Century Ride Training: May and June

This is still a running blog. Really! But it’s masquerading as a cycling blog at the moment. Sorry, bear with me! One more cycling post and then I’ll talk running for a bit, I promise.

Because I’m training for my first century ride (the Surf City Aids Ride in September), I though I’d do a month-by-month summary of the training I did and the learnings I’ve made so far, in the hope that it proves useful for someone in a similar situation in the future. So here’s the scoop for May and June.

Background

  • I came at this with a decent level of fitness due to running and a previous history as a cyclist, but my longest ride for five years has only been about 15 miles.
  • I have a road bike (a Trek Lexa) but, at the start of June, had only put about 50 miles on it, mainly earned cycling around with my little boy.
  • At present, I’m still cycling in running shoes.

Training Plan

I did some research online to find a free training plan for a century ride but didn’t find anything really helpful so I wrote my own. It basically included:

  • One weekly spin class
  • One weekly long run, starting at 30 miles and increasing (by September) to 85 miles.
  • One easy bike ride
  • Running 2 or 3 times per week

In true Me style, I wrote this plan and never really stuck to it exactly but it gave me a goal structure to work with.

Cycle Training this month

May

  • 15th – 31 miles. This taught me that, fitness-wise, I was in pretty good shape for biking. It also taught me that my poor nether regions were not in shape to ride 100 miles. So that was my starting point
  • 25th – 20 miles.
  • 29th – 18 miles. Definitely feeling easier than that first ride.
Cycling with Marjolaine in Atascadero. She crushed me.

Cycling with Marjolaine in Atascadero. She crushed me.

 

June

w/c 1st

  • Spin class – cycled 10.1 miles
  • Rode 35 miles at 12.1 mph
  • Rode 5 miles with the family

w/c 8th

  • Spin class – cycled 13.1 miles
  • Rode 3.5 miles with the family

w/c 15th

  • Spin class – cycled 13 miles
  • Rode 39 miles at 12.7 mph
  • Rode 2 miles with the family

w/c 22nd

  • Spin class – rode 15.1 miles
  • Rode 60 miles at 12.7 mph

w/c 29th

  • Spin class – rode c. 15 miles
  • Rode 11 miles with the family
  • (This week, I wasn’t able to get a long ride in)

Overall, I was delighted with the progress I made this month. I was particularly excited about how much further I was able to cycle in spin class within a few sessions and also at how my road-cycling speed and distance increased.

Gear

Despite my desire to buy all the cycling clothes in the world, I have tried to curb my spending and only buy the essentials. This month, I have bought the following:

Top – I finally found a decent top that I love. It’s simple, looks like a running top but has these amazing pockets at the back. I got it in my favourite colour, coral. SUPER-happy with it so far.

Look! TWO pockets!!!

Look! TWO pockets!!!

 

Shoes – I agonized about which shoes to buy but ended up buying these dog-ugly ones  because they were in the sale. I do not like these shoes but people keep telling me they will ‘make such a difference’.

Notably, they are mountain bike shoes and not road shoes. I did some research as to whether or not this makes a practical difference, i.e. can you wear MTB shoes on a road bike, and basically yes you can. It makes NO actual difference. The benefits are that you can walk much more comfortably in MTB shoes than road shoes, which are notoriously difficult to walk in. Being able to walk is important to me. Also, I personally think MTB shoes are slightly less ugly than road shoes, but that’s personal.

New Pedals – Clip-in shoes require fancy pedals. I got pedals that are flat one side and clippy the other side so I can ride in running shoes if clips freak me out.

Bike Computer – Riding using my running Garmin is not ideal so I bought a nice, cheap bike computer. I have yet to install it.

I don’t THINK I shall be needing much more gear. Maybe I’m being naive.

Learnings this month

1) Don’t screw in your own pedals. Or better, learn to screw your pedals in properly, or you may break a crank irrevocably and have to get a taxi home.

2) Spin classes produce giant endorphin rushes and are more fun than I expected. I was also surprised and pleased at how much further I was cycling in a 45 min class than at the start of the month.

3) Your bottom adjusts to cycling pretty quickly.

4) Respect the distance. As I knocked 40 miles off, I was pretty confident about this century malarky. As I finished my 60-miler, I realized that I had underestimated the distance. 100 miles is a long way to ride. I am now more circumspect about the challenge and more focussed on training for it.

My challenges for July

1) Fitting cycling in. My little man is home from school all month, I am still studying and I have several other commitments this month, so it’s going to be a challenge fitting those long rides in. I’ll do my best. My goal is to still be able to ride 60 miles comfortably at the end of July so I can build up over August.

2) Riding clipped in. I don’t want to be one of those wimpy girls who squeal and shriek about it but I am honestly rather nervous about taking the clipped-in plunge. I tried clipping in and out with my bike on the trainer and honestly, felt a bit panicky. Lots of work to do here.

Here’s to July training!

 

 

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June Favourites

Oh June, you went so fast and you were so much fun.

Reading

I only managed two books this month.

Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart is like a proper version of Wild. It’s the tale of a young woman hiking the Pacific Coast Trail Written by Carrot Quinn, whose hiking blog is full of breathtaking photos and beautiful writing, it really portrayed the highs and lows of hiking the PCT. Apparently doing so is both life-changing and incredible, but also incredibly dull and unpleasant. I mean that as a compliment to the writer – that kind of crazy challenge is all of those things and she is brutally honest about the highs and lows.

L’Adversaire, (The Adversary) by Emmanuel Carrere was the first novel I’ve read in French for a long time and I was pretty chuffed with how much of my language skills came back. It’s the story of a man who suddenly kills his wife, children and parents and it turns out that his entire life has been a lie. I didn’t realise until the end that it was a true story and I was kind of blown away by that fact. The writing style reminded me very much of ‘In Cold Blood’. A really good book. Kind of horrible too. It’s available in English and I really recommend it.

Watching

We sadly bade farewell to Game of Thrones – with a hint of relief because I may finally be able to sleep well on a Sunday night without white-walker children and sons of harpies to give me nightmares. Almost as good as the actual show was the Red Nose Day skit where Coldplay do ‘GoT: The Musical‘. The Jaime Lannister song rocks my world. (You have to watch this).

I also rewatched The Triplets of Belleville/Belleville Rendezvous this month, this time with the Dude. I wondered how he’d like it but he adored it. He’s very much into cycling at the moment, so he spent the rest of the evening perched on my bike (in the trainer in the living room) pedaling furiously like the hero. It’s such a lovely movie.

Studying

My studies took a two week break for the first half of June, in between semesters. For the last two weeks, my summer course of ‘Observation and Assessment’ has been going on. I have to be honest, I don’t love it, but it’s three credits in six weeks so I’ll persevere!

Cooking

The only exciting thing I made this month was this delicious zucchini/courgette bread from the Wholefoods website. Not overly sweet but really delish.

Surfing

My favourite website this month was The Girl Outdoors – a blog by a lovely British girl who just loves spending time outside. Kind of like ‘Just a Colorado Gal’ but in the UK. Lots of photos of countryside and camping.

Obsessing

My obsession this month has been my job. I had a temporary teaching job at the Dude’s old preschool, for their four-week summer school. My first ever teaching job. I can honestly say that I loved every minute. Just loved it. I’ll be volunteering there in the Autumn whilst I continue studying. Can’t wait already!

When I wasn’t teaching or studying, I got pretty obsessive about cycling. I’ve so loved getting back into cycling this month. It was my first love, before I got into running, and doing both sports has made me super-happy.

cycling margarita

Looking Forward To

July is going to be busy. I have my course until the last week, so that’ll keep me occupied but I’m also looking forward to having some time with my little boy. I’ve not seen as much of him in June as I usually do and frankly, I’ve missed his freckled little face.

I’m bunking off my studies for a week in a few days to go to Utah, Wyoming and Idaho on our big National Parks trip. SUPER-excited about that. I want to see a bear and some bison (from a distance) and play a lot of mini-golf.

Also, it’s the Tour de France, which starts on July 4th. I love watching it so I’m really excited. The Husband and I have chosen our fantasy teams (the Husband put a LOT of work into picking his team, I just chose the handsome men). We are ready to rock and roll.

Happy July, everyone!

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Assault on Mt Tam

On Saturday, I got to do something I have wanted to do for a LONG time. I finally got to run up Mt Tamalpais, the big mountain in Marin County. We’ve hiked it twice and I’ve been dying to run up it from bottom to top. But on Saturday, the Husband very nobly volunteered to take the Dude and his friend mini-golfing and geocaching and I got to meet up with Jen and KP and run the beast.

I’ve been hill training for a couple of weeks – twice or thrice weekly doing repeats up long hills of anything between 1/2 mile and 1 mile. I’ve done it in the heat of the day which has been sweaty and unpleasant but was the only time available to me. However I haven’t run ‘long’ for 4 weeks and really wasn’t sure what kind of shape I’d be in for this run.

