Lorna

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Ever since I completed the 2016 Chester half-marathon, I’ve been desperate to train for another event. Unfortunately, life had other plans. It’s like there’s been a universal conspiracy preventing me from taking part in anything else. Injury, illness, more injury, ill parents, time constraints, more injury, house renovations – you name it, it’s happened. And for the past 18-months I feel like I’ve just been ticking over.

The Preston 10k

Although I’ve been working out consistently – mainly because it keeps me sane – I’ve not been doing anything outstanding. I’ve gradually built my running back up to 10k, and my weekend outdoor run with Ian is something I look forward to. But over the last couple of months I’ve been feeling the need to do more. So instead of telling myself we needed to train for something big, I changed my focus and decided that we should concentrate on smaller events. Enter the Preston 10k.

On 17th September while out on our Sunday morning run I saw a banner advertising the Preston 10k. It was a sign. Literally. <cue dramatic lighting and fairy dust> Seeing that it was taking place the following Sunday I feared we may be a bit late to enter, but low and behold, the online cut-off date was that night. Another sign. I’m all for the signs you know.

Other than the Chester half and a 5k fun run I did when I was 10 I’ve never taken part in any other events, so I was interested to see how well organised it would be. Convinced the roads would be filled with stationary traffic, I insisted we leave home early to get a parking space and pick up our race numbers. But en route we soon discovered the roads were clear, we could enter the car park with ease, park anywhere we wanted and still have 30 minutes before we could collect our numbers! So far so good.

Collecting our race numbers

Making our way to Friargate to collect our race numbers, we realised we were still 10 minutes too early. Ian’s clock in the car was 10 minutes fast, something he failed to remind me of. But the closer we got, the more people we passed who were pinning numbers onto their tops. Although the collection time was supposed to be from 8am, it appeared the tent was already open for business. Another bonus. We didn’t have to queue, we went straight to the table where quickly and efficiently we were given our numbers. By 8.10am we were both race ready and sat back in the car keeping warm.

Smugly, I sat watching as the car park filled up and people rushed around, trying to figure out where to go. Unfortunately, my smugness was short lived. The race was starting at 9am and at 8.40am as we left the car, we realised just how many people were there. As we turned the corner onto Friargate we saw a sea of people queueing for the toilets. I was happy they had been provided, but I don’t think there was enough to accommodate the amount of people. Having a child sized bladder meant skipping the loo before the race wasn’t an option, but somehow, with only 3 minutes to spare, we managed to make our way into the crowd. We weren’t at the very back, but we weren’t exactly in the middle either! I just hoped that we would be able to get into a stride and move further forwards once the crowds thinned out.

Pre Preston 10k faces

The Race Route

From Friairgate, we ran down Cheapside which felt narrow and penned in, but we still managed to find some gaps and use them to overtake. Having only moved to Preston in November 2016, my knowledge of the city centre is still pretty sketchy as it’s not somewhere I visit. But from looking on Google maps, I think from Cheapside we ran onto Glover Street, turned right onto Avenham Lane which then turned into Ribblesdale Place, before entering Avenham Park.

I have no point of reference to the previous routes that the 10k has taken, but after leaving the park we headed over towards the Capital Centre at Walton-le-Dale and headed down Winery Lane. Winery Lane runs behind Prezzo and Nuffield Health which width wise, is okay to begin with. Ian and I run down here sometimes, so we were familiar with most of the route. We also knew that to get back to Avenham Park we needed to run down an unnamed track between fields of corn, which eventually leads to a single lane track between overgrown foliage.

If you meet someone coming the other way, especially on a bike, it’s an interesting situation to say the least. And I realise there were stewards and it was closed off to accommodate the race, but personally, I don’t think enough thought was given to this part of the route. The night the route was thought up, I think there was copious amounts of beer involved and someone just said, fuck it, it’ll be alright.

Bottle Neck

We (and many other runners) were in a nice steady stride by this point, but when we reached the single lane track everyone had to stop, as one-by-one people filed through the gate – which created a bottle neck situation. And then there wasn’t any other option but to slowly jog at the same pace as whoever was at the front. It. Was. Frustrating.

