On boobs

It’s been a fun few days. I thought my left boob was trying to kill me.

(It wasn’t, you can read in peace).

When you turn 40, the doctors unleash a string of tests on you to check you’re okay. (This is a good thing, I am not complaining). Early in November, I had my first mammogram, which was a bit weird and uncomfortable but fine…and it came back clear. Then, last week, I had the delight of my three-yearly pap-smear (UK – just a regular smear) test. This includes a routine breast examination…and my doctor found a lump.

I’ll tell you something. When you hear the words ‘lump’ and ‘breast’ in one sentence from your doctor, your brain immediately goes ‘lump, breast, cancer, lose hair, might die’. Despite being rational about it in my head, my heart kind of freaked out.

I had a weekend between the consultation and being able to go for an ultrasound to check it out. That’s a long time to not think about dying. Luckily, I had the Dude’s birthday and then his party to distract me and we had a lovely time, but it was always there at the back of my mind.


Not a birthday photo but a very funny Pilgim photo anyway

On Monday, I went for the ultrasound. I went alone, which may not have been the wisest move as once I arrived in the dungeon (basement ultrasound department), I found myself incredibly nervous. First up was another mammogram and this one was considerably more painful. The radiographer took the pictures to the doctor on duty…and he asked for two more pictures. At that point, I thought something very rude in my head.
Two more painful pictures ensued.

Next up, the ultrasound. I was pretty scared now. The lady did some ultra sounding and then went to get the doctor (as is routine) and he came in. When he told me that it was all clear, I felt this enormous weight off my shoulders…and started crying on the poor man.

This blog post may not belong in a running blog…but it’s important to talk about. Did you know that when you check your boobs, you’re supposed to be laid down? A quick soapy prod in the shower isn’t what you need to do! I had no idea. This website has a good suggestion on how to check your girls.

Unimpressive, eh? But healthy!

Unimpressive, eh? But healthy!

So there you go. Officially, I don’t have anything to worry about but I’m still unnerved and I’ll tell you something, I’ll be much more vigilant in checking these days. Once my boobs have stopped hurting from the mammograms (next year, maybe!), I’ll be checking very thoroughly and regularly, and I’d be grateful if you checked yourselves as well. You don’t have to be old (even 40!) to get breast cancer and just being faced with the prospect was enough to make me incredibly grateful for pretty much everything in my life.

Perfect for Thanksgiving, eh?

I’m thankful for my healthy boobs. Even though they’re small, droopy and uneven, they’re not trying to kill me. Thank goodness.

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Race Recap: Beat the Blerch Half Marathon

My original autumn goal race was the Beat the Blerch 1/2 marathon in Sacramento which took place on Saturday. I ditched it as a goal race a few weeks ago when I realized I wouldn’t be anywhere near PR shape, opting for Walnut Creek in December instead. But I had paid for the race and still fancied running it, especially as the Husband was also running it! So we got up super early on Saturday, packed the car with parents and a Dude and headed up to Sacramento.

As an aside…I struggled to reconcile the heartbreak of Paris on Friday night and the happiness of running with my loved ones on Saturday. It felt wrong to be doing something so frivolous and when I posted a pic on Instagram after the race, I felt guilty about it. I still do. But over the past few days, I’ve started to think that continuing with ‘normal life’ is the only possible response to the horrors of terrorism. I don’t mean that we carry on as if nothing happened because clearly we can’t – I just feel that we can respond to terror by continuing to do what we had planned, by still finding joy in everyday life and relishing our opportunities to do so, even as our hearts break for those suffering. I am still uncomfortable with this contradiction but those are my thoughts for the moment.

In case you don’t know the Blerch, check out this link here. The race was going to be very light-hearted and fun with sofas along the route, cake at aid stations and much fancy dress. The Husband and I were incredibly indecisive about goals even as we lined up. The Husband dithered about running the 10k or the 1/2. I was dithering about whether to run it hard (PR-attempt) or as this week’s long slow run. We got there in time see the marathoners set off – maybe 150 or so of them.

My phone ran out very early in the race – I have battery issues. So I’ve found some great pics on the race’s FB page and am using them in the post below, giving them credit, of course.

Check-in should have been very simple except that I hadn’t downloaded the app for the barcode thing to get my number and there was no list of names, so we had to get our barcodes. It got a little tense but in the end it was fine. Totally my fault because apart from my rubbishness, packet pick-up was very easy. There were plentiful portaloos so we kissed the parents and the Dude off to visit the railroad museum and got ready to race. The Husband persuaded me to start at the back with him and we had fun with the other people – the vibe was really chilled and excited as they played the Lion King music. There were couple of hundred half-ers so we were let off in waves, which worked really well. We were in the last wave so eventually it was our turn. I kissed the Husband goodbye, the klaxon sounded and we were off.

Ironballz wondering when exactly I was going to take off!

Ironballz wondering when exactly I was going to take off!

Pretty much immediately, I decided just to run a good steady run. Not racing but not a long-slow-run either. I wanted to come in under 2 hours but covered my watch completely with my arm-warmer. I didn’t want to know the numbers at all. The first two miles were a little crowded especially over the bridge but after about the second mile marker, I was able to run pretty much entirely at my own pace. The weather was perfect – cold but sunny and I settled down to run.

The route was nice. We headed down the river levee for a bit before running into downtown Sacramento and along some lovely tree-covered roads around the Capitol building. There were demonstraters outside the Capitol protesting against Syrian immigrants and they kept yelling about sorting immigration ‘or we’d end up like Paris’. My heart was still heavy about the day before’s horror so I yelled back at them and the adrenaline pushed me forward a bit.

The medal we got at the end - taken from the BtB FB page

The medal we got at the end – taken from the BtB FB page

After about 7 miles, we turned onto the American River Parkway which we cycled a few months ago and that was lovely. I ran past a guy in a massive green suit – I later found out he was the Oatmeal who writes the Blerch! I was already starting to feel it in my legs, even at this early stage but I had found a steady groove and just kept plugging away. I turned my music on without headphones and cruised along.

The Oatmeal himself (and two random runners). Taken from the BtB FB page

The Oatmeal himself (and two random runners). Taken from the BtB FB page


About that point, I saw a runner ahead in a Oiselle top and as I passed her, she called out and it was Alisyn who I’d missed at the start. Nice to see her! I ran on, yelling that I’d see her at the end. Eventually we finished the parkway part of the route at maybe 10.5 miles and headed up over a bridge and back along the river. The final mile went through ‘Old Sacramento’ past the Railroad Museum and along a wooden boardwalk. The surface was very uneven and the slats made my eyes go a bit funny. Not the best bit.

Eventually we headed over the bridge again and back to Raley Field, the baseball stadium where we started and finished. The finish line was actually on the pitch, we ran round the grass on the track and that was pretty exciting. I crossed the line, stopped my watch and dared to peek. 1.56. Delighted!

Boom! The face of a girl who thinks she did much better than she'd expected

Boom! The face of a girl who thinks she did much better than she’d expected


I queued up, got my medal, water, a nutella sandwich and a banana. There was cake but it didn’t look nice and I didn’t fancy it. And then I checked my watch again and realized I’d only done 12.8 miles so my great time was nowhere near as good as I’d initially thought. I have to admit, I was quite disappointed. I snuck back to the car, changed into warmer clothes then went back to the finish line to watch the Husband finish – he ran about 2.30 which he was delighted with, bearing in mind he’d done very little training…ie. none.

Thoughts on the race

There was a LOT which was excellent about the event.

  • Ample, easy free parking. Much appreciated.
  • Ample portaloos at the start. Also much appreciated. (Very few loos on the course).
  • Great shirts and great big medals.
  • A really fun event, really well managed. Great volunteers.
  • A good number of aid stations with cake as well as gels.
  • Free photos.
  • Great weather. Cold but sunny.
  • Nice route. Flat, interesting, very PR-able. I wish I’d trained harder for this race.
  • Great atmosphere.
Genius post-race pic

Genius post-race pic

The major failing was that the routes were all short. The 10k was 6.1 miles, the half was 12.8 and the marathon was 25.77. I felt really sorry for the marathoners, this is pretty inexcusable.

A few days later and I’m much more philosophical about my time. I hadn’t trained for a PR and I didn’t get one – my head knows this but sometimes my heart takes a while to catch up. I didn’t RACE this either but I ran a very steady pace and I was happy with that steadiness. If it had been the full distance, I would have run it in 1.58.59 and that was more or less what I’d anticipated.  I think that seeing 1.56 and being so happy about it kind of spoiled the 1.58 that I expected, if that makes sense. I came 10th in my age-group out of 157 runners and I’m flipping chuffed with that!

So where does this leave me for Walnut Creek? To be honest, I don’t know. I can’t fathom running a harder course 7 minutes faster than today. How will I do that? Part of me wonders if I’ll ever run anywhere near 1.52 again. I am determined to run my socks off at WC but have come to accept that PRing a half-marathon may take a little longer than 5 weeks. If so, so be it. Longer goals are fine.I’ve revamped my training a little since the race. I need to push speed work much harder, I’ve maybe not been giving it my all. I need to work hard on my mental game. I need to run some hills. Lots to do.

But having said that…it was a great Saturday morning and I had a great time! I beat the Blerch! And it was fun.

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Walnut Creek 1/2 Marathon Training: Wk 4

This week’s training was okay! 24 miles is a decent amount!

Tuesday: No miles. Two BIG events.

First up…the IronHusband signed up today for Ironman Vineman in July ’16. This is a good thing as he thrived during Ironman training last year and I’m excited for him. It’s also a good thing as we have a deal between us – for every Ironman he does, I get a ginger cat!!!

Charlie's thoughts on the future new addition.

Charlie’s thoughts on the future new addition.

Second thing…my parents arrived today from the UK – they’re staying for three weeks. Nearly four weeks. This is as close to perfection as I can have in my life. Snuggled up in our little house with my four favourite people and my very favourite cat…it doesn’t get better. So I totally skipped my run.

Wednesday: Easy run

Veterans Day so I ignored the 6am alarm call because ‘I had the whole day to run, didn’t I’. So I hung out with my parents all day..and found myself running in the dark that evening. 5 miles @ 9.29.

Thursday: Intervals

Met Lisa at 5.30am for our Thursday morning run. Threw some intervals in there, 6 intervals of 2 minutes. It was Lisa’s first time doing intervals and she basically kicked my arse. She’s going to be an amazing runner!

Friday: Family bike ride

Lovely 9 mile bike ride with the ‘rentals and the Dude in the afternoon. Came home to the news of the horror in Paris. Broken hearted.

Saturday: Long Run

I ran the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon in Sacramento this morning. I’ll recap it in the week but basically I wanted to use it as a long, solid run (which I did) so I didn’t ‘race’ it but then I was disappointed with my time. Which is totally illogical and only-child-ish. The major bummer was that the race was short (12.8 miles) but apart from that, it was a great event. 12.8 miles @ 9.04

This text came straight from my brain

This text came straight from my brain. Source


I have mixed views on this week’s training. It was fine but it wasn’t stellar and I have very mixed feelings about Saturday’s half-marathon, which I’ll post about in a few days once I’ve thought it through. This week, I need to buckle down and do some quality work!

Quality, Ramsdan! On it.

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‘Race’ Recap: Home and Hope 10k

It was the strangest, smallest race ever.

So my church supports a local non-profit called Home and Hope which does wonderful work housing families who are temporarily homeless. I’ve volunteered a few times and have been left humbled and incredibly grateful for my home and my family. So when my friend Louise emailed me on Wednesday and said there was a 10k nearby on Sunday for Home and Hope, I was in. I signed up, I signed the boys up for the 5k and we were ready.

There was very little information available beforehand. I could see that all the local churches were fundraising (and some had raised great amounts of money). But there was no information about the race, no route-map, no nuffink. It would be a great surprise. My goal for the race was to use it as a tempo run. I’ve been feeling very slow and stodgy running lately. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous about racing altogether but I wanted to use it as a gauge to see how fast (or slow) I really was at the moment.

When we arrived…the race was TINY. Seriously tiny. No numbers, no clock, just a cone and a taped start/finish line. I quite like that and people were friendly. We met up with Louise and Gladys. There was a pre-race prayer and we were off.

home hope louise

Those long legs did not come from me!


I love the face and the hand on his Dad’s Garmin on the start line. His goal was to ‘beat the orange boy’.

It became quickly apparent that most people were doing the 5k walk (except my boys who were running it). I think there were 10 people in total doing the 10k! It was made up of two 5k loops. I went out too fast, excited to be running (it was cold, I also wanted to warm up). I quickly found myself in fourth place, behind a couple in blue and a guy in purple. They were much faster than me, so I settled into my rhythm. The first section was an out-and-back so I got to see my boys, Louise and Gladys on their way out as I headed back. It was hard work. I got to the end of the first loop and really wished I was doing 5k so I could give up. But the guy in purple HAD stopped, which meant I was now in third place.

High-fiving my little dude as I ran past

High-fiving my little dude as I ran past

The second loop wasn’t pretty. I ran my socks off. Mile 4 was particularly tough mentally especially as it was into a headwind. I kept the music loud and I pressed on. Eventually, I found myself turning the corner and heading towards the finish ‘cone’ where I could see the boys waiting and cheering. I crossed the line, dying a little and pressed my watch. I’d done 6.1 miles in 50.54 at 8.21 pace. Bearing in mind I’d HOPED to run it at 8.31 pace, I was really happy. I’m nowhere near PR pace (8.10) but I was better than I’d expected.

I just love this photo. I look like death.

I just love this photo. I look like death.

‘Mummy, you came third’ my little man told me, beaming. It was true. I was second woman but third overall. As such, I was presented with an enormous plastic bronze medal and it flipping made my day.



I ended up chatting to the lovely girl who’d been first woman/second overall and then we watched for Louise and Gladys to come in. My boys did really well, the Dude ran 5k in 36:something which is close to his PR. Gladys ended up coming in last (she stopped for 15 minutes after 5k thinking she had to leave, then she found out she had more time so set out to run the final 5k). So we made a little winners’ tape to cheer her home.

home hope

This was a really sweet, informal little event. I have BIG plans to get more people from my church lined up to run it next year.

Bearing in mind my goal of testing myself, I was pleasantly surprised by my pace today. Clearly the Olympic Selectors won’t be beating on my front door and I have a lot of work to do in order to achieve my own goad…but I’m not as sluggish as I thought I was and that was a nice discovery!

I went home…with hope!

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Walnut Creek Half Marathon Training: Wk2 & 3

I didn’t do a weekly recap last week, I was too busy having fun in Seattle, so I’m combining weeks 2 and 3. And they were VASTLY different. So settle down for a Tale of Two Running Weeks!

Week 2 – w/c 26th October

I knew that this week would be lower on mileage due to our weekend away and me not being able to fit a long run in this week but I hadn’t expected to struggle so much with running motivation this week, I’d been so chuffed with the previous week’s running. But I only managed to run three times and totaled 15 miles which is unimpressive, especially when training for a race.

Wednesday: Tempo Run

This was a little encouraging, my three tempo miles (M3,4 and 6) came in at 8.37, 8.36 and 7.51 (this was only 0.8 miles). That sounds good but it included a loo-stop and a red light stop (for which I stopped my watch) so doesn’t really reflect increasingly tired legs. 5.8 miles @ 9.13.

Friday: Intervals

I was pretty proud of myself for getting a run in on this super-busy day when we flew to Seattle but I was up and running in the dark very early in the morning. This interval session included 7 x (2 mins fast, 1 min recovery). Felt decent. 3.5 miles @ 8.46.

Sunday: Easy Run

Exploratory miles in Seattle. Cold. But fun. 5.3 miles @ 9.39.

Lake Union on a chilly morning

Lake Union on a chilly morning


Wk 3 – w/c 1st November

This week went much better!

Tuesday: Intervals

Six early morning miles with 9 repeats of 2 minutes fast and 2 minutes recovery. I enjoyed spreading the faster miles over a longer time period but didn’t feel as knackered (thus endorphiny) as speedwork usually makes me feel. 6 miles @ 9.01

Thursday: Easy Run

I was up at 5am and out the door by 5.15 to meet my friend Lisa and run an hour with her in the dark morning. It was lovely – we shared some personal stories, both funny and heartbreaking and it was a little magical. 5.75 miles @ 10.05.

Saturday: Long run

Nice to run in daylight. 12 very easy miles in the chilly sunshine. Kept all the miles easy due to a somewhat strange ‘race’ I’d agreed to do the next day. 11.6 miles @ 10.11

Sunday: Tempo Run

So in the middle of the week, my friend Louise asked me to sign up for a 10k that a local non-profit was organizing. I decided to do it as a tempo run and as a gauge to see how fit I was at the moment. I’ll write more about it next week but it went better than I expected! 6.1 miles @ 8.20 :)

homehope me

I finished the race feeling strong and with a smile on my face. NOT.


So 30 miles this week. Feeling decent!

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October Favourites

October went by in a flash! Seriously, where did it go? I love October and it was good!


Last month, I went on two field trips to different preschools including one Waldorf school which had a VERY different approach to preschool education. Got loads of ideas. I wrote a paper on HighScope preschools and started a paper on Selective Mutism which is where a child is unable to speak in particular situations yet is able to speak easily and fluently at home for instance. Fascinating stuff. LOVE this new part of my life so much.

Come EVERY Autumn, without fail, I start to hanker for Scandinavia. To be clear, I’ve only spent a little time there, it’s not like I’m some kind of Scandinavian expert, but as the nights draw in I find myself longing for some idealised version of Sweden and that kind of ‘hunkering down for Winter’ vibe. I know it’s crazy. So there’s a lot of Swedish stuff this month.

sweden 2

Photo Credit: Sara Ronne


I managed 5 books last month!

My first Swedish read was The Girl in the Spider’s Web is the new Lisbeth Salander novel but the first not written by Stieg Larsson. As such I was both excited and full of trepidation. In the end, I thought it was pretty decent. Nowhere near as good as The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo but roughly as good as the other two Larsson novels. It had some pretty gripping incidents and was a quick, good read.

Astrid and Veronika by Linda Olsson was lovely. The tale of friendship between a young woman coming to terms with tragic loss and an older woman finally banishing the ghosts of her past, it’s really a lovely read with some very beautiful descriptive writing. Very much recommended.

I finally read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. I was a bit horrified to find that I’m losing patience with classic literature, I found the old-fashioned writing cumbersome. I need to get back into the rhythm of it. This short little novella was spooky and fun for Halloween.

Halloween, Ramsden style. No headless horsemen.

Halloween, Ramsden style. No headless horsemen.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is set in Seattle so I read it over the weekend when we were there. The protagonist is a dog, we see things from the dog’s perspective, which initially I was very dubious about, but actually it’s rather lovely. The story is  a bit grim and depressing and the ending inevitable but I will admit to hiding my tears on the aeroplane home. Sweet.

The art of being a tourist in the rain

The art of being a tourist in the rain

I also finally got round to trying out the Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante which I’d heard a lot of hype about. My Brilliant Friend is the first one and I really loved it. It reminded me a lot of the books I studied as part of my Italian degree. I’m waiting for my library request for the next book in the series to arrive!


I have a couple of good recipes to share this month. For Swedish month, I tried this really good and REALLY cheap yellow split pea soup which is apparently a Swedish weekly staple. You might also want to try this really simple bean stew which came together in about 10 minutes but was really tasty. And if you have a slow cooker, try this delicious veggie chili.

I made the Thai version of this butternut squash soup (scroll down for that particular rift) and it was GOOD!

I’m always keen on a good salad dressing and this lemon mustard dressing is one of the nicest I’ve made for a long time.

But the best recipe of the month is THIS one for beer bread. I’ve been making beer bread for a year or so now and it’s been good but not great – there’s been a funny aftertaste and it’s been a bit ‘dense’. This recipe is the one that finally perfected it. I now need to limit it to once a week because once it’s in my kitchen, I cannot stop eating it.


I’ve been a bit hooked on Instagram this month (I’m here if you want to follow me) and I’ve been stalking various Scandinavian IGers. My favourites are Somewhere in Copenhagen which does lovely graphic images, Sweden which posts amazing pictures of….well, Sweden and NikeSverige which does what Nike does best, wonderful images that inspire you to get sporty.

You might also want to check out Sara’s blog – it’s in Swedish but has a translate button (the translations often are unintentionally very funny). She has lovely pictures and the most adorable dog.  (I interviewed Sara about running in Sweden HERE).

sweden 5

Twitter suggested that if I was asked to do something I don’t want to do, I could say no ‘for secret reasons’. I love this.

‘Cat, would you mind making cupcakes for the Kindergarten party?”

‘No, I’m sorry, I can’t…for secret reasons’.

Also, give this a read. A BBC show about the special forces turned down the lovely Sophie Radcliffe because she was a woman! The resulting outcry resulted in them changing their policy and the show was won by a truly remarkable lady who is interviewed by Sophie here.

Finally, read this. Have your hankies ready. People can be so nice.


I’m not cool. You know that. So my best song this month was a kids’ Halloween song called The Pumpkin Tells. It’s amazing. We’ve been singing it all month.

The pumpkin told me to eat all the stuff!

The pumpkin told me to eat all the stuff!

Other stuff

Other important things this month were:

  • going for my first mammogram. Because I’m 40. That was depressing. The whole experience was a little unnerving and sobering. I don’t have my results yet but I am very grateful to live somewhere where I have the opportunity to do this.
  • I did my first First Aid course as part of my preschool teaching training. I can now do CPR (although I would prefer not to), I know how to handle an epileptic fit and how to use an epi-pen in case of anaphylactic shock. I should have done this six years ago when I became a mother.

I’m looking forward to:


My parents arrive in 3 sleeps for three weeks. I. Cannot. Wait!

The Dude turns 6. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

We’re spending Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara and the parents are running a turkey trot with us! They’re not runners (at present). They will be racing the Dude. It’s a smack down!

Happy November, everyone

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A wet weekend in Seattle

Last week, the Husband and I celebrated 10 years of married life which is a BIG deal I think! I still really like him! He seems to like me too. So we went on a ‘Romantic Mini- Break’ to Seattle at the weekend. Well…it wasn’t that romantic because the Dude came along too and it rained the entire weekend. So it was just a ‘Mini-Break’.

We arrived in Seattle on Friday night in the rain. We ate in the hotel (don’t judge, we had an overtired and super-hungry 5-year-old with us) and hunkered down for the night. It was still raining in the morning but after years of drought, we were all quite excited about it. We dressed up in our rain gear and set out to explore. Our first stop (in howling gale and bucketing rain) was Pikes Place Market, which was full of amazing, super-cheap bouquets of flowers. We had brunch at the Crumpet Shop (marmalade and stilton, try it!) and walked all the way to the Space Needle as it was only spitting now.

air airplane flying planes shasta

Adding beautiful Mt Shasta to my list of places to visit



$10 for a BIG bouquet of these beauties

At the Space Needle, we made a decision. It wasn’t cheap so the boys would go up the tower and I would go to the next-door Chihuly Museum. I’m not really into art but I really love his work. I wandered gleefully into the gift shop…and walked right into Jeremy Clarkson.

If you’re not British, you may not know this man but he’s about the most famous British TV presenter at the moment. He used to present Top Gear which is a brilliant show about cars that even I love, and Top Gear is my son’s favourite programme, to the point that he chose to dress up as the Stig (the racing car driver) for Halloween just the previous day. And the Husband and I wore Top Gear presenter masks to accompany him. So it was unbelievably surreal to bump into Clarkson the next day. I phoned the boys to hot-foot it over and then accosted poor Clarkson as he was heading out of the gift-shop to say hello. He was gracious, and also gracious when the boys arrived, over-excited. The Dude had eyes as big as saucers but managed to shake his hero’s hand and say hello. We then let the poor man go about his day, but I have to admit we were all a bit over excited. Which is embarrassing but true.

dude stig

The Dude at his Halloween party at school the day before

us family halloween

Me, the Dude and the Husband as Hammond, the Stig and Clarkson

clarkson seattle

Seriously…Jeremy Clarkson! ‘I won’t bite’ he promised his little fan

Once we’d all recovered, the boys finally went up the Space Needle and I got far too excited about glass.


chihuly seattle chihuly seattle

After an afternoon break in the hotel pool (hint: always book a hotel with an indoor pool when having a Mini-Break in Seattle in October) we headed out in the evening to go on the Great Wheel which was a lot of fun.


us seattle seattle


Sunday dawned dry so I took advantage and went for a run. It was cold, compared to the Bay Area. Local runners wore everything from full-on winter gear to shorts and a t-shirt. I wished I’d worn gloves. I ran up to Lake Union and ran up the west shore. It wasn’t as pretty as I’d expected (I excepted something like the reservoir in Central Park or romantic houseboats from Sleepless in Seattle) but it was a good exploratory run.

Lake Union on a chilly morning

Lake Union on a chilly morning


We ubered up to Fremont for an excellent brunch and then walked in the fairly heavy rain to Fremont itself, stopping for some ingenious geocaches on the way. The goal of the mooring was to see the Troll, who was as wonderful as I’d hoped he’d be. And then it got very cold so we hot-footed it to the EMP museum in an amazing museum designed by Frank Gehry where we introduced the Dude to Daleks and actual light-sabers. And then, alas…it was home.

fremont troll seattle

The wonderful Fremont Troll




Ingenious geocache


I went a little crazy for the leaves


Apparently the locals want to move the city somewhere warmer. COMMAS, PEOPLE!


The beautiful EMP museum



Things we noted about Seattle:

  • it rains. Everything is so green.
  • the autumn leaves are so beautiful.
  • the locals know how to dress in the rain. SF-locals (including ex-pat Brits) don’t.
  • the locals are a hardy bunch. We saw so many people out running and cycling in the cold and wet. We were inspired.
  • it’s a really cool city. Even in the rain, we liked it. It felt very livable. People were very friendly.
  • it’s a very walkable city, which we really appreciated.
  • if you’re going there and you want to pick a local’s brain, try Biscuiterie!

Places we ate:

The Crumpet Shop. Delicious. Wonderful.

Saley’s Burgers. Cheap and good.  Best chips/fries I’ve had for a long time. Salty.

Lola. Greek/Mediterranean. Liked it.

The Dish. Excellent brunch.

Pop Kitchen & Bar. In the EMP museum. Amazing sourdough grilled cheese sandwich.

Can’t wait to go back…on a dryer weekend!

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Walnut Creek Half Marathon Training: Week 1

People, last week I ran 27.5 miles!

I cannot remember the last week I ran 27.5 miles – nor can Daily Mile, which only shows weekly miles for 26 weeks and it definitely wasn’t within the last 26 weeks! I was so surprised that I had to double-check the numbers twice but yes…27.5 miles.

Didn’t do a single ab exercise though :)

The time I discovered that the correct angle totally gives the impression of a strong core

The time I discovered that the correct angle totally gives the impression of a strong core. Reality = NOTHING like this!

Tuesday: Intervals. 3.18 miles at 8.31

I changed my interval session this week. Fewer miles, more time at ‘speed’. After warming up, I ran 6 repeats of 2 mins fast, 1 min recovery. It was evening, dark and so quite easy to spook myself into running fast despite the safety of my local streets.

Thursday: Tempo. 6 miles at 9.03

The minute I came back from Tuesday’s interval session, I went down with a nasty cold. When you surround yourself with preschoolers and kindergarteners all day, there are many germs to partake in and I’m on my third cold in seven weeks. By Thursday I was through the worst so went to run. My initial goal was to run 3 miles consecutively at goal pace of 8.31. As I warmed up, I switched it to 2 miles consecutively and then a third mile after a rest mile. As I started running faster, it immediately switched again to alternating faster and slower miles. I managed to do the faster miles at 8.31, 8.30 and 8.24 but I worked my socks off for those splits and I was knackered afterwards.

Sunrise. Makes early mornings worthwhile.

Sunrise. Makes early mornings worthwhile.

Saturday: Long run. 12 miles at 9.44

6.30am dark run. I threw three faster miles into the mix – I aimed to get miles 4,7 and 10 at 8.31 but they turned out to be 8.41, 8.37 and 8.46. I was a bit disappointed but bearing in mind my lingering germs, I’ll not beat myself up too much.

Sunday: Easy run. 6.5 miles at 9.41

My friend Lisa is training for her first half-marathon for a long time and asked if she could run with me. I’m grateful as she got me out of bed for another 6.30am run and we spent a really lovely hour cruising round town putting the world to rights. It was SO nice having some company this morning. Hope we can do it again.

So somehow that comes out at 27.5 miles and it didn’t even feel that onerous! I’m excited about Walnut Creek, it’s motivating me to get out the door and run. Not quite sure how I’ll get my miles in this coming week as we have plans at the weekend but I’ll do my best! Hopefully my germs will be gone!

My boys poured me a bubble bath with a glass of milk, a copy of TrailRunner and a copy of 'Teaching Young Children'.

My boys poured me a bubble bath with a glass of milk, a copy of TrailRunning and a copy of ‘Teaching Young Children’.


Week 2, here we come!

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Desperately seeking Autumn

This weekend, we went up to Apple Hill for our annual apple extravaganza. It was basically a desperate attempt to find Autumn. I love Autumn (like most other people on the internet) but the Bay Area has been relentlessly warm and sunny. I don’t want to complain about warm and sunny because I spent the first 35 years of my life hankering for warm and sunny but I do miss seasons. We rented a cabin at the KOA campsite near our favourite little hill town of Placerville and it was close to perfect. The first night, we lay in bed as the thunder echoed around and the lightning flashed and we snuggled up, listening to rain hammer on our wooden roof.

cabin KOA camping

Cabin 103

Apple Hill was a bit of a mare…traffic gridlock. Apparently we should come as usual in September rather than October. But we got to eat doughnuts, drink apple cider and pick bags full of Granny Smiths. I found some Autumn. And I got to see the lovely Alisyn.

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family us apple hill

The other weekend excitement was when the Dude lost his first tooth. He was surprisingly emotional about it until he realized the tooth fairy would come and deliver the goods. He swallowed the tooth in a mouthful of chocolate cake so had to leave the fairy a note to explain.


Running this week

I snuck out for a quick run over the weekend – four easy miles. I’d hoped to run twice, but life happened and I didn’t…but it’s been an okay week’s running.

Tuesday intervals. I ran in the evening and it got a bit dark and creepy on the track so I ran up and down a quiet residential road to the bemusement of the UPS guy.

Wednesday long run in the heat of the day. 11 hot miles with 2 at tempo although my legs were still shot from the intervals so they were a bit disappointing.

Sundayeasy run of 4 miles.

I need to up my game next week. I’d hoped to run once more this week and am a bit narked at myself for missing a tempo run but as long as I focus this next week, it should be fine! I have the desire to run (so much desire) but sometimes I procrastinate when the opportunity presents itself and then it’s gone. I need to have more discipline in that respect.

Also…I totally failed to do any abs work this week. I hereby commit to do it three times next week. Please hold me accountable.

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Fire in the belly

It’s back!

What’s back??

The FIRE is back! The fire in the belly!

During my long months training for the Surf City Aids Ride, all I wanted to do was to run. I didn’t want to ride for HOURS, I just wanted to slip on some running shoes and run! So the minute I’d done my ride, I was planning to get out and run like a crazy girl.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

I just lacked ‘oomph’. I’ve been running – roughly three times a week and I’ve been enjoying it…but just lacking Belly Fire. I originally planned to train super-hard with the goal of PRing at Beat the Blerch 1/2 Marathon in Sacramento in November. My ITB issues over the summer meant that I was behind on that plan when I did my century ride, and frankly, I just never got started properly. It become increasing apparent that I won’t PR there and I’ve found my enthusiasm waning considerably as a result.

But that all changed last week.

I decided to sign up for the Walnut Creek Half in mid-December, about a month after Beat the Blerch. That gives me 9 weeks to train – that’s a GOOD amount of time. I stand a chance of PRing with 9 weeks of solid training.

The last time I PRd a half-marathon. Too Long Ago.

The last time I PR’d a half-marathon. Too Long Ago.


In addition, it’s not cheap – it’s about $100! That is a LOT of the Husband’s money to spend so I’m taking this seriously.

Walnut Creek is an interesting half. It’s in mid-December so should be a really good temperature – I ran a 10k in December in 2013 and it was pretty chilly in the morning. Chilly is good! The course looks decent but there is a GIANT hill between mile 4.3 and 6.8. This may be my downfall. There’s a solid mile-and-a-half downhill afterwards but I’m going to need to work on my hill climbing quite hard for this race. I’m also going to go and run the course (or at least the actual hill) in advance so I know what I’m letting myself in for!

It's not quite THIS bad

It’s not quite THIS bad


To prepare for this new endeavor, I bought some new running shoes. My current shoes have about 500 miles on them. My second pair of shoes aren’t cushioned enough runs over 6 miles (I’m heavy-footed and work through cushioning quickly) so I went to the shop, tried out a few pairs and surprisingly fell in love with the Saucony Triumphs! Honestly, looking at them in the box I was beside myself with excitement to run in them! I’m one run down so far…and so good!

Silver and purple. Yes please.

Silver and purple. Yes please.

So combine a new goal race, a more realistic target and some new shoes, I am seriously hyped about running again. So very excited about it. I feel that familiar buzz, that excitement! It’s so good to be excited about running again after a very long time of being a bit ‘blah’ about it.

I have a training plan all worked up. I haven’t yet decided whether to run the Blerch or not, even as a training run. My parents will be here and I’m loathe to leave them even for a day if it’s not for a PR! But I haven’t made up my mind yet.

What I HAVE decided is that I am TRAINING again and it feels GOOD! Walnut Creek! Here. I. Come!

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