The planned route was Old Railroad Grade. This fire-road style trail starts just outside the town centre of Mill Valley and winds its way up the mountain at a very gentle gradient, because it used to be the route of the railway which took tourists up the mountain. I knew it wasn’t steep, but I also knew it was 6 or 7 miles long. We’d basically be running uphill for 6 or 7 miles. I also knew that I was underestimating the downhill. In my head, I’d just ‘roll downhill’. It could be grim.

jen kate

I met up with the girls at 8.30. It was cool and grey, which was pretty perfect, and we started running. And that’s basically what we did for the next 1 hr 45. We run (aka…jogged slowly) and took walk breaks. Every time we saw a bend in the distance, I promised the girls that the West Point Inn, which would be about 2/3 of the way up, would be round the next corner.  Every time, I was wrong. But we wound our way up through redwood forest, along a stretch of paved road, through more trees and then out into exposed trail through chaparral. I was feeling pretty good.

me mt tam

‘Jump’, Jen told me. This was as good as it got.

mt tam

The top is that tiny square bump on top of the hill on the left.

We did eventually make it to West Point Inn, where we used the loos and rested for a bit before the final push. I still felt good, just jogging along. The girls called me the Energiser Bunny, which was a real mental boost for me. And somehow, we finally emerged out onto the car park at the top, just 1/3 mile to the summit.

The final 1/3 mile is basically a rock-climb so we pushed on, scrambling up the rocks and then finally, I was at the top. I knocked on the door, as is traditional, with a massive grin on my face. I felt really really happy.

mt tam jen kate

Jen and Kate arrive at the top

Happy girls Photo Credit: Jen

Happy girls
Photo Credit: Jen

mt tam me kate jess

Luckily someone volunteered to take a decent photo

We didn’t linger long at the top. We took a few photos, got a bit chilly and then headed down. This time, we diverted onto Upper Fern Creek trail which cut a mile or so off our return journey. It was single track and really quite beautiful but very steep so we crawled down, trying to avoid twisting our ankles on the rocks. There were a few really lovely stretches through manzanita trees but a lot of it basically involved us staring at the ground trying not to fall! Eventually we emerged back onto Old Railroad Grade which was smoother and we just slowly worked our way downhill. It felt like we would never stop running downhill.

jen mt tam

Jen on Fern Gully trail

jen

Fern Creek trail was VERY low on ferns. This was the only one we saw.

But we did, 12.2 miles later. We were all pooped at the end, but also pretty happy. And totally starving!!

I REALLY enjoyed Saturday. Great company, as ever, but also a lot of satisfaction at finally doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I was also really surprised and happy at how strong I felt. I haven’t felt very fit for a good few months now but I felt great today. I don’t think the cycling and spin classes are making me a faster runner, but I wonder if they’re helping with my endurance. I may be wrong, but I was a happy runner.

My knees ached all night long and my quads were shaky and sore all day Sunday.

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Respecting the distance!

This week was another good week of training – my second good week in a row, and I definitely feel like there’s been a shift and things are good again! I think a few things have contributed to this – motivation in preparation for Saturday’s run up Mt Tam but also taking the pressure off running has made it more fun. Mixing it up with cycling has also been a lot of fun and made me really happy.

So this week’s training looked like this.

Monday: Rest day.

Kind of planned, kind of unplanned. I’ve really struggled to train on a Monday recently. It’s a busy day, with teaching, childcare and college in the evening.

Tuesday: Totally unplanned doubles day

AM – Spin Class

This was planned and was awesome. I get on the bike like a glass-eyed zombie at 6am and get off at 6.45 wobbly-legged and buzzing. I managed to ‘cycle’ further this week than the previous weeks, the progress has been really exciting.

PM – 5.6 miles trail run

My legs felt really good in the pm and I had some free time so I headed back to Edgewood in the heat, tempered a little with a cool breeze.  Lots of hills, lots of trails and a tiny black garter snake. He was cute but still made me squeal. I’m really loving running hills at the moment. I’m not fast by ANY means but I’m getting steadier.

WednesdayRest Day

Knackered. My legs felt like they’d been hit by a bus so I did nothing.

Thursday – Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 2

I nearly ended up having a ‘rest day’ but I knew I needed to do something so at 10pm I finally got myself into gear and did a shred workout. Once again, it killed me. I really like this video – it gets me totally exhausted but only lasts 20 minutes, and I feel like it works parts of me that don’t get trained otherwise, like my core and my arms.

FridayBIG bike ride

This was this week’s main push – 60 miles on the bike. Best of all, the Husband had the day off so we were going cycling together. Date days are rare and we haven’t cycled together (without the Dude) for about 3 years so we were both pretty excited. We dropped the Dude off for his last day at Sports Camp and headed off.

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

The first 20 miles were basically us trying to show each other how great we were. The Husband tried to show me how fast he was (#ironballz) and I was trying to show him how much faster I was now than I used to be. We’re competitive by nature (in a good-hearted sense) so we basically pushed ourselves much further than we should have at this point. We got to the turnaround point at 22 miles and both sheepishly confessed how much our legs were aching.

Miles 22 – 30 were tough. My legs were starting to ache and we weren’t even half-way there. We stopped at a cafe (where they were playing ‘Everything I do, I do it for you’ which led to me warbling like a teenager), refueled a little and headed off again. And it got better. My legs started turning better.

me husband cycling

A deeply flattering shot of us both. It was hot. We were tired. My mascara is not waterproof.

 

I learned a few things on this ride. I learned that much as I LOVE having the Husband with me, I like to be in front. I learned that I’m stronger up hills than he is (5’1, not very heavy) and he crushes me downhill (6’4, heavier, not a chicken). I learned that I’m too scared to tuck in behind him and draft but also that it’s very romantic when he tells me to tuck in so he can protect me from the wind. I learned that he needs to eat a lot and often but I don’t need as much. I learned that, for 60 miles, I need two water bottles. And most of all, I learned that 60 miles is MUCH further than 40. 40 miles didn’t bother me much. At the end of 60 miles, my bottom was on fire (‘This… bottom’s on FIIIEEERRRRRR‘) but my legs still felt decent. I was very glad to finish, but I know I had more miles in the legs if necessary. My average speed of 12.7 mph was nothing remarkable and slower than my previous long rides have been but I am happy with how it went.

Having said that…the Husband yelled out in triumph when we hit 50 miles and it struck me that we were only half way towards a century. For the first time, I started to really appreciate the magnitude of 100 miles and how hard it will be. I started to respect the distance!!

me cycling

14 miles to go and suddenly feeling pretty good

Saturday: 13 mile assault on Mt Tamalpais. But that deserves a blog post all it’s own! Coming soon.

Spoiler: we made it

Spoiler: we made it

After two days of massive bike riding and massive running, I can assure you that Sunday will be a rest day!

This coming week, things change.  I’m not teaching any more for the summer so I have more time but I also have the Dude full-time, which is awesome (I’ve missed him) but means I’ll need to plan my training better. I also need to sort my diet out BIG STYLE because I have basically eaten non-stop all week and it’s not been pretty. So those are my plans for the week – eat better and get my training in!

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Boomshakalaka

I honestly think that last week was one of my best training weeks for a LONG time! I trained for five out of the seven days in some shape or form. I enjoyed each workout and I felt fab.

It was slightly easier to fit exercise in because the Dude is in Sports Camp each day until 4pm and I finish working at 1.30pm, so I had some afternoon time free. That does coincide with the hottest part of the day, so it’s been a sweaty week, but I appreciated the extra time. Having said that, my summer college course also started last week so there’s that to add to the mix as well.

Basically, last week’s training went down like this.

Monday: 5 mile run with 3 1/2m hill repeats

Super hot and sweaty but I basically ran up and down a biggish hill three times. Loved it. I like hills.

Tuesday: 6am spin class. All the endorphins.

Wednesday: 6 mile trail run including 3 big climbs

I snuck off to Edgewood this afternoon. It was HOT, seriously hot, so I was careful not to push the pace at all but just to jog along and have some fun. I was also very wary of snakes but the run was reptile-free. I ran loops around Edgewood and included a 1 mile climb, a 1/2 mile climb and then another mile-long climb. Lots of sweat. My favourite bit was checking my watch, thinking it was 3.15 and realizing it was 3.28 and I had 32 minutes to get back to my car and drive to pick up the Dude. My final mile was 8.35 (it was downhill, admittedly) as I sprinted back! Made it.

The grass has been baked golden now

The grass has been baked golden now

Thursday: Rest day.

Friday: 50 39 mile bike ride

My goal was 50 miles. I cycled 25 miles out to Portola Valley. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I was seriously loving it. I stopped at Woodside Bakery for a snack and ate a GIANT pecan square. I was only planning to eat half of it but somehow, the whole thing disappeared in my mouth within two minutes. Back on the bike, cycling home. Stopped to take some photos. Legs feeling good. Nether regions not feeling too painful.

Today I learned that if you keep your iPhone in your cycling top, it gets a little 'steamy'

Happy cyclist

Stopping for a photo at the Pulgas Water Temple

Stopping for a photo at the Pulgas Water Temple

And then suddenly my pedal fell off.

I tried to screw it back on but the thread was literally flaking off. I screwed it in long enough to climb the final hill and then coasted downhill with one pedal to Safeway where I sadly admitted defeat and had to call a taxi to bring me and Margarita home.

I have mixed feelings about this. Clearly I’m frustrated not to have done the 50 miles planned but I know that I could have ridden them pretty easily, I was feeling really strong, so I’m pleased with how I rode. I’m also grateful that I was in no danger and didn’t crash or fall or anything. So I’m just basically encouraged and mildly annoyed.

Margarita is in the bike shop. They thought initially I’d need an entirely new crankshaft but they’re trying some kind of coil (which sounds a little gynecological). I should get her back on Wednesday. Whilst I was there, I purchased some dog-ugly cycling shoes and clip-in pedals so it looks like I’ll have to girl up and face my fears in the next few weeks.

Saturday: Unexpected rest day. 

I attended an Indian baby ceremony and an American wedding party. There was dancing.

My lovely friends and me, feeling very incongruous

My lovely friends and me, feeling very conspicuous

This is now one of my  all-time favourite photos

This is now one of my all-time favourite photos

Sunday: 3 mile family run and 2 mile family bike ride.

We kicked off Father’s Day with a slow, easy 3 miler, the Dude on his bike. Late that day, we went to Shoreline Park to cycle round and do some geocaching. Neither were hard-core ‘training’ sessions but it was nice to get out and about.

In addition, work was wonderful. I flipping LOVE teaching preschool. I just love it.

Overall, this was an awesome week and I am very happy with it!!

(Sorry if this sounds smug. I’m not smug, just super happy and grateful).

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A shift in my mindset

I’ve been a very slack blogger lately! But the good news is that I feel like I may have turned a corner with running and the love might be coming back.

This might feel mighty fast, given that I only complained about my lack of love for the run a week or so ago, but it had taken me a good few weeks to publicly admit how I was feeling, so this week’s decent running was more than welcome.

I think two things made the difference.

1) Grace and I decided to be Training Buddies. We’re both feeling a little blah and need to sort out our eating habits and our training, so we’ve been emailing each other these past few weeks about our intentions and goals…and then what happened. It wasn’t a magic bullet (I still ate dessert every day) but it really shifted my mindset.

2) Jen and I put a date in the diary to run up Mt Tam. I have wanted to do this for two years since we hiked it back in 2013. It’s 6.5 miles up and then back down again. 6.5 miles solid uphill. I know I’m not in tip top shape by any stretch, but finally getting to DO this REALLY excited me and got me keen to run again! #CrazyCatLadiesTakeMtTam is at the end of the month!

Ready to run up a giant hill for these views

Ready to run up a giant hill for these views

 

So what did this look like in reality? Last week’s training looked like this. (This is for LAST week, I’ve been a REALLY slack blogger).

Monday.  SUPER busy, 100 degrees and literally no time to exercise. Such a great start to the week, eh?

Tuesday. 6am Spin Class. Pushed myself harder this week and felt good.

Wednesday.  5.3 miles hill repeats. 1/2 mile warm up and then 3 times up Alameda in San Mateo, a big 0.7m crusher of a hill. Miraculously, that last repeat was the fastest. I got back to my car super-sweaty (humidity) and literally glowing with endorphins.

Thursday. 3.5 miles very easy cycling with the Dude.

Friday. Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, level 2. The woman killed me.

At the weekend, we went up to Arnold in the Gold Country Mountains to check out our friends’ new ‘cabin’. Their cabin is fancier than any house I ever dream to own and it was a delight to share it and to spend time with them. Whilst I was there, I managed to do…

Saturdayan ‘easy’ three mile run.

Our friends live near this wonderful little lake surrounded by pines. I snuck in a quick run with the Husband and our friend’s dog, Sarge. Now, when you think about running with a dog, this is the kind of thing you think of, eh?

me dog

I love this photo, and one of my friends kindly said it looks like the kind of lifestyle photo you find in a magazine. And whilst it’s a genuine photo, I feel obliged to also show the other, less delightful, side of running with a dog.

dog poo me

I love Sarge, but his poo is smelly.

Luckily, I found a bin and the rest of the run was pretty amazing.

White Pines Lake.  Bliss, really.

White Pines Lake.
Bliss, really.

 

Later that day, I finally pulled up my big girl pants and tried Stand-Up Paddleboarding, which, I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The first time I tried to stand, I was pretty freaked out, but I soon discovered that if I did it on my knees, I was much safer and stronger. So I did it on my knees until I’d found some confidence and then after that, it was pretty easy and utterly awesome. I’m a bit of a chicken, so I was totally thrilled at how much I loved it. The Husband agreed. Later, he told me he was surprised at how decent I was at it, ‘given your pretty awful balance’. Thanks.

SUP

That isn’t cellulite, it’s just the grainy texture of the iPhone camera. (Ahem…)

The Dude put me to shame though, SUP-ing along like a pro…with his freaked-out mother in the kayak alongside.

Totally beat me.

Totally beat me.

The Arnold area is really lovely. Hilly, green, lush and just beautiful. Lots of nice cafes and diners. Big Trees State Park with its spectacular Giant Sequoias. Sweet little towns, filled with nice shops and wineries. I can’t deny I spent some time trying to work out how we could move here!!!

sequoias

Giant Sequoia.

trees

Ant’s eye view

family us

The day we just casually walked through a tree trunk

 

So all in all, as regards training, I feel like I might have turned a corner. I’m not out of the doldrums quite yet but I can feel a slight change in my attitude and that’s really exciting.

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Mountain Towns and Summer Plans

Thanks to everyone for your sympathy and virtual hugs as I moaned last week about not loving running right now! Lots of wisdom in those comments, I really appreciated it!

Last week was a BIG week for me as I started teaching on the Monday. I have a four-week job at ‘Summer School’. Clearly I can’t talk in detail about it on the internet but I will say that never in my life have I loved a week at work as much as I loved last week!! I will also say that after spending my mornings with 4 year olds, my giant 5 year old seems like a teenager!

Plans for the summer are starting to be finalised. My next college course starts on Monday and will last until the end of July. We go to Utah in July, the Dude will be off school and we have Vacation Bible Camp at the end of that month, followed by the Husband’s birthday. So basically, until the end of July, it’s going to be busy.

However on September 20th, I have a little bike ride to be ready for, and I also have this dream of running the 12 mile round-trip up and down Mt Tam over the summer, so I need to be pretty focussed on training!

So I pulled together a plan. Each week, I’ll try to do:

  • A long bike ride (starting at 35 miles, ending at 85 miles).
  • A long run (about 10 miles)
  •  A spin class
  • A tempo run or hill repeats
  • An easy bike ride
  •  An easy run

They’re listed in priority order. If I miss the easy run or ride, I’ll survive but the other four workouts are pretty key. I’m trying to be realistic and recognise that there won’t be many weeks when I manage all six workouts, but I’m going to give it a try!

So far, so good. I started going to spin classes at the gym. I think I sandbagged the first week but yesterday, at the second class, I pushed harder and ended up sweaty and endorphiny afterwards! I did a lovely, gorgeous 35 mile bike ride last Friday (didn’t take any photos….did it really happen?). I did a few runs, none of which were nice, as I discussed last week. All in all, it wasn’t a disastrous week.

At the weekend, we snuck off up to the mountains to my favourite mountain town of Truckee. I seriously love that little town. It’s full of fancy shops (waaay too expensive), and coffee shops, and has the best pizza I’ve eaten in America but it’s also a real mountain town where people live. I just love it, I’d love to move there. We camped at Donner Lake. None of the threatened thunderstorms came (phew) and although it was FREEZING at night, it was beautiful by day. I didn’t do much exercise, just some easy cycling round the lake with my boys and a surprisingly hard workout on the pedal boats on the lake!

donner lake

I really need to try SUPing! (That’s not me in the pic)

truckee

Downtown Truckee

truckee

This beautiful old building has been empty since at least November. Crying out for a running shop, eh?

us family

Kind of love this photo. (The Husband never smiles properly in photos)

squirrel

Our campsite visitors were adorable

donner lake

Pedalo with a view

dude

Totally gratuitous photo of the Dude and an obscenely large s’more

This week, I’m just focussing on getting some exercise in daily. I don’t think I’ll manage a big bike ride this week as we’re off to the mountains again at the weekend with some friends but I’m going to try to get a 20-mile ride in during the week and then do some running over the weekend. I’d just like to do ‘something’ every day.

I’m also focussing on sorting out my diet – I’m looking into vitamins and iron (after some good advice in the comments on my last post) – and I’m just going to try some no-pressure running and having some fun.

Here we go.

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Sometimes running sucks.

Normally, I’m a sunny kind of girl by nature, so please forgive a less upbeat post once in a while. Because I have a confession to make.

I am NOT loving running at the moment.

I am not actually even LIKING running at the moment.

I LOVED running with my friends in Pleasanton last week. I loved running with my boys the other weekend. But apart from that, running has been pretty dreadful over the past few weeks. The past four or five runs I’ve done on my own have been grim from start to finish. Every footstep has felt like hard work, and I’ve had to really talk sternly to myself to finish it properly. Not a single solo run has been remotely pleasurable for a few weeks now.

I do not feel like this when running at present

I do not feel like this when running at present

I know that, since Kaiser in February, as my amount of free time has diminished, my running has stepped back considerably. I’ve gone from running 5 times per week to running 3 times per week, and clearly that has had an effect. I get that.

