Race Recap: Oakland Marathon Relay

Yesterday, I joined three of the loveliest girls in the Bay Area (Jen, Jess and KP) to run the Oakland Marathon Relay. I ran Oakland two years ago where I blew up quite spectacularly by going out too fast. I didn’t have plans to run it again (so many races, so little time) but the thought of being on a team with these girls had me saying yes in a heartbeat! Our team was the Crazy Cat Ladies as we all are felinely inclined and we had the most awesome tops in the world, made for us by one of my friends.

I adore this so much

Cattitude. My new favourite word.

One of the more annoying things about Oakland is that you need to go to the expo the day before to pick up your bib. This is very frustrating for those of us that are not particularly local, but we made the most of it by kicking off our Team Weekend by going to the USA’s first Cat Cafe! We’d gone to one in Tokyo a few years ago but were VERY excited to go to the Oakland cafe. My little Dude came with us (he had signed up for the 5k). The cat cafe was brilliant – they take cats out of shelters and generally most cats are rehomed within two weeks, what a wonderful initiative. I came away sadly as I had fallen in love with two gingers – a big thug of a ginger and a tiny, adorable one-eyed ginger. I offered my husband the opportunity to do another Ironman in exchange but alas he said no.

I particularly loved the one-eyed ginger!

I particularly loved the one-eyed ginger!

The expo was easy enough. Got our numbers, got our humongous ankle-strap for the relay. We managed not to buy anything else and snuck off for lunch.

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Jen and KP checking out the ankle strap. No fat ankles on our team.

 

Race morning dawned bright and early at 5.30 and we were out the door by 6am. The Husband would run with the Dude. Our drive to Oakland was eventful as I desperately needed a ‘bathroom trip’ in San Leandro. The 7/11 we stopped at said ‘no, you can’t use our bathroom, there’s one at a gas station three blocks away’. The gas station said ‘no, you can’t use our bathroom, there’s one at another gas station three blocks away’. The third gas station thankfully let me use their loo before there was a pre-race disaster. So never get caught short in San Leandro.

I was the third runner for the Crazy Cat Ladies. KP would kick us off for 6.2 miles. Jess would woman up and take on the hills in leg 2 for 6.5 miles. I’d run the flattish 7 mile third leg and Jen would bring us home for about 6.5 miles. The race started at 7.30 so I would be starting at roughly 9.15 but the shuttle bus to my exchange left the staging area at 7.30am! I had to kiss my boys goodbye and pile onto the bus before they started running. The skies were grey and a little damp.We got to the exchange at 7.45 and there we waited for an hour and a half, getting increasingly chilly. I made friends with some lovely ladies and so the time passed very pleasantly but we got quite cold and very adrenaline-y and the queue for the portaloo got longer and longer.

oakland relay exchange

An hour and a half at this glamorous spot

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Four random strangers who became underpass friends!

 

The first runners came through, long and lean. It was very exciting. And eventually, at about 9.11, Jess came charging into the exchange. I strapped the timer round my ankle, turned up the music and charged off.

As expected, I went out too fast. I knew this would happen and wasn’t too concerned. I was super-hyped, desperate to warm up, the first mile was downhill and I had Elsa exhorting me to Let it go on my headphones so I charged along passing loads of people. Alas I have no idea of my time because I unfortunately left my Garmin at home. So clearly I was running 6.30 miles :)  Eventually the road leveled out and I just settled into my pace, whatever it was, and concentrated on running hard and passing as many people as possible.

My leg was not particularly pretty. Some nice residential streets gave way to a long straight stretch on International Blvd which was more rolling than I’d expected but not problematic. I passed what I assume was some native american dancing, which was awesome, and then at about 3 miles in, my relay leg combined with the half-marathoners. It got VERY busy at this point and I had to slow down somewhat, which annoyed me a little. I dodged people and tried to run as hard as I could, spotting my boys at the Oakland Museum of California. We went under an overpass where two pitbulls from the homeless encampment there were barking and throwing themselves at the wire fence. I ran a little faster. We ran through some of the less exciting streets of Jack London Square and finally I could see the Flaming Iron Archway and Mandela Parkway in the distance. I knew that my exchange, and Jen, were just round the corner. I saw the relay runners lined up, took out my headphones and yelled Jen’s name and she magically appeared, took off the chip, hugged me and sped off into the distance.

