Chia Seed Pudding before a Run

I read an article that Chia seeds were the new superfood du jour.

So I bought 2kg of them.

Have you ever seen 2kg of Chia.  It’s a lot of seeds.  Far too many for any normal human consumption.  I have accepted that I now have the required amount of Chia for the entire length of my existence.

So the question is what to do with these seeds.  I am currently experimenting with Chia Pudding before my long runs.  Apparently they are amazing, better than porridge for fuelling before your long runs and I have to say, to date, I have found the slow release energy that they supply exceptional.

Not only does the pudding taste good, it also digests easily.  I often find that my big bowl of porridge stays with me for most of a 20 mile run.  In fact, I often find that it can slow me down at the beginning of a run, especially if I eat it within an hour of heading out.

Chia Pudding on the otherhand is light.  I can easily eat it half an hour before a long run and not feel bloated or too full.

So tomorrow, having forgotten the recipe and been too lazy to google it (yes, one can be too lazy to google) I am heading out for a longish run fuelled by Chia.

Watch this space.

Chia recipes:










A100 training in the middle of ‘Lucifer’ and Yoga = fully prepared

So, this year my focus has been strongly led by a nutter friend of mine convincing me to run 100 miles.  Apparently I am a good, strong, consistent runner.  Apparently I will ace it.

Cue 7 months into the year and less than 3 months to the big event and I am absolutely bricking it!

I mistakenly decided to pace several friends on their 100 mile journeys thinking that this will make me more mentally prepared.  All it did was to reaffirm how mental I am for doing this to begin with.   Watching grown adult humans cry, vomit or stagger through the last miles of a 100 miler certainly puts the challenge into perspective.  And though it was an epic experience on both occassions, the reality has sunk in.  I only ran 22 miles with one and 35 with the other…. It was a walk in the park to pace.  It will not be a walk in the park to run these distances having run 78 miles and 65 miles prior.

So, I have decided in peak training time to piss off to a country that knows no heat regulation and is in the middle of a heat wave aptly named ‘Lucifer’.

This is not good!

My coach, yes, I have taken on an experienced professional (it’s 100 miles), has assured me that it will all be fine, but I am starting to have serious doubts.

I have 7 weeks to prepare for the race on my return at the end of August.  My mileage has dropped to 40 – 45 miles per week for the next few weeks.  It will be OK is my new mantra.  Especially as I am now a yoga loving hippy, Ooooommmmm, it will be OK.  Downward Dog.  Vinyasa Flow is just like a good run (it’s not).

Let’s hope it will be, or you will find me somewhere in Oxforshire, possibly in the fetal position, if there are free roaming cows lol






So Fitbit says that I slept, so why do I feel so crap?

I invested in a Fitbit.  I don’t know why.  It is the most annoying and the most fascinating thing that I have ever owned.

I can now look at my heart rate when I use my ‘outdoor voice’ indoors and see that yes;  I am stressed.

This is clearly a wonderful piece of information.  The children have wound me up and yes, my heart rate is up.  I am experiencing stress.  My body is reacting negatively.  Yay.  Thank you Fitbit for that insightful piece of information.

I can now compete with complete strangers that I have never met before and win. Or look like a total ass trying.

I recently had a knowing conversation with my best friend about how occasionally we both run around our living rooms at odd intervals and at odd times to increase our step-count.  Who does that?

Apparently I do.

Apparently I am not the only one.

But best of all is that the Fitbit tells me I have slept and then divides this into waking up and restlessness.  Now I think that I am a relatively intelligent person, but this flummoxed me to levels I hate to admit.

What the hell does it mean?

What is restless, surely I was awake, but if I was then crap, I was awake 25 times.  I am not sure that the stress induced by having this information is good for my heart rate.

Hold on… I am just checking, yes, it is elevated.

I better run on the spot for half an hour to make it better.



Babyled weaning has reduced me to tears!

I have decided to throw myself into full on babyled weaning this time round.  I have found the courage, taken control of my fears, bought the Rapley book and taken advice from my gorgeous friend and intrepid BLW mumma Sophie.

