Fori Bars Review

When I was contacted to do a review of these snacks I was straight away intrigued. A meat-based snack…high in protein…no processed rubbish? Sign me up!

I’m a big fan of protein-high snacks and you’re probably aware of how much of a meat fan I am so it was a no brainer to accept this review. I was also very intrigued as they said they weren’t like protein or cereal bars and they weren’t like jerky or biltong either. How very intriguing!

The company is called Fori (who have a really great tagline of “Devour & Conquer – something I could definitely live by!). They’re a fairly new brand, having launched in October 2016. They wanted a snack that wasn’t overly processed, full of good nutrition and good ingredients. They also wanted to avoid creating a snack that was overly sweet. Now I love my sweet things but I do prefer a savoury snack mid-afternoon which doesn’t get me itching for more sugar or give me a crash half an hour later.

Fori sent me a box of their snacks containing the four different flavours: Chilli Beef, Moroccan Lamb, Piri Piri Chicken and Thai Turkey. What I really like about the company is that the meat is sourced from free-roaming animals; their beef and lamb enjoy a grass diet, whilst their poultry are free to forage.

Each bar also contains 20g of protein, which is quite a hefty punch! And they’re all around 150 calories or so. So a reasonably sized snack. But what were they actually like?

I loved them. Absolutely loved them. They are right up my street. I’m a big fan of biltong but these are completely different. It’s difficult to describe exactly what they’re like as they’re not similar to anything I’ve had before.

The only way to describe them is that they’re like a burger. That may sound a bit random and unappealing but it’s just what it reminded me. A definite meaty taste with bits of dried fruit and seeds in it. Really very tasty.

I quite liked that each bar had a different flavour as well. I was a little dubious about the Chilli Beef as beef isn’t my favourite meat and I’m not that into hugely spicy food. However it was delicately spiced and still very tasty.The ingredients list is pretty damn good as well. Check this out for the Moroccan Lamb:

British Grass Fed Lamb (69%), Free Range Egg White Powder, Sunflower Seeds, Beef Stock, Dried Apricots (5%), Dried Dates (4%) [Dates, Sunflower Oil], Cumin, Coriander, Smoked Paprika, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Ginger, Turmeric, Allspice, Salt, Vegetable Fibre, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Mint, Parsley, Dehydrated Garlic, Red Bell Pepper, Dehydrated Lemon Peel, Spice Extracts.

Ans the egg whites are free range as well! And the nutritional stats are really good for a snack (again for the Lamb):So it is a rather protein-heavy snack and lighter on the carbs and fats. But this is how I prefer my snacks so I’m fairly happy with this. I find protein fills me up a lot more than carbs.I can imagine these snacks might not be for everyone (obviously not vegetarians or vegans) but I’d definitely say give them a try. I loved the texture of them (like I said, a bit like a beanie meat burger if that makes sense) and the taste was really good. My favourite was the Thai Turkey but really any of them were up there! The Moroccan Lamb is nice and fragrant and the Peri Peri Chicken and Chilli Beef have a gentle spicy kick.

Fully recommend these. If I could eat them every day, I would! I’m just hoping they’ll become more wide-spread and available. Check out their website for more info on where to get them.

What kind of snacks do you prefer?

What’s your favourite meat?

Veggie burger or real burger? I’m not a bean burger fan at all. I prefer meat (who’d have thought, eh?)

**Full Disclaimer: I was sent these bars for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Stubbington 10k race recap

I’ve been wanting to do this race for about three years. It’s ridiculous because this is a race that literally runs past my parent’s house and the route is one I’ve often used on many a long run.

Finally this year I wasn’t injured (well, coming back from injury but not injured) and it worked well into my marathon training plan (I say “plan” rather loosely). Happily my friends, Kate and Jamie, had signed up too. This was to be their first ever proper road race. They’ve done parkruns and we’ve done an obstacle race together but never a road race.

Unfortunately the weather was predicted to be awful. I mean it’s hardly surprisingly really considering it’s a) Britain and b) January, but us Brits are always so shocked when the weather is in fact terrible. Running in bad weather isn’t so bad but in a race setting there’s a fair amount of hanging around and getting cold before you actually start running and none of us were thrilled at this prospect.I stayed at my parent’s house (it made sense as the race start was a short walk away) and woke up early on Sunday to run two miles before Kate and Jamie arrived after driving from Bristol. I wanted to do the extra miles so I could have a total of eight miles for the day – my longest run yet. It wasn’t ideal having a break between the two miles and the race but I wasn’t going to desert my friends to run the miles just before the race began.

