Friday, August 23, 2013

5km best-to-date

I mentioned when I ran my 10km event last month that I was training to try to achieve a 5km personal best (noting that a PB for me is probably much slower than for most people)...and I'm pleased to report success on that front.

I headed to the very pretty Beach Road with a speedy girlfriend last weekend, for what I thought would be a flat and easy run. Boy, was I wrong?! Melbourne has been experiencing some crazy weather of late and the coast, typically the windiest of all locations, was probably not a prudent choice in light of this. The bureau even issued a wind warning (which sounds like something I issue after eating too much curry...). I digress! It was certainly a very picturesque spot, despite the wind.

The run was an out and back portion of the road and the entire way out (2.5km) was slightly uphill with an extremely strong headwind. I was utterly stuffed by the time we turned around and contemplated easing into a walk. I knew, however, that I'd be disappointed with myself if I did so, so persisted with my slow waddle.

The second half of the run should, theoretically, have been easy - tail wind and slightly downhill. While this was indeed a welcome relief, I was so exhausted from battling the wind on the first half of the course that I could barely pick up any pace.

The outcome? Well, I didn't crack the sub-32 minute goal I had in mind, but was only seconds off it at 32:37. Yes, it was considerably slower than many of my training runs, but still a good'un and a personal best (given my training tends to be divided up into intervals that include walking segments).

Upon reflection, maybe it's a good thing that I didn't crack the illustrious 32 minute mark - gives me something to continue to work towards and aspire to....

Onwards and upwards! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August update

Things have been busy for me in the last month - more time at work, more time running and less time blogging. That's why I thought I'd share some highlights of the last couple of weeks.

1. A new toy.

Our rice cooker recently had a meltdown and committed suicide in fairly dramatic fashion. I knew he (she?) wouldn't be long for this world the day I bought him...for $9! This time around, I opted for a device that could do more than just steam rice and bought a pretty sexy five-in-one contraption that steams, pressure cooks, slow cooks, fries...and has some soup function that I'll never use (this one's definitely a "she"!). We've been experimenting with the slow and pressure cook functions over the last few weeks. Highlights have included flaked lamb shank ragout, a slow-cooked American-inspired chicken dish (that was, among other things, cooked in pickle juice!) and a Moroccan lamb stew (pictured).

2. More cycling.

We have enjoyed some warmer weather down in Melbourne and my beloved and I have seized the opportunity to squeeze some more cycling into our lives.

Bikes pictured in Southbank, Melbourne.

3. Markets. 

We're about to head overseas for a few weeks (fear not - there'll be updates, as always!) and find markets to be great places to stock up on presents for our OS pals. Locally made products always seem to please....not to mention the benefits for the shopper - sunny weather, beautiful scenery and crepes smothered in Nutella!

Images from the Southbank Sunday market, Melbourne.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chicken soup and chocolate

I haven't been feeling 100% these past few weeks. The weather's been cold and wet and my body has taken that as its cue to morph into a dribbly snot-monster. Whenever I'm struggling with a cold, I crave two things - milk chocolate and chicken soup.

The former is somewhat, but not entirely, surprising. You see, at practically any other opportunity I opt for dark chocolate - the darker and more intense, the better. When I lose my sense of taste though, intensity doesn't do it for me and instead, I'm after a physical reaction. The more sugar and fat, the greater and quicker the physical high.

Thankfully, my German mum came to the rescue during my time of need and, without even being told of my ailing condition, sent me a huge parcel or German goodies containing, among other things, enough milk chocolate to feed a small village.

My other default comfort food is chicken soup. I've been a fan of chicken soup since...well...probably since being in utero. My Nana was the best chicken souper of all time - the queen of kreplach, the matzah ball messiah, if you will. Since her passing, my mum has inherited those titles. Though I try to contest, I'm resigned to the fact that I will never be able to top her soup. But that doesn't stop me trying!

I cooked up a big batch of chicken soup over the weekend. I don't really follow a recipe, but simply throw a chicken frame or two into a big soup pot, along with chopped carrots, celery, a parsnip, onions, parsley and 3-ish litres of water. After it comes to the boil, I skim off the layer of fat that rises to the surface, whack in a stock cube (to intensify the flavour) and leave it simmering for a good few hours (at least 3 - more, if possible).

While it doesn't look pretty (my mum always peels her carrots and strains her soup, resulting in a much more aesthetically pleasant consommé), it tasted fantastic. I love my chicken soup with noodles or matzah balls (as pictured above). Mind you, these are cheat, packet matzah balls and they're really best made from scratch.

Best bit of all of this? I'm feeling better - woop! Who said chicken soup's medicinal properties is only folklore, eh?