Triathlon World Championships – Chicago 2015

So this is a well overdue post – I apologise it’s been well over a month since I last wrote a thing! I can only blame spending to much time eating, baking, “recovering” and probably enjoying myself a little too much. But I think a month is enough, it’s time to get back to real life and some winter training!

IMG_2786Anyway, back to the title, Chicago Sprint World Champs – probably one of the best weeks of my life to date?! It was really that awesome and looking back at photos I keep thinking to myself – did that really happen? The combination of being in an incredible city with my family and Matt, chilling out with some great Clapham Chasers, having the race of my life and finally watching the best triathletes in the world just made it the PERFECT week.

We arrived in Chicago 5 days before my race so I had plenty of time to chill out, explore the city and get myself ready. I managed to do quite well and actually enjoy the city without thinking much about the race until the day before. We explored the city, ate some yummy food and just genuinely discovered that Chicago is an incredible incredible place! It’s spotlessly clean, stunningly beautiful and what I loved the most was that everyone there just seemed to love exercise and healthy eating! Every other shop seemed to be a health food or sports shop and there were people running, cycling, yoga-ing everywhere you went.

IMG_2772Bike racking opened the day before so this was the first time I really got to see what the competition looked like – aka when Hannah get’s intimidated and feels like a complete amateur compared to everyone else. However, I had already decided that all I wanted to do was to have a good race and for nothing to go wrong. I genuinely had no idea how good the competition would be having not really done very many races at all so I tried to just concentrate on myself and ignore everyone’s TT bikes and aero helmets – my trusty Canyon road bike would be just fine!

Race Day. 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run. I stuck with my normal pre-race breakfast thanks to the amazing whole foods shop just one block from our apartment – porridge with banana and peanut butter. After a small disaster of the car not starting and having to rush to get on the L (the Chicago metro system) with my bike and Dad and Matt in tow, we eventually made it downtown to set up the rest of transition. And then there was 2 hours to kill….2 hours to get so unbelievably nervous I felt sick. Not to mention the fact that it was 28 degrees that day so I kept worrying about staying as hydrated as possible but not over doing it and then putting my wetsuit on at the very last minute to avoid overheating! Ok so I make it soundIMG_2775 like it really wasn’t a great experience but the atmosphere down at the start was absolutely amazing. Everyone was buzzing with nerves and excitement and I actually just couldn’t wait to get in the water and race!

The gun goes. Anndddd relax. I felt great, I was finally racing and I had managed to get myself into a completely open area of water so I wasn’t battling anyone else and I could just swim my own race. I knew I had had a good start so I settled into my rhythm and it felt awesome. I was swimming in Lake Michigan, in water described by my brother which was “like swimming in Evian” and it was the World Championships! My whole family and Matt were also walking down the course cheering me on and I had flashbacks of racing when I was younger where people would wave you on on the poolside – I could see and hear my sister doing exactly the same now and it spurred me on to just catch up with the leading group of 10 swimmers.

IMG_2781I came out the swim and everyone was shouting at me with excitement – “you’re in the top 10 Hannah!!!” And that was it, in that moment, running out of the water to transition I suddenly decided, I didn’t just want to have a good race, I was going to keep this position and do everything I could to finish in the top 10 in the world. Miraculously with my typically unrehearsed amateur transitions I managed to overtake 3 people just in transition!

The bike leg was a bit of a blur, there were people everywhere and I had to concentrate really hard to make sure I wasn’t in the draft zone of any other athletes and to keep on the look out for some rather large potholes on the course. I did however continue to hearIMG_2785 my family screaming for me every time I passed them as well as some equally loud Clapham Chasers. I think I was actually smiling the whole way round. Getting onto the run I had another good transition but I had no idea where I was placed, I noticed a few girls overtake me on the bike but I wasn’t sure how many or what age-group they were in. The run was sweltering. 28 degree heat and boy was I glad I was only running 5km! Even if it felt like 10. Despite the heat the cheering and atmosphere out on that course was incredible. People cheering for team GB at every turn and running round Buckingham Fountain with the most incredible backdrop of the city, it really was very very special. Finally I came towards the end of the last lap and somehow my family ended up being right there and my brother and sister shouted at me “YOU’RE 6TH IN THE WORLD!!!!” If I hadn’t been sprinting already I definitely was now! I had no idea who was behind me but I was coming 6th in the world and it was the best feeling EVER! The commentator cheered me across the line and the smile on my face, ear to ear, I genuinely was the happiest girl in the world.

