Cycling the American River Trail

Following the success of our August overnight bike tour, the Dude has been asking to do another tour, this time with his Dad. So I willingly got planning. Our destination this time would be the American River Trail – 35 miles of flat, paved pathway between Folsom and Sacramento. Perfect for a family bike tour. The plan was to drive up to Sac on Friday night, get the light rail to Folsom with the bikes on Saturday morning and cycle back over Saturday and Sunday, overnighting in Rancho Cordova, roughly half way along the trail.

We spent Friday night at the Youth Hostel in Sacramento which was a delight. It’s an old mansion, dating from the 1850s. I sorely miss the atmosphere of old buildings and the sense of history that you get from being in them, but this wonderful old house was incredible! Our private room was perfect and only $69 for the night!!



Day 1

The morning’s train shenanigans was a little messy. For reasons that are now inexplicable, I got on the back carriage and the boys got on the front carriage…but the carriages weren’t linked and I was unable to join them. My phone had run out of juice, so I sat all by myself hoping they’d remember we were getting off at the end of the line at Folsom. Apparently not, because at Iron Point Station, two stations early, I saw the Dude and the Husband on the platform. I barely got off the train in time. It seems the Dude assumed that (of course) we would get off at Iron Point because it had the word ‘iron’ in the name! It wasn’t a big deal but it meant we missed out on about two miles of cycling. Oh well.

We ended up doing about 11 miles that day. The trail was lovely – relatively flat and safe as houses. It was very well used – we saw literally hundreds of cyclists and almost as many runners over the two days. Initially we cycled alongside Lake Folsom and then the American River, we could hear the shrieks of the rafters as they floated along.

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We spent the night at a hotel in Rancho Cordova, a suburb half way along the trail. We had lunch at a mexican place – it was much better than we expected and the margaritas were huge! We sent the afternoon napping, watching TV, using the putting green and reading books and it was pretty gorgeous. The Husband has had a crazy busy few weeks at work so it  was really good to see him unwind.


Day 2

We demolished the excellent hotel breakfast and set out again, expecting to do about 20 miles today. The cycling was fairly uneventful all day but very pleasant. The trail looped on and on, it was very busy with weekend cyclists and runners. We stopped for a few geocaches and popped into a Starbucks for lunch (there’s a dearth of cafes on the trail) before pressing on.



Before too long, we saw signs for the end of the trail in Discovery Park in Sacramento. We’d already done about 20 miles – the Dude’s longest ever ride was 16.8 – so I was a little concerned as I knew the car was a mile or so away. But the Husband could always go and get the car for us if the Dude faded at the end.



cycling dude

20 miles! A big moment


Discovery Park was a huge disappointment. Seriously – what would you expect from a big park in a city? Maybe a cafe? Definitely a playground! We’d been promising the Dude a playground for miles. But no – no playground, no cafe, nothing but some dodgy looking loos and lots of vagrants. Hmmm.

We gave the Dude the option of cycling the remaining mile or so to the car or waiting in the park. He chose to cycle on, and by the time we got back to the car, he’d notched up nearly 26 miles. Miraculously, there hadn’t been even a single complaint, whine or moan. We were pretty proud.

us family cycling

Our only family photo of the tour – in a car-park!



The American River Trail was pretty much perfect for our family trip. I would definitely recommend doing it in the direction ‘Folsom-Sac’ as opposed to ‘Sac-Folsom’. There was a downward slope the whole way. You wouldn’t notice it, it was never noticeably ‘downhill‘ but the incline was there. I can imagine that encouraging a 5-year-old to cycle uphill for 30-odd miles would be much less fun!

The trail is excellent…well-paved, fairly shady and there are bathrooms regularly along it. It’s not spectacular but it is pretty and is pleasant cycling. The only downside is that signage is very poor – it’s pretty obvious where to go but there are a few places where some signage would be useful. Also notable is that there are NO cafes along the way! Using the map on my phone wasn’t much more useful – there just aren’t many places to eat or drink without adding extra miles. Be sure to take plenty of snacks and drinks with you and maybe even a picnic lunch.

Getting the light-rail was very easy and cheap ($2.50/person). Each train officially carries 4 bikes but we saw about 8 bikes on our train and no-one batted an eyelid! I heard that historic Folsom is very pleasant – but our unexpectedly early start meant I never got to see it. You could also cycle between stations if you didn’t want to go so far.

