Friday, 28 February 2014

The First Finished Object of 2014 - Huzzah!!

Gosh, it's been a while since I posted a finished knitted item, yes?  Too long, mayhap...

Never fear, I have something to show you now!  You may recall in January I was the lucky recipient of a free pattern from Sezza Knits - Moera.  I got the go-ahead from T and a choice of ghastly green yarn which was promptly ordered from Holland Road Yarn Co. and even more promptly delivered (two days, people.  Two days).  I got started on the knitting of it the day before heading off to the Tussock Traverse, so I'd have car knitting and hotel room knitting, because y'all know how boring long car rides and hotel stays with crappy TV can be.  Over the ensuing month, I picked it up on occasion and knit a bit.  Sometimes I picked it up and knit quite a large chunk.  Last week, after having submitted my final assignment for Business Communication, I decided it was time to knock the sucker off, and finished the hood.  On Monday I went out and purchased a zip, and on Tuesday I proceeded to shorten said zip so it would fit nicely (btw thanks for the links to instructions on how to do this Sarah, awesome!) and sew it in.  I was surprised to discover that if I didn't rush (which I am wont to do when nearing a project's completion) I could actually make it look quite tidy.  On Wednesday I whip-stitched the sides down (as per the instructions, which were really helpful) and the hoodie was ready for wear.  T, bless his little heart, decided to wear it to school yesterday, complete with long-sleeved t-shirt underneath so it wouldn't be too itchy.  Just so you know, it was a 26°C day. In case you were wondering, I did try to reason with him that it might be best left until the weather was slightly cooler.  He refused to be swayed, and insisted on wearing it regardless.  On ya, kid.

I think he likes it :)

For the deets, the pattern was Moera, knit in Cascade 220, Palm colourway (shade 2409).  The pattern was very easy to follow (aside from the potentially confusing 'sm' which stood for both sleeve/stitch marker and slip marker (ie: move the stitch marker from one needle to the other) - I had no problems with this but I could see how some knitters might).  I used most of the four skeins I'd ordered, and because T is a rather tiny nine year old I got away with knitting the size 6, increasing the arm length by about an inch so he'd get a bit more wear out of it.

It was a nice, simple knit, perfect for TV watching and car rides.  Since casting this off the needles, I have cast on a pair of BFF socks for my sister, whose birthday is next Thursday.

I'm knitting these in some Cascade Heritage Paints yarn I had in stash.  I believe it was purchased during our trip to the US.  Only the heel and foot of one sock left to go, so I should get them finished in time for posting out early next week.  Having said that I am running the 17km Coastal Challenge this Saturday and there are talks of a 24km 'volcanoes' run on Sunday, plus we have house guests this weekend and I still haven't done my housework for the week.  Hmm...

Let's not focus on that right now though, I still have interesting things to share!  We did a recce run along the coast from Browns Bay to Long Bay last weekend.  It's not quite the area I'll be running in (I start from the northern end of Browns Bay and finish at the Windsor Reserve in Devonport) but it was fun hopping around on the rocks, and good practice all the same.  Naturally, I took some pics along the way, and was even lucky enough to spot an anemone:

'The usual suspects' ;)


The east coast, much like the west coast but in very different ways, is constantly changing from one section to the next.  Oh, so much fun being able to take it all in!  Here are a few pics of a different section of the east coast from a run earlier in the week (the 22km sans-BodyGlide, urgh) - Kohimarama Beach:

View to Rangitoto - one day I'll actually get around to going there for a run. Such a slacker...

Corroded much? LOL!

I'm looking forward to this weekend :)

As for what's new coming out of my kitchen, we have:

Jumbo chickpea pancake with avocado, salsa and vegan mayo

Vegan bolognese on rice pasta

My favourite 'winter granola', veganised (I've eaten half this batch already. So good!)

