Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Funny how things work

Just thought I'd mention this, because I found it a little funny.  Last post I mentioned two guys I'd been chatting to during the race on Sunday - an older guy during the first lap, and a younger guy during the second.  Well, I just looked at the official photos for the race that were uploaded recently, and guess what?

The older guy is in the first couple of photos from the first lap (yellow shirt), and the younger guy is in the other photos from the second lap (pulling the double thumbs up)!!  I thought that was kinda cool :)

While I'm here, I'll also mention this online store I found the other day when looking for a cheaper way to buy bulk amounts of nuts.  Since Deane has taken over drinking my supply of unsweetened almond milk, it has become a little expensive to buy at over $4 per litre carton.  I decided it would be cheaper to make my own, plus I wanted a bulk lot of cashews and pecans - cashews so I could make stuff like this ice cream and these larabars, and pecans because they are awesome with everything.  So I did some Google searching and came across a few companies, compared prices, did some recon at the supermarket to ensure that it was indeed cheaper to buy in bulk online (it is.  By far.) and settled on Nuts Online.  Then placed an order on Sunday afternoon, and lo and behold, it arrived around midday Tuesday.  Talk about speedy service!  It makes a nice comparison to another parcel I've been waiting for over a week to be delivered.  I don't blame the company I bought the goods from - some PB2 and chocolate PB2 from grub.box.  Their service was quick, in fact quicker than expected as the PB2 was on back order and arrived early so was sent out early.  My beef is with PBT Couriers.  The parcel has tracking which is usually pretty convenient.  In this case, it is allowing me to see that the parcel is going around in circles, back and forth, and not actually being delivered.  When I called them on Monday to question why this was the case, they informed me that the driver had attempted to deliver on the Friday but was unsuccessful.  a) where was the card to call?  b) my gate is unlocked and the parcel could be left on the front doorstep without being visible to passersby if I wasn't home.  And I usually am.  The help desk person assured me it would be delivered the next day.  Well, it wasn't...  Still waiting...  Meanwhile, I placed some feedback on their website and am waiting for a reply.  I'm not holding my breath...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Speeding up

I ran in the third Unitec race over the weekend, and couldn't be happier with my result!  The day was miserable, and it rained for some of the race.  There was a lovely stretch through some bush on a gravel track, which unfortunately had turned to mud and puddles.  It would've been fantastic if it was dry and sunny, but we'd had a rather brief but very loud thunderstorm around 4.30am and it had been pouring with rain, so everything was decidedly soggy.  That didn't slow me down though!  It was my quickest race time yet, with an average pace of 4'59".  Although I think their measurements may be a little out since according to my GPS tracking I only ran 11.6km, not the 12km the race was supposed to be.  Whatevs.  I came in 30th overall, 5th female, with a net time of 59:54.  Just scraped in under that one hour mark!  I had a good chat to a couple of the guys in the race while we were running - they heard my phone app telling me the distance, time, and average pace that I was running which they thought was pretty nifty.  One guy wanted confirmation of the average pace, and we had a moan about the mud and puddles.  We ran alongside each other for quite a while, then he kinda dropped off on one of the hills.  On the second lap, a younger guy commented on the app and moaned that he only had a watch.  We got talking and stayed together for much of the second lap until he stopped at a water station to grab a drink.  He stayed behind me for a while, then overtook me on the last big hill before the finish.  It seems that quite a lot of people run the last kilometre or so of a race at a faster pace, or do the whole 'sprint finish'.  Me?  I keep moseying along at the same speed regardless of where I am in the race.  It works for me, and I don't see the point in trying to beat one or two people in the last stretch.  I'm not in it to win it, I'm there to have fun and do my best.  Everybody has their own way of doing things I guess.  That's okay :)

I compared the first and second race paces with this third race, and they look a little like this:

Race 1, Lap 1 - Pace 5:13 - Speed 11.49 kmph
Race 1, Lap 2 - Pace 5:06 - Speed 11.76 kmph (had shin splints but still ran faster.  Odd)

Race 2, Lap 1 - Pace 5:30 - Speed 10.89 kmph
Race 2, Lap 2 - Pace 5:28 - Speed 10.97 kmph (was recovering from shin splints and lack of training)

Race 3, Lap 1 - Pace 4:59 - Speed 12.01 kmph
Race 3, Lap 2 - Pace 4:59 - Speed 12.02 kmph (all good, although had some niggles)

I can't wait to see what happens in the fourth and fifth races!  It'll be fun to compare again :)

After the race, I grabbed my complimentary banana and Abe's multi grain bagels (I got handed two this time, yay!  These are so good!  I look forward to them after every race now), then popped in to see the Unitec osteopathy students who were giving free ten minute treatments.  The girl I got this time was really good (as opposed to the one I got last time who was obviously quite new), and after I hopped off the table my legs were feeling much better.  Then I drove home for a much-needed hot shower and some blob out time.

Later that evening I made some home made oreo cookies for the kids school lunches.  Deane was putting T to bed while they were baking, and he came down and told me that T had said they smelled like cuddles.  Bless.  My only question is: does that mean that cuddles in a general sense are warm and sweet and lovely, or is it that I always smell like baked goods?  Either way I was feeling all melty and gooey after that, and couldn't wait to send them off to school with 'cuddles for lunch':


I can't say how much these taste like real Oreos since I don't have any to compare, but they do taste very good and I am in danger of eating them all.  Such is the problem with glass cake plates: the yummy food is always within sight when you're in the kitchen.  I am my own worst enemy ;)  Especially since the next thing on the list are these bad boys.  Somebody needs to ban me from Pinterest...

I did try out something slightly healthier though - baked beans!  Unfortunately I added a little too much chili powder.  Now T won't eat it which is a shame because he loves baked beans.  I think I'll make them again some time soon and just leave out the chili powder entirely.  I was a little naughty and added some butter and cream (totally my dad's fault, he always adds butter and milk to baked beans), and that made it even yummier.  And slightly less healthy.  Oh well...  I'll be eating the leftovers for lunch with a green salad.  That's gotta balance it out a bit, right? ;)

Tonight we're having slow-cooked lamb shanks.  Mmmmm, can't wait!!!  Trying to eke out the available cold-weather crock pot cooking time before the warmer temperatures really dig their heels in.  Since that's already sitting happily on the bench getting all yummified, today is about finishing my stats assignment (tick), mopping the floor, doing the laundry and settling in for some knitting, which hasn't been touched for two weeks while I gave my hand some time to rest.  I think all that spinning I did for the TdF caused a little RSI.  It's all gone now though, so knitting is happening once again, hurray!  I've got some socks and a shawl waiting to be finished.

Have a fabulous week :)

Friday, 23 August 2013

Hard workers

Sometimes people (or things) need a bit of a shout-out for all the hard work they do in everyday life.  There are the multitudes of volunteers from fire fighters, to school PTA mums and dads, to life guards, to people helping out every weekend to set up a park run, or hand out water at a road race.  Y'all are amazing people.  Just thought I'd put that out there.

Then there's the average 'Joe Bloggs' type that get on with life in general.  Although they don't volunteer their time for whatever reason, they still work hard all the same.  Just wanted to mention that my husband of nearly 13 years is trying very hard to lose a little weight and get fit.  I've been dragging him out on a run once a week to try and keep him motivated.  On Wednesday I took him along the little path next to the northern motorway.  It was raining, but he went along all the same:

Bit of a walking break here.  Despite it being flat, he's not quite up to my fitness level yet ;)  Got a little tired...


This may be partly for my own amusement, since I think he looks really funny when he runs, but if I can help him achieve his goal, then all the better :)

He's also changing his diet, cutting out a lot of heavy carbs.  Goodbye bagels, breads, wraps, muffins, cakes, loaves, puddings...  This makes my job of feeding the clan a little more challenging, but I'm enjoying finding new ways to cook without wheat based products, sweeteners and dairy.  Last night I made an amazing non-lasagne (so-called because it has no pasta.  Can't really call it lasagne without pasta, can you?) with roasted pumpkin mash, silver beet, and a meat layer made with lean mince (gotta love that Green Meadows Beef mince, hardly any fat!  If you haven't tried their products yet, you're seriously missing out), tomato puree, a little tomato paste, celery, garlic, red onion, some minced chilli and a little salt and pepper.  This was all topped off with cottage cheese (which, although it is a dairy product, has very little lactose so is very low-carb, but high in protein).  It certainly wouldn't win any beauty pageants, but damn, it tasted good!  I had some for lunch today too, yum!

One of the other hard workers in my life and likely many others, which I think deserves a shout-out, is the humble kitchen food processor.  I absolutely adore my food processor, and couldn't imagine life now without one.  The other day I made cashew butter for the first time, then wondered what on earth had taken me so long.  Why had I not done this before?  Cashew butter is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!!!!  Forget paying $10-$15 a jar for pre-made cashew butter, throw a bunch of raw cashews in your food processor and whizz 'em up!  Or if you like a little salt in yours, I'm sure salted cashews would work fine too.  And just think, you could do the same with any nuts you like - almond, walnut, pecan (oh my gosh, pecan butter!  I must try this!), macadamia... you could try a combination of nuts, throw in some seeds (sunflower anyone?)... go crazy!  Hey, why not make pistachio butter?!?  Could be interesting ;)

I have many more tasks awaiting my food processor in the near future.  I am dying to try out this 'ice cream' recipe (which can be used to make these, and these), and some more larabar recipes.  Next on the list - apricot pumpkin pie larabars and girl scout cookie larabars.  My friend Jill sent me some Girl Scout Samoas a few years back.  Now I wish we had Girl Scout cookies here.  I mean, look at all the flavours they have!  We just get the one Girl Guide biscuit flavour.  Lame.

So. Many. Things. To. Make.  With my trusty food processor ;)

I'm flying down to Napier shortly, but sadly will not have time to stop in at KAN.  Probably not a bad thing, since non-attendance will help me to not buy any yarn...  Then I fly back up again early tomorrow night, so I can get a good night's sleep before the 12km race on Sunday.  Fun times!  I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Have hydration pack, will run

It was a good week for running, thankfully.  You may recall the earlier two runs, one with Deane (very slowly) around Cornwall Park, the other along a new (to me) path running parallel to the northern motorway, which was surprisingly rather beautiful.  I'll run it again this week and snap some pics to show you.  On Saturday I headed to Cornwall Park again for the ParkRun.  I didn't talk to anyone again, nor did I go for coffee afterwards, but I did run a good time.  My app says 26:02, but my official time was 25:59.  I guess it all depends on when you hit the stop button ;)  I was lucky to get a rain-free run, although the ground was a little damp.  Not quite so lucky later in the day when I headed in to town, but I had my umbrella so all was well.  I headed in to Bivouac Outdoor to purchase a Camelbak hydration pack.  I got the most basic pack, which is actually designed for cycling or walking, but I had read plenty of reviews of people who use it for running and have no problems with it.  It was only $70 so I figured if it didn't work out I could use it until I could afford an upgrade.  For dinner that evening we had roast chicken with carrots, roasted broccoli (my current favourite way to eat broccoli) and roasted baby cabbage.  Deane is very anti-carbs at the moment so carrots is about as starchy as it gets.  No complaints here, I was trying to avoid a repeat of last weekend's horrible run!

Sunday morning I got up and had PB&J & Apple Oatmeal for breakfast (soooooo goooooood!!) then made some buttermilk scones while I waited for that to settle.  (I've used up most of the leftover whey from my first attempt at cheese curd by making waffles and scones.  One more batch of waffles should just about do it.)  I filled my pack with 900ml water (it holds up to 1.5 litres), bled out the air so it didn't slosh, shoved a chocolate hazelnut larabar in the wee pocket and I headed out the door.  I still have some GU Chomps but have discovered that they are what send me straight to the loo as soon as I walk back in the door after a long run.  Clearly, they don't agree with my digestive system and seem to want to race through it as fast as possible.  A shame really, because I quite like them and they're a great energy boost.  I had mapped out a route on Walk Jog Run, then written out the street names on a piece of paper in case I forgot where I needed to go.  I only needed to check the list a couple of times so that wasn't too bad, and if I run it again I think I'll remember where to go.  I had no intentions of running fast, and was prepared to walk a few hills.  I did exactly that, but only ever walked short distances, and would've done so less than half a dozen times.  My average pace was 5'40" so not too bad overall.  I only ate half the larabar about 6km in to the run.  I found it sat quite heavy in my stomach, and I didn't think I could handle the other half.  Plus I didn't feel as though I needed it.

The pack sat quite comfortably, high on my back.  It didn't shift around at all, so I was really happy to know I wouldn't have to upgrade any time soon!  I did loosen the straps a short way in to the run to get it sitting in the right place, and after that I quickly got used to it.  The wee hose was clipped onto the strap and was easy to access during my run, and the mouthpiece was a breeze to use.  I was concerned that it would get in the way of my arms while running, but I tend to stick my elbows out to the side a bit so it wasn't a problem.  If you're the kind of person that runs with your arms very close to your body, you'd have to figure out a different way of clipping it in.  The little pocket is accessible while running without taking the pack off, but I decided to take a quick walking break to grab a snack rather than attempt it on the run, and took the pack off to get it.  I couldn't remember what side it opened on anyway and didn't want to look like a spaz with my arms flailing about trying to figure it out ;)  The reservoir is now residing in my freezer, which is where the sales girl at Bivouac told me to keep it between uses (empty of course) so it doesn't grow mildew or slime.  Smart.

Despite rain being forecast, Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day.  I thoroughly enjoyed my run, and finished it quite happily without having aggravated any injuries or niggles, and without wiping out all my energy.  I still managed to tidy up the front yard, move some furniture and stuff around inside, and do the vacuuming and grocery shopping that afternoon.  And some yoga practice to stretch my hips because, y'know, long run.  I love that I can get to all these places on foot that I had always thought of as far away.  I think the motorway kind of throws me off a bit.  Travelling to suburbs via the motorway makes them seem further away than they really are.  And I get to see so much more on foot than when whizzing past in a car.  My 18.5km run took me through several suburbs: Freemans Bay, Eden Terrace, Mount Eden, Greenlane, Epsom, Newmarket and Grafton:


I think that's pretty cool :)  I look forward to checking out more suburbs in the near future.

This week is going to be a little different.  Monday and Tuesday will be rest days - I have a statistics workshop to attend all of Tuesday so there won't be time for a run.  I'll run Wednesday and Friday, skip the ParkRun on Saturday, and run the 12km Unitec race on Sunday out in Devonport.  Next week will be a quiet one too, with the North Shore Half Marathon on the Sunday.  Oh my gosh!  The time is whizzing by!!  I'm so glad I managed to run my 18km yesterday with no lasting effects.  It makes me feel a lot more confident about the next two races I'm going to run, and the other three I have coming up after that - a 14km, a 16km, and another half.  Fingers crossed it all goes well!  By the time these races are over, it'll be November.  Wow.  Suppose I should start thinking about Christmas presents...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

All the yums

I had a very long, slow day in the kitchen yesterday.  I've been thinking a lot about poutine recently, and the fact that we haven't had it since shortly after arriving back from Canada early this year.  We had a dinner party soon after arriving home to share our new-found Canadian food faves with some friends (poutine and beaver tails) but we haven't had it since.  This is mostly due to the fact that cheese curd is almost unheard of in New Zealand.  (Although I have found one supplier down south).  This makes me a little sad.  However, I had been craving poutine for some time and decided that the best way to go about it would be to make my own.  I found a recipe some time ago that sounded simple and straightforward, although it needed raw milk.  Again, raw milk is a little hard to find.  You can get it, but it takes some prior organisation.  I decided to try it with whole organic pasteurised milk, but didn't have much luck.  Deane managed to salvage some of it and make some mozzarella, and I kept the whey to use for waffles, pancakes and scones.  Then I wandered down to the supermarket and bought some more whole milk, found another recipe, and got stuck in.  It took allllllll day.



But you know what?  It was perfect :)  Chewy, squeaky cheese curds with seasoned potato wedges and poutine gravy.  YUM!!  I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner, and happily shared with extended family that happened to invite themselves around when they heard what was on offer.  While I was making the cheese curds I also made a batch of English muffins and some chocolate hazelnut larabars.  Both turned out rather excellent, if I do say so myself ;)  And we had apple crumble for dessert, with hokey pokey ice cream.

No new oatmeal trials so far this week, since the one I'd planned for this morning (chocolate hazelnut oatmeal) required hazelnuts, which I ended up using for the larabars.  Plus I had the English muffins to chomp through so I had those instead.  I must say I'm looking forward to tonight's dinner - stir fry beef, but the sauce is made with kiwifruit and apple.  The recipe came with this week's Foodbox.  I'll let you know how it goes :)

On Tuesday we went out for lunch, to somewhere just a little bit out of the ordinary.  Hard Luck Cafe on K Road.  It is amazing.  If you ever happen to be up this way and looking for somewhere different for lunch or dinner, seriously, you should go there.  Go.  There.

In other news for the week, I took Deane with me for a lap around the Cornwall Park sheep trail on Tuesday.  Slowest run of my life!  But fun all the same.  The lambs and calves were out and about, so we snapped a few pics:





Clearly, I do not possess any photography skills...

This morning I went for a 6.5km run, but went a slightly different route to the usual.  Instead of heading up the stairs at the top of Jacob's Ladder that lead to Waitemata Street, I crossed over to the other side of the walkway and continued down the path that runs alongside the Northern motorway.  I was very surprised to find how much noise was cut by the plexi-glass wall.  I followed it all the way around to the back of Point Erin Pool, then turned up Sarsfield Street, continued onto Stack Street, Cremorne and Argyle, before turning up Clifton Road (phew, what a hill!) and running back down Jervois Road and College Hill Road.


I can't wait until I'm back to regular longer runs.  I've been having some fun creating runs I'd like to do on the Walk Jog Run website, like this half marathon to Cornwall Park, around the sheep trail, and back again.  Or this half.  Plus it's fun to see running routes other people use or have created, and trying something a little different, maybe in an area you wouldn't normally run.  I'd also like to give this run another go some time - Ayr Street kicked my butt last time!  This Sunday I have planned an 18km, and I'm not sure yet if I'll be doing a ParkRun on Saturday.  I'll be sure to avoid all alcoholic beverages and watch my food intake regardless!