I watch baby G with absolute intrigue as she ploughs through whatever I put in front of her.  I revel in the freedom it has granted us.  It is so easy; she eats what we eat.  Simple.  Ha!

Yes, simple if you can get over the mess.  Tonight, the mess got to me.  Tonight no amount of plastic covers, Antilop high-chairs or wet wipes could prepare me for the babyled weaning induced breakdown that I had in front of my husband.

‘IT’S EVERYWHERE.  All the time’ I said as I once again took to the floor on hands and knees to clean up the insane amount of food that didn’t make it into my lovely baby’s mouth.

‘It’s all the time’  sob

‘It’s never ending’ sob

The Antilop high chair that was meant to be my saviour has become my foe.  Baby G moves and wriggles and more food drops from the leg holes on to my head.  Hubby tries not to giggle.  Cue more tears.  Real fat round sobbing tears.

‘I’m spending so much money on blue clothes’ deep breath in followed by more sobs ‘we will have to get a mortgage’

Hubby assures me that we can stock up at Poundland and not to worry too much about it.  He passes me more paper towels.  I get to a good point of tidy.   I can actually see the floor again and the baby moves.  Cottage pie, parsnips and mashed up banana fall onto the sleeve of my new jumper.  This is the tipping point.  I am literally reduced to tears.

And then.  Just as I thought miracles didn’t occur anymore and that my life was destined to be on hands and knees covered in half chewed food my 9 year old redeems herself.

‘I have an idea’ she beams

Both Guy and I stare at each other.  Generally E’s ideas involve junk food or the request for TV….

‘What?’ we both ask.

‘Well, what if we got a trash bag and put it under the high chair?  You could then just throw it away at the end of everyday’

She’s a genius.  She’s amazing.  She’s saved my life. The world has now got meaning again.  The rainbow has got gold at the end of it.  The gold has a name, its name is Elyse!

A quick roast tomato soup

tomatoesI went to the market yesterday and came home with a kilo each of yellow and red tomatoes.

What to make with these beauties?  Soup of course.  A quick impromptu no recipe soup.

Put tomatoes in a roasting dish with lots of garlic , a chilli and herbs from the garden.  Roast them on a low temperature (150 degree fan assisted) for an hour until they release their juices and the garlic turns sweet.

Blend them in the blender and add a stock cube and water to thin the soup out.  Enjoy with a piece of crusty bread with lashings of butter.  What better way to say goodbye to the summer.

My 9 year old has taken me hostage…

All my children are lovely and I would like to think that I have something to do with that, but in my head I know that I was just lucky.  They are just genetically amazing, they listen, they are helpful, they are cooperative, they play nicely, they share.

When other people are around.

When those ‘other people’ leave. BAM! All hell breaks loose.  The shit hits the fan.  WW-whatever  explodes in to our house like a tsunami of screams, shrieks and tantrums.

Let me make it clear.  Not all the time.  Because my god, if it was all the time, I would not be able to write this blog, yet alone function as a human.

It would seem that recently though my 9 year old has the most innate ability to drive me absolutely insane.  I am an advocate of Gentle Parenting,  I don’t hit the children, I don’t throw my weight around.  I let them explore and discover the world, make mistakes and learn from them, however, with my 9 year old this has gone epically wrong.

I am currently getting a daily dose of ‘you can’t make me’, ‘you are not the boss of me’, ‘you don’t get to tell me what to do’ and the best of late is, ‘you make decisions for you and I make decisions for me.  With my own mind!’

I don’t really know how to respond to these pre-adolescent outbursts… mainly because I am so utterly unprepared for them coming from my 9 year old!

Put into perspective my 11 year old doesn’t do anything even remotely similar to this.

Have I missed something? Is 9 the new 15?

So this evening we are currently on hour 4 of concussion watch with my 6 month old.  Why?

Well, because my 9 year old decided to dance above her little body as she lay on the floor watching and giggling.  Now this is all fine and good, accidents happen and I am not cross with my 9 year old at all for the incident.  I’m cross with the fact that these moments seem to happen every time I decide to go to the toilet and I’m cross for what happened after the event.

Baby screams – I run in.  Keeping totally cool and calm…

‘What’s happened?’ grab baby, pick up, start to look for injury.

‘Something’ says 9 year old.

Penny drops…. baby screaming uncontrollably, bruise begins to emerge on her forehead.

Cue mum losing the plot.

‘What did you do?’

I am not proud of the fact that I wanted to use more prolific language, letting it slip out like road rage moments. Moment of deep breathing mindfulness exercises followed for several minutes.

‘Sorry, I meant, what has happened?  Why is the baby screaming?’

9 year old has a thinking face.  It is always bad when 9 year old pulls this face.

‘I tripped and fell on the baby’s… (loooooonnnng pauuuuseeee combined with thinking face = big problems lie ahead) foot.’

‘Her foot?  Are you sure? She doesn’t seem to be in pain from her foot?  She seems to be developing a rather huge bruise on her head.  Are you sure?’

I perhaps shot my 9 year old a look, because something broke at this point and 9 year old begins to sob and splutter.  A confession of sorts comes out.  She had been dancing over the baby.  She had tripped and landed hand first onto the baby’s forehead.

It took several attempts to get the full extent of the story out of the 9 year old who was at this point hyperventilating because she realised that she was now in an immense amount of trouble.  Not because of the event, I reiterate, I would never be mad at the children for an accident, but for the lie.

I would also like to add, she is also in a lot of trouble for creating an event that led to me saying these words:

‘I am not angry about the accident, I am angry because you lied’

A classic along the lines of:

‘Don’t make me come up there’

‘Do I really have to ask you twice’

‘You need to eat at least a bite of everything on your plate’

‘look with your eyes’

and that all time classic parenting retort

‘Because I said so’

After a prolonged conversation with 111 we are now on baby concussion watch.  Which would be enough for most 9 year olds in one day, except for mine.

She did redeem herself, she helped bathe her 3 year old sister, took her to bed, read her a story and then… just as said 3nager was settling in bed… screamed her head off because there was a daddy long legs in the room, thus creating a 9 year old/3 year old tag team of hell which has only just ended.  It’s currently 10pm.  10pm!!

Once all was settled and 3 year old was calmed, 9 year old was sent to bed.

Did she go.  No.

‘You don’t get to tell me when I go to bed’

Don’t worry.  She DSC_0199is still alive. JUST!

Mastitis is a bitch, but could it be linked to running?

I am not going to beat around the bush about this, Mastitis is a fucker. I would love to use more educated language, I would love to eloquently guide you through what it’s like, but to be quite frank – I can’t. It’s the only way to describe anything that revolves around your boobs and a potential abscess.

I have been unfortunate enough to get Mastitis 3 times in my breastfeeding career. The first time was horrific. My milk was green, I had a terrible fever, my entire body ached, my breast was purple in spots and I truly, truly believed that I would die. Or that my boob would spontaneously combust. Luckily that didn’t happen and both boobs are still present.

What I didn’t think of then, was whether or not it was related to the fact that I was running and wearing a compressing sports bra whilst breastfeeding. This thought did not recur until last week.

Is there a direct correlation between running while breastfeeding and mastitis? Could the bras and bacteria in sweat be setting off an infection?

These are questions that I cannot medically answer, as I am not a doctor, however, I can say this.

After my adventure last week, I knew I would get it. I had worn a sports bra for 17 hours straight. I had pumped in a portaloo with no facilities to properly clean my pump and I had not been able to fully empty my breasts after each pump.  It was a recipe for a bacterial rave in my milkducts!!

Wednesday I went for a recovery run and just felt totally and utterly knocked out.  I took it easy, but knew that I was not 100%.

Thursday I had to cancel all my plans in the afternoon and started to get the tell-talesigns of a hot spot on my left breast.  A hot spot is a red inflamed area on the breast, it indicates a blocked duct.  In my situation I could feel the duct, it was like a large ball under the skin and it hurt to touch.

I started using heat compresses and massage and offering Baby G my left side for feeds first.  When she fed from the right breast I would pump my left to try to ease the blockage.

