Race recap: Make your choice 

The thing with running a marathon is no matter how hard you’ve trained and no matter how confident you are of your ability – it can all go pear-shaped on the day. This leaves you with two choices: you can feel sorry for yourself and quit or you embrace the challenge and surge ahead no matter how tough the road ahead may be.

This is what I was faced with as I ran my second marathon at the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival on Sunday.

For sixteen weeks prior to the event I had trained consistently and gave every session 110%. Even on those days where I’d been up most of night with the baby/toddler or I just wasn’t in the mood – I got out there and gave it my all. I never skipped a run and only had to bail on two. One because I was so exhausted that it would be detrimental to my training and health to push on and another time when my foot was in pain. Ain’t nobody got time for injury!

My training consisted of three runs per week – speed intervals, tempo and a long run. There were no easy runs or junk mileage. On the days I didn’t run I either strength or cross trained – to further boost my aerobic fitness and to get my body nice and strong. It was a tough plan but it resulted in me setting three new PBs – 5km, half-marathon and marathon. Woo hoo!

In the lead up to the event my mindset kept switching from “you’ve got this” to “OMFG don’t be ridiculous how will I ever run that far at that pace”. You see I had an ambitious goal in mind to run a sub 4:00 marathon. Those 16 weeks of training had me primed to achieve just that. It was a terrifying thought. Running 42km isn’t comfortable at the best times but for me to run it at a faster pace was going to take it to the next level for me.

When I ran Three Waters last year in 4:22 primarily I just wanted to finish so kept it at a comfy pace. I stopped to hug family, I chatted to other runners, I walked every drink station. Don’t get me wrong it was still tough – it’s a bloody long way to run however I kept it cruisey and loved every second of it. I also achieved my goal of sub 4:30.

This time I knew it was going to hurt a lot more but was determined to give it a red-hot go.

I had a baby almost six months ago so most people thought I was a few stubbies short of a six-pack for even considering another marathon so soon. Well I love a challenge and I love proving people wrong. And yeah I can be quite crazy at times especially when I’ve set my mind on something.

However I think the craziest aspect of it all was thinking I’d be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep the night before. With a baby. A breastfed baby who decided she was not in the mood to sleep and was only calm when attached to me.  She wasn’t the only one in tears at this stage.

Thankfully my superstar of a mother who flew over to help me out, along with my youngest sister, took over the reigns at 11pm so I could try to get some shut eye. Good news – the baby went to sleep. Bad news – fucking worst insomnia of my life. I think I managed about two hours of sleep before I was up feeding the little-little and getting myself ready to run. A less than ideal way to kick things off.

After my banana porridge, a caffeine hit and at least five trips to the toilet (!) it was time to meet my running buddy Ashul downstairs and head on over to the train station thus beginning our journey to the start line. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I felt like throwing up. Not just about the run but I was leaving the little-little for the longest I’d ever left her and I was worried she might miss her food source. Luckily my mum is a legend and assured me everything would be okay.

We got to the start at Milson’s Point where we reunited with the amazing Stephanie and fabulous Lyndal. The four of us became firm friends via social media after bonding over our love for running. This was Ashul’s fourth marathon for the year, Steph’s third and Lyndal’s second. We all had our own individual goals however Ashul and I were going to try to stick together for as much as we could.

We stood around chatting for awhile and took the obligatory pre-run selfies and before we knew it we were off! I was feeling strong and on pace. After a few kms I knew I could do this. Everything was going to plan. It was what I’d call a dream run. Running over the Harbour Bridge was very cool!

Then we reached the 18km mark and it all started to go pear shaped and by pear shaped I mean I got a mother-fucking stitch. A stitch. A godforsaken stitch. Who even gets stitches? Not me. Ever. Why was this happening?

I hadn’t done anything different. I’d eaten the same breakfast I’d always eaten before a long run. My fuelling was as I’d practised. WHY RUNNING GODS WHY?! WHY TODAY OF ALL DAYS?!

I tried every trick in the book to get rid of it. Exhaling as my left foot hit the ground, digging my nails into my palm. Ashul got me to bend over and exhale sharply. Nothing worked. By this stage my pace had slowed dramatically and in the end I couldn’t keep up with Ashul so we parted ways.

