Wednesday, 26 August 2015

John Butler Trio play Lusty Glaze during the wettest night of summer!

Named as the Sundowner sessions the summer gigs held at Lusty Glaze beach during the summer months have been a favourite of mine since moving to Cornwall. I've watched the likes of Feeder and The Levellers and had many a good dance at the beach gigs with the sand between my toes, the waves rolling in behind and the sun setting over the sea.

However the summer of 2015 has other ideas, well to be honest there is no summer of 2015 just the empty shell of hope clinging on to the idea that maybe, just maybe we will get an Indian summer and once the kids go back to school we can enjoy some sunshine in Cornwall. To make matters worse last night there wasn't just another evening of unfavourable weather and the dread of not seeing a sunset at a sundowner session but much worse. We were on a severe weather warning for wet weather from 9pm onwards for the whole of Cornwall.

Well, what can I say! Us British folk aren't put off by a little, or rather in last nights case a lot of the wet stuff. Arriving to the beach to the sell out gig the crowds were already well fed and watered by the various BBQ and bars set up on the beach and with a lot of summer attire on display there were lots of people in flip flops and I began to wonder were people being optimistic about the forecast or did they simply not know?

After a few songs in the dry suddenly the heavens opened but it didn't seem to have an impact on the evening what so ever. Suddenly the summeresque dressed British Public pulled out pac a macs, ponchos and coats and simply just carried on as if nothing was happening. We had rain water pouring and pouring down from the sky, the water was running down in gully's onto the beach, the puddles were beginning to form but still we carried on, rain dripped off my nose and down my face I was soaked!
Watching a gig in pouring rain proves difficult for those with glasses
Rain continues to pour at lusty glaze sundowner sessions
The camaraderie amongst the crowd was fantastic and not a single person was going to let a bit of rain spoil their evening and it was simply a case to drink more, dance harder and party on.

Rain continues to pour at lusty glaze sundowner sessions
The gig continued to get better and better and the rain continued to pour and pour and friends were starting to look more and more soaked through yet not a single one of them cared. I have to say, respect to each and every person on the beach last night that proved that even in the worst of weather we still know how to have a good time and a good party.

Check out my quick video from last night with the crowd singing and dancing along despite the diabolical weather.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Please help me raise £500 for WWF

I'm sure people are asked for sponsorship money all the time and it is hard to give money constantly to friends and family that are doing events all the time but if possible can I have 5 minutes of your time to read why I'm asking for your help?

Look outside, it's raining (It is in Cornwall right now) or at least it has been raining for pretty much the whole of summer. This is partly due to climate change, and WWF want to fund research and invest in ways to protect our environment and help us to combat climate change.
Running in the rain in Cornwall, one of the many effects of climate change
What about your favourite animal? As everyone will know I'm slightly obsessed with Pandas, I have been since I was very young. Amanda the Panda being a nickname of mine. But imagine a world without Panda's. OK so that's probably not that bad for most people in the UK, most people have probably never seen a real panda bear. I myself was fortunate enough to see London Zoos second Panda Ming Ming that was at the Zoo from 1991-1994. But for most people seeing a real live panda bear could become a similar story to seeing a real life dodo.

If your not interested in Pandas, what about Tigers, African Elephants, African Lions, Jaguars, Marine Dolphins, Mountain Gorillas and even Polar bears all of these are helped to breed, and survive and to be understood by the work that the WWF do, and without the WWF all these could die out.

I'm trying to raise just £500 and it sounds like a lot of money but If every one of my twitter followers donates just £1 I will smash that target or just £2 from each Facebook like, I'm asking for less than a cost of a pint! We all saw what happened to Cecil the Lion recently and it's not just the Lions that need our help. If I can raise just £25 this can pay a Rhino Protection Unit ranger's salary for 10 days to help protect the African Rhino's from poachers.
The panda made me do it, running the cardiff half for WWF
If you care for animals or the environment you'll know about the work that the WWF already do and understand why it is vital to keep supporting them even if it is only by donating just a few pounds each.

