How to boost your running confidence 1 month before a marathon!

This is not a scientific result, and has no research to back it up.
I simply ran a personal best at Paddock Wood half marathon yesterday, and now I feel epic!

I managed to shave 10 mins off last years time, and having looked back over my races just realised that’s how much I beat my PB by. I thought I’d done a half in 2hrs 2mins before but must have dreamt it. Go me!

This is a massive confidence boost for the Big Sur Marathon in 4 weeks, and with two 20 mile races under my belt I’m going to set myself a target for the marathon, despite the fact that the thought of going another 6miles is still daunting.
I’m putting it out there! I could be disappointed but I’m going to try and go sub 4hrs 45mins.

BRING IT ON!

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte – Recipe

 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte (Recipe from BBC Good Food)

Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte (Recipe from BBC Good Food) Must try harder on the decorating ūüėČ

 

Last week I made my favourite, and easy, chocolate extravaganza for Band of Bakers chocolate event.

This is such a simple recipe and involves no baking. That means there is less chance of errors!

Recipe comes from BBC Good Food, and I pretty much followed it to a T, except with the chocolates on top – they always get snaffled before I have a chance to put them on top ūüėČ

Ingredients:

175g digestive biscuits
85g butter, melted
397g can caramel (we used Carnation caramel)
1 tsp sea salt, plus extra to serve
300g plain chocolate (70% solids), broken into chunks
600ml tub double cream
25g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
salted caramel chocolates, to decorate (find them in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s or Marks & Spencer)
single cream, to serve (optional)

 

Method:

1.¬†Line the base of a deep, round 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a circle of baking parchment. Line the sides with one long strip that comes just above the sides of the tin ‚Äď staple or paper clip where the strip overlaps to hold it in place.

2. Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag or bowl with the end of a rolling pin. Stir into the melted butter, then evenly press into the bottom of the tin. Chill for 10 mins.

3. Reserve 2 tbsp of the caramel. Stir the sea salt into the remainder and spoon into the centre of the biscuit base. Gently spread so the base is evenly covered but a visible 1-2cm border of biscuit remains around the edge. Chill for 20 mins while you make the chocolate layer.

4. Gently melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir 1 tbsp of the cream into the reserved caramel, then cover and chill until ready to decorate. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat but leave the bowl where it is, and gradually stir in the remaining cream until you have a smooth, shiny, thick chocolate sauce. Sift in the icing sugar and stir in with the vanilla extract. Lift off the heat and let the mixture cool for 10 mins.

5. Ladle or pour the chocolate mixture around the edge of the torte first, so it fills the biscuit border, sealing the caramel in the centre. Then ladle or pour in the rest and gently shake to smooth the surface. Chill for at least 5 hrs or up to 24 hours until firm.

6. Remove the torte from the tin, then carefully peel off the strip of paper and transfer to a serving plate. Dot the chocolates on top. Spoon the reserved caramel-cream mixture into a small food or freezer bag. Snip off the tiniest tip of the corner to make a very small opening, then squiggle lines of caramel over the top. Chill until ready to serve. Scatter with a pinch or two of sea salt before serving, then thinly slice. Eat with a drizzle of single cream, if you like.

 

 

Band of Bakers – Chocolate Theme – Brixton 26th March 2014

Band of Bakers latest event was a chocolate themed extravaganza @ The Chocolate Museum in Brixton.

Much debate was had as to whether we would see any savoury dishes, luckily there was one and it didn’t last long! This did mean that a trip to McDonalds was required by one baker, to enable them to continue consuming the vast amounts of sweet chocolate delights – good call!

Eating that much chocolate meant my sugar rush hangover the next morning was severe, I even woke with a stinker of a headache. But boy was it worth it. Have a look at some of the delights we sampled.

I couldn’t remember all the bakers, so if you would like me to add you and a link to your blog/twitter/etc then just let me know, more than¬†happy to¬†include¬†you. If I don’t have a picture of your bake, and you do, happy to add you in, just send me a message via twitter (@kurbkiss) or comment below!

Can’t believe I didn’t take picture of¬†Aim√©e’s Meringue kisses!

