Friday, 25 May 2012

A new PB!

Wowee, on Sunday I did the Lee Valley 10k. I wanted to beat my personal best, which is 1hr 02 mins at Whitstable. I expected to be 1 hr, or 1 hr 01.

There wasn't a very good turn out (the organisers thought it might be because they had to bring it forward a month - it's usually in July), I wanted to be near the back as I'm quite a slowish runner but due to the low turn out I didn't need to cut as far back from the start line as I'd expected to. I started off nice and slow and a lot of people overtook me. For some reason one lady in particular stood out, she was about my build but more muscle-y and I remember thinking that although she must be a lot more powerful than me I wondered if I might catch her up later...  

After a short while I found my pace and there were two women I was keeping up with. One in front, who had over taken me and hadn't quite made any further progress and another much closer who I noticed was a lot older than me, but thought that she must have a lot more experience than me so didn't want to push myself to be any faster at this stage. However after the 2nd km I felt like going a bit faster so I overtook her and started to pursue the girl in front. As I overtook her I turned a corner and there was my hubby and little girl to support me which made me really smile. It would've been awesome if little girl had called out "Mummy!" but she didn't so maybe next time... 

After getting over the excitement of seeing them I continued at my pace. I couldn't quite believe it, I carried on overtaking until I reached a long gap but kept going. I passed some walkers who said to me I'll catch those further on before long and they weren't kidding! I pushed over the bridge and there they were right there in front of me, just a few bends later I was overtaking them too! I couldn't believe it! I kept going and another few bends later I saw her - the my-build-but-a-little-more-muscle-y-lady! I was really surprised, it was only the 6th km as I passed her. 

From that point I started to get pretty tired but I coached myself into believing I was on the home stretch and that I can do it, I simply must keep the pace. I was wearing my iPhone with mapmyrun activated so I knew that if I kept my pace up I would make my target of under 1hr 02.   

A few bends later and I met my match - I overtook two ladies when pushing up a slight hill to a bridge over the Lee Navigational (this is all thanks to hills session with Steve Rich and speed sessions with Nick at Thrift Green Trotters) but they soon overtook me back and I remained behind them for the rest of the way back. We overtook a few more men, one in particular was really nice, he said well done to me as I passed him and I returned the compliment. He then also remained behind me, I knew this because as we turned a bend near the end the wind blew towards us and I lifted my arms in appreciation and he said "that's lovely, we need this behind us all the way back!". 

Finally we approached a hill. The Marshall said "final push, I promise" so I picked it up and sprinted up and over the hill. As I passed the finish line I was delusional, I thought the timer said fifty-something minutes. I cheered and thought it must be right if the spoken reports from mapmyrun were anything to go by and cheered some more. But then I stopped running. And I was sick again, just like at North Weald only this time I was less shocked about it. I knew I'd pushed myself. A dear fellow runner bought me some water and asked f I needed a paramedic! I'd like to publicly thank her for her support. I told her I do this a lot which is a 3/4 truth - I've done it 66.6666 (reoccurring) percent of the time!   

I checked my iPhone and was a bit perplexed. It said I'd done 5.8 miles in 52 minutes and I promise I didn't cut any corners. My husband said it's probably not accurate and soon after I got the official results and I got 59:52 mins! I was so happy! I got under 1 hr and for me that is amazing! 

My next race is on Orlando, it's only 5km which I think will be challenging enough given the heat! 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Flying with a toddler

It has been bugging me for some time now, next month we have to take our 18 month old daughter on a long-haul flight. 

Given the choice, I would put this off until she has a little better understanding of why she can't run around chasing air hostesses but unfortunately on this occasion I don't have a choice.

As a result a lot of my spare time has involved a lot of research on how to keep a toddler entertained on a flight. If she was the type to sit and enjoy an episode or two of waybuloo I might be okay, but my daughter is not. She doesn't have ants in her nappies, she has large tarantulas! She only sits down for more than five minutes if she is eating macaroni cheese or drinking milkshake (i.e. she has to be eating something she really loves!).  