Apricot and almond DIY larabars with pumpkin pie spice - not much to look at, but a healthy, tasty snack all the same :)

I can't take credit for this one - its a slice of cacao and raspberry raw cheesecake from Little Bird.  Delish!

Breakfast this morning was a cashew, date, banana and vanilla smoothie. Omnomnom!


Also, just wanted to share a neat pic with you that I snapped during my walk home from Ponsonby earlier yesterday.  I thought it was neat:

Right, time to tackle that housework before the extended family converges here and takes over all available spare space.  Have an awesome weekend, people!!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The pros and cons of long runs: things you'd maybe heard about but didn't take seriously. Until now.

I could wax lyrical for hours about the awesomeness of long runs, particularly when conversing with a fellow crazy-person runner.  The list of pros is a mile long (I checked).  Conversely, the list of cons is relatively short, but the things on that list should not be poo-pooed in any way.  How do I know this?  From experience.  Yes, that's right, I'm a dumb ass.  I believe this has already been established on a number of occasions.  At the risk of possibly making myself out to be a 34 year old with the reasoning capabilities of someone a couple of decades younger, I'll let you know why:

The aforementioned 'Cons' list:

  • black toenails
  • chafing
  • sweat and salt residue
  • always feeling 'rungry'
  • sunburn
  • time
Some of these points may need a little clarification.  The first one I guess is relatively self-explanatory.  We have encountered this problem before, and I thought I'd pretty much solved it by getting running shoes a half size to a full size larger.  But one can only assume that the recent foray into trail running in the Waitakeres, with its myriad steep downhills, are no match for roomy toe boxes.  I have not one, but three slightly blackened toenails, which had hitherto gone unnoticed due to some rather lovely peacock-coloured nail polish.  They are currently at varying stages of falling-off.  Ew.

The second point, oh dear lord, the second point.  You hear horror stories about all manner of body parts getting rubbed raw during a race, usually due to some idiot wearing new gear they hadn't pre-tested, or not properly covering up sensitive areas with lubricant or strapping.  Thankfully I have not (yet) encountered this problem during a race.  I did, however, knowingly set out for a long (22km) run last Thursday and forgot to anti-chafe my underarms before I left.  Oddly, this is the only area I ever have a chafing problem.  Near the end of the run I realised my grievous error, but had no option other than to carry on, as I had not brought my trusty stick of BodyGlide with me.  It's been a week now, and my left underarm is still somewhat painful:


I'd love to say I've learned my lesson, but I'll likely forget again some time in the not-so-distant future and repeat this nasty experience.  Yay me.

Point three probably has something to contribute to point two - gritty salt residue from sweat.  If I rub my face with my hands after a run, it feels like its covered in dust or dirt.  Guess I'm a salty sweater!  I've never had any problems with cramping though, so I can only assume I have the balance right.  I'll just keep doing what I do.  Unfortunately this residue can be slightly problematic, and what is potentially a factor in chafing.  Particularly on hot, windy days.  All the more reason to run early in the morning, yes?  I miss those beautiful sunrises already...

Point four on the list may be a foreign term for you, so let me explain - 'rungry' is the runner slang term for a hungry runner.  You do not want to get on the bad side of a hungry runner, because dude, they are crabby!  Incredibly hungry, crotchety people.  Runners usually get 'rungry' after a long run - on these particular days, three square meals just doesn't cut it.  Hell, three square meals and three fairly decent-sized snacks doesn't cut it!  GIVE ME ALL THE NOMS!  I am eating insanely large amounts of food, and I have become a carb-hoar (gluten-free carb-hoar, that is).  I made this spaghetti pomodoro with grilled tempeh for dinner, enough for two servings (half of the recipe for the spaghetti and the tempeh):

I was a little peckish as I had run 10km at Cornwall Park earlier today, so I put all the tempeh on my plate, and decided to keep aside half the pasta for lunch tomorrow.  Yeah.  That pasta-for-lunch-tomorrow became pasta-for-dessert.  Oops.  But damn, it was goooooooood...

