25th year so I think that is why.

An interesting conversation

So on Wednesday evening I headed out for the SRC run. As I had to run 8 miles, and it is only 1.5 miles there and back, I mapped out a longer route there- just under 4 miles in the end. Not many people turned up at all! It ended up being 3 of us and the run leader. Luckily we were running at a similar speed (well, we have a teenager who comes along and runs rings around us- out and back to stay near us), and the run leader is a really accomplished runner- he did Frankfurt in the autumn in 2.25- so we ended up chatting a lot about marathon training. Some of our discussion points:

How does he fuel for runs? I explained that I could run quite far on empty, and prefer running before food, but I knew that I would need to eat something before the marathon. He talked about the body having around 2000 calories in storage, so that gets a typical person 16-20 miles. This is why most people hit “the wall” at around that distance, as the energy source in the muscles has run out. He trains himself on less food- e.g. one slice of toast, and then on race day will have more (I think he said 4 slices?) to give himself a bit more of a boost.

What is his take on gels? I personally feel that the sports nutrition industry has a lot to answer for. I have seen people taking gels before parkruns! I think that running magazines are obsessed with fueling before runs, and refueling straight after- drinking every few minutes etc. He mentioned again that once the glycogen in your muscles runs out, unless you are efficient at burning fat you will need a source of energy, but probably only after about 15 miles (to pre-empt the 16-20 mile limit)- not every 25 minutes as I saw someone suggest the other day. Today I bought some of those Bear yo-yo’s as I think I have had them before and quite liked them- I’ll have them in my pocket for Sunday to see how I get on with them.

What was his take on the 3 hour training limit? (I have always avoided time training plans as I don’t feel that I can run far enough in the time, plus doing a half an hour run is not that easy to plan, compared to a 3 mile one or whatever). He felt that 20 miles should be a minimum, and he tends to get up to 22 mile runs in his training. We were chatting about being mentally ready as well, and he knew people who had not run as far and then struggled on the day as they had not practised nutrition.

What did we think of the “news” this week that said that running at a high intensity was bad for you? Well, I had just listened to the More or Less podcast that picked apart the study and it was a load of nonsense! I just think it is a shame that scare stories come out like this so frequently and put people off exercise, or validate people who just sit about all the time.

What training sessions does he do? He was saying that his long run at the weekends is never less than 15 miles now, so he is pretty used to long runs. He also does interval sessions on a track, and was recommending hills at the end of a longer run too- I could see the sense here that taking on a hill mid-run can feel tough as you still have to get home, but if it is right at the end then you can tell yourself to give it your all because you are nearly done. I don’t do those sorts of sessions, but I felt like I had a bit of variety- parkruns are where I try and push myself and keep some sort of speed in my legs, rather than just plodding at the same speed the whole time, and the SRC runs are those comfortably hard sessions where I run faster than I do on my own.

What I found useful was that I could not really compare myself to his training, because he pretty much runs twice my speed, so it was just interesting to hear what he did.

It was a really enjoyable run, and I was pleased that despite being tired from Monday’s 16 miles, and from running nearly 4 miles there, we kept to under 10 minute miles for the 5k we did together. I then ran home, and had got to about 7.8 miles so ran up and down the road to make it up to 8.

I found it a real confidence booster- a few months ago this would have been the length of my long run, so to be able to do that in the evening in the middle of the week showed me that I have been progressing with my running.

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Dinner was veggie and bean bake, with the best bread ever, M&S San Francisco style sourdough. They sell it at the bakery, and it is so delicious- chewy and with such a good flavour. I had a slice with dinner, and then saved some to toast for lunch over the next few days.

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If you love sourdough, and want to treat yourself, then I suggest you to give it a try.

I think next time we run I would like to find out about what sort of strength work or flexibility stuff he does as well.

Do you like running and chatting? Or chatting about running?

A new fueling strategy

First up, hooray for half term!

Second up, a weekend away meant that my long run had to be on Monday instead of Sunday. The joy when we got home on Sunday afternoon to a broken boiler, it certainly threw a spanner in the works! We have an immersion heater, but it has never worked (and we have had people look at it) so no hot water either. Brrrr it was chilly! Anyway, I phoned home and although my parents were out they said I could use their shower- phew.

So, on Monday I was up early and had some porridge. I bought some of those berry chia sachets after trying one the other week, because I thought it would be an easy thing to pack when we go away for the race. I added a tsp peanut butter, and had a peppermint tea. I let this go down for a bit, but probably too long, before heading out at about 10am. I lined up some podcasts (the rest of one marathon talk, a new one, a Richard Herring podcast and then the parkrun show), and mapped out a route. This time I decided on a large figure of eight instead of multiple laps. I am not sure what I prefer.

Anyway, the run was tough. It started off OK, and I didn’t let myself look at my Garmin at all- I didn’t want to know pace, or how far I had gone, or how long I had been running for. I wore too many layers- I think as our home was so cold I felt colder before I began, but after a mile my gloves were off and didn’t go back on. I also kept feeling really hungry- it was like the breakfast had woken my stomach up. It was my normal size of breakfast, and at work I don’t then have lunch until nearly 1pm, so it is not as if I am used to a snack in the morning or anything.

Until about 12 miles I felt OK, but then I started to feel pretty rubbish. At one point I stopped to stretch out my legs a bit, and then about half a mile later I stretched on a fence and had to lean on it for a bit because my head felt funny- not quite light headed, but something strange. Bleurgh. The final few miles had a few walk breaks in there, because I just could not keep it going. The podcasts kept my mind off it for a bit, but I was also wondering what persuaded me to sign up for a marathon. Where are the next ten miles coming from? 

I nearly cut it short- to about 14 miles, but the thought of the Jantastic miles mainly kept me going, and also if I can’t manage that on a training run, how am I going to cope on race day? It took me just over 3 hours in the end, and of course my first thought was “2 hours to do the last 10 miles”. I think I need to start slower, and also I might put in some walk breaks earlier on so that they are planned for.

As soon as I got home I changed into dry clothes, and had some lunch and a drink, before packing up my shower bits and heading home. I didn’t feel so bad after that, and my brother made me a cup of tea while I was showering so that helped to warm me up too.

The guy who came to look at our boiler needed a part, so we had to have another cold evening before it was finally fixed on Tuesday.

So, lessons I have learnt this week: I can run after eating porridge, but maybe I need to leave a smaller gap (this was due to trying to find a person to come and look at the boiler though). I probably need to take something with me on a run. I know I don’t like gels, and I don’t want anything sweet like (e.g. jelly beans) as they make my mouth feel weird. I have some fruit puree that I might try- I think I got it after the 15K race I did, and that might be OK to eat while running. I do think that eating beforehand helped me feel better later in the day. I am prone to energy crashes, and I didn’t have a big lunch (sourdough toast and some grapes)- I did have some nuts and a cereal bar later on in the afternoon, but I wasn’t raging after the chocolate like I can be after a long run.

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Also these arrived in the post today! After getting my club vest last week, I didn’t want to get safety pin holes in it. One of my running friends has used these before, so I decided to treat myself.

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I have already fixed the number onto my vest- I am ready very early! It seems very secure, but I am not sure whether to pack a spare safety pin just in case.

I am meant to be doing 8 miles later, but some of that will be with SRC so I want to try and do 4 miles on the way- it’s not easy sorting out a route that ends there!