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Within My Sights

10k Race Bib

Well I did it. 10 kilometres. 51 minutes and 55 seconds. With a stinking cold and a moment’s rest on the course because of the pain. 36th woman out of 155 women racing. I am pleased… but the bug has bitten and nothing less than sub-50 will do now.

I’d been training for a couple of months and was really looking forward to testing my mettle in a race. Then the familiar telltale signs reared their ugly head on Thursday: itchy nose, sore throat and extended sneezing. I knew I was done for. Psychologically, I think it defeated me a little and this is something I need to work on for future races.

John was there to encourage me on the sidelines: ‘Keep going, you are doing brilliantly; there are 34 women in front of you’. No pressure there then. It reminded me of my cross-country school days where I would ban my mother from turning up only to find her hiding in a bush along the course counting the girls in front of me: ‘There is only one girl in front of you. RUN!’. In an otherwise painful race, this memory was a bright moment which made me chuckle and up my pace a little.

So what’s next? I’ve already signed up for my next race in a month’s time. And after that? A half-marathon in Brighton in February. Having goals makes me feel alive and well.

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Fast Food for Fast Work

Training 3 to 4 times a week for my 10k race has increased my cravings for carbohydrates. Entrance stage left: Potatoes. I have never been a fan but I have found myself staring at them lovingly in the supermarket. They are versatile and can be cooked in a multitude of ways but my favourite, by far, are wedges, with the skin still on.

Salmon Burgers & Spicy Wedges

Spicy Potato Wedges  Adapted from Bill’s Food by Bill Granger

1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves unpeeled and crushed with the flat side of the knife
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
500g potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, dried and cut into wedges
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Preheat oven to 200C. Put the oil, garlic, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the potatoes and pepper and stir until the potatoes are well coated. Transfer to a baking dish spreading the potatoes evenly with the peel down. Bake for 45 minutes or until crispy. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

And what better way to serve this than with some burgers… John being a non-meat eater made me search high and low for an alternative and salmon burgers were the answer to my culinary prayers.

 

Salmon Burgers Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Bitten Blog

325g skinless, boneless salmon

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 shallot, peeled and cut into chunks

A good handful of coarse bread crumbs

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

 

Put about a quarter of the salmon into a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on, and let it run until the mixture becomes pasty. Add the shallots and pulse until finely chopped.

Add the parsley and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine on and off until the fish is chopped coarsely but is well combined with the paste.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and by hand, stir in the bread crumbs and salt and pepper. Shape into 2 burgers.

Place oil in a frying pan, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, turning once. Serve on a few leaves of salad greens or on some wholemeal burger buns with some parsley & lemon mayonnaise.

Fuel for any exertion!

Belle & Sebastien

I am back. Oops. I got lost. So where were we… ah yes. Holidays. So…

The Hautes Pyrenees, peaceful, beautiful, low key yet impressive.

Gorges de Kakouetta: Truly impressive, the walls of the gorge are up to 300m high and barely more than 5m apart in some areas. The lush vegetation is jungle-thick and waterfalls fill the air with a fine spray. This is best done early in the morning when there are no tourists, it gets crowded from 10am.

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Col de Tourmalet & Pic du Midi de Bigorre: We undertook a 4-hour walk from the Col de Tourmalet (2,115m), the highest road in the central Pyrenees and one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France, to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2,877m), which is renowned for its astronomical observatory. The weather was glorious but the air was fresh and after a rather uninspiring climb on rocky terrain, the views were breathtaking once we got to the top. We took a different route on the way down and were lucky to spot a marmot soaking up the rays on some rocks. I wanted to adopt it, John said no.

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Luz St Sauveur: This delightful little town, which used to be a 19th century spa, is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore the area for a few days especially if you are a keen cyclist or hiker. We found a room at the friendly and very affordable Hotel Les Templiers, which is run by an Australian lady and her French husband. The hotel is located opposite the Church of St-André, guaranteeing you a charming view when you open the shutters in the morning! I daren’t say romantic, John might squirm…

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Cirque de Gavarnie: One word: breathtaking. Its edifying size and stunning surroundings makes this Unesco World Heritage Site a must-see in the Pyrenees. The imposing rock amphitheatre, with its 400m Grande Cascade waterfall, rises to over 3000m and makes you realise how small humans really are. Again, this is an early morning jaunt as it gets very busy later on in the day.

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I want to go back. Soon. It is a very serene and stunning area of France from which you come back feeling relaxed and scrubbed shiny and new from the inside out.