The boys have been enjoying some time with their uncle this week, who is visiting from Australia.  He bought them a gift each, in the form of these awesomely cute sock monkeys:


The boys have named them Monkey Man and Monkey Ninja.  They are made by a young mum in Napier, and she sells them for the ridiculously low price of $20 plus postage (or so I believe.  You may want to check with her on that).  If you're interested, I highly recommend you get in contact with her via Facebook.  Her business is Revamp Vintage, and she crochets, and does amazing stuff with old furniture too.  Clever girl :)

Well, it is time again to get back to the daily grind.  I've done no study this week, and hardly any knitting.  I guess that's what happens when you have out-of-town visitors!  I have a pile of clean laundry beckoning me - it needs folding and sorting.  Hurrah.

Have a lovely weekend :)

Monday, 12 August 2013

Social running, antisocially

My running has been improving of late.  Sort of.  My shin splints haven't returned, or rather I don't feel the effects while I'm running.  I still get the annoying burning sensation in my right shin when I'm resting.  If it gets too much though, I only have to get up and walk around the house or go and do something, and it goes away.  I'll just add this little niggle to the many accumulating niggles I've developed since starting to run more than just a slow 5km three times a week.  I guess it's not surprising really, but during my first year or so of running, my distance never went over that 5km mark, and I never had any problems.  At all.  I even remember clicking on a wee survey on the Runner's World website - it asked about your injury history and I clicked 'never had a running injury'.  I was very pleased with myself.  Shortly after that, I started to increase my distances because I wanted to do the Auckland quarter marathon.  I can look back at my running history on Nike and see the gaps.  There was a three month break in mid-2012 for other reasons, but every drop in mileage is due to an injury and I know what each one was.  The first one is fairly apparent - I developed runner's knee because I went from no running for three months to running 102km in August 2012.  I didn't build up gradually enough.  The next was the snowboarding injury in February this year.  Very soon after that, I tripped and damaged my kneecap.  After finally getting back on track again, I got shin splints.  Blah.  At the moment I'm walking a very fine line between training enough for the North Shore half marathon in three weeks, and not causing another injury by upping the mileage too quickly.  I was a little naughty this last week running just under 31km, when I'd only run 18km the week before.  That's way over the recommended 10% increase.  Oops.

Tuesday was another run around Cornwall Park.  I got waylaid by an electric fence, as I often do while running the sheep track there.  They're calving and lambing at the moment, so keeping away from mama and baby groups is highly recommended.  Normally it's just a loop, but with the handy GPS tracking you can see where I had to run along a temporary electric fence line and find a place to jump the (not electric) fence in order to get around and back onto the track:


I scared a lady too.  She'd heard me tramping through the long grass, but got a fright when I suddenly appeared over the other side of the fence next to her!

On Thursday I ran one of my old routes through Grey Lynn:


And now for the social/anti-social part.  I decided to go to the Parkrun event in Cornwall Park, since I had rather enjoyed the Barry Curtis Parkrun two weeks before (aside from the nausea of course).  It was a little drizzly, but that didn't deter the 80 other runners that had turned out to participate.  I got there just before the start of the run, and I'm not sure if it was the larger group size or lack of sufficient time to ease into it, but I didn't feel like talking to anyone beforehand.  I just lined up with the rest of them and set off on the run.  My 'official' time was 26:10, which was ten seconds faster than the Barry Curtis run, and I quite enjoyed it.  I was 'fourth lady' again, and 40th overall, smack-bang in the middle of the pack.  It was more trail-like, and through the middle of Cornwall Park whereas I usually run around the outside:


I was glad to have people in front of me to follow too.  Although it was an 'out and back' run, there seemed to be a bit of winding around, not that you can really tell from the picture.  After the run, they all usually go to Sierra Cafe on Great South Road for a cuppa.  I had taken $10 with me, fully intending to join them.  But I didn't.  I hung about for a few minutes after the run looking around at the various other runners and wondering how to strike up a conversation.  Then I just walked back to my car and drove home for breakfast.  Maybe next time I'll talk to somebody...  That evening we had a friend over for dinner, and I had a few glasses of wine.  That may have been a mistake.  Bright and early Sunday morning I got up and had breakfast, then sat and read for a couple of hours while waiting for that to settle and start digesting.  Then I laced up and headed out the door for a long run.  It started out okay, but fairly early on I knew it was going to be tough, and seriously considered pulling back the distance.  I started thinking about all the motivational quotes and stuff that I'd been pinning onto my 'Inspiration and Motivation' board on Pinterest.  Suck it up, princess.  Keep going.  You don't have to go fast, you just have to go.  Don't give up.  When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.  I stuck it out, and ran the 14km I had originally planned on.  I walked a couple of times, and stopped three times for a few sips of water at the drinking fountains along the way.  I tried to think of them as little hits of 'go juice' and pretended they were giving me the energy to keep moving.  It kinda worked for a few seconds, then I remembered how tired I was.  Damn, that was a hard run:


Note to self: do not drink the night before a long run!  I felt completely wiped out for the rest of the day, but I still managed to make some ridiculously yummy glazed cinnamon scones for lunch ;)  Today is most definitely a rest day!  I think I'll do some relaxing yoga.  And make some English muffins.

I've been having some more (or should I say s'more) fun in the kitchen in the past week.  I made some graham crackers (yum!), some chocolate spread, and some marshmallows, put 'em all together, and had s'mores.  Yay!!


Next time, I think I'll roll the graham crackers out a little thicker, and cook them a little bit less.  They're really delicious, but just a bit on the too-crunchy side.  The kids liked them too, but that may have been because of the chocolate and marshmallow...

I tried (and loved) cashew cookie larabars, avocado egg salad wraps using my favourite flat bread recipe (had to get up at 6am to make these for breakfast!  Totally worth it!), and found a new favourite 'summer' granola:


Ooh, look at the delicious chewy goodness!  I made it with pumpkin, sunflower, chia and linseeds, walnuts and pecans, coconut chips, and dried mango, peach, and blueberries.  YUM!!!  Now I have a summer and winter go-to granola :)

Other experiments have been Almond Joy oatmeal:


Apple pie oatmeal:


Breakfast salad with grapefruit, cranberries and walnuts and a balsamic honey dressing:


And I successfully made soy yogurt using a litre of soy milk and a few tablespoons of EasiYo skimmers yogurt mix.  I tried the same with coconut milk, but it didn't work.  Oh well, can't win them all.  The soy yogurt was lovely, so I'll probably make it again.  And it's Deane-safe, because he doesn't like it :)

I'm looking forward to trying pasta with cauliflower sauce this week (btw our new favourite 'pasta' is this stuff.  Amazeballs), and we're getting hazelnuts in our Foodbox delivery so I'm going to try chocolate hazelnut oatmeal, although I'll omit the hazelnut extract because I'm not really a fan of hazelnuts.  I might even splash out and get some goat's cheese to have this breakfast salad too.  Although blueberries aren't available yet, so I'll have to defrost some frozen ones.  Not quite as yummy, unfortunately.

Gosh, this morning has flown by!  Time to get stuck in to study.  Yay, statistics!  Not ;)

Enjoy your week :)

Monday, 5 August 2013

*blank title*

My imagination can't really stretch to coming up with a(n attempt at a) witty title this morning.  Do all posts really need titles?  Or tags or labels?  It has occurred to me recently that I have never tagged my blog posts.  Not in the whole... oh my gosh, four years I've been blogging?!?  It's really been that long?  Wow!  So anyway, if I was to start tagging my posts now, my little OCD inner-voice would demand that I go through all the previous posts, read them through, and tag them all as well with the appropriate labels (although perhaps you're wondering why this same OCD inner-voice didn't demand we tag posts in the first place.  I'll get to that).  This would certainly help when trying to look for something specific, but one wonders who actually looks back through old blog posts?  I understand tagging posts for a blog such as The Oatmeal Artist, where people would be looking for specific recipes fairly frequently, or perhaps recipes containing certain ingredients.  But a random journal-type blog by a nobody?  Not so much...  It started originally with my lack of blog-knowledge and not knowing that I could/should tag posts, or how to go about it.  Then it became the whole 'well I haven't done it before, it would be silly to start now' kind of thing.  Now it's more like 'hmm, maybe I should...'.  I know it would make things easier for me when I'm looking for something.  Which, to be honest, is once in a blue moon.  But still, it happens.  Maybe one day, when I have nothing better to do...

So the whole 'getting up at 5.30am' thing didn't really pan out.  I got up at 5.45am last Monday, did my yoga, and got on with the rest of my day.  It was great.  Tuesday was a little closer to 6am, and I studied in the hour before everyone got up, then went to Cornwall Park later in the morning for my run, since it's still too dark to run early mornings here.  By Wednesday, I'd kind of given up, and ended up getting up at 7am the rest of the week except for Sunday when I got up at 6.30am to get ready for my race.  I did consider re-starting this week, but I was tired and got up at 7am instead.  Oops.  Perhaps tomorrow...

Ugh, I'm rambling.  Let's get some structure to this post, shall we?