As for point five, again, relatively self-explanatory.  One should always apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading out the door.  Sadly, one does not often remember to do so.  However, one has had the good fortune to avoid actual sunburn whilst running to date.  But there's always a first time for everything, and one has had many an interesting tan pattern...

The sixth and final point on the list (yes, I could only think of six) is that, as previously stated, long runs are long.  Depending on how long your long run is, and what terrain you're running it on, it could take anywhere from two hours to eight.  That's a lot of time that could be dedicated to doing so. many. other. things.  But then, we're runners and we love it in all it's gross, disgusting glory.  Amiright? ;)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Attempt at nerd mum awesomeness = fail. And did I mention long runs are long?

My boys have been getting back into their comic books of late.  I'm not entirely sure what sparked it, but they dug out the box of Justice League comic books and have started reading them from Issue #1.  X also dug out the two Green Lantern Corps comics he had, and mentioned a few times that he'd really like the whole series.  Thinking how impressed he would be if I suddenly produced an entire comic book series seemingly out of thin air (and totally trying to win myself some nerd mum brownie points, lets be honest), I wandered in to Heroes on K Road this afternoon to see if I could track some down.  I was in the store less than a minute before a store clerk kindly asked if I needed help, so I inquired about back issues for the Green Lantern Corps series.

"Oh yes, we have most of them here, and what we don't have I'm sure we can order in for you.  The series is still running, so you can sign up for a subscription if you like, and when the new issues arrive in store we contact you" (I'm paraphrasing).

Fabulous!!  I signed up for the subscription, he pulled out as many back issues as they had, and put a note on file to find the rest.  I paid for all the ones they'd given me and walked out of the store, daydreaming about all the cool ways I could surprise X with them.  When I got home I checked to make sure I hadn't accidentally doubled up since I wasn't sure if we had Issue #1 and Issue #2, or Issue #0 (yes those actually exist) and Issue #1, and discovered to my horror that I had purchased a completely different series of comic books!  Sure, they were still Green Lantern Corps, but it was the latest series.  The series we had started with was the previous one from back in 2006!!  OMG, was it really that long ago?!?  Wow, that 7 1/2 years went really fast...  So I was rather disappointed that I had made such a simple yet huge mistake, and had to break the good/bad news to X explaining my complete fail at trying to do something awesome.  But you know what?  He didn't care, and said it wasn't a fail at all.  He's already read one, and is impatiently waiting for the missing issues to arrive so he can really get stuck in.  He's a little obsessive like me and wants to read them in correct publication order ::Huge sigh of relief.  About his acceptance of the new series, not the obsessive thing.  Ah, who am I kidding?  I'm glad he likes to read things in the 'correct order' too::

Okay, so that covered the nerdy nerd news, now on to the running nerd news.  You know that 30km I ran last Thursday?  That was long, right?  Well, on Sunday I ran another 25km.  You see, Cosset had put up an Instagram pic showing their blackboard menu items for Saturday and the falafel on rice caught my eye instantly.  I luuuuuurve falafel.  And rice.  And salad.  And seriously, vegan tzatziki??  How could you pass that up?!?  I commented that it sounded amazing but I couldn't make it in (had already planned my lunch for the day, because food nerd), and asked if they'd be repeating it any time soon, to which they replied "why yes, it's been so popular we're doing it all again tomorrow" (again, paraphrasing).  Awwww yeah!  Time to plan the running route!  I logged in to walkjogrun (love that site) and planned a 25ish km route, deciding to take in some of Auckland's famous volcanoes - Mt Albert (new to me), One Tree Hill (one of my faves) and Big King in the Three Kings area.  Rather than stop in to Cosset mid-run like I did last time, I drove out there and parked around the corner so I could complete my run and then stuff my face.  Which I totally did ;)  I got to see some more of Auckland that I hadn't seen before - some good, some not so good.  As usual, I snapped a few pics along the way.  And, as you can see, I have still yet to master the art of the mid-run selfie:

Ah, suburban Auckland.  View of Mt Albert Road smack-bang in the middle.  At least I think it is...