Bourbon Biscuits made by Eva (@Eva_Beaver)

Bourbon Biscuits made by Eva (@Eva_Beaver)

Chocolate Brownie Cookies baked by @gingergourmand

Chocolate Brownie Cookies baked by Naomi (@gingergourmand)

Double chocolate & salted caramel tart from Gemma (@boozyrouge)

Double chocolate & salted caramel tart from Gemma (@boozyrouge)

Double Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies baked by Giulia (@mulia)

Double Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies baked by Giulia (@mulia)

Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread Cake by Chloe (@clo_bags1)

Sticky Chocolate Gingerbread Cake by Chloe (@clo_bags1)

Brandy Snaps with white chocolate & ginger cream baked by Anne

Brandy Snaps with white chocolate & ginger cream baked by Anne

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pots by Ben (@ben_mulock)

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pots by Ben (@ben_mulock)

Chocolate Orange Battenburg baked by Keith

Chocolate Orange Battenburg baked by Keith

Salted Caramel Torte baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

Salted Caramel Torte baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

Chocolate Rugelach by @toddlersurvival

Chocolate Rugelach by @toddlersurvival

Estonian Chocolate Liqueur & Stem Ginger Truffles by Chloe (@cedges)

Estonian Chocolate Liqueur & Stem Ginger Truffles by Chloe (@cedges)

Triple Chocolate Millionaires Shortbread

Triple Chocolate Millionaires Shortbread

Salted Rolo brownies baked by Jassy (@ginandcrumpets)

Salted Rolo brownies baked by Jassy (@ginandcrumpets)

Chocolate & Coffee Mocha Cake baked by Heather (@mrsjkitchen)

Chocolate & Coffee Mocha Cake baked by Heather (@mrsjkitchen)

Chocolate Soda Bread

Chocolate Soda Bread

Beef & Chocolate Empandas

Beef & Chocolate Empandas

Chocolate fudge cake with Pedro Ximinez soaked sultanas

Chocolate fudge cake with Pedro Ximinez soaked sultanas made by Lisa (@peckhamryeeats)

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Gluten Free Chocolate Brownies

Malt Chocolate Brownies baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

Malt Chocolate Brownies baked by Harley (@kurbkiss)

 

 

 

Surrey Spitfire 20 Review

As part of my Big Sur marathon training I took part in Events to Live’s Surrey Spitfire 20 race.
This was a 2 lap race starting at the Top Gear track at Dunsfold Aerodrome.

This was also only my second time running this distance, having attempted it the first time at the Thames Riverside 20 (race or pace), only two weeks earlier.

The day started with an early rise for a Sunday, and the 1hr 30min drive from Woolwich to Cranleigh.
Instructions supplied advised that our sat nav would bring us the wrong way and they weren’t wrong ;p . Luckily the man at the gate kindly let us in, and we had a cheeky blast of the M3 on a deserted bit of runway, unfortunately I was driving so hubby was disappointed!

Very well organised for parking and collecting our race numbers. No bag drop to be found though so we had to head back to the car to get ready – not a big deal.

The smell of bacon rolls from the Girl Guides had my stomach rumbling before the start, and I then started to panic that the one slice of toast would not be sufficient!

The weather was glorious as we set off and warmed up considerable as the race progressed.

My original plan was to try and run at a slower pace (10.30 min miles) having completed the TR20 bang on 10’s, and feeling rather pleased with myself, but struggling massively with the last three miles. I also wanted to plan in better race nutrition, and test how I would feel going slower and whether another 6.2 miles was doable.

Hubby’s advice was just to push myself to maintain the same pace, but I was worried about how I would eventually do a whole 26.2 miles.
Typically I went for it as I got caught up in the atmosphere, and I saw my first mile at 8.59!
I am so rubbish at pacing it’s untrue!
For the first half of the race I fluctuated between 9’s and 9.45’s – great! ;p I’m obviously not getting any better at pacing the more running I do.
But there were 4 pretty tough hills in the first lap, that I wasn’t looking forward to seeing the second time round, so a slight fluctuation can be forgiven.
I ran with a friendly chap who was race director for the Clair Park Parkrun, and his banter helped me maintain a steady pace for around 4 miles. Also waved on a couple of my DPR comrades as they steamed ahead in their VMLM training mode.

For the first lap I managed to run up all the hills. Given that the Big Sur has one hill that is 500ft this was good practice.

I was feeling good after 10 miles despite the speed and heat. Cracked open a gel and pushed on for the 2nd half. This was a much lonelier affair as the field spread out even more and I found no new running chums to chat with. I was dreading the 17 mile mark, as this was where I struggled on from at the TR20. So at mile 16 I took on another gel to see if that would help me through.
My pace started moving into the 10’s for a few of the miles in the second half, but with my deficit miles from the first half there was a possibility of going faster than the TR20, but I tried not to think about it.
The second to last hill I decided to walk a little, but when it came to the last hill at mile 18 I pushed on.
I was feeling the heaviness in my legs and my back was starting the ache, but I was feeling better than last time so this was a good sign.

