Jantastic week 12- how did that happen?

Gosh, these last 3 months have whizzed by so fast! I find it hard to believe that I have logged my final workout of the challenge, and equally hard to believe that the marathon is in 2 weeks time.

2015-03-25 17.58.30

From my Wednesday run- You can see how long my shadow is here- the sun was just about to go down.

So, how did the last week go?

Monday- I was pleased with how recovered I felt from the 20 miles the day before. I felt a little stiff moving about, but not as bad as last time. At one point I was going between buildings and broke into a jog, but my legs told me “no” so I slowed to a walk.  I had a meeting at work so when I got home we just relaxed, no walk that evening.

Tuesday– Running club. Thankfully most other runners had run a half marathon on the Sunday, so no-one wanted to go far, which suited me just fine. We headed out together on an out and back route, but I kept slipping further behind the group. When we got to the turn around, the other girls stopped to stretch, but I wanted to keep going. I kept thinking that they would overtake me, but I got all the way back without anyone catching up with me, so instead of standing about in the cold I ran back along to the top of the hill to see if I could spot them coming up it.  I couldn’t, but luckily I was too tired to run down and back up again, so I ran back to the meeting place. No-one was there, so I went back to my car with the intention of sending them a facebook message along the lines of I hoped they were OK but didn’t want to wait. But they were all in the car park- apparently there was a short cut which I didn’t know about, so they had taken that to avoid the hill on the way back, and were starting to worry about me! I am very glad I didn’t go back down the hill again. 4 miles anyway.

Wednesday– I was home earlier than usual, so went out on the fields on my own instead of waiting for the SRC to start. I felt a bit bad but I knew my brother wasn’t going as he was ill, and my other running buddy was going on some trails later on. The trouble is it doesn’t start until 6.30pm, but in reality we start running at around 6.45, and even if we only do a 5k I then run home and get back after half 7- then I have to shower, have dinner, and any work that needs doing it done very late after all that. Whereas I was home before 6.30 which makes a huge difference. Plus it was light enough to go on the fields, whereas at half 6 it probably wasn’t.

2015-03-25 17.47.56


4.8 miles around the fields. Love it.

Thursday- Body pump. We had the new release, and to anyone who got the song in their head after my “all about the cake” post can be satisfied in knowing that it will be in my head after each pump of this series as that is one of the songs. Sensibly kept my squats weight a bit lower.

Friday– Lots of walking around London and then walking home from the station.

Saturday– Needed to do 12 miles (as had breakfast plans for Sunday) but wanted to do parkrun. Luckily my dad offered to pick me up and drive to the St Albans one (which is really in the wrong direction for him), so I could do that and then run home. We ran together, although he is faster so in the final half mile I told him to go ahead if he wanted to. It was so funny; initially he said he would stay with me as he had enjoyed it, and then about ten seconds later went “er, actually I am going to speed up” and overtook 12 people (we compared our finish token numbers). The temptation is always there with parkrun so I had to tell myself “it’s not my finish line today”. I was pleased with my parkrun time (just over 28 mins) and then kept a good pace for my run home. It went so much better than my last 12 mile run- I arrived home feeling strong, confident and optimistic. We walked around town for a bit in the afternoon too.

Sunday – 3 mile run- I was awake very early (6.30, so really 7.30 with the clocks moving forwards) so went on a quick 3 miles in the wind and rain, before going out for breakfast with friends.

So, 4/4 workouts done. 24.2 miles for the week.

Excitingly my monthly mileage is 129 (compared to 98 in January and 104 in February), and I am planning a run on Tuesday evening so it will get a bit higher still. It seems crazy, but I suppose 2×20 miles makes a big dent in that.

My final Jantastic score is 100, but the blue circle is not quite joined, because I was 10 minutes off my predicted time. I did play both my jokers, so I didn’t keep the 4 workouts every week, but I think apart from 2 weeks I managed it which I am really pleased with. I don’t think last year I was quite so successful with it.

If you did Jantastic, how did it go?

An Italian Easter cake

I am planning on making a Simnel cake for Easter this year, but if you fancy something different, I was sent the most delicious Easter cake to sample.

It is a pistachio panettone-style cake hand made in Sicily.

Information from the Artimondo:

Colomba pasquale or colomba di Pasqua (“Easter Dove” in English) is an Italian traditional Easter cake, the counterpart of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro.

The dough for the colomba is made in a similar manner to panettone, with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast and butter; unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel and no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian).

For this Pistachio Colomba Easter cake, we’ve selected the best pistachio to top the cake in order to deliver through a flawless preparation, the unique fragrance that defines this traditional dessert.

The cake is made by Bacco Tipicita’ al Pistacchio from Bronte, on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. This typical village is well known for its special kind of pistachio, so tasteful and flavoured to be renamed Etna’s ‘green gold’. As well as the pistachio topping of paste and chopped nuts the cake is injected with pistachio paste throughout.

This emerald green fruit is a source of health due to its origin. In fact, it grows on lava soils receiving typical organoleptic properties with unmistakable flavour. The harvest takes place in alternate years, celebrated by the town with a great feast.

Sounds good, right? (Love the idea of a pistachio feast) And you can order it from their website, you just have to allow about 3 days for delivery from Italy.

2015-03-28 16.57.53They kindly sent one to me to review, and I am sure as you can tell I think it is delicious.

2015-03-28 16.59.59

Although it was so huge it would not quite fit on my plate!

2015-03-28 17.02.42

It was generously filled with pistachio paste.

2015-03-28 17.02.49It was so tasty. The panettone cake was so light, the pistachio filling was rich and the topping was tasty. We enjoyed a piece each in the afternoon, alongside a lovely cup of Earl grey. Although I think I am going to have to take some to work as I can’t see the two of us eating it all. I think if you were having people over for Easter it would make a great centre piece as it is so unusual, and the green colour is really eye catching. Some people (I don’t understand them) don’t like dried fruit, which is around a lot in hot cross buns or simnel cake, so this would be a great alternative to the usual Easter desserts (or just to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon). Plus it would feed plenty.

If you fancy it, the link to the website is here. At the moment it is £11.95+p&p which I think is really reasonable for a handmade product, especially one of this size.

Alongside the cake, they also sent a little brochure detailing all the other pistachio products they make, including a sort of pistachio nutella-style spread, and pistachio pesto (look here if you fancy it).

Do you normally have any Easter traditions? When I was little we tended to have toasted hot cross buns, and of course an Easter egg hunt in the garden, but often now we are away for Easter (the bank holidays mean that Andy can get a longer holiday for less days off) so often we have not had anything traditional.

*I was sent this to review for the blog, all opinions are my own.

New cookery books!

I love getting a new cookery book- I don’t tend to cook a lot of things (apart from baking), but I love looking through and seeing beautiful recipes. Last week I treated myself to a copy of Grains as Mains.

2015-03-21 11.04.01

Of course, I could not resist the buckwheat pancake recipe for a post-parkrun breakfast. I have some Rude Health buckwheat flour (it is sprouted, but looks like normal flour, whereas I imagined it would look like sprouted beans or something). I didn’t add yoghurt to the mix because I forgot, but the cherry almond sauce is just amazing, and I had some coconut yoghurt to top them with. Mmmmm.

2015-03-21 11.03.50

And although it does not match up to the beautiful photography inside the book, it looks pretty similar (and tasted wonderful). That cherry sauce has overtaken blueberries as my favourite pancake topping.

After my long run on Sunday I fancied some cookies, so after a visit to town and a nap, I spent a bit of time in the kitchen making these peanut and chocolate cookies, also with buckwheat flour.

2015-03-26 17.39.43

Again these turned out really well- I love the combination of salted peanuts and dark chocolate (I think I needed some salt after running for all that time), and I think the buckwheat flour adds to the nuttiness.

No doubt I shall be trying some of the lovely looking salads and breakfasts over the next few months. So congratulations and thanks to Laura for making such a fab book.

Do you buy new books often? 

Jantastic week 11- positive thinking

Last weekend I had a very tough 12 mile run, but after looking at the stats it turned out I was running faster than I thought, and of course I learnt my lesson about breakfast. With that in mind, I decided to try and be positive.

Monday– Rest day. Walk after dinner.

Tuesday– 7.7 mile run. I finished work early so drove to the club meeting spot early, did 2.7 miles out and back, then 5 miles with the girls. Felt fine, but once I got out of the shower at home I felt totally awful. I was worried I was getting some germs (tonsillitis is going around at work and I had had a sore throat) but nothing came of it thankfully. I was questioning why I had signed up to a marathon at that point, as it seemed to be taking over my life- feeling so shattered in the evening is just not fun.

Wednesday– 3.7 mile run. Missed SRC due to being home a bit late and also worrying about keeping up with the speedy ones- just myself on the fields (and no dogs this time!). That was far enough for me and again I was shattered afterwards.

Thursday– Pump. Found it very very tough. Same weights as last week, apart from squats where I dropped some in anticipation of the 20 miles to come. My weird stiff hip had come back, but once I was warmed up at pump I was fine.

Friday– Rest. A bit of hobbling at work as my hip was stiff again, but when I was moving around it was fine.

Saturday– Parkrun with my brother. Told him to run ahead as I was stiff- did some of those dynamic stretches again. For the first minute of parkrun I was regretting my decision, but literally a minute in something small went pop in my lower back, and then my leg was fine. I took it steady and finished with one of my slowest times, but I was just pleased my leg was OK.