IMG_2709**Emotional section alert – but this is why I love sport….** Those next few hours I have never felt so loved by my family it makes me want to cry thinking back to it. I had done them so so proud, all my brother and sister wanted to do was hug me, take pictures of me and tell me how well I had done. Coming 6th in the world in my age-group and being the first GB athlete across the line was absolutely amazing but their reaction to it made the whole thing even more special. I genuinely cannot thank them enough for that because that was what made that moment, finishing that race, very very special. All I wanted to do was to do the whole thing all over again, I loved every single second. I still can’t believe I did as well as I did but I cannot wait to do it all again next year. Time for some training:)

 

Hannah x x x

Banana Oat Bars

I often have overripe bananas left over from the weeks shopping and I usually end up making banana bread but in my recent (failed) efforts to cut down on cake before I head to Chicago for the World Champs (I leave in 4 days…..ahhh), I thought I should create something slightly more healthy with them. And these turned out pretty dam good. The basic ingredients are bananas and oats….duhhh….but you can add any combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit you wanted or have in the cupboard. I happened to have pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and raisins but you could add flaked almonds, cranberries, sunflower seeds etc. etc. The chia seeds in the recipe add an extra boost of protein but if you don’t have them you can just leave them out.

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This is definitely my favourite and probably my best recipe on my blog so far. And it’s the easiest! I created them completely from scratch when I had leftover overripe bananas one day and now i’ve made them several times and they are absolutely perfect and delicious every time. I could have called these energy bars, breakfast bars, snack bars but I decided on just bars because you could eat them for any of these reasons. They’re perfect as a yummy breakfast crumbled into greek yogurt with extra bananas and honey, a healthy nutritious snack during the day or even a well balanced energy bar to wrap up, stuff in your back pocket and take on a long bike ride. Packed full of energy and protein, high in fibre and gluten free – seriously whats not to love, and they’re really bloody tasty.

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RECIPE

Makes 8 large bars or 16 small squares

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 250g oats
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup (or honey)
  • 30g pumpkin seeds
  • 75g raisins
  • 2 tsp chia seeds

NB this recipe is very versatile so use whatever you have in the kitchen. If you don’t have 3 bananas you can use 2 with slightly fewer oats. If you don’t have 250g oats just use less and the bars will be slightly less dense or use fewer bananas. Use more or less dried fruit and seeds of different combinations to suit your taste. Even add a teaspoon of cinnamon for an additional flavour. Go WILD.

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan) and line a 20cm x 20cm square cake tin with grease-proof paper or foil
  2. In a medium size pan melt the butter and golden syrup together until the butter has melted then take off the heat
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients into the pan with the butter and golden syrup and mix well until fully combined
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread evenly into the corners, flattening out the mixture on top
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until its a nice golden flapjack kind of colour on the top
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and leave to cool completely before cutting into squares
  7. Wrap 2 up, put into your back pocket and head off into the countryside on your bike:)

Hannah x x x

The Liebster Award

It is with great pleasure that I can say that I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by one of my FAVOURITE bloggers, creator and eater of the most delicious looking breakfasts and co-founder of Band of Bakers – Gemma from More Than Just Toast.

The Liebster Award is passed from blogger to blogger as a way to celebrate our blogging community and an amazing way of finding new blogs. So whilst this isn’t my normal food or triathlon post I hope it will also help you find out a little more about me and also introduce you to some fellow foodie bloggers:)

Here’s what Gemma asked me:

If you were chosen to appear on Saturday Kitchen, what would be your food heaven and food hell; and how pissed off would you be if you got the food hell?

Food Heaven – It’s got to be some kind of warm chocolate pudding with homemade ice cream

Food Hell – Liver. There’s not many things I don’t eat but I think I’ve been scarred as a child when my dad used to fry livers that just ended up as smelly tough bits of gritty meat – sorry Dad.

