Back In Action

Hello blogging world! I feel I have neglected you…

Where have I been? Well…

A few weeks ago the hubs and I had a media-free week. I have to say…it was great! No TV, no films, no facebook, no blog reading, no tweets, no random pointless web browsing. We TALKED and I RAN and the pace of life felt that little bit SLOWER. I recommend it!

Last week was our holiday in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. We stayed in a gorgeous cottage with friends and enjoyed reading, walking and relaxing by the fire. The long winding roads were perfect for running and the scenery was incredible.

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Huge snow covered mountains on each side make for a great running landscape…much more inspiring than the busy north London roads! These pictures don’t do it justice at all…when the sun came out, it was stunning.

I managed the following runs during the holiday:

6 miles @ 9:53 pace

2 miles @ 8:43 pace

8 miles @ 9:30 pace

We got back late on Saturday and I forced myself out of bed early on Sunday to crack on with my long-run. I had 15 miles in the diary but I ran out of time (wanted to get to church) so cut it short:

14 miles @ 10:03 pace

Splits: 10:07; 10:10; 10:05; 10:11; 9: 36; 9:45; 9:45; 10:14; 10:07; 9:40; 10:40; 10:07; 9:52; 10:19.

I struggled quite a bit and kept stopping to text my friend (welcome distraction!!) and stretch my legs. My left knee has been playing up – it happened after the half marathon and starting bugging me again in Scotland last week. I suspect the hills and the increased mileage are bothering my IT band…I’m going to see the physio…fingers crossed it will not play havoc with my training plan..but to play it safe, I’ve taken it easy so far this week, with the following VERY gentle treadmill sessions. No idea about pace:

Monday: 4 miles

Tuesday: 1 k (!!!)

Wednesday: 1 mile (ahhh bless my poor little knee).

21 again!!! (age not mileage)

In other news, it was my birthday on Monday, yay! I am fortunate enough to work for a great company that gives everyone their birthday off for free, so I spent it catching up on post-holiday stuff and meeting my Mum for drinks before having Thai with Danny. I was totally spoilt and got some great pressies include fab running stuff! I got a Nike running hat (it’s wicky material – should keep me cool when it’s warm and stop me squinting / looking ten years older). I also got a running water bottle. I never run with water but now that I’m over half marathon distance I know I need to train with it, so the gift was much appreciated.

I’ll be back as soon as I’ve had this knobbly knee looked at! 2 weeks to go until the next half marathon….eeeeekkk!

Jx

I’ll Be Back Soon!

Just a quick hello and update from me! I wanted to do a proper Sunday Stats but I’m short on time. In fact, short on time has been the story of my weekend and as a result didn’t manage to get my long run in. Pretty gutted as it is the most important run of the weekend but as I got a hot date with my hubby instead, so I definitely can’t complain! I care a lot about the marathon and I love training…but obviously the hubs is the top priority.

Friday Workout: 1.7 miles @ 10:26 pace

My body is seriously challenged by the increased mileage! Friday’s planned 5 miler turned into a gentle run and stretch. Sometimes, you just need it.

Saturday Workout: 5 miles @ 9:17 pace

This was my fave workout this week, the whole day was so much fun! It was freezing outside and I needed some help to get motivated, so I ran to my friends place (1.8m) and then we went into her huge communal garden and did intervals of sprint, jog, walk across the lawn, it was tough but necessary! She then KILLED me with a kettlebell workout (I have zero strength) before we went back to intervals. Then, after a cuppa and a chit chat, I braved the cold and ran home. As it was so bitter outside I decided a fartlek session was the only way to go! Fartlek is Swedish for ‘speed play’ and basically means you just run at varying speeds during your session I.e. pick a lamp post in the distance and sprint to it. Once you reach it, pick a parked car and jog to it, then pick a shop window and sprint to it…and so on. Keeps it varied and builds up your speed. AND it keeps you warm.

Speaking of the cold weather, I am headed Scotland very soon. The weather report says it going to be minus 14. MINUS FOURTEEN. Craziness. How will I run?

In other news, in my mission to be healthy, we joined friends on Saturday for an amazing sushi! I opted for a nigiri and sashimi selection. So tasty and low in calories. Happy!!!

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Goodbye…but just for now

I am going to be offline for the next couple of weeks! Shocker! But I will still be running and I hope I will have some interesting things to report on my return to the blogosphere. Hope everyone has a good few weeks of winter training. Think of me as I freeze my backside off in subzero, mountainous terrain!

Jx

Tasty AND Healthy…Go On Then!

Good evening!! It’s nearly the weekend, thank goodness…the first week back is always SOOO hard! Love my job but I do also love bed and holidays…

Thursday’s Workout: 5 miles @ 9:28 pace

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What happened to Wednesday’s workout you ask? Well this cold still hasn’t shifted so I swapped my Friday rest day.

Today called for 5 miles ‘steady’. Not really sure what steady means but I’m going with not fast, not slow, and even splits. So…I’m happy with the average pace but my splits were dodgy as always. Blaming it on the hills šŸ˜‰

Splits:
9:19
9:20
9:08
9:48
9:47

It seems like ages since I last ran outside. It was pretty cold (it’s around 4 but feels sub zero to me!) so layers and leggings were necessary. It’s ok though, in north London you get to breathe in everyone else’s second hand cigarette smoke as you run down the High Road which is always delightful and really burns warms my little lungs heart. Seriously though I was shocked by the number of smokers this afternoon…I thought the entire population quit everything unhealthy in Jan? Apparently not. Maybe they were just trying to keep warm. The car fumes were great too but I’m going to stop ranting about the dirty London roads now before I start to sound like a seasoned treadmill runner which I most definitely am not!

Food Glorious Food

On the subject of trying to have a healthy January, I’ve been making more of an effort with food this week. Partly, it’s because I need this cold to leave and I figure it’s probably afraid of fruit and vegetables. One of the challenges I face is that my husband and I do not share the same taste in food but I do all the cooking. He will happily eat takeaway food every day without gaining a pound, but I am not so lucky. I try to take advantage of being able to make lunches for just me (he buys his in the City) and have been making HUGE AND DELICIOUS salads.

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I don’t tend to look at recipes for salad…I just throw together whatever is in the fridge. This one (Tuesday) was lettuce, carrot, spring onion, tomato, pine nuts and avocado with a little bit of ranch dressing. Today it was very similar but I replaced the avocado with feta, beetroot and gherkins, and switched to balsamic instead of ranch. YUM.

I tried a new recipe for last night’s dinner, actually I combined a few recipes and ended up with this…it was really tasty so I wanted to share it!

Tuna steaks with ginger sweet potato mash

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Shame I didn’t clean up the plate like they do in restaurants, that rogue sauce is bothering me!!

Really simple, very quick, healthy and tasty. It even passed the HUSBAND TEST and as my husband claims to hate fish…I was ecstatic! It is a very meaty fish so make sense that he would like it if he was going to like any fish.

So…if you want to make this (YOU SHOULD) all you need to do is pop some sweet potatoes on to boil as you would to make any mash potato. They need max 15 minutes. Then, slice some spring onions (I did varying lengths from 1 inch to 1cm) and fry them in a little oil for 5 mins in a large frying pan. Next add the tuna steaks to the pan with the onions (push onions to the edges, they are done).

Cook tuna for 1 minute on each side for rare, or two minutes for medium. Mine were medium/well done in order to please the fish hater :). After this, add between 2 and 4 tbsp soy sauce to the pan depending on how much sauce you like. You can use dark or light – I used a combo and went for around 2 tbsp…may do 3 next time as the sauce was great. Add 4 baby bok choi to the pan (slice the bottoms off first so you are left with all the leaves).

