Kaiser Half Training: Week Three

Somehow this week, my little man turned five. I hate to be that mum who moans about how big her baby is getting…but FLIPPING HENRY, MY BABY IS SO BIG!

Opening his enormous pile of presents on birthday morning

Opening his enormous pile of presents on birthday morning

Birthday Boys need Birthday Parties. And that happened too. In the rain. Outside.

We are Hardy Brits

We are still Hardy Brits

And then three of my in-laws arrived from the UK! Six of us in a two-bedroom flat. Snuggly. And then the cat kept wandering off back to the old place, and he totally freaked out. So I’ve been comforting him all week too.

In between ALL of that, I somehow managed to rack up 29 miles of decent training!


Monday: Rest Day.  And I did actually rest this week.

Tuesday: 12 mile long run.

I snuck this week’s long run in before scooting off to the airport to pick up the family, I thought it might be my only opportunity this week. I was a little dismayed by this run. I maintained an easy pace throughout with one tempo mile at  M4 but my legs were SO tired at the end. I thought easy paces were supposed to mean not feeling knackered. I ran 12 miles  three minutes slower than I ran 13 miles a few weeks ago on burned-out legs. Starting to be a little nervous about this slow training. 12 miles at 10.26 pace

Wednesday: 6 mile easy run

These 5.30am wake up calls are definitely getting easier  and I actually relish those 6am dark runs! I didn’t expect that to happen. It’s not cold though, we are so lucky with the temperatures. 6 miles at 10.16 pace.

Thursday: Rest Day.   Spent the day celebrating my favourite little boy turning a whole hand old.

Friday: Intervals

I was supposed to do hill-reps today but driving to a hill and back wasn’t going to happen due to family responsibilities, so I switched to intervals. They went well! After warming up, I ran 13 intervals of 1 min fast/1 min recovery and then cooled down. My overall pace was 8.52 which was a great improvement over last week’s intervals! Felt good. This was also my inaugural run in new shoes…more on that below. 4 miles at 8.52 pace

Saturday: Rest Day

It was a very busy morning, organizing a party for 80 in the rain with a bouncy castle but it went better than I’d dared hope. I came home, drank hot chocolate and went to sleep for two hours. I’d intended to run today, but instead I slept! It was bliss.

Sunday: Easy run with 2 miles at tempo

Another 6am dark run. 5 miles at comfy pace (around 10 min miles) and the last two miles at tempo. I bust a gut and somehow churned them out at 8.16 and 8.12. Can’t remember the last time I saw those speeds so I was utterly delighted. Loving the new shoes. 7.3 miles at 9.33 pace.

I meant to run again tonight and make it a doubles day but we rejigged our plans for next week, which means I’ll be doing my long run tomorrow, so I opted out and we’re going to see Hungry Games tonight instead. I kind of wish I’d pushed over the 30 mile mark, but I’m not stressed.


This week has been a roller coaster as regards my views on 80/20 training.

My long run at the start of the week really made me question this training method. I felt like I was slower and slower, and long runs were getting harder and harder. I was a little dejected about it But the interval training gave me hope and Sunday morning’s tempo session utterly delighted me. I have no idea how I’ll handle a half-marathon at those paces, it feels impossible, but last week just one mile at those paces felt impossible so I shall not panic quite yet!

This week was exciting in that I bought my first pair of Hokas. I have eyed these strange beasts with both curiosity and skepticism for a LONG time and it was kind of inevitable that I’d try them eventually, being a big fan of cushioning. I heard that the Cliftons were much less extreme in terms of cushioning than others in their brand. In addition, the reviews were spectacular and I kept spotting Various  Local  Running  Bloggers wearing them so I thought, what the heck! They arrived on Thursday and I greeted their arrival with the same measured and realistic hopefulness with which America greeted Obama’s first election. MAGIC SHOES! TOTALLY GOING TO PR! I MIGHT EVEN FLY!

So clean! Before our first outing when I got dog-poo on my shiny new shoes

So clean! Before our first outing when I got dog-poo on my shiny new shoes

I’m two runs in and so far, I like them very much although I have yet to actually fly. My knees have felt a little ‘pounded’ in recent weeks and they definitely ache less after a Hoka run. It’s still early days. I do think they’re pretty though, and not totally weird looking like other Hokas!

Not too weird?

Not too weird? Asics Nimbus v Hoka Clifton

This week, our Crazy November continues with the arrival of one final UK Ramsden, a four-day trip to Tahoe and Thanksgiving! I’m off to buy some hair-dye to cover those grays!

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A Girl’s Guide to Running Magazines, Part Four: UK Trail Running Magazine

You may remember that last summer, I spent a few weeks reviewing some of the different running magazines out there in an effort to vary my running reading from the ubiquitous Runner’s World! (NB: I have nothing against RW at all, I just fancied a change). I reviewed – Running Times, Trailrunner Magazine and Women’s Running. AKA: the fast, the bearded and the fluffy!

Today, I’m doing a one-off review of a UK-based magazine – Trailrunning Magazine. Quite a few of my readers are Brits and actually, I really like this magazine so some US runners might fancy getting an online subscription, so it’s relevant for everyone.

Trailrunning Magazine

UK Trailrunning magazine


General Info:

  • In the UK, available in big newsagents. Here’s a list of current stockists.
  • Available for US distribution as printed materials or via an online subscription, which is what I have.
  • Cover Price: 4.50 GBP ($7-ish)
  • Issues reviewed here: June/July, August/September, October/November
  • Pagination – 114 in all issues
  • Advertising pagination  – J/J – 20 (18%), A/S – 17 (15%), O/N – 15 (13%). Compare that to the 50% advertising content of US Trail Runner Magazine!
  • Annual subscription price – UK 12 GBP ($15ish), US printed copy – 36 GBP ($50ish), Digital subscription – 15 GBP ($22ish)

What did I like about it?

  • Plenty! From what I can make out, trail running is growing quickly in the UK. The country has a rich history of fell running (basically running up mountains with no trails and through bogs) but trail running’s popularity is fairly new. As such, this magazine caters very much to new trail runners. Whereas the US’s version is SUPER hard-core, focussing on those legendary 100-milers and their superhero winners, the UK version is much less elitist.
  • My favourite thing is a 12-page section each edition with suggested trail runs across the country. They range from an easy 10k in flat Lincolnshire to two or three-day mountain stage-runs in Snowdonia National Park. Each run comes with a proper Ordnance Survey map and advice about the best views and the best tea shops. I find myself poring over these pages here in California, wishing I was in the UK to run!
UK Trailrunning magazine

Trail running ideas across the country

uk trailrunning magazine

A two day run mapped out for you


  • There’s plenty of reader interaction via FB and Twitter and plenty of opportunities to get your photo in the magazine, which is kind of fun. It gives the sense of a friendly, open, thriving community, and who doesn’t love to get their photos in a magazine? Clearly I do!
Just in case you were particularly keen to see where I feature on the whole spread :)

The time I pretended to be a Bay Area Maria von Trapp

  •  There are plenty of really readable, usable articles about how to train. Hills, fueling, strengthening ankles to avoid sprains (!), how to go from one race distance to the next.
  • As I mentioned above, the advertising % is less than 20%. This is GREAT – I’m not paying for pretty adverts! There is a good amount of content in this magazine.
  • The gear reviews are excellent. Comprehensive, fair and varied.
Skirts v skorts

Skirts v skorts

What was I not so keen on?

  • The downside of being non-elitist is that sometimes the magazine comes across as fluffy. Sometimes the language is a little ‘girly’ or clunky.  I suspect that the grizzled fell-runners of old would wipe their bottoms on this new publication. But they’re not the target market anyway.
  • Also, as it seems to cater more for the mid-pack runner or the newer trail runner, it probably isn’t great for those people running 100-milers on a regular basis. The US Trail Running Magazine seems to fit that niche better.
trailrunning magazine

Pretty Autumn UK running


Overall thoughts

  • Of all the trail magazines I own, these are the ones I find myself coming back to on the loo. (TMI?). The US magazine inspires me but also intimidates me. I’m never going to be an ultra runner, I’m never going to do Hardrock or take off in a Winnebago for the winter. The UK magazine is much more realistic and approachable and is also suitable for my particular level of trail running expertise (or lack of).
  • I have had no technical issues with my digital subscription but I don’t like it, I will be renewing with a paper subscription even at the increased cost. This is no reflection on this particular publication, just a note about how I like to consume media generally, I guess.
  • If you live in the UK and like running off-road at all, I’d definitely recommend this magazine.
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Kaiser Half Training: Week Two

I didn’t mean to leave it a whole week between posts but last week we moved house and it basically took over my whole life! Moving house is HARD WORK. It’s physically and emotionally draining. But we’re now installed in our new little pad and it’s much nicer than I’d anticipated!

Last week’s running went OKAY. To be honest, I’m just proud of any running I got done in this particular week although I wish I’d put a few extra miles in. But basically it went down like this.


Monday: Rest

Ha! Rest? Rest, my arse. Today we moved house. Because we only moved a few buildings down, we moved everything ourselves (with help from some friends) using my old, battered running stroller. SO many trips up and down stairs. My rest day was flipping exhausting. I felt the niggle of a tired IT Band and I also had a lovely case of pink-eye in my left eye. Classy.

Tuesday: Foundation Run

I should have run 6 miles today but I didn’t. I’d slept really badly, I spent the day moving things and I was pretty emotionally overwrought (as one tends to be when moving house). I couldn’t spare an hour to go run but I did fit in half an hour. It was very much needed and was a great mental balancer. Having said that, I grew concerned about the IT band niggle. I’d felt it first on Sunday when we started moving house – the constant up/downstairs thing, the lifting, the walking. It got worse every day. Not BAD but worrisome. No pain when running but some discomfort afterwards. 3 miles at 10.37 pace.

