Monday, February 16, 2009

A course pb

It was the Tunbridge Wells 1/2 marathon yesterday and I was using it as an exercise in pacing. I haven't run this 1/2 since 2006 as I didn't like the route and there was way too much traffic on the country lanes but the route has changed for the better and they closed some of the roads during the race so it was much better.

Last time I did it I came home in 2:12:30 so I'd given myself a target of 2:10. It's strange doing 10 minute miling again as for the past 3 years I've plodded along at marathon pace which is either 11 or 12 minute miling so it's a bit of a shock to my system to be doing 9 and 10 minute miling again!

I met up with Johnny J (who's 68 and annoyingly speedy for his age!) and Digit Eyes who I hadn't met before. What was really nice was that a lady passed me en-route and said "hi" adding that she'd met me at the Christmas Pudding Dash a few years ago and has been following my running/knitting antics. Thanks Pauline, it was so nice to hear from you and I hope you did a good time.

I was feeling good when I started and ran the first 1/2 in bang on 60 minutes. It's an undulating route with a sneaky hill at mile 7. It isn't a really steep hill, it's just one of those that goes on a bit further than is comfortable! Anyway, I got to the top feeling OK and spied the water station. Now I usually carry my own water bottle but for some reason I hadn't yesterday. Bad move!

We runners sometimes suffer from demons in our heads and mine is the 'water station demon' who rears his ugly head if I take a walk break to sip the water. It's not as if I ever come to a standstill, but the act of walking for those 30 seconds awoke the little blighter and he was in really good form. This time his voice was that of Gollum in the film version of Lord of the Rings and he kept saying "fat hobitses, you're too old and fat to run this hill" etc etc. The hill still had a little way to go and my mental stamina deserted me and I took a walk break for 2 minutes whilst I regained control and kicked the little blighter into touch!

This little walk break meant that I had to up the pace a bit which is a good exercise in itself as it teaches your body to push forward when tired. I sprinted over the finish line in 2:09:02, over 3 minutes faster than last time and a minute faster than my target time so I was a very happy girl. My next target race is the Lydd 1/2 in 2 weeks so we'll see if I can do any better on a flatter course.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Armhole Steeks (rather belated!), a pb and another clue

I've just been so busy this week that I'm way behind on my posting.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is the Oregon cardigan. I finished the body last week and grafted the shoulders.

I was very lucky in that Marina had very kindly emailed me to let me know that she'd heard from someone else that the pattern repeats meant that the shoulders weren't going to match.

As I was already nearly at the shoulders and I'm not confident enough to make major changes I had to accept it. Well, that's what I thought at first. Then I hummed and haha'd and chewed it over for a while and realised that if I added a couple more rows and adjusted the sleeves accordingly then it wouldn't look too bad - see? I am irritated by the mismatch but at least my long hair will cover it!

See how brave I am these days?! Cutting the steek presents no panic at all so I thought I'd show it as I know some people who read my blog just can't understand the mechanics of steeks. There are loads of sites that mention steeks out there on the web and they really aren't scary once you've done one.

Here's the armhole before I started picking up the stitches for the sleeve. When you're picking up the stitches, you create your new stitch through the loop of the first stitch of the steek which was knit in the background colour. It's all clever stuff!

On the running front, I bettered my 10k pb last weekend at the Ashford 10k, knocking 10 seconds off it to finish in 54:20 by my watch (the results show 55:39 but I took 1 minute 19 seconds to get over the start line 'cos I'm a good girl and start near the back so I don't impede the faster runners).

I was very pleased with this as I've only just started doing speed training and this route had a hill in it whereas my previous pb was on a completely flat course. I can't celebrate too much though as my challenge is to get a further 4 minutes 20 seconds off my time to get to 50 minutes (or thereabouts with the wind behind me!). I've got the Tunbridge Wells 1/2 marathon tomorrow which is a tester to see where I'm up to for that distance. I won't be racing it as I've got another one in 2 weeks at which I want to push the pace a bit more so I'll use it as a mid-length training run.

2009 Extra Challenge - Clue number 3:

Paul and Sarah came to see us again last weekend and Paul and I had another go at what we're going to attempt and Sarah came with us. We went out and travelled 5.5 miles, my knitting came too and I survived in one piece.

The 3rd clue is that I call Paul "Captain" (and no, I'm not telling you what he calls me!).

I really want to reveal all but I can't yet as our "event" hasn't been finalised.

I do wish the economic climate would brighten as I suspect fund-raising is going to be challenging, never mind what we're going to do!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More snow before it goes

2009 Extra Challenge - Clue number 2:
Paul is not a runner!

I decided to get some more photos of the snow as it's such a rare event! You won't be surprised to learn that my running has been on the treadmill this week as the lanes are treacherous.

Everywhere is looking so beautiful this morning as there has been a heavy frost (-4 or thereabouts so not too heavy). The sun is making everywhere sparkle as if the snow has been sprinkled with silver glitter.

There is a mist rolling up the field from the woods which looks quite ethereal.

There were beautiful ice crystals standing upright on top of the gate post.

