Red Wine Runner

Monthly Archive: January 2011

January round up

I feel I’ve been lacking on motivation somewhat this week. It’s been a really busy week at work and the last time I ran was doing speed intervals on Tuesday! I’ve had to work on a project at home every night this week as well as fitting in training. I missed my planned hill training session on Thursday as I had dinner plans with my Mum and I needed a rest day after 4 days of workouts on the trot, and instead of rescheduling it to Friday after work, I came home and slept for two hours. I guess I needed the rest but I still felt bad for skipping it. On Saturday I had more work to do and spent all morning in the bedroom with the laptop and two cats asleep around me until I broke to go for a walk along the beach with Badger…before I knew it it was time to go out for dinner to celebrate a colleagues 65th birthday – no time for a long run on Saturday then. Saturday night turned into Sunday morning and champagne at the Casino at 5am and your so far faithfully abstainful Red Wine Runner falling spectacularly off her tee-total wagon and straight back into old habits. Waking up at 1pm with a stinking headache, heralded only a trip to the cinema in terms of physical achievement; topped off with a greasy Chinese for dinner.

Way to go. I was supposed to wait until the 4th of February til I drank again but they don’t call me Red Wine Runner for nothing. So that was a whole weekend of running scrapped and now on Monday morning I feel fatigued and lethargic as a result.

Back to the gym tonight then – gliding class and then Yoga. Maybe I can push in a couple of miles on the treadmill as well? My running total for the month is 29 miles. To be on target for running 1000 miles this year I should have run 83.3 miles, or 2.74 miles a day. Not a stellar start to the year really, I didn’t even get half way there.

My other goal for the year of course is to run a race every month. I don’t have one currently scheduled for March but I think I will register for the RunGarioch 10k, which is on the 20th of March. I just got paid today so I should do it before I forget. This will push me to get ready for a 10k race before I go to Austin on the 28th of March. I’m obviously planning to run while I’m in Texas, but since I’m on holiday there may be more leverage for training runs to go out the window… I need to put some pressure on myself I think and a 10k at the end of March will allow me to gauge how my progress has come on and see how much work I need to do for Baker Hughes in May (which is the one race I already have a PR on and am training to beat it!)

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. I can’t honestly say I’ve really tried hard enough to meet my monthly goal mileage and my only excuse is my own lethargy. And a possible stress fracture I suppose. Here’s to a better February. The days are getting lighter bit by bit making running outside that little bit easier. Onwards and upwards.

Winter Cross Country – Race two.

I had a great race this morning! I woke up well rested and it was a beautiful, warm day outside so I felt positive from the outset. Badger was on photo duty as always, and a race re-cap shall follow shortly. First things first however, as mentioned in my previous post (which was actually written on my phone via the WordPress app – it works brilliantly!) I’ve been awarded the “Stylish Blogger Award” from Meg over at WatchMeGoRun. You can see that sitting over there to the left. The conditions of receiving the award are that I must a) Write 7 things about myself, b) Award it to 15 other stylish bloggers and C) link back to the blogger who awarded it to me. I’m not sure about 15 other bloggers – that’s an awful lot but I’ll have a think…

7 things about me:

  1. I grew up in the countryside and am still very much a country girl at heart
  2. I spent a year studying at the University of Texas
  3. The furthest East I’ve been is Ukraine; the furthest West, California
  4. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13
  5. I’m an only child and have no cousins or other family younger than my parents
  6. I have 23 piercings
  7. My favourite drink is champagne

So there you go – if you know me in real life then that won’t have held many real surprises!


Now on to the race report from this morning.  The race was the second out of the three races in the Running Shop’s Winter X-Country Season. The first was back in November out at Banchory and I found it quite tough – it was the first X-Country I’d done in a looong time. In the last few months I’ve been doing different types of training – speed and hill intervals – so I was hoping to be able to knock a couple of minutes off my previous time of 28m59s. I’m happy to report that I came in at 26m57s – that’s a whole two minutes and two seconds faster!! I was really please with how the race went, but what a mean course! I mean, the 3/4 of the second mile was uphill!!! So let’s take a closer look.

Breakfast? The failsafe porridge and toast combo, this time jazzed up with a banana and mango jam.

