December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! 2012 review and some 2013 goals!

Happy new year!  2012 was a pretty awesome year!

I got to visit lots of places:

January - Israel

(With Andy) 

 May - Portugal

June - Holland/Belgium/France (cycle touring!)
(With Andy)

July - Morocco
(with my brother Zachary)

August - Rome!
(With Lois and Geraint)

I cycled loads, and acquired my first Road Bike!

I succeeded well in my resolution to buy less crap - I have mostly shopped in charity shops for work clothes and own a good selection of quailty outdoors gear from proper retailers

I've cooked more an eaten better - I learned to cook better asian food (another resolution)

It's been a pretty epic year, but 2013 is gearing up to be even better!  I've made a few resolutions, some fitness, some food, some quite specific.  

My first resolution (more of a goal!) is to learn how to do 10 push ups!!!

Right now I can do...

.... 1/2 a push up.  I can't get back up. 

Any tips for being better at pushups?  Girl pushups are lame and I can do those forever, I think I just need to keep trying for a pushup and eventually I'll... push up!

Happy 2013 y'all!

December 30, 2012

Fire Island Cardiff: Restaurant Review

My intention with this blog was most about food - but then I found it easier to write about exercise.   There are already some awesome and well established food bloggers in Cardiff - Nicky at Your Last Mouthful, Nicki at the now disbanded Cardiff Bites, Lifestyle award winner Ed from Gourmet Gorro, and Stephen from The Aptly named Stephen Nottingham's Food Blog to name a few.  All of them are great, all of them make me hungry, but as Ravenous Rachel I figured I may as well lend my few cents to the world of people writing about the food they eat.

My first review is of Fire Island Cardiff - the new venture from Beatbox Bars - the guys behind Buffalo and Ten Feet Tall.  Fire Island is a new cask ale and craft beer bar in Cardiff specializing in BBQ food.

I love BBQ.  I love Beer.

I hoped I would love Fire Island.

We went as part of a group booking and tried the Christmas menu.  Unfortunately one of our group couldn't come - and the food was pre-ordered.  Fortunately, this meant I got to try loads more than I initially ordered.

For starter I pinched someone's basked of ribs.  It was, in one word, delicious.  I'm not sure if I've ever had ribs before, mostly because they seemed so messy (I know, I lose loads of food blogger cred for this) but this messy was good.  This messy was tender and tasty and succulent and a bit crunchy in bits and soft in others... perfect.  I wouldn't say it was the best BBQ ever, or even whether I know exactly what sauce they used, but I would say that it was well done BBQ food and if someone served it to me at a BBQ I would try to be their friend. It was served with a nice pot of dipping sauce - and I do love a good sauce.

I know my photo isn't great,  but to take a photo before eating it all was success enough for me!

With an Anchor Steam to wash it down my night was off to a good start.

More Food! Pulled Pork sandwich!

Pork was soft and delicious.  Melt in your mouth good!  Well flavoured - not too spicy but with a taste that lingers.  The jar of pickle(?) that accompanied it went so well with the pork - balanced the bbq flavour without overpowering it.  I'm not a fan of mayonaise so didn't try the potato salad, but all in all I was very pleased with the order.  At £8.50 I would definitely order it again.

At this point I tried the Flying Dog beers.  From Maryland, I never drank them when I lived in DC but I jumped at the oppertunity to drink them here!  Raging Bitch was probably my favourite, an 8.2% Belgium Style IPA went down like it was way less strong.  Same with the 7.1% snake dog.  Easy drinking with an ABV to keep the night rolling!
Okay, so I'm only 75% through this post and I already want to go back.  I want to eat BBQ and I want to drink beer.  But anyways...


Chcolate-y.  Decadent.  I was only going to have one bite.  then I had all the bites.  I don't think I needed dessert after all the delicious meats, but it's nice to have something on offer different from the standard brownie or ice cream.  Some others in the group ordered a crumble with custard, the custard came in an adorable pot and was creamy and scrumptious, the crumble just the right amount of crunchy and sweet.

All in all a lovely place to eat and share a few beers - different than what Cardiff already offers.  Even thought I didn't write about them here Fire Island specializes in fine and local craft ales - I'll be doing a beer post sometime soon with the help of my brewer half.   This would be a nice place for a casual evening, food before a film,  or a date with an awesome girl (or guy) who likes good beer.  I just hope it stays about the food and the cask ales, It's found quite a niche separate from the sometimes cookie-cutter city-centre offerings.  Well Done Fire Island!