We looped around and then hit the track from the other direction, which was marginally wider, but there still wasn’t enough room to get past anyone. And then we had to run along a narrow path through parkland towards Riverside Road. It was during this small section I started to get really frustrated, as it felt like people just didn’t want to be overtaken. Not having much experience of running events, I’m not sure about running etiquette. But, I know when I sensed someone coming up alongside me who needed to get past, I accommodated them and moved out of the way. Yet here, we were met with runners who would glance over their shoulder and ignore the situation. Even when there was ample space for them to move out of the way to let you pass, it just wasn’t happening.

From Riverside Road we headed back towards Avenham Park. Everyone had spread out nicely again by this point, but this section was also a killer for me. This is where I began to struggle with the pace we were running at, trying to make up for the sections where we’d lost time. The hill out of the park was too much for me at this point, so I walked up it. I wanted to save everything I had left to run the last half mile and get over the finish line back at Friargate.

Post Preston 10k running faces

Final Thoughts

We completed the race in 1 hour 1 minute 21 seconds, which I was quite pleased with. It was probably about a minute over what we normally complete 10k in, but considering some of the time we lost, I was okay with it.

Overall, I really enjoyed running the Preston 10k, because it gave me what I wanted. Which was the chance to start experiencing more events. It was well organised, there was a good atmosphere, and the medal was decent too – really solid! But, I do think the route could have been planned out a bit better. One thing I like about running is exploring the city on foot and getting to know how it fits together, so some aspects of the route were really enjoyable. And I know I’m not the fastest runner, but I still found the single lane tracks frustrating.

Unfortunately, this was the last Preston 10k. It appears that the cost of hosting the event is getting too expensive and there’s more red tape to deal with each year. It’s a shame really, because it was an enjoyable experience and it was plain to see how much business it created for the town centre.

Did you run the Preston 10k this year? What did you think?

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Running the Last Ever Preston 10k

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When I was making the transition from vegetarian to vegan, the one thing I struggled to give up was cheese. It wasn’t even like I was a big cheese monster. I hated cheese. Well, cold cheese anyway. I didn’t eat cheese sandwiches, or cheese on crackers or posh cheese on little cocktail sticks. But melted cheese on a pizza, on a toasted sandwich and even on tomato pasta was something I really loved. Also, the thought of eating vegan cheese didn’t seem that appealing to begin with.

Searching for the perfect vegan cheese

Just the thought of eating cheese now makes me feel sick. Not only because of the taste, but because of the dairy industry itself. At the time, I thought that by eating a vegetarian diet I was doing my bit to help the animals, and I was to a certain degree. But once I realised the horror of the dairy industry and the cruelty of it all, I knew that cheese had to go.

But even after I’d made up my mind to remove it from my diet, I still found myself falling off the wagon. To begin with it was difficult to find a decent cheese substitute, so we experimented with different pizza toppings that we’d found online or in magazines. We would make marinades, use roasted vegetables and quite happily eat a cheese-less pizza. After all, the Italians famously invented pizza marinara did they not? But pretty soon it started to get boring and I found myself slipping, because I just wanted my pizza to taste like pizza goddamn it!

And each week as I threw a bag of mozzarella into the shopping trolley, I found myself trying to block out the horrors of the dairy industry. But as my journey to becoming vegan continued, I reached a point where I could no longer eat it. I couldn’t bear the fact that I was contributing to such a horrific industry. And so, my search for the perfect vegan cheese began. It wasn’t easy, and although vegan cheeses have improved a lot over the past couple of years, I think there are still a few duff ones out there.

Cheezly Mozzarella

Admittedly, I haven’t tasted every vegan cheese available, but out of the ones I have tried my personal favourite is Cheezly Mozzarella. I find it ideal as a pizza topping, because just like cheese it can be grated and it melts too, unlike other makes that end up tasting like plastic. I haven’t eaten any of the other Cheezly range, but they also have a selection of cheddar style cheeses available. As for the mozzarella, I like the taste and the consistency, and the fact that it doesn’t have a strong flavour. Because even when I did eat cheese, I used to go for the weakest that I could find.