As I reentered the aerodrome for the last quarter mile I sped up (but only a little!). Spotted my lap 1 chum as he clapped me in. Then I spotted hubby who had a surprised look as he cheered me in.

No wonder…I managed to finish in 3hrs 17min. Over 2 mins quicker than TR20. And I said I would go slower!

I felt a lot better than I did last time, so I’m feeling quietly confident about the 27th April D-day. Hubby is still in shock at how well I did. I’m still a little worried about the extra 6.2 miles

Only 5 weeks to go and one half marathon planned before the big day. Not sure if I should push for a longer than 20 mile run just to see….
Decisions, decisions!

20 Miles, my longest run – a review

On Sunday 2nd March 2014 I took part in the Thames Riverside 20, organised by Clapham Chasers. 

In preparation for the Big Sur Marathon in April this was to be my longest run to date. 

Now, the lack of blog updates on my marathon training are not an exact testament to how my training is going, but it’s not far off. Commitment to exercise has never been my forte even when I have something this massive to aim for. However, I have been steadily increasing my milage, it seems to be the short runs in between that are lacking.

To ensure I did the long runs I signed myself up to some 20 milers & a half marathon.

The Thames Riverside 20 (TR20) is a great little race as in order to gain permission to hold the race they have to have pacers. The slowest pacer was 10 minute miles, so I promptly went for this group. I am very conscious of the time limit on the Big Sur Marathon (6 hours = 13.45 min miles) so need to make sure I can run a majority of marathon distance at a faster pace than the limit, especially as it has some killer hills.

As this was the slowest group I was pleasantly surprised to see it had quite a number of runners in it, and I hoped I wouldn’t be trailing at the back.

Starting at Bishop’s Park at Putney Bridge, the race started at 8am (which meant a 6.30am set off from Woolwich – YAWN!), with each pace group setting off within 2 mins of each other. No chip timing so your start time was based on the start time of your pace group, so I guessed that some people could in effect cheat and start in an earlier group if they wanted??

The race route takes you over Putney Bridge to the south bank, past the posh college boat houses (hence the requirement for the pacer) and you then follow the riverside path all the way just past Richmond bridge, and then back again.

Drink stations were position approximately every 3 miles, offering water & Gatorade, and heaps of support!

My usual shorter distance race pace is around 9 – 9.30 min miles, so I found running at 10s pretty comfortable for the 1st half of the race. Some of the early miles were quite a bit quicker than 10s, but given how hard I find it to pace myself I can’t complain. It was good to be surrounded by people who just wanted to get round in a set time and not feel overly competitive, except with myself.

The path was quite muddy due to the recent flooding, and I was concerned what effect this would have on my feet after splashing through a few decent puddles when I got bored (tired) of leaping over them. 

Race nutrition is not something I usually consider but given this is a build to the big one I decided to strategically try planning in a gel and what drinks to have when. Usually I will just take whatever is offered to me at the time. I decided I would take Gatorade up until half way, then I would have my gel with water, then back to Gatorade.

I think I needed to really plan in two gels, as I was already getting tired by half way, and when I hit 17 miles I started to slow up quite a bit.

I started to fall back from the pace group at around mile 17 too, I wasn’t too concerned as most of my miles have been well under 10s up to this point, but I knew I couldn’t drop off too much. The route also got a lot busier on the way back.

I felt fine in terms of breathing, heart rate etc, it was just my legs and back that were starting to feel the 3hrs on my feet. The last mile was easily the worst I have ever felt, my legs were like lead weights. It felt like I was going so slow, so was pleasantly surprised when I realised I was still within 10.30 for the last mile.

As I entered the gate to the park and the last 100 meters I saw my husband waiting for me and cheering me in (he had joined the 7.30 pace group and had waited in the cold for me for an hour – bless him – and he then drove me home!), I started to get emotional and then found it hard to take a breath – need to sort that out for the marathon!

I crossed the line in 3hrs 19mins 34s – bang on pace at 9.59 I was pleased! I was broken, but pleased!

Every finisher received a goodie bag filled with drinks and snacks, I was a little disappointed there was no medal. But for £12 I did get an extremely well organised, fabulously supported and enjoyable training run for my next big challenge.

My walking style suffered a little yesterday, but stretching out my muscles helped. So did the muscle soak bath I had once I was home. We treated ourselves to a pub roast dinner, congratulatory beers & sticky toffee pudding. Asleep by 9pm with slightly achy knees today but overall feeling good & positive.

I’ve got the Spitfire 20¬†in two weeks to keep my mileage up. I’ve decided to stick to 10s or maybe even 10.30s to just get me through and let it help me plan my race nutrition better.