Half-Marathon Training (Week 15)

Week 15 Marathon Training

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter Sunday with lots of chocolate! It’s weird, but lately I feel as if I’ve gone off chocolate. I don’t feel tempted by it at all, not one bit. Weird, right? Instead I find myself gravitating towards more savory, carb-heavy foods like potatoes, pasta and garlic bread. So even though I don’t feel like eating chocolate, I have to watch out to make sure I don’t overeat on my savory snacks!

Now onto the training.

Running outdoors brings you into close encounters with all kinds of wildlife, like all those birds having their little meeting around the tree sticking out of the park pond in the picture above. And looking at that picture also reminded me of a close encounter I recently had with a giant pelican pooping from the top of a street lamp directly in my path while staring defiantly at me! In another few minutes, I’d be right under its path so I just ducked my head and ran as fast as I could under the street lamp while thanking the fates that I had decided to pop on a baseball cap for my run  even though it had looked like a pretty cloudy day. Luckily, no poopage hit my head, cap or no cap!

My short runs are reaching the 8-10km mark now and I’m looking at pushing my long runs to 12km and beyond. Unfortunately this also means I’ve hit another mental road block. I know that physically I can do it, but suddenly my head is freaking out and I’m thinking, no, no, this is getting way too far, I can’t do it. I think this has to do with the fact that my usual river circuit is just a little over 6km long so I can usually stretch it out to a 8-10km run if I run down a few other close by roads as well. But now the thought of going around that 6km circuit twice suddenly and inexplicably terrifies me. If I were to go on a circuit that takes me exactly 20km without having to double back and do the same stretch twice or three times, I could probably do it but the fact that I have to re-run what I’ve just gone through all over again just makes my head space flip out. I thought I had the whole mental challenge while running thing worked out, but now I have a feeling I’ve got to go back to my positive thinking strategies for running and get myself back into a good head space all over again!

So this week, I freaked out a little while doing the 12km run and ended up just walking/running the route. Because I was incorporating walking in the route, I decided to up the ante and push my distance and I ended up doing a 16km run/walk. I figured if I could walk/run my way through this, it would be easier when I’m actually running the full course in the future. Fingers crossed!

Another thing that’s hit me with the long runs is the fact that they are that: long. So it takes far more time to do a run than I would with a shorter 3-5km run which means I have to do more planning around my day to ensure I get a run in.

So this was what my training looked like in week 15:

April 14th to 20th:
Monday: 8km run
Tuesday: 9km run
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: ½ hour swim
Friday: 16km run/walk
Saturday: Body Pump
Sunday: Rest Day

The last few weeks of sickness have really thrown my training out of whack and technically I should be further along in my distance than what I am now. So hopefully I can get back on track and get rid of the mental roadblocks in my way!

Lemon Dukkah Chicken Served on a Bed of Lentils, Capsicum and Corn

Lemon Dukkah Chicken 1

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope y’all had a lovely weekend and that your brand new week is starting out awesome :)

Today I thought I’d share a new dish I experimented with last week – lemon dukkah chicken on a bed of lentils, capsicum and corn! It turned out absolutely yum – the dusky, tangy taste of dukkah paired perfectly with fresh citrus-y lemons plucked straight off the tree in our yard. I’m loving that our crop of lemons is just about ripe and ready to go this year and I’m determined to make the most of them!

Baking chicken breasts is something I haven’t tried before and it’s so easy, I can’t believe I waited this long! The meat was so moist and juicy, I’m definitely going to be doing this a lot more in the future.

Side note: is it baking or roasting a chicken? For some reason, I notice people seem to identify putting an entire chicken into the oven as ‘roasting’, but when it comes to just putting it a few separate pieces, like the breasts or wings or thighs, it’s ‘baking’. And that’s how I usually end up referring to it as well! Which term do you prefer?

With the chicken out of the way, I turned my attention to the fillers of the meal. J isn’t the biggest fan of lentils so I don’t cook that often. But I decided since we’ve been so sick, it’s time we had something other than carb-heavy rice and pasta (our usual go-tos when we’re in a hurry or feeling lazy). Lentils was a perfect compromise (besides, I didn’t tell him we were having lentils until it was dinnertime). He still ate them anyway! Brown lentils can often look boring but this time round, paired with bright yellow corn and velvety red capsicum, the colours of our dinner dish really popped.  So delish!