Later on, we got our splits and I ran 6.95 miles at 8.26 pace. I am ever so slightly disappointed but I know that I ran as hard as I could. I also realised that 7 miles is very different from a 10k. That extra 0.8 mile is murderous :) Our team’s overall time was 3.45.51 (yay, marathon PR for me) which we thought was excellent but means we still failed to qualify for Boston and we were ONE HOUR slower than the winning women’s team! We did come 7th out of 92 teams though!!!

kate jess me oakland

Waiting for Jen!
Sweaty selfie credit: Jess

One of the loveliest things about today’s race was that feeling of being part of a team. I knew KP had PR’d her leg. I knew Jess had run her socks off and I knew Jen was waiting for me, so every time I wanted to slow down, I thought of the girls and pushed a little harder. I really loved being in a team today.

I got BART (like the tube) back to the start line and here the organisers failed a little. They really needed someone outside the station to help non-Oaklanders. I had no idea which BART station I needed to go to and no idea which line I should take. Maps were few and far between and not very helpful. Luckily one of the other relay runners was standing outside looking desperate – she had no cash. So I bought her a ticket in exchange for her putting me on the right train! Teamwork! We both got safely back to the staging area.

P

The finishing stretch, uphill
Photo Credit: Jess

I found KP and Jess waiting just before the final 100 yards and we watched the incredible runners coming up the hill to the finish line.  And finally we saw Jen in her orange shorts and little cap coming towards us. So we all dashed into the road and ran across the line together! It was pretty awesome.

oakland relay jen jess kate

Love these girls! Photo credit: Jen

oakland relay jen jess kate

Four of the finest bottoms in the Bay Area. Photo credit: Jen

My boys came to find us afterwards. The Dude had a good 5k and really enjoyed it, which is by far the most important thing.

My little 5k-er before the start

My little 5k-er before the start

We collapsed in the grass and the sunshine and drank our free beers and wine. BT found us and then Paulette and her husband and then Dennis, so it was fun hanging out for a bit. But then I ran out of Little Person Goodwill and we decided we should head home. On the way back, I bumped into one of my Underpass Exchange buddies so it was nice to see how she’d done!

oakland marathon relay

Each runner got two little beers or two little glasses of champagne. Nice.

 

Overall…a really cracking morning. This race is really well organised, I can hardly fault it. All I’d suggest is 3 more loos at Exchange 3 and a volunteer at the BART station to help non-locals get back to the finish line. The volunteers were really kind and the Oakland population turned out in droves to support us, which I really appreciated.

Next up? A 5k in Maui next weekend – it’s the Husband’s turn to fly, I’m running it with my favourite little person!

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Last week’s miles

After last weekend’s half-marathon, I was filled with good intentions to run on Monday but I failed. I had loads of study to do in the morning and Nicola and her boyfriend arrived late in the evening after a long, two-day drive from Vegas and frankly, the house needed cleaning, so I put it off!

Tuesday: 6 easy miles

I totally planned to do intervals today but it was much warmer than I expected when I got outside and I had way too many clothes on so I switched it to easy miles and sweated out some impurities.

Thursday:  4 miles with intervals

Super-early miles on the complex’s treadmill. Daylight Savings Time stinks for morning runners – we were just starting to get some light and all of a sudden, it was so dark outside that I was nervous to run intervals outside in case I tripped. I warmed up and then ran 10 repeats of 2 minutes fast, one minute recovery and then cooled down. It was quite fun actually.

Friday: Trail Miles

If you come and stay with me (and you’re a runner) I will definitely take you running through the redwoods. When we leave California, the redwood forests will be one of the things I most miss about the place. There’s something magical about them. So I took Nic to Huddart Park and whilst her boyfriend hiked, we hit the trails and went running. Huddart is spectacularly beautiful but very hilly so we took it easy and wound slowly upwards until we hit the top and then we plunged downwards for seemingly ever. It was beautiful! Somehow we only did 4 miles but they were excellent miles and we took a lot of photos.

redwoods

I vowed I wouldn’t take any more photos of looking up at the redwoods…but I failed

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Nicola on the trails

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Intriguing twisted trunk!

 

Sunday: Long Run 

I set out for this week’s long run at about 2pm, which was maybe not wise. It was warm. I was in my sports bra within half a mile! My plan was to run 10 miles up to Coyote Point, a local park, where my boys would meet me with the bikes in the car. We would geocache by bike and then the Husband would run home.