Just one mile out from my parent’s and then one mile back. Fairly easy. The weather was pretty grim but not as bad as expected – a bit drizzly and cold. I wore long leggings to keep myself from getting too cold and as I headed back down the lane Kate and Jamie passed me in the car so it was fairly good timing.

We were all feeling rather grumpy and not up for the race. It also didn’t help that my dad had decided to cook a fry-up for breakfast. Always nice to smell bacon cooking that you won’t get to eat.

We left as late as we possibly could to avoid hanging around in the cold too much. It was only a 10 minute walk, if that, to the race HQ and as we had no bags to drop off (my parents were kindly going to take our coats for us and put them in a big bag they’d brought especially) and we didn’t need the loo, we just huddled inside the community centre.Stubbington 10k is a very cheap race (think it was £16-17?) but it has quite a few of the perks of bigger races, such as a really nice technical t-shirt (which actually fits me!), chip timing, a big inflatable finishing arch with a time-display, lots of marshals and lots of support round the course. It also has waves for the start. As I’m a little faster than Kate and Jamie I wished them luck and headed to my starting area. My neckline felt really tight and I realised I had my black base layer on backwards. Smooth, Anna, really smooth. Luckily, realistically only I could tell.I saw lots of people from my running club which was nice. It’s a very clubby race so there were lots of local clubs from the area. It can feel a bit intimidating because they seem like “proper” runners, as Kate said, but I reassured her that there would be a range of running experience and paces and she wouldn’t be at the back (she wasn’t).

I had the vague time goal of finishing in under 50 minutes, maybe around 46-48 minutes. I didn’t want a hard effort but I did want a sustained effort. I haven’t really done any speed work so I wanted to see what I could do over six miles.

I found the start quite hard going, mentally and physically. I was overtaken quite a lot. And as nice as it was getting lots of hellos from people in my running club and people I knew, it was somewhat demoralising. But I just told myself it didn’t matter, yes I’m not in a great running shape right now and I’m not racing this.

The first mile has a bit of an uphill and then a very steep downhill so it was a mixed bag in terms of pace. A girl I knew ran up next to me and asked what time I was aiming for. I gave her my vague time and she mentioned she wanted to stick with someone. Now usually I don’t mind running with other people or chatting away during a race but I really didn’t fancy it. I wanted to sort of hide away in my mind and just auto-pilot the miles. I didn’t want to offend her though so I slightly slowed down and eventually after some chatter she headed off. It was nothing personal to the girl, she’s lovely, but I just wasn’t in that mood, you know?

There is a fairly sharp incline which seems to go on forever which took a bit of a graft to get up. Then it was plain sailing – I knew this course so well I could just switch off and plan little milestones in my head. A few other people tried to chat to me but my monosyllabic responses discouraged further conversation. I must have seemed grumpy but really I was just wanting to get the race done. 10ks aren’t my favourite, the weather was fairly miserable and the sustained effort was taking its mental toll on me. It sounds like I had a horrible race but in truth I quite enjoyed it; I enjoyed zoning out and letting my legs carry me forward.

The course is fairly scenic, going past lots of farmer’s fields and country lanes and then eventually running along the seafront. It was grim and grey but thankfully not windy. There was a lot of support from the locals and I made sure to smile and thank everyone I could – it must have been so cold for them!

Photo credit: Alan from Denmead Photos 

As the miles ticked off quickly I increased my pace a little and started picking off people in front of me. I managed to pull back some people who had overtaken me at the start and that bolstered my confidence somewhat.

As I reached the last 400m I saw a group of guys from my running club (super speedsters) who were cheering the club in. My running club friend Chris was just ahead of me and they all enthusiastically yelled at me to overtake him (or “chick” him). I tried my best to catch him but I just couldn’t and annoyingly managed to burn myself out before the final sprint. Such a stupid thing to do!

