A whole lot of food and not as much running

Well done to anyone who ran the London Marathon, the Southampton Half or Marathon and everything in between! After the crazy Brighton Marathon weekend, this weekend was set to be a lot more chilled. Less running, more chilling, but still good fun and good food.

Saturday I was back at Netley parkrun for the first time in ages. Though Netley isn’t as close as some other parkruns near to where I’m currently living (Lee is just down the road and Fareham is about 10 minutes away), it’s my “home” parkrun. It’s where a lot of my running club and running friends go and as parkrun (and running really) is such a social thing for me, I’m happy to go that bit further. This time I was able to take James as well and show him how we do it daaaaan Saaaath (down South).

Happily it was the summer course – so instead of six hills on the winter course there are just three. It’s still a fairly tricky course though because you go over the grass a lot and it was quite damp and slippy. But I wasn’t aiming for a speedy time so it didn’t bother me. It was a lovely warm morning and the sun was shining. It’s so nice when you get days like this, though it’s always going to be a more sweaty run.I got to meet my friend Mike’s ADORABLE new puppy as well, Luna. Oh my god she was cute. Her fur is so so soft. It was her first time at parkrun (not running, supporting) and she’s only just been allowed outside for walks, so as you can imagine she was quite excited. I look forward to Alfie meeting her! I only managed to snap this photo of her… Anyway, it was nice to see lots of my running friends and catch up briefly. My friend, Mark, had recently had a knee operation so was easing slowly and sensibly back into running. His plan was to run 15 minutes and then walk the rest. He’s also one of the casualties of the change in GFA times for London, having got 3:04 at Chester in order to do London next year. I’m gutted for him.

Mark and I ran together. He’s a lot faster but as he’s coming back from the op my pace suited him and it was nice to run round together catching up. James was steaming ahead at the front – by some significant distance it must be said (I had anxieties on his behalf that he wouldn’t know where to go, despite knowing just how many flags are put out on the course having set it up many times myself.

The legendary Carlo (who raises so much money for charity running as the Cookie Monster and just being a general legend above next to James)

But still, part of my is very glad that I’ll never be in that situation where I’m leading the way and having to know exactly where to go rather than just follow those ahead!).My legs felt good post marathon (SOMEONE TOUCH WOOD IMMEDIATELY). Just a bit tired and heavy, but no niggles and no issues. Jesus, who even am I? It felt tough though running at a less than comfortable pace and I wondered just how the hell I managed the time I did at Brighton. Mark, precisely to the minute, stopped to walk and I carried on. I managed to get faster as the run continued and finished in 21:35 and second female.
James smashed it and came first (18:24). His first ever first position so he was chuffed. Six days after a marathon PB, not too shabby eh.New Brighton Marathon t-shirt – an actual female small that looks good and fits nicely. Happy days.

After Netley, we headed back to shower and eat breakfast before doing what any self-respecting seaside living Brit would do when there’s a tiny HINT of sunshine… head to the beach! We walked along from Hill Head down to Lee-On-Solent where we stopped for a lovely cup of tea and slice of cake in the Penguin Cafe. I don’t know why it’s called the Penguin Cafe but inside there are loads of penguin pictures and penguin themes. It’s random but lovely and friendly and the cakes and food well priced and delicious. How I’ve never actually been there in all the years I’ve lived on the coast I don’t know. But it was nice to pretend I was a tourist for a bit with James.It was hard though to choose just one piece of cake. The lure of chocolate won me over and I had a chunk of rocky road. Omg it was good. Big chunks of biscuit, cherries, marshmallows. Gooey, sticky, melty… heavenly. James had a slice of crunchy chocolate cake which was apparently delicious too (we rarely share food. This is a rule I’m very happy with).The towering many-layered lemon cake looked immense though so we both got a slice of that to take home of course. We decided though that as it was pretty much summer (let’s ignore the bit of rain we had on our walk…*cough*), ice cream had to be done too. I got a scoop of white chocolate brownie and a scoop of rocky road (obviously the chunk I’d just eaten wasn’t enough). Ahh exceptional.I’m such a sucker for anything white chocolate really. To think I used to not like it. I mean, what!?

OK now withhold your judgement here please… In the evening we headed to 7Bone Burger for dinner. In fairness we didn’t have lunch (just all the ice cream and cake…). But anyway, we both ordered the blue cheese and bacon burger and I had frickles (fried pickles) and we shared halloumi fries. Daaaaamn it was good. I mean, yeah probably horrendously bad for you blah blah blah but I don’t do this every day (God I just couldn’t. I’d die). *Cough* we then headed to Sprinkles. In retrospect, this was unnecessary.I got the “Sticky Situation”, which is essentially a whole lot of cookie dough, ice cream, white chocolate and cream. I couldn’t finish it. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME. It was just too much sweetness. My body rebelled and said no. I enjoyed what I ate (which was probably 75%) but it really pushed me over the edge and I needed a little lie down and a quiet word with myself. Why do I do this to myself? No regrets though because I’d been craving one of these for ages. I think I’ve had my fun though… time to get a bit less piggy. At the weekend I do enjoy my treats but this weekend was a little bit overboard.