The race took place at Haddo House country park which is about 15 miles north of Aberdeen. I got packed up, remembering previous lessons learned for X-country such as: Bring a change of shoes and socks and bring layers to pile on before and after the race. We jumped in the car and I gave Badger a quick lesson on how to use my DSLR as he was designated ‘Blogographer’ yet again and given strict instructions to document the day

It’s a lovely half hour drive out to Haddo. I grew up about 5 miles from it near a little village called Udny Green so this countryside and these roads are all very familiar to me. The gates above are the entrance to the sprawling estate, what follows is a windy narrow road which carves it’s way through the estate clinging perilously to some steep inclement and swooping through romantic, mossy forests.

You have to drive slowly on this road – not just due to the residual snow and ice which still remains from the terrible storms we had recently – but what because of what might jump in front of you! There are a large population of deer living in the park and I’ll never forget that time when we were driving in and a deer leapt in front of the car and across the road. Luckily we didn’t hit it but it reminds me that it’s really their habitat and we’re just visiting.

When we arrived it was still a perfect day for running – 8C, no wind, no frost and not too wet. I went to register and collect my chip and collected a course map. There’d been a slight course alteration due to ice on the trails, but when I looked at it in more detail I realised I’d be very familiar with part of the course… When I was in Primary school (Age 7/8/9ish) I did regional X-Country races through the school team – one of which was held at Haddo House every year. They were always 1 mile in length and it turned out that the second mile of the course was the same mile that I ran all those years ago. At this point I tried to forget that the Haddo race was always the one that everyone dreaded due to the ungodly hills. Tried to forget. Tried…

Haddo House itself. It’s still occupied by the Gordon family I believe, although the late Lady Aberdeen passed away just recently at the grand age of 95.

The start line. See the hill? That big one there in the distance? Well you don’t just have to go up it on the other side but come down it as well, and it’s very steep.

The first thing we did was take a brisk walk around the first mile for a warm up and to take a look at the course. The trails were beautiful, it was lovely to walk through the damp forests and smell the thick musty aromas of mud and pine needles. There were some muddy bits and some icy parts as well, but for the most part this section of the course was dry.

We got back to the start where the crowds were beginning to form so I got ready to go. Badger was taking his duties as blog photographer very seriously and documented every stretch…:) At this point I realised I’d forgotten my tissues, which was frustrating as my nose was already streaming, but not to worry as soon as I’m in the race I never think twice about blowing my nose into the air, or other such ladylike habits!

Definitely need to get Badger schooled on the inner workings of my DSLR, in particular, Shutter Priority mode! It was a mixed field again, it felt like there were more people entered though. My 3 mile race contained the Open Men/Women and also the U15s and U17s girls and boys – I still can’t believe how speedy the kids are. Why is it we slow down as we get older? There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being overtaken by a gangly 12 year old boy whilst you’re wheezing up a hill. You try hulking 12 stone up this hill boyo, just you wait until you get older!!

So the first mile was quite speedy – I completed it in 8:13 I think? I said yesterday that using my Garmin, I was hoping to maintain an 8:50/9:00 pace but at one point I looked down and saw I was running at 7:04!! If I was a sensible runner, or running a marathon, I would have slowed it down but I’m far too competitive for that as that would have meant letting people overtake me. In any case, when I had been considering the course with the map I figured maintaining a 9:00 pace going up The Hill would be nigh on impossible so I needed to grab time where I could to keep my finishing time low.

Due to the shape of the course, Badger could only get to one place during the race to take some pictures. Here you can see me approaching him after descending The Hill. Let me paint a picture for you – when you approach those gates in the distance you take a hard left and head up on a grassy gradient which was very muddy and hard to grip on. You then head clock-wise around the base of the hill and climb upwards until you reach the top which can be seen in the top right hand corner of the above picture. It’s not just a steady climb however; there are two dips in the trail where it takes a steep 15m-ish drop and then you have to climb back out of of the dip and continue further up the hill. It’s a relentless, ferocious, uncompromising ascent which wrecks your legs and as soon as you crest the top, you have to plunge all the way back down again which confuses your aching muscles.

At this point despite feeling like I was about to throw up, I was delighted to have that part of the course over and was ready to tackle the last mile. I was focusing so hard on keeping my pace up, I didn’t let myself relax for a second – not even to look up and wave at Badger! I really wanted to pass these two lasses who were ahead of me here – they’d passed me on the hill and I wanted my spot back!

And that was me heading off in to the forest again. On a side note; do you like my freshly dyed hair? I re-bleached the roots last week to make it extra bright and I’m pleased at how pink it looks in daylight!

Here I am approaching the finish. I managed to get ahead of one of the girls but the red shirt and the pink shirt held their lead.

Pushing extra hard for the final meters. A quick glance at the Garmin had revealed I was right on track and even a few seconds ahead of my 27 minute goal!

I love how this picture looks like I’m going so fast :)

Crossing the finish line. Again, I mustn’t forget to teach Badger about shutter speed control!

Getting my timing chip cut off by the lovely lady. At the last race I had to do this myself and nearly ended up arse first in the mud as my wobbly legs couldn’t cope!

Dying a little.

Ok a lot. But look at my hair – isn’t it great?!

I was delighted to see I’d achieved my time goal. My plan of making up slow hill time by pushing extra extra hard in the other sections had worked and I have a new 3 mile personal best. Yas!!!

A blue powerade and some stretches and I was ready to head off before I got too chilly. Although I definitely didn’t make any ripples in my age group placings, I’m sure I climbed up the ranking board a little further than last time when I was, erm, second last. There are age group awards for the best improved times over the three races so maybe if I keep at it I’ll be in the running (HA geddit?) for one of those. Can I run the next one in 25 minutes maybe?

A few hours later and I’m still running off that great post-race feeling. Even though these are only small races I still thrive on the atmosphere and enjoy how it pushes me to do my best. Standing amongst all of the club runners in their club kits, these statuesque creatures all made up of dense muscle and long bones; I still haven’t lost the ‘Do I belong here?’ feeling…the sensation that they all know I’ve only been running for a year and they’re all quietly wondering what on earth I’m doing here. I don’t know anyone else who does these races, but I quite like doing them on my own; it’s making me stronger as a runner and develops my competitive spirit. I’m getting more accustomed to finding my place in the field and how to hold on to it. I was also relieved to have little to no pain from my damaged shin; it was a little sore but no where near as cripplingly painful as after the last time I ran about 10 days ago. I think I will continue to take it easy with my runs and try to go outside as much as possible – it’s getting lighter little by little which means safer outside runs after work and the ‘mill will lose it’s tight Winter grip.

Ciao for now – this post has grown to epic proportions! It was only a 3 mile race, how on earth with I cope with a half marathon race report?!

Broken shins

I hope you enjoyed my attempt at a food blog the other day. I don’t plan on doing that often but I did enjoy a bit of a change…
My mileage in the last ten days has unfortunately taken a bit of a hit. After a 3.5 mile run along the beachfront last Thursday I developed extremely sore shins which even days later were still aching. The internet diagnosed shin splints, but I was more worried about a stress fracture on my left tibia so I booked an appointment at the Doctor. He was unsure so has referred me to the xray clinic for a closer look and told me to leave off the long runs until we know what’s going on.
I’m trying not to worry too much, but I have a race tomorrow so I heeded his advice and stuck to cross-training this week. At least i’ll be starting with fresh legs, but i’m worried i’ll be on my knees at the end of the 3 miles. It’s another cross country race so at least it will be on soft terrain. Speaking of knees, my sore knee has ben absolutely fine! Frustrating though, it’s only the 21st of January and I’ve suffered two running injuries already… not the best start to a year that’s supposed to be packed with races and one in which I’m trying to run 1000 miles.

So i’m looking forward to the race tomorrow obviously, and i’ll be hoping to beat my time from the last Cross Country; 28m 59s. I’ll also be trying to be um, further up the field than second last in my age group! It’ll be my first race with the Garmin as well – i’m trying to keep a 8.50/9.00 pace for the whole race – looking at the course around Haddo House I don’t think it’ll be quite as hilly as the last event so I hope I’ll be able to run evenly.
The weather looks good and it shouldn’t be too cold either. I’ll still be bearing in mind how chilly I got last time so will pack lots of layers and DRY SOCKS to change into!

In other news, I’ve been tinkering with the blog again and have a feed burner account set up – have you spotted the RSS feed button under my picture on the right? You can now click on that to add me to your Reader and get updates straight away as they come flying out of my fingers! Do it now!
Also, I’ve been awarded a Stylish Blogger award from WatchMeGoRun! More on that tomorrow along with a race update with pictures.

Vegan Power Fuel

After a brief hiatus, I’m back!  This time of the year at work is incredibly, incredibly busy for me and in between long days and long sessions at the gym I’ve not found the time to blog (for shame!). I’ve been formulating a couple of posts in my head which will go up in the next couple of days, but for tonight I’ve got an awesome recipe which I’d love to share with you!