Being honest, I’m still eating like I’m training hard, and I’ve put a few pounds on. According to the scale, it’s only 3 pounds, which I appreciate is NOTHING, but when you’re short, it’s actually quite a lot. My waist feels thicker. My bottom feels wider and I feel like the front of my torso is flabby and soft. A lot of it is stretched skin from when I carried an enormous child…but a lot of it is simply flab.

You do not carry a forward-facing child for 9 months and end up with taut skin

You do not carry a forward-facing child for 9 months and end up with taut skin

 

When you put together some additional weight and less overall running, you end up with just blerch! When I run, I feel heavy, slow and uncomfortable. It’s just hard work. Nothing feels smooth. I do not enjoy running, right now.

But I WANT to enjoy it. I keep thinking back to a race I did on Angel Island last April (ie. 2014) which is the last time I think I felt awesome when running. I was fit. I was (relatively) agile and (relatively) good at hills due to consistent training on hilly trails at Edgewood. I remember flying down the trails feeling like Emelie Forsberg and just grinning inside like a crazy girl.

Lots of joy that day

Lots of joy that day

I have had good runs since then, MANY of them, but I keep thinking back to that moment and wishing I could have it back.

I’m hoping that you might appreciate a bit of honesty instead of me being all ‘Running Bloggery’ and saying ‘Ooh, running is always rainbows and sunshine’  Sometimes, running is awesome and sometimes, it isn’t.  At the moment, for me, it isn’t!

So this is what I am going to do about it.

1) Accept that there are good weeks running and bad weeks running and just suck it up!

2) Clean up my diet. Again.

3) I’m cutting out alcohol for the month of June apart from a wedding party on the 20th where there might be champagne. I never turn down champagne, on principle.

This girl also does not knowingly turn down champagne

This girl also does not knowingly turn down champagne

 

4) I’m actually considering reintroducing some meat into my diet. I have been vegetarian for two years now (with some fish, so officially pescetarian) but lately my tummy’s been not right and I just don’t feel awesome. I’m not ill (don’t panic Mum if you read this) but something isn’t right and maybe I just need a bit of steak. I’m LOATHE to do this, I really love being vegetarian, I LOVE vegetarian food and meat no longer appeals to me…but I’ve lately been wondering if my lentils, nuts, greek yoghurt, black beans and protein powdered smoothies just aren’t cutting it. (Any thoughts, guys?)

5) I’m going to cycle more, as you know, and hope that taking the pressure off running as my ‘only sport’ might help.

6) I’m going to keep running because I’m committed to it but I’m going to run without a watch for the rest of June. EEEK….even writing that makes me shiver inside.

7) I’m going to TRY to get to the trails a little more often. Due to my schedule, this isn’t easy but the trails are usually an injection of joy into my running even when I’m not suffering from Loss Of Mojo.

How can this not bring joy?

How can this not bring joy?

8) I’m going to go hunting for my abs. They are there somewhere. I want them back.

I’m unlikely to get those abs, so I think the following pic basically sums up my current abs and the abs I’m after.

After: before

After: before. Source

At the end of this potentially miserable, First-World-Problemy post…anyone got any experience of losing the joy of running, and how did you get it back?? Thanks :).

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Pleasanton Ridge

Running has been a bit ‘flat’ for me lately. I’ve been running, I’ve been enjoying it (apart from the most awful 4 miler last week, which was grim from start to finish) but it’s been a bit flat. I think it tied in with exams etc but I badly needed an injection of running joy and at the weekend, I got it. Because I got together with my favourite running girls to run some trails.

We met at 8am at Pleasanton Ridge, a state park in the East Bay. It was grey and cold heading over, and I very nearly wore my arm warmers but in the end, I was very glad I didn’t! Along with the usual faces, there were some new peeps – and Layla was finally mended enough from her injury to be able to run, which was pretty awesome.

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Me (totally covering poor Amanda), Debbie, Angela, Layla, Jen, BT, Jess and KP

 

My expectation was that there would be a steep climb for the first mile or so, then it would level out and be fairly flat until we ran down. The word ‘Ridge’ was in the park’s name, so that was obvious, eh? It started as expected with a big climb which lasted two or three miles! There was a LOT of hiking and it was getting hot as well. We were sweaty!

pleasanton ridge

However, the views were spectacular!

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My expectations of the run were somewhat wrong. There WAS a giant climb at the start but it never got flat. Instead, we ran up and down short but very steep hills the entire time! It was really draining on the legs! But still…the views.

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We had a couple of groups running – one group wanted to do 12 miles, one group wanted to do 10, BT wanted to head back earlier for a baby shower and Layla did about 6 or 7 miles so as to not risk her newly mended leg. I knew that, with my current fitness levels, 12 miles of these hills was beyond me, so I headed back with Debbie and Amanda. I’d met Debbie once and not Amanda, but they were awesome girls and it was really lovely to run along and get to know them! Running is such a great way to get to know people better.