I would totally recommend this trip for an easy family bike trip! It was great!

me dude cycling american

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Running at Rancho

On Saturday, we gathered together a select bunch of girls (i.e., everyone we knew who could come along) and met up to run some trails. The location we chose was Rancho San Antonio, near San Jose. I’ve hiked there a few times in the past but never gone further than the little farm there and I was itching to see a bit more of the park. Paulette is a regular runner there so she put together a good 10 mile route and I found a suitable brunch location for afterwards.

Driving down, I think I saw my first mountain lion. But sadly, this big cat lay dead at the side of the motorway. I was so sad.

Meeting up was…problematic. There is plenty of parking at Rancho…but many MANY more people who want to park there than is possible. It took anywhere between 15 – 30 minutes for us all to find parking spaces but eventually we were all together. Running today was Jen, Danielle, Paulette and me – Layla and BT would set out later and join us on the final trail. This was the first time we’d got together to run trails since Jess and Kate moved away and I have to admit, I was a bit heartbroken not to have them here.

The trails were busy for the first mile or two as we ran through the flattish section to the farm. Once we headed further up Rogue Valley trail, it thinned out although we rarely had the trails to ourselves. The trails climbed steadily for the first five miles – generally it was very runnable although we walked the steeper sections as it was getting hotter. The trails were wide and smooth and lovely to run.


Autumn…aka poison oak


Views of the Bay


Gorgeous wide, smooth, open trails

The final stretch was ridiculously steep, Paulette told us it’s called ‘the wall’ and I know why! But we made it, we stopped at the very top, caught our breath and posed for photographs. Here’s the official version:

rancho jen danielle paulette

L-R, Me, Paulette, Jen and Danielle

Here’s the unedited version. No idea why we chose to stand there!


Every good photo needs a pylon!

Running down was a delight. After the steep bit, the gradient was pretty much perfect to charge down easily as the views spread out before us. We turned down Wildcat Loop trail which was shady and cool, through a gorgeous stretch of forest known as the Zen Garden for good reason. Lovely.


Zen Garden

me rancho

Me, running like Phoebe!


Much better gaits!

Just as we turned up Coyote trail, we bumped into Layla and BT running towards us. They were only out for a few miles so turned round and we all ran the final miles back to the ca park together. 10.1 miles, plenty of sunshine and laughs. An excellent morning’s work.


This makes Danielle look VERY tall!

Brunch followed at Hobee’s. I love how trail runner girls love their food!

rancho brunch hobees

Eggs, potatoes, coffee cake…yum!


Lovely day!

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‘Race’ recap: Surf City Aids Ride

On Sunday, I rode my first 100 mile bike ride. A century ride. And I survived to tell the tale. I was VERY nervous going into this. More nervous than I’ve been about a sporting event for a VERY long time. I thought I could finish it but I wasn’t entirely sure and I had no idea what condition I’d be when I crossed the finish line.

I faffed about my saddle quite agonisingly for the last few days. My saddle has caused me a lot of discomfort when training so I decided to swap it for my touring saddle, which has been nothing but gentle on my lady bits. So on Friday, I swapped it over and went for a test ride. In 6 miles, we stopped 3 times to adjust the height and the angle, and it wasn’t right. On Saturday we tested it again, couldn’t get it right. So the Husband suggested I swap it back to my old road saddle. I did so, and immediately felt better. To add to the drama, the Husband decided he’d ride the 100 miles too. Bearing in mind he tore 1/4 of his calf muscle a few months ago and has done barely any exercise and had only ridden 20 miles training, I was a little concerned for him.

The Dude spent the weekend with friends, so on Saturday lunchtime, the Husband and I headed down to Santa Cruz, stopping at the bike shop to spend $80 without quite knowing how. I’d made energy balls and flapjack. We had brunch at Zachary’s and carb-loaded to excess, frankly. We checked into our hotel and had a nap (a child-free joy) and wandered back into town for the sunset. And then an early night.

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The morning started at 5.15. I had a clothing crisis. The forecast was hot so should I wear:

  • my sleeveless coral top that I love but that would expose my shoulders to burning hell?
  • my brand-new, bought-for-the-occasion black jersey which makes me look super-foxy but was BLACK on a hot day?
  • my neon jersey which would protect my shoulders but only unzips half-way?

I went neon. The husband was also going to wear his neon jersey but, upon learning I was wearing neon, switched to his tri-suit. He hates us matching outfits. (I love it).

The remainder of the early-morning getting ready will go undocumented. It was the closest we have ever got to divorce. (I was NOT to blame to be clear). But somehow, we got our bikes down to the garage as a still-married couple and went to pump the tyres up. Only to discover that our wonderful, 10 year-old track pump had lost its nozzle overnight and was thus useless! I used a rude word.

We cycled the half-mile from our hotel to the start point at the Santa Cruz courthouse. It was pitch black. The event staging area was tiny but well organised with plenty of portaloos (which, as you can imagine, I needed several times) and an on-site mechanic with a track pump. Imodium popped, numbers pinned, tyres pumped…we were ready to go. It was a TINY event – maybe 100 people doing the century, only a handful of whom were women! There was some cowbelling and we were off!

me cycling century surf city

My nervous face

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The Husband clutches the map for moral support

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Staging area

The first hour or so of the ride was lovely. Cool temperatures and we floated down the coastline where pink skies lit up the beaches. Really beautiful. I was very careful to pace myself – I was in no rush for these early miles. I was initially perturbed by the signage – there were pink arrows at all turns but in the bright rising sun, we missed one or two and I found that quite stressful. I was very nervous of being last – not from an ego point of view but more about being the last one on the road with no-one behind me to rescue me if necessary. I was reassured to see the SAG wagon quite frequently and the on-route mechanic’s van as well.

By the time we hit the first rest stop at about M18, I was relaxing more. We cycled past fields of strawberries, which made the air smell delicious, to a rest stop by a bike-builders where they make bikes out of bamboo. I drooled over the wooden bikes as I refuelled.

bamboo bikes

Confident I can find a reason to buy this beauty

On we went. The terrain levelled out now for the next 30 miles or so as we cycled through endless agricultural fields, flat as far as the eyes could see. The fields smelt of what they grew – sometimes berries, sometimes cabbage. We had a VERY unpleasant stretch on Highway 1 which was very busy – an RV sucked me across the shoulder, it was pretty terrifying, so I was so glad when we turned back onto agricultural roads again. There was a water stop at M36-ish and then we turned towards the hills which loomed in the distance.

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The Husband heads east towards the hills

By the time we got to the rest stop at M48 it was hot – easily 90F/33 C. The rest-stop was at a really cute little school so we ate all their snacks and I doused my hair in their hose (be damned, drought). Because next up was the hill – the big one! I knew I’d trained well for it – this hill was half the distance and half the height of the hill I cycled up on every darned training ride. But the heat!!

I flipping nailed the hill. I started last out of about 10 riders in our ‘group’ and I passed all of them. (Oh that felt good). I just wound my way up steadily. It was almost unbearably hot, like cycling uphill in an oven. As I got higher, it got hotter, there was no breeze. But somehow, sooner or later, I found myself at the top! I rested there for a bit and waited for the husband to join me. I was SO hot at this point. We found out later that it was probably about 105F/40C. No wonder I was hot.

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The view from San Juan Grade

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The Husband crests the hill


The descent was awful. Really badly surfaced road (you can see it in the photo above, it got worse).  I clung to my handlebars and my brakes until my hands ached. I was accompanied by the Husband and another guy, and interestingly neither man tried to pass me (I descend really slowly) because we were all basically hanging on to not fall off. We gratefully landed in the cute town of San Juan Bautista and the rest stop in a shady park. Salt tablets, oranges, drinks.

Shortly after that, at about M63, the Husband decided he was done. Too hot. His calf was aching. He’d done better than either of us expected. Sweaty kisses and arrangements to meet at the end…and I was off. I pretty much flew from this point. I think going slower at the start may have paid off because for the final 37 miles I literally flew along. (Please remind me of the benefits of negative splitting at my next half). I sped along a road through a eucalyptus forest to the lunch stop where I sat in a cool village hall for a while and watched elderly people at a tea dance. Before I got back on my bike, I filled my sports bra with ice. It was the best thing I ever did.

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A swing band and some gorgeous seniors!

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Ice ice b**bies!


On I went. The next rest stop came about 9 miles later. I wasn’t planning to stop at all, I wasn’t hungry (I fuelled so well all day) but I thought I’d refill my drinks. However it turned out to be at an apple farm and there was fruit pie, so I found myself stopping and eating peach pie, despite my best intentions. And best of all…there was coffee. I’d been dreaming about coffee for miles so I nearly kissed the guy. When he casually said ‘And there’s ice, if you want iced coffee’ I nearly fainted with joy. I gulped that iced coffee down and it was the best thing ever. I refilled my ice-bra and pressed on.

More agricultural fields. Still flying. I was feeling SO good! I got to about M85 and took a gel just to be sure. I turned up a beautiful road, one of the nicest I’ve ever cycled, Day Valley Road. Lots of apple orchards, lovely houses, gentle rollers and a mile or two of shady redwood, which made me grin like a crazy girl. One more rest stop at M95 (water, ice in the bra) and suddenly I was speeding through Santa Cruz back towards the start.  And then I found myself turning into the car park by the courthouse, the Husband leapt to his feet to photograph me and boom, I was finished!

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I’m still not entirely sure about my ‘time’ and don’t quite know what to tell you. If you include rest stops, I took just under 10 hours to do it. Literally 9 hours, 50 minutes. But personally I feel justified in NOT including rest stops, in which case my time was 7.49 which was a 12.4 mph speed. I’m super-happy with that.

I was left feeling a little ‘flat’ for the following days. Initially I was just knackered – I was SO tired on Sunday evening and all day Monday and was too tired really to relish what I’d done. In addition, the finish had been anti-climactic. It had taken us so much longer than expected that we had to shoot off quickly to get the Dude back. I finished, the Husband put my bike in the car as I numbly ate pizza and then we’d driven home immediately. No razzmatazz. There were no medals, no tangible sign of what I’d achieved. I also have this niggling feeling that I could have ridden it much faster – I think I could have taken a good half-hour off my time. My first 66 miles averaged 11.9mph but my last 34 miles averaged 14.1 mph

Having said that, there’s a lot that I am satisfied with. My training was not perfect but it was plenty for what I wanted to achieve. I NEVER felt rough during the ride. Never faded, never got tired, never fell into a dark place. I felt strong for every single mile, I didn’t drag my sorry arse over the finish line like a dying raccoon. I am super-proud of how strong I felt. Of the hundred starters, I believe only about 30 finished the full distance and I suspect very few women!

As far as events go, I really liked the Surf City Aids Ride. It was tiny but well organised. Signage was good (once I started spotting the signs). The route was excellent (apart from the stretch on Hwy 1 and down that awful hill). The rest stops were well spaced, well stocked and friendly. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a century ride and it wasn’t expensive ($85 with no fund-raising requirement).

I won’t do another century ride for a long time. It’s too much time for training, too much time away from my boys. But I DO want to do more 100k rides and next year I want to do a day-cycle around Lake Tahoe once the snow melts.

In the meantime though, I am BESIDE MYSELF to start running properly again!

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I’m a century-er!

Just a quick one to say that I did my century ride on Sunday. It was unbelievably hot (105F/40C). I never knowingly turned down food. I had the best iced coffee of my entire life. But best of all, I felt flipping awesome from start to finish. No low points, no death zones!

My final time is kind of vague which I’ll go into more when I blog about it but I believe my average pace was about 12.4mph which I’ll totally take – and my final 30 miles were the fastest! I’ll write more in a day or so (Mondays and Tuesdays are busy here) but I did it!

Thanks for all the lovely messages on IG or Twitter or FB. I’m so grateful.


I don’t feel any need to do it again :)

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Trails in Motion 2015

Last year, Jen and I went to the inaugural Trails in Motion film festival in SF. This year it was back, and it was much closer, just a few miles away in Burlingame at A Runner’s Mind, one of my local running stores. It took place on Sunday evening. We got a nice bunch of people together including Amanda and Matt from our Ragnar team.

There was some palaver about the start time. The online site said 5pm. Then we noticed that the films started at 6pm so we arranged to meet at 5.15 for drinks first. Then, when we got there we were told the films would start at 7pm. So off we went to polish off some wine first. When we eventually got back to the shop at 6.45, we were told that actually we’d start the films when it got dark as we would be sat outside – roughly 7.15. This was a little annoying – it meant that one of our group actually had to leave before the films started. Not ideal. Also, sitting outside on a Northern California evening can be a cold affair and if Michelle’s husband hadn’t rocked up with three giant blankets, I don’t think I would have lasted very long. So some clarification about the start time and a warning to wear ALL THE LAYERS would both have been useful. (Jen contacted the organiser with this feedback and he responded really positively, so hopefully this was a one-off).

