Running with colours

Haha now that I’ve got people with my silly title, I’m going to talk about my run tonight, and the super colourful stirfry I made for dinner (see, that’s how I came up with the title).

I ran tonight for 7kms. I’m pushing my regular runs past 5kms now. I’m also looking for hills and trying to mix up my routes now that the sun is gracing us with its presence for a little longer each day. Today it was a run up to Federation hill, up the hill and along the top, then back down. As it’s very steep I walk the up and down sections but I hope that one day I will be able to run the whole section. At this point I was up to 4kms and I still felt pretty good so I ran up and over another hill to get a few extra kms in.

My biggest issue at the moment is my shoes. I have been running in Vibrams for a while now, getting close to a year. I originally ordered KSO’s. I loved them and they felt like a revelation when I put them on.

But I had a few issues with hotspots on my big toes in particular. They weren’t quite blisters but they were painful. At first I thought it might be an issue of form, however I tried my best to adjust and it didn’t seem to help.

I believe I may have solved it. With my first pair I wasn’t aware of how snug they needed to be. I have since brought a pair of the Bikila model in the same size (for running longer distances on the road). They are much more snug, so my foot doesn’t slide as much in them. And all of a sudden, no hotspots! Turns out I ordered a women’s size and I was sent the equivalent men’s size, which is wider and a little bigger so doesn’t stay in one place on my foot. I worked this out far too late to send them back, by the way.

I love my KSO’s for running/hiking/scrambling on tracks and trails, and prefer to use them rather than my Bikilas when I’m off road. Now that it’s coming back into summer and the longer days, I’m keen to get off the road. So I’m thinking that I need to order a new pair, in the right size so I can keep running connected for longer and longer.

My veggie garden rewarded me when I got home. I went out the back and picked these:

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Our first head of broccoli, snow peas, kale and spring onion.

I added some tofu, carrots, red cabbage, garlic and bean sprouts and ended up with this:

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I’m aware that the photo is off centre, but I wanted to focus on the kale because it looks amazing!

The things I love about stirfries are as follows:
-once everything is chopped, dinner is ready in 10 minutes.
– everything is only lightly cooked so it’s fresh looking and tasting – so colourful and still crunchy.
-if it’s vegan it’s even easier – just throw in some tofu, tempeh, etc for some protein and you’re done.
– you can literally throw a bunch of veggies together in a wok with some sauce and have a delicious, fresh, healthy meal. What’s not to love?

And now, to tie everything together is a quote I remember from a presentation by Scott Jurek (vegan ultramarathon badass) I watched on YouTube. I won’t be able to quote it word for word, but he was discussing nutrition and getting right. Essentially he was talking about the fact that vegan nutrition doesn’t have to be difficult. Eating a wide variety of food and you will get a wide variety of nutrients and cover everything.

To sum it up, he said the aim was to “eat the rainbow”. And I think I’ve done that tonight.

My weekend.

I’ve got a few things to post about today.

First off, I’m sitting here eating a plate of baked beans on toast with avocado for my lunch. Pretty tasty yes? Especially since the bread was baked in my bread maker overnight, and the beans were in the slow cooker (also overnight). I have never been a fan of baked beans from a can. I tried to like them, but I just couldn’t stomach them, unless they were mixed through a larger dish, much like the infamous “Nicole experiments with adding baked beans to spaghetti bolognaise” incident. My family was a little wary of asking me to cook Spag Bol after that.

But I was determined to try home made beans. It’s a little bit of a process, since they have to be soaked and cooked before being baked. But I quick soaked them yesterday, boiled them till tender last night and then did them in the slow cooker on low overnight. All I had to do then was add some cornflour as the sauce was quite watery – something I’ll do at an earlier stage next time.

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They are baked beans I can stomach, which is an improvement. Definitely need to eat them hot though. According to Gary they are the best baked beans he ever tasted.

I used a recipe from “Bean by Bean” by someone with the best name ever – Crescent Dragonwagon. The only additions was a tiny splash of liquid smoke I found in the local Global Groceries and some vegan Worcestershire sauce. Basically it’s throw some sliced onions, cooked beans, molasses (I used treacle as I don’t have molasses), brown sugar, mustard, ginger, salt and pepper – and my additions – into the slow cooker and let it go on low for about 8or so hours.

I also made some hazelnut shortbread, using coconut oil instead of butter. They turned out pretty good but I’m going to try another variation today so I won’t post the recipe yet.

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The other thing I did was have the day off Friday, so I did a little shopping, went to some appointments, had a haircut and then I went for a run.

I went out to Mcfarlanes hill and ran the ridge track. When I say run, I mean I walked the particularly steep and/or rocky sections and ran the rest. I took about 5 mins off my last time for the track.

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This was one of the sections I walked. Still not 100% confident in my agility!

It’s lovely up there. The track runs beside a paddock and the grass is incredibly green right now.