Vegan Cheese Options

Some of the most popular cheese alternatives include Violife, Vegusto, MozzaRisella and Veganic Pizza Melty. MozzaRisella is what both Zizzi and Pizza Express use on their vegan food options, and much as I like it, I find it goes cold really quickly. Some supermarkets are even getting in on the action now too, with Sainsburys and Tesco jumping on the bandwagon. Although, I actually wretched when I tried Sainsbury’s mozzarella. The stench was so strong, that I should have just closed the bag there and then. But I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt, hoping that perhaps once it was cooked it would taste okay. Oh, how wrong I was! It’s the worst vegan cheese I’ve ever tasted.

But don’t let my experience put you off. If you like a strong flavour, then Sainsbury’s mozzarella might just be the cheese for you! Although, one person who reviewed it described it as ‘an assault to my mouth and taste buds’. Ha! I couldn’t agree more.

Final Thoughts

It might take a bit of trial and error, but I’m pretty sure if you’re looking to give up cheese, there’s a vegan alternative out there to suit your taste buds. And as always, I advise doing your own research.

Are you still searching for the perfect vegan cheese or have you found it?

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Vegan Cheese with Pasta

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I’ve always been a bit sceptical about subscription boxes, and my experience with Abel and Cole last year didn’t do anything to dispel that scepticism. But after lusting after The Vegan Kind boxes for several months, it was only a matter of time before I decided to part with my hard-earned cash. The fact that I would get £5 off my first order was also a deciding factor.

I still consider myself to be in the early stages of my vegan journey, so I’m always on the lookout for new vegan foods – snacks especially. This is why The Vegan Kind lifestyle box is an ideal way to discover new goodies. It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get! Admittedly, I was still a little concerned the box would turn up and I’d hate everything in it. Mainly because I’m a fussy eater and consider myself to be a crap vegan. I feel there are a huge amount of foods that I should like – but don’t. I just had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t my lifestyle box – it was Ian’s as well – and he eats just about anything, so it would be highly unlikely that something would end up going to waste.

Contents of The Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box

Because of the date I signed up I had no idea if I would be in time for September’s box. So, last Saturday when the postman knocked on the door I was super excited! After I’d done my happy dance up and down the hall a few times (true story), I decided to open it and see what all the fuss was about. Or rather, I left it sat on a table for a couple of hours, convincing myself I was going to make an unboxing video. Ha! But I finally realised this wasn’t going to happen for several reasons. 1) We’re in the process of renovating our house, so I convinced myself there was nowhere to film it. 2) I was in my scruffs, supposedly getting ready to do work on the house (this didn’t actually happen), and thought it would take too much time and effort to make myself look presentable. 3) I hate being in front of the camera and really wasn’t in the mood for getting waaaaaaay out of my comfort zone! I’ll see how I feel when I receive October’s box.

What vegan goodies are in the box?

So, what’s inside September’s box? That my friends, is a very good question.

  • Lenny and Larry’s white chocolate macadamia nut cookie
  • Livia’s Kitchen salted maca caramel Biccy Boms
  • Pop Chips sea salt and black pepper chips
  • Cheeky P’s curry flavour roasted chickpeas
  • Beloved date nectar
  • Revolution Foods protein sample
  • Green Frog natural geranium and peppermint body wash
  • Raw Energy bliss balls recipe

The Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box

The Vegan taste test

Lenny and Larry’s white chocolate macadamia nut cookie

The first snack to get the taste test was Lenny and Larry’s complete cookie. I don’t have a great track record with macadamia nuts, but I was willing to put previous experiences behind me and give the cookie a chance – and I’m glad I did. It was SO nice! Apart from the fact it tasted good, I liked that it contained 16g of protein, which makes this an ideal pre or post workout snack. The cookie serves two, so that’s a protein hit of 8g – which is what I get from one of my homemade protein bars. The next time someone suggests that vegans live on diet of sawdust and wood shavings, point them in the direction of this bad boy.

Lenny and Larry's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie

Pop Chips sea salt and black pepper chips

Next up was the Pop Chips. Now, I’m not really a fan of crisps. Ever since I stopped eating pickled onion Monster Munch and Space Raiders as a kid, crisps are something that rarely make an appearance in my diet. But being in the box, I had to give them a try and was pleasantly surprised. They were very tasty, and because they aren’t fried like a lot of crisps are, they don’t taste greasy either. I can’t say they’ll be going on my weekly shopping list, but if I was out and about and found myself in need of a snack, I’d definitely grab a packet if I saw them.