By 7pm I was a mess.  I had a migraine, muscle aches, flu-like symptoms and knew that this time round there was no way to avoid antibiotics.  Luckily I had a course of antibiotics that I hadn’t taken from the last time I had mastitis.  I was able to self-cure it without medication as it was very mild.

I took my first dose at 10pm and had a hot bath to massage my breast in the water and try to release the blockage that was not easing up.

I called my GP on Friday morning and talked through my options.  My GP agreed that I should take the antibiotics this time and told me to keep an eye on it and that if didn’t ease off by Saturday to call 111 and then go to A&E.

I, unfortunately, made the mistake of Googling mastitis and images.  Please don’t!!! I can’t express to you enough, that it was the most horrific experience of my life.  No one in their right mind wants to see pictures of a ruptured abscess… I have never been the same since.  There were needless to say a lot of tears and whimpers as I walked around the house like a zombie with either a baby or a hot water bottle attached to my boob.

The symptoms and migraines lasted until Saturday.   Saturday I felt marginally human.  Today I feel back to 85% of my normal crazy self.

The odd thing is though, that when I spoke about running the Ultra with my GP she totally and utterly discredited that as the cause.  However, upon researching further I found a list of causes that could all correlate happily to running whilst breastfeeding.  For a comprehensive list visit the always helpful La Leche League site.

All in all I am hoping that I will not be posting pictures of my abscess infected boob any time soon (fingers crossed!! – seriously I had nightmares for months), but that is because I knew the signs and knew ways to help release the blockage.  I also was sensible enough to know when holistic methods were not going to work and head straight to conventional medicine.

Here are the things that I found helpful:

  • hot compresses
  • massage – using palm of the hand moving towards the nipple, or using the knuckle to try to break up the blockage.  I have to say it’s not comfortable, but it works.
  • feed, feed, feed get that baby latched
  • express between feeds to empty that breast – especially if baby sleeps for a prolonged period of time
  • hot baths
  • savoy cabbage leaves from the fridge – Heaven only knows if this works and there has been comments that it can affect milk production, but I have an established milk supply and it just felt good!! With the bonus – you look like an absolute loon!!!
  • Feeding in a warm bath.  Baby G loved it and it seemed to help release the block.

When running there are some things that help when you are breastfeeding…

  • Run after a feed
  • Wash your sports bra regularly
  • Take off your sports bra the minute you get home from you run
  • Wear two light support sports bras rather than a high support sportsbra if you can – I cannot, as I have 34DD tatas that would knock me out if I tried, but I have heard on the grapevine that this can work
  • Try not to run when your breasts are full.
  • If your milk comes in and you are running with baby in the buggy.  Stop and feed.

Good luck, I hope you found this helpful.  I am not a medical expert, so please, please go straight to your GP at the first signs of the infection.  Happy running! X

100kms, portaloos and breastpumps… an epic adventure

Never has the thought, ‘How on EARTH did I get here??’ resonated more deeply than over the weekend.  When after 63kms of walking and running, I sat, once again, in a khaki green portaloo and argued my breast out of my shock absorber sportsbra.  This act in itself had the potential to be more difficult than putting my feet one in front of the other at varying pace for 16 hours and 43 minutes for a total of 100kms.

My journey had started in the morning at a park in Fulham, I think it was Fulham, as apparently my organisational skills had almost got me heading out in Putney, which would have been interesting, as the race didn’t start there.  Luckily for me my husband took over logistics and decided that it would be best for everyone involved if he drove me directly to the start of the race.  Under normal circumstances this would never have happened.  We have 4 children.  The youngest is 6 months old and exclusively breastfed.  My husband opted to drive me as he was too terrified to have to deal with two bottle feeds of my carefully expressed and frozen liquid gold.  Mr. Sleepinalot, volunteered to get up at 4am so that I could feed our beautiful baby one last time before setting off at 7:45am.

This in theory made perfect sense, but in practice was a bit trickier than anticipated.  Said little baby decided that she didn’t want to sleep peacefully all the way up to London and proceeded to scream the car down, until a range of acrobatics and incredibly versatile boobs enabled me to feed her whilst we drove down the motorway.  Not the best way to start an Ultramarathon, rest assured.  We arrived in good time, said our goodbyes and the journey commenced.