Fire Island Cardiff
02920 236091
8 Westgate Street,

December 28, 2012

Friday Ride

Happy friday!  I'm still off work for that Christmas - New Years break, so today all I had to do was go see my good friend Jen and her adorable baby in Risca.  I looked on the internet and Risca is only 12 miles from me - "Up the valleys" as they say, so I decided to cycle.

I got ready and looked like a douchy cyclist, wearing my new bib and cold weather gear! So I put on a tee-shirt (from another cycle - the Taff Trail ride 2012) to look less like a douche.

The first bit of the ride was fine, a bit rainy, and unseasonably warm.  

 After the first 8 miles I had a bit of a nightmare when the road became steeper and steeper - apparently there are 2 fairly big hills between Cardiff and Risca.   Here is the elevation chart (the middle bar is 500, the top line is 750):

I took this photo because it was really steep and rocky and horrible and I ended up walking down a mountain about 2 miles.  But the photo looks nice so I'm not sure why I didn't ride down :/
It felt more like this. 

Except with more gravel, and I was walking, and wearing clip shoes, and holding a road bike.

 This is what Risca looked like.
 And this is me thinking "what the hell am I doing:
And this is my bike on the train home, because that ride was 8 miles of ouch and 4 miles of terrible. 

I should do it again sometime, I couldn't ride much worse than I did.  Maybe with a mountain bike next time.

Or a big heaping slice of RULE 5

December 27, 2012

An Independent Triathlon Thursday

Today I did what I've decided to call an "Independant Triathlon" An Independent Triathlon is where you go for a swim and a run and a ride in the same day but transition includes watching tv and tweeting.

It all started this afternoon when I was feeling antsy but didn't know what to do, so I did some laps around Maindy Track because I had no better ideas.

When I got back I watched an episode of storage wars, then did a fairly slow 5k (34 minutes).

I wondered if my lethargy was caused by the fact that I've eaten nothing but cheese and bread and chocolate and more cheese and more bread for the last 3 days.  So I made this shrimp and veggie stir fry with noodles and avocado and Sriracha:
om. flipping. nom.

I love Sriracha.  It is like spicy asian heaven.  Sometimes food does not have enough spice, and I just add Sriracha, and KABLAMO food is delicious.
So spicy. So delicious.

In the evening Andy and I went to the Cardiff pool for swim training with the Cardiff Tri club. We got there a bit early, so like true athletes we spent 30 minutes on the slides:

All in all it took me 6 hours for my independent triathlon.  Also everything was in the wrong order, and the distances were wrong too!  How wrong? So wrong!
1) bike 9 miles (35 minutes)
Transition: 1 hour
2) run 3.3 miles (35 minutes)
Transition: 3 hours (including dinner and playing on slides)
3) Swim 1.25 miles (60 minutes)

Then I ate cake with ice cream.  That's recovery eating, right?

December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas! Dancing & Cleaning & Cardiff Park Run!

On Saturday I went out dancing with two of my favourite people in the world.  I took terrible photos like this:
And sang terrible songs by artists like Taylor Swift and Fall Out Boy.  It was an excellent night, and while I was not entirely drunk I was entirely awake until 4am and that effectively caused sunday to be a day of lounging and sleeping and eating.

Monday of Christmas eve we had a clean of the house.  I decided to see if we could move the oven as stuff had fallen behind it for the last 18 months of living here.  It turns out we can move the oven.  It turns out that we are disgusting people who don't clean under our oven for 18 months.
Mega Yuck!

After cleaning I made dinner, which I forgot to photo but which was delicious.  and then we watched Love Actually in the Clean living room, which looked so awesome I had to take a photo. And we ate my favorite desert, which is M&S Sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream ice cream.  MEGA YUM!
 On Christmas Day I woke up at 8am for Park Run, which was delightfully festive and only mildly wet! Much better than Saturday!
I forgot to take off my jacket before we started so ended up carrying it around the course.  I think I also missed the photographer, I never know whether to smile or frown or run faster or slower.  I don't photograph well while running, probably because my red face blends right in to my red hair.
My Time was 30:32, which was faster than Saturday (by 4 minutes haha) but not my best of 30:00. 

I think it's about time for some food posts, so stay tuned for my recap of a delicious meal at the new Fire Island Cardiff and the Established but unique I Cook Thai.

December 24, 2012

A christmas eve cycle and some Christmas-y presents!

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  Today it was only mildly rainy, so I got on the bike for a little jaunt to try out my new cycling gear!  My dad bought me a very exciting selection of base layers and other awesomeness, I now own the complete DHB set, including the ever sexy cycling bib:
Bibs are the new Little black dress!

I also now own the following Merino base layers:
So warm! So quality! So comfy!

Unfortunately my gear to idea ratio is a bit high now - I have more cycling gear than skill.  But if not being cold (or riding in the rain) count as skills then I'm moving forward rapidly!
Yay more cycling!  Thumbs up for base layers!

After the ride we stopped at Maindy track, purely so I could finish my goal of not being The Slowest Rachel.  It worked, and now I'm 8th of the ladies, with 3 ladies slower than me.  Horray!
I need to adjust my mudguards, because I broke them on the first ride and now I come home looking like this:

hahaha poopy butt!

Anyways, now it's time for a massive house clean and a delicious dinner of discount M&S Salmon with discounted Morrisons ravioli and expensive M&S rocket!  NOM NOM!

Happy Christmas Eve Y'all!

December 22, 2012

Park Run Cardiff

Yesterday was Black Friday in the UK.  Black Friday in the UK is much different than Black Friday in the USA.  In the USA it's the day after thanksgiving, when people wake up stupid early for door busting sales and shopping delights.  In the UK, it's the last friday before Christmas, where everyone gets really really wasted after work.  The only difference is that normally British people get really really wasted after dinner - on Black Friday everyone's smashed by 8pm.

I was not smashed at 8pm, but I did eat a lot of oven pizza after I got home from the pub around 9.  When I woke up this morning I did not feel great, but somehow parkrun seemed like a good idea.  Parkrun is a 5k that happens every Saturday at 9am.  I put on my running clothes, grabbed my bike, and cycled to the start by 8:58.

I forgot to check the weather.  This is the weather:

This was my second attempt at Park Run. The first was a cold crisp day - I ran a Rachel Record of 29:30.  Today was very wet, and apparently 5 fine american ales with ABV of 7+ each is not great fuel for running.  I was not last - but mostly because of a slight sprint at the end which put me ahead of 1 person. (edit: actually 8 people - results showed there were people in the 40+ minute time)

This was me at the end - it took me 34:02 and I had a stitch pretty much the whole way.  

The good thing about parkrun is that by 10am I was home, and by 10:30 I was showered and chowing down on this amazing breakfast omlette
Mushroom and onion scramble with salsa, tomato, and avocado! Yum!

The bad thing about Park Run is that it's at 9am on a Saturday.  WHY WOULD ANYONE RUN AT 9AM ON A SATURDAY?

The next one is on Christmas Day - we will see if I can get out of bed any better for that one.  One of these days, I'll try the run without a hangover too.  


December 20, 2012

Wednesday is Gym Day!

I go to the gym.  I go to the gym once a week, with my gym buddy Geraint, who is awesome.  I call him my personal trainer because he sets what we do, and then he does it well, and then I complain.  I complain a lot.  Geraint has not yet stopped inviting me to the gym, so I think our parasitic gym relationship might actually be a symbiotic one.  Geraint is very strong, and he lifts heavy weights, and now I am going to learn how to lift weights.

FACT: Geraint is one of the few people in the world with a nicer smile than me.  If that's not a brag-compliment, I don't know what is.
This is me and Geraint, not at the gym.

Our gym is very cheap and full of people wearing football gear, which is odd becasue none of them are playing football.  I recently started lifting weights - our current routine is as follows:

Rower: 500 Meter Sprint

Deadlift (20kg) 15 sets
Lunges (10 kg) 10 each leg

Clean & Press (15kg) 10 sets
Bent over Rows (15kg) 10 sets

Bicep Curls (12kg) 10 sets
Upright Row (12kg) 10 sets

Chest Press (7.5 kg each side) 10 sets
Push Ups (I can't actually do a push up, but the routine calls for 10)

Tricep Extention (EZ Bar* with 1.25 each side) 10 sets
Bench Dips (10)

Ab crunch bench - 15
Plank - 45 seconds

Repeat three times.

Geraint does this 4 times a week.  I do it once a week and it hurts!  but good hurt.  I guess.  Of all the things in the list, the two hardest are Plank and Push Ups.  I can't do a push up.  I can do lots of "girl" push ups, and occasionally I can do a star push up, but no push ups.


Also, I never stretch, ever, so that's probably why I feel so awesome in the morning, and by awesome I mean sore, and by sore I mean kind of not awesome.  WOULD IT KILL ME TO STRETCH? Probably not

NEW GOAL: Stretch after weights


*I don't know why they call it the EZ bar because it is not at all easy!

December 18, 2012

Water Polo Tuesday

On Tuesday I made it to the Cardiff Tri  swim session.  The session started at 7:30 with the usual hour of lap swimming broken up into hard and really hard bits.  Sometimes I felt like an amazing swimmer, gliding effortlessly and gracefully through the water.  Most of the time I felt like a drowning seal.  As a special christmas treat the second hour was a game of water polo, which I had never played before but which is completely awesome.

Why water polo is awesome:
Flailing is an integral part
It is agressive
You don't have to run (or be seen running)
I am agressive

I wasn't particularly good, but I was particularly agressive.  I'm not sure which team won, because there were some dodgy fouls, but all in all it was loads of fun, and a lot of effort.  I played defense, which seemed natural from my short lived football/soccer career, but really I just flailed around in the pool for an hour.  It did make me remember how much I enjoyed playing team sports and how agressive/competitive I can actually be - I need to bring a little more competitiveness into my cycling/running.  Winning is exhilarating  finishing is expected.

New goal: feel more competitive during cycling.
Step 1: go to Maindy and not be last on the Maindy Strava segment:

Step 2: nail it.

December 17, 2012

A Sunday Ride

On Sunday I went out with Cardiff Ajax for a Sunday "social" ride.  At 9:30 the fast group shot off, with fast people who do the fast pose when not riding.

Ben is in the fast group.  He sits on his bike like a fast person, but he should have one foot clipped in. He's still fast though, so his foot can be unclipped, I guess:

When the fast group left they then called the middle group, followed shortly with the steady (read: slow) group.  Normally I go with the steady group, but they were only doing 30 miles this week, and I wanted a bit more of a challenge.  So off I went with the middle group. This is what we did:

Yes, that indeed is about 60 miles in 4 hours.  It was hard.  At the cake stop I ate a cheese pasty, which is like cheese and potato in a flakey butter pastry.  It's delicious.  In order to not suffer the terrible energy crash later I ate a snickers as soon as I got home, followed by a big plate of pasta.  And then I slept for about 2 hours, had a big glass of chocolate milk, and went out to Dinner to say goodbye to my housemate.  There I had a most delicious giant burger, and chunky wedges, and sticky toffee pudding.  It was the best I've done at not having a post-ride washout day, where I just feel tired and grumpy and exausted all day.  I know the rides will get easier, and I'm sure my consumption is not the beacon of recovery eating, but it's better than last week where I cried, fell asleep, woke up, and then felt sick to my stomach for a whole day.

Anyways today I was pretty sure there was a problem with my bike as it was moving really slowly on the way to work, but I think the problem is with my legs, so I had an evening off.  Tomorrow the Cardiff Triathlon group is doing water polo after the swim training so I'm looking forward to that!  Also looking forward to home made soup and fishcakes for lunch!

Also, with the addition of overshoes (Silly shoe covers that keep my feet warm while cycling) I now have everything I need to look like a real lycra-clad cyclist!  Check it out!

Andy took this photo.  I wonder if as a 6 foot and change boyfriend he always sees my head as being almost as large as my legs.  Perspective is strange!

December 12, 2012

Hello again Internets!

So it's been a while eh?  Well my life in Wales has been pretty sweet, I got a job, a boyfriend, a house (that I rent), some good friends, some awesome hobbies, and I went from being penniless and directionless to penniless and owning a nice bicycle.

I wanted to use this blog to talk about my two main interests in life: exercising and eating.  This summer I competed in my first off road Triathlon.  Then I did my second triathlon - a novice tri (300m Swim, 24k bike, 5k run), and came in not last.  Not last was my goal:
That's me coming in not last!

I also do some cycling.  Here is a picture of me after I finished cycling up "the tumble" - a 6 km climb of about 1,300 feet.  I know I just combined metric and imperial, but the point is, it was hard.
Do I look tired?  I felt tired.

And my other hobby/passion/interest is food.  I love food.  I love cooking food and eating food.  And going out to resturants and eating food.  Tonight, my goal is to make some of this:
Carrot Cake Jam.  Yum! 

So hopefully I will use this space to write about food and exercise, which is pretty much my life in Wales!

PS - (Re)starting a blog on December 12th is waaaay less cliche than January 1st!

September 29, 2012

Brewer Half's Half Brewed Reviews: Williams Joker IPA

William's Brothers Brewing Company: Williams Joker IPA 5%
It's a stunning sunny evening after a busy day at work, and I had a hard time waiting for this beer to chill to the right temperature. I couldn't wait to taste the promised hoppy goodness, however good things come to those who wait, so I waited.

This beer is a thrist-quencher for hop lovers. Strong hop flavours, but lighter and more floral hops. Not much malt flavour. Light-bodied.

Perfect beer for the situation.