I will never get used to living somewhere that has pelicans

I will never get used to living somewhere that has pelicans

Wednesday: Rest

I didn’t want to have a day off today but I was busy the whole day and also felt it might be wise for my IT Band. Ooh, and for my right eye which was slightly pink too. Oh the glamour.

Thursday:  5 mile Fast Finish Run

Out the (new) house at 6am in the pitch black AND the rain, wearing my new rain jacket. Most excited about the rain. This run’s goal was the first 35 minutes at an easy pace and the remaining 15 minutes at a moderate pace. My first 3.4 miles averaged 10.10 and the final 1.6 averaged 9.20. 9.20 used to be my normal pace – I was slightly dismayed at how ‘fast’ it felt.  My leg felt okay. 5 miles at 10.06 pace.

Friday:  10 mile Long Run

With the bulk of our move done, I took some time for myself and did my long run. The first few miles gave me some concern about my IT Band but after 4 miles it settled down and felt fine. I ran M5 and M9 at tempo and the remaining miles at easy pace. I bust a gut on both tempo miles, aiming for 8.30 pace and managed 8.41 and 8.43 which dismayed me a little, given how hard I worked. I have a slight cold this week, so I’m hoping that that’s the reason for the effort and the resulting pace. 10 miles at 10.18 pace.

Saturday: Rest

I fully intended to run today but it just didn’t happen. Instead, I went to Home Depot twice,  did work around the house unpacking boxes and took the Dude to a birthday party.

Sunday: Doubles Day!


I did the first interval session for a long time (maybe since May?) this morning. Half a mile warm-up, then 12 x (1 min fast, 1 min recovery) followed by the remainder at a very easy jog. I felt like I busted a gut out there. I have a long way to go. It was however totally worth it, as I was awake early enough to catch one of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever seen! 3.7 miles at an average of 9.10 pace

No filter, people

No filter, people

PMEasy Run

Seven very easy, relaxed evening miles thinking of the lovely Michaela who, at that moment, was running the marathon segment of Ironman Arizona. I had one of those gorgeous runs where I honestly felt like I could run forever. But I didn’t, I came home and made Bolognese for my boys. 7.11 miles at 10.18 pace.


I have very mixed views about this week’s training. I’m slightly disappointed because last week’s training was so good and I was on such a high. I’d hoped to have built on that. However this week was a busy week in Real Life and I think that any running that happened should be celebrated. Whilst I’d hoped to run over 30 miles, 29 miles overall is not to be sniffed at. I’m not too concerned about my IT Band. It’s calmed down and I’m rolling it like crazy.

80/20 training is based really on heart rate and I am a runner without a heart rate monitor. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while but haven’t yet done so. I’m not OVERLY keen, and life is crazy busy at the moment. So I’ve been working to my own definitions of ‘zones’, based on effort. Clearly the purists will be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at my amateurish efforts, but for the moment, it will have to do.

Next week, life gets no quieter. Three in-laws arrive on Tuesday for a two-week visit. It’s the Dude’s 5th birthday on Thursday (!) and his party on Saturday – and that party has got totally out of hand!! However I’ve worked out what I hope is a realistic training plan and I reckon I should be able to achieve it. I DO need to watch my diet. This week, I planned to eat well but we ended up eating whatever was in front of us because we were so tired, so hungry and we didn’t have a fridge full of healthy food! I need to sort that out this week!

Okay…birthday week, here we come. Let’s do this.

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Kaiser Half Training: Week One

This morning, we got the keys to our new apartment. We’re not moving far, literally just round the corner to a smaller apartment in the same complex. Bay Area rents are ridiculous and the proposed rent increase to our current place was too much to tolerate. So we’re ‘downsizing’. I’m trying not to be grumpy about it because it’s such a first world problem and I am such a lucky girl…but sob.

Anyway. Week One of Kaiser training is done. You may remember that it was supposed to be ‘Warm Up Week’ but on Wednesday, I realized I was 3 weeks late starting my training plan so it suddenly became Week One. And it went well. I churned out 29 miles which is my highest mileage week for 7 weeks. I followed the 80/20 rule religiously and my legs feel really good on it – not tired at all.


Tuesday: 6 miles at 9.48 pace

For the first time in a month, I got to run ‘fast as I had one ‘tempo’ mile in this run. I was very curious to see how my legs would do – would they hold a decent pace comfortably? would I see an 8:xx or was 9:xx my new tempo pace? would I want to die at the end? In the end, my tempo mile was 8.31 pace and my legs held the pace relatively comfortably! I was really happy.

Wednesday: 4.1 miles at 9.20 pace

A cold morning. Mile 1 was a warm up and then I tried to hold tempo pace for two miles. They turned out to be 8.35 and 8.22 respectively. My legs were tired at the end so I slowed it right down for the final mile to really let them recover. I was super-happy with the tempo miles, especially the second.

Wednesday was also my favourite time to be a Brit - Bonfire Night! This was Muir Beach's bonfire where I got to meet Tim and rope him into the Kaiser Half :)

Wednesday was also my favourite time to be a Brit – Bonfire Night! This was Muir Beach’s bonfire and bag-piper, where I got to meet Tim and rope him into the Kaiser Half :)


Thursday: Rest

My parents left California. Sob.

Friday: Long run. 10 miles with M4 and M8 at tempo

This wasn’t quite what was prescribed in the plan (clearly I’m totally rubbish at following plans) but I wanted to run 10 miles and I wanted to throw 2 tempo miles in there as well. 80/20, eh?  I took it really easy during the slower miles and ran two faster miles at 8.34 and 8.39. My legs were tired at the end of this run.

Saturday: Recovery Run at 11.03 pace

4 very easy miles in the dense fog. Then I spent the day packing our place up.

Karl the Fog was visiting the FC

Karl the Fog was visiting the FC

Sunday: Easy run. 4.3 easy miles at 10.25 pace

I don’t usually run 5 days in a week but this 80/20 malarkey requires increased volume if it’s going to work so I headed out for one last run this week. 45 minutes. Again, I kept it really slow and gentle.

Beautiful luminous light in the mornings

Beautiful luminous light in the mornings


This first week has gone fairly well, I think. I’m really happy with the amount of miles I’ve put in and especially happy with how good my legs feel at the end of those miles. I’m also REALLY psyched for the training. I’ve done myself a spreadsheet and it will be printed and stuck on my new fridge when we finally move in next week. There’s an excitement about running and training that I haven’t felt for a long time, and that’s making me really happy.

I’ve discussed before my reservations and concerns about 80/20 and whether or not it’s going to significantly change my running to enable me to PR in February. So I’ve signed me and the Husband up for a 10k on New Year’s Day! The days of partying are well and truly over (parenthood!) so I’m well up for racing hard at the start of 2015. We’re doing the  Race To End World Hunger in Mountain View. I’m not quite sure how it will end world hunger but it should give me a good idea of how my training is going and what I need to do in the four remaining weeks.

Have a great week, everyone!

Okay. One week down. Week Two…here we come!

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3 weeks late!

My parents left California yesterday evening, flying home to the UK. Sob.

To cheer myself up, I started working through the 12-week training plan in 80/20 Running. I went through it, week by week, putting it onto a (colour-coded) spreadsheet to print and stick on my fridge. I got really excited about it.

And then I turned the page…and found three more weeks’ worth of training plan.

Yes, my 12-week plan is actually 15-weeks long. Which means that I am 3 weeks late starting!

My feelings at that moment.

My feelings at that moment.

This wouldn’t be QUITE so awful except that three weeks ago, I nonchalantly wrote that I had three weeks before the plan started so I’d focus on doing some slow running to let my legs recover.

D’oh. A million times d’oh!

So officially (unexpectedly) I have already started training. This week’s Warm Up Week suddenly became Week One! BOOM!! Didn’t see that coming!

So far, so good. I’ve run twice this week (I’m running again today, Friday) and both runs included a mile or two of tempo speed. I really wondered how my legs would react to running faster after a month of running slowly. They LOVED it…I’ve never been so excited to step up the pace. They also held the pace fairly comfortably, so  I was encouraged by that.

A few thoughts on the plan itself

There are three plans in the book, and I think I’m roughly the standard BETWEEN the second plan and the third. I’m probably closer to the second plan but it doesn’t fill me with confidence that my running would improve significantly. However, the third plan looks like it might be too much – very few rest days and several double days each week.

In addition, the next month is ridiculously busy. Next week we move house, then my in-laws come for two weeks, then it’s the Dude’s birthday and his party, then we go to Tahoe for Thanksgiving. So whilst I’m determined to give this training cycle everything I’ve got, I need to be flexible to swap workouts around across the course of the week and even skip some if I genuinely need more rest days.

All this to say…I’m sadly not going to be following the official plan to the letter, at least until mid-December.  But I’m ready to train my socks off!

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Big Sur

Following last week’s sung confession of Not Much Running, you’ll be delighted to hear that there was a decent amount of running this weekend!

On Friday, I was up and out by 6am for 5 easy miles. EVERY time the alarm goes off at 5.30am I want to go back to sleep, and generally I have to admit I do so. But this time, I managed to get myself up and out. Once I’m out, I LOVE those early morning runs in the dark, I really relish them and the endorphin rush when I got home was awesome. I was fearsomely productive!

Seen on my run

Seen on my run

Then on Saturday, we all piled in the car and headed off for our long weekend down Big Sur. The Dude had Monday off school for teacher training, so we had an extra day. On Saturday, we headed to Pacific Grove – the poor relation to famous Monterey and swanky Carmel. We loved Pacific Grove, it was a really nice little town, with wonderful rocky coastline. On Saturday morning, the Husband and I took advantage of willing Grandparent Babysitters and headed out for a run together – we can’t remember the last time we ran together without the Dude. It was bright sunshine and a little chilly but I was fine in a t-shirt once we were moving.  We ran down the coastal path, stopping at Lovers Point for photos (natch) and then veered into the town itself. 6.3 miles of early morning goodness.

Pacific Grove Ocean

Lovers Point

Lovers Point

me Pacific Grove

Later that day, we drove down the spectacular Big Sur Coast, stopping at the lovely restaurant Nepenthe for drinks on the terrace.

The view from the Nepenthe terrace is pretty wonderful

The view from the Nepenthe terrace is pretty wonderful

Big Sur coastline

Big Sur coastline

We stayed the night at Moonstone Beach in Cambria and visited Hearst Castle on Monday morning before coming home. Such a great weekend away.

Sunset in Cambria

Sunset in Cambria


Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

This week’s Running Plans

My official 12-week Kaiser Half training kicks off next Monday, the 10th. As such, this week I’m ramping it up a little – aiming to run 5 times with some ‘speed work’ thrown in.  After four weeks of running at about 11-minute miles, I can’t really imagine speed work. Suddenly 9.30s feel like quite the fabulous running achievement and I am actually marvelling at my 8.25 average 10k from February. On the positive side, my legs feel considerably better than they did at the start of October, when they were constantly drained and tired. It’s definitely been a good thing for me to do.

I shall also be aiming to run more – four times at least. Once official training kicks in next week, I shall be running probably five times a week – although I’ll be careful not to do too much and drain my legs or get injured. And I shall also be playing around with the Husband’s Heart Rate Monitor to try and gauge the various thresholds I need to know for 80/20 training.

However…I have to be honest, I am VERY dubious about how this slow running will translate into a PR come February. A big part of me wants to ditch this 80/20 scheme and RUN RUN RUN but I’m determined to give it a go. I’ve decided to give myself a couple of ‘out-clauses’ due to my trepidation. I have a trail half in December and I’m going to do a 10k in January…if I’m not seeing any speed improvements for that 10k in particular, I’ll reconsider my training plan.

In the meantime, I have three more days with my favourite people, so excuse me if I head off now.

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Not much running here :)

Please sing the following blog post to the appropriate Britney tune;)


Oops, I haven’t blogged for a week

I’ve been having fun, enjoying the sun

Oh baby,baby

Oops, my parents are here, and one thing is clee-eee-eerrrr

I’m not running very much…



Ooh baby, baby – it turns out that in the dark

I’m not so good at mornings

ooh baby, baby – my jeans are getting snug

That’s just a little warning

Wine, cheese, hanging with the parents

Tell me readers, cuz I need to know now all because



Oops, I need to run more.

Three runs in a week will not PR me

ooh baby,baby

Oops I hereby commit, I’ll run this week-eeeennnnndddd

I’m not that fit these days :)


Have a great weekend, everyone!

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On Wednesday, the best thing in the world happened…my parents arrived for two weeks. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. They looked pretty happy about it too!

Airport adrenaline

Airport adrenaline

My plan for running whilst there here is to continue to run slowly and steadily, building up a level of base aerobic fitness in preparation for me starting to train for the Kaiser Half. No-pressure running, just getting out there. It will mean some very early mornings so as to not waste any time with my favourite people. On Wednesday morning, I was up at 5.30 am and out on the road at 6. It was dark but my town is pretty safe and I actually really relished the run, ending on a total endorphin high. I’m sure getting up that early will lose its appeal quickly but it was fun for the first time. So whilst I hang out with the ‘rents, here’s a quick fun look at some of the things I’m enjoying at the moment.

(None of the links are affiliate links.)


I’ve really got back into the swing of reading again, inspired by that Facebook thing recently where people nominated the books that impacted them the most. I wrote down all the titles on the lists of my cleverest friends and am quietly working my way through them.  I’m currently reading Gilead by Margaret Robinson. It’s the reflections of an old dying pastor, passing on pearls of wisdom to his young son. The writing is beautiful. I initially felt a little frustrated that there’s no ‘plot’ as such but I’m learning to slow myself down and wallow in each individual sentence and thought. I’m loving it.

I recently finished ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbery. It’s very French and was initially slow and ponderous, but once the ‘plot’ got moving, I was obsessed. When I finished, I sat in the car and sobbed silently for half an hour. (Won’t say if it was due to sadness of happiness). Can’t remember the last time a book moved me so much.


In terms of TV, we’re in a bit of a lull – the only good thing we’re watching is the current season of Downton Abbey, which is CRACKING and so much better than the rubbish third season. The Dowager always reminds me of my awesome grandma.

I’ve seen a few great movies lately and they’ve all been under an hour and a half. More movies should be that short – I feel like movie-makers have forgotten the art of editing and are too self-indulgent!!

I FINALLY watched ‘The Triplets of Belleville (‘Belleville Rendezvous’ in the UK) and it was utterly awesome and I loved every second! And last week I watched my first Japanese anime movie ‘My neighbour Totoro‘ which was wonderful too. Both films have gorgeous animation, although with very different styles, and gripping stories. Totally recommended. And a month or so ago, I finally saw Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and it is without doubt my movie of the year. It’s a jewel of a movie – lustrous and beautiful.

Looking Forward To...

Despite the fact it will be my parents’ last night with us, I’m looking forward to Bonfire Night on November 5th, when all the Bay Area Brits will gather on Muir Beach near the Pelican Inn in the dark around a massive bonfire to burn guys and drink hot chocolate! Remember, remember!

Once they leave, I’m getting ready to move house. We got priced out of our 3-bed apartment and are moving round the corner to a 2-bed apartment in the same complex. And then a few days later, four of my in-laws come for a two week visit! Snuggly! So I’m definitely looking forward to renting this awesome house in Tahoe over Thanksgiving. It has a hot tub and table-football and FOUR bedrooms! Looking forward to some bracing, oxygen-reduced lakeside running!

Lakeside running, Thanksgiving '13

Lakeside running, Thanksgiving ’13

Listening to

My current favourite song is ‘All about that bass’.  It’s just awesome and makes me wiggle-dance in the car. I particularly like the bit about ‘Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top’ and I sing it loudly to my little boy because it’s utterly true!

Whilst running SLOWWWWLLLLYYYY, I’m listening to ‘Finding Ultra‘ by Rich Roll. I’ll do a proper review when I’ve finished it but it’s pretty gripping. I roll my eyes when he waxes lyrical about spirulina and bee pollen smoothies but his tale of descent into alcoholism and emergence from addiction was deeply moving.


All the pumpkin things. Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter. Not the pumpkin spice lattes. I have one every October and every October I remember that they’re disgusting, syrupy things and I prefer hot chocolate.

I also recently discovered this….and my waistline will never be the same again.



I’ve started dabbling with smoothies. I know everyone moved on from smoothies about three years ago but I’m late to every party and I am really enjoying them. I’ve started using  almond milk and am surprised at how much I like it, especially in porridge, although I shall never use anything apart from cows milk for my morning Earl Grey!

I bought ‘Thug Kitchen‘ this week and am starting to work through the recipes. It’s weird because the there’s so much swearing on every page and I’m NOT one for bad language, it usually alienates me. But somehow this book makes me giggle so hard that I couldn’t resist. I’ve made one recipe so far (lemony lentil soup) and it was a success!


I don’t think I’ve found any new magical websites lately apart from Deliciously Ella which is a vegan food/lifestyle blog from a very beautiful girl in London. I have a bit of a crush on her – she’s so pretty and clean and well-dressed and glossy. She makes me want to eat better just so I can be equally glossy. Because that will happen!

And that’s it, folks! Tell me what you’ve been loving lately.

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The great 80/20 experiment

A little background. As you may know, I’ve fried my legs by running too fast too often. My average speeds have decreased, my tempo speeds have decreased and my legs just feel heavy and tired all the time. Clearly my home-made training plan wasn’t as great as I thought it was.

Enter Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 running. Tucked up on the bed nursing my cold over the past fortnight or so, I’ve been working my way through it with a highlighter. I am pretty much brand new to ‘scientific’ books about running and science is not my strong point at the best of times, but basically…the author takes about 4 chapters to say that:

  • Elite sportsmen and women from many disciplines all do 80% of their training at low intensity (he calls it ‘below ventilatory threshold’ which is slightly below the more commonly used lactate threshold) and 20% at high intensity.
  • He quotes many studies from around the world which back up the benefits of doing this. The arguments are pretty strong.
  • He makes the point that most hobby joggers train too much in either high or mid-intensity zones and not only fry their legs but also sabotage their own chances of good racing results. (Ahem). Notably, what we usually think of as ‘easy’ runs are generally more ‘moderate’ – we always underestimate the effort we’re putting in.
  • The main gist is that if we recreational runners followed this 80/20 rule and ran 80% of our runs below ventilatory threshold and the remaining 20% at high intensity then we should see miraculous, exciting PRs and significant differences off our racing times.
Last time I PRd in Golden Gate Park

Last time I PRd in Golden Gate Park

He then goes on to explain how to gauge your own low/moderate/high intensity zones and then there are 12-week training plans – three plans per distance (5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon).

I was somewhat reluctant to be persuaded. I don’t want to run slowly – I want to effortlessly cover the ground with the grace and speed of a gazelle. I’m also dubious – it makes no logical sense that, by running slowly I can race faster. But his arguments are compelling. So I’ve been focussing on running really slowly for a few weeks now and I’ve been listening to an e-book of ‘Finding Ultra’ by Rich Roll in which the author actually starts using this very method for his training. Listening to him expound the training- method I’ve been considering and  then moan about how slowly he felt he was running as I crawled along was kind of funny!

The crux of it is…I’m in. I’ve decided to give 15 weeks  (see below) of my running life over to one of his plans and see what happens. I’m going to be an 80/20 guinea pig.

If it works, I’ll have a shiny new half-marathon PR in the Spring in time for my 40th birthday.

If it doesn’t work…frankly I haven’t lost much. I’m not an elite runner. My livelihood doesn’t depend on my results. I might feel a bit shame-faced on this blog and I’ll be a bit dejected and miserable heading into my 40s but that’s hardly a big deal.

I was initially planning to follow the plan for a 10k PR and to aim for that. My friend Maggie made the comment that she thought focussing on shorter distances would be good for me, and I actually really agree with her. But I didn’t find a suitable 10k within the correct time period on the race-finders and  then came RnR SJ and my disappointing time, and it lit a fire in my belly to go out, train my socks off and run my heart out. I love the half-marathon distance, I really do, and if I could improve one PR as I turn 40, it would be that one. So half-marathon it will be.

(I am however planning a Spring of 10ks! And I’m already super-excited about that!)

Back to the training plan. I have a few concerns.

  • It involves a LOT of slow running. More miles and slower speeds. This will take extra time and I’m a little nervous of the additional time that I’ll be having to find for running. October and November (oh November) are likely to be extremely busy although it should calm down a little after that. I think some discipline over early nights will be necessary and some discipline over early mornings too. But discipline is good for me.
  • I’m nervous that I won’t accurately gauge my low/moderate/high intensity zones and thus muck up my training. I’m reluctant to wear a heart-rate monitor although I accept I may have to. I’ll just have to work hard on that particular step!
  • I’m signed up for a trail race mid-December. I’m going to run that however I feel on the day!
This looks nice doesn't it! Source

This looks nice doesn’t it!

My chosen goal race is (drum-roll)….the Kaiser Half Marathon on Feb 1st 2015. I chose Kaiser for many reasons.

  • I’ve run it once already and I know the course.
  • The course is supremely PR-able!
  • It’s five days before I turn 40.
  • Lots of local runners run it – and if you’re a local runner, I think you should sign up too and come and run my Birthday Half-Marathon too :)
  • I can go to Crepes on Cole for French Toast afterwards and that will make my day.
On my way to a 37th Birthday PR at Kaiser 2012

On my way to a 37th Birthday PR at Kaiser 2012

Kaiser is 15 weeks away – the training plan is for 12 weeks so I need to start training on Nov 10th. This gives me some time to do lots of slow running to build up my aerobic base and to enjoy my parents’ visit over the next few weeks.

I’m actually quite excited about it. I like the idea of following a plan and being told what to do and when. I very much like the idea of a shiny new PR :)

Let’s do this!

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What it’s like to be married to a future Ironman

I wrote this post a while ago but wanted to sit on it for a while until the emotions about Ironman had calmed down a little and I could be a little more clear-headed about it. Three months on and having re-drafted this several times, I think it’s ready to go. I hope it’s useful.

I’m a little hesitant to publish this because there’s a risk that I’ll just be moaning and I’ll come across as whiny. I CAN be whiny and I do moan a little in the post below but I thought the frankness of the below post might be useful to someone whose partner is signing up for an Ironman. I’m publishing this (with the Husband’s blessing) because it’s information I wish someone had given me before we signed up for the whole Ironman thing. I was warned that Ironman training takes a toll on a relationship and that I had to be totally on board. I knew roughly what we were getting into but the info below might be more practically useful.

Firstly, I have to say that the Husband has supported my running and my racing (and ME generally) for years. I adore him;  it was my honour and joy to support him in return and I am beside myself with pride in what he achieved in July. So please bear that in mind as you read the below.


Before the Husband signed up, I had some idea of what the impact it would have. A long time ago we discovered this video on Youtube and we thought it was SOOOOO funny. Now we’re the other side of Ironman, I can say it’s pretty much accurate!  (Excuse the few rude words in the video).

The moment he pressed the button

The moment he pressed the button

Say goodbye to your partner

The Husband started training in January for Ironman Canada at the end of July. He got himself a coach who gave him monthly training plans. I felt reassured that this would ensure him surviving the Ironman (as much as can be guaranteed) and we both feel that this was a great decision and would recommend it.

His training ramped up as you’d expect. I can honesty say that for Jan – March, it didn’t really impact our lives too much. If  anything, it was a good thing. Now, we were BOTH training for things – it felt like a real partnership as we plotted our weekends to give us time to train, time with the Dude and time together as a family. It was fun. If  we went away, we had to fit his bike ride of 1 – 3 hours into the weekend but that was totally do-able. We have a pool where we live which really helped in terms of him not having to drive to/from a pool and thus save that travelling time. His weekday training was roughly an hour and not too burdensome at the weekend.

April and May got more serious, especially May. By now he was gone all of Saturday morning and most of Sunday morning as well. Sunday morning suits us well (the Dude and I are at church) but Saturday was harder. As a SAHM, I looked forward to the different dynamic of Saturday when the Husband is home. Saturday basically became just like my weekdays. There was a period when, being honest, I resented that. I honestly still supported the Husband and ALWAYS wanted him to do the Ironman, I never wanted him to drop out, but I just got fed up with his absences.

The second half of May and June were ALL about Ironman. In fact, it felt like May and June would never end. On a Saturday, the Husband was gone till 4 or 5pm. On Sunday, he was gone till midday or later. After both days’ exercise, he would need to sleep for an hour or so…thus he was technically gone for longer. I was VERY grateful to go to the UK for 2 1/2 weeks in June and have a break from it. That really helped.

Both the Dude and I quite enjoyed supporting the Husband during his Olympic Distance and Half-Ironman races. They were a lot of fun.

rich husband

The first weekend of July was the biggest weekend of training – on the Saturday, the Husband did 110 miles bike, 1 mile run, 2 miles swim and on the Sunday he did 3 miles of swimming and 19 miles of running. He was basically gone the whole weekend. After that, taper began and the burden lessened. We saw a bit more of him.

How did the training impact me as his wife?

Personally, there were a few things I hadn’t considered beforehand.

  • Weekends away stopped after April/May. I tried to book a weekend away in May and gave up. We would have spent the whole time fitting the Husband’s training around what we were doing, and it wasn’t worth it. This means we didn’t go camping at all.
  • We missed out on a few things that I was particularly excited about as a result of training…Western States being the biggest. I’d been planning all year to go and camp in Auburn for Western States to cheer on the runners and I even booked my flights home from the UK in time to be able to do that. But as it grew closer, we realised that it just wouldn’t work with the Husband’s training. Having been away from him for 2 1/2 weeks in the UK, I didn’t want to leave him and go away alone for the weekend, so we didn’t go. I was pretty gutted about that.
  • My own freedom to run was curtailed. Saturdays became all about childcare. I only managed one Saturday trail run with the girls from April onwards and that was thanks to wonderful friends who got up at 6.45 on a Saturday to watch my son. I got fed up with not being able to say yes to invitations.
  • My friends got used to me and the Dude showing up for things alone. ‘Where’s Rich?’ they asked. ‘Training.’ I’d inevitably reply and there would be plenty of sympathetic eye-rolling. Having a bunch of supportive friends to keep us company made it much better.
  • I was able to continue to train because I was free during pre-school times to run. I was incredibly grateful for this. If I was working full-time, it would be pretty hard for us both to train.
  • I stopped racing. Weekends were all about the Husband’s training and me playing with the Dude. Racing wasn’t really possible unless I pushed the stroller. Not having any races in the diary took some of the momentum out of my running – I need something to aim for.
  • We didn’t do any family hiking for months. I don’t want to hike alone with the Dude and the Husband justifiably didn’t want to hike after exercising.
  • This is a family blog…but there was another ‘California Drought’ if you know what I mean. Ironmen are generally working, training or sleeping. They don’t have much ‘extra energy’.
  • On a lighter note…SO MUCH LAUNDRY! And SO MUCH EXTRA FOOD.
  • It’s expensive. REALLY expensive. The Husband keeps saying the next one will therefore be cheaper. Next one?
  • More positively, I felt really proud when I told anyone he was training for an Ironman. An online contact once described me as ‘a runner married to a triathlete’ and it took me a few moments to recognise our family. My pride in and respect for the Husband has grown enormously as he’s trained for this – and I was proud of him and full of respect for him anyway!

How did it affect the Dude?

  • Not too badly. He missed having his Dad around on the weekends, especially if he woke up after the Husband had left to train on a Saturday when sometimes there were tears. But he got used to the different dynamic. The Husband is an awesome father and made time to do one-on-one things with the Dude each weekend and in the evenings.
  • He was given an ‘ironman’ superhero toy for Easter by some relatives. He immediately started making it swim, bike and run!! The poor child thinks that this is how normal families operate.

Tri Folsom Family

How did it affect the Husband?

  • He lost weight. Since March 2013 he’s lost about 50 lbs. He looks awesome right now.
  • He grew in confidence. With weight-loss and fitness comes confidence and I think he’s rightfully proud of how fit he is right now.
  • It was great to see him get back into exercise and fitness. He’s a guy who thrives on challenge and he’s been talking about future challenges already. I did giggle when he nonchalantly decided he’d run Western States next year though.

Well done for reading this far. I hope I haven’t moaned too much and it’s been helpful to someone. I appreciate it may be a little negative and I apologise for that if so. I think the main thing to consider is that a spouse has to be TOTALLY on board and supportive of the athlete. He or she really has to want the IronSpouse to succeed and be willing to sacrifice for a period in order to make this happen.

Having said all that…I can honestly say that watching the Husband come out the water, fly past us on his bike and, best of all, run down the finishing chute with the Union Jack was utterly incredible. It still makes me teary-eyed to think of it now. It was an incredible journey for all three of us and I am so glad we did it.

Family portrait - sleeping Dude included

Family portrait – sleeping Dude included

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