It didn’t work out quite as smoothly. I got to about mile 4 and two things happened simultaneously. Firstly, I suddenly realised that I would not last until the next public bathroom. And at that very moment, I noticed the Husband and the Dude just ahead, holding out a drink and waving. They were surprised but delighted to put me in the car and drive me to the nearest garage to resolve my pressing issue. They then drove me back to the trail, further round and I ran the remaining 3 miles to meet them. Darn, I thought, I’ll only do 7 today. Oh well.

However when then the Husband got my bike out the car, it didn’t have any pedals. They’re on my other bike. (First world problems, I know). So I ended up running alongside the boys on the bike as we geocached. I made up those three miles and did the 10 I’d originally planned…and I found three geocaches all by myself :)

Pretty Coyote Point

Pretty Coyote Point

This week will be a little crazy as it’s midterm week. ‘Midterms’ always makes me think of….

JoshLyman

….but alas, no Josh Lyman this week. Just one online test, one group presentation (aaaaggggghhhh) and one written test. Not the California bar, I know, but they’re a big deal to me and I want to do well.

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I also want to do well next Sunday when I’m running the Oakland Marathon Relay with Jess, Jen and KP. I’m running leg 3 which is 7 downhill/flat miles and we have AWESOME team tank tops!! Super-excited about it. The Dude is running the 5k, accompanied by his father, it’s going to rock! And I’m hoping to finally meet Diana who I interviewed ages ago for Running the World: China! It’s going to be fab.

So this is probably my only blog post till Sunday due to the aforementioned exams! Wish me luck.

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Race Review: Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon

This weekend, the Husband and I went to Vegas, child-free. We adore our small person but frankly, it was awesome. The Husband needs no encouraging to eat his vegetables, he showers willingly and does not need me to check his bottom after doing a poo. Totally brilliant.

We were there to meet my friend Nicola from the UK and to run the Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon, which took place on Saturday, her 40th birthday. We stayed off the strip (having been to Vegas before) at the SunCoast Hotel which was the official race hotel. The hotel was a little shabby but our room was lovely. Packet pick-up was in the casino the night before. It was very quick.

Race Day started at 5am and by 5.4 we were downstairs in the lobby, meeting the birthday girl and getting bagels, ready for the bus. It was VERY nice to simply stagger bleary-eyed out of our room onto the bus. The race was about 20 minutes away at Red Rock Canyon State Park. We had driven through the park 4 years ago, but running it would be very different. Logistics were easy, the bus was on time and we got to the start line just in time to use the loo. It was FREEZING. Seriously chilly. I huddled in my space blanket until it was time to be brave, cast it off and dash for the start line. The start line was very low-key, with about 250 runners and before we had time to get chilled, we were off.

At the start....brrr

At the start….brrrr

My plan for the race? To run with Nicola. Wasn’t fussed about my time, wasn’t fussed about running the whole thing. I wanted to run it, enjoy it and take a lot of photos. We had the additional problem that Nicola wrenched her back badly on the flight out, lugging a suitcase. A trip to a chiropractor had helped but she was a little uncomfortable and we wondered how her back would hold up.

The course is one of the most spectacular courses I’ve ever run. I think only my relay in Colorado compares. We wound our way through the state park in a giant horseshoe shape. The road was well paved and we had scrubby desert, studded with cacti and Joshua trees  on one side and gorgeous red cliff mountains to the other. It was just a really lovely place to run. Well chosen, Nic!

husband red rock

The Husband enjoys some flatness for a while

red rock

Heart-broken to not see a tortoise

It wasn’t an easy course, however. The first five miles were pretty much uphill. Pretty runnable hills, fairly decent gradients, for most of the time, but relentless. We ran a little, walked a little and did it all again until we finally reached the aid station at about mile 5 where the hills were pretty much done. This aid station had a portaloo, orange segments and delicious Pringles which tasted like manna from heaven. We lingered there a while. We were in no rush, and it was lovely.

red rock canyon

It’s all downhill from here….apart from the rollers

me red rock

I was feeling pretty good at this point!

