Tea follows running in the rain

(And iced tea follows gardening)

Recently we have been enjoying a pot of loose leaf tea on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

On our trip to Nice I bought some gorgeous teas from the Christmas market, including this chocolate orange tea, which contains huge flakes (pieces?) of dried orange.

Although I love “normal” tea, there is something lovely about the ritual of brewing tea in a teapot and taking time to enjoy the drink.

It is even better if I have been out on a run, either in the freezing cold, or more commonly this winter, the pouring rain.

I was sent this rather bright and fabulous running rain jacket from Mountain Warehouse to help me stay dry in the rain.

Since I have had it, it hasn’t rained so I have not tried it out, although we are heading off to the Lake District later so I am going to try it out on some walks up there.

I love the bright pink colour- it will be great for dark evenings too.

They have plenty of waterproof jackets to choose from, and if you are unsure what you can look to find out how to choose a waterproof jacket with their expert guide.

I was considering some waterproof trousers too, so on Sunday afternoon (after watching the London marathon) I walked up to the shops to have a look. I tried on pairs in 3 different shops but they didn’t seem very comfy for walking in, so I am going to take my running trousers instead.

Yesterday I did my longer run of just over 8 miles- I was going to do a shorter loop but forgot and went the longer way automatically. It was good to be out there and although I was chilly at the start I warmed up pretty soon- no need for a jacket!

After some work at home and helping my Dad load up his car for the tip (he has a bigger car so offered to take all our garage junk for us) I headed to the allotment for a couple of hours of weeding. Oh my word there were dandelions everywhere!!! I was so tired by the time I got home, and hot and thirsty too, so instead of hot tea made myself an iced chai.

I used a chai teabag, and then topped with milk and ice.

So refreshing!

This morning I had another short run (3.5 miles)- I saw some rabbits! I had to pop to work, and then to the shops, and now need to finish packing for our trip.

Do you have any favoured post run rituals? Really I should focus on stretching more, but normally I want to wash the salt off my face and then have a drink.

Any Lake District recommendations?

The jacket was sent to me by Mountain Warehouse.

Go Mo! And down to the BBC.

Warning: This post contains some moans.

Marathon viewing breakfast of apple, muesli and granola. Seriously some of the chunks of granola were bigger than the apple chunks!

So on Sunday morning I was up (not that early!) watching the London marathon. The elite races were on the red button which got a bit annoying after a while as the feed kept on cutting out (although that could have been from the motorcycle/ car cameras), but that did not take away from the excitement. I am glad I did that because it seems that the BBC mainly showed Mo so that the front runners of the men’s race didn’t get much coverage.

It was almost ironic that the commentators were just talking about how Mo had been practising taking bottles from the wing mirrors of cars (as last year when he ran the first half he messed up his drinks station stops a few times) and then what happens? Poor Dibaba (also making her marathon début) messed up her water stop- I am not sure why she didn’t carry on instead of stopping to pick up her bottle, but anyway, it shows how important these little things are.

Then of course there was the men’s race. I think anyone who thought Mo would win was either deluded (hoping for some sort of miracle) or just mis-informed. The field was immense- the marathon world record holder, the world and Olympic marathon champion, the reigning London marathon champion and the course record holder to mention a few! If you are interested in a breakdown of the competitors, then this article explains it really well.

Mo set his sights high on breaking the British record of 2:07:13, which he was close to, finishing in 2:08:21. He also finished 2 seconds behind London course record holder Emmanuel Mutai and 3 seconds behind Geoffrey Mutai (who amongst his achievements won Boston in 2011 in 2:03:02)- I think anyone would be pleased with that on their marathon début! Mo is now 4th on the all time list of British marathon times (and the top 3 are all held by Steve Jones)- seriously, nothing wrong with that!!! He was a bit behind the main pack, but towards the end caught up some stragglers (can you call them that if they finish the race sub 2.10??) and even overtook one or two (I think he was 10th at one point and finished 8th, but I am not sure if there was one pacemaker left at that point).

First up, I want to rave about Mo’s attitude. He took on a challenge. Yes, he could have chosen a début marathon with a quieter field, had pace makers going to his exact request, and possibly won. But he wanted to run in London, his home town, and good for him. He also sets such high goals for himself- of course he has Olympic gold medals but running 5000m/ 10,000m on the track is a different discipline to a road marathon, and it takes time to adapt. He came out before the race saying he wanted to break the British record (and he now holds the English record) and was disappointed when he did not break it, but it is that attitude of aiming so high that shows why he is such a great competitor. No doubt he will learn from this experience and come back stronger for his next marathon. He is not finished with the marathon.

What I will rant about is the BBC commentary, and specifically Brendan Foster. I am not sure if they had begun to believe their own hype, but they were so negative towards him. I can’t believe that after one performance (where he didn’t blow to pieces or DNF or anything like that) they had the gall to suggest he should stick to the track!!! Seriously! I mean perhaps for the Olympics that is where he is strongest- he still has the speed in his legs for that. But to suggest that after one attempt he should give up is just ridiculous and laughable and idiotic, and many more things. As a nation we are getting more sedentary and more overweight, and Mo is such a great role model for children to look up to. I just think it is such a bad attitude for the BBC to put across- try once and then give up? Whatever happened to “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again”? Grrrr.

Tony Audenshaw (famed for Tony’s Trials on Marathon talk) was interviewed after running the marathon and was just brilliant- his enthusiasm is what the sport should be about- he was encouraging kids to start training to beat the British marathon record- that is what we need!

I also loved Michael Owen’s post marathon interview- he had to sit down because his legs were so knackered, but he was so positive about the running community- he was saying that in football you get a lot of negative attention at matches and on twitter etc, but while he was running everyone was giving encouragement, everyone was friendly- he wanted to hug everyone he met on the way around. That is what running is about, and that is why the running community is so great, and that is why we should be encouraging children to take up running. Kids- ignore the idiots on the BBC- running is great, and if on your first run you don’t win, don’t give up!! Get to a local parkrun and see what the running love is all about.

Also another positive is that we are starting to have some other British runners coming through-Chris Thompson gave a hilarious post run interview where they showed him his final steps on the monitor- he was staggering about a bit and looked like he had no idea what was going on- he had given that race every last drop. (Think he finished at around 2:17). He was laughing at himself!

Finally, if you have ever run a marathon then you will appreciate this little video made by Tony to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma research (if you watch it then you can text or donate on the webpage)- it had me giggling away.

Not too much complaining I hope! What did you think of Mo’s performance? Or the BBC’s coverage?

Healthy Baking Competition

Jemma over at Celery and Cupcakes has organised an amazing baking competition. You have to create a recipe that uses margarine, but make it a healthier recipe. I got my thinking hat on and decided that one of my favourite recipes is my cherry, almond and marzipan cake.

To make it a little healthier I made a few changes: I used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar. I increased the ground almonds and decreased the flour, and added in another egg (this helps the ground almonds to bind). I also reduced the amount of marzipan used, and used natural dried cherries instead of glacé cherries. I am really pleased with how it turned out and actually prefer it to the original!

Most of my ingredients:

Ingredients:

175g margarine (I used Pure spread)

175g coconut sugar

4 free range eggs

200g ground almonds

50g plain flour

2 heaped tsp baking powder

1 tsp almond extract

90g dried cherries

Optional: 20g marzipan

Flaked almonds, to sprinkle

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a brownie pan with baking paper. Cream together the margarine and coconut sugar. Add the eggs and almond extract and beat well. Add in the ground almonds, flour and baking powder, and mix gently to combine. Finally add in the dried cherries.

Pour the mixture into the pan. At this point if you are using marzipan, tear it into little pieces and dot over the top. Feel free to omit this. Then sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean (be sure not to test by a piece of marzipan as this will be liquid at oven temperature).

Leave to cool in the pan on a cooling rack before dusting with icing sugar.

The coconut sugar means that the cake does go a little darker than when using normal caster sugar.

Leave to cool before slicing. The ground almonds means that it may stick a bit more to the baking paper, so be gentle!

This cake has a gorgeous light texture, and a delicious almond flavour. Of course the “normal” dried cherries don’t stand out as much as the fake red glacé ones, but they still add a lovely burst of sweetness.

What cake would you like to be healthier?

Marathon cheering

And some pondering too.

So over the last few weeks I have been absolutely loving all the marathon recaps that have been popping up in the blog world. Well done to everyone!!! Here are some links in case you missed them:

Jess ran the Greater Manchester marathon.

Anna ran the Paris marathon.

Lauren ran the Greater Manchester marathon.

Tess ran the Brighton marathon.

Lara linked to her London marathon recap from last year.

The marathon talk boys took on Manchester too- you can hear them chat about it on episode 222 (good number for a show too).

Mary is about to take on London (here is her expo trip).

I also came across this article about whether to sign up for a marathon or not.

I spent time on Saturday listening to a radio show that was on radio 5 on Thursday evening- they were previewing London, had an interview with Mo as well as general marathon chat.

And of course I had a look at my marathon recap (which actually made me cry when I read it back- not sure if that is weird?). At the time I had a suspected UTI (I kept getting them at that point), so was on antibiotics, but luckily I felt OK in the morning- I had promised Andy that if I felt bad I would not run it, but it being my first marathon I think I would have had to feel pretty awful not to attempt it. A few months later I was hospitalised, and it turned out that I had a huge cyst on my ovary that had to be surgically removed- so in fact I was not 100% healthy when I took on my first marathon. I was immensely proud of myself for finishing it, and running the whole way (very slowly, but I still ran every single step) but at the time I knew that before I attempted another marathon I would need to speed up. Seriously running for nearly five and a half hours is very tough, mentally and physically.