Appropriate clothing for an outdoor film showing here

Appropriate clothing for an outdoor film-showing in the Bay Area

Okay, moaning aside, there were some excellent films there. There were 9 in total, ranging from a short of 3 minutes to a longer film of just under an hour. My favorites, and the ones I’d recommend you check out, were:

Just Keep Running

This short film follows the intriguing Ruby Muir, a young New Zealand trail runner who talked frankly about her relationship with trail running and how it turned into an unhealthy obsession when she lost her dad. I found this really moving and wanted to give her a big hug. She’s a fascinating character. NZ looks spectacular. Book me a ticket now!

For the love

This 3 minute film went down well with the crowd because it’s based in the nearby Marin Headlands and features a lot of well known characters in the local trail running scene. Gorgeous scenery.

Why We Run

This Salomon Trail team film features Bernd Heinrich, who’s written a well-known running book. It’s fascinating for its portrayal of his simple life in a cabin in the woods of Maine and I particularly loved it when he discusses living life without as many possessions as possible. As a girl who gathers more possessions than she needs or intends to, it was a good challenge. His tree-climbing exploits are also quite jaw-dropping.

Finding Traction

This hour-long film follows Nikki Kimball as she runs the 273-mile ‘Long Trail’ in Vermont. She’s a remarkable lady, tough as nails so it’s great to watch her on her highs and her lows. Her aim to inspire girls and women to push their limits is inspiring but I have to admit, at the end I wondered why on earth anyone would put themselves through such an ordeal. Clearly I just don’t have that type of personality! But she does and she’s amazing.

Also worth watching is a very short film about Anne-Marie Flammersfeld, a German trail runner. Switzerland looks gorgeous but it ends with the best quote of the night which I suspect doesn’t translate well from the German…’it makes me really happy that I can infect people with my running virus’.


The people Anne-Marie got to first

There was also a raffle. I won some socks which I swapped with Amanda for a t-shirt that she won and local trail runner and blogger Scott Dunlap popped in briefly – his blog is definitely worth reading, he’s a great runner and seemed like a really nice guy too.

I didn’t take any photos last night because I was having too much fun. Shocking blogger behaviour, I know.

All in all, a good night out! Maybe not as good as last year’s festival but still – what a joy to spend a night with friends watching some amazing trail running!

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It’s Century Week!

On Saturday, I did my last long bike ride in training for the Surf City Aids Ride, my Century Ride. This Sunday, I apparently am going to cycle 100 miles.

I have to admit, I’m so relieved to be done with the training because I haven’t loved it.

I made an important discovery whilst training for this ride. Whilst I LOVE riding my bike, I don’t love TRAINING on my bike.

It’s an important distinction.

‘Cat, would you like to go for a bike ride?’.

‘Yes please, I’d love to.’

Lovely roads

Lovely roads

‘Cat, do you want to do ridiculously long rides every week, getting up at an ungodly hour so you can be sure to be back in time to pick up your Dude? Do you want your bottom to chafe on a weekly basis? Do you want to not stop to take photographs because you need to keep pushing the pace? Do you want to limit your cafe stops and ride the same roads every week because they’re the only safe roads around?’

‘No. Frankly that sounds grim’.

I’m generally not a moaner, and this is clearly a first world problem, but I got so tired of the training. ‘Training’ on my bike just sucked ALL the joy out of cycling. 

me husband cycling

The contrast was marked on Saturday. Last week’s ride was 85 miles, alone, into a headwind for every mile (seriously). I got back drained physically and mentally. On Saturday, I rode 50 miles with my brilliant friend Kat and I loved every second. 50 miles is such a lovely distance. It’s long enough to work your body hard, long enough to cover three big hills, long enough to justify a cake stop, long enough to feel the sun on your face…but short enough that you get home at lunchtime and are physically able to head out to the zoo with your boys immediately afterwards and have a great day. I’m kind of horrified at my average speed (11.5mph, who rides that slowly?) but I had a fab day!

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See? Happy cycling faces. Photo credit: Kat


So these are my big learnings from this training cycle.

  1. I don’t want to ‘train’ on my bike. I want to enjoy my riding.
  2. 100 miles takes too much time out of my life. This will be my only 100 miler until the Dude is much older.
  3. 50 miles is a delight.
  4. I think 100k rides are the way forward for me! 62 miles is a perfect stretch-distance.
  5. I LOVE training by running.
  6. I want to run forever more.

This next week, I’m going to be doing a few more shorter rides, get a few runs in and then taper for Sunday. I’m ready to do this!

me cycling

I also learned that one small mango macaron is a perfectly sized sugar hit.