I once read a proverb that said that if you wanted to run fast, run 10km.  If you wanted to learn about yourself, run a marathon, but, but, if you wanted to speak to God, run an ultra.  Nothing is more apt than this ditty.  As I began the journey with my wonderful new friend Charlotte Banks, it became apparent that our paths were to take different routes.  We parted company at mile 3, with the parting calls of catching up at one of the 7 rest stops along the way.  We didn’t.

I always find it hard to find my pace at the beginning.  You want to run fast, you have fresh legs, you want to fly and get as many miles over and done with as possible, but you know that you have so, so many miles ahead of you.  Logic brain says, don’t go too fast, but your heart goes, let’s get this show on the road.  I fought the angel and devil on my shoulders for some time and settled on trying to maintain a constant 11 minute mile pace.  Hydrating regularly, having a gel every 10km and a bar at every stop.  All of this fell into place and at the 11km mark I looked up to see a woman running at about my pace.

I am an antisocial runner.  I like to have my space, my quiet, my inner sanctum.  I have 4 kids.  My house is noisy and incoherent most of the time and running gives me the peace that I need to maintain a semblance of normality.  This woman was different, she had a kind face and a gentle nature, we began to talk about why we were running, what made us choose this race.

I was running for Child Bereavement UK and she was running for the Naomi Hospice that took care of her son when he was dying of cancer.  We talked for a bit, discussed strategy and decided that if fate was on our side we would run the last 22km together.  As we parted ways, I called to her, asking for her name.  She shouted back Elise.  My daughter’s name is Elyse.  I have to this day never met another.  If there is a God, he had begun to talk to me and would continue throughout the day.

At some point in my run I got lost.  I missed a bridge crossing and ended up on the wrong side of the river.  A 2 miles detour that I was not pleased about.  A kind man offered to drive me to the 50km mark, which I refused politely.  He then pointed me in the direction of a ferry that would take me to the right side of the river.  I rang the bell to call the ferryman and waited for him to arrive.  All the while conscious of the precious minutes that I was losing from my time.

The symbolism of calling the ferryman from across the river was not lost on me. Charon the ferryman was kind to me and only charged me £2.50, luckily I had the right change, I certainly didn’t want to be at risk of wandering the shores of the Thames for one hundred years.  100km was more than enough.

The ferryman’s passing remarks were that he only wished more of us went wrong.  I was his 10th lost soul.  He was raking it in.

I caught up with Elise just before 50km.  We were both struggling.  We were both starting to question if we could do it.  We both knew that once we had passed the halfway mark there was only one option.  To finish.

Getting to 50km was the toughest bit of the race.  I had missed the stop between 28km and 50km because of my detour and my milk had come in.  I needed desperately to express, but the pump wasn’t working properly.  Just before the 50km mark I looked up, a giant red maple leaf was billowing in the breeze.  I have never seen a Canadian flag so big on a standard size house.  It was impressive.  God had talked again.  I knew then and there I would finish.

We reached the 50km rest point and I headed straight for the portaloo and left Elise to meet her son.  Our paths would cross again, but the amazing woman went on from 78km to run the final 22km on her own.  I am amazed at her courage.   It was dark scary and there were cows and deer… roaming free, in the dark, by a river… need I say more.

The rest of the race was quite impressive and enjoyable.  There were highs and more highs and never a low.  I had the honour of meeting up with Alasdair (a FB friend) and Michael at 63km and run/walking with them until the last major rest stop at 78km.

I quite possibly saw Daniel Craig, though anyone who knows me, knows that I always think I see famous people.

At 78km my Aunt, Uncle and cousin through marriage met me along with Baby Genevieve who had decided to go on a food strike all day long.  I fed her, ate a jacket potato and had a massage.  Then my Aunt and I headed out for the final 22km.

The last 22kms were amazing.  It was great to have my Aunt with fresh legs to boost me and keep me safe from cows and deer.  She was also able to guide me in, having done the run last year for her sister Jane who had passed away 2 years before.  There were even quite funny moments, like peeing beside the river and a boat passing by.  My crazy fear of cows and me tripping up about 100 times and then crashing shoulder forward into a kissing gate.  The bruise is phenomenal.