I was devastated and in so much pain. I started to cry and run at the same time. All my hard work was going down the drain all because of a stitch. I hobbled along with this pain for at least 3km. It finally dissipated but by then my mental state was not where I wanted it to be and then it started to bloody rain.

I started to self doubt and was so close to pulling the pin. I kept thinking of how I’d let so many people down. My husband who put up with all my crazy, watched both kids every Saturday morning as I pounded the pavement for hours, who stayed home with the big-little while I was on the other side of the country. My mum who flew over to watch the little-little while I was running. My training buddy Sarah who was by my side on most of my long runs and tempo sessions. Each and every person who believed in me and wished me well.

My legs kept moving but my mind kept taunting me “just quit now, you’re not going to make it, you’re not a runner, you’re a joke just pull out before you make a fool of yourself”. Welcome to my inner monologue. I started crying again.

I think it was around 28km I stopped running and began to walk. It was the only way to get my shit together. I gave myself a stern talking to and a figurative kick up the arse. I’d come too far to quit and even if I had to drag myself over that line I was going to give it my all. I am not a quitter!

Sub 4:00 was now out of reach so it was time to reassess and aim for my next goal – beat my Three Waters time.

From god only knows where I got this sudden determination and strength and powered through the final 10km or so kilometres. I felt fan-bloody-tastic. I even managed to catch Ashul and pass him.

Those last 3km you could not wipe the smile from my face and when I crossed the finish at exactly 4:07 well I was beside myself with joy and yep the tears began to flow again. A new PB by 15 minutes – I’ll take that.

It’s now four days later and I’ll be honest I’m not thrilled with my time but what I am proud of is the fact I never gave up. It would have been so much easier to quit but I embraced the hard and broke through to the other side. This is one of the lessons of life running has given me and I hope both my littles learn from it too. It has also spurred me to work even harder – I will run a sub 4:00 marathon.

Until then I’m still allowing myself a couple more days to recover before slowly easing into my next goal – the 6 Inch Ultra Marathon in December. My first-ever trail race and my first ultra. A whole new level of crazy! Bring it on 😜

 *Special shout-out to my husband, the littles, my parents, sisters, Sarah, Ashul, Steph and Lyndal for being the most wonderful people in the universe and helping me cross the line*

Decadent indulgences and a sneaky sous

Last Sunday’s baking adventure had me baking a Lazy Crazy Chocolate Cake which was pretty impossible to mess up. Throw a few ingredients into a bowl, mix, pour into a cake pan and bake. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. That particular recipe was chosen by the Big-Little aka my sous chef. It was a hit!

For yesterday’s challenge I asked the husband to select a recipe. With careful consideration he opened the book to a random page and said “this one”. This one just happened to be in the Showing Off section of the book – a Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake with FOUR separate components. Yes four. Okay no probs I’ll give it a crack I said full of faux confidence when on the inside I was thinking shhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

Well give it a crack I did! First of all I hit the shops a few days earlier to buy all of the ingredients – which included thickened cream, pouring cream (I don’t know what that is so used thickened cream), mascarpone, dark chocolate, icing sugar, hazelnuts, cocoa, butter, caster sugar, eggs and chocolate-hazelnut spread (I used a healthier version of Nutella because ain’t no way I’d be able to resist temptation with Nutella in the house!). Then yesterday my sous chef – who insisted we bake in our pyjamas – and I got our bake on.

Having a sous chef can be very handy. However they can also be more of a hindrance than a help at times. Especially when all they want to do is lick the spoon or the bowl or eat the ingredients. This was the case with my sous chef yesterday which made for some trying times in the kitchen.

First up was the cake layer. Just four ingredients beaten together, poured into a square cake pan – did I mention paid Kmart a visit earlier in the week to purchase some new bake-ware – and then into the oven for 10 minutes. Once that was cooked I had to turn it out on to a wire rack to cool before placing it back into the pan. Uh oh how was this going to pan out (see what I did there). Unfortunately one of the edges broke off as I performed this tricky manoeuvre but luckily it didn’t matter too much as I was going to place a layer of mousse over the top.

Next it was on to the highly-anticipated star-of-the-show the chocolate mousse. I began by melting dark chocolate and then the recipe asked me to beat cream and sifted icing sugar until it formed soft peaks. Huh? Say what now? All I can say is thank god for Google images! If you scroll down to the pics below you can see I nailed the soft peaks – woo hoo! Then I had to fold the melted chocolate and cream mixture together.