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From there, we plunged downhill. The remaining 8 miles were pretty much solidly downhill although with three or four short but not insignificant climbs. We were on track for a 2 hr 30 finish, which would do us nicely but towards the end, Nicola’s back started to get fed up with the downhill pounding and began to hurt. She was super tough and never complained, stopping a few times to stretch it out, but I could tell that she was in some discomfort and I really felt for her. To make the situation better (worse?) I put some music on for us both and sang very loudly when the inspiration took me.

red rock

The down side of amazing, spectacular views that stretch out forever is that you can see just how far it is to the finish line…and it was a long way. But soon enough we were nearing the end. We walked a little, one more time, to ease Nic’s back and then, with quarter of a mile to go, we set off running and finished with a ‘sprint’ so that we looked super awesome. We crossed the finish line in 2 hrs 35, several minutes behind the Husband and to find Nic’s boyfriend as our personal paparazzo! Awesome.

The finish line refreshments utterly rocked. Pancakes. I piled into the pancakes and syrup like a starving girl. Utterly perfect. And then Nicola opened up a bottle of prosecco that she’d put in her checked bag so we helped her drink that too!

nic red rock

Rehydrating the British way

All in all, I have to say that this was one of the best races I’ve ever run. The views were breathtaking (in every sense). Really gorgeous. It made me so happy to run somewhere so beautiful. There were plentiful aid stations giving out water and Heed – and the air was so dry I stopped at pretty much every one.  It was very well organised, the buses were on time, smooth and pleasant, and the finish line ‘party’ was great. We got a very nice black tech shirt and a HUMONGOUS medal. Well played, Calico Racing. Really nice job.

red rock me husband mic

Medals, grins and prosecco

Personally, I loved the race. Whilst the competitive part of me is interested to see how fast I could have run this course, I have to say that I really loved just being out for a run and enjoying the views. I loved running along at a chatting pace with my friend, loved stopping for photos. It was a flipping brilliant morning out.

And then, later on, after naps….we hit the Strip!

vegas

Proud to be an American…

me husband us vegas

NOT wearing lycra for once

vegas

Red or black? Red or black?

IMG_7054 IMG_7061

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Ready to rock Red Rock Canyon

Just a quick post about Saturday’s forthcoming half-marathon.

The race is the Red Rock Canyon half marathon, in a rather spectacular state park outside Las Vegas.  It’s run by Calico Racing, who had a cat face as their logo and have the slogan ‘the cat’s meow in sport’ so I’m all prepared to love them. (If the medal has a cat face on it, I will die of excitement).

However my main reason for running it is that it’s the 40th Birthday Hurrah for my lovely friend Nicola, who I went to secondary school with in the UK – thus we’ve been friends for 27 years. Something like that. (That’s terrifying). (Nic and I ran the Longleat 10k together a few years ago).

Nic and her boyfriend are coming over to Vegas; the Husband and I are going out to join them tomorrow. This is the first weekend away we’ve had from the Dude since his arrival five years ago. We have had two separate nights away, one of which we spent in a van with four other people, so hardly passionate. Thus we’re kind of excited about this trip. (We keep talking about it being an exciting, romantic trip away but basically we’ll just sleep a lot.)

The race is on Saturday morning, and Nicola, the Husband and I are running it. My race strategy is simply to run with Nic, enjoying it, taking photos and to have a fantastic time with a dear friend.

The course is interesting – the first 5 miles are basically uphill and the final 8 miles basically downhill. It starts at about 3,800 ft and goes up to 4,700 ft so the altitude may come into play. The online reviews I’ve read have been a little scary – they talk about everyone having to walk, the hills being steep, the air getting thin. Apparently no-one PRs. Previous runners encourage plentiful hill training. Hmmmm.

Looks nice, eh?

Looks nice, eh? Source


Basically, it’ll be tough. I’m just assuming my quads will be shot to pieces the next day.I may take music on my phone but won’t use headphones…thus Nicola can enjoy my Idina Menzel-beating rendition of ‘Let it go’ on the downhills.

And that’s about it. So I’ll get on with my packing and have a great weekend, everyone!

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Good endorphin hunting

This week, I finally got some miles in my legs again. I’d had three very lazy weeks (the final week due to food poisoning) but knew I had a good few weeks until my Vegas half-marathon so wasn’t so concerned. Until my friend Nicola, with whom I’ll be running the aforementioned race, casually reminded me that it was only 10 days away. Maybe, she implied, I should get my bottom into gear.

My bottom duly got into gear.

Monday: 4 miles at 9.41 pace. Had 4 miles always been this hard?

Wednesday: 6 miles at 9.41 pace. Springtime bliss. Blossom, jackrabbits and little birds. But still. 6 miles wasn’t easy.

Friday: 8 miles at 9.45. Blustery,pretty chilly. Legs TIRED after 8 miles.