Then there's me, I'm asking for you not just to donate money to the charity but I'm asking you to sponsor me. Yes the sponsorship is for the WWF but by sponsoring me you are saying that you believe that I can do it. That I can get around a half Marathon, That I can complete 13.1 gruelling miles of exercise. That's 21.097494 kilometres of running, over 2 hours of plodding pavements, burning over 1000 calories. And that's just on the day, I've also been doing training runs, I had built up over 200 miles of practise, building up my strength and stamina. I've even had to deal with an injury and enjoured nearly 2 months off with a painful calf injury. Now I've started training again I have less than six weeks until the event and in every practise run that I do and every bit of training, knowing I have the support and sponsorship from my friends and family helps me plod on through.
Mandi Brooks running the cardiff half
So what I'm asking is please sponsor me, please believe that I can run/walk/crawl my way around 13.1 miles and in doing so feel proud that you are also helping to save the planet and the pandas.

Training for the Cardiff Half
You can sponsor me on my just giving page here 
If you can't afford to sponsor me but fancy helping me out by running with me then just let me know as having a running buddy on the lengthy runs is always appreciated.

Thank you again

Monday, 17 August 2015

Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge Week 2, Paul Hollywood Arlettes

Yesterday I found myself with enough time and enthusiasm to attempt week 2 of the Great British Bake Off Technical Challenges, this was making eight Arlette biscuits a recipe from Paul Hollywood.

There's a part of me that wants to do all of the technical challenges this year but I'm sure there will become a stage where I don't own the correct utensils, tools, tins etc to be able to join in but so far so good. Week 1 saw me making Mary Berry's Walnut layer cake and although It was a success it didn't feel that much of a challenge and worst still my partner didn't particularly like the cake!!! Seriously I think there is something wrong with him when he said it was too sweet!

After watching the latest technical challenge I couldn't help think it seemed like a lot of effort for eight biscuits but not wanting to quit at week two I persevered and started by watching the technical challenge section on the BBC Iplayer. Watching as some contestants got in sticky messes, others mixed by hand and others used electric mixers. I was confused at what best to do, after reading the recipe instructions I was clear on what I needed to do, and that involved A LOT of chilling and the use of bread flour and some kneading. All in all an odd recipe to make a biscuit.

The recipe was similar to making a flaky or a rough puff pastry mixing layers of butter and layers of pastry dough. The only difference was that you wrapped the pastry in a layer of butter rather than the other way around. All in all the recipe so far was actually really quite simple, once you had the basic ingredients it was just a case of fold and chill then repeat. After a few hours I was ready to add a layer of sugar and Cinnamon and roll and chill again. Although not a major issue the first problem I had was that I lost some of my dry sugar mix out of each end of the roll of pastry.
Making Paul Hollywood's ArlettesMaking Paul Hollywood's Great British Bake Off Arlettes
Great British Bake Off Roll of pastry for Arlettes
Great British Bake Off Roll of pastry for Arlettes
Once the dough was chilled again it was time to cut into eight equal sections and roll flat with a rolling pin before baking. Again the dry ingredients caused a slight issue and once I had started to roll the biscuits flat some of them were unravelling and not staying as a tight pinwheel.
Great British Bake Off Roll of pastry for Arlettes ready for baking

Placing the rolled biscuits out onto the baking tray It was time to bake. On the television episode there were lots of comments about the high butter content and how these biscuits could burn easily however I think I was over cautious. After the first 5 minutes of baking the instructions state to flip the biscuits over and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Another slight issue was that the biscuits were fairly stuck to the baking paper but with a little shuffling they were free and flipped over. However the 8-9 minutes baking time turned into 10-12 to avoid the centres of my biscuits still looking doughy and raw. I'm not sure If my Arlettes weren't rolled thin enough or it was due to my oven. Either way the additional baking time wasn't an issue and I now had eight little Arlette biscuits.

