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.

IMG_8163

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!

IMG_8165

 

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.

IMG_8172

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.

IMG_8176

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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The horrors of cycling apparel

To celebrate me finishing my first semester of ECE studies yesterday, I signed me and the Husband up for what will be our first century ride – excluding his Ironman exploits, of course! We’re doing the Surf City Aids Ride in Santa Cruz in September! I am super-excited about this new challenge. My bottom is a little more apprehensive!

Over the weekend, I’ll be working out a training plan for this, plus my next big half in November and a little hill climb I want to do over the summer, but it means that over the next three or four months I’m going to be ramping up the amount of cycling I’ll be doing. I have plenty of workout clothes so I’m going to try to buy as little additional cycling clothing as possible but there are a few things I do actually need.

In the past, I’ve worn simple padded shorts and running tops. Because I’ve ridden a touring bike with a rack on the back, I’ve been able to carry a nice big bag with me, and it’s carried most of my worldly goods.

 

I like to carry a lot of stuff when I cycle

I like to carry a lot of stuff when I cycle

 

But Margarita has no such rack. And my teeny tiny saddle bag means I have to wear something with copious amounts of pockets so I can carry all my stuff.  In addition, I do need to woman up and learn to clip into my pedals, which means I need some cycling shoes. (These are the very epitome of ugly). I think these two items are all I’ll need.

But OH, cycling clothes are so VERY ugly.

I’ve always thought that cycling clothes are particularly dreadful. We’ve all seen overweight MAMILS (middle-aged-men-in-lycra) wearing the most horrific, lurid cycling clothes as they slog uphill on their bikes, and I’ve shuddered. NOT at the guys (I NEVER mock people getting fit) but there are some UGLY jerseys out there!  The Fat Cyclist did an awesome post about it!!

This is a Colombian men’s cycling team.

 

 

Colombian ladies don’t get off any more lightly.

Colombian bikers 3

 

There are some HORRIFIC cycling jerseys out there for us girls. In fact, there’s a whole Tumblr devoted to  bad women’s jerseys.

So I’ve been exploring companies that make NICE cycling clothes for women. I asked for recommendations on twitter and THESE companies were suggested, as people who make clothes that don’t make you die inside when you put them on.

Please note – some of these companies aren’t particularly cheap (nothing about cycling is particularly cheap) but they have sales. Also, none of these are affiliate links. No-one pays me to blog. If they did, I’d be spending it on a really nice cycling jersey.

America

Coeur

It seems that all the cool California kids wear Coeur! They’re kind of like the Oiselle of the cycling/tri world but not as obnoxious. Their gear is seriously nice but slightly out of my price range so I’m hanging in there for the sales.

Twin Six

Recommended by Kristen, these guys have some cool retro-style jerseys. They also do ‘bundles’ where you buy the jersey and the shorts and get 16% off, which I find really appealing.

Assos

A Swiss company also recommended by Kristen, these guys deliver to the US and Europe. Their clothes are nice but their marketing is frankly so sexist that I’m boycotting them. This isn’t something I do often… but seriously!  Once again, the Fat Cyclist nailed this on the head with this Open Letter To Assos. (You need to read this).

Team Estrogen

Despite spelling oestrogen wrongly, they have some good stuff. They also have a Game of Thrones inspired range! I would willingly spend a fortune for a GoT themed jersey, but it’s just unfortunate that the jersey named after my favourite GoT lady, Cersei, is so ugly. And why does the Daenerys jersey have fish on it?? DRAGONS is what’s needed. I would definitely buy a dragon-themed jersey!

cersei

The Cersei jersey. Can you see the Mother of Madness wearing this monstrosity?

 

Lexi Miller

Danielle recommended this company to me and I kind of wish she hadn’t, because their Wrapture jersey is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and it’s about three times my price range! Ever since seeing it, nothing else has compared.

Be still my dodgily-valved heart!

Be still my dodgily-valved heart!

She also recommended Smashfest Queen and Betty Designs . They’re not my style but are definitely worth checking out.

Dude Girl

I have one of their t-shirts and I love it, so I’m inclined towards some of their stuff. I like their Bike Love jersey but am not good with white. (I’m the girl who got dog poo on her wedding dress.

dude girl

 

UK

There are some great UK companies out there at the moment and these guys all deliver to the US.

Minx-girl

These guys are my fave – I bought stuff from them before we moved out here. I really like their selection, they’re a lovely company fairly local to my parents and their sales are excellent. Also, I love the word ‘minx’.

Velovixen

Recommended by Rachel, I discovered these guys recently and their stuff is so stylish. They have some reasonably priced items and I want about half of what they have on the site.

Primal-Women-s-Bold-Jersey-Short-Sleeve-Jerseys-Grey-Green-Blue-Pink-SS15-BOL1J60W0

Thoughts? Is this too much black for a hot Californian summer?

 

Rapha is a very elegant, hipster-y British company who make very elegant and beautifully constructed (if slightly dull?) cycling clothes. Vulpine is another similar company and their founder is very funny on Twitter.

No idea what I’ll end up with.

Anyway. The summary of this blog post is:

  • I’m going to be cycling 100 miles in September.
  • I need a new jersey and some cycling shoes.
  • Much of what’s out there is very ugly

Before I wrap this up…let’s take a few minutes to be grateful we’re not wearing this!

wolf

…and PS…check this out for a laugh.

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Race Recap: The Strawberry Stampede 5k

Last week, due to my online commitment to get my bottom into gear, I did just that. I managed to do at least half an hour’s exercise every day except Saturday. I cycled, I ran and twice I did the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred, which left me drenched in sweat and aching! I didn’t get to swim as it was pretty chilly here this week. It’s amazing how much even half an hour’s exercise makes a difference to your state of mind!!

Anyway. We spent Memorial Day weekend in San Luis Obispo county with the wonderful Marjolaine and her playboy! They live just outside LA, we live just outside SF so it was about halfway between. We’d driven through the area but never stopped there, so it was exciting to visit a new part of California. We rented a cute house in Atascadero.

On Sunday, we did a race, the Strawberry Stampede at Arroyo Grande, to the south of San Luis Obispo. The plan was for Marjolaine and me to race it and for my boys to run it together. The injured Playboy would take photos! I was hoping to PR or to finally go sub-25 – I wasn’t sure if either was a possibility. We were slightly late leaving the house and so arrived in Arroyo Grande slightly pressed for time. The Husband dropped us near the race staging area and dashed off to find parking – there was plenty of parking on the residential streets nearby.

The Strawberry Stampede is part of the Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival. There’s a 10k and a 5k. It was a really lovely little event. Lots of community feel about it. For me, however, it was kind of a disaster at the start. The Dude and I went to use the loo and jogged slowly back across the grass to the start line where the Husband was waiting. And Muggins here twisted her ankle again on the grass. It hurt! So I couldn’t decide whether to run with the Dude and let the Husband race or to press on with my plan. I tested it out a bit –  I could feel the ache in my foot but it wasn’t awful. Okay, I’d race it.

With four minutes to go, the Husband headed over the nearby loos, leaving me and the Dude to line up together. We positioned ourselves just behind the fast people and in front of the strollers. We were chatting away casually, a few minutes to go and suddenly the gun went off and oops, we were running.

Okay then, it looked like I was going to run with the Dude.

After my last race with him, which was ‘frustrating’, I went into this one with a very different perspective. I was super encouraging and perky throughout. And he ran pretty well. There was a lot of ‘Run to that stop sign then walk to the silver car’ throughout the whole race but he was in a good mood and we were having a lot of fun.

dude

At about a mile in, the Husband caught up with us. He said I could run on ahead and race but I felt it was just too far into the race, so we decided to run it together as a family. We’ve not done that before, so it was rather lovely actually. The course is an out-and-back. It winds through residential streets for a bit and then sets off past a big field. Very pretty. Not flat. The first runners headed back past us. The boys were flying. The first girl came through – she was about 8. (Seriously). Then Marjolaine flew past us. Girl is fast!

strawberry stampede

It was much prettier than it looks here

husband dude

My boys tearing up the course… (walk break)

 

We got to the turnaround point and continued our ‘run to the blue car, walk to the yellow sign’ pattern. The Dude was running well, we were having fun. And then, as we got back into Arroyo Grande, our little man heard the finish line commotion and set off at rocket speed, leaving me and the Husband looking like we weren’t trying.

The family that races together eats strawberries together

The family that races together eats strawberries together

At the finish line, there were strawberries for all finishers – genius idea! We caught up with Marjolaine who had come second woman overall with a time under 20 minutes (and behind the kid who turned out to be 10). They told us there would be about 40-45 minutes before the prize giving so we wandered into Arroyo Grande for coffee first. We got back in time for the awards ceremony only to find that they’d done that early as well so Marjolaine had missed out on her moment of glory and we had missed out on the joy of hearing someone try to pronounce her difficult French surname!

Marjolaine and her age-group-win medal..and the Dude with the solar powered hummingbird he talked his dad into buying him

Marjolaine and her age-group-win medal..and the Dude with the solar powered hummingbird he talked his dad into buying him

Apart from the ‘over-promptness’ with the starting gun and the prize giving, there was NOTHING not to like about this race. It’s a lovely event (very friendly) and the course is beautiful, if not easy!! It also measured a perfect 3.1 miles, which I appreciated enormously after the past few short courses I’ve run! It was only $30 which is a bargain these days. I would totally recommend doing this if you’re in the area next year!

Strawberries for finishers

Strawberries for finishers

My foot hurt for a day or so but is much better now! Back on the strength exercises again eh? Whilst I was a little disappointed not to race it and see how I fared, it was probably wise to take it easy, and being honest, I really enjoyed running it as a family. I count myself very lucky to have these boys to myself!

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Our epic bike trip

The post below is a repost of something I wrote back in 2012, just after I started the blog when basically only my Mum was reading it. A few of you may have read it since (in which case, come back later this week) but for some people it may be new. It was one of my biggest adventures and definitely one of the best things I did in my entire life, so I’m taking a chance of annoying you and republishing it!!! Hope you enjoy it!!

2008.

Before we had a baby, before we had a cat, before we lived in California, we took a month off work and cycled across Europe. This had been a long-term dream of mine – and was the one thing I absolutely had to do before we started a family. I had been planning the route for about a year on a mammoth spreadsheet, investigating roads, accommodation, things to see. I’m one of those people for whom planning is as much a joy as the trip itself,

We left in the May. However, in the January, I broke my leg skiing. My physiotherapist and I worked so hard to get ready and I have never been so flipping focused on anything in my life. So, come May, even though I couldn’t walk very well, we put our bikes on the plane and headed off.

When you break your leg, be sure to get your companion to take loads of photographs of the rescue operation.

We were just kids! Leaving Toulouse airport at the start of our trip

We started in lovely Toulouse, the pink city, in the South West of France, and cycled the gorgeous Canal du Midi, visited the amazing castle at Carcassonne and the Roman Arena in Arles before finishing in beautiful Aix-en-Provence, where, in my youth,  I spent six months as a student!!

Day One down the Canal du Midi

Amazing Carcassonne

Beautiful Arles

Market in Aix-en-Provence

Clock Tower in Aix

From Aix we entered the hill country so life got tougher but SO much more beautiful. We crossed the Luberon, saw Mont Ventoux, cycled up 4 ‘cols’ (mountain passes) and through the amazing Vercors National Park before plummeting like stones into the cool, Alpine University city of Grenoble.

Gobsmacking rock formations near the village of Remuzat

Me at my happiest, climbing the Col de Rousset

From Grenoble, it was lake-tastic. We started with beautiful, lakeside Aix-les-Bains and then cycled along Lake Geneva before spending an incredible day in the idyllic Alpine countryside along Interlaken. We then had a wonderful rest-day in the car-free, fairytale village of Muerren.

Paraglider outside Grenoble – alas it wasn’t me.

Lake Geneva

Lovely wooden bridge outside Interlaken

Breathtaking Lauterbrunnen

Muerren chalet

Our next leg crossed over the Brunig Pass to Luzern and its lovely lake, and then on to Rapperswil, a little lakeside town where frankly I could have stayed for the rest of my life! And then, in one day, we had breakfast in Switzerland, lunch in Liechtenstein and dinner in Austria! We then slogged slowly up the Arlberg Pass and along the Inn river in the rain to damp but beautiful Innsbruck.

Lake steamer outside Interlaken

My much adored bike Liesl by the SarnerSee

Walensee, Switzerland

Made it to Liechtenstein (Also…I remember that pre-child waist)

Our final leg followed the River Inn for a day or so before veering briefly into Germany for a night and then somehow we made it to Salzburg and our trip’s end.

Golden Roof in Innsbruck

1187 miles down and we finally made Salzburg

Because the Husband hadn’t carried enough weight during the past month…

My favourite place on earth – Salzburg

1200 miles in four weeks. I look back on those days and all we remember is the freedom and the happiness. Yes, we had tough days, our legs ached, we squabbled about map-reading, I had awful hay-fever, we got wet some days. But years later, all we remember is freedom. The freedom to choose the only clean clothes you have in your panniers. The freedom of the road, where map-reading is the only issue you face. The freedom to feel the rain in your face and the sun on your back. There is nothing like the buzz I got from the morning ritual of putting panniers on racks, swinging my leg over the crossbar and heading out into a new world. Just writing this makes me ache for that freedom. I totally don’t regret having our little man, but those happy days cycle-touring are the one thing I ache for.That season will come again before I know it, but for now, I miss it.

There’s a MUCH longer write-up of this trip HERE at crazyguyonabike.com – a fantastic cycle-touring website where hundreds of cyclists write the journals of their epic bike trips around the world. It’s quite addictive and inspirational…proceed with caution.

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