I defs need to practise my folding skills. I’m pretty sure the purpose of folding rather than stirring or mixing is to not work the mixture too much so that it remains light and airy. Once that was done the mixture was poured on top of the cooled down cake. I was a bit concerned at this point as it looked as though this layer wasn’t going to be sitting as high as the photo suggested. I was perplexed as I had the correct-sized tin and followed the recipe to the letter. Time would tell. This was then placed into the fridge to set for FOUR HOURS. Yeah no I didn’t have time for that so into the freezer it went for about half an hour and then into the fridge for another two.

On to the third component – the satin glaze which was chocolate, cocoa and water. Simple! Problem was when I wasn’t looking my sous chef grabbed the chocolate melts off the bench and started inhaling them which meant I didn’t have the correct amount for the glaze. See what I mean about being more of a hindrance than a help. It didn’t matter too much though as it was still very chocolatey. The glaze was then spread on to the now-set mousse layer and popped into the fridge to further set. Oh yeah baby this cake was looking the goods!

Last but certainly not least was the hazelnut mascarpone which was simply combining the hazelnut spread with the mascarpone. Hot damn that is one tasty combo.

Now it was time to see whether all this hard work had paid off. I removed the cake from the pan and voila it worked. My earlier concerns about the mousse layer not being thick enough were put to rest. Although it was slightly higher in the middle as I didn’t spread it completely even – oops – it still had the layered effect I was after.

I then put the finishing touches on the cake so I could prepare for delivery. The edges were trimmed off to make it as straight as possible and then sliced eight (almost) even pieces. Don’t worry those edges weren’t wasted they were swiftly ingested by yours truly! On top of each piece I dolloped on a spoonful of mascarpone mixture, topped with two hazelnuts and a dusting of cocoa. Then it was a race against time to get them delivered to each recipient before they started to melt.

Unfortunately on the way to the in-laws one of their three pieces toppled over on to the other two resulting in a bit of a mess. The mascarpone slid off and the glaze also shifted. *insert crying emoji here* I was pretty annoyed as I took a lot of care in making sure they looked good. However I’ve been assured they tasted great!

Another three pieces were dropped off to my parents and sister – who also highly appraised the dessert. *fist pump*

I saved two pieces for my husband and he was super impressed with my efforts too – yippee!

The verdict: bloody delicious but extremely rich and decadent. I would struggle to eat a whole piece and as it has so much cream ie dairy, so not ideal for someone like myself who can only tolerate very small amounts of dairy at a time. I’d definitely make this again – it’s the sort of thing you’d make to impress at a dinner party hence why it features in the Showing Off section of Love to Bake. Two bakes and two successes so far!

Next Sunday I’m thinking a savoury bake is on the cards! It’s Father’s Day too so I think I’ll ask my dad to choose and he can revel in the culinary spoils.


Let them eat cake

*Let me preface this by giving a quick life update as I noticed in my second last post I was still preggers.  I gave birth to a baby girl almost five months ago so am now a mother to two littles! 

They’re amazing and as I don’t like to use names here I will refer to them as the big-little and the little-little. 

In that post I mentioned I might do the Sydney Marathon – well in less than four weeks I’ll be doing just that eek. I’ve also signed up for the ultramarathon in December.* 

Okay now the life update is out of the way lets talk baking! By the way I’m typing this from my phone with a sleeping baby on my lap so I apologise in advance for any typos. 

I am bloody over the moon to report that yesterday I successfully baked a chocolate cake. 

The Lazy Crazy Chocolate Cake from Women’s Weekly Love to Bake. I let the Big-Little – who is also my sous chef – make the selection. I was a little apprehensive as one of the ingredients was whole-egg mayonnaise. Say what?! However whole-egg mayo is simply eggs and oil so it makes sense. 

I won’t lie it was easy peasy. Only a few ingredients – mayo, self-raising flour, cocoa, raw caster sugar and water – thrown into a bowl. Beaten together and then bam into the oven for just over an hour. 

The Big-Little assisted by tasting each individual ingredient and mixing it all together. Unfortunately for me he scored the licking of the bowl, spoon and beaters. I must be quicker next time. 

The icing on the cake truly was the icing on the cake for me and was whipped up no problemo while the cake was baking. 

