2020 Pestos #14: Sacla Vegan Tomato Pesto

Another inclusive option in Sacla’s tomato pesto range!

Sacla Vegan Tomato Pesto
Sacla Vegan Tomato Pesto.

This one is fairly similar in strength to the vegetarian version I logged last week, but has a slightly different taste due to its lack of dairy ingredients. It’s nice but not quite as flavourful as I would like. However I’m not the target audience, and it’s great that vegans have a red pesto option as well!

Back to the basil stuff next week…

Perfect August bank holiday weather…

…for me these days is the grey mizzle we have here in Newcastle today! I went out in it for a twenty-minute run and that was quite enough, thank you very much. I’m going to be spending the rest of the day on the sofa, both playing and making games 🙂

Cool, damp weather also makes me very excited for autumn. Two days to go!

Roadside bracken
Another picture from last Thursday’s run! This is the now-traditional ‘bracken at the side of the path’ picture that I take at the turning point of all my out-and-back long runs.

parkrunday: Town Moor #509

Geth and I were back on the Town Moor this morning for another flat (well, certainly flat compared to Jesmond Dene) parkrun. Geth was able to take advantage of said flatness to run his fastest time this year! I, on the other hand, still had Thursday’s 18-miler in my legs, and so plodded round in my slowest time this year not counting last week’s tailwalking. It took two miles just to shake the stiffness out of my legs! I think that’s just going to be the way it is until after the marathon…

It was a gorgeous sunny morning (probably because I wasn’t jinxing the weather by going to Jesmond Dene) but not too warm, so perfect running conditions. I hope we’ll get a few more mornings like that in the autumn, post-marathon, so that I can take advantage of them.

I also wrote the parkrun run report for the first time today. This was a volunteer role I’d wanted to do for a while so I’m glad I had the chance to give it a go!

parkrun selfie
Weekly parkrun selfie! I was pleased to see there were some competent photos being taken by a volunteer as well, although I am almost certainly going to look slow in them 🙂

No parkrun for us next week as we are attending a special occasion. I’ll be doing a ‘notparkrun’ very early in the morning instead!

A quick breather!

For today, anyway. Lots to do, despite the fact that my clients are mostly on holiday and thus so am I!

It’s been a busy week. Monday was a big accounting catchup day for my business as I’ve not had time to keep up with it over the last few hectic months. Tuesday was spent in Geth’s office at work, as they’re moving buildings again and we needed to pack up all his stuff so it can be transferred to his new office. Wednesday I had a hair appointment and took the opportunity to run a few other errands while I was out, and yesterday was 18-miler day on my marathon training schedule. I’ve also been doing initial planning and coding for my new game!

I was really anxious about yesterday’s run as my long runs so far this training block have been fairly miserable due to various issues. However, everything (mostly) came together yesterday, and I was able to have a really positive, steady run. I’ve recovered really well so am feeling a lot more confident about the remaining long runs on the schedule!

I know I say this most weeks but next week should definitely be quieter… I hope!

'80s font on crate
Some of the crates provided to pack up Geth’s office were clearly a few decades old! Loving the ’80s font on this one.

This week’s earworm playlists:


Elvis Presley – ‘Return To Sender’


KC & The Sunshine Band – ‘Give It Up’


Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’


Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Boss Theme A’


Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Boss Theme A’


Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’
Duran Duran and Chai – ‘More Joy’


Queen – ‘A Winter’s Tale’
Carter USM – ‘The Only Living Boy In New Cross’
Ultravox – ‘Vienna’
Peter Gabriel – ‘Games Without Frontiers’

The ‘back to normal’ creep

Just a quick blog admin note to say that Gamebook Wednesday will be back in October after I have done the London Marathon. I’ve been reading/playing (it’s a sort of hybrid action) lots of gamebooks and really enjoying them, but I don’t have the energy to do the reviews justice at the moment. It’ll be a nice project for the autumn!

Somehow, and in some ways unnoticed, my life seems to have become a lot more ‘back to normal’ recently. On Monday evening Geth and I went for a drink in the pub; yesterday we went into his workplace and packed up his office ready for a forthcoming building move; this afternoon I’m going to the hair salon. There have been many long stretches over the past year and a half where none of that stuff would have been possible or legal, and I got so used to my routine of only ever leaving the house for my daily run that I didn’t think it would be possible to revert to old habits so quickly. This autumn, however, looks almost normal on paper, with trips away and races and gigs and a full-length Strictly series to watch on the TV (so excited!). I don’t think I’ll believe it till after it’s happened, but I am very optimistic for the next few months.

Autumn 2020
An ‘autumn leaves’ picture from last year. I can’t wait to see them again 🙂

2020 Pestos #13: Sacla No. 6 Organic Vegetarian Pesto

A great alternative to the regular version of this pesto is available for strict vegetarians, and I tried it out when I found it in a supermarket last year…

Sacla No. 6 Tomato Organic Vegetarian Pesto
Sacla No. 6 Tomato Organic Vegetarian Pesto.