Okay, so I know (because I googled it) the Fickling Centre is a convention hall, but at the time the sign made me laugh

View of Three Kings Quarry on the way up Big King
The aforementioned Big King, complete with stairs (right) and giant water tank

From Big King, a view of (from left to right) the Sky Tower, Mt Eden, and Rangitoto, with Mt Hobson on the far right.  I think.  Yes I know, I should take local geography lessons.  Or perhaps stop potentially incorrectly naming local landmarks...

Appallingly bad selfie #1 (I was trying to get the same view in the pic as what is in the photo above.  I have no idea why the blue sky is suddenly non-existent)

Appallingly bad selfie #2 - same issue with the sky.  Methinks it has something to do with my hat, and the fact that I'm using a cellphone camera...

Proof of said long run (complete with sweaty arm), which was edging towards 26km.  Slightly quicker average pace than the previous run, so there's a win.

The eagerly-awaited and quickly-devoured falafel on rice, complete with salad, hummus, and the most amazing vegan tzatziki evaaaaaaaar

Unsurprisingly, I got a little tired towards the end of the run but the thought of that lunch spurred me on (along with a few walking breaks).  I'm still very far behind my half marathon PR pace (which was 5'02" per km - yep, a whole minute per kilometre quicker!) so I'm not expecting an amazing time at the Coatesville Classic in March, but I'll keep working on it and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to pull off a sub-four hour marathon in November.  Here's hoping...

I was amused to find that when I arrived at Cosset and started to order, it was like the girl knew what I was going to say before I said it.  I figured that because I was looking at the board at the time, and because the falafel had been so popular, it was a fairly natural assumption.  But she said 'I remember you' (yeah, pick the sweaty red-faced runner) then followed up with 'you're amazing.  How far did you run this time?'  I guess the combination of my last mid-run visit complete with Instagram post (the chocolate almond brownie), and comment of 'I shall plan my run accordingly' after news of the falafel repeat for Sunday kinda tipped her off, lol ;)  In any case, I was chuffed (particularly because they hadn't sold out of the falafel before I got there - I was later than I expected, oops) and thoroughly enjoyed my meal, although I couldn't quite eat it all.  There was a lot of food on that plate!  I went home happy :)

I had a rest day on Monday, then took Deane out for a light jog (for me, probably a bit more of a hard slog for Deane) on Tuesday.  Afterwards, we went to Little Bird for lunch.  Having already tried the raw pizza (amazeballs), I decided to go with the summer salad this time, and a cacao superfoods smoothie:

Looks kinda messy, but it tasted absolutely fantastic!

Deane had the portobello benedict's and thoroughly enjoyed it, although he was unimpressed with the wait time.  To be fair, they were slammed - Tuesday was super busy for some reason, and the lunch crowd didn't seem to die down.  By the time we'd been seated (yes, there was even a wait for that), ordered, received our lunch and eaten it, it was time to go get the kids from school.  Totally worth it though ;)  I could happily eat there every day, although my wallet might have something to say about it...

Today I went for another long run, knowing that I'll only be running 5km on Saturday (ParkRun) and about 10km on Sunday (practicing coastal running and rock hopping in Browns Bay to prepare for next weekend's Coastal Challenge).  The idea is to increase your mileage but not let it fluctuate too much from week to week.  Last week was a 55km week (in only two runs - that still floors me) so I was trying to increase this week's mileage to sort of match, but doing the maths after today's 22km, it'll still fall short by a good 13km :(  Guess I'd better plan a little better for the coming weeks!  For now though, we'll call it race tapering ;)  My 22km run was again an increase in average pace (5'44") and there were only a couple of short walk breaks (and some water/refuel/toilet stops) - it was an easy route out to Kohimarama Beach and back, but I'm thinking a return to music with headphones might be a good idea for these long road runs.  Trail running is always interesting regardless of time or distance, but road running can get a little monotonous, particularly if you're out there for two or three hours.