I love chocolate. It’s my absolute weakness. Especially dark chocolate. Ermagherd it’s just the best. I think I’m singlehandedly keeping Lindt in business with the amount of dark blocks I consume. I don’t share them – my husband can vouch for that. I just inhale them one block at a time. 

Anyway where was I? Ah yes the icing. Dark chocolate and milk chocolate melted into cream. Stop it! Goddamn it took every inch of my self control not to pour this delicious mixture straight down my throat. It was fucking deeeeeelish. 

Part of me hoped the cake was a failure so I could drown my sorrows in ganache. 

So the icing was done and the cake was rising beautifully. I was giddy with excitement when the timer went off. Now usually I am way too impatient and end up flipping the cake out and icing far too early resulting in a pancake swimming in goo. Not this time – I showed restraint! *fist pump*

I was commenting to my husband the day before how much I loved the styling of the cakes in Love to Bake as they were very rustic. The icing looked slapped on yet contemporary looking rather than cakefail.com

I can slap icing on. And slap it on I did. I even shaved some chocolate on top! Who am I even? It looked amazing even if I do say so myself. 

Personally I can’t eat cake without a cup of tea so I boiled the kettle, made myself a cuppa and sliced myself and the Big-Little a chunk of cake each. 

Oh. Em. Gee. Now the husband tells me I need to practice being more modest. Pfft to that I say! This cake was the shiz. 

Rich yet light, moist and chocolatey but not overpowering. And my friends – it maintained its height!  

So my foray back into the world of baking is off to a roaring start. This cake is hands down the best I’ve ever made. The only thing I can fault is I can taste how sugary it is. 

However that’s not going to stop me from me having another slice and a cup of tea as soon as I’ve hit publish. I’m keeping this one. 

I haven’t decided what’s next on the list. I think I’ll get the husband to choose this time. 

Speaking of the husband he doesn’t think I’ll ever be good enough to audition for Great Australian Bake Off. So rude. Anyway challenge accepted I say! There’s nothing I love more than proving people wrong. Let them eat cake!  


The Great Mumma Bake Off – take two

  When I was pregnant with Curly I decided to take on the challenge of learning how to bake. I’m not quite sure where the idea came from because I rarely eat baked goods. I don’t mind a slice of cake once in awhile for a special occasion and I certainly would never say no to a custard-filled cannoli but as a general rule I try not to eat that sort of thing. If I go out for coffee I’m the wanker who chooses a raw-vegan-grain-free-sugar-free-paleo-kale-chia-seed-activated-almond slice over a muffin or carrot cake. So I think what attracted me to baking was the challenge not the fact I wanted to stuff myself with tortes!

Oh boy was it a challenge. Each Sunday while the Boy was at golf I’d pick a recipe and give it my all, however I suffered more failures than successes. Cakes would rise in the oven only to fall flat soon after they’d hit the bench. Brownies would be dry rather than moist and biscuits would end up in the bin. Don’t even get me started on my icing skills – sub par to say the least. So feeling disheartened I hung up my apron deciding baking just wasn’t to be one of my talents. *sob sob*

Since then I’ve stuck to not baking raw treats such as protein balls, a fail safe paleo banana bread recipe and if I need a birthday cake I visit me old mate Betty Crocker down aisle 7. I did have success recently baking my dad a vegan chocolate cake for his birthday and made some pretty awesome sweet potato brownies a couple of weeks ago – however it’s all very hit and miss.

I can cook – in fact I think I’m pretty good at it- however baking is an entirely different ball game. With cooking you can taste as you go along – adding a bit of this here and a bit of that there. I very rarely follow recipes and if I do I nearly always make alterations to suit my taste.

Baking requires exact measurements and other than licking the bowl, spoon, beaters and any utensil which has made contact with the batter you don’t really know how it’s all going to pan out until it’s baked. When it comes to baking you can’t just wing it and hope for the best.

I don’t watch much television but when I do you can bet it’s the food channel. This is where I came across the absolute gem of gastronomy-based viewing – Great British Bake Off. Oh. My. God. Delectable delicacies or what! Everything looks so pretty and far beyond my baking capabilities. The showstopper challenge – where the bakers are able to prove their mettle with a showstopping bake – leaves me in awe. Last week one of the bakers constructed a bike out of choux pastry and filled the wheels with creme anglaise and other delights. Stop it!

