Monday, 25 May 2015

Ups and Downs Part the Second

Now for a bit more of a catch-up of the last 3 months.

The Mighty Running Daff (but more of that another time)
So, first up was the MK Festival of Running Half Marathon on 8th March. Training had gone well and I was feeling strong and well-prepared. For the first time my peak weekly mileage had got to around 40 miles which felt like a big step forward in terms of running maturity and experience.
Race day was cold and grey. There was a lot of hanging around because to be sure of a parking spot I got to the city centre about 2 hours before the start. Still, that meant plenty of time to warm up with some drills, a bit of a run and some kata practice. The latter resulted in some very odd looks from passers-by, but I find it really helps me focus my mind as well as really get hips and legs going. There were well over 100 people from my club running in the various Festival races and it was good to have friendly faces around. I get sick with nerves before a race and being around friends really helped me get a grip until I could start the race. Once I'm running nerves vanish and I feel fine.
Feeling strong still, helped by the fact that this was around the Redway Runners drinks station and I could hear friendly and encouraging words being yelled in my direction.
Near Willen Lake, Running with the lovely Andy. We had great time running and chatting together for a few miles. We were going at quite a pace and kept asking each other if we shouldn't slow down a bit, but we just kept going until I picked up the pace again and left him behind.

Almost at the finish. It was hurting so much to keep going the last few 100 metres. And it felt very lonely with no one to cheer me on. One day I'd like to have family or friends to cheer and shout for me at a race.
 The route for the half wasn't too bad although not as scenic as the Winter Half. (If you've never been to Milton Keynes you need to know it's a fabulous place to run- there's a lot more to it than roundabouts and concrete!). The least pleasant part was the last couple of miles coming up through Campbell Park. Running up Beacon Hill when your legs are knackered and it's mile 12 is seriously no fun at all, not even for me. (Did I tell you that I do like a hill?) However, I completed the race in a smidgen over 1:38. A new PB for me and I was really pleased with that.
I was especially pleased because for the first time I was running under a time pressure and that was not a nice feeling at all. I HAD to run sub 1:45 because my girlies and I were scheduled to do the Shinri Karate 100 Kata Challenge straight after the race but I'll tell you more about that shortly.
100 Katas
So after the race it was off to the dojo to perform 100 katas in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. I'd just graded to orange belt at the start of the week so it was a chance to get to grips with my next kata and have a go at learning one or two new ones. It was a great event but seriously challenging even for those (ie everyone apart from me) who hadn't just run 13.1 miles. I think there were some bleeding feet by the end although not mine.
I tried very, very hard to learn Tekki Shodan (a black belt kata) but I guess I was mentally so used up it just wouldn't stick even after 20 repetitions under the watchful eye of one of the black belts who happens also to be a runner. I was very proud of my girlies who stuck at it the whole way through and didn't miss a single kata. Their concentration did wear off about halfway through but I'm impressed they stayed focussed for that long. It was a tough thing to do for anyone, especially the younger ones. But we survived and had fun and were even still able to stand at the end:
As well as kata to learn there was plenty of cake to be eaten at the event- we'd decided to raise extra money we'd bring cake to sell. I made chocolate courgette brownies, spiced butternut squash and choc chunk squares, and something else which escapes my mind. (I'll have to post the recipes another time as I don't have them to hand this week.)
Typing all this and reliving that day has been quite exhausting! Time for a cup of tea and a piece of cake I think!

Ups and Downs Part the First

I can't believe it's been so long since I last wrote here! It's been a busy time: a couple of races, karate things, eldest going through the year 6 SATS, settling in to a new job, a brand new baby niece, some other family things...

But let's just have a blog post about food. Those of you who know me in Twitterland are only too aware of my love of food as I usually end up tweeting about it. I know I've promised Twitter friends to share some recipes but we're on holiday at the moment so I don't have any of the cake recipes to hand. Instead here are a few musings about pizza.

If time and energy permit then we make our own pizza bases. Usually I don't bother with yeast and just make a simple unleavened dough with flour (a mix of white & spelt/rye/wholemeal- whatever's in the cupboard!), water and some olive oil and roll it out very thin. I don't measure anything out- I go by how hungry we are and what the dough feels like. As long as it turns out smooth and silky after a bit of kneading then it'll be fine. Once the base is made I put homemade tomato sauce onto the base before adding toppings, although a quick cheat is to mix some pesto & tomato puree. Still healthier than using a bought jar of ready-made sauce.

My current favourite topping is kale, garlic and feta cheese. I prefer to briefly cook the kale first- start off chopped garlic in a frying pan with a little oil.  If the kale has a lot of thick stalk on it, it's best to cut that off, slice it and start those bits off with the garlic. It's a shame to waste the stalks as they are tasty and add a bit of substance too.  Then add the rest of the kale along with a splash of water. Cook for about 3 minutes then it's ready to go on the pizza. Add chunks of feta on the top and cook in a very hot oven for about 7 minutes. Yes, the kale will go crispy and look a bit odd but it tastes delicious!

Other additions and variations on this pizza have been attempted:
  • I've tried using other cheeses- strong cheddar is also good as is goat cheese or leftover oozing bits of Brie or Camembert.
  • You can throw some fresh chilli into the kale and garlic mix for a bit of extra vitamin C.
  • Spinach doesn't make a good substitute for the kale though, so don't try that, although if you've got a bit of rocket going limp in the fridge add it to the kale when it's almost done for a bit of a peppery kick.
  • And if you make a dip in the middle of the kale, carefully crack an egg into it and let that cook til just set. Greens and egg with a soft, gooey yolk is one of my all time favourite things to eat!

It feels as though this would be a great place to put a photo or two of pizza. Unfortunately pizza never lasts long enough in our house to be photographed! You'll just have to use your imagination, or even better go and make one right now and see (and taste) for yourself! Go on, you know you want to!