In food nerd news (because I are all the nerds) I'm still having fun trying new things.  I made a seriously good vegetable and soba miso soup:

And although I thoroughly enjoyed eating it over a few days, it was around this time that my IBS really started playing up and I came to the decision to greatly reduce (or even cut) wheat from my diet (at least for the short term).  The noodles were mostly wheat based, and I'd been eating quite a bit of other wheat-based stuff (bread, waffles etc).  I noticed after eating these things that my stomach would bloat so much that I actually, literally looked six months pregnant.  I've been six months pregnant twice before so I know what it looks like, trust me.  It was rather disturbing.  So now I'm on a gluten free plant-based diet.  Yep, I'm one of those people... 

Moroccan pumpkin couscous, using corn couscous

Roasted aubergine and tahini bowl - it was okay, but a little too heavy on the tahini.  If I were to make it again, I'd omit the tahini from the rice and spinach components. I like tahini, but not THAT much ;)

Overnight buckwheat and steel cut oats with pear, dried apricot and blanched almonds (and a little agave syrup)

My first foray into the world of fermented foods (which are easier to digest and cause less IBS-type issues) - this was supposed to be tempeh orzilla but I couldn't find any gluten free orzo at short notice, so had to use quinoa shells instead.  Hmmm... Tempeh shellzilla...?

And to finish up, just quietly, in knitting nerd news - I have finished knitting T's ridiculously bright green hoodie and just need to block it and sew in a zip.  Once I find one.  Pictures of the finished product are imminent!  Watch this space ;)

It's stupid o'clock here now, so that means time for bed.  G'night, y'all!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Long runs are long

I went for one yesterday.  Having only managed a 6km, an 18km and a 5km ParkRun run last week (26:08, not a PB sadly), with a coastal running and rock hopping training session on Sunday in preparation for the Coastal Challenge on the 1st March, I felt a long run was very much needed.  I had spent the first three days of this week preparing for and completing my presentation for my Business Communications assignment.  OH MY BOB I AM SOOOOOO GLAD THAT'S OVER!!!  It wasn't too awful, if you overlook the whole shaky voice, dry mouth, nervous laughter and umpteen-million 'um's to fill in the holy-crap-I-don't-know-what-I'm-supposed-to-be-saying-right-now-where-the-hell-are-my-notes parts, and I managed to get 81%, so yay.  My lecturer interpreted my incessant smiling and nervous laughter as me 'enjoying the delivery of my speech' so we'll go with that and be happy with the mark, yes?  Let's just say my performance wasn't as bad as some others.  Phew!

After the Auckland weather had finished throwing its tanty mid-morning yesterday, I headed out the door with some gels and my small hydration pack, thinking about 20-22km would be a good length.  I ended up just stringing some of my favourite Auckland city runs together and extending it as I went.  Not wanting to leave the run at an uneven number, I stretched out the end of it a bit and managed to make it exactly 30km.  I was pretty tired and a bit sore afterwards, but oh, that felt good!!!  My route took in Mt Eden, Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill, then through Newmarket to Parnell, I went down Ayr Street and ran along Tamaki Drive, through the Viaduct, around Victoria Park and home.  I walked the main hills and took several walking breaks towards the end, but I'm pretty happy with it overall.  I definitely slowed as I got further in to the run, and my pace isn't what it was this time last year, but I can work on that.  The run took me three hours, three minutes and 33 seconds.  That's a lot of threes and zeros!

