Powerbar Energizer Wafer – Chocolate Peanut Butter

powerbar choc pnb

As I said last week the folks over at ProBikeKit were kind enough to send me some products to review and I have been making the most of trying them out during my different activities.

First up is the Powerbar Chocolate Peanut Butter Wafer and I love it!

I was dubious when I asked to try this as my experience with wafers is having dry, extremely sweet, stuff stuck in your mouth. I know I am thinking of those pink wafer biscuit type things, but when that is all you know that is what you think of. Therefore I was surprised and delighted with what came out of the packet.

It’s a solid, but tasty, and also not dry snack. I really liked the taste. Neither the chocolate or peanut butter flavours were overpowering and just had a nice balance. I expected a cardboard type texture with the wafer, but it was crispy and melted into the softer layers once you were eating it.

I mainly used it before swimming and running this last week as the weather has not been great during the limited time I would have to cycle. However my intension would be to have this as solid food on longer bike rides. I am going to save a few packets out of the box for some longer rides early next year. I am thinking these will be a front runner for fuelling on the bike leg of my 70.3 triathlon in august – I’ll just need to practice opening them on the move!

I had to stop myself eating these as a normal snack as they were super tasty and satisfied my sweet tooth extremely well. I found they did give me an energy boost as I have been struggling for motivation on the cold and dark evenings. These were more than just energy bars for me. I could easily have them as a snack or before a gym session or swimming, as well as for having on my bike. Whereas the gel type products are specifically for the running parts of my training.

They are currently £9.99 for a box of 12 (down from £18) over at ProBikeKit right now!

Running – Back to Basics

I have all but stopped running in the last couple of months. I lost my love for it this last year (okay, maybe more like ‘like of it’). Then when triathlon season ended I struggled to find the motivation to get back out there and pound the pavement.

I think I also lost my confidence. Spraining the same ankle twice in the same year (only 4 months apart) knocked it into the ground and I couldn’t dig it back out.

So I have decided to go back to basics over the Christmas break.  How I am going to do this? Well I have a plan!

  • Get out for 20-30 minutes at a time – keeping it short and sweet
  • Start by doing walking and jogging intervals
  • Use heart rate training principles to keep it slow and steady – build a base
  • Get out on my own during the day – focus on myself and my enjoyment
  • Do the parkrun on the 27th December (no swimming that weekend)

My goal is to be able to feel confident and get back into joining the club runs after skiing at the end of January.

The run is my main worry when it comes to the 70.3 I’ve signed up for. I know I still have 8 months to train, but I’m still worried about it. I figure the sooner I get my confidence back the better I will feel about the whole thing.  I think I will focus on 30 minutes for January and then build to 60 minutes in February/March and 90 minutes in April/May. Then when I start the proper training in May I will have a good base and be half way towards the time I think it will take me to do the run leg of the 70.3.

Adventures in Books… The Martian

The_Martian_2014

“I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.”

This is another bookclub choice and I can definitely say I would not have picked it up if it hadn’t been chosen by the group. I stay away from space travel or science fiction books as I do not like anything too technical.

However I quite enjoyed this book.

I think this was mainly to do with the tone in which it was written. It was a tone as though you were listening to someone talk and that made it very easy to read. The science was kept simple because of this I think. It definitely felt like being in someone’s head.

I’m still not sure whether I liked the main character and actually think I preferred the chapters based back on Earth, rather than Mark’s exploration of Mars and trying to survive. I kept thinking all the way through – this can only end one of two ways: they rescue him or they don’t. I felt like that dampened the reading experience for me. I just wanted to get to the end and will admit I skimmed quite bit in the middle of the book, just to make progress.

It is an interesting concept for a book. Humans aren’t good with pure isolation and in today’s world it is hard to find absolute isolation like there would be if you would stranded on another planet.  I think the psychological nature of the concept was played very well and subtly as the log entries progressed through time. I didn’t feel a huge sense of urgency throughout the book, which took away the thriller nature I was expecting. It didn’t feel like a race against time as made out in the summary.

I don’t want to give away anything that happened or how it ended so I will leave my musings there. I would recommend this book to my friends and family as I think it was an easy-ish read and sometimes could be quite funny.

Adventures in Books… Fool’s Assassin

foolsassasin

“Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.”

Robin Hobb is one of my favourite authors and this book continues on from three series of books I love, so my review could be slightly bias already.

This book sees us return to the world of Fitz, a character from the Assasin’s Apprentice trilogy and the Golden Fool Trilogy. I thought we had left him with his happy ending, but we join him again here to see that happy ending and his life continue forwards.

I found there were a few surprises in this book and I really don’t want to give anything away as I very much enjoyed finding out things as I went along. Not all the surprises were good, but they were required for the story to move on.

I really enjoyed reading this book and loved returning to a world I have grown familiar with and to characters I trust and love. I have re-read the previous series several times and it is extremely exciting to return with a new story and not know the ending yet. There is something comforting about reading a new story, but already knowing the characters and world in which they reside.

I love these books and would recommend any one to read the entire series right from the start!

Adventures in Books… The Fifteen Lives of Harry August

the-first-fifteen-lives-of-harry-august-cover

“Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’

This is the story of what Harry does next – and what he did before – and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.”

This was a bookclub choice and I don’t think I would have chosen it otherwise, but I did enjoy it. I never know with bookclub choices whether I am going to like them and I do tend to struggle through them more often and not. I want to widen the genres of books I read and this is the best way for me to do this. I also want to improve the way I think about and then review books and talking with the fellow members of bookclub helps with this.

This book has a strange concept – a man lives and dies and then lives the same life again and again, but can change what he does, as he remembers previous lives. I was not sure how this was going to work, but somehow it did. I’m not one to pick holes in the whole time travel (sort of) concept, but I felt it didn’t leave huge gaping gaps or jump to different scenarios without thought. It felt overall like it tied together.

I ended up liking the concept and also the main character of Harry August. I think it helped he remembered everything about previous lives and always seemed to try and do something different or better with each next life he had.  I felt he learnt from his mistakes and that helped him when someone wanted to change the world and destroy it.

I felt the middle of the book dragged slightly. However after talking with bookclub a few people said this may have been deliberate as this part was all about the Harry 5th to around 10th life and you could sense he was bored with the repetitive nature of his situation. Meeting the Cronus Club kept the story flowing for me to a degree, but I felt it did not pick up momentum again until that last fifth of the book, which was when I felt it finally knew it’s direction and was building up to the finale.

Overall this was an enjoyable and different read. It can come across as more science fiction than it actually is, but when reading it stays very much in the real world, which makes it more accessible to the reader I think. I don’t think I would read this book again, but I would recommend it to other people as a good read with an interesting concept to follow.

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