Livia’s Kitchen salted maca caramel biccy boms

Livia’s Kitchen Salted Caramel Biccy Boms. Oh. My. Rare. These are immense! They came in a pack of two, although after visiting Livia’s website, we also saw they’re available in sharing bags as well. Although, if I bought a bag, I can’t guarantee I would be willing to share them with anyone. It was a close tie with the cookie, but I think this was my favourite snack in the box.

Livia's Kitchen Salted Maca Caramel Biccy Bom

Beloved date nectar

Although we haven’t opened the Beloved date nectar yet, I know it will get used as we’ve bought it in the past. I think this will come in handy for baking with.

Cheeky P’s curry flavour roasted chickpeas

Cheeky P’s Chickpeas. I don’t like chickpeas, so as soon as I saw these I told Ian he could have them! Ground-up chickpeas in a recipe I’m okay with. But full chickpeas, I really don’t care for. Ian asked me to try them because of the curry flavour, but I can’t bring myself to do it. So, for now, I’m sticking them on the dislike list. But like I said earlier, Ian eats anything, so they won’t go to waste.

Pop Chips and Cheeky P's Chickpeas

Green Frog natural geranium and peppermint body wash

I was happy to find a body wash inside the lifestyle box, and looked forward to trying it. But when I did I was left feeling disappointed. It didn’t foam like other body washes do and I thought the smell was awful. I love that it’s made with 100% plant based ingredients, but it just wasn’t what I expected from a body wash. It will get used, but I won’t be buying another one. Sorry Green Frog, but it’s a no from me.

Revolution Foods protein sample

We haven’t tried the Revolution protein sample yet. I believe that it’s possible to reach your daily protein intake through food without the use of supplements. I understand there will be occasions when training for certain events, larger amounts of protein may be needed and a supplement will be required. But as for BCAA’s supplements, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t any proven research at the moment to say they can benefit a workout. I know this comes down to personal preference, but overall, I believe the correct amount of protein can be reached through a healthy diet. I’m not saying this sample will never get used, but at this moment in time I don’t feel it fits my requirements.

Raw energy bliss balls recipe card

I really like the fact that a recipe card is included in each Vegan Kind lifestyle box. I haven’t tried any of the recipes out yet, but I’m really looking forward to making the hazelnut Ferrero Rocher style balls. It seems pretty straightforward – just the way I like my recipes to be! This month’s recipe was by Beloved Dates.

 

Raw Energy Bliss Balls

Final Thoughts

When the box first arrived, I was super excited. Mainly because I had no idea what it contained – which is the whole point! But when I opened it and saw a packet of crisps and some chickpeas, I felt a little deflated to begin with. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t just my lifestyle box though, it was for Ian too, and the whole point of subscribing is to discover new snacks and products. And as it happened, the crisps turned out to be pretty tasty!

Overall, I really liked the box, and even though there are some things I would never go out and buy – I now know they exist. So, it means if I stumble across them in the future I’ve already tried them and crossed them off my list. The other thing I liked is the ‘featured campaign of the month’. Every month The Vegan Kind donate 10p from every box sold to their featured charity/campaign of the month. I love this idea of giving something back. This month, donations are being made to Animals Asia.

I think The Vegan Kind lifestyle box is a great idea and can’t wait to see what arrives next month. Lifestyle boxes are £10 plus p&p and contain 5 to 8 cruelty free vegan products.

Are you a subscriber to The Vegan Kind, or is it something you would ever consider? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Vegan Kind Lifestyle Box September 2017

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If you’re concerned about how to stay fit and healthy while you’re on holiday – you’re not on your own. While a lot of people use a holiday as an excuse to eat and drink too much, I’m not one of them. Just because I want to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, it doesn’t mean I have the desire to take a break from my healthy, active lifestyle. Because it’s exactly that. A lifestyle. And it’s one that I enjoy. Eating an unhealthy diet that leaves me feeling sluggish, bloated, irritable and 10lbs overweight isn’t something I have an interest in. I don’t deny myself anything, but I don’t believe in dieting either. When it comes to food, I’m a firm believer of everything in moderation.

Even if you enjoy working out, unless you’re going to somewhere like Club La Santa, you probably won’t be exercising on a daily basis. But with some careful planning, you can still manage to stay fit and healthy while you’re taking time out. Just remember, it’s not all about how active you are, what you eat is also a factor.