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Eventually, we dropped like stones back down to the car park! That was fun. All in all, 10.1 miles at 13.12 pace. Not too shabby, given the hills.

BT, Layla and I headed over to our brunch location to bags a table, and fairly soon the 12-mile girls came to join us! And we ate a lot of food. It was awesome.

brunch

 

At the risk of being totally cheesy, every time I spend time with these girls it makes me incredibly happy. These are all random strangers I met through the internet and they are wonderful! KP and Jess are both moving away from the Bay Area in the next few months, which is gutting – I’m not thinking about that for a few more weeks.

But every time I spend time with these girls, it makes me want to run more. I found myself googling trail races when I got home. Nothing pinned down yet but it’s coming!!

Pesky run-enabling females!!!

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May Favourites

Woohoo…it’s June tomorrow!!! Hopefully we might even get some sunshine in the foggy, grey, chilly Bay Area. I particularly resent paying California rental prices when we don’t get California sunshine!!!!

Anyway. May was busy (as ever) but here are some of the things I most loved.

Studying

Somehow, I survived my first semester! My three courses are finished. This month I studied the development of adolescents (which made me hugely grateful I’ve chosen soft-cheeked little ones rather than sweaty teens, and which also made me quake inwardly for ten years time). As a group, we made a short film about a non-profit preschool and we learned about teaching kids with special needs.

I’ve signed up for another course over the summer – a super-intense 6-week course on Observation and Assessment but I have two weeks off before it starts, which I’m really looking forward to! I haven’t got my grades for the past semester yet but hopefully I’m 9 credits up towards the goal of 24!

studying

Me studying in Maui last month, just before Cane Spider-Gate

 

Reading

I read some good books this month, four in all.

I started with Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, whose Gilead I read and utterly adored last year. My expectations were high but I didn’t love it. It was fine, but not amazing.

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne was one of those great Christian books that make it really uncomfortable to be a Christian. The author is a really interesting guy who rails against the comfort and complacency of the modern-day church. He talks about materialism, apathy towards poverty, pacifism, those easy kind of questions. The book challenged me to rethink a lot of things I thought I had sorted. Horribly uncomfortable but really worthwhile.

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, is one of my very favourite books of all times. (Nothing to do with God, btw). I try to reread it every year or so and was prompted to do so because Angela was reading it too this month and I wanted to compare my thoughts with hers. This was the first time I’ve read it since I became a mother and as such, I found it even more heartbreaking than before. Even on the fifth rereading, I found it beautiful. This is such a gorgeous book.

I also read one more book but it was rubbish.

Watching

Game Of Thrones continues to rock my world. Oh I love it. We have three more episodes left and I’m getting nervous as this is usually the point where someone I love is killed brutally.

The Scandal finale was rubbish.

We finally got round to watching Wild and both the Husband and I really liked it. It was better than the book and a really good evening’s entertainment. I was secretly dreading the Husband deciding he wanted to hike the Pacific Coast Trail but he hasn’t mentioned it since.

The Unbreakable Kimmi Schmidt has given us much light pleasure this month. It has an awesome theme song.

I know this came out a few years ago but we watched Inglourious Basterds this month. I flipping loved it. Brilliant film! The guy who plays the baddie was terrifying and he’s going to be the baddie in the next Bond movie apparently. Perfect casting.

Hans-Landa

Obsessing

Apart from obsessing about my final grades, I’ve been getting super excited planning our summer trip to Utah. We’ll be road-tripping it from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. I’m hoping for safe views of bears and bison.

I also spent a lot of time obsessing about cycling. I’m getting back into it, bit by bit, after 5 years off, and I’m really excited about including it in my training. I spent a lot of time trying to find the right century ride for me in the Autumn and I’ve settled on this one in September, which the Husband is doing too. Anyone fancy joining us? Or babysitting? ;)

margarita

Singing

I have no idea if this is one of those old songs that all Americans know but no-one told me about, but this month, we have been singing Pineapple Princess on repeat all month. Not the Husband, he asked me to make it clear that he has not been singing it. The Dude and I love it a LOT.

Looking Forward To

June is going to be amazing. We go camping up at Truckee, I’m excited about my next course…and best of all, tomorrow I start teaching!!! Seriously!!  My work permit arrived last month and I have a four-week job at the Dude’s old preschool, teaching at their Summer School. It’s an amazing opportunity to practice being a teacher and I am honestly beside myself with excitement.

Come on June, I’m ready for you!

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