The metal field gate looks amazing - as if it's grown hair overnight. Perhaps Jack Frost has knitted it an overcoat out of mohair!

The horses are really robust. Neither of them like their lovely snug neck covers so I only put them on at night - if I leave them on during the day they just rub and rub until bits of their mane come off.

Both of them had white tips of ice on top of their ears and their whiskers had little ice diamonds on the end of them. These have now disappeared 'cos they've had their brekkie but Esther still wanted to show everyone her magnificent muzzle!

Kizzy was just about to have a good old roll in the snow when she spotted me with the camera and got straight back up again - rolling is very private don't you know!

These fruit trees look as if they've been dipped in icing sugar.

This is the "birdy tree" which is just outside the lounge window. I've been refilling all the 5 feeders each day this week as the little birds especially need all the help they can get in this cold weather. Of course all the birds disappeared when I went near but usually the whole hedge, tree and ground are alive with birds

This week the tree and feeders have been visited by great tits, coal tits, blue tits, long-tailed tits, chaffinches, gold finches, green finches, blackbirds, robins, nuthatches, goldcrests, tree creepers, starlings, lesser spotted woodpeckers, jackdaws, magpies, crows and even a thrush! The ground is the territory of the ducks, moorhens (although they do like to creep through the hedge which looks most peculiar!), blackbirds (who find the feeders difficult), pheasants, dunnocks and pied wagtails.

I love the way that the ice outlines the leaves on this rhododendron. There's still a bit of snow left on it from the other day and the big fat red buds contrast beautifully against it.

As a gardener, the thing I love about winter is the promise of things to come - even in the toughest conditions the buds are standing there just waiting to burgeon into magnificent flowers.

Georgian Kachapuri Recipe for Shannon - Warning, they are very moreish and can damage your waistline!

Bread mixture :
225g white bread flour
15g fresh yeast (or a sachet of dried yeast if unavailable - just follow the instructions on the packet)
150ml lukewarm milk
25g softened unsalted butter

225g grated cheese - a hard cheese such as cheddar works well
225g Taleggio cheese cut into small chunks - or possibly mozzarella (you need a good gooey melter!)
1 beaten egg
15ml butter if you're forgetting cholesterol worries! (I sometimes leave this out)
Ground black pepper and salt to taste (I don't use any extra salt because the cheeses are quite salty)

egg yolk

This mixture makes 4 generous sized buns.

Grease a Yorkshire pudding tin with 4 holes.

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cream together the yeast and milk and add to the flour, mixing to form a dough then knead in the butter. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic then stick it back in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1 - 1/5 hours).

While this is rising, put the cheeses and butter if using into a bowl, season and mix in the beaten egg.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly then divide into 4 pieces. Roll each out into a circle (about 7" diameter) and place over the holes in the tin. Divide the cheese mixture equally between them. Fold up the overhanging dough and squeeze it together to form little sacks. Cover and leave to rise again fro about 30 minutes.

Just before baking, brush the glaze all over. Bake for about 25 minutes at 180C then leave in the tin for a few minutes to solidify slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool a bit. Serve warm.

Philippa and Paige:

This is gorgeous little lady is Paige.

Thank goodness the little cardigan fits and isn't she a cutie? Awwwwwwh.

Philippa really looks like Granny Val too!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's a good start, BUT!

Today the news is full of this story about dementia which is a giant step forward.

There is, however, another vitally important side to this - how about investing more money into research into the causes and treatment of the disease, thus reducing the need for care etc etc?

Monday, February 2, 2009


My special challenge for 2009 will be revealed soon. I suppose I should start giving clues to generate some interest so:

2009 Extra Challenge - Clue Number 1:
It involves teamwork with Paul.

You now have to scrutinise Paul to see if there are any clues!

Hoorah, at last we've got some snow here in the South East of England. London seems to have ground to a halt and the lanes are very quiet here too.

Even though it's still snowing I couldn't resist sneaking out to take some photos! It's much better than the pathetic offering we had last year.

The small pond is starting to look pretty.

These 2 ducks were starting to look for nesting places a few days ago. They always like to choose somewhere near to the house, the back of the garage or near the barn being their favourite spots as they are then close to a food supply. She managed to raise broods of 9 for the past 2 years but often the eggs are eaten by the magpies.

A lone apple tree, on the edge of the orchard, with its branches outlined with snow.

I love the way the snow shows off the outline of the trees. Ordinarily we can see across the valley to the hills beyond but it's as if there's a white sheet hanging behind the woods.

The 2 ladies are quite happy to stay in their field shelters munching hay. Esther wasn't keen on going in there this morning as she doesn't like walking on the snow 'cos it gives way under her feet. She's skittish about going through water too.

As the weather is so cold I made us some warming soup and some scrumptious Georgian Kachapuris, which are little breads full of cheese. I used a mixture of taleggio and cheddar and they were divine.

On the knitting front, the Oregon cardigan is being worked on again and I'm nearly up to the shoulders.

I did a pleasant 11 mile run yesterday although there was a biting wind all the way round. I didn't take any photos as the battery was flat in the camera.