Photo source: Netley Abbey Runners

Anyway I finished strong. I worried I might have pushed it a bit too hard (and at the same time wondered how I managed to pull any of those paces for my last marathon…!).My official time was 46:26, which I’ll happily take! I’m around four minutes off my PB but in reality I’m a million miles from that sort of speed! I’m just happy that my calf/shin felt good (not perfect but decent) and I was able to put in some effort towards the end. A very happy result indeed.There was no medal but we got a lovely technical t-shirt so I’m happy enough. My parents were waiting at the finish line to cheer us in (they’d had a nice coffee in the village while we were running) so it was nice to get my coat quickly back on and to grab a takeaway Costa coffee which was right next to the finish while I waited for Kate and Jamie.Kate finished (1:05) before Jamie (1:05:22) which no one expected – only because Jamie normally beats Kate. Jamie said he didn’t have the best race while Kate said it’s helped re-motivate her for her training for the Bath Half.And then we quickly headed off back to mine where we showered and got ready and headed out to a lovely local pub called the Fox and Hounds in Burseldon. I’ve recently been and had the most amazing sundae when I went out for dinner there (some things are not always blogged about… ;-)) and wanted to recreate the experience with Kate and Jamie, who I knew would appreciate it. I also really wanted something that wasn’t available on the menu the last time I was there.I went for a sharing platter with Jamie (very tasty) and then a hog roast burger topped with gammon and pulled pork. Oh my good Lord this was amazing. Now normally I don’t get burgers as I always feel that the ratio of carb:protein is not at my preference. However, this was a fully stacked burger. My bun could barely contain it. And it fully rocked my world. And of course, the salted caramel sundae for pudding (containing bits of brownie and cheesecake).

Kate and Jamie also enjoyed theirs and ordered the sundaes as well (Jamie refused to give a normal face for this photo FYI).

We had this at 1pm and honestly I could not eat a single thing for the rest of the day (OK that’s a lie, I had two apples). I actually felt a little unwell in the evening and my stomach was making all kinds of crazy noises that night. But it was worth it.

So like old times, a good race and good food!

What do you never normally order at a restaurant?

What’s the best sundae you’ve ever had? Hands down, this one was probably the best I’ve had. The cream on top was proper whipping cream and not from a can.

Do you enjoy chatting to people during a race? Normally I do!

The madness of a looming marathon

There’s nothing like an impending marathon to get you going. Even when it’s chucking it down with snow…

I must have been the only person in the UK who was unaware it was supposed to snow on Thursday evening. Sure I’d heard about the “thundersnow storm” but I hadn’t really connected it with reality – I mean surely that’s just in Scotland, right? So when I packed my gym bag in the morning to take to work I merrily threw in my usual pair of shorts and didn’t think twice. I normally wear shorts, I normally warm up. Totally fine.

Then I got to work and everyone was talking about how at 4pm snow was going to start. Er, what? And lo and behold, as 4pm hit so did buckets of snow. But when you have a marathon very soon (February) and you’re hugely under-trained (longest run 6 miles at this point) and you need adequate spacing of runs to not re-niggle the injury you’re only just getting over…well, you have little choice but to put those tiny shorts on and get out there and run.

It was fully throwing it down as I headed out, to the point I couldn’t really see as I had to blink so much due to the big fluffy snowflakes hitting my eyes. And the floor was already coated in a a thick dusting of snow. So foot placing was precarious, as were corners. I was soaked and cold very quickly and this encouraged me to run a bit faster, but not too fast to risk falling over.

I got several odd looks from people sheltering under bus stops waiting for their bus and commuters in their cars. But I strangely quite enjoyed it. I felt like a warrior. My legs were freezing, which is never happens to me, but it wasn’t terrible. I was only going three miles so I knew it would be over soon.When I finished and walked the last bit to get to my office, a guy sheltering near the door stared at me incredulously and said, “you’re absolutely mental”. I pretty much agreed.
People left in the office laughed at me when I said it was a bit nippy out. My legs were so pink and I was drenched! It took pretty much my entire commute home (an hour’s journey) to warm up again. I stood in my shower on full blast and full heat basically searing off a layer of my skin to get warm again. But I’m glad I went out. It was a good run. I felt strong, my shin felt good and it’s all miles towards Tokyo (albeit only three but hey it’s all relative here for me!).

There’s nothing like a big goal or deadline to get you motivated and focused. And I’m being really sensible (I think!). I’m only running three times a week, and two of those runs are three miles. I might bump one of those up to four (ooh go crazy, eh!). And then I have a longer run at the weekend, and no consecutive running days. It seems to be working.