My first thought was my iPhone, she enjoys a drawing app on it, but it doesn't entertain her for very long so I decided to have a wander through the "educational" section of the app store. I came across a few good ones, but in particular a game of snap. Not any old game of snap, an animal game of snap where the cards make animal noises when you select them. Brilliant! She might not understand how a game of snap works, but she will love playing "peek a boo" with the cards. In addition to this I was so addicted to playing it myself I bought the harder levels at just 69p! It was a worthy investment because not only was I was right, she loved it when I "piloted" it on her, but again it didn't capture her imagination for long. However it will still be relevant to her when she's old enough to understand how to play snap so I stand by my purchase! 

I still needed more. On a recent mid-week too-lazy-to-cook-dinner visit to Pizza Hut little girl really enjoyed doing a bit of colouring with my hubby so I purchased a few cheap colouring books from Wilkinson's. I have been warned by my childminder that her daughter has a tendency to do a single scribble on each page and consider it completed, so I'm now considering the purchase of a water-activated doodle pad, but I'm wondering whether it would be any more effective than doodling on the iPhone. The only drawback with the iPhone of course is the mortality of the battery. The water activated doodling has a life as long as the water supply on the plane! The board would also be a lot lighter than the colouring books. It's beginning to sound like a tempting investment...

I would be very, very grateful to know what ideas you have for entertaining toddlers on a plane. Please leave a comment! In the meantime, I will brace myself for 9 hours of death stares from fellow passengers :-) 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Running vs. ChaLEAN Extreme

My running has taken off in a big way and I'm really enjoying it. In fact I have come to enjoy it so much, I look forward to every training session and would now consider it to be my soul mate workout.

Chalene Johnson says that finding your soulmate workout is not unlike looking for love, think about the characteristics you would prefer and it makes perfect sense - I love working out in groups but don't want to join a gym or go to classes where I feel uncoordinated and clumsy. Running has been the perfect solution for me. 

I enjoy it so much I now go to training sessions on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and throughout the summer I hope to continue going to races most weekends. 

There's only one little problem - and that is that it's clashing with my ambition to complete ChaLEAN Extreme. I've already had to drop the cardio sessions in favour of running and now I feel like I need to rest up after every running session because I push myself out of my comfort zone. This doesn't leave me with much of a window of opportunity to carry out three sessions of resistance training every week. In fact, it mostly leaves me with the morning before a run and I'm concerned it will affect my performance.

As I know how important resistance training is to your metabolism and that it supports my running was at a real conundrum - am I making excuses or am I wise to be concerned about over-training?

It turns out I am being wise - I asked my brother and my sister for advice as the are both fitness professionals and they have told me to drop down to one resistance training session per week and build up from there.    

As a result, I have decided to follow their advice, yet continue to use ChaLEAN Extreme to keep it mixed up a bit so I don't get bored (as that is what attracted me to the programme in the first place). This means it will take me longer to complete the programme, but at least I will feel the achievement of following it through to the end at some point, rather than giving up. 

Before signing off for the day, a little update regarding my stone in 7 weeks challenge - sadly I'm 4lbs off target, meaning I need to drop 10lbs in 3 weeks which just isn't very realistic. I'm not going to give up trying though :-)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Are you living your truth?

This morning I received an email from Chalene Johnson to say that Brendon Burchard is giving away free pre-order copies of his book, "The Charge". Out of curiosity I had a look at the link and decided to order it. All I had to pay was the postage. There was no overseas option, so I hope it will arrive okay... 

After making payment I was forwarded to a new page with a 30 minute video. I hit pause and decided to wait until lunch and have a listen whilst eating my salad. The video was good, Brendon talked me through 6 high performance factors. I shouldn't give too much away, but one of the factors was psychology and the reason why e act in ways that we do. Brendon coached that you should ask yourself two questions on this subject several times per day. 

1 - What 3 words should define who I am as a person? 

2 - What 3 words should define how I should interact with others?

These are not questions about the person you perceive yourself to be, they are about the kind of person you think you should be, or that you aspire to be.