Running
Not too bad.  I rested on Friday and Saturday in preparation for the 10km race on Sunday.  As mentioned before, I got up at 6.30am to make breakfast then fluffed around until 8.20am when it was time to go.  I had my timer tag firmly laced in to my shoe and my race number at the ready.  In order to avoid getting lost (mostly on the big roundabout at the off-ramp to Ellerslie/Greenlane East, it can be very confusing to a slow brain such as mine, despite the very big, very obvious signs) I used my phone GPS to direct me to Ellerslie race course and event centre.  After driving straight past the entry onto the field for the race and winding my way through a few venue car parks, I spotted where I was supposed to be going (because of all the other cars) and headed in that direction, giggling to myself because the large number of road cones directing people where to go were blatantly obvious yet I missed them completely.  Typical.

I meandered around for a while, then took a seat in the grandstand and watched people warming up before the half marathoners started - their race began in a different location, 15 minutes before the rest of us.  After they'd run past, I wandered down to make a pit stop before the start of my race.  Unfortunately, many others had the same idea and there was a bit of a queue.  By the time I'd finished, they were counting down from 20 seconds for the start of the race!  I had just enough time to run over and sneak into the side of the pack between a couple of temporary fences.  And we were off!  I have to say, the terrain for this race was not quite what I had expected.  It started off on grass, then went to gravel, through a concrete tunnel (quite an interesting experience!), then more gravel and around the inside track of the horse racing track, back through the tunnel, onto more trail, then out onto the street!  We ran around the block, then came back into the stadium and onto grass again, around for another lap.  I was passed by three people, two of which were half-marathoners.  The other was a guy who was running his first ever 10km, in preparation for his first ever half marathon in the Auckland marathon, of which the Unitec series is the official lead-up series.  After having a wee chat and me telling him there was less than 1km to go, he decided he wanted to finish strong and took off towards the finish line.  I maintained my even pace and finished in 54:53, in 39th place overall (out of 208), and 8th female (out of 128).  Not too bad, considering my lack of form in the last few weeks.  I had managed a negative split again, although just barely - my second lap was 11 seconds faster than my first.  My legs weren't too bad, although I can feel the shin splints in my right leg are still hanging around.  I iced them last night, but that was more of a token effort.  I'll have to continue stretching and icing in the next week or two to avoid a relapse.  They have improved though, so I'm happy with that.  I plan on keeping my weekday runs short (under 10km) and doing one longer run on the weekend.  The next race in the series is a 12km on the 25th August in Devonport.  Looks like it'll be a street run.

Food, Glorious Food
More oatmeals!!  For something a little different, I had Elvis's Oatmeal.  I'm sure you're familiar with Elvis Presley's notoriously famous favourite sandwich - bacon, banana and peanut butter.  Well, here it is in oatmeal form, with a little honey drizzled over the top:


You see, I'd made bacon, banana and maple syrup pancakes for breakfast:


There was leftover cooked bacon.  What else could I do? ;)

Also, banana bread steel-cut oats:

Looking decidedly boring, as I didn't add any toppings to this batch.  Although I think I threw in some ground flaxseed...

Applesauce oatmeal with pecans, maple syrup, and a sprinkling of cinnamon:


And pineapple cashew oatmeal, which was my pre-race breakfast on Sunday:

With raisins for added yum :)

I think I'm finally starting to slow down a bit with the oatmeals. Perhaps my subconscious has noticed the slight change in weather patterns and is starting to steer towards more season-neutral breakfast foods.  Although I did make up some ready-oatmeal packets for Deane to take to work, for those mornings that he's running really late:


You know, those mornings he's so short on time he doesn't even have a spare second to grab a bagel or a wrap out of the freezer ;)  I used the ingredient ratios on this website, and added dried fruits and spices that he was likely to eat.  Considering he keeps saying he likes 'plain' oatmeal, I'm wondering if he'll ever eat these ones...?

  This week's menu only has one oatmeal planned (Almond Joy oatmeal):


My writing is starting to look a little messy.  I blame the blunted chalk sticks ;)  You may notice that on Thursday I have listed 'breakfast salad'.  'What is this breakfast salad?', you may be asking.  The notion popped in to my head the other day, and being the wise person that I am, I knew I wouldn't have been the first person to think of it so I googled 'breakfast salad' and came up with a whole bunch of stuff.  There's the usual fruit salads and other salads that you'd have for lunch or dinner, but there were a few that caught my eye that I'd really like to try out - breakfast salad with cinnamon toast croutons and maple vinaigrette, and a couple here, with yummy things such as blueberries, nectarine, and goat cheese.  Oh, I can't wait for summer foods to be available again!  Summer is by far not my favourite month, but being able to eat summer berries, stone fruits and salads, barbecues, and enjoying more daylight hours and early runs... there's definitely some things to love.

