Thursday, 30 July 2015

Week 6 completed

On Sunday morning or was a relief that Week Six Day One seemed to be a step down.  I needed to run for five minutes,  walk,  run for eight minutes,  walk and run for five minutes.

I didn't really understand this because it didn't seem to be continuing the progression but I was grateful nonetheless.

Week Six Day Two had two ten minute runs with a walk between. I took a wrong turn and ended up on an uneven bramble-festooned path and could run properly (not that any of my running is proper). Anyway because I didn't feel I'd given it my best shot I did this session twice with a day in between.

Week Six Day Three had me running for 22 minutes.  This is the longest I have ever run in my life.  It's slow.  I'm not sure how slow because the app I use to calculate average speed includes my warm up walk and cool down walk.  If I were to guess I'd say between eight and nine minutes per kilometre, perhaps closer to eight.

But,  against all of my predictions, it is getting easier.  My legs ache but I'm not gasping for breath as I was when I started.

I think the thing that works for me at this stage is that I'm not trying to be an athlete.  I really am just trying to get to the end.  If the app tells me to run for 22 minutes then that is what I will try to do.  I will plod with one foot in front of the other, hobbling my way to achievement.

My body's ability to cope has surprised me.  My improvement has surprised me. I honestly thought I would fail and I had expected to quit by now.

I don't enjoy the exercise but I do enjoy being surprised by my body and I get a kick from the achievement.

I use the time to think about to do lists,  pay attention to the music of I'm running alone, or catch up with whoever is running with me.  I enjoy the countryside and it feels good to bed outside.  I think about what I'm going to tell you in this blog.

What I don't like is dogs. If I see a dog I'll change direction to get away from it.  I don't like dogs smearing their snot or saliva on my legs and I don't appreciate a dog bashing against my legs and almost knocking me over. 

Some owners seem to think that because I'm in the vicinity of their animal I am up for any kind of canine interaction.  I'm not.  I will actively try and avoid it.

The other thing I'm aware of is my smugness.  I am sharing my progress because whilst it's lame to others it's impressive to me.  I also recognise the accusation of smugness.  Having been a non-runner seeing other people posting the progress from their fitness apps I have viewed others as I am now being viewed.

I won't post from a fitness app because my distance and speed achievements are laughable. I think the smugness accusation is valid and comes from the fact that I've been "good".

I think the accusation would also be leveled at someone sharing weight loss achievements.

I'll take the label though and continue.  I want to know how far I can go and I want to know if I can get faster.

Friday, 24 July 2015

I have never run so far

Week five started with jogging for five minutes, walking for three, jogging for five, walking for three and jogging for five.

I had expected all the week five sessions to be the same which is why session two came as a shock: jog for eight minutes, walk for five, jog for eight.

I survived, just, and then session three really knocked me for six: jog for 20 minutes.  Wait, what, jog for twenty minutes?

The thing that shocked me more than the leap from five to eight to 20 minutes within the space of days, was the fact that my legs, lungs and heart didn’t let me down.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Week Four done, just

Week four has been challenging.  It has two three minute runs and two five minute runs.  It’s the five minute ones that I struggle with.

My boy is the best coach ever and when he sees me flagging he’s full of enthusiastic and motivational words.  When we pass the halfway point he proffers a high five and whenever he can find an achievement in anything he does.  When I’m struggling with the distance to go he tells me not to worry about that but to think about how far I’ve come.

I’ve told him he should offer his personal training services for financial reward because he has a natural talent for it.  I’m not sure how well I’d do with out my pocket motivator by my side.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fun, easy, chocolatey, party celebration cake

I found this recipe and it’s an easy customisable party or celebration cake.


This has become the staple birthday cake for our children, excepting the number cakes made by their Grandma.

The first thing to do is to pop the kettle on.  Cake making should always be accompanied with either a tea or a coffee.

When the kettle’s boiled, make your beverage of choice and also blend 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons of water.

While you’re drinking your tea or coffee the cocoa and water can be cooling down.

This is an eight inch cake and can comfortably be cut into 12 generous pieces.


  • 175g baking margarine
I find margarine choices confusing but this is good for baking cakes:
  • 175g sugar, caster or granulated
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa, blended with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water and cooled (see above)


  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 5-6 tablespoons milk
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Smarties, Matchmakers, chocolate buttons or Maltesers (or anything else that takes your fancy)


  • Make a tea or coffee as described above and mix the cocoa and hot water at the same time.
  • Preheat the oven to 150 °C (fan oven).
  • Grease and line two round 20cm / 8 inch cake tins.
  • Place all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until well mixed (2-3 minutes).
  • Split the mixture between your prepared tins.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • Turn out and cool on a wire tray.