To be fair I think maybe if someone actually cooked liver really well it probably is actually quite yummy…or so i’ve heard….so i’d be willing to try it.

If you could only have one of these types of food for the rest of your life, which would it be: crunchy, chewy or creamy?

Crunchy – all the best things in life are crunchy – i’m currently going through a phase of adding granola to my porridge just to make it crunchy.

Describe your perfect weekend breakfast.

Blueberry french toast with bananas and crispy bacon drowned in maple syrup

What is your tried and tested hangover cure? (I have an ulterior motive for asking this as I really do need a good hangover cure.)

Beans on toast with grated cheese. I don’t think I would have survived university without this – my absolute saviour….soaks it all up:)

Which is worse: bad restaurant with good company, or good restaurant with bad company?

Good restaurant with bad company is much worse –  you can never fail to have a good time when you are surrounded by wonderful people. Just the other week I went to a restaurant that turned out pretty awful but I was with my two best friends and it was one of the best evenings i’ve had in a long time.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Freddos. No one could ever fail to cheer me up with a chocolate freddo. 20p’s worth of sheer pleasure

If you could be invisible for a day, whose kitchen cupboards would you raid?

Tom Kerridge’s. My favourite chef ever, plus the things he had on his shelves in his programme Best Ever Dishes were insane – like everything you could ever imagine.

What are your three favourite London restaurants?

I’m gonna give you a range here:

  1. Special occasion: The French Table, Surbiton (Ok so technically it’s maybe not exactly in London but it’s pretty close and it’s amazing)
  2. Fun evening out: Spuntino, Soho
  3. Could eat it every night: Chicken Shop, Tooting

What is the worst thing you have ever eaten when travelling?

When I was travelling in South America, I was in Cusco and was made to try a smoothie with aloe vera and….a dead frog whizzed into it. Apparently it was an aphrodesiac – this was not quite the effect I got when I saw it being put into the blender…

If you had to give up either caffeine or alcohol, which would it be?

Caffeine – i’ve given up alcohol for this month before I head to the World Championships in Chicago and it’s seriously bloody hard. Too hard. Never again.

Thank you for the nomination Gemma! I am passing on the award to:

Pip at Cherries & Chisme

Chloe at Nibs etc.

Caity at Caity’s Kitchen

Amber at The Greedy Student

Your questions are:

  1. Do you prefer sweet or savoury breakfast?
  2. What’s the best place you’ve ever travelled to?
  3. What’s the best thing or favourite thing you’ve eaten abroad?
  4. Why did you start writing your blog?
  5. If you were to start a blog about something different to what you write about now, what would it be?
  6. What’s your most used recipe book?
  7. When you can’t be bothered to cook anything what’s your go to meal?
  8. Masterchef or Great British Bake Off or Neither (if neither please explain yourself!!!)?
  9. What did you or do you live off in desperate times when studying?
  10. If you were to meet anyone in history who would you want to meet?
  11. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

If you choose to accept passing on the Liebster Award, the guidelines to pass it on are below!

  • Acknowledge, link back and thank the person that nominated you.
  • Use the Liebster award image to add to the post.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers
  • Don’t forget to let these bloggers know
  • Give them 11 questions to answer

 

Hannah x x x

liebster-award

Justin Gellatly’s Chocolate Brownies

I’m telling you now I have never in my life had a better brownie than these. I realise that’s a rather bold claim but I genuinely think i’d be hard pushed to either make or find something as good. I’ve been meaning to make a trip to the Bread Ahead stall in Borough Market for a good 6 months now – mainly to get my hands on one of Justin Gellatly’s (head baker) famous ‘pillows of joy’ doughnuts. I managed to go to a bread baking class there but sadly the market wasn’t open that day so I still haven’t been OR tried one of those doughnuts. One of the other delightful treats they sell at Bread Ahead that I also haven’t manage to try is The Chocolate Brownie. Huge slabs of chocolatey nutty deliciousness. So, having brought Justin’s book ‘Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding’ I thought heck, i’ll just make the brownies myself! Plus I had the idea the day before I competed in the London Triathlon so I thought they’d make an excellent post race treat. (I think I genuinely did eat about 6 that afternoon….)