I go to Florida with friends in two weeks and I really have no idea how the running will go but I’m going to aim to do two big runs out there. I say “big” runs but we’re talking 13-16 miles, though it could all change. Basically I’m fully winging it. I hope to do the parkrun in Orlando again as well. The two friends I’m going with are the friends who have just got into running and parkrun. And incidentally they are the friends that laughed at me for doing the Orlando parkrun the last time we went. Ha! How the tables have turned now 😉

But I’m still feeling positive – if not maybe in denial? Either way it’s all good. At least when I’m running Tokyo I can look back fondly on this 3 mile snowy run and remember what I warrior I am 😉

Have you ever run in snow?

What’s the worst weather you’ve ever run in?

What do you wear during winter exercise?

South Shields parkrun review

So I’m continuing on with the parkrun reviews (check out more reviews HERE). I’m very grateful for people having sent me reviews as there are obviously so many that I wouldn’t be able to get to (and would likely only visit once so wouldn’t have as thorough a view of it as someone who’s been more often). So thank you once again to Michelle for providing this great review of South Shields parkrun.

Photo credit: Facebook page

Location: South Shields parkrun takes place along the coast at The Leas, South Shields about 13 miles east of Newcastle and 8 miles north of Sunderland. You might have heard of South Shields before and have probably seen it on the TV as it’s where the Great North Run finishes! In fact, the last mile of South Shields parkrun is the same as the last mile of the Great North Run! It is slightly outside South Shields town centre but close to a park with play area and a short coastal walk from Souter Lighthouse (worth a visit!) in one direction and Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in the other.

Parking: There is plenty of free roadside parking available along the A183 Coast Road and further parking in the seafront car parks.

If you fancy taking public transport South Shields metro station is about 1 mile away (perfect warm up!) – just follow signs towards “The Coast” or “Seaside”. Numerous buses also run along the South Shields coast and are operated by Stagecoach.

Amenities: Toilets are available at the clubhouse inside Gypsies Green Stadium (close to the start and finish) and during summer months’ public toilets under the bandstand (a little closer to the start) are open.

Post parkrun coffee is at The Bamburgh which is on the Coast Road and almost opposite the finish. Alternatives on the coast itself include Sand Dancer which is opposite the start and just slightly further along Minchella & Co which do some of the best ice cream in the North East!

Photo credit: Facebook page

Course: I will admit now that the course has been reversed since I ran it! This means it is now overall uphill as compared to downhill!The start is on the seafront promenade outside the Sandancer pub and heads in a southerly direction. Depending upon the weather the first short stretch along the promenade can be covered in a good layer of sand! The course then joins the coastal path at a gate at the end of the promenade which it follows along the cliff tops until it turns slightly inland and you reach a tarmac path at Minchella & Co ice cream hut. It is a bit up and down but overall a gradual up!

Once you reach the ice cream hut you turn right onto the pavement along Coast Road for the final mile (and the Great North Run final mile). This mile is again slightly uphill making for a tough last mile! The finish itself is opposite the Bamburgh pub (notice a theme here :P).

Photo credit: Facebook page

The coastal path itself is a mix of gravel, rough ground and grassy paths which can be puddly when it’s been wet and is bumpy in places so watch your footing. Being a costal parkrun you are well and truly exposed to the elements so maybe one to visit on a sunny summers day!

Elevation: As mentioned about the reversal of the route means it is basically an uphill parkrun!You get some relief whilst along the coast path as it has short stints of up and down but the last mile is a slow, gradual uphill unfortunately!

Number of participants: South Shields is one of the North East’s slightly smaller parkruns with an average number of 130 runners but a record attendance of 329. The point to point run means there is no passing other parkrunners on laps to cheer each other on but the small field means no tripping over each other although you need to choose your moment to overtake other runners due to the rough nature of the coastal path.

As you would expect from any parkrun there is a wide range of finish times from just under 17 minutes at the fastest to around 55 minutes for the final runner so as always it’s one for everyone!

Thanks, Michelle! For more information, check out their Facebook page and Twitter account.

Please do send me any parkrun reviews and I’ll post them or if you have any comments or additional points on existing ones, let me know! The more information the better 🙂

Does your parkrun ever reverse its course?

What’s your favourite surface to run on?

A long run, a not-so-raunchy movie and feeling blue

The weekend just gone was fairly jam-packed. I was off to Reading on Saturday morning to meet my university friends and one of those friends, Charlotte, from Brighton caught the train to stay over Friday night, so we could drive together.

