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!

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!

 

RideLondon 100 (spectator!)

On Saturday we travelled up to the capital for Dave’s second RideLondon 100 experience. As in 2015, we had decided to stay in a London hotel the night before as he had an early start time (07.15) and had to be in the pen an hour before. We had a nice early check-in at our hotel then we had to get across the city to the Excel Centre for registration. Unfortunately there were closures on the Northern Line so we had to use buses for some of the journey. This was not my favourite part of the weekend as I tend to get a little nauseous when travelling this way. Soon we were on the much more pleasant Docklands Light Railway, along with some of the other 26,000 people registering for the ride on Sunday.  The registration process lasted minutes, sign a form, show ID then pick up the race pack. There was the Expo to look around but it was busy and stuffy and Dave soon felt the need for a coffee. I had brought some of my homemade superseed flapjack, so we sat outside, next to the dockside and started on the carb loading (fair enough, I didn’t need to carb load but I felt that I should be sociable).

The Excel Centre is in London’s Docklands which has been hugely regenerated over the past 20 years or so. A couple of years ago Dave took part in the London Triathlon which started here with a swim in the Royal Victoria Dock.

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Moody clouds today at the Royal Victoria Dock – see the cable car in the distance

So with registration taken care of we travelled back into London and came across the Women’s RideLondon Classique – which is apparently the richest women’s one-day race in professional cycling. We watched in the Strand as the peloton slowed to take the 180º turn. It was pretty impressive and the support for the event was great. Thankfully it was a dry day as I am sure there would have been some accidents if these roads had been wet.

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Taking the 180º in the Strand

It was now time to fuel up some more in preparation for Sunday’s race, so I had a quick check on my phone for somewhere to eat – we needed somewhere that served pasta, and I found a lovely little restaurant on the edge of Covent Garden. Dave had the standard pre-race carbs (mushroom and chicken tagliatelle) and I helped the carb loading (again) with a chicken burger, chips and a cool glass of Italian beer…maybe not so healthy but I did walk over 23,000 steps to earn this!

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The journey back to our hotel was a little easier than earlier in the day but we still had to use the bus. We made it more enjoyable by travelling with a three-pack of Magnum Ice creams (double chocolate of course). Dave ate 1.8 and I ate 1.2! 

So with all pre-race preparation done (race numbers attached to bike, helmet and jersey, and sports drinks made up and refrigerated) we had a relatively early night (23.00!) and set the alarms for 04.15. After what seemed like only 5 hours sleep – oh yes, it was only 5 hours sleep, the alarms went off and Dave got into his cycling gear, while I made his pot porridge with sugar and banana. All fuelled-up and raring to go he drove off into the sunrise and I headed back to the joy of my hotel bed for a further 3.5 hours sleep.

With a cycle ride such as this there is really no-point in trying to be a spectator because you are only going to see the person you are supporting once and only for a fleeting time. This is why I felt fine about going back to bed. Dave would need my support later on in the day when I could help him re-fuel and drive him home. So I rose (again) at 08.30 and caught the bus from outside the hotel right into Marble Arch. From there it was just a short walk to The Mall where the race finished. On the way I did a little sight-seeing.

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Marble Arch
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Piccadilly Circus

There was great support down at The Mall, just along the road from Buckingham Palace. I wonder if the Queen was looking out of her window at all the activity in front of her house! I got a good spot and started clapping and cheering finishers as they passed. I knew I would have quite a long wait as I was tracking Dave on a phone app. I heard that there had been a crash somewhere along the route that needed the air ambulance so I looked it up on the internet and thankfully he had gone past that part of the course an hour or two before. Thank goodness for portable internet devices! 

After approximately 5 hours and 10 mins the great cyclist that is my husband passed by and I managed to get a couple of pics (kind of), as he raced down The Mall to the finish line.  What a brilliant achievement for him and all involved.

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We had already pre-planned to meet up in Green Park afterwards – It took quite some time for him to get through the finishing funnel and make his way up to me, but eventually he arrived and had a well earned sit-down and piece of cake. Green park was awash with triumphant finishers proudly wearing their medals sharing their race tales with their families and supporters with some even popping champagne corks!

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Hey, I’ve just cycled 100 miles. No big deal!

We weren’t staying in the city to see the men’s elite finish as we had a long drive back home and Dave just needed to eat and rest so he made his way to the car park (more cycling) and I caught the tube. Soon we were back on the motorway and a couple of hours later, back home. What a busy and successful weekend and extremely enjoyable for both rider and supporter. Dave tells me the ballot is open for RideLondon 2017 next week and I am sure he will be applying once again.That means another weekend away with lots of walking and lots of food – which is fine by me.