Kaiser Half Training: Week 7

This week’s training went REALLY well,  after the disappointment of last week’s ankle-twisting debacle! Both quantity and quality were decent and there were some really reassuring, even exciting, hints that my running is getting a little faster!


Monday: Easy Run

I was ready to test my ankle after last week’s twist! So six very easy, gentle, tentative miles. It was very slippy outside after all the recent rain so I used my apartment complex’s treadmill which was a wise decision. Pain-free miles. 6 miles at 9.49 pace.

Tuesday: Interval Run

Risked the muddy path to run outside today. Usual interval session. I felt pretty decent – almost too decent, I didn’t feel that spark and adrenaline rush during the speedy bits that I usually feel. So I was surprised that this week’s session was faster than the last session I ran a few weeks ago. Ankle felt pretty solid. 4 miles at 8.56 pace.

Wednesday: Rest Day.

Thursday: Long Run

I wasn’t hugely in the mood for this long run so I treated myself to a run in the city. School finishes tomorrow and fitting my long run in will be more complicated for a few weeks. (Not complaining, so excited about having the Dude to myself for a fortnight).  So I drove an hour each way to the Warming Hut and ran 12 miles along the Embarcadero. It was grey and overcast but running in the city is always a treat! And I got to listen to the final Serial podcast on the way in!

I swear I'm not taking any more photos of the bridge...and then...

I swear I’m not taking any more photos of the bridge…and then…

I ran a new workout today from the 80/20 plan. It was called ‘Long Run with Speed Play’ and basically consisted of one mile warm up and then 10 repeats of 0.25 mile tempo and 0.75 mile recovery, ending with one easy mile to cool down. I REALLY loved it – the miles flew by as I was always waiting for my Garmin to beep so I could run fast again. The different views and the games of tourist-dodging kept me busy too! 12 miles at 9.29 pace – my fastest long run for a long time and it felt pretty awesome throughout.

Friday: Easy Run

Six easy miles to shake things out. I did toy with the idea of going back to Zumba – I did love it last week, but I decided I should do some ankle-strengthening before I stepped back into the danger zone again. 6 miles at 9.47 pace.

Saturday: Cross Train

I headed to the gym today, somewhat nervous about re-twisting my ankle. Today’s class was called ‘The Athlete’s Workout’ and promised a circuits-style class. In the end, it was a tough cardio class incorporating weights, a step and mat work, so nothing like its description. It was led by a tiny pixie of a woman who could have been anything from 50 to 70. She absolutely kicked my bottom. The cardio element was steady and didn’t kill me, but the planking and crunching and muscle-toning moves had my legs and arms shaking! I was very cautious with my ankle and got through the class safely.

Later that day, we went for our first family hike for a LONG time. Two easy miles round a local park on some surprisingly isolated trails, given that they were surrounded by residential streets!

Lovely trails at Water Dog Park

Lovely trails at Water Dog Park

The Dude got his first pair of Salomon trail shoes this week (deeply discounted in the REI sale). We’ve loved Salomons for a long time now so it’s fun to be a Salomon family. The Dude basically thinks he’s Kilian Jornet now!

The Salomon Family

The Salomon Family

Sunday: Tempo Run

Everything was working against me for this run. There was blustery wind from every direction. I ran at 2pm, having snacked on cookies at church all morning and thus with my belly weighing me down. The muscles in my inner thighs and the back of my thighs were aching badly from yesterday’s gym class. Everything was tough. But I set out to do my tempo run with my boys accompanying me on their bikes. One mile warm up and then hammer time, four miles at tempo.

It was flipping tough. I felt like I was working so hard and the winds were buffeting me from all directions. Headwinds on the way north…and headwinds on the way south, seriously! I kept fighting as hard as I could, spit elegantly splashing into my eyes and settling on my lashes. That final mile was interminable. As I ran, I reflected sadly that when I checked my garmin, I’d be seeing 8.30s even though I was running flat out, and I comforted myself with the absolute knowledge that, even if I knew I could run faster, I knew I couldn’t have run any harder today.