Eight Arlettes from the Great British Bake Off
Once cooled with a cup of tea the first two biscuits were devoured in seconds. They taste a little like the flaky pastry and sugar coated edges of an apple strudel. They had the snap, a little flaky crunch and a delicious buttery flavour. All in all very very yummy but you need to be in the house for several hours to keep attending to your chilling and rolling of the pastry so unless I have several hours to spare I'm not sure I will be making them again in a hurry.
Four Arlettes from the Great British Bake OffEight Arlettes from the Great British Bake Off
Next it's bread week and I've only ever made bread once so this could be an interesting technical challenge. Roll on Wednesday for episode three. I can't wait.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

I just did a baby run :@)

After 8 weeks off running and rather a lot of pain my last course of acupuncture and ultrasound seems to have helped. Not wanting to run before I can walk I decided that I would start the week with a walk and see how things went.

On Tuesday I took to the local streets and managed to walk just over 4 miles fairly trouble free. When I say fairly, I managed to walk nearly all four miles without a twinge or a hint of pain however around three and a half miles in I started to get a twinging in the muscle in my calf. But after a change of pace, the pain completely went? I'm not sure what is causing the pain and whether I will do more damage using it rather than resting it but the following day after the four mile walk there was still no pain.

Training for the cardiff half with a calf injury
With the excitement of walking 4 miles without to much bother I decided I wanted to increase the distance yet again before attempting to go for my first run in eight weeks. My next walk was along the camel trail in Wadebridge. I didn't want to start taking massive hikes up hilly coastal paths just yet and want to ease myself in fairly gently on flat routes and there isn't anywhere in Cornwall flatter than the tranquil camel trail that follows the side of the river.

Starting at Wadebridge I walked three miles up the trail before turning around and walking another three miles back. Again all was well whilst walking until I hit the four mile mark where again the same twinging started to appear in my calf. I tried changing pace but this time it didn't work. I decided to stop and give my calf a massage and carry on. The pain didn't stop completely but it didn't hurt as much and was on and off for the rest of the walk. I felt deflated that just 6 miles and I was struggling with this niggling in my calf but after reaching the car and sitting down the pain was completely gone again.
Walking on the camel trail in Wadebridge

sun setting in Wadebridge

Dusk in Wadebridge

Camel trail in Wadebridge to Bodmin

The next day when I woke up I was worried about those first few steps in the morning feeling that the calf would once again be tight and painful. However to my delight there was nothing, no pain and so I decided that after another days rest just in case I would now attempt a little walk, tiny run and little walk to ease my calf back into running.

Sunday arrived and It was time to put my leg to the test and see how it would fair with a little run and not wanting to go off to hard too soon I decided on a little route close to home. I started with a one mile walk to warm up followed by a gentle 1 mile run followed by half a mile walk to finish and I am pleased to say that I survived pain free. I was wearing my compression socks and took it really easily plus gently stretched when I got home and iced my calf for 30 minutes once home and so far so good.

The only negative is that I found running for just one mile really hard work and got out of breath VERY quickly. It seems that my 8 week absence from running has really seen my fitness deteriorate and although I've tried to keep fit with light walking, yoga and a bit of surfing there has been a lot of resting and not a lot of activity so I've now got a long way to go to be ready to run a half marathon in just 5 weeks!!!
walk in indian queens cornwall

It sounds like an impossible challenge and I thought I was going to struggle to run a half with a full training regime but I will deal with what I've got and I'd prefer to walk it than pull out so that is where I am today. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed and staying hopeful that the pain doesn't return and I'm able to carefully increase my training enough to get through the Cardiff Half.

Joining the Great British Bake Off Technical Challenges

After the first episode of the Great British Bake Off I decided it would be a great idea to make each of the technical challenges each week.

Sunday's would become the day to stay indoors and bake with my partner. The summer hasn't been particularly great this year and with lots of soggy Sundays to entertain ourselves this seemed to be a fantastic idea.

The first weeks episode was cake, My favourite thing to bake and our favourite thing to eat and so off to the store I went to purchase the ingredients to make week ones technical challenge Mary's Frosted Walnut Layer Cake.

The first challenge was that the cake was made using three equal sized cake tins and I only had two of the same size and one larger. But with the cake mixture evenly shared out It was a case of cutting down the larger cake to match the other two and I was still on track to making an acceptable bake.

Mary Berry's frosted walnut layer cake
The great thing about making one cake slightly bigger is that there were offcuts for the tasting before the rest of the cake was finished.
Once the cakes were cool it was onto the final stage of decorating. The cake required 10 walnuts to decorate the cake all coated in caramel so the first thing to do was make some caramel. This however, was easier said than done. With my sugar in the pan and the heat rather low my sugar slowly started to melt and bubble and started to colour but I didn't realise how quickly the sugar turned from a light golden brown to a sticky black mess of burnt caramel! 

With attempt number two more successful there were 10 perfect little walnuts covered in caramel cooling and ready to decorate the cake. 
Next it was to make up a butter cream to sandwich between the cakes and finally to finish with a boiled icing. I've got to be honest I've never heard of boiled icing before but it was a mix between royal icing and meringue. 
Once the icing had set over the cake it resembled the texture of snow. It had a texture that was light and fluffy and made a slight crunch when cut and compressed. I'm not sure if it was suppose to be like this but this is how ours turned out. 

Great british bake off walnut layer cake
All in all I found the cake delicious, however my partner with a sweet tooth declared that the cake was too sweet! Can a cake be too sweet? It did have A LOT of icing in between the layers, a lot of icing around the cake and then the sugary sweet nuts on top so yes it was very sweet but I loved it. 

Next it's time to make Paul's Arlettes which i'm not very confident about making, the recipe for wafer thing rolled biscuits uses simple ingredients however looks like a much more technical challenge.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

What's wrong with my calf?

This is the question that's been on my lips for several months now, "What's wrong with my calf?" After pulling my left calf muscle several months ago I stupidly didn't think much of it and carried on running through the injury. It didn't hurt too much whilst I was physically running it was just after the run, the day after that would cause pain.

After running through the pain for several weeks and with only 5 months until running my half marathon for the WWF in Cardiff in October I decided I would go and seek some medical advice from my GP.

The GP told me that there was a 16 week waiting list for NHS Physio and If I wanted a quicker path to recovery I should go privately. With that in mind I decided that I would seek out a local physiotherapist and pay for treatment. However after several appointments with the Physiotherapist the outcome wasn't good and the treatment was failing to work and week after week has gone by and stretches and strengthening exercises and massage is not helping at all.

After speaking with a fellow runner I was recommended to go and see a chiropractor rather than a physio and see if they could help. I was told that I was rather knotted up through the calf and also knotted through the spine which was effectively making one leg longer than the other. After a few sessions of being straightened out clicked and crunched the pain is still niggling. Every morning when I wake up and first walk on the leg the muscle feels like it is bulging and pulsing out of the leg. With an electric type pain running through the calf.

Several more weeks later and several hundreds of pounds of my own money spent I have now had so many types of treatment that there doesn't seem to be any thing else out their available for me to try. I've had deep tissue massage, I've had acupuncture and I've had ultra sound on my calf and although I have good and bad days, some days with no pain at all and others where my calf is as tight as when I first injured it months ago.

The next step unfortunately is being referred back to the local GP and potentially to an osteopath to hopefully find out what's wrong with me and how to fix me.

Sadly my first half marathon attempt is now very much looking to be in jeopardy and I'm gutted as I really want to do this not just for me but for the WWF too. As the date is getting closer and no training under my belt it's looking less and less likely but If I suddenly recover I will push myself and get myself around those 13.1 miles and "do it for the pandas" As for now, it's a waiting game and just trying to stay optimistic that I am doing the right thing with Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation...... I just might need to work on the ice part a little more!

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My journey into running my first half marathon now in jeopardy

Having started running in December everything was going well, I was enjoying getting fitter, faster and doing further distances than ever.

I had joined the local Newquay Road Runners group as well as regularly attending Park Run as well as doing a few runs on my own during the week. Everything was going well I was entering races and really thriving and enjoying my running.

I had managed to go from couch potato to regularly running up to 5 miles 3 times a week and even managed a top distance of 8 miles. I might have been a bit slow but I was loving it and so decided to enter my first ever half marathon. Maybe I was a little optimistic to go from complete beginner to a half marathon in less than 12 months but I really wanted to do it, and especially as I was doing it to raise money for the WWF. 