At first I found this exercise hard, but then I turned the question around - it was much easier to state what words should NOT define me and choose an antonym! For example, I dislike people who are pretentious, lie and do not take responsibility for their actions. From there I chose: 

I should be humble, honest, and responsible

I should interact with others respectfully and optimistically, with open-mindedness.

I you want to do this exercise for yourself visit one of my favourite blog pages, it's by Celestine Chua and it's titled 101 ways to be a better person

If you do this too, please use the comments below to let me know what your truth is, I'm curious :-) 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Breakfast like a King

I've recently been trying to beef up my breakfasts, and I've been ordering more eggs. Through my nutrition course I have learned that it's saturated fats that give you cholesterol, not the cholesterol present in eggs and shellfish etc. So long as the rest of your diet is healthy, you should take advantage of the proteins available from the likes of shellfish and eggs.

I have learned that having a breakfast like a King does not mean you spend ages preparing yourself a fry up every morning, not at all. In fact, if you take a look at a full English breakfast and remove the less healthy aspects of it, such as processed meats (bacon and sausage) and hash browns, you are left with the healthy bits - grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans and scrambled egg. If your toast is wholemeal that too is fantastic.

This is where a microwave is my saviour - I can scramble an egg in a matter of minutes and then put on a small bowl of beans. Meanwhile I am toasting a slice of wholemeal bread and "Bam" I have a hot breakfast in minutes for both me and little girl (and Mr Samuel when he's not on site). At the weekend I can have the time to make the extra effort of grilling the mushroom and tomato if I want to.

Personally I like to eat small meals frequently so I usually have a single slice of toast and share a scrambled egg with little girl. There are days when I really fancy my egg fried, so I do this with coconut oil because it's better for you and it tastes fabulous! You only need a small spoon. It scoops out of the jar solid, but like butter or margarine the heat quickly turns it into an oil.

There are days when we fancy something different to we do omelette with half fat cheese or wholemeal flour pancakes which I've blogged about before. You will be surprised how quickly you can make these breakfasts, they really take hardly any extra time than pouring yourself a bowl of cereal. Also, it is so much more satisfying sitting down to a hot breakfast and you've taken the extra few minutes to prepare. It really does set you up for the day :-)

Eggs really are the quickest and most versatile ingredient for a satisfying breakfast, but if you are still worried about the cholesterol and are preparing breakfast for more than one, consider using one whole egg and for the rest of the eggs, use the whites only. There is plenty of protein in egg white alone (there's approx. 6g protein in an egg with it's yolk and approx. 4g protein in egg white, but all of the nutrients are in the yolk). 

Ground flaxseed is a super food worth considering adding to foods. For a while I tried adding it to my Greek yoghurt and honey. I didn't enjoy that so much as it made the smooth texture of the yoghurt rough and crunchy. I recently added it to my porridge and it was delicious, I buy large old-fashioned oats (lower GI than the instant kind) and the flaxseeds it really added to the interest of the taste. I sweeten my porridge with agave nectar, which is lower GI than maple syrup. I recommend it - it's like a cross between syrup and honey, very delicious. It's sweetness is also not overpowering, so it is nice and subtle. Again, porridge is a great hot breakfast that only takes a moment to prepare.  

Try hot breakfasts for a week and let me know how you get on. I recommend buying in extra eggs and fridge packs of baked beans. For omelettes I find tomatoes, sweet peppers and mushrooms work really well but again, I'd love to hear your ideas.  

