Slow cooker success! Cheesy chicken quesadillas

I was inspired by Anna’s slow cooker meals post to pull out my own slow cooker from hibernation underneath the worktop last night…

I only have the basic Argos slow cooker which my future Mother-in-law bought for me a few years back but it had never properly been tested out until today.
I eagerly hunted out a few recipes at before bed last night. My worry in the past has been how long I’m away from home in the day. Although I often don’t leave for work until 8am nowadays. I’m normally at work until six and then stop off in town for a run with friends on the way home. Meaning some nights I’m not home until 8:15pm! Dan is often back by six though and I figured it must be pretty hard to burn something in the pot on low! (Crossing my fingers tightly here!!!)

I defrosted some chicken pieces overnight and after a quick dash to the Co-op when they opened for some cheese I threw the following into the pot…
-Half a pack of chicken pieces
-Half a pot of cheap tomato sauce
-Half a pot of Philadelphia

Cheesey chicken slow cookerAll day I had dinner on my mind and rushed home from work with a pack of tortilla wraps and some sour cream.  I was a little worried that the chicken would have been in the pot (allbeit on low) for more than ten hours but I returned to see this…

Cooked chicken slow cooker…pretty much exactly what I left in the morning with a few darker patches around the edge!  Although concerned it hadn’t cooked properly, or there would be burnt patches, after a quick stir and pull apart of the chicken pieces the mixture turned a beautiful orangey-brown and smelt delicious!

Chicken quesadillas I realise this is a rubbish picture where you can’t see the creamy colour of the chicken, just the bland colour of the tortilla but I was too excited and spooned it into the wrap with some grated cheese to melt and hold it all together.  Great with a side salad and some sour cream!  I love trying new food.  :)  I have neglected food experimentation for too long!

I had a great run after work last night with four guys and a dog from club.  We ran 6.6 miles of trail, – mainly over fields which were a lot drier than I originally thought they would be.  They were still wet enough to suck one of our runners upside-down into a puddle though!  It was relatively warm last night and I surprised myself by running in a short-sleeved top and staying warm for the whole run.  I literally wore the big jacket I took to New York until the second our run began as I feared it would be so cold!  I was due to head to club tonight but for several reasons I decided to set my alarm for the morning and head out early instead.  (Not seeing Dan much this week, missing my alone runs, wanting to try out my slow cooker creation…!)

Are you a morning or evening runner?  I’m normally an evening runner but I love heading out in the mornings when it starts to head towards Summer and gets light.

What other all day slow cooker meals are out there for me to experiment with next?!

Ushers do Parkrun

On Saturday Dan, two of his best friends and I headed to Northampton Parkrun for 9am (just!)
There was Me, with a 5k PB of 26:55 achieved almost exactly a year ago before I began concentrating on distance running. Dan, on his fourth Parkrun with a PB of 29:24. Usher #1 who regularly plays squash but was yet to experience a Parkrun and Usher #2 – with a PB of 21:06 set on a ‘hilly’ course.

The boys had all been out drinking until late the night before so had very little hopes of amazing times, although #Usher #2 told us there shouldn’t be any excuses with a course as flat as Northampton.
The gun went…I’m pretty sure all four of us started too far back and we all ended up picking our way through the 254 runners out in the perfect running conditions.

I hadn’t planned on aiming for a PB with my mileage this week hitting 49miles and so set off at a steady pace. I saw Usher #2 weave in and out of several runners and settle comfortably towards the front of the pack. Dan and Usher #1 set off together closer to the back. I was worried Dan’s competitive nature would see him setting off too quick and ending up injured, but luckily, since he has been using my old Garmin he has kept his pace nice and steady.

I didn’t feel like I’d set off too fast (8:50mm) but my body was telling me “No” towards the end so I ended up slowing right down.


The one shot of me on this run was me doing my hair just before the camera! (Far right of pic) (Usher #1 in blue)

A PB for Usher #2 who finished 22nd in 20:41. Imagine what he could do whilst not hungover and having had sleep!
A 27:49 finish for first timer Usher #1 and no PBs for Dan or I as expected. I came through at 29:13 having slowed considerably during the second half.

Later that afternoon Dan was joined by his other two ushers and Dad for their suit fitting ready for the wedding (now only five months away!) Whilst the boys were out I managed to get in several hours of gardening; mowing, strimming and raking the front, back and side lawns and trimming back the hedges. Probably not the best plan before an eighteen mile long run the following day…

Sunday morning I was up brought and early again, ready to take on my first eighteen miles of the year. I have very low expectations of myself this time round for the marathon in April. I know I haven’t completed as many speed sessions as I should have done since my injury in November and my pace has dropped considerably! These are the stats from my first Milton Keynes marathon in 2012…


Although obviously fading towards the end I was quite happy with how consistent I had been for the first half of the race and how good I had felt on the day. It’s worth pointing out that the weather was awful-severe flooding and high speed winds. I ran through puddles halfway up to my knees at one point a few miles before the end! My official chip time was 5:06:52 but my Garmin paused itself when I dived into the loo at mile 11. Stupid queue for the loo and stupid Garmin for letting me think I’d gone sub 5!
Most of my long runs in the build up to race day had been run at 10mm pace. A speed which is now a minute or more quicker than my current long run pace!
I obviously still had a lot to learn about running, marathons and my body at the time…as I still do now!
This time round I am much more motivated to get out and put the miles in… enjoying running five or six days every week but my head and chest aren’t letting me pick up the pace back to where I was. One day I’ll be back where I was again, I’m sure!
Anyway, yesterday was eighteen miles with Hayley before laying on my freshly mowed lawn (a mistake unless you want to look like a grass yeti) and stretching out on the floor because we could. At least my legs still feel good today!