I’m not as strict with rennet-derived cheese as I used to be, so I’m happy to eat the regular version. However, for vegetarians who are strict about this issue, this is a great alternative. The flavour isn’t quite as strong and tastes a little washed out, but it’s still very recognisable as red pesto.

There’s also a vegan version, which I’ll log next time!

Flying Monday post

A fairly quiet week begins! I will mostly be game-making (which I will update you about next Monday) and game-playing, though I have a few ‘leaving the house’ activities scheduled such as my Thursday long run, a badly-needed haircut, and helping Geth pack up his office due to a building move at his work. Glad things are settling down.

Sweetheart Abbey
Abbey photo from last week’s trip! Might put a similar location in my new game…

Six-week-out reflection

Six weeks to go until the London Marathon. Three till the Great North Run. I’m finding the long runs really tough but I’m getting there. There have been several main issues plaguing those long runs recently:

  • Foot pain – this has been a real saga. I’ve always suffered with burning pain and hotspots in the balls of my feet on long runs due to my shoes not being wide enough for my feet, but during this training period I have been so fed up with it (as it’s so painful that it stops me running) that I’ve been trying to find some way to stop it happening. Through the purchase of a ridiculous number of new pairs of shoes, I have discovered that running shoe companies don’t actually make shoes wide enough for my feet, but one or two of the pairs are at least a bit better than what I had before. I’ve also been experimenting with various sock types, moleskin tape and metatarsal gel pads, but I haven’t found the magic combination yet. I really hope I find it soon, as it’s making me pretty miserable.
  • Recurring hip issue – this was a real problem when I started running, but vastly improved when I lost a lot of weight. I’ve put a bit of weight back on during the pandemic and it’s really starting to niggle again, especially when my form suffers due to the aforementioned foot issue. I’ve been doing my yoga/Pilates stretches to try and ease it, and for this morning’s run I took an ibuprofen twenty minutes before starting and didn’t have any hip pain en route. The ibuprofen strategy is not ideal, but if it gets me round on the day then that’s what I’ll do.
  • Water logistics – I previously carried two 400ml bottles in the front pockets of my running rucksack, but it’s been a hot summer and I found on my last super-long run that it wasn’t enough. I’ve also had those bottles since I started running and they’re getting a bit old and manky now, so Geth recently bought me two 500ml soft flasks as a replacement. I tried them out this morning (a six-mile run) and was surprised to find they felt about twice as heavy as my old ones! That extra 200ml really makes a difference. They’re nice to use though once you get the hang of them. The only thing was that they weighed down my pack and caused it to rub against the back of my neck more heavily than it usually does. This settled down after a while, but I’m a bit worried about chafing on longer runs, so I’m going to start carrying a spare multiuse just in case.
  • Lack of energy – on my last super-long run I felt really tired. I can’t say that this is stopping me running though (it’s been the hip and foot pain that has done that) – it’s just slowing me down a bit. I’m hoping that this issue will disappear with better fuelling.

To keep me semi-occupied during runs I’ve been listening to podcasts (I treated myself to some Aftershokz bone conductors, which have been a godsend – and yes, you can wear them even if you’ve already got glasses, hearing aids and a multiuse on, it just requires a bit of careful arrangement!). The mental game has been tough during this training period though. I’ve had to stop doing lapped routes and spider/crossroads routes because I often just don’t have the fortitude to resist cutting the run short when I go past my house again. Another thing is that, as part of trying to deal with the foot issue, I started following an online tip to take a walk break once per mile. Unfortunately this has given me mental ‘permission’ to walk when it’s hard, meaning that the last few miles of most of my super-long runs have been mostly walking. I’m not sure how to deal with these issues.

I also keep seeing the advice (which has become more prominent over the last couple of years) that even slower runners shouldn’t be doing more than three hours in training runs. This advice is bad and is starting to annoy me, to be honest, as it shows a real lack of understanding of the way slower runners train. At my current ‘stop for walk breaks/water/gels every mile, run really slowly the rest of the time’ pace, three hours wouldn’t even get me to half marathon distance. I need to build up to a 22-mile long run like a faster marathoner, even if the longest long runs take all day, as I need the mental preparation of doing that distance. The real plus point about this current training period is that I’m recovering from runs really quickly (barely any soreness the next day), which has never happened before, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

I have three big runs remaining before the marathon itself: an 18-miler (this Thursday), a 22-miler (two weeks later) and the Great North Run (three days after the 22-miler, so no, I am not expecting a PB!). The shorter runs on the schedule (3-6 miles, plus a couple more 12-milers) will all be about continuing my experiments to find a footwear setup that doesn’t hurt. It’d be nice if I managed that this Tuesday so I don’t have to do the 18-miler with foot pain!

parkrun finish
Sprint finish at parkrun, 14th August 2021. If I can sprint finish like this at the London Marathon, it means I’ll have done the rest of the race too slowly! Photo (c) John Cooke 2021.

I’ll update again closer to the marathon. I know my result will be far from my original goals for this marathon back when it was scheduled to happen in spring 2020, but if I beat the insanely slow time that got me a second chance in the first place, I’ll be happy.