Despite running all these runs at a comfortable pace, my legs felt surprisingly tired for the next few hours. I was a little taken aback.

Sunday: 10 miles at 9.25 pace.

And boom…it was like a light went on!  I left the house at 6.15 as the dawn was starting to break. My first ‘light’ dark run of the winter. That made me happy. And at mile 2, I realized I was REALLY enjoying the run. And by the time I hit the bay trail at mile 4, the sun was coming up like a ball of fire over the east bay hills and it was gorgeous. Somehow, the whole run was just brilliant. My legs felt pretty fresh throughout and I got home buzzing from the endorphins. Suddenly, I was crazy back in love with running and really excited about running next week’s race and the Spring of 10k’s*.

Fire LIT!

sunrise foster city

Literally, eh? Apologies if you’ve seen this already on IG. If not, why don’t you follow me?

 

* 10ks? 10k’s? Your thoughts? 

Later that day, we went out on the bikes, geocaching in Redwood Shores. It was one of those lovely afternoons. Sunny and warm. We found every single geocache we looked for including two that we’d looked for and failed to find before. That was very satisfying. We notched up 13.4 miles, the Dude’s longest ever ride. What a great end to a great day.

In other news…

I mentioned on Saturday that we’re going to Maui at the end of March. Well handily, our trip coincides with the Maui 5k for Kids. To be clear, it’s a 5k for everyone to run but it benefits kids. So all three of us have signed up to run it!! I’ll probably be running it with the Dude as the Husband has run with him at races lately and so it’s his turn to fly but I am so excited about ‘racing’ in Hawaii!

(Also, if you have any Maui tips, let me know?)

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February Favourites

For January’s favourites, click here

February came and went VERY fast, don’t you think? It was a great month for me, to be honest. It started with my goal race, the Kaiser Half, which, despite missing my actual goal, was still a brilliant day. Then it was my 40th birthday which was MUCH more fun than I’d expected. And then it was pretty much all about studying.

This is a quick run-down of all the things I was into this month.

My 40th birthday was fun

My 40th birthday was fun

My studies

I have to be honest, I LOVE my courses. This month, I’ve learned about genetics and pre-natal development and the brain development of infants. I’ve started looking at how the California state budget helps low-income families and compared that to the best of the best (unsurprisingly, the Scandinavian countries). I’ve looked at play-based preschool curriculum, how to structure a preschool room, how to build  community and I’ve done a LOAD of work for our group presentation on preschool maths teaching. My brain has been fried numerous times, I’ve been so tired I haven’t been able to structure a complete sentence…but I’m honestly buzzing from excitement about the whole thing.

Reading

I set a goal of just one novel this month – and somehow I finished three! Two of these were audiobooks when running or driving. I’m really grateful for audiobooks. My reading this month was pretty ‘light’.

By Bike To Budapest – Elizabeth Hilton

I’m a sucker for cycle touring travelogues but this wasn’t great. I didn’t warm to the author, she was quite nasty to her husband and made sweepingly horrible statements about entire nations. If you want great cycling travelogues, I’d recommend Josie Dew and the entire website of crazyguyonabike.com.

A Damsel in Distress – PG Wodehouse

I don’t know how big PG Wodehouse is in the states but if you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love his novels. His writing is light as a feather but just exquisite. He writes gentle, farcical novels about the English upper classes in the 1920s. This audiobook made me smile frequently and occasionally laugh out loud. Sweet and nostalgic – it made me homesick for the green fields and stately homes of England.

Reply to a letter from Helga – Bergsveinn Bergisson

I kind of stumbled on this novella about sheep farming and passion in the wilds of Northern Iceland. I learned a lot about sheep farming. It was also a really interesting reflection on the harsh beauty of rural life compared to lily-livered urban life.

Watching

I didn’t watch much this month apart from the entire series of Friends on Netflix as I studied in the evenings. We finally watched Gone Girl on Valentine’s Night. I hadn’t read the book but both the Husband and I liked the movie equally, which is rare.

Cooking

Three great recipes to share.

  • Sweet Potato & Black Bean stew. So delish! I’m obsessed with sweet potatoes and black beans.
  • A gorgeous vinaigrette. I added a dash of maple syrup because I used too much lemon juice and it was sharp. With maple syrup, it was perfect. So good on kale and on beet greens.
  • French Yoghurt Cake. Apparently French teenagers make this at school. It’s very easy and the cake was scrummy, and tasted quite healthy! The link is in French but you can translate the page online. I’ll be making this regularly.