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

ChaLEAN Extreme update

I'm now in the second week of ChaLEAN Extreme, so I know what I'm in for over the coming 2 and a half weeks. On Saturday I "we" did a half hour of cardio followed by 20 mins yoga style stretching. I did pretty well, I had to switch to the low intensity options a few times. I'm really pleased, now I know what's coming over the next few weeks and that I've enjoyed all the workouts I'm more confident I can see this programme through. 
 If I'm totally honest with myself I knew I wouldn't see P90X through from the end of week 1 because the plyometrics and the yoga were too advanced for me but ChaLEAN Extreme is challenging and fun and I don't feel at all out of my depth. 
I have had to make some changes to make it work for me though. I run on Mondays and Wednesdays so on Thursdays mornings when I do burn intervals I find it really tough. I worked out that if I drop back and repeat two days of the programme, it will mean that in future my rest days fall after a run, so tomorrow I will be on day 10 instead of 12. 
Because I hate my spare tyre so much I also decided to do the ab burner after every strength training circuit, so I do it 3 times a week instead of one after burn intervals. This works well for me because doing 40 mins three times a week works better than doing 50 minutes once a week because I have limited precious "me" time before little girl wakes up and I like consistency, strange woman I am! 
I haven't decided how to make the programme work for me around races yet, I'll cross that bridge when it comes! It will probably mean that I need to skip some cardio sessions. That shouldn't matter because I'm getting cardio out of my race, but the kind of cardio on the DVD is a interval one, whereas I keep a constant pace throughout a race.  
There's only one more "problem" for me, and that is I wish I had a better range of weights. Although Chalene teaches you to mentally imagine your weights are heavier, I can't help feeling like I'm not getting as much out of it by having my heaviest weight being 4.5kg and then if I use a wrist weight I can lift 4.76kg max. My next weight down from the 4.5kg in my dumbell tree is a 2.3kg which is too light but for some exercises such as tricep extensions I can't quite lift 4.5kg so I have some spinlock weights set to 3.75kg. Now I could use these weights to get higher than 4.76kg, but then I have to waste time keep adjusting them. Argh! I'm at the point where I wonder if I should bite the bullet and join a gym and put the workout on my iPhone. It's an expensive solution working out in excess of £300 per year, so I wonder if I should bite a different bullet and buy a £200 set of quick-adjust weights... or do I buy another set of spinlock weights? I can get 10 sets of those for the price of the quick adjust weights, but then there's the space issue... What would you do?  

Monday, 7 May 2012

Priorities and Goals

I'm a big fan of Chalene Johnson and I bought her book PUSH in advance. In accordance with her advice I update my list of 10 goals weekly and every now and then I feel the need to reassess my priorities, just to check I'm still setting relevant goals for myself.

Having completed the life balance tool last week, I thought it was time to reassess, just to see if it has changed my perspective on things. I redid the priorities exercise on day 1 of PUSH and decided to make myself accountable by sharing not only my priorities, but also my goals. 


My number-one priority: My family - being a top Mum

My second priority: Being healthy and living life to the full with my family

My third priority: Financial security to provide for my family
The reason(s) I have placed the greatest importance on this area of my life is because: My family give me the most happiness, little girl makes me feel whole and I get enjoyment from her each and every day. My sister is my best friend. I need to be healthy to live life to the full with my family and to work hard to provide financial security for the family.
 I will honor my number-one priority by doing my best to: Make time for my family, to live for the moment and to cherish the memories. Never waste a moment sitting at home in front of the TV unnecessarily and get out and explore. We’ll play in the garden, visit family, go on day trips, bike rides, picnics and share life with others that we love.

The following action(s) would be inconsistent with my commitment to my top priority: Working late or at the weekends. Watching too much TV and not playing with little girl.

To honor my number-one priority, I will limit the following: With the exception of club running I will work out in the morning before little girl wakes, I will study at night when she’s in bed. I will limit the amount I watch TV, I will involve her in as much of everything I do as I can.

To honor my number-one priority, I need to make the following changes: I need to make more action to convert memories from in my head to real life – I need to take more photos and keep blogging great days out.