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As Justin explains in the book, I think these are best kept in the fridge and eaten cold. Sounds strange for a brownie (I’d normally say warm it up so it’s all melty with a huge dollop of ice cream) but the fridge thing does just work, try it. Not to say warmed up with a huge dollop of ice cream wouldn’t be equally as delicious as well of course :P

IMG_2398 IMG_2397

So here they are, jammed packed full of roasted nuts and rich dark chocolate, please just make them, you will never want to make any other brownie ever again! I’ve very slightly adjusted Justin’s recipe just to make quantities easier but it is essentially exactly the same.

For all you gluten frees out there you can also make this completely gluten free by using an alternative flour such as rice flour instead of plain flour and they turn out just as well if not even slightly more gooey!

RECIPE

Makes 18 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 100g whole blanched almonds
  • 100g whole blanched hazelnuts
  • 180g unsalted butter
  • 300g dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 60g plain flour
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and line and grease a baking tray
  2. Put the almonds and hazelnuts in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes tossing them a few times so they are golden brown. Leave them to cool then roughly chop
  3. Melt together the butter and 250g of the chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of hot water or in the microwave (my preferred option!)
  4. In a large bowl mix together the eggs and sugar with a wooden spoon until combined
  5. Once the chocolate is melted pour the chocolate mix into the egg mix and stir together. Fold in the nuts, flour, salt and remaining chocolate
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake for 25 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin as it will still be very gooey in the middle at this stage
  8. Serve warm or pop them in the fridge overnight and eat cold, which is when they’re at their best I think:)

Hannah x x x

Summer Success 2015

Well I don’t like to wish the summer away but with September on its way and the World Championships in Chicago creeping ever closer I thought i’d give a little summary of the amazing summer of racing and cycling that i’ve had in preparation for it!

After qualifying for the World Championships in May I had a bad cycling accident which put me completely out of training for nearly 6 weeks. Whilst it was horrible at the time not being able to do any exercise whatsoever, looking back I think that break was probably a blessing in disguise and gave me the fire to come back fighting and train hard to get my fitness back before Chicago in September.

IMG_2094Eton Dorney Sprint Triathlon:

Pretty much the same week I managed to start back swimming, cycling and running after the accident I found a triathlon at Dorney. I entered to try and get back into the swing of things and with little preparation under my belt I wasn’t expecting much. To my great surprise I ended up winning the whole race in a pretty good time – a huge confidence boost to say the least!

Alpe D’Huez Triathlon:

I could have written an entire post about this but thought i’d attempt keep it short and sweet. 8 of us went out to the Alps to watch the Tour de France, spend a week cycling up some of the most famous and incredible climbs in the world and finally to compete in the Alpe D’Huez Triathlon – a popular one on the bucket list of a lot of endurance triathletes.

Watching the Tour was, as always, one of the most incredible days ever. It doesn’t get much better than spending the day in the sun on the side of a mountain partying with crazy french people and watching the best cyclists in the world battle it out up 21 hairpin bends. An unforgettable day.

IMG_2320We spent the week climbing up Alpe D’Huez, Col de Sarenne, Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer and Les Deux Alpes. Coming back to Richmond Park after reaching the tops of some of those mountains is really rather depressing I have to say!

We ended the week racing in the Triathlon. The day before we had watched some of the best professional triathletes race the Long Distance – Emma Pooley winning the women’s race in style. Watching it definitely got the nerves going and that night I was sick with nerves with the thought of swimming in a glacial lake then trying to make it up Alpe D’Huez. The day of the race it was pouring with rain almost all day – though I think by that point we were ready for one of the hardest challenges we had ever faced so the rain wasn’t going to make it much harder.IMG_2372

1.2km swim in a glacial lake, a 30km bike including 1500m of climbing following by a 7.5km run at 2000m altitude was without a doubt one of the toughest things i’ve ever done but definitely the most rewarding experience ever! I cannot recommend it enough, it was a truly amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone looking for that race that is slightly more adventurous than the average triathlon😉

The London Triathlon:

My first Olympic Distance Triathlon! I entered this race a year ago not really thinking that I would be racing the sprint in Chicago. As it was only a week after the Alpe D’Huez Triathlon I had already decided ages ago that I wouldn’t do it because i’d be far too tired. However, having come back from France on a HUGE high after doing well in Alpe IMG_2404D’Huez, I thought why not?! And boy am I glad I did it! With some amazing cheering (screaming) from my parents and great friend Josie I finished 1st in the 25-29 age category and 4th female overall in the whole Olympic distance event. I wouldn’t have even come last if I was racing elite! This was by far my best performance yet and I still can’t get over how well I did. I was first out of the swim in my wave, held on on the bike and then somehow managed to run a 40 minute 10k?! (I’m pretty sure they got their distances slightly wrong😉 but anyhow, I couldn’t be happier with my result and now just hoping this momentum can continue……BRING ON CHICAGO!!!

 

Hannah x x x

Banana & Strawberry Breakfast Muffins

It’s not very often that we have left over bananas that have gone brown by the end of the week but whenever we do it’s the perfect excuse for me to make banana bread. Check out my banana bread recipe with coffee butter:) This time I thought i’d try something a bit more exotic and summery. I’m also “trying” to keep baking slightly healthier at the moment – in 2 weeks I head to the Alps for a training week in the mountains and racing the Alpe D’Huez triathlon. It’s going to be hard enough to get up that mountain as it is so trying to avoid piling on the cake before I go!

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It’s summer so I wanted to use strawberries but you could substitute any berries into this or even any other chopped fruit. I’ve eaten them as pudding, as a snack and as an amazing summery breakfast with extra fruit and greek yogurt – go crazy! They are very light, airy, fruity and definitely on the healthy side so it would be rude not to try them out:)

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RECIPE

Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 2 bananas (the browner the better)
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 120ml milk
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 150g chopped strawberries

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and line a 12 hold muffin tray
  2. Put all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, bicarb & oats) together in a bowl and mix
  3. In a separate bowl mash the bananas until smooth then add the yogurt, milk, lemon juice, olive oil and egg whites and mix until fully combined together
  4. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir together using a wooden spoon being careful not to over mix but making sure everything is fully combined
  5. Stir in the chopped strawberries. The mixture should look a bit rough and lumpy so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like a smooth cake batter!
  6. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases – they should be almost full
  7. Mix together a tablespoon of oats and a tablespoon of brown sugar and sprinkle a little oat mixture over the top of each muffin
  8. Pop in the oven to bake for 20 minutes

 

Hannah x x x

Healthy Rhubarb & Strawberry Summer Dessert

I hadn’t planned this recipe at all, it was one of those throw together left over items in the fridge kind of pudding but it turned out to be completely and utterly delicious so I just had to share it! It also only took 15 minutes to make and it could make a very yummy breakfast too! Two days ago I made a batch of Rhubarb & Ginger Jam which, for my first jam, i’m really rather impressed with. It’s my favourite flavour of the Tiptree jams so I thought i’d try to make it myself – it worked amazingly! Anyhow, this meant I had some leftover rhubarb but not quite enough to make anything substantial with it. Cue strawberries…..they’re on offer in Sainsbury’s for £1.50, bargain. Oh and add a splash of port and it’s like heaven in a glass. Rhubarb, strawberries, port. I’m sure it’s been done before but what a wonderful combination!

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I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment after my indulgence of eating everything I could see in San Sebastian last week and also trying to get my body in some kind of fit state again to start competing in my upcoming triathlons. So whilst I still always seem to need some kind of pudding after dinner i’m trying to go for the slightly less indulgent options and coming up with healthier recipes to satisfy my sweet tooth in the evenings. Hopefully this fits that bill for many of you as well but without sacrificing any of the yumminess:)

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RECIPE

Makes enough for 1 tumbler sized dessert

Ingredients:

  • 100g rhubarb
  • 150g strawberries
  • Splash of port (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons 0% Greek yogurt
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Sprinkling of granola

Method:

  1. Chop the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and half the strawberries
  2. Put the fruit, sugar and port (if using) into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat with the lid on until completely softened into a compote.
  3. Layer up a glass with layers of the compote, yogurt, honey and granola until the glass is full
  4. Devour