Wotton parkrun – half birthday celebrations

I’ve been busy lately – I have been a little involved with Wotton parkrun! Well that is a slight understatement, and although I don’t like to think parkrun has taken over my life, it has just a bit!! Last Saturday we held our half-birthday run. It’s hard to believe that a whole 6-months has passed since Wotton parkrun #1, and what a great 6-months of parkrunning and volunteering we have experienced. 

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Tetbury Dolphins Running Club supported our half birthday event. Photo:Dave Fitzjohn

We decided to celebrate this milestone run with fancy dress and many runners turned up in an amazing array of costumes. We also held a cake sale in aid of Wotton Community Parc (where we hold our parkrun). We had a great turnout of 130 runners who were very generous when buying the cakes afterwards. 

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The cake sale was very popular.

There was a fantastic atmosphere, everyone ‘enjoyed’ their run and luckily we had sunny (if a little chilly) weather. Wotton parkrun seems to be enjoyed by all who attempt it, whether local or all the way from South Africa or Australia. It has been challenging over the winter months with some very muddy days, but now it’s dry and the Community Parc is looking green and beautiful. 

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Winter running at Wotton parkrun. Great fun!!
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The Community Parc is looking fabulous

As I mentioned in a previous blog post (parkrun comes to Wotton), Wotton parkrun is an off-road course with a mixture of grass, grassy tumps, muddy puddles (in winter) and a couple of gravel tracks. It’s a very interesting course and has been referred to by some as the Wotton ‘butterfly’ due to the nature of the route. In honour of the Wotton butterfly, I made a parkrun celebration cake. 

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Wotton ‘butterfly’ – well you can see it if you squint and maybe turn it upside-down!

I volunteer almost every week at the parkrun, and a couple of weeks ago I joined the 25 volunteer club – to celebrate I ran as tail runner and made cakes for all the volunteers! My husband also reached the 25 volunteer club on the same day, so it was a double celebration. Any excuse for cake!!

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Cake!

Cinnamon cashew nut butter

I’ve just made a batch of cinnamon cashew nut butter. This was based on the ingredients list for the previous contents of this jar! Really easy to make (in my Vitamix) and very few ingredients.

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Ingredients

200g unsalted cashew nuts
20g honey
20g melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon salt (optional)

Method

Add cashews to Vitamix (or other powerful food processor), blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix to a butter-like consistency. You can add more or less coconut oil, depending on what consistency you prefer.

Perfect on porridge after a long Sunday run!!

Chocolate coconut energy bites

Why buy expensive over the counter ‘energy-balls’ when it is so easy to make your own. I made these for the first time this evening and they are absolutely delicious.

The recipe is one from Cycling Weekly magazine and adapted slightly (of course).

Ingredients
(makes 16 bite size balls)

150g oats
100g dates
75g coconut oil
60g honey
30g almond butter
25g desiccated coconut
20g cocoa powder
1 medium egg
1 tbsp peanut powder (optional)
pinch of salt

Method

1. Chop the dates into tiny pieces or whizz up in a food processor
2. In a saucepan melt together the honey, almond butter and coconut oil (you can also melt in a bowl in the microwave)
3. Stir in the cocoa powder and coconut
4. In the food processor/mixer or just a normal bowl, mix together the dates, the beaten egg, the saucepan contents and the oats (+pinch of salt) until thoroughly bound.
5. Shape into 1″ balls (approx 31g each) and place on a baking tray – on a sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper. 
6. Bake at 180ºC/170ºC fan for 15 minutes.
7. Allow to cool then taste one 🙂
8. Wrap individually in cling film ready to take on a long bike ride or run.

Nutritional value per bite (approximate)
kcalories 102
Carbohydrates 18g
Protein 3g
Fat 8g

Enjoy!

parkrun comes to Wotton

On Saturday I volunteered as Tail Runner at the 4th Wotton parkrun. Our new parkrun started in October and has been very well supported from the beginning. This is essentially a cross-country course, mostly on grass with a couple of gravel tracks.  It is about as rustic and rural as they come! I have only ever run off-road on one previous occasion – and that was at last weeks parkrun!! I treated myself to some trail running shoes because I was conscious that I would need more traction especially in muddy and icy conditions. These trainers were definitely needed today as it was 1ºC when we got up this morning and we had both mud and ice.

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My new runners

Volunteers are the key to parkrun and a trusty band of new and regular volunteers began to turn up around 08:30. The parkrun course takes in two laps of the Wotton Community Parc and the furthest corners take quite a while for the volunteers to reach, so when setting up all hands are very welcome.

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Volunteers briefing

The air was pretty cold and the grass was covered in frost. The scene looked beautiful actually and as I happened to have my camera with me I took some rather moody photographs.

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Frosty morning at Wotton Community Parc

As 9am approached runners started to arrive. Those who had not done a parkrun before and those who were new to Wotton listened to a new runners briefing – this explains the course, the timing procedure (using barcodes) and lets people know about any problems on the run such as mud and ice (we had plenty of that this week). We also welcomed representatives from Wotton Lions Club who were presenting us with the new defibrillator that they have kindly donated. Lets hope we never have to use it – it’s great to have this piece of invaluable equipment available for all who use the Community Parc. 

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The AED donated to Wotton Community Parc by the Wotton-under-Edge Lions Club

As Tail Runner it is my job to run at the back (or walk as necessary) and keep behind or with (and chat to) the last person taking part. I enjoy this volunteer role because I still get to run but it is usually at a nice leisurely pace and I get to meet interesting people. This week I was running for a while with a dad and his 5-year old son who was really enjoying his run, and was determined to get to the end for his sausage buttie treat. Then I ran with a lovely lady who was doing her first Wotton parkrun, but not her last I suspect, as she was local to the area. Like me, she had lost a lot of weight through running and was determined to keep it off and stay fit and healthy. We finished in a very respectable 42 minutes. 

By 09:50 everything was cleared away and we were on our way back home for porridge.

I’m looking forward to next week already. 

Wotton parkrun

High carb bars

My husband often uses thousands of calories on a training ride or run, so he needs high carb snacks. For a couple of years now I have been making these – we call them ‘high carb bars’.

The bars are based on certain brand of wholefood bar which conveniently has a list of its ingredients in percentages on the back of the wrapper. These bars are gluten, wheat and dairy free. My variation aren’t necessarily dairy free, as I add chocolate, but they could be.

Five ingredients
Just five ingredients

To make my bars I use a Vitamix. This is a high powered machine which is good at whizzing up stuff. You could also use a food processor. To make the bars without a machine you would just need to bash up the dried fruit, almonds and chocolate in a bowl, perhaps using the rounded end of a rolling pin.

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Vitamix

Once all the ingredients are combined, I squish the mixture up together in my hands and then pop it onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and form it into a square sausage.

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Square sausage

I weigh it at this stage and because I have already worked out the total number of calories in the recipe, I can work out how many calories per gram. I cut it into 9 or 10 pieces depending on how many calories I want in each piece. For this batch I have cut 52g pieces which are 208 calories and 26g of carbs per slice.

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Slices of high carb bar

The beauty of these bars is that they can be taken in the back pocket of a cycling jersey and eaten on the go. To make this easier I wrap them in rice paper.

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Wrapped in rice paper

Ingredients

Dried Dates – 180g
Almonds – 100g
Cranberries – 68g
Cocoa Powder – 24g
Dark chocolate – 50g

Using this recipe, the bars are approximately 4 calories and 0.5g carbs per g

(The original recipe used 110g Cashews, but I prefer almonds and I wanted to make it more chocolatey so I added the chocolate. I have used cranberries instead of the original raisins because they have a slightly higher carbohydrate content – the bar is also delicious using raisins).

Method

Mash the dates and cranberries, blitz the almonds and chocolate and add to the mix, along with the cocoa powder – mix with your hands until you have an even consistency. Alternatively add all ingredients to a food processor/Vitamix and whizz together until mixed.  Form into any shape/size bars you fancy.

Take on a cycle ride and boost your energy reserves!

A pain in the piriformis!

Unfortunately my pirformis pain has got worse again over the last couple of months, so now I am reducing my running in order to try to alleviate of the problem. This has happened on and off for the last two years and it is very annoying.  I need to concentrate on my stretching and strengthening exercises.

I have visited a physiotherapist, a chiropractor and a sports massage therapist about this ‘pain in the bottom’ and have never really had a clear answer as to how I can get rid of it for good (maybe I won’t ever?). I know the stretches I have to do and how to treat the acute problem, but why do I have to suffer? I also know it is because I run – but I’m not giving that up. My doctor once told me that as I get older I will experience running induced aches and pains, however he said the benefits of running  – keeping me active and in shape – greatly outweigh the alternative of inactivity, obesity and muscle loss. So I will keep on running – with or without piriformis pain. But for a while I am taking it easy.

Over the past week or so I have been swimming and using the bike in the gym, neither of these activities give me pain, but both take a lot more effort and dedication, mainly because I have to drive 5 miles before I can start. It also takes me longer to use up the calories to allow me to eat the things I want to eat!! There is nothing like running for burning calories and the beauty of running is that I just open my front door and run. When there are other factors involved, like making a car journey, more excuses can be found…

So I’m feeling a bit sad that running is off the agenda for the time being. As I am not working this week, I can use the time to catch up with other things in my life that sometimes get neglected. Maybe a well-earned rest is something that my body will appreciate!

Oh, you may like to know that my gym isn’t such a traumatic place to visit – it’s in a hotel which is a fabulous gothic mansion and it is always a treat to drive up the long driveway to be greeted by this magnificent building in such a beautiful setting.

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Tortworth Court Hotel

Amazing Team GB

Sorry for lack of posts recently. The main reason has been these guys…

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…and with the four hour time difference from Rio, all the events in the velodrome have kept us glued to the screen from about 8pm to midnight. 

Five days to go at the olympics and Team GB are doing so well, second in the medals table for a few days now. So much talent from such a small island. We are very proud of you all.

Back to normality soon – we need to catch our breath!