All being well my remaining long runs should go 18, 20, 15, 20m race, 15, 10, London!
What’s the longest distance you go up to during marathon training?…

Ten London marathon facts

With just seven weeks now before my first London Marathon, I thought I would find out a little about it.  I can remember my Dad having the marathon footage on when I was quite young and being amazed at how far people were running – continually taking his eyes off of the dinner he was supposed to be cooking.  I will be incredibly proud this year when I run the race that so many others have run before me.  The big one…London Baby!
Facts are as I thought of them – in no particular order!

  1. The very first London Marathon was held on 29 March 1981 (three and a half years before I was even born) and has been held every Spring since.
  2. In 2003 our own Paula Radcliffe set the London Marathon female record with an amazing time of 2:15:25.  That’s at a 5:10mm pace.  I can’t even hold that over a sprint session, never mind 26.2 miles!  This is also the world record for a female over marathon distance.  Nobody has come close to beating her course record!
  3. This is the London Marathon course, looping around the River Thames and it will pass many famous landmarks on the way such as; The Cutty Sark (6.5 miles), Tower Bridge (12.5 miles), Canary Wharf (18.5 miles), St Paul’s Cathedral (24 miles), The Houses of Parliament (25.5 miles) and Buckingham Palace (26 miles).London Marathon courseI’ve still only seen most of these landmarks on TV.  Infact, I’d never been to London until Dan took me in 2008!
  4. Apparently the most common occupation for runners in the London Marathon last year was ‘teacher’!  [Source]  I shall be running for our field this year too.  :)  Running is one of the best ways for me to unwind after a stressful day of working with students.
  5. There are 15 people that have run every single London Marathon since the very beginning.  I kinda hoped I could do the same with Milton Keynes Marathon having run it the last two years 2012 | 2013 (Milton Keynes Marathon only began in 2012), but running the 12 hour Conti-run the day before this year’s MK Marathon has made that rather impossible now.
  6. The website contains information about the fifteen remaining runners that have run every single London marathon since 1981.  They are all men, and one of them,-Chris Finill has run every single marathon under 3 hours.  Wow!
  7. Charities can purchase a number of ‘Golden Bond’ places for £300 each which they then issue to fundraisers on the premise that they raise a large sum of money for the charity by collecting sponsorship for running the marathon.  I never realised the charities had to pay for their entries.  No wonder they often ask for amounts of £2000+!  I have used running to help fundraise several times now, but the pressure of raising so much money for one event, as well as the pressure of training would be too much for me.
  8. More than £500,000,000 has been raised for charities by runners of the London Marathon since it began in 1981.  That’s a tremendous amount of money, bucketloads of sweat went into raising that!
  9. A full list of celebrity names were released not long back as to who was going to run the VLM 2014.  Confession: I recognised about four of them.
  10. The marathon medal has changed a lot over the years.  Here is what the medal looked like back in 1982, in it’s second year…

1982 London marathon medal 1982 London marathon medalFor a full set of images of the London Marathon medals, check out the photographs on the Ever Present websiteCan’t wait to hang my VLM 2014 medal up on my medal holder this year!

What else can you tell me about the London Marathon?…

Half term=a week of wedding, food and running

Why does half term always go by so quickly?!
This week went like this…
Monday – 10 steady miles with Hayley, out for afternoon tea with one of my bridesmaids, her brother and one of her friends followed by the pub quiz with Dan in the evening (we came last… Again!)

Afternoon teaAfter a plate of sandwiches they brought out two platters of cakes for the four of us.  Each platter contained two slabs of fruit cake, two vanilla cheesecakes, two lemon slices, some strawberry mousse and a pair of scones with cream and jam.  I managed the cheesecake (a-maz-ing!), most of the strawberry mousse (meh) and my scone once I’d picked out all of the fruit.

Tuesday – I picked up my wedding dress from the dress shop, then ran a solo speedwork session when I got back to Mum’s.
image As the shop owner was untying the back of my dress before packing it up for me to take away she casually said “Just think, the next time this needs to be taken off it will be your husband taking it off” then glanced uncomfortably at my Mum realising what she’d said!

Wednesday – I met my friend Vick in Norwich to find and purchase her wedding dress. Afterwards I headed to my Maid of Honour, Hollie’s house for tea, hot chocolate and to put together our wedding invitations along with two of my other bridesmaids. We spent four hours cutting, sticking and folding!!!

Thursday – Embossing the front of the invitations, then a six mile run with Hayley at a tempo pace.

Friday – Mega house tidy, meeting with a friend from my old school for lunch, five miles easy run with Hayley and having two of Dan’s ushers round for the night.

Saturday (planned) – Northampton Parkrun followed by lots of housework whilst Dan is sorting wedding suits with the boys.
Sunday (planned) – Eighteen mile run with Hayley followed by schoolwork ready for next week.

Why does half term always go by so quickly?!