However, things took a turn for the worse whilst running and I found myself in a lot of pain in my calf. However this was during a Park Run event and I didn't want to stop and I kept running through the pain and didn't think much of it. My calf was stiff the next day and the day after but then it felt ok, so I went running again. This time everything felt fine whilst running but for the following two days walking was painful and my calf was incredibly tight. Getting out of bed the morning after my runs was becoming excruciating but as the day went on everything eased and the same process was gone through.

I continued to run and suffer the next few days and decided that with my half marathon looming in October I decided that I should probably get my injury looked at rather than continue to push on with an injury.

Attending a local physio in Newquay I was told that there was a lot of knotting in my calf and this was worked on and although it made the pain flare up I was hopeful that with my armour of exercises and stretches I would be soon back running. But as the weeks have passed the injury is still lingering. I've left the physiotherapist scratching his head as to what is causing the pain and gone through a process of stretches, massages and exercises and still the calf is niggling.

I'm now wearing compression socks full time, even through the night and have started yoga as well as seen a chiropractor and had acupuncture and although there is less pain and things are feeling much better the niggle is still in there and my calf still tight and tender especially after a walk. (No major hiking expeditions but a noticeable twinge after a walk through the local town and I'm still yet to attempt running)

I'm now starting to worry that this injury isn't going to clear in time to start training and attend my first ever half marathon and now need to make the decision whether I will need to defer my place or not.

I'm feeling deflated and pretty gutted that things aren't going as I want them to and that there's even now mentions of scans and x-rays on my calf to find out what's going on. I'm trying to keep optimistic and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that after 6 weeks with absolutely no running and hundreds of pounds spent on private treatment that I will not only be back running but also be able to complete my half marathon and raise money for WWF.

Fingers toes and panda paws crossed that I will be back running soon..... but for now it's compression socks and slippers time!!!

Running a half marathon for wwf

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Park Run number 19 for me, getting slower, walking and struggling on through.

This weekend saw me attend my 19th Park Run at Lanhydrock National Trust Estate near Bodmin in Cornwall and It wasn't one of my best. It wasn't horrendous and I wasn't the slowest but for myself I am annoyed.
Lanhydrock Park Run Cornwall
Having started Park Run back in December and this really was my first introduction back into running for many years. I plodded, jogged and walked around the course in a respectable time of 35 minutes and 48 seconds and for a very gruelling 5km run with a large amount of up hill sections I was really pleased.

Move forwards 6 months and I've joined the local Newquay Road Runners group and I run with them most Tuesdays, I've entered two races now both 5 miles in distance. The first being the Wadebridge to Padstow 5 mile event for the lobster hatchery and the second being the much more serious Cubert 5 mile event. I have then decided to enter my first ever half marathon in October this year! From a complete couch potato to 10 months into my running, I'm going to attempt to run 13.1 miles!

My weekly visits to the road runners group and the weekly visits to Park Run help to push me to gain faster times, better fitness and push and compete a little against the other runners whereas my one other run per week is a slightly longer distance and this feels good each week. But the week just gone I failed to run at all since the last weekends Park Run event. The whole week I had been feeling knackered and although I had got out on my bike and accomplished a little 6 mile bike ride I hadn't managed anything in my runner shoes.

Waking up on Saturday morning for Park Run I felt tired, even though I hadn't done anything the night before and had had a reasonably early night. I walked to the start line yawning my head off. Usually I will jog to the start line but this week a walk was all I could manage. Not wanting to give up before I had even started I said to myself 'at least i was here' I think I would have been even more grumpy had I have missed that weekly run along side all the others that week.
Umbrellas at Park Run Cornwall
Umbrellas at Lanhydrock drying out after the previous day's severe weather warning
The race director got things underway giving an introduction to newbies and tourists and the 117 runners were on the start line and ready to go. I put some music on, LOUD in my headphones and zoned into my pace of running and tried not to get carried away with the pace of the faster runners.

I picked off a few runners at the start and overtook a few more on the fast downhill section but as soon as the terrain turned and I had to work I had nothing in me. With a stitch on my right hand side and pretty breathless I was wondering why I had run quite so fast on the downhill section? and why didn't I warm up at all?

As I approached the first of the uphill sections I began to really struggle, mainly with the stitch and the breathlessness. I didn't want to give up just yet and managed to make it up the first two up hill sections but the third which is the biggest of the three I just had to walk. I tried power walking up the hill but even that was a struggle. People started to over take me, and I was struggling to even push on and walk up this horrible hill. A few regular Park Runners cheered me on and said well done to encourage me but I was already annoyed with myself. I had nothing in me at all, no amount of encouragement would get me through, I felt like I was running on empty.

At the top of the steep hill I turned onto the field which although Is still uphill it is very much more gradual and feels a lot less gruelling and managed to run across this but as the field reaches the woods and the steepness of the hill increased, yet again I was walking.

As I reached the gate I was getting over taken by even more people and I knew that this was the last section, it was a little bit more uphill before the downhill to the finish. I started to jog again and tried to keep up with the ladies that were in front of me. To little avail I couldn't keep up at all, I managed to maintain a steady ish (slow) jog up the hill and as the two ladies in front of me took off down the hill to the finish I was doing well to manage to keep my legs going one in front of the other and not collapse.

As I reached the finish line, I struggled for breath to muster the words to thank the volunteer for my finishing token. After a few minutes I had recovered enough to get my bar code scanned in and start the walk back up the hill I had just come down back to the car park.

I was utterly and thoroughly shattered and now I had to get my bum over to the Electric Beach Festival and dance my socks of for the rest of the day!!!
Hot weather for running park run
A very warm morning for a run
Already I'm thinking about the next one and hoping for a better time.... Park Run is addictive but I guess there are a lot worse things to be addicted to in life than exercise!
Feeling knackered and exhausted after Park Run Cornwall

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Cat Empire at Electric Beach Festival - Fistral beach - Cornwall

When Electric Beach first made a name for itself I have been in attendance and this weekends festival was to be no different. Starting in 2013 at Watergate Bay with the likes of The Next Men and Del La Soul playing this one day festival was an interesting night.

When the festival first began it had teething problems from running out of beer and many unpaid guests watching the festival for free from the beach and the cliff top. 
Electric Beach in the Rain
The following year things improved at Watergate with Electric Beach 2014 with the stage swinging it's direction around to face out to sea and the alcohol flowing a lot more freely all evening and they certainly did not run out.

Move on three years from their humble beginnings and we welcome the 2015 Electric Beach festival and what can I say. They have learnt so much from the early days and made sure that the intimate festival is a success. Not only has the festival moved from Watergate Bay to Fistral Beach the whole event seemed a lot more successful. For example you didn't have to leave the festival walk back across the beach and up into the car park to use the porta loo's like you did at Watergate.

This year they also had the alcohol choices bang on. With local beer Korev, and local cider Rattler on offer and this year they didn't run out! Although the queues for the beer tent by the end of the evening were a bit of a nightmare and we chose not to bother with getting a drink as the queues folded out threefold and reached the coffee camper van!! For anyone at the festival will know how long the queue was! Now I don't want to be negative about the festival at all but it did feel smaller than when held at Watergate or maybe it was just more successful and their were more people there?

I had weekend tickets but sadly with the severe weather warnings and an afternoon of torrential rain on Friday I decided to not venture out of the house and go over to the festival even though I had tickets. I wonder how many others gave the Friday night a miss due to the weather and I really do hope that the event organisers didn't loose out too much.

I understand that Electric Beach is a new venture and the first year it was simply a one day festival and the second year it moved to a weekend two day festival which was great. However this year although they kept things to a two day festival this year the event was held over the Friday and Saturday and being at work on a Friday until 5pm meant that I had missed most of the day whilst working so the choice to miss the few evening acts wasn't so bad especially as I have seen most of them before.
Electric Beach Fistral 2015
When Saturday arrived I was excited as the weather felt warm and the sun was breaking through the clouds. It wasn't even 10am and the temperature in my car was reading a balmy seventeen degrees. However this wasn't going to last and was certainly a totally different story by the afternoon at Fistral Beach.
Saturday morning heat wave
We arrived at the beach to really strong, cold winds and typical Cornish drizzly. The first band we saw were the Big Sets who as always were amazing playing their funky soul and blues music.