I did notice there wasn't really much to look at - I think the Waitakeres have spoiled me!  I took a few photos on the way though:

View of One Tree Hill from Mt Eden - you can just see the obelisk in the distance if you look closely

View of Rangitoto from Mt Eden

View of Mt Eden from One Tree Hill, with the Sky Tower, close to where I started, in the centre-ish

A much closer view of Rangitoto, from Tamaki Drive near the end of the run

The Sky Tower's looking much closer too!

I love the look of this walkway!

After a good sleep last night my body isn't showing any signs of having been affected by the long distance, which bodes well for future marathon training.  Hurrah!  It still seems a long way off and a near-impossible task for me, but I'll keep at it and hopefully by November the thought of completing the Auckland Marathon will be a good one, rather than something that instills mild panic.  I think I'll take a few days rest and run again on Sunday.  Hmmm, maybe a nice, comfortable mid-distance 15km... I'll see how I feel after I've volunteered for this Saturday's ParkRun.  I think I'll be marshalling at the turnaround or the gate, which will be the most social experience I've had at ParkRun so far ;)

In foodie news, I slowed down in the kitchen again with the prep for my assignment and getting the kids settled back in to school taking up a lot of time - X is now a full-fledged intermediate student and I think he's rather enjoying it.  T has had his first full week at school and is getting on really well with his teacher so I'm happy about that.  I have managed to make a few cool things though (okay, more than a few):

Vegan broccoli cheese pasta bake, with quinoa pasta (love that stuff!!)

Buckwheat and oat waffles, with fresh peach and strawberries, and maple syrup

Brown rice porridge (using brown rice flakes) topped with blueberry sauce and kiwiberries

Lentil walnut mushroom balls with cranberry pear sauce - crazy good, but damn, that sauce was expensive!

Seed toast with peanut butter, and a watermelon, spinach and pear smoothie.  Surprisingly good!

Cashew, vanilla, date and banana smoothie, inspired by the shakes at Little Bird

Quinoa puttanesca topped with barbecue-roasted pumpkin - I was surprised and delighted by this dish.  I've never liked olives and capers, but decided to give them a go.  This puttanesca was awesome!  Love love love PPK!

Maple walnut ice cream with an almond base (instead of cashews), with a gluten free cone :)

Vege burger patties - these things are amazeballs!

Sushi bowl - so much quicker and easier than rolling up sushi!!  This was my first try of wasabi too (which was in the sauce).  Boy, it packs a punch!  Good though :)  Also the first time I've tried pickled ginger.  I do believe I'll be making this again.  It was yum!

On the menu for tomorrow will be some vegan vegetable and soba miso soup.  Today, I'll be treating myself with something delicious from Little Bird, and we're having a barbecue tonight so I'll be munching through another vege burger.  Woohoo!

I'm happy to discover there are quite a few vegetarian/vegan friendly eateries in the Auckland area - Little Bird has two locations, and there's Cosset in Mt Albert, where I popped into during my 18km run last week (okay, so I purposely mapped the run to include a visit there):

Chocolate almond brownie with cashew cream, and a nectarine juice.  Totally what you need when you're 12km in to an 18km run, right? ;)

I've been into the Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar a couple of times to grab a soy hot chocolate (with a whole dark chocolate Whittaker's sante bar in it!!!!) and some cookies for the kids.  Sadly, no vegan-friendly cookies, but vegetarians are fine (as long as you don't get the oreo and marshmallow cookie.  Y'know, gelatine, beef collagen, blurgh).  Ha, could you imagine, a meat-cookie... ew...  There's also The Blue Bird Cafe in Mt Eden, Raw Power Cafe in Vulcan Lane where I had lunch the other day:

Falafel pita pocket with a fresh spirulina smoothie.  I skipped the yoghurt.

And vegetarian/vegan food is becoming more mainstream so is often available on the menu at standard cafes and restaurants.  Woot!

For now though, I'm going to power through some housework then go for a wander in to Ponsonby for my Little Bird treat before the kids get home :)  Have an awesome weekend and enjoy the last of the summer weather before it disappears!