There are two things in life that I love: food and running. Of course, I love my husband and my family as well, but I’m not going to write a blog about them, no offense to them. I’ve always been passionate about something in my life, and right now, it’s food and running. When I was a teenager, it was softball. When I was in my mid-twenties, it was weightlifting and the DaVinci Code. Now, in my thirties, it’s food and running.
Growing up, good food was always present in my life. My mom made everything from scratch, and white bread, corn pops and fruit roll-ups were considered treats from the grocery store. To this day, I’ve never eaten canned or powdered soup because we never had it at home. My mom always baked, and I remember coming home from school to fresh chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies, always asking “What’s for dinner Mom?” I remember sitting in our kitchen, watching my mom and my aunt, or my grandmas, or my mom’s friends making apple pies, tortieres (French-Canadian pork pies), and Kamaboko (Japanese fish cakes). These were, for the most part, annual events in our house.
I also remember the cooking shows. My mom was a faithful viewer of the Frugal Gourmet, and we would watch it together in our living room. I always thought that the host, Jeffery L. Smith, wiped his hands far too much on his cloth, and this annoyed me, but I now realise that this is something I do quite often when I cook. I also used to watch Yan Can Cook with my paternal grandma, and marveled at Yan’s knife skills and his enthusiasm for cooking good Chinese food. To this day, I will watch cooking shows, and could go for most of the day with the Food Network on.
But what about the running???? Where did that come from? I had mentioned my previous passions being centered mainly around sport, but they were always anaerobic sports, where bursts of speed and power were constant rather than feats of endurance. Both my parents were runners: my dad a dedicated 10 km and marathon relay runner, and my mom a runner for her high school. Sadly, maybe for them, neither of their daughters carried on that running spirit. My sister and I were softball players, and went many places playing the sport, with my dad as our coach. I never liked walking places, let alone running, but secretly admired runners for their endurance and their legs. That’s a bit superficial but it’s true.
I began running at twenty-nine years old, just after I’d moved to Scotland. I wanted to lose some weight, and thought running would be the cheapest option because I wouldn’t have to pay for a gym membership, (I also didn’t have a car to get me to the gym). My mother-in-law had a six week run-walk programme that she used and recommended it to me. So I did it. Within six weeks, I was able to run consistently for 5 km, albeit quite slow still. Run-walk intervals aren’t for everyone, but I liked that I had a small reward for my running, and the walk interval was something I could look forward to. I kept up the running for a while, but without a programme to follow, I stopped after a few months. I secretly worried that this was going to be yet another thing I had tried but not really done much with. Then I got engaged.
I remember thinking that I wanted to lose weight for the wedding, as pretty much every bride does, and after a trip home to Canada, where I felt insecure about my weight, I realised I would need to start doing something soon. After a week of strict, healthy eating, I realised I couldn’t deprive myself of the foods I loved until July 2011, and I knew that running was a serious calorie burner. I got back into the run-walk programme in August of 2010, right from the start. I finished it off again, and kept running again. After one hard day at work, I went for a run and decided that I would run as long as I could, and stop if I really had to. Well, I managed the full run, 3.5 miles, with no issues whatsoever, and realised that I could run even more. Maybe this running thing was something I could do after all. A few days later, I entered my first 10 km race, the RNLI Reindeer Run for the Lifeboats at Glamis Castle. I ran three days a week leading up to the race; my only goal for the race was to run the entire time, (I also had a secret goal of finishing it under an hour). My dad gave me some race advice, which I followed, and I managed to run the race to its entirety AND get that sub-one hour time: 59:13.
I had to stop running during December because of the snow, then joined the Montrose and District Running Club in January 2011. I ran twice a week with them, as well as one or two days on my own. Since January, I’ve run the Brechin 5 km (time: 29 minutes), and the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10 km (time: 1:04 on a sprained ankle). With all this running, I’d managed to lose quite a bit of weight, but I’m not sure how much exactly as I haven’t weighed myself for a while. My bottoms were all too big on me, and my wedding dress had to be taken in considerably. I’d managed to lose weight without dieting, which to me, was perfect.
In September, my husband and I moved away from the ‘flatter’ lands of Angus up to Aberdeenshire, surrounded by hills. This meant that no matter where I ran, I would encounter hills. Since September, I’ve become an even stronger runner, being able to tackle hills with ease, and running a new mile time of up to 9:30; a year ago it was 10:00. I’ve been able to do all of this while still enjoying the foods I love and the foods I make. And that is what this blog is about: running and cooking, baking and running some more. I still don’t have runners legs, but I’m getting there.