I caught my breath at the end of the tempo miles and jogged slowly home, stopped my garmin and gloomily checked my paces. The tempo miles clocked in at: 8.05, 8.24, 8.18 and 8.14!! Absolute triumph. I literally walked back to the apartment with my hands in the air like I’d won a medal. My fastest miles since I was training for Bay Breeze back in February. And if the weather was kinder, I knew I could run faster, if not harder! REALLY excited. 6 miles at 8.43 pace.


On the whole, this was a good week’s running – I’m delighted to have run 34 miles. I’m really happy with how my ankle feels – no pain, no discomfort when running. I was really pleased with my long run and over the moon with my tempo miles.

I was also pleased to get a gym class in. My gym is super-cheap so if I get one class per week done, that will be enough for me. I secretly want to go back to Zumba – maybe next week!

One other exciting thing this week was that I got a (fleeting) mention on the Marathon Talk podcast this week – I left a comment on their FB page about Jo Pavey not winning Sports Personality of the Year. I heard my name as I ran through San Francisco and found the whole thing far more exciting than I should have.

And now it’s Christmas Week! I’m off to wrap some presents!

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2014 on the run

So here it is, my End of Year Reflection on this year’s running! I’m using the same format that I used in 2013 and 2012. I got it from Theodora’s blog, but a few weeks ago I saw Angela use it, crediting Miss Zippy. So I have no idea who came up with it, but it’s a great way of thinking things through.

It’s been quite an odd year as regards running. It started with me nailing two PRs – a 10k in February and a half-marathon in March. This period was obviously awesome, and I followed it in April with a fantastic race on Angel Island, which I loved. But then, running scaled down dramatically to support the Husband on his Ironman journey. I struggled to get back into my groove. I over-trained and exhausted my legs, but have finished the year by falling back in love with running and training, whilst I try out my own peculiar version of 80/20 and pushing it for a birthday PR come February. So it’s been quite the roller-coaster of a year.

Here are the highlights.

Best Race Experience

Ironically, it wasn’t my race. My best race experience, hands down, was the Husband’s Ironman in July. It was like being at the Olympic Games, from the scale of the operation! Utterly brilliant, from start to finish. So many tears.

I burst with pride for Ironballz

I burst with pride for Ironballz

If I had to pick my OWN best race experience, it would be Ragnar Napa. Not because of the seamless race organization (ahem) but because of the awesome time I had with twelve awesome people. I was buzzing on Ragnar adrenaline long after the sleep deprivation had gone!

Van 1 Rich, me, Sabrina, Matt, Marjorie, Amanda

Six of the best

An Honourable Mention goes out to my other relay, the MUCH better organized Wild West Relay. Napa pipped it to the post because there was oxygen available!

Representing the UK in the middle of nowhere!

Representing the UK in the middle of nowhere!

Most Inspiring Runner

Without being soppy, it would be all of you – my online and real-life running friends. For your achievements, your tenacity, your dedication, your PRs and your disasters.

If I had to pick a ‘famous’ runner, it would probably be UK runner Jo Pavey who, in 2014 won bronze at the 10k at the Commonwealth Games and then won gold at the European Championships. The gold came  just 10 months after giving birth to her second child and when Jo herself was heading towards her 41st birthday. She has come so close to winning significant medals in the past but never quite made it and yet somehow, this was her year. For this girl, turning 40 in a few weeks, I find this incredibly inspiring. It makes me want to run harder and to see what my 40s have in store! Watch this little video as she goes for gold.

My Best Run

Without a shadow of a doubt, it was THIS run in Vancouver, the week before Ironman. The Husband and I ran round Stanley Park, me pushing the Dude in the stroller. Somehow, that 6 mile stroller-run was effortless, like gliding. The route was beautiful and I just ran and ran for over an hour with my heart singing! And then we got brunch!

me stroller stanley park vancouver

Best New Gear

I do love my Garmin 220. It does everything I need it to do and I love using it. I’m also quite smitten with my new Hokas, but the Garmin wins.



Best Running Advice

I’ve quoted this several times but my best advice this year came from Sara, who I interviewed in Running the World: Sweden.

I’ve come to the conclusion that running a 10k race 30 second faster, or so, won’t make me happier. But running in beautiful places will. That’s quite an insight which has completely changed the way I run, and made it more fun and more meaningful.

I love chasing PRs, I get a lot of pleasure from both the training and the achievement, but I need to remember what Sara says to keep me taking pleasure in running.

Most Exciting Moment

This is embarrassing but somehow getting into the UK’s TrailRunner magazine would be it.

Magazine Me

It’s not been a bad year for a girl, has it!

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Old dog. New Tricks

In 50 days, I turn 40.


I’m kind of torn about it. Slightly reluctant because…40? That’s old.  At least, it’s officially Not Young. And it feels weird. But also excited because I’m a girl who loves birthdays, I love being the centre of attention (I know it’s not polite to say so, I’m just being honest). I love having a fuss made of me.

All the cakes!

All the cakes!

I’m also strangely excited about reaching this milestone. I will move into another age-group for races and I WONDER if I might even win my age-group one day? If the hot 40-year-olds stay home with arthritis or something? But even outside of racing, it’s a new chapter in my life and that is always something to look forward to.

And it is indeed a new chapter. Because as of January 22nd, I’ll be going back to school. I’m going to retrain as a pre-school teacher!


I never saw this coming. I didn’t know I liked children until I had one. I was always the girl who preferred the company of animals to other people’s babies.  I have thought about becoming a teacher since I was 16 but I was lured by the glamour of corporate life (ahem) and then I didn’t want to tie myself down to holidays/vacations in line with school holidays. But now I’m firmly locked into the school system  via the Dude and so the time feels right. I’m honestly beside myself about this new opportunity. Like ‘can’t sit still’ excited.

Basically THIS excited!

Basically THIS excited!

I am very VERY grateful to the Husband for supporting me doing this. It’ll change our daily lives quite dramatically whilst I study but he’s totally on board and I am really grateful.

I’ll be taking 3 courses (9 credits) in the first semester and then I’m planning finishing off over the summer so hopefully, come the Autumn, I’ll be qualified. It will be interesting to see how running fits round this big workload – it may need to take a back seat? – but I’m going to try and make it work as best I can.

And then, later in the year, I can start teaching!!

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Six

What a rubbish week’s running! So much frustration here!!

I had a great plan. Some running at the start of the week, two days tapering and then Saturday’s trail half-marathon, Summit Rock. And it was all going so well.


Monday: Rest Day

After the past weekend’s tempo run and long run, my legs were tired. I’d planned to go to my new gym (I even visited it and officially registered) but in the end, I did nothing. I needed that rest day.

Tuesday: Hill Repeats

After the morning’s encouraging visit to the cardiologist, I celebrated with hill repeats. Seal Point was deliciously green after the recent rains. I ran just over a mile as warm up and then 10 repeats up the hill, which was roughly 0.1 mile up and the same down. I then ran a cool-down to make it to 4 miles. I’ll be honest, the hill repeats were tough. I’ve not run hills for a long time. The weekend’s race (up a giant hill) would be fun. 4 miles at 10.04 pace.

Wednesday: Cruise Interval Run

A new workout from 80/20. Ten minutes warm up and then 4 repeats of (8 mins tempo pace, 3 mins recovery) and then jog home. I actually really enjoyed this run. I’m not sure of my pace but when I glanced down, each tempo pace seemed to be about 8.30, more or less. 6 miles at 9.14 pace. 

Thursday: Rest

If you didn’t hear about it, a massive storm hit the Bay Area. High winds and deluges of rain. Here on the peninsula, we were pretty lucky – there was a lot of rain and some localised flooding, but nothing crazy. SF had massive blackouts, dramatic tree-uprooting and widespread blackouts. Further north, wine country had severe flooding. It gained the hashtag #hellastorm and I was grateful for a roof over my head and for a well-timed rest day. Some sobering photos here.

Friday:  My second ever Zumba Class.


Saturday: Summit Rock Half Marathon

Sob. Instead I met the grinning, muddy, happy girls at BT’s and joined in the brunch as if I’d run the whole thing myself as well. My ankle was still sore but not painful, if that makes sense.

Five runner girls, a grinning child and two slightly reluctant spouses

Five runner girls, a grinning child and two slightly reluctant spouses

Edited to add: Please also note the tortoise on BT’s hand (to my left) :)


If this was a weekday, I would have gone to the gym and done a spin class but in the end, I decided to give my ankle another day to heal.


I’m pretty disappointed with my 10 sad miles this week and quite frustrated with this set-back in training. I’m not freaking out. I know from experience that I can run quite easily again after an ankle twist, but I am annoyed at the lack of long run in particular.

I still cannot fathom how I can PR come February, looking at my paces but I shall keep training. I’m actually really enjoying training – I love the focus it’s giving me, the motivation to get out the door a few times a week at 6am. I’m loving running at the moment and that’s probably more important anyway!

One fun thing that happened this week was that 2015’s running-themed calendar arrived. ‘Exciting?’, you ask. Why yes…because I made it myself!  This is either extreme narcissism or just a lovely way to celebrate some amazing places I’ve run  to encourage me to run further in 2015. You decide :)

My best-ever cool down, in Hawaii last year

My best-ever cool down, in Hawaii last year

As I write this, on Sunday evening, my ankle is still a little sore but I’m going to strap it up and try running on it tomorrow. I think it will be okay. Let’s hope my Birthday PR campaign gets back on track this week!

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The evils of cross-training

You’re so lucky…three posts from me this week so far! Clearly I have too much free time.

One of the things 80/20 calls for is cross-training, and frankly every runner should do cross-training. THIS runner very VERY rarely does cross-training, so, as I mentioned before, I joined a gym last week. I visited it for the first time on Monday and today, Friday, I went to my first class. I could choose between spin and Zumba. Because I have a trail half-marathon tomorrow, I chose Zumba as it would be easier on my legs.

This was only my second ever Zumba class. This was my first one, waaay back in 2012. I gathered in the room with lots of older ladies and a couple of chicks and then the teacher came in. Latin American, all flying black hair, flashing eyes and a smokin’ body. I know it’s a cliché but it’s totally the truth. Instant girl-crush. The music came on, the class started and I just loved it.


I was kind of embarrassed about how much I was loving Zumba. I have NO groove so I was this awkward, middle-aged, middle-class, white stay-at-home mum trying desperately to shake her stuff. It was like Baby when Johnny tries to teach her to dance . (Go on, click on it, watch it. Is any movie scene better than that one?) Basically, I was out of sync on all the moves, my hips did lie and I deeply regretted my lack of bosom to wiggle at the appropriate moment. But I was grinning and loving it. It wasn’t too intense – the cardio side of it barely had me out of breath. Perfect, fun, low-intensity cross-training. I started throwing myself into it, not worrying how awkward I looked in the giant wall of mirrors opposite me!

And then suddenly I’m on the floor, clutching my ankle in agony and breathing through the pain!

The last time I twisted my left ankle

The last time I twisted my left ankle

What kind of badass trail runner twists her ankle in a ZUMBA CLASS?? 

This one apparently. It was immediately obvious that I won’t be joining my lovely girls sloshing through 13.1 miles of mud in Saratoga’s redwoods tomorrow. That would be very foolish. So I’m sat on the sofa with the cat; icing, resting, elevating and planning to compress.

It’s my own fault, I have done no ankle strengthening for a long time and I realise now that I need to do this consistently. Because if I can’t even do a Zumba class, that’s just pathetic. Two posts about what exercises to do for stronger ankles HERE and HERE.

So good luck to all my runner girls tomorrow (and Erin doing her first 50k on Sunday). Watch your ankles. I’ll be watching Dirty Dancing.

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How I’m gauging my heart-rate zones without a heart-rate monitor

We are currently hunkered down, sheltering from #hellastorm! Where we live, it’s just been some rain and some wind, although we had a giant front come through a few minutes ago which was actually quite impressive. I think San Francisco and other areas of the Bay Area have had it much worse. The Dude’s school has closed so we’re sat in bed with the iPad for a bit. And what else to do during a massive storm than blog??? 

Earlier this week, I had an email from a lady who is also doing 80/20 training. She asked me how I gauged my different heart rate zones, bearing in mind that I don’t use a heart-rate monitor. As I was writing back, I realised this might be an interesting subject for a post, so I thought I’d talk through it here. Many of you are much cleverer and more science-y than I am, so I’d welcome your thoughts.

This was the gist of what I wrote.

The caveats

  • I am not an expert. I’m not very scientific. Some of the science sections of the book had me bewildered. I could translate it into two different languages but I didn’t understand bits of it.
  • I think Matt Fitzgerald would have a fit if he looked at my training and heard me claim to be using 80/20. I’m not sticking exactly to his plan for a couple of reasons.
This is Matt Fitzgerald running as far away from my 80/20 claims as possible

This is Matt Fitzgerald running as far away from my 80/20 claims as possible

How I’ve tried to incorporate the principles of  80/20 into my running.

  • I’ve used the 3rd plan for the half-marathon – the ‘advanced’ one.
  • As you know, I’ve had a crazy couple of months and so I’ve not yet started doing doubles or any cross-training that are called for in that plan. I’m hoping to start doing both very soon.
  • I’ve upped my running days to 5/week instead of 3 or 4/week. This has resulted in about a 10% increase in my mileage. More would be better, I know, but life is busy and I don’t have time to add more. I think the additional mileage/running days has been good for me.
  • I’ve had at least two rest days/week. That 3rd plan calls for just one rest day/fortnight but I know my legs and my spirit wouldn’t handle that very well.
  •  I’ve plotted my mileage carefully and done my best to keep an 80/20 balance of slower/faster miles. Sometimes I’m slightly over, sometimes slightly under but I aim to get as close as possible.
  • However, I have never worn a heart-rate monitor. Ever.

How have I determined my different heart-rate zones?

I would be the first to admit it’s been guesswork. However, there has been some method in my madness. In my head, it’s a bit like driving a car – different gears, if that makes sense. I feel like, for every heart rate zone, I ramp up a gear.

Z1 – I had three weeks where I ran super slowly. My legs were very tired and I let them run as slowly as they wanted. However, I’d start slowly and then realise that I was still ‘making an effort’ so I ran slower still until it was genuinely very easy. That turned out to be about 11.25 pace, which was humbling. I rarely run that slowly now, but that would be Zone 1 for me.

Z2 -  I’ve been running slowly for two months now and that easy pace is now about 10.30. Whilst I’m running, I imagine that my friends are running with me. Can I chat to them? Could I hold a conversation and run at this speed comfortably? When I stop at red lights, am I (at all) breathless? That’s kind of been my gauge for the slower paces.

In the Zone (Z2)

In the Zone (Z2)

Z3 – For me, zone 3 has been where I pick the pace up but am not pushing it and could still chat fairly comfortably. That has turned out to be about 9.20 – 9.40 pace for me.

Z4 – Zone 4 has been where I’m running pretty fast. Because of my heart, I rarely sprint – zone 5 – so I try to run as fast as I can at a sustainable pace. This would be tempo pace or 10k race pace, that kind of thing. That’s turned out to be anything from 8.15 – 8.40.

Z5 ? – When I do intervals, I sometimes look down on the fast sections and see 7.50 pace sometimes (which is very exciting for me) but that’s for a very short period of time and I don’t do that very often as I want to train wisely as regards  my heart.

For me, the big thing about gauging easy pace was literally imagining my friends running next to me and thinking about whether I could hold a proper conversation with them as we ran along. And also the red light thing was important – am I at all out of breath or not? Those questions have been my  constant guide.

I definitely think a heart-rate monitor would have been wise. It’s prescribed in the book after all, and it would definitely keep my training more true and honest. In the future, I may well get a Mio and sense-check my zones, but I’m fairly happy with the mental zoning I’ve described above.

We will see, come February, how well it’s worked.

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Update on my heart

It always feels a little odd, sharing my medical news with random strangers on the internet. However I started this blog with the desire to share my particular story as a runner with a heart condition and maybe to encourage people with heart conditions that it was possible to run and be active. CLEARLY I am not a doctor and I am not an expert and I would NEVER recommend disobeying your cardiologist if he tells you not to run. But for those of us who are healthy and strong, yet have this underlying condition, running is not necessarily a bad thing if managed carefully.

For a brief overview of my own heart condition, click here. Last year’s update is here.

Last week I had my annual echocardiogram and today I went to see my cardiologist to get the results. I couldn’t decide whether to get an interval session in early that morning, in case he told me never to run fast again, or to wait till afterwards and maybe celebrate with a run. I chose the latter, but I rocked up at the hospital in my running gear :)

The news overall is good. My heart has not got any bigger – which is his overall indication of whether or not I’d need valve replacement surgery, something that will inevitably happen with time. My regurgitation hasn’t worsened and is still above the desirable level for people with perfectly healthy hearts. The aortic root hasn’t increased particularly. He had a very slight concern that, during my echo, my heart threw a couple of extra beats in there, so I was told to come back if I had any ‘flutters’. I have flutters VERY rarely but not frequently enough to worry either of us.

I was very honest with him about my running. The amount I do, my average speeds, my speedwork speeds, hills, that kind of thing. I love my cardiologist because he doesn’t just suck in his breath, shake his head and tell me not to run. He nods along and doesn’t look overly concerned, so if ever he does tell me not to run, I’d have confidence that he means it for a reason rather than just as a default setting! I’m insured with Kaiser so I mentioned I was training for the Kaiser Half and he may be running it too, which would reassure my Mum!

So overall, he told me to keep going and to keep myself as strong, healthy and fit as possible. I came away really grateful and positive and happy…and celebrated with hill repeats! As you do.

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Five

This week, our guests went home. We LOVE having our family to stay but after six weeks of visitors and house-moving, it’s kind of nice to be settling into our new flat!

This week’s training went well.


Monday: Fast Finish Run

My first 6am run of the week. Ran the first four miles at easy pace and then blitzed the final two miles. Somehow ran them at 8.15 and 8.16 respectively. I was knackered but chuffed to bits at the end. Is this a result of stellar training, a few days at altitude or magic shoes? Or, as Layla suggested, the result of eating leftover Macaroni Cheese for breakfast the previous day! 6 miles at 9.27 pace.

Tuesday: Intervals

My first rainy run of the week. 1/2 mile warm up, then 13 x (1 min fast, 1 min recovery) and then 1/2 mile cool down. Slightly slower than last time’s. Must eat more macaroni cheese. 4 miles at 9.03 pace. 

Wednesday: Easy Run 

A hilarious run. 6am, pitch black and chucking it down with rain. I was drenched within a mile and stepped in several puddles deeper than my shoes so I squelched those miles out. It wasn’t cold at all so it was actually kind of fun! I also loved the hot shower afterwards.    6 miles at 10.00 pace. 

Thursday: Rest Day

We took the in-laws to the airport. Our crazy November is over. Whilst we’re always sad to see family go home, it was nice to have our house back again. We can start unpacking now!

Friday: Rest

I meant to run today but didn’t/couldn’t get out of bed in the morning…and never got round to running during the day. Instead, we got our Christmas tree up!

Saturday: Tempo Run

6.30 am on a Saturday and I’m out running. This six miler had three consecutive tempo miles in it – they turned out to be 8.33, 8.28 and 8.42. That final mile includes an overpass with two zig-zag bends and a steep incline so I wasn’t too concerned. Pretty happy with this run. 6 miles at 9.30 pace.

An old photo...but it was this dark

An old photo…but it was this dark

 Sunday: Long Run

My legs felt tired for today’s long run, after yesterday’s effort. I ran 12 pretty comfortable miles with Mile 10 as a ‘faster’ mile. I slogged out a 9.25 and was pretty knackered after that. I’m continuing to be a bit disappointed/depressed by my long runs. I know they’re supposed to be slow but they’re not getting any easier or any faster. I despair a little of ever PRing again on these runs. (Oh so dramatic). I did run on new paths today around Redwood Shores and they were a flipping delight! 12 miles at 10.05 pace.


I am generally pretty pleased with this week’s running. I finally made it over that elusive 30 mile marker (34 in total) and the miles were pretty decent quality as well!

One of the things that 80/20 Running encourages is cross-training, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while as well. However I knew that I’d be lucky to get my running training in over the past few weeks without trying to fit in anything else. Over Thanksgiving I got an email from a local gym with an offer I couldn’t resist so I have Joined A Gym. I haven’t actually BEEN to this gym yet but in the next week, I fully intend to do so and to do a class or two too!

I currently have some mixed feelings on the Hokas. I ADORE them whilst I’m running. All the aches and pains and niggles that I often have just disappear, they are a joy to run in. However afterwards, I definitely have aching knees so I’ve been not wearing them for any more than 6 miles. However my last run in them didn’t result in aching knees so maybe I’m settling in.

Next weekend, I’m running Summit Rock Half Marathon with Jen, Jess, KP and BT. It’s a tough course with BIG hills and I suddenly realized this week that I’ve not run any hills for weeks. Kaiser is flat so I’ve been training on flat. It could be painful next weekend. If this rain continues, it could also be messy!! I’m excited.

Last week, I also signed up to join KP, Jess and Jen as a relay team at the Oakland Marathon in March. We’ll each run about 6.5 miles. Our team is called Crazy Cat Ladies, as we are all smitten with our mogs. I am pretty excited about this!

Bonus extra photo because he's gorgeous!

Bonus extra photo because he’s gorgeous!

And that, people, is me over and out.

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A few weeks ago, Jen asked me if I’d be interested in helping test a new website that some friends of hers were setting up. ‘Race Races’ would allow runners to review and rate races they’d done. Kind of like ‘Yelp’ but for races. I loved the idea so immediately said yes!  For the past month or so, a number of us have been writing race reviews, testing the site and making suggestions on how it could be improved.

Race Raves launched today and I’d wholeheartedly recommend that you check it out, sign up and start adding reviews of races you’ve done. There are international races on there if you’re not US-based and if your race isn’t on the site, you can easily get it listed and then review it.

It’s a great resource, I think honestly it’s brilliant and the more people who review races, the better the site will be! One of the best things about running is the community of runners, and this is a great way to give back!


(Totally unpaid for this, I volunteered my time and wholeheartedly recommend the website). 

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Kaiser Half Training: Week Four

AKA…the Thanksgiving edition :)

Crazy November continued with the arrival of my lovely Brother in Law, taking our guest tally to four….and a trip up to Tahoe for Thanksgiving.


We got here late on Wednesday night. Thursday (Thanksgiving) was a little challenging, with some of us struggling with altitude, others with germs and others with too much Wii time (eh, Dude?). Sometimes, we expect big events like Thanksgiving and Christmas to naturally be magical and heartwarming, but frankly, being thankful is most important on the difficult days. This year, I was grateful for a LOT of things. My boys, my family, my friends, my health, my safety…and also for running and for you lovely people who read this blog and have become friends, either in real life or still online.

Amidst all the stuff, I managed to pack some decent running in this week.


Monday: Long Run

14 MILES!! 14 MILES!!! I think this was my longest run since I ran the London Marathon 10 years ago. I know 14 miles isn’t that long for all you marathon runners but for me, with my 13.1 race limit, it was a LONG way! It actually turned out to be pretty straight forward. The weather was gorgeous (vest/tank top and shorts), the route was dead flat and I worked through two Trail Runner Nation podcasts and started the Serial Podcasts. Oh Serial…how hooked I am on you! I risked my new Hokas for this run and they did me proud. My legs struggled a little between 7 – 10 miles but the final four miles were pretty good and I finished pretty strong. 14 miles at 10.25 pace. Happy me.

Tuesday: Rest

My legs and knees ached a LOT today. I can’t decide if I went somewhat overboard on running 14 miles in new shoes – were the aching limbs due to using different muscles (Hokas have a slightly lower heel/toe drop than my usual shoes) or due to the flu-like symptoms that sent me to bed in the afternoon to sleep for three hours?

Wednesday: Fast Finish Run

I felt much better today, so once we were all packed up and ready for Tahoe and were just waiting for the Dude to finish school, I slipped out for six miles. Four at easy pace (and in just a sports bra, it was so warm) and the final two at tempo. They turned out to be 8:25 and 8.36 which, given how I felt yesterday, I was happy with. 6 miles at 9.26 pace.

Thursday: Easy Run

In the absence of a Turkey Trot in Tahoe, I ran three very lackluster miles  along the North Shore. The altitude got to me, my legs felt like lead and this ‘easy’ run was probably much more of a moderate effort. My heart wasn’t really in this run, got to be honest. But sometimes you just do what needs to be done. 3 miles at 10.20 pace.

The view from today's trotting

The view from today’s trotting

Friday: Rest

Spent the day driving round the lake with everyone.

Saturday: Hill ‘Repeats’

We woke up to snow! And with the snow came bear prints round the cabin.

tahoe bear

So I changed my planned hill repeats further up the road, which was quite isolated and forested, and ran a 0.4 mile loop around the cabins. It had a nice little kicker of a hill at the end of each loop. Add in the altitude and I think it worked out. 4 miles at 11.34 pace.

Me Snow Winter Tahoe

Please note the GIANT bear prints my brother in law faked in the snow to freak out the boys


Later that day, I had half an hour of ice-skating. Does that count as cross training?

skating tahoe dude husband me

Super-proud of our whizzy little skater-boy!

Sunday: Rest

I’d planned 6 recovery miles but due to travelling back from Tahoe in the afternoon, it never happened.


Given the challenges of the week (busyness, guests, Thanksgiving, altitude) I’m fairly happy with how I ran this week! I regret the missed run on Sunday which meant that once again I didn’t get over 30 miles. But this is a very busy period and I’m not going to beat myself up, even if, come February, I miss a PR. Sometimes, that’s just life.

Having said that, I finished November with 120 miles. I ran 88 in October and 109 in September so, whilst I would have liked a few more miles, I have definitely increased volume substantially month on month. .

The Husband and I signed up for a race this week. We’re running the Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon, just outside Las Vegas, in March to celebrate my lovely friend Nicola’s Big Important Birthday! Now to persuade our friends to look after the Dude for TWO nights! Vegas, baby!

This coming week should be a little quieter – our visitors go home on Thursday and life should get a little more back to normal. I’m off to make the most of our remaining time with them.

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