Priority statement: My number one priority is to be a good Mum. I want to be there for little girl physically and emotionally, to make her feel loved and encourage her to be confident, independent and strong. I want to be a good healthy role model, and for her to be proud to have me as her Mum. I want to live life to the full, taking nothing for granted and cherish every moment. I will work hard to provide as much as I can when little girl is at the child minder or at school.
1. Loose 11lbs in 40 days
2. Complete ChaLEAN Extreme
3. Ellis & Mays break even 
4. Complete London Duathlon
5. Organise the whole house including the kitchen! 
6. Complete nutrition course
7. Cook dinners daily with home produce
8. Be positive and nice to be around
9. TRY and climb a REALISTIC yet CHALLENGING hill or mountain, listen to my body and not be afraid of failure. 
10. ENJOY LIFE :-)

Friday, 4 May 2012

My race diary

I was very excited to receive my race number in the post for the Whitstable 10k. I was worried that I wouldn't get in because I left it to the last minute to send my entry form. There are 700 places and I am number 660. The running club will be putting on a coach so it should be a really nice day out.

It inspired me to find other races I'd like to do in the near future, and print and fill in the forms. I now have 4 open envelopes on my desk each with a form and an S.A.E. for my race number. All they need is a cheque and I can seal and send them off! 

So this is my diary of chosen races so far:

7th May - Whitstable 10k (already registered)

13th May - Epping Family Fun Run - 5 miles

20th May - Lee Valley 10k (already registered)

4th June - Hatfield Broad Oak 10k

1st July- High Ongar 10k

15th July - Brentwood 10k 

Hopefully I will be able to beat the time I did at North Weald, which was 1hr 05mins. One of the coaches at my running club predicts I'll make it in 1hr 02. Wish me luck! I have to remember to start slow so that I don't get any stitches this time! Hopefully I'll be a little less nervous than I was lat time though. I ran really well on Wednesday and might run tonight, I can't decide whether I should go or just rest as Whitstable is on Monday.

I've noticed that a lot of the races only give out commemorative t'shirts at the end which is a shame because I quite liked the idea of collecting medals! I used to do it when I was around about my early teens. We were in town with Mum when we saw a stall where they were rounding up troops for the local fun run and I said I wanted to do it. I remember Mum saying "it's 3 miles, are you sure?" I had no idea what 3 miles was but just wanted to do it so my Mum signed me, my sister and my step dad up. I did really well and got a silver medal. It was a great family day out and I'm sure my mum has photos of us all crossing the finish somewhere! I was a "tomboy" at the time and had a horrible short hair cut! It's no wonder I got picked on at school! Anyway from there we had a summer of races, I particularly remember going to Great Baddow, and Hatfield Peverel (that one was really hard at the time as it was 5 miles). Over the winter there were no more races so we lost the momentum and didn't do it any more.     

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


This morning was a challenge - I was out of milk so that meant no cereal, no porridge and no scrambled eggs on toast! If it were just me I'd have yoghurt with Total 0% yoghurt with organic honey and ground flaxseeds but today I have little girl, and I don't think she'd like that too much. 

I don't know where the thought came from, but I remember seeing in various recipes that you can substitute buttermilk for yoghurt so I thought I'd have a go at making some healthy pancakes.

So I looked up a buttermilk pancake recipe on google and got working. I mixed 125g wholemeal flour with 1 egg and approx 250ml of yoghurt. it was a bit on the stiff side as the yoghurt was thicker than buttermilk, so I added another egg (extra protein) and a little water. 

When I'd reached the desired consistency I added a little maple syrup because I've read that it's better for you than sugar. I did this because adding it as a topping would make little girl get too sticky! 

I put coconut oil in the frying pan and got cooking. They were lovely and thick like american pancakes and when the first one was ready I topped it with strawberries and cut it up for little girl and then started frying my own while it cooled slightly. 

Tasting time! I think I'd added a bit too much yoghurt because they were a bit tangy. I thought that they'd probably have been a bit nicer with lemon than strawberry, but little girl enjoyed hers - she only dropped one piece on the floor!  

While I was munching away I remembered that I had a carton of Almond milk in the cupboard! I bought it when I wanted to try a few Jillian Michaels recipes. Whilst I loved it in my porridge oats, I hated it in my tea and coffee. I wonder what it would be like in pancakes.... watch this space, because it will be my next experiment! In my opinion, one of the best things about cooking is experimentation and learning as you go along. I've definitely had a my fair share of culinary disasters and I daresay I have a lot more to come, but I like to think I learn from them all!