It was nice to drive with someone else to minimise any navigational issues. I’ve driven to Reading many times (I had to work there for six weeks on a customer site for my current job in Basingstoke). But that was a few years ago and well, let’s be honest, it’s me. Anything could happen. This did mean of course we were late by about ten minutes, which my other friends knew was down to me and not Charlotte. I’m the queen of leaving no minute spare and believing everything will go smoothly.

Anyway, rewinding to Friday night. We had a delicious salmon and butternut squash meal. She’s a vegetarian and it was a meal that we used to share back at university the night before an exam (though with the less expensive tuna) . Not sure why, maybe because it was easy and we believed the nutritiousness of the meal and fish would add to our brain power (though tinned tuna doesn’t contain any omega 3…). Happy to report we both got a First in our Psychology degree 😉 Basically you halve a butternut squash, bake it, then add a tomato, fish and vegetable mix on top. Standard easy cheap student eats.

We then watched Fifty Shades of Grey. Both of us knew it would be rubbish and we’d read the books and found them fairly rubbish too, but it was such a girlie, easy film and we could talk our way through it anyway. It was terrible but in a very amusing way. And somewhat cringy with just how cheesy it was. Don’t think I’ll be seeing the next one!

The next morning I got up before 7am to get in a six mile run (my “long” run for the week). 

It went fairly well. Not “fist pump the sky” amazing, but relatively OK. After showering, having breakfast and grabbing a Starbucks for the road, we were on our way (*cough* about ten minutes late…).

Seeing my friends was, as always, lovely. One of them is at the early stages of pregnancy which is just crazy. I mean, I know pregnancy happens but it’s just so bizarre seeing one of your close friends with a mini bump growing an actual baby. Like an actual adult. I don’t feel like we are adults though yet. Well, I’m certainly not!

We had a lovely meal at Las Iguanas. Shockingly I went for something different. I’d been craving, fajitas and I do love an assembly job meal 😉

It was very tasty – and came with sour cream, guacamole and salsa on the side. The chicken and pepper mix was a bit over-oily, but it still tasted really good and, to be honest, dipping my tortilla in the oily sauce might have happened a few times. I fully enjoyed it. No puddings but I was fairly content with my meal. And I had a couple of apples in my bag soo…

Happily I also managed to pick up a couple of bargains in the sale. I got a beautiful soft leather jacket down from £75 to £35 (!) and an £8 cardigan from Oasis. I’m very pleased. I literally went out with the hope to find a casual jacket and it was the first one I saw.

I drove back from Reading on my own (Charlotte headed back on the train) and then quickly wolfed down some dinner before getting myself ready for my next social outing. My friend, Ant, has just turned 30 and was having a sci-fi themed party at his and his wife’s house. It sounds like a fairly easy fancy dress, right? For a guy maybe, but there isn’t a huge amount of choice when it comes to female outfits. The obvious is Princess Leia. But I didn’t think it in the best of taste and after Googling a bit I found a great outfit. It was about £27 but it came with lots of accessories and I could see myself wearing it to a movie-themed parkrun or race at some point…  an investment!It came with an arm gauntlet, necklaces, a feather necklace and the ‘loin cloth’ thing came attached to the blue suit. I added the flipflops, some extra bracelets, blue face paint (a bargain from Amazon) and plaited a few bits of my hair.Not too shabby, eh! I love fancy dress so for me this was great. Though I did feel somewhat naked. Compared to my friend, Sarah, who was dressed up as a unicorn in a very fluffy and huge (self-made!) outfit. But mine was an ideal choice for any running in the future…

The party was good fun. We played lots of board games, ate lots and just generally had a laugh.Our parties are far more low-key now we’re older but we still love a bit of fancy dress. There was an ewok, a storm trooper, terminator robot, Aragorn from LoTR (strictly speaking I’d say this is fantasy not sci-fi…) and Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (for my shame I was the only one who got the reference…). There was a random nun and Jesus Christ but only because they didn’t have a sci-fi outfit and wanted to dress up. In *some* circles JC might be seen as sci-fi I suppose…

It was a good evening and I was thankful for my friend lending me some baby oil to remove my face paint (the blue had stained my hands and didn’t seem to come off with just soap and water). It came off nice and easily with the oil. Though half way through the removal I did resemble a zombie – noted for another fancy dress option! 😉

I was quite thankful for this as I was meeting a friend the next morning for coffee and I really didn’t want a blue face!

Have you ever used face paint for fancy dress?

What would you go as for a sci-fi themed fancy dress?

Are you good with travelling to different places on your own?