The Dubai marathon is over! Three months of hard training culminated in the actual race last Friday. It would be the third time that I’d run a marathon. As many of you have followed my little journey, you surely deserve to know how it went. A comment from Cal Cakestall on the Hazelnut Vanilla Meringue Cookies last night made me get my act together. Here we go:

Five days after race, I have recovered physically. Emotionally,  I am still floating somewhere on Cloud Nine. I thoroughly enjoyed the race, I finished in 3:26:37. That’s 9 minutes off my previous Personal Best. In the rankings, my time put me 32nd woman to finish  (out of 450 and that included some really fast Kenyans and Ethiopians) and 4th place in my age category of the 35-39 year olds (obviously no Kenyans or Ethiopians in that group).

I had trained for a 3:20:00 marathon, but knew all the way, that it might be a tad too ambitious. Part of my training was to run at marathon pace. That pace never felt 100% comfortable. Therefore, I set myself staggered goal times: I needed to go under 3:30. That had to be a must, otherwise I would have been disappointed. I thought that 3:25 would be a realistic. I figured that a 3:20 would be possible when all the stars were aligned.

After a surprisingly good night’s sleep the night before the marathon, I woke up to find out that there was deep fog outside. One could hardly see beyond 20 metres at times on the way to the race site. We had a few foggy days in the past week. I thought it was quite nice weather to run in. Fog means cool temperature and no wind. Two conditions that I’d very much appreciate during a race.

I felt great at the start line. My plan was to run negative splits: take it rather easy in the first half of the race, so I’d have some energy left for the second half. My halfway time was 1:44. Now it was time to speed up a bit. In my other two marathons, I followed the same race strategy, and it always worked out well. It makes you overtake other runners when their AND your own energy levels are dwindling. It’s a great motivation booster that keeps you going. I felt great up until 39-40k. The last few kms were the longest I have ever run, although they were my fastest in the whole race. I felt completely depleted, and was thinking that I might either faint or throw up after I’d cross the finish line.

Running a marathon in deep fog – a great surreal experience.

I crossed the finish line in 3:26:37 (which means I ran the second half in 1:41 – faster than the first half). The next few minutes were a bit of a blur, as I was trying not to faint or to vomit. I had some rehydration drink and a banana wrapped in plastic was given to me. I wasn’t even able to remove the plastic and had to ask for help 🙂 With some liquids and a banana in my system, I was slowly able to pick myself up again. My sister was waiting for me at the finish line, and we walked back to watch my friends on their last metres before their finish. It was great to see so many people finish with a PB, or under 4h for the first time. 

My stomach couldn’t take much food for the first few hours after the race. In fact, I only had an appetite for a coffee which we managed to buy near the finish line. Only after about 5-6 hours I developed an appetite for hearty, savory food (and a few beers and wines too). Once the ice was broken foodwise, I didn’t stop eating for another 2-3 days. Little bits and pieces went into my mouth on constant basis.

These little quinoa cookies became an integral part of my marathon post-race refueling strategy. It’s the first time that I used quinoa flakes which sat in my pantry for ages. These cookies come out very crispy, just as I like them, full of chocolate flavor with a good hint of coconut. I have made them several times since. They are nut-free too, which means I can pack them into my kids school lunch boxes as a treat. Enjoy!

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup palm sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup dried coconut

Yields 20-25
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together together the sugar and coconut oil until light and fluffy. Add in the coconut milk and vanilla and beat until creamy.

In a medium bowl, combine quinoa flakes, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Pour wet onto dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in coconut flakes.

Scoop spoons full of dough and place them on the baking sheet. Flatten them with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes. To make them extra crispy, turn off the heat in the oven. Flip each cookie and leave them in the warm oven for a few more minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack. Keep in airtight container.



  1. Well done Anja – this is really inspiring. I must try running again 🙂 Really interesting to hear your experience.

  2. New to the blog. Congratulations on your run! Amazing and inspiration! Can I substitute white or brown sugar instead of palm sugar?

    Seattle, WA USA

  3. Yay!

    I saw from the results that you’d run a brilliant PB but I really wanted to hear your opinion about it and your story of the day. I know it’s a little slower than you’d aimed for, but it’s still a great time and a fab PB.

    I’m training for my first ever half-marathon. I only started running just before Easter 2012 so it’s not even been a year yet, and my aim is just to complete it in less than 4 hours. So you run more than twice as fast as I can. I’m in awe.

    Two questions for you:
    1. These cookies sound great but I don’t have quinoa flakes. Could I use porridge oats instead?

    2. Do you do any refuelling during the race, and if so what do you use? I’m carrying plenty of spare weight to use for fuel, but the advice seems to be to add some nutrition after each hour of running. The ‘sports gels’ look incredibly synthetic and horrible to me.

    Thanks and many congratulations

  4. It would be worth trying it with fine porridge oats. I think it could work.

    I usually don’t eat much during a race, as I am always scared that my stomach turns against me. During half marathons I eat one energy gel maximum (often nothing). During last week’s full marathon I had half a banana at 20k. You can condition yourself to eat during races, but I’d keep it to an absolute minimum. The energy gels are synthetic, but once in a while they serve their purpose. Alternatively, you can eat raisins. They also take funny tastes out of your mouth that come when you run for a long time.

    If you eat properly and enough the day before a race, and have a decent carb-rich breakfast a couple of hours before the race, you should be fine without too much food during the race that you have carry around for hours.

  5. Thanks. It takes me a long time to cover the distance so I think I need something to keep me going. I’ll try a few raisins.

  6. Thanks for letting us know how you went. You did brilliantly. Fourth in your age category is amazing. My husband used to vomit at the end of marathons and then eat enormous meals for days. He still does that now with his mountain biking.

  7. These look amazing! I love crispy cookies too and can’t wait to try these with my boys. Congrats on your race!

  8. Great job Anja! I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and you inspired me to finally run the half marathon – Cowtown Half Marathon/Fort Worth, TX – for the first time in two weeks. I will be happy if I can make it within 2 hours though. Oh, and I’m planning to make these cookies too.

  9. Good luck, Gabriella! A first Half Marathon in under two hours would be awesome. Let me know how it went.

  10. Congratulations! What an accomplishment. I could think of no better way to fuel your body back up with a little quinoa treat. And these cookies sound absolutely divine.

    I would love for you to come enter this fabulous recipe into Thank Goodness It’s Quinoa, a bi-weekly link party celebrating all things quinoa. I know our readers would adore this recipe!

    Happy Friday!!

  11. Another great recipe……love love love your blog:). Just a question, is the coconut milk you mention above ‘canned coconut’ milk? Or would almond milk or similar be sufficient?

    Many thanks.

  12. Hi Sararoshy, I am glad you are liking my blog!! I used canned coconut milk. I think the recipe could work with almond (or other milk) too, as it is the liquid that’s needed here to soak up the flakes. If you try it with other milk, let me know how it went.

  13. Incredibly, I spotted a bag of quinoa flakes the other day – so was able to try these biscuits. I knew it would be close to impossible to find palm sugar, and I was right – so I used the same quantity of raw muscovado sugar. I thought getting coconut milk would be easy as usually it’s a standard ingredient in UK supermarkets, but I couldn’t find it in the small size supermarket in rural Cornwall so I substituted soya cream that I was able to pick up at the health food shop that sold me (incredibly expensive) coconut oil.

    All worthwhile as the biscuits are delicious. Lovely and crunchy.

    My only problem was that in our cold climate, the coconut oil was like a rock and I had to knead it by hand into the sugar until it was soft enough to use the mixer on for creaming it. Should I have melted it first?

    I made double quantities to take to a charity event, and am looking forward to making another batch for another charity even this week coming up.

  14. Oops, should mentioned that the coconut oil should be liquid. Here in Dubai it’s always so warm, that room temperature has it liquid all the time. Will change it in the recipe

  15. If I were to sub in coconut sugar for the palm sugar would the result be much different?

    Use the same amount?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.