Visiting

The other weekend, we went to the Tech Museum in San Jose. It’s aimed at kids older than the Dude but he really enjoyed the bits he understood, especially when he was able to design a roller coaster and then they animate it on a big screen. I especially liked the giant google map screens where I got to see my home. Isn’t it green!

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Using

My friend Matt gave me this wine sippy-cup for my birthday. I LOVE it. I can now drink wine in bed or on the sofa with no fear of spilling it and, as my son pointed out, I can carry wine when I go running!

wine

Obsessing

Mainly it’s been all about my course although I did obsess briefly about Prince Harry marrying Emma Watson until it turned out to be a lie. Gutted.

And finally I’m looking forward to:

  • Vegas, baby!  Next weekend! Our first weekend away without the Dude since his arrival. And a half-marathon. With a friend I’ve known for about 25 years.
  • Hawaii, baby! Yep, we’re off to Maui at the end of the month.
  • Midterms, baby! Hmm….maybe not ‘looking forward to’ but ‘anticipating’ my first exams for 18 years.
This is Oahu, we're going to Maui but think green, mountainy, scenes from Lost-y

This is Oahu, we’re going to Maui but think green, mountainy, scenes from Lost-y

Happy March, everyone!

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The sofa is calling…and I must resist

So last week, I declared that I was back in the training game and that I was excited about it.

It started so well. Monday morning, bright and early, pounding the pavement. Two miles warm up, two miles tempo at about 8.30 average, two miles cool down. All good, all smiles, all BACK IN THE GAME! Later that night, I hosted a study group at my home for the preschool maths presentation we’re doing together. I made pizza and people brought desserts. The Dude and I were the only people to try the cake – the cake of doom.

The cake of doom came to haunt us. We were both sick all of Tuesday. Oh so sick. On Wednesday, my bionic son bounced back but I lurched round the house feeling like my core had been hit by a sledgehammer. On Thursday, I felt much better and started to consider a gentle slow run the next day. But the next day brought renewed ‘delights’.

So all I managed for the rest of the week was eating a lot of very simple, unhealthy carbohydrates as that was all I could handle and a couple of miles very slow geo-caching cycling in Golden Gate Park on Sunday. The highlight was seeing the bison up close at last!

Moo

Moo

 

This basically means that I’ve had three weeks of resting. I know I haven’t lost ALL my fitness but I’ve definitely lost a fair amount of it and I have a lot to do to get it back.  That starts today. The good news is that I’ve also lost 4 lbs and am back at Happy Weight. Silver linings, eh?

Interestingly, the less exercise I do, the less I want to do. During my week off after Kaiser, I eyed passing runners with a little envy and was looking forward to running again. But with each passing day of laziness, I find myself feeling less and less inclined to get off the sofa and go for a run. My Instagram feed, which is full of runners, made me sigh and give up a little inside – everyone seems SO fit and high achieving.  The Husband even had to ‘encourage’ me out the house to cycle yesterday – usually, I’m the ‘encourager’. I was kind of horrified to find myself secretly just wanting to sit on the sofa and use the iPad all afternoon, and maybe have a doze.

It was a good reminder of the mental obstacles that new runners face when they start exercising – just the sheer willpower involved in getting up and putting your running shoes on. With most things, once you get going, once you get into a routine it becomes easier. Once you remember how endorphins feel and how good you feel after a run, you’re more keen to go for a run again. But when you’ve totally forgotten or you never knew, how hard must it be to be brave enough to start out? I am always full of respect for those people I see out running when you know it’s their first week or two of running but that respect has increased even more this week.

So this week is a fresh start. I’m overhauling my diet (which slipped into buttermilk waffles from the freezer and red-velvet oreo territory this week) and getting myself back in my Hokas and back on the road. The couch IS calling but sometimes a girl needs to run from the couch and run from the belly.

I want to be a runner again. So I’m going to run.

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We were on a break!

I am watching far too many old episodes of Friends on Netflix at the moment.

I’m a firm believer that after a big race, you should rest. Give your body and your spirit a break. For a couple of reasons. Partly, I think your body needs time to rest. You’ve been training for months. Your body is tired. You raced your socks off. To avoid injury, I firmly believe it’s wise to rest for a bit.

But also for psychological reasons. You’ve been training for months. You’re a little burned out. You’re slightly sick of running so many miles. Your race has loomed over you for a while and came and went in a flash of adrenaline. And now you’re drained. If it went well, the glory and excitement still sparkles, but often the thought of running long still fills you with dread. If you missed a PR by 20 seconds, then there’s maybe some lingering disappointment and a little disenchantment with running. In both cases, it’s time to rest. Be ‘on a break’ with running.

I can honestly say that I have no lingering disappointment with Kaiser – I did the best I could. But I must admit that I am so relieved not to be training hard. My college courses are CRAZY busy. Full on. I’m either studying, at class or with my son every hour of the day. Every hour is accounted for and since classes started, I’ve struggled to find the time and the energy to run. Sometimes, sleep IS more important.

So since Kaiser, I’ve had two very easy weeks. That first week after, I ran just once, 5 trail miles on my birthday. This past week, I’ve run 3 times. Each run has been totally unremarkable – slow, easy, plugged into my audiobook and just for fun. It’s been great.

40 birthday wunderlich trails

My running has been supplemented by a lovely birthday-celebrating hike with some of my girls and their kids at Edgewood which was VERY muddy and a lot of fun. The signposting and some of the trail names have been changed since I was there last – that was confusing.

 

edgewood hiking

And on Saturday, I finally got to ride my new bike. It rained the weekend I got her and then, when the sun came out, I had to study. But yesterday, we went family geocaching in Redwood Shores and I notched up 10 (very slow, 5-year-old speed) miles on her. First impressions are good – she’s light and fast and the fit is great, although aluminium/carbon is considerably less bouncy and accommodating than steel! The weather has been glorious here this week and we had a lot of fun. I’m super-proud of the Dude doing 10 moan-free miles, his second longest ride ever.

cycling neon

All the neon!

But this week, I have to start running a little harder. This is the Spring of 10k’s and I am genuinely excited about it. I am running a half marathon in Vegas in March but not ‘racing’ it, just running with a friend on her 40th birthday. Thus my next ‘race’ is the Oakland Marathon Relay where I’m running in a team of four with Jen, Jess and KP. So I need to start training.

As I’ve said, time is very limited now. I LOVE studying so much, but it’s taking up all my time, so weekly training will look like this:

– One easy 6 miler

– One easy 6 miler with tempo miles thrown in, starting at 2 and working up to 5.

– One 6 miler with 20 intervals of fast/slow running.

– One long run of 10 miles, maybe with one or two faster miles thrown in at the end, depending on how the legs feel.

It’s not scientific, it’s not slick but I think it’s realistic and will help me work on speed ready for the 10k Spring. I’m ready to run a little harder!

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Runners World Cookbook review

Like many people, I eyed the Runners World Cookbook with interest when it came out but never got round to buying it. The Amazon reviews were good, but I need to SEE a cookery book to want it. However I entered a giveaway on Ali’s blog and somehow, given her large readership, I won. Shortly enough, it appeared at my front door…and I kind of fell in love with it.

RW cookbook

It is PACKED full of beautiful recipes and photographs. Plenty of vegetarian recipes for me  but also plenty of meaty ones for my carnivores. Lots of info about the nutritional benefits of the different recipes and how they fuel pre-run or aid recovery. The recipes are put together by nutritionists but there are several contributed by Scott Jurek and Deena Kastor .

Sweet potato and black bean stew

Sweet potato and black bean stew

Being completely honest, this is one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever had. I’m literally working my way through it.  So far I have made about 15 of the recipes and they have nearly all turned out brilliantly. The best recipes have been the chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate brownies, which were so good that the Dude exclaimed ‘Oh my word, these ARE good’ as if I usually poison him. The Sweet Potato & Lentil stew was delicious and hit the spot. The maple brussels sprouts were so gorgeous that they actually converted my son into a sprout eater. And the chickpea-pesto tomato soup has become a family regular.

Chocolate brownies.

Chocolate brownies.

A few recipes haven’t worked out. The vegetable dahl wasn’t great, although some salt perked it up. Also I am very unconvinced about spiced breakfast quinoa. Quinoa is definitely not meant for breakfast consumption. And I was banned from ever making the tofu stir-fry again. But that was more to do with tofu than the actual recipe.

But look at these babies...

But look at these babies…

 

So what I’m trying to say is….this cookbook is awesome. I won mine but I will buy numerous copies for friends in the future and I genuinely think you should buy it too!