Here are 8 ideas for keeping your mind and body in shape while you’re on holiday.

Go hiking

Whether it’s walking along a beautiful coastline or exploring thick green woodland – get outside and explore. Do a bit of research before you go and figure out some hiking routes. You’ll get to stay active and discover some places of beauty too. This is my favourite thing to do when we’re on holiday. When we visited Italy, my favourite part of the trip was hiking Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods).

Find a gym / do a class / go swimming

If you’re more of a gym bunny rather than a hiker, find a local gym instead. Depending on your accommodation, you may even find access to a nearby health club is included in the price. If you’re staying in a hotel find one that has a pool and an onsite gym – some might offer classes too. If you’re really lucky, you might even be staying in a villa with its own pool. When we visited Sydney, we stayed at an Ibis hotel which included a gym pass to the local Fitness First. It was ideal for us to do a weights session early in the morning before getting on with our day.

Running

Trail running, hitting the streets or finding a local park. If you like running outdoors, head outside instead of using a gym. This is probably one of the best ways of staying active while on holiday. Depending on where you go, if you get up early you might be lucky enough to find some solitude – or just a few other fitness enthusiasts. When we did a stopover in Death Valley we headed out for a run at 6 am before it got too hot. It also set us up for the 7-hour drive that we had ahead of us.

Death Valley

Bodyweight Exercises

I’ve done a bodyweight workout on more than one occasion when we’ve been on holiday, and you can do it without leaving your hotel room or apartment. Squats, lunges, press-ups, tricep dips, sit-ups – you can easily put a circuit together to give you a full-body workout. If you’re not confident about putting your own routines together, you’ll easily find something on Google or Pinterest. Kayla Itsines is the queen of circuits: her workouts are challenging and adaptable.

Try something new

Why not try a new activity? Rock climbing, snorkelling, beach volleyball, cycling. You could go on a bike tour of a city, or walk everywhere instead of grabbing a bus. Some cities even offer running tours. This is something I’ve been considering for the next time we go away.

Nutrition

Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you should binge. Staying fit and healthy isn’t just about keeping active – your food plays a big part too. When we’re resting, or doing lower intensity exercise, the main source of energy that our bodies use is fat. So, if you’re not hammering the gym or going for a run, don’t be afraid to cut back on the carbs and increase your intake of some good fats. Snack on nuts and seeds throughout the day to keep your energy levels up or add them to your breakfast in a morning. The protein in them will also help you to feel fuller for longer. If that doesn’t sound appealing, try carrying some of these super seed 9Nine bars with you instead. Choose self-catering over a hotel where possible too. No-one’s expecting you to stay in and cook every night, but you have better control over what you eat if you can go shopping and prepare your own meals. If you’re eating out, don’t go crazy – no matter how tempting the food looks!

Healthy vegan pasta dish with peanut sauce

Watch your alcohol intake

I’m not a big drinker. I probably have a beer once every 3 or 4 months – sometimes longer – so it’s not an issue for me. But I know a lot of people like to drink when they go on holiday. Did you know that 1g of alcohol contains 7 calories? That’s only 2 less than what 1g of fat contains. And not only does it increase your appetite which can lead to binge eating, it also decreases your metabolism and energy levels. So, if you want to watch your waistline while you’re on holiday, keep the alcohol to a minimum.

Stay hydrated

Fluid intake is important – even more so if you’re active – and water counts for 45-70% of our total body mass. If you’re thirsty, then you’re on your way to being dehydrated and dehydration can cause havoc with our bodies. It’s your body’s way of telling you to drink some fluid but is sometimes confused with feeling hungry. Symptoms of dehydration can include a dry mouth, feeling lethargic or lightheaded, a headache and dark coloured and strong-smelling urine. Always carry a bottle of water with you to help keep you hydrated during the day.

Final Thoughts

If you lead an active and healthy lifestyle, then continuing that on holiday shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re already concerned about how you’ll stay in shape while you’re away, then you’re probably already planning how you can remain active. And if you’re going away with a partner or a friend who likes to keep fit and healthy too, it’ll be easier to find the motivation to stay on track.

What’s your favourite way of staying active on holiday?

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Running in Death Valley

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