At Henley bridge Immy and Jack met us for the last 1.5km.  Goodness knows how, but I managed a sprint finish and felt truly amazing.  I could have gone on and on and on.

Irony was not lost on me, when upon arriving and having only spoken about comfy clothing for the last 10km non-stop, I found that the organisation had not transferred my bag to the end as requested and it was thus lost in the neither here nor there of being between 50km and 100km.  We opted to leave, with a promise from a steward that my bag would be sent on, as Baby G had had enough and all I wanted was my bed and my family. A family who had patiently facilitated all my training, all my moods, all my highs and lows.

My bag has still not arrived…

I have run again…

I have promised my family only one a year…

I am currently on the waiting list for 3 one hundred mile races next year (if you cross your fingers behind your back when you promise…) 😉 xx

Where is humanity?

The headlines are shocking at the moment.  One picture particularly shocking.  An image of a police man carrying a small lifeless body from the beach.  He is wearing a red t-shirt.  He is Aylan Kurdi.  He has a name, he was someone’s child, someone’s grandchild, someone’s son.

Aylan, the little boy on the beach could be your child, he could be any of our children and as I look at the images that have hit the press, the images of his lifeless body on the beach, as my heart breaks, I realise that it’s probably too late.  It’s probably too late for this image to make any difference to the people who hate, to the people who have had their minds deformed, their ideas corrupted, their hearts blackened to this humanitarian crisis.  I wonder what their thoughts are, I wonder if they cried as much as I did when I saw this image.  I wonder what it will take to make the people who are powerful enough to make change, make change?

I cry for the lack of humanity.  I cry for the lack of empathy.  I cry for the reality that ethical papers, ethical media are having to choose to use images of the death of a child to try to make people stand up and want to help.

I always think that if I was in those conditions what would I do?

It’s so easy to sit and ponder that thought when you are sitting in your heated home, drinking tea that you made with a kettle that you switch on.  Wearing clothes that you bought because they were pretty, not because you needed them.  Knowing that your children are at school and safe.  It’s easy.

What matters most is how you act, what you do.  What will you do?

Indoor Play… One step closer to Hell

When Dante wrote The Divine Comedy I do not think that he had ever anticipated the concept of indoor play centres.  I truly believe that had he been to one, he would have stopped short at Hell and not gone on to write Purgatory or Heaven.

It is safe to say that I have an aversion to indoor play centres.  I am firm believer that they are one of Dante’s levels of hell.  I believe that he just didn’t write about it, as it was just too horrific, too terrifying and perhaps would have had a direct effect on the expansion of mankind.

There is nothing good about indoor play centres.  Nothing.

From the start to the finish it is terrible and what makes it worse is that you choose to put yourself in this hell.  You choose this! You choose it!!!!

You look at your angelic little mini-mes and you say to yourself;

‘I know, today is raining, let’s do something special.’

I truly believe the powers of magic that erase the pain involved in birth so that you have another child, also work their magic when in come to indoor play centres.

Otherwise the first experience would be your last.

You would walk into the cavernous room, smell the sweat, see the mess and run a mile.   Perhaps that is how Usain Bolt trains?

You can guarantee that if you are part of a baby group at somepoint or other someone will suggest it and you will think that it’s a good idea.  You will want to have this shared experience.  You will get lulled into a false sense of security.  Someone will say that you can sit and drink coffee, while the kids play, it’s relaxing.

Please, please, please tell me what is relaxing about being in an echoey warehouse while hundreds of children scream, cry, puke and wet themselves?  Then add on the fear factor, the aprehension of letting your child go into a padded caged structure with several hundred other children who are clearly wired on Fruit Shoots.  Just in case it’s not clear.  THERE IS NOTHING RELAXING ABOUT IT.

You might say that at least you get to speak to your friends.  Catch up.  Have a chat.  Rest assured.  You don’t.  If you are lucky enough to leave without permanent hearing damage you have gotten away lightly.  I am sure that my last experience at Tiny Town left me with a twitch in my right eye.