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Hiking Mori Point

Last week’s gorgeous trail run in Pacifica was slightly shorter than I’d intended because helicopters were spraying Mori Point with mosquito repellent so clearly, we headed in the opposite direction that day. However a sunny Labor Day, empty of requirements, meant that we had the chance to go and hike there. I’d wanted to explore Mori Point for ages now and it was a perfect day. Excuse the potential photo vomit – it was just so pretty.

Mori Point is a bluff, rising high over the ocean It’s steep but very pretty on a clear day. It was packed with hikers and dog-walkers, everyone was enjoying the day.

 pacifica mori point

The mountain in the back left is Mt Tam in Marin

mori point



We climbed the actual point but failed to find the ‘easy’ way down so ended up edging down this precipitous drop. If you’ve ever had the luck to run trails with me, you’ll know that descending is NOT my strong point so I ended up scrambling down most of this on my bottom.

mori point

The Dude is hiking really well these days. Look at the slope ahead of him in the photo below – he literally kicked our arses as he shot up it and we laboured up behind him.




Mori Point was lovely – it would be great for hill practise as the slopes were generally not TOO steep and would make for great repeats! And the views are not bad!!




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Race Recap: Trail Hog 5k

Last week, the Dude said he wanted to run another 5k. He hadn’t run one for ages (we don’t push it) and he wanted to do another. Excellent, I told him, we could do the free Parkrun at Crissy Field. He asked if he’d get a medal. No, I said. ‘I want a medal’ he told me. He turned down another cheap 5k on Labor Day for the same reason. It’s all about the medals when you’re 5. But it’s all about the medals when you’re 40 as well – I love medals. So we did some investigation and discovered that Brazen were holding a 5k trail race on Saturday. Brazen are an awesome race organization who give ENORMOUS medals. I knew the Dude would be happy, so I signed us both up.

The morning was slightly chaotic for many reasons – basically I didn’t get myself organised. So it was a stressful drive down to San Jose and then more stressful as we followed the slowest driver in the WORLD along the hilly country lanes, but we eventually got to the race, parked up, used the bathrooms (PHEW) and got our numbers. We had about five minutes to spare. We lined up, took photos and had a final kiss.

me dude trail hog IMG_9341


Joseph D Grant Park is in the foothills of Mount Hamilton. It’s a flattish, grassy valley burned gold from the drought. Having said that, the course was not flat – the female course record is 24 mins so I knew it wouldn’t be a fast race. It’s also long, measuring about 3.4 miles officially. I’d warned the Dude that it was going to be hilly and we had a plan. Run the downhills, power hike the uphills.


Thanks for the free photo, Brazen!

We ran across the start-line and briefly across a badly rutted field to get to the path. Along a path for a minute and then we plunged down on dusty trails. The first mile was basically downhill and the Dude ran pretty much all of it. He walked a little but was running pretty steadily as I encouraged him along. My watch beeped 1 mile, he was happy. His shirt came off…it was hot.

dude IMG_9346

The aid station came at about 1.2 miles. My son piled into the candy and the gatorade (not things we have much at home) and then, spurred on by sugar, ran on. Slightly more downhill and then the climbing began. A few hills were quite steep but on the whole it wasn’t too bad ! We got into a great routine of walking a bit and then running for 50 steps – I’d count and the Dude would jog along. He got really good at that and I was really impressed.


Photo Credit: Brazen Racing


Runners from the 10k and (maybe?) the half-marathon joined us at this point so we tried to keep to the right (although it’s like steering a kitten sometimes). We turned onto Snell Trail and I pointed out that ‘schnell’ is ‘fast’ in German so we sped up (it was downhill) yelling ‘schnell schnell’ and pretending to be planes. That was fun. Lots of the runners who passed us encouraged the Dude, which was really kind. One girl mentioned the free ice-cream at the end and that literally worked miracles.


Photo Credit: Brazen.

And before long, we could see the flags lining the finishing chute in the distance. The Dude had already warned me he would sprint at the end and leave me for dead, as he did in Maui. So once I knew he couldn’t get lost, I yelled ‘Go go go’ and he sprinted off down the (somewhat lethally pitted) finishing chute across the line. I followed a few seconds later.

Giant medals. Big smiles.

dude trail hog

As ever, Brazen put on an excellent buffet which we piled into, and we did find the promised ice-creams. The Dude was delighted to find he came third in his age-group so got an extra medal!! I didn’t even bother checking my name on the list and came home to find that I’d also come third, I could have got an extra medal too. Darn, but also yay!

me dude trail hog

Brazen are so good at what they do. The race organization was faultless. The course isn’t easy (you’d be unlikely to PR here) and the park isn’t spectacularly beautiful but it is pretty and was a pleasure to run around!

Discussing it on the way home, the Dude said he’d like to run more trail races. Okay, Stinker. Next week?

dude trail hog

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All the endorphins

Next week, I start volunteering at preschool full time, so when I found out I didn’t have to go in yesterday morning, I was determined to grab the opportunity to run some trails one more time. I talked my friend Michelle into running with me (despite the fact that, every time we run trails, it’s always uphill) and planned a route. The chosen destination was Pacifica, which is one of those wonderful places to run where I rarely actually run. I wanted to run Mori Point, which looks amazing in Runners World, and then head up Mori Ridge Trail to Sweeney Ridge for views over the bay and the ocean.

The weather didn’t co-operate much – Pacifica was grey and chilly when we met up, and there was a helicopter spraying mosquito repellent on Mori Point. So we skipped that bit of the route and set off.

The first two miles were absolutely brutal. We climbed about 1300 ft in just under two miles up Mori Ridge Trail. We knew it would be tough but it was REALLY tough. It was cool but humid and I felt warm drops of sweat drip off my chin onto my chest, which was delightful. Michelle pranced up the hills, making them look effortless as she does, but even she slowed to a walk for some of the steep stretches which could easily have had steps cut into them. SO tough. But the views were improving all the time. credit: Michelle

View…photo credit: Michelle

Knackered at the top!

Knackered at the top! Photo – Michelle

We finally hit Sweeny Ridge, which is flatter as it follows the ridge between the ocean and the Bay. The views here can be spectacular but today, the fog was rolling in and it was grey, cloudy and pretty darn chilly. We paused briefly at the Nike missile launch site and then at the Portola Disovery Site and then ran on, to warm up.

sweeney ridge


sweeney ridge

Views from the Bay Discovery Site

This is the lovely thing about running trails. The uphills are brutal but the downhills are so lovely that you forget how much the uphills hurt. Banquiano trail was much less steep than the trail we took up so we were able to run easily, chat and enjoy the views of the ocean as we descended. It was lovely.

sweeney ridge

The trail heading further south. Next time, next time!

sweeney ridge pacifica

Heading back into Pacifica on Banquiano Trail

After about five miles, we emerged off the trails into Pacifica again. There was a mile or so of street running but it was still downhill and still had ocean views, and then we crossed over Highway 1 and joined the lovely paved trail which parallels the road and winds through sand dunes. One easy mile of that and we were back at the start – where, very handily, there was a coffee shop inside a caboose that I finally got to visit, having wanted to check it out for years. Good coffee!

michelle pacifica

Michelle checks out the views (aka, waits for me to catch up)

pacifica coffee caboose

P-Town Coffee in Pacifica. GREAT coffee, friendly service and pretty cool!


Driving home, I was literally awash with endorphins. At 8 miles, this was my longest run for 7 weeks. It had been completely ITB pain-free and I just loved it. I felt really good. I was overcome with love for running and a desire to get my century ride over and done with so I could get back to running again. I wanted to sign up for ALL THE RACES!! It just felt so good!! How lucky we are to live in such a gorgeous place, where, even on the grey days, there’s so much beauty!!

This ecstatic post was brought to you on a high of endorphins and coffee. I take no responsibility for any eye rolling it may have induced in you! 

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August Favourites

Yay, September, my favourite month. There was a lot of stuff on Twitter yesterday about it being ‘the last day of summer’ – well, not here! Although Autumn doesn’t really hit the Bay Area until November so I always feel slightly cheated! Anyway, August was lovely. Lingering and sunny. Ten days of summer laziness and then 20 days of reality with school, college and volunteering kicking off again. This was what I loved in August.


I started my next course in August. I have the minimum credits to officially be a pre-school teacher but I am working towards the California certificate which requires more. I’m at a different campus this semester but I LOVE my course so far!! Talking of studying, the Dude started Kindergarten and he adores it, he’s just thriving. It’s kind of incredible to see his daily progress. So all in all, Autumn School is GOOD!

The view from my college, more or less. Not bad, eh?

The view from my college, more or less. Not bad, eh?


