My 1st Trail race, AKA mud racing!

Saturday the 16th of March saw me competing in my 1st ever trail run, or cross country in old money.
Originally I signed up for the comfortable 10km race, but this was due to start at 10am in the morning, and the other half and a friend were running in the 18km race at 2pm. Neither were keen to get up at the crack of dawn and then hang around for 4 hours till they started – fair enough!

I had two choices, pull out (very tempting!) or change and go for the 18km challenge race. This had a time limit of 3.5hrs an hour longer than the proper race that started an hour later, which hubby & friend were doing. I procrastinated for a few days then thought I might as well go for it.
I have a half marathon planned for the 7th of April so this would be a good ‘warm up’!

The trail was organised by Lakeland Trails, and we were doing the 18km Cartmel Sticky Toffee Trail Challenge. Dubbed a ‘beauty and beast’ of a course – I was anxious!
I had only ever run a maximum of 9 miles and only on pavement. I didn’t even have proper trail shoes.

I decided that my Nike running shoes wouldn’t cut it, so decided to use my walking shoes. I have had my North Face Hedgehog GTX’s for a few years, never run in them but knew they were comfy, so they were my weapon of choice.

I also decided to buy myself some full length running leggings (still find it difficult to call them tights!) in preparation for the unknown, but at a good guess lots of MUD!
I bought my self some ASICS Fuji Tights. Classed as all weather trail performance I figured they would fit the bill. Find out later how they did.

So with my shoes and leg wear sorted I only had to worry about my top half.
I opted for an Adidas Supernova t-shirt, and a Nike dri-fit jacket (can’t find details on the jacket I wore – sorry!). I also had a Ronhill hat and gloves set as it was likely to be a bit ‘parky’!

I was ready, well equipment wise, only time would tell if I was ready physically & mentally.

The event was very well organised (except for the start time of the 10km race compared to the others).
Registration was on site, and the tent was a good spoiler to the condition of the course. You were given your very good technicals race t-shirt when you registered.

With my target of less than 2hrs 30mins I was ready.

Phew it was tough!

It was quite amazing how many of the trail runners avoided the puddles! Hang on wasn’t this supposed to be cross country, you will get wet! Come on!

My Map my run app didn’t work at the start of the race due to no GPS, so it wasn’t until mile 4 ( at the stile) that I found out how far we had gone and what my time was – there was a queue we all had a chat! It had taken me 51 mins to go 4 miles so I knew this was going to be tough. I managed to get my GPS working in the middle of nowhere – random, so my friendly lady was now shouting at me every mile, telling me how slow I was going.

I was only really expecting 1 major hill (as you don’t get to see the course before hand there is a lot of guesswork), there were loads! Some I jogged up, some I plodded up, others I just walked.
The course was not called sticky toffee for nothing, there was so much mud! I think I took most of it home with me on my shoes and legs.

Gosh it was tough!

I really enjoyed the downhill bits.

Did I mention the mud? It was so slippery at times, but I managed to stay upright all the way round, which was an achievement in itself.

The course started to be marked for distance at 12km, when I got to 13km I was feeling optimistic, as that was only 30 odd mins (in road running time) left. Yeah that wasn’t realistic thinking.

At 3/4 of a mile from the end they decide to photograph you, and MAKE you run through a massive puddle – bastards!

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He took a few!

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The last mile took me around 20mins as you had to run uphill then down through a forest which was tough after running 10miles.
But you could hear the music from the finish so this spurred me on. By this point I had been overtaken by at least 25 of the later race runners, and I was worried about being overtaken by my husband, as I knew he would try to hunt me down, so I battled on.

The end was a welcome sight as my back was killing. I finished in a very respectable time of 2hrs 27mins. I was exhausted, I was muddy, I had very wet feet but I hadn’t been overtaken by husband, but he was only 20mins behind me, and very surprised that he didn’t find me walking, as even he found it tough, despite finishing in 1hr 48mins.

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Our friend came in 10 mins later, back in pieces but pleased to have completed it.

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We picked up our goody bag that had an ASICS water bottle and a Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding – yummy!

How did my equipment hold up? My ASICS tights were fab, they had a waterproof part to the bottom of the legs, which kept me dry, they were very comfortable, and kept my muscles nice and warm. They had nice venting so I didn’t feel over warm at any point.
My North Face hedgehogs did an ace job of keeping me up right. No blisters and all my toenails survived!

My Adidas top was a small, but as you can see from my photos was too big really around the neck. It was however very comfortable and regulated my temperature well.

Would I do a Lakeland trail again? YES. It was tough, no doubt, but it was amazing.

Hawkshead is next in April, bring it on!

Nervous Networking: A Silicon Drinkabout event

The other week I decided to do something very brave and out of character. I decided to put myself in a room with some complete strangers and force myself to network.

“But surely that’s what you do at Band of Bakers” I hear you cry. But that’s different, as at least we have baking in common to talk about.
Randomly this was a techy networking event called Silicon Drinkabout, and apart from a Digital Media degree from 2002, my superb social media skills and “crappy” (husband’s words not mine!) online gaming that’s about as techy as I get!

So what made me put myself in this awkward situation? Two words Mind Candy. I love what these guys have done with their online game Moshi Monsters, particularly with their consumer products and licensing program that has stemmed from the success of the game.
Coming from a licensing and product development background myself it’s great to see how a start up IP has gained momentum and is being marketed so well and that is just in the UK, so far!

Plus I was very intrigued to see their offices as apparently it had a slide!

Mind Candy has been voted one of the best employees in London and have employed over 100 people in the last 12 months, and hosting the Drinkabout is just one of many ways they look to recruit new (mainly) techy staff.

The Drinkabout is actually organised by a group called the 3beards, they do indeed have beards. It was through twitter that I found out about this gathering at Mind Candy’s new HQ near Old Street.
I tweeted Silicon Drinkabout with my concerns that maybe I wasn’t techy enough, but they instantly replied saying ‘all were welcome’.

What further encouragement did I need? Errr? Actually courage!

This came in the form of another random tweeter who wanted to rock up and have a nosey at the new offices (you know who you are!). So after checking she wasn’t a murderer, I.e. check her twitter photo and last few tweets to check they didn’t contain any murderous inclinations, I tweeted to see if she wanted company to crash the event. Luckily she said yes and team ‘Drinkabout crash’ was formed.

Talking to strangers is hard, even harder when you don’t actually work in their field. Most of our conversations lasted a maximum of 10 minutes. The longest conversation was with Jack McCall of Mind Candy. It must be weird having all these random strangers rock up to your work place, but all the Mind Candies seemed to take it in their stride.

The idea behind the Drinkabout is a brilliant one, particularly with the amount of startups we have in London and the Google Campus, there was definitely a lot of investment hunting going on that evening.
My networking skills improved by 100% but more practice is definitely needed, and strangely I felt comfortable around the techies.

Who knows I may even rock up to another in the near future…now where did I store that courage? And that video camera 😉

Eccles, Eccels, whatever! Band of Bakers March event

Hadn’t been to a Band of Bakers event since before Christmas, due to several reasons.
Travelling with work, losing my baking Mojo, but increasingly it is now quite difficult to get a place at an event.

This is testament to how great this event is and has become extremely popular, and to get one of their limited spaces you have to be fast off the draw in replying to the announcement emails.

I think it’s fantastic Gemma & Naomi have done such a brilliant job at organising the gatherings, and all the lovely community projects that are in addition to the cosy, friendly 6 weekly meets. And all on top of having regular jobs and families to look after – very inspiring.
Apparently the events are so popular that you can guarantee that over 2 thirds of the mailing list will need to reply faster to the next email, or sit in hope of a drop out and have a themed bake ready at short notice.

Does this put me and the hundred or so others off? Hell no!
If you could get to every event it wouldn’t be half the fun, plus our bank balance probably couldn’t cope.

As the band steadily grows I can see the glint in Naomi & Gemma’s eyes that they could be onto something big, but also the nervousness of how to keep the momentum and interest going. I don’t thing there’s any worry of that happening with so many bakers ready to help and be involved – 2013 is going to be epic for them and us.

Ok, enough blabbing about how great they are, onto the baking.

This event was British Classics, I contemplated Jaffa Cakes, Quiche (ok not quite British, how about flan?), but settled for Eccles cakes.
My trusty friend bbc food was on hand with a selection of recipes, I of course went for the easiest!
BBC Food – Eccles Cakes
Very easy, but again I took the whole prep and bake timings to their word and found myself rushing to assemble them 40mins before the event, knowing I had a 20min trudge over Peckham Rye.
They were tricky little buggers to assemble and very small, but ideal size for a BoB event when you have 35 other bakes to try.
Due to my timing misjudgement they were still warm and sticky (didn’t seal them very well) when I popped them in the tin, and decided that kitchen roll would be a good base to put them on – WRONG! I spent 5 mins trying to get tissue off the bases, so apologies to those who got a little more carb than they bargained for last night 🙂

They actually tasted great, shame I didn’t have auto correct when writing my description card as mine will forever be known as Eccels cakes – ops!

I bought home the other two Eccles cakes that were baked by people to compare, no doubt better than mine, but we are all our own biggest critics, so nothing new there.

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How rubbish am I?

True to form I have neglected my blog posting. Lucky this blog is not a pet otherwise the RSPCA would be onto me.
I have no excuse other than laziness as it’s not like I haven’t got things to write about, and with my memory it’s unlikely I’ll remember them all now. Since I last blogged I’ve hosted Christmas, run another 10k, signed up for a half marathon, did some techy/geeky networking with a complete stranger I met on Twitter and lots more. The only thing I haven’t be doing much of is baking, but that all changed last night. (Blog to follow).

I solemnly promise to keep up with my blogging, lets call it a March resolution. Plus I was very surprised when one of my friends said ‘You haven’t done a blog for ages – come on I’m waiting!’ So this is me ‘coming on’ so you can wait no longer, plus more to follow – Brownies promise.

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