So since then I have been focusing on half marathons (minus the set back when I could not run at all due to my op). Here is my theory:

When I ran the marathon I had only run 2 half marathons- a hilly one the previous year in 2.32, and then a slightly less hilly one in 2.19. Of course a marathon is more than twice as hard as a half marathon, and your speed will be less, so I think the rule of thumb is double your half time and add 10% (or something). Anyway using my half marathon times from then, (and the runners world predictor) my time should have been between 5.16 and 4.49 (although I think that was rather optimistic). I suppose my time was only 5 minutes off, so not bad really.

I had in my mind a time for my half marathon to get to, and I am getting closer to that goal, but if I take my most recent two of 2.16 and 2.06 the calculator gives me a prediction of between 4.43 and 4.22, or if I use my last 10 mile time it says 4.37. Again there is no way I could keep up the pace I did the Bath half in for double the distance (and I know it does not assume this, but it is pretty close I think), but it means that the slower of the two times is sub 5, which is a bit better I think.

Going off on a tangent, if I submit my best 10K time it predicts my half would be 2.03, so again close, but I am not quite there. And of course it shows that this is a predictor to give you a ballpark figure.

Anyway, I have not signed up for another marathon just yet, but I am really considering it now. I have started looking, even though my half marathon time is not quite at my goal yet. I would like one in the school holidays as I would not want to have to be at work the next day, and I have been looking closer to home as possibly the flight the night before was not the best preparation. I also much prefer smaller races- the crowds get my adrenaline going too much, so I won’t be putting my name in for the London ballot! So 2015 might be the year of my next one, who knows.

So if you have a race to recommend to me, then feel free.

 Anyone else running a marathon? Good luck!

I am off to watch London!

First week of the holidays

The week has gone by fast! I am going to work backwards.

This morning I was up and off to parkrun. Still the off road course (I know- crazy!), I picked up my brother and we ran together for a bit although I ended up slightly ahead of him. Just got my text through- 29.01, 145th out of 234 runners (although I got number 144 token so not sure why that is?), 29th female and 6th in my age category.

Of course I then made pancakes, and this time put some figs on them after flipping so they heated up a bit.

Yesterday I was up early for a 5 mile run- I wanted to try out the longer fields route as the last time I did it it was rather boggy. Thankfully it was drier, but hard going as it was so rutted, and the paths are so narrow. I got half way through the cow fields and then noticed one cow with massive horns sat near the fence. By that point it was too late to go back so I just had to run as fast as I could and hope that the cow stayed where it was.

Later in my run I saw a woodpecker, and a massive red kite sat on the grass, and a little rabbit run out in front of me! Love seeing all the nature.

Then I was off to a friends house for a get together with lots of lovely food- I made some lemon squares (from Hummingbird), and one friend made the most amazing salted caramel cupcakes. When I got home I persuaded Andy to have a walk as the weather was so lovely.

Thursday morning I was up doing some work, before meeting some friends for a waffle. How I love The Waffle House. Freshly made, organic milk, free range eggs, loads of vegetarian options….

Hummus and avocado might be the best one ever! They make their hummus with organic chickpeas- it is so good. The little blobs are sort of spicy sundried tomato paste, although they look like raisins!

I popped in to see my Mum on the way back home, and as Andy was working at home I went out on a walk to enjoy the sunshine- I saw a pair of jays fly past and land on a branch right by the path.

Then after dinner I was off to pump. It was good but hot in there.

On Wednesday I did some work in the morning, and then at lunch time we walked up to the shops, and were so hot we got an iced chai from Caffe Nero to have on the walk home- not sure what syrup they use but it tasted very american (in a good way)- more cinnamon I think.

In the afternoon I got my bake on! I made the not cross buns, and a cake for Jemma’s baking competition, before going to Sweatshop in the evening. We did the fields loop but backwards, which is tougher. I ran with my brother at the start and then started trying to catch up the people in front- I managed it with about half a mile to go (partly because the girl in front had to stop because she got a bug in her eye)- it was nice to run the final bit together. I had taken a jacket with me as the last few weeks I have got quite chilly on the way home, but I was very hot then!

On Tuesday I did a 6.7 mile run- my old loop which I don’t think I have run since doing the Bath half- it was good to get out there in the morning even though the wind was quite cold at times. Then I spent the day doing work before having a little walk in the evening to get away from the computer screen!

This week has been great- afternoon tea, Waffle House, seeing friends, lots of walks in the fresh air and lots of running too. Hooray!

Tomorrow I shall be watching the TV in the morning- the elite field looks to be amazing, and of course I shall be cheering on Mo for his marathon debut, but I am just excited for a proper race.

Will you be watching London tomorrow? How has your week been?