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!

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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.
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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!
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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 Dailyplate.com:

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!

Joining the Garmin Gang

So over the last couple of months when I’ve been examining running and training in greater depths, I discovered a word which kept on cropping up in all of the blogs I’ve been reading… GARMIN. Everyone was talking about their Garmin stats, their Garmin this and their Garmin that – but I had no idea what this thing was. It is, of course, a GPS-enabled running trainer which you wear on your wrist in the style of a watch. It tracks your distance, time, pace, heart rate…everything you could possibly want to analyse your progress basically. I’m a real gadget fiend and love looking at statistics for my runs so I was captivated immediately by the Forerunner 305. Since Christmas was coming up I put the idea to Santa for a potential inclusion in my stocking, and to my delight on Christmas morning I unwrapped a box with a Forerunner in it!

The following few days were spent down in Paisley busy with Badger’s family, however when Hogmanay passed and we all settled back down to earth I was ready to get out in to the real world and give it a go on the 3rd of January.

Thankfully for the first time in the best part of a month we were without snow, although the weather was utterly atrocious – it was biting cold, pouring with rain and miserably windy. I was determined to get outside and give it a go though so I took myself down to my old favourite place to run – the Deeside Way – which is a disused railway line linking Aberdeen and Banchory, popular with runners, walkers, cyclists and horse riders. I ran on this frequently when I was training last year for my first 10k – it’s straight, flat, well surfaced and safe, and starts at the beautiful Duthie Park in the City.

Not quite so beautiful that morning though… I gritted my teeth and got out of the car in to the freezing rain reminding myself that it was never always going to be easy to be a runner and that it would probably at times be a lot worse than this whilst waiting for the Garmin to find satellites. This took longer than I anticipated so I’ll need to remember that in future for when I’m starting out.

I had aimed for 5 miles – 2.5 out and 2.5 back, but I was really struggling after a mile and a half. Running uphill in driving, freezing rain for your first workout after 2 weeks of Christmas gluttony is true insanity at it’s best – I felt like I weighed a tonne and the path was very wet and icy which made for treacherous terrain. In fact, after 2 miles the path became near impossible to pass without ice skates.

Note that is thick ice covered in water, and the grass at the side was sodden and very boggy. Reluctantly (Ha!) I turned back but decided to really belt my way back as quickly as possible to allow the torture to end, and also to do some speed work. At the end I finished just over 4 miles in 43m 32s which is a bit sad, although that did include rather more walking than I’d like to admit and a two minute stop at the end of 2 miles.

Unfortunately, soon after this run my left knee began hurting badly. By the next day it had swollen up badly and was causing me great pain. Basically the exact same type of pain that made me take a lot of time off running in the summer, except with added swelling and bruising. Super! Lord knows what’s going on – it’s the top outside of my knee and it hurts when I bend it with weight on it – either the weight of my body pushing on the ground or the weight of the lower half of my leg pulling on it when it’s off the ground. Super duper indeed. Lots of ibruprofen and RICE’ing (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation followed and I was fine to run 4 miles on Wednesday – oddly it hurts to walk but not to run. I have a knee support which I’m wearing when I’m out and about but I’ll be keeping an eye on this closely. It was when I got to running 5ish miles regularly last year that my knees really started packing in – I wonder what it is about this distance that they don’t like!?

Today I am heading out to pick up my car from my Grampa’s house – about a 4.5m run over to his according to MapMyRun.com. It is COOOOLD outside – my phone says -6C so I will be wrapping up warm. Tonight is also book club, this time at Erin’s house in Peterculter. I’m using my newly found sobriety to drive the gang out and back – another benefit of keeping off the booze for a while!

Rhona v2.0

Well now we’re 5 days and a couple of hours in to 2011 and I’ve finally managed to pin down some time to write the customary “Happy New Year; This is what I did last year, this is what I want to do this year and here’s how I’m going to do it” post. However I don’t know about you but the shine of a new year has already kind of worn off for me so I shan’t draw this out any longer than I have to before I move on. Because I have far more interesting things to write about.

I’ve got a few posts to go up in the next few days actually – I’ve been mulling over some topics which are completely unrelated to one another, so for everyone’s sake I’ll just split them up. Starting with the above-mentioned generic beginning-of-the-year blog…

I do have some goals, some big, some small and all mainly running related. Here they are:

  1. Run a half marathon (Am registered for the Great Scottish Run in September)
  2. Knock 10 minutes off my 10k PR i.e run a sub-45min 10k. (Lots of speed work… *laughter*)
  3. Run 1,000 miles in total over the year (I will use dailymile.com to track this – check out my new widget for it below!!)
  4. Run a race in every month this year (So far need something in March + August to fill in the gaps, then Oct/Nov/Dec as well – see Races page)
  5. Get a pay rise.
  6. Go on holiday with Badger, just the two of us (an absolute last minute deal in the summer is probably our best bet I reckon. Just rock up to the Travel Agents and say we want to leave tomorrow – whaddya got?!)

I think if I were to accomplish all of the above I’d be pretty chuffed. I also have another more ‘New Year’s Resolution’ type change to make, but it’s not really a goal as such:

I’ve decided I’d really like to get a grip on my alcohol consumption.

I’ve been a huge party animal for over 10 years now and alcohol has always had a central role in my social life. I have always had a disgustingly huge appetite for the stuff and a massive tolerance for it to match. I’m always the last one standing at the party and the first one back at the pub the next day – which is all fine and well if you’re not getting into trouble and it’s not part of a more serious problem, but it really doesn’t fit with the lifestyle of an athlete; which is what I am trying to become. You can’t be a badass runner and a badass boozer at the same time…or if you can, then you’re the ultimate badass and therefore my hero.

For one I need to be able to fit in long, outside runs at the weekend – especially during the dark winter months when Saturday and Sunday are the only days where I see daylight outside work. If I’m getting in at 6am and sleeping ’til 3pm then the chances of me getting a long run in is absolutely zero.

Secondly, the calorific content of alcohol is something I need to start thinking carefully about. Since I’m no longer a young, sprightly student with the metabolism of a greyhound my body is less equipped to shake off the 6,000 of extra beer calories I can pack in on a Friday night. And then there’s the crisps in the pub, the pizza/chips/kebab on the way home and the copious fatty, salty and greasy carbs I’d need the next day to become human again. Looking at that it makes clear where the huge increase in belly fat in the last year has come from despite maintaining a healthy amount of exercise. There’s a whole load of tailored clothes in my wardrobe that I’d really like to fit into again – and for that sadly, Guinness is not my friend.

Finally, my social life is a huge drain on my wallet – I live in one of the most expensive cities in the UK where a pint in the regular places I drink will set you back £3 – £4 for generic lager. Fancy a cocktail? That’ll be £6. If you do the maths on a heavy night out that adds up to me drinking away a lot of my salary which is nothing to write home about anyway.

So basically, I’m on the wagon for January and February to start off with. I think I need to re-learn how to enjoy alcohol and treat it as something to enjoy on special occasions. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think everyone should have this attitude – I mean partying is awesome, which is why I’ve done it non-stop since I learnt how to open a bottle with my teeth at Band Camp in 1999… But it’s just not the kind of lifestyle I can sustain right now. I also know myself too well – I won’t be able to just ‘cut back’ as I’ll be drawn back in to things gradually and it’ll be back to square one. I’ve always made decisions in black and white; not shades of grey, just like I decided I was going to become a runner – I guess I will view this change as part of this transition.

There are some people who will be reading this with ever growing looks of confusion and disbelief upon their faces (Hi Mum!) but for the most part my friends have been supportive. In fact a couple of them are even joining me – we’ve all been partying extra hard the last few weeks and to be honest I think we all just need a bit of a break from the sauce. I’m so fed up of being hungover – it’s been wonderful to be waking up clear headed and ready to go without suffering the varying consequences of whatever it was I drank the night before. It’s only been 6 days though; I don’t doubt it will be hard in the future weeks to come – after all I think the longest I’ve gone without some form of adult beverage in the last decade is about 8 days. Shocking, eh?

I’ll finish on some lighter news – what am I going to do with all this money I’ll be saving from quitting the booze anyway? Well, I’ll be taking a long LONG overdue trip to Austin, Texas for a holiday in March/April. I studied for a year at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004/05 and I’ve never gone back/been able to go back for a mixture of reasons, but now is the time and in 81 days I’ll be flying around the world again to where I left my heart all those years ago. I fell in love with the University, Austin, Texas and all her people, and I’m lucky enough to be able to stay with some of the friends I made so long ago when I arrive. I’ll be staying for 10 days and already the list of things I’d like to see and do is as long as my arm – you can expect many excited updates in the weeks to come!

That’s all for now – I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about using my awesome new Christmas gift (A Garmin Forerunner 305! Thank you Santa Paws!!) and running with an injury.