I read four books in August and they were all good.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was something I’d meant to read for years. It was a good, solid, thick novel which I love and the writing was spectacular. The plot was good, but I let that it could have finished about 2/3 of the way through and been much better. It did teach me a lot about the fairly shameful history of the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Thought provoking and well worth the read…at least until ‘it happens’, because after ‘it happens’, it gets a bit drawn out!

I found Case Histories by Kate Atkinson in a secondhand book shop. I’d read one of her novels before and liked it and I knew my very literary friend liked this writer, so I gave it a go. It started REALLY well (‘one more chapter’ at 11.45pm) but the co-incidences involved in the plot line got a bit too far-fetched. An easy read with some dark episodes.

Women of the Word  by Jen Wilkin was my christian book of the month. Despite the very cheesy title, I really liked it as it encouraged women (and men, seriously!) to study the Bible with all of their brains as well as their hearts. I really enjoyed this book.

People I want to punch in the throat by Jen Mann was not the kind of thing I’d buy for myself but it was a present from a friend and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s about ‘the Mommy wars’ which I have never actually experienced, but it still made me giggle. Very light and quick.


I got into Podcasts a LOT this month, and it was good! I tried a few new ones that I absolutely hated – Jillian Michaels (even though I’m a big fan of hers) and Call Your Girlfriend! Shudder. Tough Girl Podcast is a UK podcast full of interviews with cool, outdoorsy driven women – I only listened to one but will try a second. But there were a few really good ones I’d recommend.

Marathon Talk’s interview with Lauren Fleshman is excellent. I like LF, despite the Oiselle thing, and I REALLY liked her by the end of it.

Marathon Talk’s two-part interview with Mark Daly who did the BBC documentary about the Salazar doping allegations is really good. The second one was totally gripping as he discussed his experiment of taking EPO and seeing how it changed him and if he could evade the drug testers. I don’t actually remember my run listening to that podcast, I was so involved with it! HUGELY recommended.

I tried No Meat Athlete which I wanted to like but didn’t love. There’s a fine balance between trying hard to eat healthily and getting obsessive and I found it a little on the wrong side of that balance. I shall keep trying a few more though as I do want to learn more about this kind of thing.

This American Life’s episode on education was deeply moving and challenging. If you live in the US and haven’t heard it, I’d recommend it enormously.


Wet hot American summer‘ was the big thing on Netflix this month. We started watching it and were a bit bemused by it. Was it funny or just weird? Once we discovered that it was the prequel of a cult cheesy movie, we watched that movie and it all fell into place, although we still can’t decide if it was funny or just weird.

I watched Rocky for the first time this month. The Husband kept saying each scene was a masterpiece. I thought it had some good stuff in it, but apart from the big fight and the super-cool training scene, it left me a little cold.

We also watched Soul Surfer, the movie about the surfer Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bitten off by a shark as a kid. The movie is clearly intended for teenagers, but it was actually pretty good and I may or may not have been crying a bit at the end.

Dodging the sharks in Hawaii

Dodging the sharks in Hawaii



I’m not particularly inspired to cook much at the moment but this energy balls from the Runner Beans have worked REALLY well as long ride fuel – to the point that I didn’t need my cake stop. I’m going to make more for my century ride and keep using them for long runs in the future.

Other fun stuff

We got to spend some time this month with some friends we made on our trip to Japan, nearly two years ago. We’ve maintained our friendship via Facebook and when they came to SF, we had three playdates and it was wonderful!! The little girl and I had an really cool moment singing ‘Let it go’ together loudly in my car, so I’ve been learning the words in Japanese. No idea really why, but it’s a good brain challenge and it’s been very impressive when I sing it for the other Japanese people I know!

The Husband is learning the guitar so we’ve been singing a lot and I love it. I’m going to borrow a small guitar this month (my hands are too small for the chords) and I can’t wait.

Looking forward to

My century ride on September 20th. I cannot wait to have this beast done.

Running!!!! Every run I do now just makes me SO happy. There’s nothing like a break from running to make you love it harder.

Teaching. I’m going to be volunteering full time at the Dude’s old preschool, getting some valuable experience in my new career. The kids come back after labor day and I’m seriously excited about it. I won’t talk much about it here for obvious reasons, but I am EXCITED!

Watching the Trails in Motion Film festival in Burlingame! If you’re local, join us!


Phew…that was it! Ready September?? Me and my bike are ready for you!

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