The freezer breakfast stash didn't take too much of a hit during the week.  We went through the loaf of white bread and the waffles, and some of the bagels.  So this weekend I made another batch of waffles with whole wheat flour and apple sauce to cut down on the white flour and butter/oil.  X has already proclaimed he doesn't like them because of the flour, but will happily eat a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese.  Go figure.  I also made these beauties:


The recipe calls them the 'best rolls ever', and I'm inclined to agree.  I don't have a cake mixer (yet) so I made these by hand.  Easy enough.  They came out pillowy soft and fluffy, and with the melted butter brushed over them while they're still hot, the flavour is similar to a croissant.  Absolutely beautiful!  The batch makes 32, so there's a bag full of them in the freezer for the kids' lunches.  I also made some swirl sugar cookies because, y'know, a kid's lunch box isn't complete without something sweet and unhealthy in it (amiright?):


It's just a basic cookie recipe split in half with green food colouring added to one half, then each half is rolled out flat and layered, then rolled up, covered in sprinkles, sliced (after spending some time in the fridge) and baked.  I got impatient and didn't want to wait around doing two or three batches so I squashed all the cookies onto one tray.  They kinda spread out and smooshed together but the kids don't mind.  They still taste the same :) 

Other stuff
Study is going fine - I have to work on an assignment this week.
Knitting is going fine - I have started the lace pattern on my shawl, and cast on a pair of man-socks.  No pictures of either yet.  

So that is me for now, and it is best I get off this here blog and get stuck into my assignment.  Have a fabulous week!!  See you later :)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Whaaaat?

It's August already?!?  Wow, where did the time go?  This year is roaring by.  I remember setting myself a challenge at the beginning of the year to run 2,013 kilometres.  I'm soooo not going to make that.  As at the end of July, I had run just over 760km.  Injury after injury has prevented me from running as much as I want to.  Perhaps next year, I'll set a goal to stay injury free (not likely) and run 2,014km...

I did manage a couple of runs this week, in preparation for the Unitec 10km race this Sunday at Ellerslie race course.  On Tuesday I went to Cornwall Park and ran 5.4km through the fog.  It was rather lovely:



And today, I ran a rather slow 8km around a shortened version of one of my usual city runs, and since I was running the footpath I walked the downhills in order to give my legs a break, and in the hopes of avoiding the dreaded shin splints.  I was happy to see the 'city cows' were back:



I had considered not going for a run today just in case it aggravated my shin splints, but after this morning's breakfast, I felt it was kind of necessary in order to work off some calories :)  Today I had thin mints oatmeal:


The calorie count could've been much smaller had I cooked the oats with half milk and half water, or some unsweetened almond milk (I've run out, bummer), left out the tablespoon of ground linseed, and if I hadn't added such a large 'handful' of dark chocolate chips, but what the hey?  Might as well go all out, right?  (And to compensate I had a much lighter lunch of orange, kiwifruit and skinny yogurt).  It was delicious, although if I was to make it again for a breakfast, I'd definitely cut back on the chocolate content :)  Other oatmeal trials this week have been:

Gingerbread latte, which was just crying out for a large splash of cream.  I mean, come on.  Gingerbread.  Latte.  It totally needs cream, right?  Hmm, cook the oats in unsweetened almond milk, then drown it in full fat dairy cream.  Go figure...

PB&J & Apple Oatmeal.  By far my favourite of the week, and possibly one of my all-time (to date) faves.  I made this with unsweetened almond milk, added a tablespoon of flaxseed, and dished it up with blobs of strawberry jam and banana butter (best idea ever btw.  Less worry over the high oil content screwing with my IBS, yay!  Can look a little blech with oxidisation making the banana content an interesting shade of grey-brown, but it still tastes amazeballs.  Going to make this all. the. time.)

Ah, fun times :)

I finished the Kai-mei socks yesterday, and got some pics today:




I like :)  And I cast on the Cloud Illusions shawl last night with my mink yarn.  Ooooooohhhh my goodness, this yarn is gloriously soft.  You can't help but squidge it!  I'm looking forward to having a finished shawl in the near future to wrap around my neck.  It'll probably be close to summer by then, but I think I'll still wear it anyway.  Mink yarn is my new favourite yarn.  Yes yes yes.

T arrived home from camp yesterday.  He had an awesome time, and as expected was choc-full of stories.  Phew!  My worries were for naught.  He was surprisingly not as tired as I thought he'd be, and was still up at 7am this morning.  Kids have amazing internal clocks, don't they?  I do however foresee a lazy weekend.  One more day to go...