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The track is pretty narrow, but it’s reasonably well maintained. Just a bit overgrown at the moment with it being spring and everything. Basically the track is a big loop, running up the hill, along the boundary, then down and back a bit lower on the hill.

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Another thing we have been doing is gardening this weekend. We spent all last Sunday outside too as the weather has really come through for us each Sunday.

Our Silvanberries are flowering right now. Can’t wait to see how the fruit is once it’s ready. We haven’t had any fruit yet as this is it’s first season.

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We’ve repotted my lemongrass from last year – Gary pulled it up because we thought it wasn’t growing back after the winter die off, but we found green stems in there so it’s now in a pot out the front. My rosemary has also been shifted closer to the veggie garden and we’ve brought some more natives to put in.

In fact, I should probably head back out and see if he needs a hand. It’s way too lovely to stay inside today.

More New Zealand photos

I’ve been playing around with the theme and layout again. I’m a little happier with this however I couldn’t find one I liked that could fit my preferred header image in… I will ponder some more and maybe change it again in the next week or so.

I guess if I really wanted I could go all the way into custom themes but I don’t really want to at this point.

Anyhow, I decided to post another New Zealand photo

I swear there's a beautiful view from here.

I swear there’s a beautiful view from here.

I picked this one for a couple of reasons.

First, because the weather in NZ was a huge mix – plenty of beautiful weather (like the day we went to Edoras), gale force winds that brought down trees and powerlines around us (driving from Greymouth to Fox Glacier), and storms that dumped a few metres of snow on Tekapo while we were in the rain on the coast.

Second, because rain never stops us from enjoying our holidays.

This was the first day we had our hire car. We had spent a few days in Christchurch, and then took the Tranz Alpine train across to Greymouth. On the advice of the lady in the fish and chip shop who cooked wonderful veggie burgers for us, we drove up the coast to Pancake Rocks. The road was great – one of those windy coast roads through dramatic scenery where you have to keep stopping to take photos because everything is amazing.
It was dramatic and grey and raining and all meloncholy and it was awesome. I love rain. It makes me either energised, or all snug and content. Either way rain never makes me sad because I don’t let it stop me doing things. We walked all over Christchurch in the rain. In fact it made our city tour so much more personalised because nobody else ventured out into it. Same went for the coast. We booked a river tubing tour which took us down the river, into a cave filled with glow worms, and then tubing back out of the cave in the darkness again. We were the only people there and it was so much fun, AND it included a spa and a beer at the end so that was great.

Anyway we made it to Pancake rocks. They are odd columns of what looks like flat rocks stacked all together, and there’s a few blowholes there as well.
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It was pretty impressive. We were undecided if we wanted to go, especially because we were running out of sunlight, but we figured we were on holidays and we might as well go for the drive to check things out. My photos didn’t all turn out great because it was getting towards dark and it was already overcast, but the rock formations were fascinating.

So yes, it was raining, and yes it was kind of cold, but I’m so glad we did. Scenery often changes with the weather, and I’m glad we got to see the West Coast all wild and stormy.

Besides, how could I not enjoy it with Gary by my side?

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if you want more information about the pancake rocks and Punakaiki (where the rocks are), click here

Vegan “rum”ball… things.

So I made these the other day:

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I’m not quite happy with calling them run balls as they are nothing like traditional rum balls…. Well maybe a little, in that they are chocolaty and coated in coconut. Regardless of what they are going to be called, they are pretty tasty.

These I made by whizzing 1 cup of dates, 1/2 cup of raw almonds, and half a cup of raw walnuts together with 1/4 cup raw cacao powder In the food processor.

I then drizzled in some rice malt syrup (You could use any other sweetener you like e.g honey – technically not vegan- agave, etc). I’m pretty sure it worked out to be about 2ish tablespoons but I’m not certain. Just do it to taste.

Then I kept adding Crunchy peanut butter And whizzing it some more until the mix was sticky enough to hold shape when rolled into balls. I’m fairly confident it ended up being about 3 tablespoons.

Then it’s just a matter of rolling them up and rolling in some Coconut. Keep them in the fridge and hand out to unsuspecting non vegans. Also to people you like.

I’m going to remake these with a few tweaks. It was a fairly peanuty outcome, so I’m going to try making it with almond butter next time. I’m guessing that any nut butter would work well to stick the mixture together. I also thought I could add some protein powder in to make some healthy energy/protein balls for pre and post running, since the date/nut mix is already pretty much what I like to get me through the day if I’m a bit low on energy.

I’m going to play around, but this is my base formula. If anyone has ideas for alterations let me know in the comments.

Run Unencumbered

unencumbered [ˌʌnɪnˈkʌmbəd]
adj not burdened, impeded, or hampered

As I stepped out of work today and looked up into the sky to see the epic clouds looming and the promise of a drizzly but potentially spectacular sunset, I immediately made up my mind. I knew exactly what I would do. Rain makes me want to be out in it.