Mash the potato and add a good knob of butter and a good sprinkling of ground ginger. It will taste divine and should have a great texture. Serve the tuna steaks and the greens on top of the sweet potato mash. YUM YUM enjoy!!

Healthy pizza…what?!?!?!

Yep, tonight I tried to make healthy pizza! Not sure how healthy…but definitely more so than Dominos!

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I totally cheated and bought a fresh Italian base from Waitrose. My meals need to be fast during the week! To the base I added some tinned tomatoes (you only need a few spoonfuls), a few sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced mushroom, some Italian deli meat of some description (ok not too healthy but it was only 1 slice on my half!), courgette which I had peeled into long ribbons using a potato peeler, finished off with some small pieces of mozerella, black pepper and some spray oil. 8 minutes in the oven and then it’s done, yay!

Ok, so enough if me pretending to be on masterchef. To add context, I couldn’t cook when I got married…genuinely, I was useless. I didn’t really try, I just ate salad, pasta and fish cakes. This explains why I get very excited when I manage to cook and it tastes good. Cooking is a learning curve but I’m getting there!

Better be off, I need an early night, COLD BE GONE!

Jx

New Year – Reflect and Refocus!

Like everybody else on the planet, I have spent some time over the last few weeks thinking about my dreams and aspirations for the year ahead. I prefer not to make resolutions, but I like to reflect and refocus.

A few months ago I wrote a post called Reluctant Goal Setting, where I talked about some of my plans. Looking back at this, I have not managed to tick many of them off the list! I did not get my weekly mileage up to 35 before Christmas (in hindsight, I think this was unrealistic, I’m not even at 35 now!) but I have picked a marathon training schedule and I’m starting to get used to doing speed work on the treadmill. Oh and I purchased a full length mirror after wanting one for EVER (pretty irrelevant but it was on the list).

My fitness goals for 2013 remain the same:

1. Run a sub 2-hour half marathon;

2. Run a sub 4:30 marathon.

PLUS, I want to tone up so I need to focus on eating well and doing strength and core work.

So far this week I have only been on one run. Monday was an optional rest day…you don’t need to invite me to rest twice :). Yesterday I was due to run 5 miles with 3 fast miles in the middle, so it looked like this:

Tuesday’s Workout:

1 mile warmup @ 11:45 pace (how slow??)

5 k ‘fast’ @ 8:23 pace (no splits as I was on the tread’)

1 mile cooldown @ 11:15 pace

The 5k took 26:04 which is my fastest ever timed 5k. YAY! I was really happy as this cold has been bugging me and I wasn’t sure I could do anything ‘fast’ without being able to breathe :). Tonight’s session is meant to be 5 miles at steady pace. As I’m feeling even more bunged up today I do not have high hopes but I’ll see how I go.

Jx

Rest, Recovery, NYE, Country Retreat AND City Break!

I would love to spend this post recapping some amazing 2013 training runs, but sadly, that is not going to happen. Right now I am extremely grateful that I built an extra week into my marathon training schedule, because it is only week two and I have ground to a halt! Not injury, thank goodness, just that stinking cold that seems to be doing the rounds. I tried to jump on the treadmill yesterday but only managed 17 minutes VERY slowly, bringing my total weekly mileage to around 1.5 miles. Oh dear.

At least I got to wear the Nike Tempos that I picked up in the Sweatshop sale. Loving the pink and purple edging.

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SO the plan for this weekend is rest, rest, rest. I go back to work on Monday having had two full weeks off and I want to be fit and well. I will throw myself back into training as soon as I am able to!

In other happier news, lots of other fun things have been happening (pre sickness):

New Year – Murder Mystery

The evening went really well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! I didn’t take many pictures because my brother in law is a professional photographer and was doing a much better job than me, but here are a few:

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Prepping the beef bourginion in my new Le Cruset pot. Love this so much! This dish is great for entertaining as it goes in the oven three hours before, all in one pot. You don’t need to do anything.

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Me and my sister-in-law getting ready. Her character was called Lady Bla Bla, she made an incredible Ga-Ga-esque hottie. I was in awe of her ability to wear Lycra all night, she looked amazing! My character was the host and just had to wear satin and be perfectly manicured. Nice and easy, so I wore my Karen Millen LBD with black and gold Jimmy Choo slingbacks.

My husband was essentially a posho called Tarquin. He was on drinks duty all night and did a great job keeping our guests well-watered. It’s great being teammates :).

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The morning after, my bother’s new wife and I headed to Chelsea for a recovery lunch at The Bluebird. It was our first time and we were pleasantly surprised, it was even better than it appears on TV! Our celeb spotting mission failed though as no Made in Chelsea stars were dining there. Shame. We were hoping to hob nob with Francis and Proudlock. Maybe next time? Judge me all you want for being a MiC viewer/stalker, but I find it absolutely hilarious!

Three Year Anniversary

After new year, it was time to celebrate our wedding anniversary alone and away from London. The traditional gift for three years is leather. How amazing is that? The first two years are cotton and paper..but LEATHER equals SHOES OR BAGS! We went for bags, managing to get some bargains in the John Lewis and Fenwicks sales. All packed up and ready to go:

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My present to Dan is the overnight bag at the back. He picked it and he loves it so I am happy! He got me the beautiful Ralph Laurent handbag which I am thrilled with (we picked it together). The flowery case is my overnight bag by Liberty (not new). My Mum got it for me a few years ago and I never get bored of it, it is just too cute.

We alternate responsibility for organising our getaways each year, and this year was DP’s turn. He whisked us off to the stunning Peak District to stay in a remote spa hotel before heading to a boutique hotel in Sheffield so that he could get to know the city that I called home for 4 years during university.

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I really recommend the Losehill Hotel and Spa in Hope Valley. It was beautiful and the service was great. We enjoyed an hour long massage each before taking a dip in the pool and sitting in the outside hot tub under the stars! We dined in their beautiful restaurant, trying some unusual local canapƩs including pigs ear and a beetroot macaroon. Very different! The menu was original and almost entirely organic and locally sourced. We spent most of the night talking about business like the secret nerds that we are. Fun though!

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The hotel even had a friendly resident kitty. We let her in to our room for a cuddle which was a mistake because she decided to return in the early hours, waking us up by sitting outside our door meowing. I missed Bella so I really didn’t mind too much.

The following day, we drove through the Peaks and arrived in Sheffield. I showed Dan around, pointing out my old houses and student digs. We stayed at the Leopold Hotel which is centrally located, ideal for a city break. When they learned that we were celebrating our anniversary they immediately offered us complimentary bubbly and brownies which was a nice touch. We stayed in a mezzanine suite which was nice and spacious. My only criticism is that it is pretty dark despite the huge double-height window. The building is a converted old school so there are probably limits as to what they were able to do with the conversion.

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In the evening we headed to tapas bar, Cubana. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It seems very authentic, the food is incredible and the service was good. Have a mojito or two if you visit! We were in Sheffield on an unusually quiet day – being just after new year, a week day and with no students back in town yet. Despite this, Cubana had great atmosphere unlike the rest of town which was dead.

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We struggled to find places to drink because everywhere was so quiet, but we settled down for a few in Old House (formerly Halcyon) and Bungalows and Bears (formerly the Fire Station I think). I cannot express enough love for this city. Every time I return it has improved, new buildings have sprung up and yet the old traditional buildings in the city centre still look great and help the place retain its character.

So now…I’m drowning in a pile of snotty tissues and dosing up on Lemsip and Berocca. I’m missing a family day out at the Tottenham Hotspurs game – my brother organised a box for us all. I am gutted, I hate missing out, but I hate being ill more so focusing on getting better. Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.

Jx