runmaggiecooper

The life of a runner, mother, radiopharmacist and vicar's wife – that's me!

Parkrunning again at last

It’s been a while, actually nearly 5 months, since my last parkrun. My plan last year was to try to do parkrun whenever I could. As it turned out, that was twice! Once in January and once in August.

It isn’t entirely my fault that I was so woefully bad at keeping my New Year’s resolution. I had cross-country races on Saturdays in January and February and then, after we moved to the Wirral in February, I got ill for months catching every new bug that was going around. Then there was the problem that the nearest parkrun was in Liverpool, not a million miles away but not just round the corner either. My lethargy and the comfort of my bed won over my desire to get out and run 5k on a Saturday morning.

I was very excited to find out that a new parkrun had started in Birkenhead in July so I went and ran in early August thinking that perhaps I’d run once a month but as we got into September I once again picked up one infection after another and by mid-December I was wondering if I would ever be well again. Luckily the Christmas holidays, good food and a good rest have seen off the last of my infections and I’m up and running again – even if I’m pretty unfit.

So, I got up early this morning knowing that it wasn’t going to be a PB (personal best) sort of a run today, maybe a PW (personal worst). I’ve actually run 27:37 before at a parkrun (my worst time ever) but I jogged/walked one of the three laps of the Oak Hill course with Dominic that day before he decided that his knee hurt and he couldn’t possibly continue. My next worst time was 21:17 in Finsbury Park but the course was covered in snow and I ran in my spikes on the footpaths as this gave better traction. I also went the wrong way at one point because you couldn’t see the path and the guy ahead was too far ahead to follow easily. The fact that I was 2nd that day (overall not 2nd lady) shows that I actually ran fairly well in spite of the time.

I don’t like running in the rain. I thought I’d better check out the conditions before setting off this morning. It didn’t look good.

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In spite of it saying that it was ‘Partly Cloudy’ I discovered that it was actually raining when I went out to feed the guinea pigs. I thought that the 30% chance of rain was rather optimistic and packed some spare clothes to change into in case I got really wet.

When I got to the park, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t tipping down with rain. There were a fair few brave souls gathered in what was actually fairly miserable conditions but at least it wasn’t too cold and although it was slightly breezy, it was only in your face on the downhill section. It did rain a bit but not enough that I couldn’t see where I was going (glasses aren’t great in the rain).

After my last effort on this course, I made a point to a) tie my shoelaces securely and b) not set off too fast. I had to ditch the hat after the first lap as I was far too hot (narrowly avoiding some dog poo in the process) and I was pleased that I ran fairly evenly over the three laps just slowing slightly on the last lap. The finishing time of 21:12 was nicely symmetrical but was nothing to write home about. It also turned out that I was 1st lady, nothing to do with my great speed but more to do with the lack of quality competition today. A pleasant surprise none the less.

Considering my lack of decent running over the past 4 months (I think that I only ran 40 miles total between the beginning of October and Christmas) I was pretty pleased with the time and I might even be able to improve on it if I manage to get out of bed next Saturday!

When I got home I decided to do some proper cooking. First I made a date cake for Peter then I decided we could do with some sort of bread. I had made some tomato soup last night with some rather tired looking tomatoes that were hiding in the salad drawer so I decided to have another go at making a focaccia to go with the soup.

My last effort at making focaccia was not all that great but this time I based my recipe on one from Theo Randall’s “My Simple Italian”. His recipe used 900g of flour which I thought was enough to feed a small army rather than a family of 5. I’m also sure that the recipe is better with olive oil than sunflower oil but there’s always a balance between the cost of something and how much it actually improves the eating experience. I’m just not fussy enough to buy olive oil when sunflower oil will do. His recipe also uses proper yeast but I only have the dried stuff.

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I put fried onion and fennel seeds on one half and just sprinkled sea salt on the other half because I knew that the kids wouldn’t eat it if it had anything fancy on it.

So, here’s the recipe for the focaccia:

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 50g semolina
  • 1 tbsp dried yeast
  • pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 250-300ml lukewarm water
  • onion, fennel seeds, oil and sea salt to finish

I just put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mixed them up then added the oil and water (enough to give a soft but not too sticky dough) and then kneaded it for 5-10 min until it was nice and smooth. Then I put it back in the bowl and covered it for about 1 hour while I made a lasagne.

I then stretched out the dough into a big rectangle and put it on a greased baking tray sprinkled with semolina (that actually did stop it sticking to the baking tray) and then I poured some more oil over the dough, added the fried onions and fennel seeds and sprinkled over the sea salt (I don’t normally have sea salt but it came free from Abel and Cole and actually does make a difference from just using normal salt).

I let it rise for about 10 min while the oven warmed to 220C then I put it in the oven and cooked it for about 10-15 min. It didn’t look nearly as golden brown as the picture in the recipe book but it tasted great.

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This entry was posted on January 2, 2016 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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