Since I’m on maternity leave I could do with a new challenge because raising two mini humans and training for a marathon just isn’t enough (ha I’m kidding it’s plenty challenging already!). So I am delving back into learning how to bake.

I borrowed the Women’s Weekly Love to Bake recipe book from the library last week and will be baking one possibly two items per week. Sundays once again as I think it’s a nice way to end the weekend. This time I have my sous chef lending a hand. He is highly-skilled in spoon licking, stirring and dropping ingredients on to the clean floor.

I plan on giving my bakes away as marathon training and gorging on baked goods don’t really go together however it could be considered carb loading. So if you’re local and you want to be a guinea pig holler at me! I’m even open to requests.

I also plan on posting about each bake – more for myself so I can have a record of what worked, what didn’t work and how I can improve. It’s also a nice way to practise my photography skills.

So here I go – learning to bake once more. Who knows in a year’s time I may just be up to scratch and auditioning for a spot on Great Australian Bake Off. Hey a girl’s gotta have dreams!

Not long now!

Shut. The. Front. Door. I’m getting my blog on.

I am due to give birth to another mini-human in less than 10 weeks. Holy cannoli where has that time gone? It feels like just yesterday I was stewing over whether the boy and I were ready to pop out another one or not and now lo and behold it’s just about to happen. What I have learnt since that post is – if you wait until you think you are ready well you may be waiting a very, very long time and sometimes it’s best to just bite the bullet and hope for the best.

This pregnancy has been so different to when I was baking the Curly-Haired Monster. For starters I was so sick in the first trimester. Oh so sick. A (not-so) fond memory I have is crying my eyes out in the toilets at work because I felt so heinously ill and had to push on and pretend nothing was wrong. What made it about 3000 times worse was my strong aversion to coffee yet being surrounded by coffee machines in the office. So many times I’d have to either leave my desk or hold my breath and focus on not crying or vomming all over the place whenever a colleague made themselves a coffee. It was torture.

The only thing that would make me feel better was eating continuously and believe it or not – exercise. Although running was significantly harder because I suffered from breathlessness. It didn’t stop me from running two half-marathons in that time though. Yes I am crazy but I was sensible and took them both very slowly! Funnily enough I am finding it easier to run now despite being in my third trimester. I’m as slow as a snail but it still feels good so I’m going to keep it up.

Thankfully during the 11th week the hideousness magically disappeared and I was able to feel more human again.

Second trimester was an absolute breeze although I did have some really rough days emotion-wise. It’s a wonder I am still married. There have been times where I have literally hated my husband and him sharing the same air as me was enough for me to want to punch him in the face. Poor bugger. I also had some really dark days where all I wanted to do was cry and hide under my quilt. Goddamn hormones!

Thankfully that stage has now passed too but alas now I’m in the third and final trimester my old mate insomnia is back again. I knew it would be too much to ask to enjoy nine months of restful sleep. At least I am familiar with not sleeping so while it is annoying I’m not too fussed.

We have no idea what this little bundle will be – I mean really it could go either way couldn’t it 😉

Names are a struggle. Like for realz we have not settled on any names for either sex. Suggestions are welcome!

I’m going through an OMG what am I doing stage at the moment. I’ve been on holidays for the past two weeks and the toddler has been home with me rather than at day care. OMG how frigging demanding are two and a half year olds?! He’s a beautiful, hilarious, intelligent, determined, fabulous kid most of the time but in the blink of an eye he can go from all of the above to a demonic tyrant. He’s stubborn like his mother and father so that has it’s challenges.

It’s been making me feel a bit apprehensive about going on maternity leave and having two to tend with but life is meant to be challenging so as I do with most things I’ll give it a good crack.

I’m thinking this year is going to be full of new and rewarding challenges. Just to spice things up a bit I’m going to train for another marathon later in the year – Sydney – seeing as I missed out last year due to a drunken dance injury. I’m also hoping to tackle my first-ever trail ultra-marathon in December. A tad unsure as to how I’m going to fit it all in but I do have a treadmill and a jogger for two now which I am sure will help me out with training. I’m sure the husband will be a big help too.

So that’s where I’m at right now 🙂 I’m hoping to update the blog a bit more regularly than biannually too – providing I am feeling inspired and can think of something to post about it. Until then ciao!