Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - the year in Review, Pt. 3 - Gear!

Guess I'd better get this post done today in order to still be "officially" in 2012!

It was a year of gear, as in new, upgrades and tweaks. The Schwinn GPS watch was a great buy and still works well for its purpose. I tested online prescription glasses and will definitely go that route again in the near future (perhaps just for racing sunglasses). Aclimate (and Aclimate Endurance) have become my sports drinks of choice. I taught myself to make Pseudo-Lara bars which have evolved into amazing nutrient-packed endurance nuggets that we now call Lalaballs (I'll post the updated recipe soon!). Not sure if you can call it gear, but McConnell Taping has helped my knees immenesely. I finally bought a Road ID with the online profile that you can edit. I love it for workouts, races, hiking, camping, etc.
However, I guess the real gear story this year was shoes, of course.

I now have specific shoes for specific distances. As usual, I have to preface any discussion of shoes here with the warning that I, by absolute necessity, must wear fairly hefty orthotics due to some really major structural problems; any shoes that I use will have the orthotics in them, so would drastically change the foot feel for someone who would just be wearing the shoe, sans orthotics. I also choose shoes with no animal products. So, here is my present stable of shoes, with the distance of choice:

5K: NB730s. Lovely minimalist (4mm drop) with a choice of widths. Great road feel for short distance, but not enough cushioning for these old feet to go the longer distances.
     Altra Intuition: zero drop with cushion and really wide toe box. Comfort out of the box. I haven't done much racing in them yet (have been using them for recovery shoes and they are the best!!!!), but will put them to the test in the New Year and report back. Only drawback: they're hard to find here.

10K: Skechers GoRun. These are quite a surprise in that although they are made for midfoot-strike running, they work amazingly well for proper racewalking technique, including heel strike! Cushioned, but with a lovely, comfy, breathable upper. Me like! They also come with an extra pair of colourful laces and a muslin shoe bag (useful for taking your shoes to the track).

Half marathons: Still my good old trusty Reshod 730s. Carmen's upgraded shoes were made for fast long distances in comfort...can't ask for much more than that!

LSD: I've been using the Skechers of late with good results. I'll report back in the New Year with more details. I also use the Reshod 730s, but like to save them for halfs. Will likely try the Intuitions for long distance as well.

So, all of this makes for happy feet (well, as happy as feet can get). It also ensures that my shoes dry out between workouts because I alternately use different ones. Hopefully they won't wear as quickly, either....or all wear out at the same time. Now that's a horrific thought! $$$$$$$$$$


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Incredible Vegan Fruitcake!

I interrupt my review of 2012 with this:

I’ve always loved fruitcake. I know a lot of people can’t stand it, and I don’t blame them if all they’ve ever encountered is the dry, store-bought variety with that neon-coloured “candied” fruit.  However, I think this cake would convert many a staunch fruitcake-phobe. Although not cheap if you buy the right ingredients, it is absolutely worth every single pazoozle! Be aware that there is a step that must be done about a week-and-a-half before baking...and that this is a bit of a "boozy" fruitcake!


-makes 3 x  1-lb loaves

Cake with marzipan "icing".
Rich, moist goodness!



 *Prior preparation (see below):

1 mickey of whisky (375 ml – I used Forty Creek) plus ½ cup dark rum

3 cups mixed unsweetened dried fruit (I used tart cherries, organic chopped apricots, currents and cranberries - a really great combo)

Grated (or finely minced) rind of one lemon and one orange

1 Vanilla Chai teabag


First bowl (medium bowl; dry ingredients):

3 cups organic whole grain flour

3 T coconut sugar

1.5 t baking powder

3/8 t salt


Pureed in processor then placed in a large bowl:

250 g. pressed dates, warmed so that they are very pliable (microwave)

2 T frozen unsweetened concentrated orange juice

1/3 c molasses

6 T unsweetened applesauce

6T canola oil

3 t pure vanilla extract

Rind and tea mixture from above

Drained whisky from soaked fruit

A bit of water if necessary to make a thick puree


Fruit/nut mixture:

3 cups of dried fruit prepared ahead of time (see above)

1 c slivered almonds

½ c raw pumpkin seeds


 * Prior preparation:

 1. (about 1.5 weeks prior to baking):

                -soak 3 cups of mixed dried unsweetened fruit (tart cherries, organic chopped apricots, currents and cranberries) in ¾ mickey of whisky in fridge. Shake often.

                2. (30 minutes prior to baking): boil the grated (or finely minced) rinds of one lemon and one orange (organic) in about ¾ c. of water with one Vanilla Chai teabag for about ten minutes or so. This takes the inherent bitterness out of the rind and adds some nice spices. Let cool slightly and squeeze out teabag well into the rind. Discard teabag.



Scrub hands very well (you will be using them as a mixing tool!)

Line three 1- lb. loaf pans with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 325F.


Add contents of first bowl (dry ingredients) to large bowl (wet pureed ingredients) in smallish increments. Mix well by kneading (squishing!) with hands. This is the absolute best way to mix as you have a lot of control over the mixture. When all of the dry has been added, add in the fruit/nut mixture and again mix well with hands. The dough will be very, very thick. Press into prepared pans and bake for about 45-50 minutes. A toothpick will not necessarily come out clean as this is a very rich, moist cake. When baking has finished, cool cakes slightly in pans, then puncture all over with a fork. Slowly pour the rest of the mickey of whisky and 1/3 cup dark rum evenly over the three cakes and let soak in. Complete cooling and turn out on rack.




Just wait until you try this incredibly simple golden marzipan. It’s so good it may not make it to the top of the cake! It has only three ingredients:


1 ¼ c ground almonds (also called almond flour)

¼ c agave syrup

1 t pure almond flavouring


Mix it all up with your hands. It should be the consistency of playdough. Roll out between two layers of waxed paper, cut to fit and lay on top of each cake, pressing slightly to adhere. Decorate as desired.


Wrap finished cakes well, bag and keep in fridge (or freeze one for future use). They won’t last long as they will be gobbled up quickly!


Monday, 10 December 2012

13 in 2013!

Thirteen races in 2013??? Can you fit that many in? Seems like a great idea! Walkers are welcome, you can do a variety of distances and even virtual races are allowable. I've already signed up. Check it out here: