Good endorphin hunting

This week, I finally got some miles in my legs again. I’d had three very lazy weeks (the final week due to food poisoning) but knew I had a good few weeks until my Vegas half-marathon so wasn’t so concerned. Until my friend Nicola, with whom I’ll be running the aforementioned race, casually reminded me that it was only 10 days away. Maybe, she implied, I should get my bottom into gear.

My bottom duly got into gear.

Monday: 4 miles at 9.41 pace. Had 4 miles always been this hard?

Wednesday: 6 miles at 9.41 pace. Springtime bliss. Blossom, jackrabbits and little birds. But still. 6 miles wasn’t easy.

Friday: 8 miles at 9.45. Blustery,pretty chilly. Legs TIRED after 8 miles.

Despite running all these runs at a comfortable pace, my legs felt surprisingly tired for the next few hours. I was a little taken aback.

Sunday: 10 miles at 9.25 pace.

And boom…it was like a light went on!  I left the house at 6.15 as the dawn was starting to break. My first ‘light’ dark run of the winter. That made me happy. And at mile 2, I realized I was REALLY enjoying the run. And by the time I hit the bay trail at mile 4, the sun was coming up like a ball of fire over the east bay hills and it was gorgeous. Somehow, the whole run was just brilliant. My legs felt pretty fresh throughout and I got home buzzing from the endorphins. Suddenly, I was crazy back in love with running and really excited about running next week’s race and the Spring of 10k’s*.

Fire LIT!

sunrise foster city

Literally, eh? Apologies if you’ve seen this already on IG. If not, why don’t you follow me?

 

* 10ks? 10k’s? Your thoughts? 

Later that day, we went out on the bikes, geocaching in Redwood Shores. It was one of those lovely afternoons. Sunny and warm. We found every single geocache we looked for including two that we’d looked for and failed to find before. That was very satisfying. We notched up 13.4 miles, the Dude’s longest ever ride. What a great end to a great day.

In other news…

I mentioned on Saturday that we’re going to Maui at the end of March. Well handily, our trip coincides with the Maui 5k for Kids. To be clear, it’s a 5k for everyone to run but it benefits kids. So all three of us have signed up to run it!! I’ll probably be running it with the Dude as the Husband has run with him at races lately and so it’s his turn to fly but I am so excited about ‘racing’ in Hawaii!

(Also, if you have any Maui tips, let me know?)

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February Favourites

For January’s favourites, click here

February came and went VERY fast, don’t you think? It was a great month for me, to be honest. It started with my goal race, the Kaiser Half, which, despite missing my actual goal, was still a brilliant day. Then it was my 40th birthday which was MUCH more fun than I’d expected. And then it was pretty much all about studying.

This is a quick run-down of all the things I was into this month.

My 40th birthday was fun

My 40th birthday was fun

My studies

I have to be honest, I LOVE my courses. This month, I’ve learned about genetics and pre-natal development and the brain development of infants. I’ve started looking at how the California state budget helps low-income families and compared that to the best of the best (unsurprisingly, the Scandinavian countries). I’ve looked at play-based preschool curriculum, how to structure a preschool room, how to build  community and I’ve done a LOAD of work for our group presentation on preschool maths teaching. My brain has been fried numerous times, I’ve been so tired I haven’t been able to structure a complete sentence…but I’m honestly buzzing from excitement about the whole thing.

Reading

I set a goal of just one novel this month – and somehow I finished three! Two of these were audiobooks when running or driving. I’m really grateful for audiobooks. My reading this month was pretty ‘light’.

By Bike To Budapest – Elizabeth Hilton

I’m a sucker for cycle touring travelogues but this wasn’t great. I didn’t warm to the author, she was quite nasty to her husband and made sweepingly horrible statements about entire nations. If you want great cycling travelogues, I’d recommend Josie Dew and the entire website of crazyguyonabike.com.

A Damsel in Distress – PG Wodehouse

I don’t know how big PG Wodehouse is in the states but if you like Downton Abbey, you’ll love his novels. His writing is light as a feather but just exquisite. He writes gentle, farcical novels about the English upper classes in the 1920s. This audiobook made me smile frequently and occasionally laugh out loud. Sweet and nostalgic – it made me homesick for the green fields and stately homes of England.

Reply to a letter from Helga – Bergsveinn Bergisson

I kind of stumbled on this novella about sheep farming and passion in the wilds of Northern Iceland. I learned a lot about sheep farming. It was also a really interesting reflection on the harsh beauty of rural life compared to lily-livered urban life.

Watching

I didn’t watch much this month apart from the entire series of Friends on Netflix as I studied in the evenings. We finally watched Gone Girl on Valentine’s Night. I hadn’t read the book but both the Husband and I liked the movie equally, which is rare.

Cooking

Three great recipes to share.

  • Sweet Potato & Black Bean stew. So delish! I’m obsessed with sweet potatoes and black beans.
  • A gorgeous vinaigrette. I added a dash of maple syrup because I used too much lemon juice and it was sharp. With maple syrup, it was perfect. So good on kale and on beet greens.
  • French Yoghurt Cake. Apparently French teenagers make this at school. It’s very easy and the cake was scrummy, and tasted quite healthy! The link is in French but you can translate the page online. I’ll be making this regularly.

Visiting

The other weekend, we went to the Tech Museum in San Jose. It’s aimed at kids older than the Dude but he really enjoyed the bits he understood, especially when he was able to design a roller coaster and then they animate it on a big screen. I especially liked the giant google map screens where I got to see my home. Isn’t it green!

IMG_6994

Using

My friend Matt gave me this wine sippy-cup for my birthday. I LOVE it. I can now drink wine in bed or on the sofa with no fear of spilling it and, as my son pointed out, I can carry wine when I go running!

wine

Obsessing

Mainly it’s been all about my course although I did obsess briefly about Prince Harry marrying Emma Watson until it turned out to be a lie. Gutted.

And finally I’m looking forward to:

  • Vegas, baby!  Next weekend! Our first weekend away without the Dude since his arrival. And a half-marathon. With a friend I’ve known for about 25 years.
  • Hawaii, baby! Yep, we’re off to Maui at the end of the month.
  • Midterms, baby! Hmm….maybe not ‘looking forward to’ but ‘anticipating’ my first exams for 18 years.
This is Oahu, we're going to Maui but think green, mountainy, scenes from Lost-y

This is Oahu, we’re going to Maui but think green, mountainy, scenes from Lost-y

Happy March, everyone!

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The sofa is calling…and I must resist

So last week, I declared that I was back in the training game and that I was excited about it.

It started so well. Monday morning, bright and early, pounding the pavement. Two miles warm up, two miles tempo at about 8.30 average, two miles cool down. All good, all smiles, all BACK IN THE GAME! Later that night, I hosted a study group at my home for the preschool maths presentation we’re doing together. I made pizza and people brought desserts. The Dude and I were the only people to try the cake – the cake of doom.

The cake of doom came to haunt us. We were both sick all of Tuesday. Oh so sick. On Wednesday, my bionic son bounced back but I lurched round the house feeling like my core had been hit by a sledgehammer. On Thursday, I felt much better and started to consider a gentle slow run the next day. But the next day brought renewed ‘delights’.

So all I managed for the rest of the week was eating a lot of very simple, unhealthy carbohydrates as that was all I could handle and a couple of miles very slow geo-caching cycling in Golden Gate Park on Sunday. The highlight was seeing the bison up close at last!

Moo

Moo

 

This basically means that I’ve had three weeks of resting. I know I haven’t lost ALL my fitness but I’ve definitely lost a fair amount of it and I have a lot to do to get it back.  That starts today. The good news is that I’ve also lost 4 lbs and am back at Happy Weight. Silver linings, eh?

Interestingly, the less exercise I do, the less I want to do. During my week off after Kaiser, I eyed passing runners with a little envy and was looking forward to running again. But with each passing day of laziness, I find myself feeling less and less inclined to get off the sofa and go for a run. My Instagram feed, which is full of runners, made me sigh and give up a little inside – everyone seems SO fit and high achieving.  The Husband even had to ‘encourage’ me out the house to cycle yesterday – usually, I’m the ‘encourager’. I was kind of horrified to find myself secretly just wanting to sit on the sofa and use the iPad all afternoon, and maybe have a doze.

It was a good reminder of the mental obstacles that new runners face when they start exercising – just the sheer willpower involved in getting up and putting your running shoes on. With most things, once you get going, once you get into a routine it becomes easier. Once you remember how endorphins feel and how good you feel after a run, you’re more keen to go for a run again. But when you’ve totally forgotten or you never knew, how hard must it be to be brave enough to start out? I am always full of respect for those people I see out running when you know it’s their first week or two of running but that respect has increased even more this week.

So this week is a fresh start. I’m overhauling my diet (which slipped into buttermilk waffles from the freezer and red-velvet oreo territory this week) and getting myself back in my Hokas and back on the road. The couch IS calling but sometimes a girl needs to run from the couch and run from the belly.

I want to be a runner again. So I’m going to run.

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We were on a break!

I am watching far too many old episodes of Friends on Netflix at the moment.

I’m a firm believer that after a big race, you should rest. Give your body and your spirit a break. For a couple of reasons. Partly, I think your body needs time to rest. You’ve been training for months. Your body is tired. You raced your socks off. To avoid injury, I firmly believe it’s wise to rest for a bit.

But also for psychological reasons. You’ve been training for months. You’re a little burned out. You’re slightly sick of running so many miles. Your race has loomed over you for a while and came and went in a flash of adrenaline. And now you’re drained. If it went well, the glory and excitement still sparkles, but often the thought of running long still fills you with dread. If you missed a PR by 20 seconds, then there’s maybe some lingering disappointment and a little disenchantment with running. In both cases, it’s time to rest. Be ‘on a break’ with running.

I can honestly say that I have no lingering disappointment with Kaiser – I did the best I could. But I must admit that I am so relieved not to be training hard. My college courses are CRAZY busy. Full on. I’m either studying, at class or with my son every hour of the day. Every hour is accounted for and since classes started, I’ve struggled to find the time and the energy to run. Sometimes, sleep IS more important.

So since Kaiser, I’ve had two very easy weeks. That first week after, I ran just once, 5 trail miles on my birthday. This past week, I’ve run 3 times. Each run has been totally unremarkable – slow, easy, plugged into my audiobook and just for fun. It’s been great.

40 birthday wunderlich trails

My running has been supplemented by a lovely birthday-celebrating hike with some of my girls and their kids at Edgewood which was VERY muddy and a lot of fun. The signposting and some of the trail names have been changed since I was there last – that was confusing.

 

edgewood hiking

And on Saturday, I finally got to ride my new bike. It rained the weekend I got her and then, when the sun came out, I had to study. But yesterday, we went family geocaching in Redwood Shores and I notched up 10 (very slow, 5-year-old speed) miles on her. First impressions are good – she’s light and fast and the fit is great, although aluminium/carbon is considerably less bouncy and accommodating than steel! The weather has been glorious here this week and we had a lot of fun. I’m super-proud of the Dude doing 10 moan-free miles, his second longest ride ever.

cycling neon

All the neon!

But this week, I have to start running a little harder. This is the Spring of 10k’s and I am genuinely excited about it. I am running a half marathon in Vegas in March but not ‘racing’ it, just running with a friend on her 40th birthday. Thus my next ‘race’ is the Oakland Marathon Relay where I’m running in a team of four with Jen, Jess and KP. So I need to start training.

As I’ve said, time is very limited now. I LOVE studying so much, but it’s taking up all my time, so weekly training will look like this:

– One easy 6 miler

– One easy 6 miler with tempo miles thrown in, starting at 2 and working up to 5.

– One 6 miler with 20 intervals of fast/slow running.

– One long run of 10 miles, maybe with one or two faster miles thrown in at the end, depending on how the legs feel.

It’s not scientific, it’s not slick but I think it’s realistic and will help me work on speed ready for the 10k Spring. I’m ready to run a little harder!

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Runners World Cookbook review

Like many people, I eyed the Runners World Cookbook with interest when it came out but never got round to buying it. The Amazon reviews were good, but I need to SEE a cookery book to want it. However I entered a giveaway on Ali’s blog and somehow, given her large readership, I won. Shortly enough, it appeared at my front door…and I kind of fell in love with it.

RW cookbook

It is PACKED full of beautiful recipes and photographs. Plenty of vegetarian recipes for me  but also plenty of meaty ones for my carnivores. Lots of info about the nutritional benefits of the different recipes and how they fuel pre-run or aid recovery. The recipes are put together by nutritionists but there are several contributed by Scott Jurek and Deena Kastor .

Sweet potato and black bean stew

Sweet potato and black bean stew

Being completely honest, this is one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever had. I’m literally working my way through it.  So far I have made about 15 of the recipes and they have nearly all turned out brilliantly. The best recipes have been the chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate brownies, which were so good that the Dude exclaimed ‘Oh my word, these ARE good’ as if I usually poison him. The Sweet Potato & Lentil stew was delicious and hit the spot. The maple brussels sprouts were so gorgeous that they actually converted my son into a sprout eater. And the chickpea-pesto tomato soup has become a family regular.

Chocolate brownies.

Chocolate brownies.

A few recipes haven’t worked out. The vegetable dahl wasn’t great, although some salt perked it up. Also I am very unconvinced about spiced breakfast quinoa. Quinoa is definitely not meant for breakfast consumption. And I was banned from ever making the tofu stir-fry again. But that was more to do with tofu than the actual recipe.

But look at these babies...

But look at these babies…

 

So what I’m trying to say is….this cookbook is awesome. I won mine but I will buy numerous copies for friends in the future and I genuinely think you should buy it too!

Disclaimer: I won this cookbook, fair and square, in a blog giveaway. But I would buy it with the Husband’s hard-earned cash in a heartbeat.  

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This is 40

Totally NOT a running post, this. Totally about me. Actually, it’s totally about the Husband, who, despite his own confession of ‘not being a planner’ planned the most amazing weekend for me. Please excuse the photo-vomit. I’ll try to control myself better next week.

So on Friday, it was my 40th birthday. Turning 40 didn’t actually freak me out too much (there’s not much I could do about it) and I was really quite excited about my birthday. I have to be honest, I love being the centre of attention, I love surprises and presents and stuff. However I did worry a little that the Husband hadn’t planned much. Or anything. He’s not a planner and he’d said various things over the past week or two that made me think nothing was planned. He’s a trickster!

Friday morning started with hugs and presents in bed. The Husband gave me a birchbox subscription (which is a REALLY nice present to give someone) and my UK girls came up trumps with a bag and a box in my favourite colour. Tiffany blue.

me dude

I look so beautiful in the mornings

tiffanys

Little bag, little box, little silver earrings!

The Husband headed off to work for the morning and the Dude went to school and I drove to Woodside to meet my friend Bergen at Wunderlich park for a trail run. What a  flipping amazing way to start my forties. It was hilly, tough, beautiful and awesome. And it was followed by coffee and cake.

redwoods me trails

Redwood Hugging

me trails

Made it to the top

me cake

I ate all of it. Because it was my birthday!

The Husband came home at lunchtime, had some lunch, told me to dress in sporty clothes and drove me down to Redwood City. He got lost (on purpose) and we somehow ended up…at the bike shop where he bought his road bike. Guess what my birthday present was!

me dude bike cycling

Someone can keep a secret!

Yep…I got a new bike in preparation for my century ride later this year. (Guess I can’t back out now). The awesome girl there found the right bike for my size, goals and budget and set about fitting it to me.

cycling bike me

Measuring me up.

Meet Margarita. My foxy silver and metallic pink Trek Lexa. She is beautiful. (She’s named after my favourite novel).

me Margarita bike cycling

Me and Margarita

Unfortunately, I have yet to ride her because it rained most of the weekend. But I’ve sat and looked at her all weekend and she’s great to look at.

Anyway, next up, the Husband was taking me out for dinner. He accidentally let on that it was at Alice’s Restaurant, my favourite place to go in California. It’s up a mountain in a redwood forest and a storm was raging. We drove up there and I remarked that it would probably just be us and the waiting staff up there. Who else would be at Alice’s on such a bad night?

About 40 of my friends were there for my surprise party! I know. I was pretty overwhelmed.  It was awesome. And then there was a GINORMOUS red velvet cake.

me husband birthday

I LOVE this guy (My son needs to work on his photography skills)

birthday cake

Cake!

birthday

Cutting the cake with elegance, poise and style

cake

This was the best red velvet cake I have ever had in my life

birthday

Sometimes, running friends dress up.

On Saturday, it rained a LOT so the Husband postponed the planned activity – a hike up in Marin. Seriously. I love hiking and I love Marin. This guy! So that’s next Saturday! We chilled out and rested and then dodged raindrops and did some geo-caching!

geocaching

Can you spot the Husband’s legs under the bridge?

In the evening, the Husband told me to dress up as we were all going out for a nice dinner. So I did. And they did. My boys showered and put on clean shirts and drove me to a restaurant…where a whole load of my favourite girls were waiting!! The boys hugged me and went home and I got a fantastic girls’ night out!

birthday

Lots of girls.

girls

Know these two? This is what we look like when we’ve not fallen over on the trails

Sunday dawned with more rain.

IMG_9738

After church, I was told I had one more surprise. I should put on a dress and heels. When the boys were sat watching TV in their pants (UK pants) ten minutes beforehand, I got a little suspicious…but we headed out to the car and two of my friends showed up, whisked me away and took me to the cinema where I met another bunch of girlfriends and we watched my second favourite movie (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) on the big screen. I’ve seen this film probably about 30 times but seeing it on the big screen was totally magical and made me cry.

birthday

Spot the BT, spot the Jen :)

tiffanys

Totally took a sneaky photo in the cinema. I was sat next to my lawyer who said she’d fight anyone who challenged me.

And after one final sushi dinner with the boys, that was it. One exhausted husband, one over-excited little man and one very VERY lucky 40 year old.

40…so far, so amazing.

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January Favourites

Clearly this post is late, but the end of January got a bit full of Kaiser excitement and it would have seemed really incongruous to post it!

I always love reading people’s recommendations on things they’ve enjoyed lately so I’m going to try and contribute every month. I am not sure I will read, watch or cook anything for the next few months but maybe this might focus my mind a little :)

So, last month, this was what I enjoyed.

Reading

This has been a big month for reading because my course started at the end of the month and I crammed as many books in as possible beforehand. I may not read many more novels for a few months, it’ll be all text books.  I ended up reading 3 books and they were all good.

My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) was wonderful. Such fabulous writing, such an insight into the world of observant jews. I found myself actually dreading reading the final scene as I guessed how it would go down. Brilliant stuff.

The Greenhouse (Audur Ava Olafsdottir) was a great easy read (or listen, I had it as an audiobook). The tale of a young Icelandic man coping with the loss of his mother and learning to be a father was really sweet.

Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami) was LONG. This was also an audiobook and it was about 16 hours of listening. I LOVED the first half, was totally gripped. But I found myself fading a little by the second half. Murakami does need a good editor, I feel. The highlight was the wonderful old gentleman who can talk to cats.

Watching

My trip to the UK gave me the opportunity to watch the kind of films I like to watch if my boys aren’t around, so this month’s selection are slightly more cultured than usual. All these recommendations are French but don’t let that put you off.

Mood Indigo is a lovely film based on a novel by Boris Vian. The novel is better, in fact, and well worth reading, but it was very sweet, very sad and Audrey Tautou is so gorgeous.

Persepolis is quite old (2007) and I should have watched it years ago. It’s the animated tale of a young girl living through the Iranian Revolution in the 70s and the change in her life. It was really thought provoking.

Quite weirdly, United Airlines had De Toutes Nos Forces on their in-flight entertainment. If you watch ONE of this  month’s films, make it this one. The story of a disabled son and his grumpy father who take on Ironman Nice had me literally sobbing in my plane seat. Based on Team Hoyt, it is fab. Bring tissues. Lots of tissues.

Cooking

This was the month of Jamie Oliver’s Parsnip Soup which is just delicious. My boys request it regularly now and the Dude licks the plate. Super-easy.

Surfing

I won’t have much time for blog reading  in the next few months  (especially new ones) but I’ve added Challenge Sophie to my reading list. She’s a British girl living in Chamonix and she’s all about mountain living, cycling, Ironmaning and other athletic challenges. I really like her blog.

Obsessing

My Early Childhood Education classes started last week. I am really loving being a student again – the new stationery, the lecture-theatres, being TAUGHT and STUDYING again. One of my classes opened with this wonderful Ted talk called ‘Every kid needs a champion’. It kind of moved me to (well hidden) tears and got me incredibly fired up for my new career. I appreciate that not everyone is into kids or teaching but there’s something very inspiring about this lady (total girl crush) and I found myself longing to make a difference in the lives of children. Watch it here. 

Happy February, everyone.

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Reflecting on 80/20 Training and the Kaiser Half

The first half of this post, reflecting on my Kaiser race, may just be navel gazing. Please forgive me if so, and feel free to go straight to the second half of the post. But it’s been useful putting down in words my thoughts on what I did ‘wrong’ at Kaiser and how I can run better next time.

Reflections on Kaiser

Race report…here.

I’ve said before that my ‘strategy’ for Kaiser was to positive-split the race, not the standard practice. I’ve mulled over this in the past few days but I still think this was the right plan – it’s pretty much inevitable due to the stonking great 2-mile downhill in the first half. I knew that the first half would be fast and fun and the second half would be tough. I was right.

Going into the race, I had the very distinct feeling that I was in pretty good shape, NEARLY as good shape as when I PR’d last year but I felt that I didn’t quite have the speed this year. I think I was proved correct. I was nearly as fast as 2014 but not quite. In addition, the last 10 days were EXHAUSTING. I was sleeping really badly, studying my socks off for my new courses and out late at classes two nights per week. I think that definitely contributed to a missed PR. Sleep = important.

More of this.

More of this. (More sleep, not more babies)

I’ve wondered over the past few days about whether or not I pushed the first half too hard and thus had nothing left in the tank for the second half. Jess  is an interesting comparison. She finished just 6 seconds ahead of me. I passed her in M2 and she passed me in M12 where she looked effortless and comfortable, whereas I was dying inside. Her splits were MUCH more consistent and she had a better race experience than I did.

I’ve mulled this over and I can’t decide. I definitely ran fast  in the first half but I always felt comfortable with the speed I was holding.  I think that my race fell down in two main ways.

1) Fuelling. I didn’t. I took half a chocolate gu at about mile 6 and could barely swallow it. So I didn’t take any more fuel on board. I need to experiment with other fuel in race environments.

2) I didn’t have the endurance. I just didn’t have the legs to stick it out. When all I needed to do was hold a steady pace for 6 miles, I did not have the endurance to do so.

Which leads me to reflect on 80/20 Running – the training plan I used for this training cycle.

Reflections on 80/20 Running training

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

Confession Time

Matt Fitzgerald would have a fit if he heard me claim to have done 80/20 running. I used the basic principle of 80% slow, 20% fast. I used a lot of his workouts. However I missed a lot of the ‘extra’ stuff he prescribed. I did no doubles workouts (apart from where I needed to fit in a missed run). I did negligible amounts of cross training. I may have done my last long run too close to the race. I think that all of these things made a significant difference to my performance.

I didn’t use a heart-rate monitor, using ‘feel’ to determine my zones. HRM are pretty crucial to 80/20 training.

Also, 80/20 depends on significant base mileage. My mileage increased by about 15 – 20% overall, but I think that I should have run many more miles to get the best out of it. I should have had some weeks of 40+ miles. Thus I didn’t build up the endurance which 80/20 should give you – and I felt that lack on race day.

What I liked about 80/20

  • I liked how it got me running 5 days/week pretty much painlessly and without injury.
  • I liked how it increased my overall mileage pretty much painlessly and without injury.
  • I liked having a guideline at how much ‘hard’ running I should do. I started 80/20 after I overworked my legs and exhausted them. 80/20 is definitely a great way to avoid that happening.
  • I liked some of the workouts that I found in the book. Always fun to shake things up a little.
  • I like running at an easy pace. It’s so nice.

What I didn’t like about 80/20

  • It takes a LOT of time. Slow runs require patience and take up more time than faster runs.
  • Combine that increase in time taken with the increase of miles required and you are suddenly spending a LOT more time running. I was lucky that I was able to find that time. Now I’m studying, I literally can’t spare that time!
  • If I’m honest, I didn’t quite trust the plan to get me race ready. Thus I modified it. I’m not sure if I was right or wrong to distrust it. I’m not sure the missed PR was 80/20’s fault or my fault.  I wonder, if I’d followed the plan exactly and increased my mileage more, would I have run better? I think probably yes.

(Check out Tim’s comment on my race report. He followed an 80/20 plan in many respects – long, slow miles – and nailed his race).  

So in summary – I actually have more confidence in 80/20. If I’d stuck to the plan properly and done it wholeheartedly, things may have gone differently. I definitely think it’s worth giving it a shot.

So what’s next?

The Spring of 10ks

The Spring of 10ks

I’m done with racing half marathons for a while now. I’m running a half with my lovely friend Nicola in Vegas next month but that’s for fun. I’m going to be concentrating on shorter distances until June or July. I’m aiming to do one 10k every month and training for that distance. I need to think a little more about how I’m going to do it. I am really excited about it, and kind of relieved not to be training for a half. It’s nice to take a break. First up will be the Oakland Marathon Relay at the end of March!

Welcome to the Spring of 10ks!!

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Race Recap: Kaiser Half Marathon

Let’s start with the important stuff. I missed my goal by a minute. I missed a PR by 20 seconds. But it’s okay.

Race Day started oh so early. I was pumped with adrenaline from the start. The Husband was a little less enthusiastic. The Dude initially was most resistant to waking up but when I reminded him that it was race day, he was instantly awake. We piled into the car and drove into San Francisco. I’d allowed waaay too much time so we got there early and found great parking next to the ocean at the end of Golden Gate Park. I left the boys in the warm car and hit up the still clean portaloos and then we got ourselves ready and headed for the shuttle busses to the start line. On the way, we bumped into Jen and Jess and so everything was good! We got to ride school busses (always a treat for Brits) and got to the staging area in good time.

First up was registering the Dude. We only decided he’d run two days ago and we were officially too late, but I emailed the organisers and they very kindly let him register on the day, not something they do often. They made a real exception for him and we were so grateful. He was very excited to pin on his bib and even more excited to put on his shoe tag, his first one. I love seeing him excited about running. We milled around for a bit, used the loos and bumped into Brianna (who would go on to CRUSH the 5k) and then we went to line up at the start. We found Kristen who was running the 5k pushing her gorgeous baby and stood chatting. As we listened to someone murder the national anthem, I saw a girl heading for us. It was Cate, whose blog I used to LOVE and who I’ve followed on social media for ages. It was so nice to finally get to meet her. And then  somehow, it was time to line up.

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Brianna, Jen, Jess and us

kaiser shoes

All the shoes, all the timing chips

kaiser me

Classily using Christmas socks as gloves. I ditched them at Mile 2 Photo credit – Jen

 

Here, I discovered a grave error. Today’s race included a 5k AND  a 1/2 marathon. Everyone started together and the road was absolutely jam packed. I snuck into the crowd but I was further back than I should have been. The klaxon went off and I took several minutes to get over the start line and then spent about half a mile dodging people and trying to get into my groove. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing, stopping me go out too early. My first mile was 8.48, only 8 seconds slower than my goal for that mile so it wasn’t too bad.

The race wound its way round the Panhandle. I tried to run faster on the downhills and maintain a decent pace on the flats and the slight uphills. I felt decent. I passed Jess, waved at someone in pink who yelled my name from the pavement (a friend of BT‘s who I met last week) and felt strong. We wound back into the park. I was feeling good. My first check came at Mile 3 when I was bang on my goal pace. From there we hit the wonderful, 2 mile downhill in the park and I just went for it. My strategy on this race was to use the downhills for all they were worth and then hang on for the ocean part, so I stretched out my stride and hurtled through the park. I felt really good. I tried to be sensible and check in with my body but I  really didn’t think I was working too hard.

Eventually we left the park and turned left onto the ocean road. I always knew this section would be a mental battle. Three miles south, turnaround and then three miles north. Beautiful, but monotonous. I saw Layla, who had come out specifically to cheer and she had made the most amazing sign in the world. I have never had my own cheering sign before and it honestly made my day. This girl rocks.

kaiser poster cats

How cool?

 

I was starting to work hard now. It was pretty warm so I stripped off my vest/tank top and ran in my bra. Shameless. I plugged in my music for the first time in the race and ran on. The southbound section of the race is deceiving. It looked to be slightly downhill and I found it much harder than I thought I should be finding it. I kept chanting ‘This Girl Can’ in my head and ‘Keep Fighting’. I got to the 9 mile marker. I knew I should hit this at 1.16 so checked my watch with trepidation. 1.16 on the dot. This race was mine to lose.

Can you see where this is going?

I lost the race. It became a death march. By the time I reached the turnaround at about 9.5, I was struggling. By Mile 10, I was digging in. I felt slower and slower, and weaker and weaker. At about Mile 11, Jess came up to me, she’d caught me.  She looked SO strong and I could see she wanted to tow me to a PR but I was deep in the pain cave (oh so dramatic) so waved her away. (I apologized later). I watched her awesome bottom get further and further away from me and I just plodded on. I wanted to walk SO badly but kept telling myself I could walk in two miles and then one mile. It was pretty grim. I saw the boys just before Mile 13. The Husband later told me I didn’t look very happy.

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Spot the day-glo white belly!

 

We turned off the Great Highway for the final half mile to the finish line. It’s uphill and it basically destroyed me. Head down. No strength to pump my arms. I just kept going, wanting to stop. I saw the finish line and I knew I’d missed my goal. I crossed the line and basically sat down at the side. I was done.

1.52.56. A minute off my goal and 20 seconds off my PR. I’d run 13.2 miles instead of 13.1 (poor tangents) and I’d run an average pace of 8.32 instead of the 8.31 I needed to do. So close.

I sat there for a good ten minutes. The marshall kept eyeing me and came over twice to ask if I was okay. I was fine but I was literally empty. I was also pretty gutted. I just sat there dazed for a while as people crossed the line. The marshall brought me water and eventually I got up and wandered to find my people. I considered having a cry but didn’t have the energy.

Eventually I found Kristen and then Jess and Jen. No-one PRd, but we all came close. I saw Cate again with her husband who just crushed the 1/2 and finally got to meet Alyssa, another ex-blogger who I’ve been online friends with for ages but not met. We found the Husband and the Dude.  Layla found us and then BT, who ran a solid race, and we slowly, sorely headed back to the cars to go for brunch. And on the way, we got to meet Kimra, another Twitterer I should really have met before.

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The Dude ran a great race in 36.29, coming first in the 2 – 5 age-group. I was so incredibly proud of him.

kaiser dude

My little man was VERY excited before the race started

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Finding his name on the results boards

 

Forgive me if I’ve gone on too much about all the bloggers and twitterers that I hung out with or met today. I don’t mean to be obnoxious but that was really something that made today special. I ran Kaiser three years ago and didn’t know anyone racing it. Today, I had lovely running friends and got to finally meet loads of new people I’ve ‘known’ online for ages. It was the nicest feeling, to be part of a community. Social media has its problems but it’s a wonderful way to meet fantastic people and it made my day today.

And then 7 of the fantastic people came for brunch with me and I got to eat a lot of food, drink some delicious bourbon coffee and some nice wine and snuggle with the world’s second loveliest baby ever for a while! So whilst I’m disappointed with my time, I still feel really lucky.

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I’d like to do a separate post reflecting on my training and my race, but I can honestly say that I ran my socks off today. I couldn’t have run any faster and so I don’t really have any regrets. It was a good day.

A few notes on the race.

  • It’s a great race. REALLY well organized with fantastic volunteers. Plenty of loos.
  • The course is really PR friendly. Honestly.
  • This year, the fee went up $10 to fund a medal. I will always pay more for a medal. Great move, Kaiser. We also got really nice cotton sweatshirts.
  • Their one error really was starting the 5k and the 1/2 marathon together. This resulted in a  very crowded start line and difficult first mile. Hopefully next year they’ll start the 5k a few minutes later.
  • Also, the Dude didn’t win anything for winning his age-group. Prizes started at 6 upwards. We are not complaining -as I said we’re really grateful he got a late entry. But it would be a nice touch for next year.
  • If they could flatten the hill for the last half mile, that would be perfect!

And finally…

Thank you ALL for your lovely messages of support before the race. I was so touched. You’re all pretty awesome.

Okay. Enough. The End.

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Kaiser, baby!

So here we are, two days before Kaiser. My college courses are now in full swing and I have to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I have ever worked this hard. I’ve been mentally exhausted all week from all the learning and physically exhausted too, due to three really bad nights’ sleep. Not due to my child…no, due to my night-owl of a cat. Hmmm.

I think that one of my biggest weaknesses as a runner is lack of confidence in the run up to races. See THIS post before my last 1/2 marathon PR effort. One year later, the same doubts.

At the start of the week, I was a little disheartened about my forthcoming race – I don’t FEEL in PR mode. So on Wednesday, during the Dude’s tennis lesson, I sat down to do myself a race plan. First up, what pace do I need to hold in order to PR? It turned out to be 8.31 minute miles. This is a tall order but I was actually quite stunned. I’d assumed, for some reason, that it would be about 8.20. And a tiny seed of hope sprang up in my tired little heart.

So I’m going for it.

I am hoping to have a few more photos of me running Kaiser so I don't have to use the same one all the time

I am hoping to have a few more photos of me running Kaiser so I don’t have to use the same one all the time

My plan is this.

  • I have written down a goal pace for each mile, dependent on terrain etc. The first half of the race is round Golden Gate Park and includes two miles of pretty stonking downhill. As such, I am actively going to try and positive split – using those downhills to my advantage.
  • Then we hit the Ocean Highway for 6 miles of heart-sucking straightness and flatness. My goal is to just hang on in there and not fall away. When I ran Kaiser three years ago, I actually didn’t mind this stretch at all, but I’m anticipating it being harder this time because I’m actually racing it. So when I hit the ocean, that’s when I’m plugging in the music. And I want/need to hold 8.30s for that entire stretch. I’ll be tired, this won’t be easy. But I might be able to do it.
  • I’ll take three gels – at miles 4,8 and 12. I’ve actually never managed to take that third gel but I’m going to force it down this time. I’m going to carry some water in a plastic bottle and chuck it away when it’s finished.
  • I’m NOT going to check my watch every mile (I’ll try, anyway). I’ve calculated the time that I should hit miles 3,6, 9 ,12 and 13 and I’ll write that on my arm. Hopefully those will be the only times I’ll check my watch.
  • I have my outfit 90% chosen. Just need to pick my top. I have new neon arm-warmers (which I’ve tested). I love neon.

My boys are both running the 5k. The Dude is very excited about it! And I am one pound away from losing all my Christmas weight so I should be back at my own version of racing weight. That will be a big mental boost for me – on NY Day I was very conscious of those extra four pounds I was carrying. I know four pounds isn’t much, but when you’re short it makes a surprising difference. And flipping henry, how hard is it to lose weight at Nearly 40?

I’m going to spend the weekend hydrating, fuelling and watching Rise And Shine on a loop.

Any my mantra for the race?

#thisgirlcan

Well, #thisoldgirlisgoingtogiveitherbestshot

See you Monday!!

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