Lemon Dukkah Chicken Served on a Bed of Lentils, Capsicum and Corn (recipe makes 2 servings)

Lemon Dukkah Chicken 2

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 lemons
2 chicken breasts
1 can of lentils, drained
1 can of corn, drained
1 red capsicum, diced (or any other colour, it doesn’t really matter! I just chose red mainly for the aesthetic :P )
3 teaspoons of dukkah
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A dash of paprika
Parsley (optional – for garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius degrees (about 356 Fahrenheits). Pour the juice of about 1 and a half lemons into a medium bowl, reserving the other half of a lemon for the lentils. Add the olive oil and about 2 and a half teaspoons of dukkah, mix well.

Prep a tray with a large piece of foil, big enough to fold around your chicken breasts. Spray foil with cooking spray. Wash and pat dry chicken breasts; dip each breast in your mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and dukkah, ensuring it is coated well on either side. place the breasts side by side on the foil and pour the remnants of the mixture over the breasts. Fold the foil around the breasts until securely wrapped and pop the tray into the oven. Roast for about 30 – 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, heat a little oil in a frying pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add the lentils, corn and capsicum. Mix in the remaining juice of half a lemon, half a teaspoon of dukkah and dash of paprika. Cook for a minute or two before removing from pan and adding to serving plates. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and enjoy!

Half-Marathon Training (Weeks 13 &14)

Marathon Training Week 13-14

As I was down with the flu bug last week, I decided to combine the last two weeks of training in one post! It’s not been too great – illness combed with the sudden hot weather this week didn’t make me feel like working out much! Still, I’m glad I got quite a few workouts in each week – that’s what matters!

Just check out those pelicans being totally Zen in the sunset… I just had to stop and take a picture of them during my run :) There are also black swans further out, but it’s hard to make them out as they look small there – but black swans are usually pretty big – and fierce! You don’t want to mess with them!

This is what the past two weeks of training looked like:

March 31st to April 6th:

Monday: 8km run
Tuesday: 9km run
Wednesday: ½ hour swim
Thursday: 12km run
Friday: 45 minute swim
Saturday: Rest Day (sick)
Sunday: Rest Day (sick)

April 7th to 13th

Monday:  Rest Day (sick)
Tuesday: Rest Day (sick)
Wednesday: 7.5km run
Thursday: 8km run/walk
Friday: Body Pump
Saturday: 7km run
Sunday: Day off (swim cancelled)

I was really peeved about losing four days out to sickness. The flu took a serious toll on me and when I got back into running when I was well enough again, it definitely felt like I’ve lost a bit of endurance just from taking four days off. Or perhaps it was just general malaise after being sick. I’m hoping the weather starts to cool down again soon and I can get back on track! The last three weeks just hasn’t been inspiring enough for me!

This Sunday, I was supposed to have a swim class but there seems to be some kind of mix-up with my enrollment so I had to sit it out. I’m hoping to get this sorted out soon so I can get back on track with swimming! Crossing my fingers someone will figure it out on Monday as the woman I was trying to deal with today was rather rude – no points to her for being polite and helpful as a staff member! Now to shrug that unpleasantness off my shoulders and have a lovely brunch with my friend instead!

Recipe: Spring Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas and Red Chili

 

Quick and Healthy Spring Pasta

This light, fresh pasta dish is simple, healthy and incredibly quick to throw together – just what I needed this week! It was also a chance for me to try some of our new fresh herbs in the garden courtesy of J’s mother. I’m really excited about having fresh garden herbs!

This is so yummy, even J liked it though it didn’t have any meat in it. It can be served either hot or cold, and is perfect for either spring or fall. I also love the bright green colour of the sugar snap peas as well as the loose peas (unfortunately, the peas didn’t feature in the picture above as they were a last minute quick addition.)

I also have a feeling that mozzarella is going to start featuring in more of my dishes. I recently bought a ball of mozzarella to use for pizzas a couple of weeks ago and I can’t get over how much better it is than the grated mozzarella that comes in resealable plastic bags. Fresh mozzarella anytime for me! :) READ MORE

Creating Schedules to Best Maximise Your Time

Creative Routines Poster

The cold that’s been going around and which I caught last week never went away, but ended up developing into the flu over the weekend. It was disappointing having to spend the entire weekend and the first part of the week feeling like crap (I hate falling sick on the weekends because that means you miss out on all the fun stuff!) and I’m still bummed over the time wasted being sick.

So now I’m feeling a ton better, I decided I could not afford to waste the rest of my week.

I don’t know about you, but I am a huge procrastinator. The kind of girl who has a ton of ideas, but rarely gets around to putting them into action because she’s, well, procrastinating. Type A person, I am not. I tend to waste more time fretting about how I don’t have enough time to accomplish all the great things I’m supposed to have done by now than I actually do trying to get these things done. And you can imagine, after wasting four days being sick, I’ve been fretting about even more time wasted lately.

That was when J showed me the infrograph above inspired by Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals, which looks at the daily routines of of over a hundred creative minds, including Charles Darwin, Maya Angelou and Sigmund Freud. READ MORE

Roasted sweet potato and carrot salad

Roasted sweet potato and carrot salad

Sometimes coming up with a salad can be as easy as mixing up all the ingredients you enjoy in a big bowl and chowing down.

I used to think of salads as something that always required a bed of greens to start with – spinach, rocket, basil or lettuce. But I haven’t been in the mood for greens lately so I started thinking of what else I could add on. READ MORE

Beautiful Keepsake Books

Evelinaillustration

{Pic Source}

I’ve written previously on this blog about how I used to be really wary of electronic readers. Then one day my boyfriend gifted me with a pretty pink Kindle reader and I fell in love all over again. The best things about the Kindle? You can carry your entire library around with you and you can purchase a book anytime you want – plus the price of books are fairly reasonable on the Kindle compared to their real cost in hard copy form. However, I do miss the feel and touch and smell of real books, the excitement of purchasing a new book and flipping through its pages (Kindle, for all its amazing-ness, still needs to work on its ability to flip through pages and pick out pages at random).

And when it comes to illustrated books, the Kindle still has nothing on the real deal. Sometimes, there’s an incredibly beautiful, well-designed, gorgeously illustrated book that you just have to buy in hard copy form. Sometimes it comes with a cover that you can run your fingers over and feel the raised patterns of the illustrations or the soft, fuzzy cloth-like texture, like that of Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Sometimes it’s the beautiful gold and silver leaf lining the edge of your pages or the crinkle feel of the page itself, like an ancient manuscript from another civilization. Sometimes, it might not even be classically beautiful. Sometimes it’s the intriguing notations in the margins, designed to look as if someone had owned this book before and their story on the margins is a story you’re following as well. Whatever it is, it’s just a book you have to have, to touch and gloat over and leave on your coffee table for your visitors to flip through and enjoy as well. READ MORE

The Haunted Runner

The Haunted Runner

This is a short sort-of-ghost story I came up with while running a little while back and watching a fellow runner ahead of me, constantly vanishing around the trail’s curves and bends. Dusk was falling and the trail, framed by these pale skeletal trees, had gotten pretty dark and spooky, and I immediately thought, what if this trail was haunted? By a… ghost runner??

I felt a thrill come on and pretty much spent the rest of my run coming up with the bones of the story.

Running is a great way to think out new plot lines; conversely thinking up new story ideas is a great way of overcoming the mental challenge of running and making a run seem a lot shorter than usual. My favourite character in this story is Mrs Maccona – I hope you like her too! READ MORE

Half-Marathon Training (Week 12) (not such a great week)

Marathon Training Week 12

A little late in reporting last week’s training, which hasn’t been too exciting (other than that fantastic pink sunset I caught on Tuesday’s run). READ MORE

Travel Journal: Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru is such a fantastic place. I’ve wanted all my life to visit Machu Picchu and I was really excited about including this as part of my trip to South America. Unfortunately, something happened to sour the trip a little, but I can still remember the magic and beauty of the place.

We arrived in Cusco in the afternoon and immediately noticed the difference between Cusco and Buenos Aires, where we were last. Cusco is much quieter, a smaller city with far older buildings, and surrounded by mountains. The mountains! I couldn’t get over marveling at those beautiful serene mountains that you could see every which way you turned in the city. And there was something completely different about them as well too, different from all the other mountains I’ve ever seen.

Mountains of Cusco

Cuzco Peru

Mountains Cusco Peru READ MORE