Now, first thing’s first: I’m no food blogger. I read the beautifully crafted posts by the ladies behind my favourite healthy living blogs such as Emily at the Daily Garnish, Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, Meghann at Meals And Miles and my friend Angharad over at Eating for England, and I wonder how on earth they can put together and blog about such aesthetically appealing dishes, whilst keep their kitchens so neat and maintaining their sanity and inspiration! Mad props to them and everyone else on my blogroll who writes about food as creating this one post has  taken over my entire evening. Anyway; the long and short of it is – my kitchen’s a tip, my presentation is nothing special and the photos are a bit dodge; but the recipe’s a cracker so give it a shot!

So – what are we making tonight? Well it’s a recipe from my tried-and-tested, failsafe post-workout refuel menu. I go to the gym/fitness classes/for a run straight after work and usually end up back home around 7.30pm; close to 12 hours after I leave the house in the morning. When I get in I am always starving, but since it’s late in the evening for eating on a week night (I usually hit the hay around 10pm) I like to eat a fast, nutritious meal that’s going to refuel my aching muscles but doesn’t consist of anything too heavy. I’m talking about grains, pulses, nuts, steamed vegetables, tofu, faux-meat products etc etc – usually all in a bowl. I like eating out of a bowl, I find it oddly comforting.

I don’t have a name for this creation, but I announced it on Facebook last night as ‘Amazing Vegan Power Dinner’ much to the amusement of my carnivorous friends who stated the name itself was a contradiction in terms. Vegan? Power dinner? In the same sentence? Well have a read of this and the nutritional information at the bottom and maybe I’ll prove you wrong!

First here’s me in the kitchen after a typical sweat-fest in the gym, repping my Alma Mater on my t-shirt. The first thing I do is get my drink on – I absolutely love chilled sparkling flavoured water after the gym – 0 calories, none of the chemicals of fizzy drinks and very cheap!

First can I suggest you put some tunes on while you gather your ingredients? I recommend Planet Rock if you have a DAB.

This is what you need to get (right to left):

  • 200g firm tofu (Cauldron is good – I use half a pack)
  • Olive oil (2tbsp)
  • Soy Sauce (2tbsp)
  • Oyster mushrooms (half a box)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Broccoli
  • Black Beans (1/2 a can)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • Bag of baby spinach
  • Minced garlic (1tsp) Or use fresh stuff if you’re so inclined and have the time.
  • Minced ginger (1tsp) As above.
  • Large red chilli
  • BBQ sauce/marinade (a good squirt – I like Maxchup brand, found in Chinese/Thai supermarkets)
  • Tikka masala powder.
  • Chopped walnuts (missing from picture! Oops)

Whilst rocking out to some ageing rock music, the first thing you need to do is press your tofu. I learned this from the blogging world – I could never work out why my tofu fell to bits when I cooked it!

Grab your whole lump of drained tofu and a clean, dry glass cloth.

Wrap that little bad boy up like a parcel and find yourself a heavy tome. I find that the Littlewoods catalogue works wonders. Also, my cocktail bible which is suffering from a lack of use recently due to No-Booze-January. (I’m doing well by the way – 18 days! But more on that later)

Balance your books on top of the tofu and leave it whilst you continue to rock out and prepare your feast.

Next – get your olive oil in the wok on the hob at a very high temperature. You’ll know when the oil is really hot and ready when it’s smoking. Also – chop up your onion nice and small. Next? The chilli.

Now – I’m really not interested in any noise about missing the chilli out as you don’t like hot food, or you’re scared of chillis or any of that rubbish. Look at this beautiful thing; vivacious, red and ripe, and ready to give your dish a wonderful kick. Relax – it’s not going to kill you. The hotness calms the longer you cook its flesh so stick it in at the start if you’re a wuss – or just sear it in the pan at the end if you’re real hot head like me.

Chop it like so – take the top and tails off and cut neatly down one side. Open it up like a book and give it a good smell; pause a second and respect the chilli – have you ever seen a more beautiful shade of red? Now with a sharp knife gently remove the white flesh and the seeds from inside.