The next morning we were up super early to get in a long run before the London Marathon coverage started on the TV. I say long run, but 10 miles doesn’t really sound “long” anymore since marathon training. That said, it did feel long. A strange oxymoron really because during marathon training 10 miles would have been easy peasy.

It was lovely and cool when we set off. James had forgotten his Garmin so I was the one to keep an eye on the pace… hard going when one of you is a lot faster than the other and you feel a bit like you’re dragging them back when you say “slow down a bit”.

It was a lovely morning, not too hot but still sunny. In fact it was perfect temperatures to be honest (if only the London Marathon and the Southampton half/marathon had started as early as we had it might have been a bit easier as it really heated up later for them).Happily for us we didn’t get too hot. My legs felt good, still a little heavy and tired, but no niggles. In fact it was a nice run to just zone out and enjoy. We followed the Stubbington 10k route for about five miles and then ran along the coast from Hill Head to Lee-On-Solent and back round to Stubbington again. It was a nice quiet run.Then it was action stations to shower, have breakfast and watch the London Marathon. It was a good watch but I truly felt for the mass runners who had to endure such hot temperatures and sunshine. What troopers. We were so lucky with Brighton and how cool we had it. I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have done as well as I had if it had been as hot as London was.

Didn’t Mo do well, eh! Very pleased for him to have gotten third. But how cool is Kipchoge – smiling and looking cool as a cucumber as he smashed it out for first place. And in the interviews before and after he just sounded like such a nice guy. Really down to hill and humble. Mo did make me laugh a little in the press interview with the top three men…taking selfies and messing around. A little disrespectful to the interviewer but let’s be honest, he was probably quite chuffed with himself and deserves a bit of fun.

For lunch I made cottage pie with sweet potato mash and it turned out quite well I think! Not a particularly summer lunch granted…but it filled a hole.So another solid weekend with a bit less running but lots of food. And time to think about some new running goals I think…

How was your weekend?

Did you watch the London Marathon?

Is your home parkrun based on location or something else?

Slow Cooker Obsessed

Why did it take me so long to get the slow cooker out of the back of my car?? It is amazing. Not only does it hugely help when we have a busy evening but it is so nice to come from work and smell dinner. And so far, everything has been delicious!


All it takes is a bit of forward planning and minor prep in the morning. And I’m nothing if not lover of planning. And looking up loads of recipes on Pinterest or my favourite blogs. Always fun!

So for a bit of WIAW fun, here are my latest meals thanks to my slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Disassembled Cottage Pie:

Slow cooker cottage pie

This was very simple. The night before I chopped a white onion and fried it with garlic ready for the morning. Then in the morning I added that to the slow cooker with 400g/~1lb lean beef mince. I added a few tablespoons of tomato paste, herbs and crumbled a couple of beef stock cubes and gave it a good mix. Then I popped it on low and went on my merry way to work. It probably cooked for 8-9 hours.

My intention had been to pop it into a casserole dish with mash sweet potato on it and cook it for another 20mins but in the end I couldn’t be bothered. So Ben got his with garlic bread and I whizzed up some cheesey cauliflower mash for me. Done.

I’d suggest it could probably serve 4 with potato but for me and my monster appetite (and only having cauliflower mash) I finished off half and felt very satisfied. Ben struggled with his half!

Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken:

I used THIS recipe for this meal. It was unbelievably easy. Just chicken, a tub of cream cheese (I used medium fat), a tin of condensed chicken soup (I used Campbell’s), lots of Italian herbs and 1/2 cup of water. Mix and put on low for 6-8 hours.

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken:

Again, another simple chicken meal. I chopped up an onion and added it to the slow cooker with lots of garlic and herbs, then placed a whole chicken on top. 6 hours on low (until the juices in the chicken ran clear).

I then served the chicken with a bit of the drained roasted onion and lots of roasted squash (which I did in the normal oven) and vegetables. And half a bottle of BBQ sauce… You know it makes sense.

Squash Soup with Chickpeas:

Ingeniously I did all the prep for this the weekend before. I chopped up an onion, a delicata squash, a butternut squash and a sweet potato and popped it all into a freezer bag.

I popped the bag into the fridge ready. Then a couple of days later I in the morning I added the contents of the bag to the slow cooker, added some spices (I like cumin, paprika and a bit of curry powder), a crumbled vegetable stock cube, half a tin of coconut milk and a cup(ish) of water and stirred. Again, 6-8 hours on low.

When I got in from a run all I had to do was whizz it all up using a hand blender and then added a tin of chickpeas. I left it on high while I showered (20 minutes?) and then dinner was ready!

So I’m pretty chuffed with the slow cooker. It has really helped when we’re working late or I’m out running in the evening. It just means one less thing to worry about and a beautifully tasty meal! Also it means less washing up.

I’m looking forward to try out different soups, BBQ ribs (*swoon*), chilli…the possibilities are endless! Any suggestions are more than welcome too 🙂

What’s your favourite slow cooker meal? So far mine is the creamy chicken. Ben was a big fan of this one too (surprise, surprise…)

What are your time-saving tips for cooking in the week?

 Do you do a lot of food preparation at the weekend? I try to but sometimes the weekends are so  busy, just getting the normal stuff done is tight!