The music just kept on coming with bands like the Renegade Brass Band, Backbeat Soundsystem and even the mighty Dreadzone. The wet weather was made bareable by the amazing people from Korev beer supplying us with knitted hats and ponchos to keep warm and dry before the highlight of the evening with the wonderful Cat Empire.
Raining at Electric beach Festival Cornwall
The festival was amazing this year, much much better booze on offer and some really great bands I'm just not sure whether the Friday/Saturday combo worked as well as the previous years Saturday/Sunday festival but only time will tell and fingers are well and truly crossed that the organisers had a successful festival and will be putting on something bigger and better for next year.
Electric Beach Festival 2015
Electric Beach Festival Newquay 2015
 The Cat Empire Newquay 2015 
The Cat Empire Electric Beach Festival Newquay 2015
Thank you for a great weekend Electric Beach.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Park Run, My 18th Run at Lanhydrock House - Bodmin Cornwall.

After last weekends trip up to Essex and completing my fastest Park Run yet and gaining a time of 27:32 at Chelmsford Park Run I was full of confidence that returning to my regular Park Run at Lanhydrock In Cornwall that I was sure to gain a new PB.

Arriving to the Park it was a bright and sunny morning, there was a chilly wind but I was feeling strong and full of confidence that today was the day to get a faster time.

Park Run number 18 - Amanda Brooks
As the crowds arrived at the start line the sun was shining and the sky was blue and I couldn't wait to get going. I started off very strong on the downhill section as to be honest I normally do, I felt strong on the flat and then had the usual struggles up the hilly sections.
Lanhydrock park run CornwallPark Run Cornwall
 I was really pleased when I finished, still feeling strong and had achieved a sub 30 minute time which is now always my goal if not to gain a new PB. When the official results came through later on in that day I had recieved a time of 29:14, I was pleased with that but it was still 34 seconds off that PB that I had somehow set 3 months ago!!!

The Finish Line At Lanhydrock Park Run Cornwall
It just keeps fueling the need to keep going week after week to compete against myself and try and achieve a faster time each week. Maybe the next one I will finally beat that pesky PB!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Running in the Cubert 5

At the six month mark of starting running it was time to enter my second proper race, The Cubert 5.

 I have recently been attending an "intro2running" group held by the Newquay Road Runners and since joining them my confidence and stamina has increased so much. The run itself was put on by the Newquay Road Runners so I had no excuse not to take part. 

On Tuesday night I entered the Cubert 5 mile road race alongside some of my fellow intro to running friends. I had recently completed the Wadebridge to Padstow fun run which was also a 5 mile run but the emphasis on this previous run was that it was a fun run and it was for charity. 

However Tuesday night was a much more serious affair. Putting on my crisp new Newquay vest, this would be my first event also associated with a club. 
Newquay Road Runner friends
Lining up at the start of the race the streets were filled with proffessional looking runners from clubs all across cornwall. There were runners from clubs including Bodmin, Hayle, St Austall and even Saltash. This was shaping up to be a serious event, people warming up, stretching and preparing to run a very fast 5 mile race. 

I however, with some of my intro2running buddies were huddling nearer the back of the pack. Not wishing to get in the way of any of the fast elite runners and not wanting to be continuously overtaken we started off to what we believed to be a nice steady pace. 

Cubert 5 mile start line

I usually run at around the 10 minute mile pace but with the excitement of the crowds of people I had started off a lot faster. The course went off in a square out of the village of Cubert out into the countryside and back to the village. It did this twice and the support around each loop was fantastic. As my first race for the Newquay Road Runners the support was just epic!! 

At every turn you would hear someone shouting and cheering you on and this really helped to get around the course. Arriving at the finish line I was really pleased to have gained a time just over 45 minutes and had completed the course with an average of 9:04 minutes a mile, quite possibly one of my quickest runs yet!

Finishing the Cubert 5 mile road run
I had an awesome time at Tuesdays race and it all helps to fuel my passion to run again after dropping out of the running scene for over fifteen years. 

If there is one slight negative of Tuesday nights experience, that is that I felt shattered plodding around the 5 mile course and the dread is really starting to sink in about having signed up to run a half marathon. At the moment I'm still running relatively for leisure, I attend the Tuesday night intro2running and attend a weekly ParkRun event but both of these evenings are between 3-5 miles of running and no where near the double figure distance that I will be running in October. 

I know that I will soon need to up the pace and increase the distance but until July hits and I reach the three months prior mark I think I will stick to running for leisure and then really start the training next month. 

If you would like to sponsor me to complete this epic mission of attending my first ever Half Marathon then you can using the Just Giving link at the top right on my blog.

Thank you and wish me luck!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Park Run number 17 at Central Park Chelmsford

For anyone that has joined Park Run they will understand what a tourist is and this week I was super excited to be a tourist for the first time. I was going to be leaving the comfort of my regular ParkRun in Cornwall and head up country to attend my first ParkRun in Essex.

Ready to run at Chelmsford Park Run
On Friday evening I jumped in the car and started the five hour journey to Essex to visit friends and family for the weekend and utilise the opitunity to attend a different ParkRun. Sadly over 7 hours in the car later and stuck in ridiculous amounts of traffic and being redirected all the way up to Oxford and back we were finally in Essex even if it was the very early hours of the morning!

With just a few hours sleep it was soon time to get up and head over to Central Park in Chelmsford for my first ParkRun as a tourist. Arriving at the event I was rather shocked at the scale and the size of the event. My regular ParkRun in deepest darkest Cornwall attracts between 100 - 150 regular runners. However this morning I was welcomed by twice that many runners and twice the usual amount of volunteers.
Crowds gather at Chelmsford Park RunCrowds gather at Chelmsford Park Run
The volunteers were fantastic and so well organised as well, splitting the runners into two groups and two different starts. With below 25 minutes to complete the 5km course and over 25minutes so that the faster runners could get off to a quicker start and join up the route further around the course. With a loud mega phone the run briefing was completed and the race was underway. To a resounding beeping of GPS watches and mobile phones on armbands, we were off. It felt absolutely fantastic to be running in such a big friendly group, in the city centre early on a Saturday morning. Even though I was exhausted I was excited to be involved.

Sadly after the first mile I started to realise just how tired I was feeling after the previous days long journey and the lack of sleep and began to really struggle around the course. Even though it was a chilly morning the sun was shining and the course was beautiful. We ran out of Central Park and under the road and into Admirals Park. The course was relatively flat, however there was a little hill up and around a field that took my breath away. Heading back into the second half I was breathing heavily and wishing the course to be over. It was nothing like the gruelling up hill section at Lanhydrock and I didn't need to walk any of it, it was however, a shock on the completely flat faster paced course.

As I pushed on around the course to the finish I was feeling absolutely shattered and really glad to see the finishing funnel in the distance. As I went through the gate and received my bar code I was impressed again with the organisation of the bar code scanners all lined up behind rows of cones to filter the runners through. 
After park run exhaustion

 Central Park Run Chelmsford
As quickly as everyone arrived in the park and ran the 5km course they had all finished and disappeared again. It is like a flash bomb of runners that all turn up in Lycra and run and disappear all within the hour. One minute you can be in the park full of hundreds of people, runners, volunteers and supporters and then just an hour later the park is empty. Blink and you'll miss ParkRun.

The lake at Central Park Chelmsford
Just a few hours later I got my confirmation e-mail through from ParkRun with my time for the mornings 5km run. I was delighted when my time came through as it is now my fastest ParkRun result. I'm really pleased to have achieved my fastest ever 5km time of 27:32 however I need to be honest and point out that Chelmsford Park Run is VERY flat compared to the gruelling Lanhydrock ParkRun in Cornwall and i'm a long way off getting that time in Cornwall.
The lake at Central Park Chelmsford

Central Park Chelmsford
The Viaduct at Central Park Chelmsford

I'm now looking forward to getting back to my home course in Cornwall and trying to get a new PB there and maybe one day I'll be able to get close to my personal 5km record that I set this weekend at Chelmsford!

Chelmsford Park Run time for Amanda Brooks