Then slice as you wish – I prefer thin semi-circular slices but whatever. Now – go and wash your hands! I’m serious! Go and do it, now. You can do so much danger to yourself and others with chilli residue on your hands – I got some stuck down the back of my nail last night and it felt like someone had stuck a needle down there all today

Next: the Oyster mushrooms. I prefer these to ordinary mushrooms for stirfries as they have such a lovely velvety texture and add a slightly nutty taste to any dish.

You can just tear the big ones apart and leave the small/medium sized mushrooms as they are. Avoid cutting these up in any dish as you’ll loose their special flavour when you cook them.

Your final vegetable is broccoli – my reigning favourite! Use as much or as little as you like – we’re going to give this a quick steam in the microwave to loosen it up first. I used about half a head of broccoli, but then how big is the head? How long is a piece of string.

So there’s your vegetables prep’d. To steam your broccoli you don’t need anything fancy – I just use an old take away carton with a splash of water, and then cover the top with the lid loosely. Easy.

I steam it for 1min in a 1000W microwave, so adjust accordingly for your machine. Whilst that’s on the go you can fix your tofu. Unwrap it and it should look a bit like this:

Cube it, and then scatter your Tikka Masala curry powder over the top.

Give it a good (gentle) rub with your hands to make sure every surface is covered.

I love this spice mix – it’s such a great time saver and gives a great light curry flavour to many things I cook. I’m a real spice fiend, and as mentioned above; a total hot head.  I mean; have you seen my spice rack shelf?

I’m a firm believer in avoiding packet sauces for oriental meals – they are always full of sugar/salt and MSG. I really enjoy creating my own spice blends and finding unusual hot sauces in pokey little international supermarkets. See that bottle of Sriracha on the right with the green lid? You can’t get that in Aberdeen, so the last time I was in Newcastle I took a trip to the Thai supermarket and bought three 750ml catering sized bottles to take home with me. That’s right – a litre and a half of sriracha. That was just under a year ago and it’s about time to stock up again :)

Anyway – time to stick it all in the pan. The oil should be smoking by now, so chuck in your onions and stir briskly. Then put in the tofu and any leftover masala powder.

Add chopped chilli’s, mushrooms and walnuts and stir for another minute or two.

There should be a little bit of juice going on in the bottom of the pan – to this add a teaspoon each of minced ginger and garlic.

Stir stir stir. Make sure everything is mixed nicely, and then get the steamed broccoli and black beans in as well. Drain the black beans first.

Next comes seasoning.

The assorted flavours of the ingredients themselves prevail in this dish – the nutty mushrooms, the strong onions and tasty broccoli, so you don’t need to add very much at all. At this point I put in a swig of BBQ marinade and a few drops of liquid smoke to give it a lovely hickory flavour (which compliments the chilli wonderfully). Add soy sauce to taste – I use this instead of salt, usually about 2 tablespoons.

The pan should be steaming up a storm now, so it’s time to add the last ingredient; the spinach.

There’s no need to be delicate about it – just bung the whole bag on top of the vegetables. It might look huge but spinach reduces about 1000% once it’s cooked so just fold it in to the mixture until it starts to wilt.

A good grind of black pepper and we’re done!

Served in a noodle bowl of course. I garnished with a swirl of Sriracha as well but that’s perhaps just my taste. Next? sit your tired ass down on the couch and fill your face whilst watching crap telly.

The end result is a myriad of flavour and textures – soft tofu, delicate mushrooms, crunchy nuts and a spicy kick. 5 portions of vegetables and totally vegan. Boom.

Nutritionally what’s the score? According to

Kcal – 692, Fat – 30g, Sodium – 1420mg, Carbs – 62.3g Fibre – 18.4g, Protein – 45.17g, Sugars – 15.2g.

I’m not a nutritionist so I won’t make any wild claims, but the dish packs a hell of a lot of protein – roughly half of the daily recommended intake for an adult female. One of the first “bingos” that vegetarians and vegans have to deal with it “Where do you get your protein?!” which stems from the belief that the best source of protein is meat.  This is not the case obviously – a plateful of this packs double the amount of protein in your average steak (23g) and also more than an average chicken breast (36g). It also has zero cholesterol, and the fats come mainly from the walnuts which are packed with essential omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins.

That’s all I’m going to say on the subject of vegetarian/veganism for now – I don’t believe in preaching about my choices, but rather encouraging people to learn about their food and make informed decisions for themselves. Maybe some readers will have learned something about typical vegan food from this post – I only wish I could have let you try it!