Disclaimer: I won this cookbook, fair and square, in a blog giveaway. But I would buy it with the Husband’s hard-earned cash in a heartbeat.  

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This is 40

Totally NOT a running post, this. Totally about me. Actually, it’s totally about the Husband, who, despite his own confession of ‘not being a planner’ planned the most amazing weekend for me. Please excuse the photo-vomit. I’ll try to control myself better next week.

So on Friday, it was my 40th birthday. Turning 40 didn’t actually freak me out too much (there’s not much I could do about it) and I was really quite excited about my birthday. I have to be honest, I love being the centre of attention, I love surprises and presents and stuff. However I did worry a little that the Husband hadn’t planned much. Or anything. He’s not a planner and he’d said various things over the past week or two that made me think nothing was planned. He’s a trickster!

Friday morning started with hugs and presents in bed. The Husband gave me a birchbox subscription (which is a REALLY nice present to give someone) and my UK girls came up trumps with a bag and a box in my favourite colour. Tiffany blue.

me dude

I look so beautiful in the mornings

tiffanys

Little bag, little box, little silver earrings!

The Husband headed off to work for the morning and the Dude went to school and I drove to Woodside to meet my friend Bergen at Wunderlich park for a trail run. What a  flipping amazing way to start my forties. It was hilly, tough, beautiful and awesome. And it was followed by coffee and cake.

redwoods me trails

Redwood Hugging

me trails

Made it to the top

me cake

I ate all of it. Because it was my birthday!

The Husband came home at lunchtime, had some lunch, told me to dress in sporty clothes and drove me down to Redwood City. He got lost (on purpose) and we somehow ended up…at the bike shop where he bought his road bike. Guess what my birthday present was!

me dude bike cycling

Someone can keep a secret!

Yep…I got a new bike in preparation for my century ride later this year. (Guess I can’t back out now). The awesome girl there found the right bike for my size, goals and budget and set about fitting it to me.

cycling bike me

Measuring me up.

Meet Margarita. My foxy silver and metallic pink Trek Lexa. She is beautiful. (She’s named after my favourite novel).

me Margarita bike cycling

Me and Margarita

Unfortunately, I have yet to ride her because it rained most of the weekend. But I’ve sat and looked at her all weekend and she’s great to look at.

Anyway, next up, the Husband was taking me out for dinner. He accidentally let on that it was at Alice’s Restaurant, my favourite place to go in California. It’s up a mountain in a redwood forest and a storm was raging. We drove up there and I remarked that it would probably just be us and the waiting staff up there. Who else would be at Alice’s on such a bad night?

About 40 of my friends were there for my surprise party! I know. I was pretty overwhelmed.  It was awesome. And then there was a GINORMOUS red velvet cake.

me husband birthday

I LOVE this guy (My son needs to work on his photography skills)

birthday cake

Cake!

birthday

Cutting the cake with elegance, poise and style

cake

This was the best red velvet cake I have ever had in my life

birthday

Sometimes, running friends dress up.

On Saturday, it rained a LOT so the Husband postponed the planned activity – a hike up in Marin. Seriously. I love hiking and I love Marin. This guy! So that’s next Saturday! We chilled out and rested and then dodged raindrops and did some geo-caching!

geocaching

Can you spot the Husband’s legs under the bridge?

In the evening, the Husband told me to dress up as we were all going out for a nice dinner. So I did. And they did. My boys showered and put on clean shirts and drove me to a restaurant…where a whole load of my favourite girls were waiting!! The boys hugged me and went home and I got a fantastic girls’ night out!

birthday

Lots of girls.

girls

Know these two? This is what we look like when we’ve not fallen over on the trails

Sunday dawned with more rain.

IMG_9738

After church, I was told I had one more surprise. I should put on a dress and heels. When the boys were sat watching TV in their pants (UK pants) ten minutes beforehand, I got a little suspicious…but we headed out to the car and two of my friends showed up, whisked me away and took me to the cinema where I met another bunch of girlfriends and we watched my second favourite movie (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) on the big screen. I’ve seen this film probably about 30 times but seeing it on the big screen was totally magical and made me cry.

birthday

Spot the BT, spot the Jen :)

tiffanys

Totally took a sneaky photo in the cinema. I was sat next to my lawyer who said she’d fight anyone who challenged me.

And after one final sushi dinner with the boys, that was it. One exhausted husband, one over-excited little man and one very VERY lucky 40 year old.

40…so far, so amazing.

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