I drove home and got changed. I grabbed my ipod, my phone, and my spi belt…. And then I thought better of it. I wanted to run unencumbered.

I took only what I needed to drive. My keys. My licence. I threw a towel in the car, and I strapped on my super basic Vibram KSO’s.

I drove to the hill. I locked everything in the glovebox and popped the keys in my pocket.

Then in the rain I climbed. I walked and I ran, whatever I felt like. I didn’t think. Just run and breathe. I didn’t stop for photos, but I did stop for the view and to pat a dog. That’s why there’s no photos on this post. I didn’t listen to music, but I did listen to the rain and the wind and the occasional cows. In a burst of energy I powered up a hill and then I slowed to watch the town lights come on.

It was getting dark. I took off my shoes and ran in the mud. And for a moment I felt completely free. I wanted to run on and on, but at that point my brain kicked back in and told me the sun was sinking and soon I wouldn’t be able to see well enough to trust my steps.

So I turned and came back. Put my shoes back on and walked down the hill. By this stage the path had water running like a stream down it. I picked my way down, careful not to slip. At the bottom I removed my shoes again and ran back to the car, past the puddles and the grass and the frogs. By this time it was very dark, so I was slow and careful.

In the end I returned to the car not knowing just how far I had run. At a rough guess I would say it was about 3-4 kms, but I would have kept running if I had the sunlight.

It felt wonderful. Free, light, and so relaxing. My neck has settled down, and I had no pain from it.

I am often fixated on numbers when I run. Distance, pace, heart rate. This time I ran however my body wanted me to go. It might not have been a long workout or a fast workout, but it was good for the soul.

A bit of holiday silliness.

A bit of holiday silliness.

I know I haven’t gotten around to sharing much of our holiday to New Zealand yet. I’m sorry about that. But I was trying to think of a fun way to pick out the best shots from the thousands of photos we took.

here’s one I like. Not just because it was during our wonderfully beautiful day spent snowshoe hiking with our guide Errol in the Remarkables (the mountian range which was actually used for the distance shots of Mordor in Lord Of The Rings), but because it’s a glimpse into the silliness of our everyday lives.

This day was wonderful. We had a lovely guide and he had all the equpiment we needed, including oh-so-delicious vegan sandwiches for us. We strapped on our snowshoes -something neither of us had done before – and headed off through the skifields and into the unbroken snow.

it was wonderful. A nice clear blue sky, the crisp snow, the rocky peaks. Everything was perfect.

The best thing was we were the only people booked on the tour for the day, so we had the place (and the guide) to ourselves. We cracked jokes, we wrote in the snow with out feet, we dug out a snow cave.

and then Gary and I were discussing the location, as we recognised the frozen lake from the movies. And I smote his ruin upon the mountain side… and then wrote the word “Balrog” next to him so that everyone would get it because he doesn’t really look like a creature of shadow and flame.

anyway the point of all of this is that we had a wonderful day in the snow with a lovely guide (I still maintain that his voice sounded like a cross between Iain Glen and David Wenhem which gave him bonus points for being awesome). And that lovely sunny day in the Remarkables led to us going back up there for unplanned snowboarding lessons. Gary also went for Skiing lessons but I spent that day jumping off platforms attached to giant rubber bands. Thats a story for another time though.

Mount Pilot

I’ve been itching to get out an about in the bush again for a while and we just haven’t found the time.

I was wanting to scout out some potential running tracks given there’s more and more light in the day lately and I’m kind of tired of running through the streets in town. So we headed out this morning for what turned out to be a bit of a scenic drive through the Chiltern forest.

We drove down quite a few tracks and parked at mount pilot then walked the few hundred meters to the top for some lovely views.

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this is the track the fire guys drive up to get to the spotting tower at the top

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nice view from halfway up

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this is the fire spotting tower. There’s 360 degree views from here, and Gary informs me that throughout summer there’s a man who spends every day here watching for fires

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Gary staring wistfully into the distance

The top of Mt Pilot is basically all one big rock. It’s an old volcano, if my memories of school trips out there long ago serve me well. Very much long extinct and all smoothed down, but a great big lump of rock nonetheless.

There are lovely panoramic views from up there of the surrounding hills (after being in Nepal I can’t quite bring myself to call what we have here “mountains”).

You may or may not have noticed Gary had no shoes on. I’m used to him running about everywhere barefoot but it often confuses others. On our way down a little kid walking with his father was very concerned about Gary. “Dad, why isn’t he wearing any shoes?”

He then looked at my feet and I think the poor child was even more confused.

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His dad explained that Gary was a big kid and could decide what he wanted to wear and that explanation seemed to make him feel better.

All in all it was a beautiful day for a drive and a walk. On the way home we stopped at Chiltern to pick up some maps. I’m going to plan a route and hopefully do some running out in the bush. Can’t wait!