2015-03-21 11.04.01

After pancakes for breakfast I had a lot of work to do. I did try to get up to do various jobs, and popped to town to collect post and do a few bits, but I was pretty much sat down all day so again my leg was very stiff come Saturday evening. I did a lot of foam rolling and stretches to try and help but I was getting fed up with it by then.

Sunday– 20 mile run.  My leg felt fine when I woke up, and stayed fine for the whole run (and has been fine since). I really have no idea what it is, but movement actually helps, not resting, so of course I will be gentle but I am not going to sit about. The recovery is getting better too- as soon as I got home I had some coconut water, and then had a shower. Once out of the shower I had a chopped apple in muesli (could not be bothered to make anything), Andy made me a cup of tea, and I relaxed for a bit. Then I did some foam rolling, Andy made us a smoothie, and then we went to town to get some cake (I was trying to persuade him that at the organised race they had cake, so I was due some after running all that way)- we had a free cake voucher for John Lewis so walked there and shared their delicious gluten free chocolate fudge cake (I am not normally that much of a chocolate cake fan, but this is delicious). Then once we got home, I went for a nap, and then made some cookies, and had dinner. On Monday I was feeling OK- slightly sore legs when I started to run between buildings at work, and a bit of a stiff back, but nothing awful. So despite a bit of a wobble earlier in the week, and not a great start to the weekend, it ended with an OK note.

So, 4/4 runs done. 34.4 miles. Long run of 20 miles done. Time trial missed by 10 mins (I guessed 3hr 40 and I did 3 hr 50). Onto the final week of Jantastic, and even better, into the glorious taper!

Pros and cons

We have been watching Friends on Netflix and have just got to the one where Ross makes the pro and con lists for Rachel and Julie. Now, I didn’t do this for the run this weekend, but it has been playing on my mind.

20 mile organised club run:

Pros: No need to map out a route. Running somewhere different can be more interesting- and I know some of the route is very pretty indeed. I might run a bit faster in a sort of race situation. Tea and cake at the end (included in the £5 entry fee- bargain). Water stations- no need to carry my own. If I struggle there will be lovely marshals and support vehicles (or something) to help. No headphones allowed- good race day practise.

Cons: I have to drive there. I might get lost. Probably not, but I will worry about it. I have to park at the station and walk- I might not find the start. Probably I will, but again I will worry about it. It doesn’t start until 9.30am, with a staggered start to avoid congestion- so I will probably not finish until gone 1.30pm. Then I would have to drive home again. I will get very stiff legs driving and may not be able to get out of my car once I get home. It is a undulating route with some pretty tough hills. I will probably need the toilet by the time I have driven there- what if they are horrible toilets? I don’t know anyone else doing it- all my club mates and runner friends are doing a local half or a cross country event. No headphones allowed- I was just catching up on Marathon talk. No official timing so I can’t check last years results to check I will come in within the time limit- if you are slower than 4 hours they ask that you make this known- I should not be, but again something else to worry about.

Running 20 miles on my own:

Pros: I can go out early and be home earlier. No need to drive. No entry fee. I can listen to podcasts. I can choose a route that I fancy. If I run slower will I recover quicker?

 Cons: I have to map out a route myself. I will probably run slower. I will have to carry water.

In case you have not guessed, I opted for a run on my own. Yesterday I got myself in a bit of a tizz worrying about this race/run- worrying about what time to get up, when to leave, how to get there, and in the end I just thought that I am the only one who chose this race, and it’s a training run, so it doesn’t matter. I still did the miles, just on my own, and I am sure once I made that decision last night, I slept better for it too.

2015-03-22 07.56.45

I got up early, had 2 pieces of toast with coconut butter and jam, and a nuun tab in a glass of water, pottered for a bit, then put 2 packs of yoyos and one nut bar in my belt along with my phone. I put another nuun tab in my water bottle and left that at the bottom of the stairs. I did a loop of 10.6 miles, collected my bottle from home, and then did an out and back route. I cut home across the fields (as a treat) but the got a bit lost, and in the end had to run up and down the road for the exact mileage- it was my jantastic timed run- although that takes the time from Strava and has given me a slightly longer time, not sure why.

2015-03-22 12.11.24

20 miles on the dot. It was fine until about mile 16 where I started to slow, but my leg (which has been stiff this week) was fine all the way through. I only ate one pack of yoyos (mile 13 and 14) and then had the almond cereal bar on the fields when I was trying to work out where to go (around mile 18 I think), and finished all my water in that second half. All done. Taper time. Phew.

Are you a fan of pros and cons? Good running this weekend?