For the icing:

  • Place all icing ingredients together in a bowl and beat together until smooth.
  • Sandwich cakes together with some of the icing and spread remaining icing over the cake including the sides
  • Slathering icing is best done carefully with a palette knife
  • Stick your chosen confectionery onto the icing.  Things that work well are Matchmakers vertically around the edge with Maltesers or Smarties on the top.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3

There’s nothing in Ian Dury’s lyrics that is an exact fit here but “A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it” is the closest.
Some Saturdays I have helped marshal at the Brentwood Parkrun.  If you can, I’d recommend you do too.  Reasons to do it:
  • It gets you out of bed
  • It gets you out into the countryside
  • It gets you a little bit of exercise
  • You meet some lovely (kind, generous and fit) people
  • You spend thirty minutes cheering people on, and making others cheer up reflects back into your own mood.
  • For a small investment of time and energy you are contributing to other people’s wellbeing and your own.
  • It’s a great way to start a Saturday
If you want to get involved then find out more here:
If you just like a bit of Ian Dury, here you are:

Week three and thoughts turn to drink

I did the week three routine four times and today did my first week four routine.

Week three was a bit of a shock to the system and on hot days was very tough.

The upside is that I have found many more sloe berry picking opportunities with many bushes already laden with fruit.

Ethan and Hannah are both excellent exercise companions but different; Ethan is considerate and motivational and Hannah’s conversation helps me lose track of time which is good when I’m willing the clock to tick faster.

Three minutes is a bloody long time when you’re hot, sweaty and gasping for breath with aching legs.  Five minutes is even longer.

I coped with the first week four session today because Ethan was with me and it wasn’t overly hot.  Let’s see how the rest of the week pans out.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Chocolate raspberry pavlova

Oh the irony of trying to get to grips with running and blogging about it and interspersing it with blogs of calorie-filled delights like a chocolate raspberry pavlova.

This is delicious.  And easy.  All of which makes it a winner in my book.  Maybe I should write a book.

This is a Nigella recipe.  I don’t think I’ve gone wrong with a Nigella.  I find her a little frustrating though because I like oodles of detail in a recipe and I think this is an area where she can be deficient.

Serves 8-10


For meringue

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (I used the latter)
  • 50g dark choc finely chopped (I just used dark choice chips)

For the topping 

  • 500ml double or whipping cream (I used whipping)
  • 500g fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate in curls or coarsely grated - I used a crumbled mini Cadbury Twirl but you could also use 
  • a crumbled Flake


  • Before you pop the meringue in the oven the oven needs to be at fan 160C.
  • Beat egg whites until satiny peaks form.  I took this to mean solidly silky peaks.
  • Add the sugar a spoon at a time whilst beating and stop when peaks are stiff and shiny.
  • Add chopped chocolate, vinegar and sieved cocoa.  Fold until combined.
  • Pop a piece of baking parchment onto a baking tray and draw around a plate or similar to add a 9” circle to the baking parchment.
  • Turn the baking parchment drawn circle facing down and elegantly plonk the meringue mixture onto your circle.  Gently try and create a 9” circle using your drawn guide and try and make the top flat ish.
  • Bung in oven and reduce oven temperature to 140C.  Leave for about an hour and a quarter.  When cooked the edge should be crispy but the centre should feel a tad squidgy.  Turn the oven off at this point, slightly open the oven door but leave your gorgeous meringue in the oven until it is completely cooled.
  • Once your meringue is made you can store it in an airtight container for a week before using or you can freeze for longer.  If you do freeze it you can use it straight from the freezer (and this is what I did).
  • When you are ready to load up your pav then whip cream until thick but soft.  Nigella insists you put your meringue on the serving plate with the bottom uppermost.  I think this is daft, but you do whatever makes you happy.  Plop the cream atop your meringue and then scatter raspberries with gay abandon.  Crush/crumble/chop your chocolate and sprinkle over the top.
  • Consume with passion.

This is what my meringue looked like before its adornments.  I made it a bit bigger than the nine inches which was a mistake because it grew in the oven - worth bearing in mind.


Friday, 3 July 2015

Week two and I'm still alive

The continuation of my running regime.
I wasn’t sure I was ready for week two so my first foray into week two was a repeat of the week one routine.
So on Sunday I did what I’d done in the previous week.  And then on Monday I looked and saw that week two didn’t look that bad, so I gave it a go.  I survived.
On Tuesday I did a week two session too.  Wednesday and Thursday were a bit tricky so Friday saw my final week two attempt and because I started week two with a repeat of the week one session I ended up doing four sessions in a week.
I have discovered that Hannah can walk faster than I can run….Whatever.
Music whilst exercising is good although going from this:

to this:

is weird.

And I can look tall and skinny if I view my shadow when the sun is low: