Portland, baby!

At the weekend, it was my birthday. I was not 21. Alas I wasn’t even 40. Ugh. Anyway, never one to forgo the opportunity for a trip, I booked some flights and we headed up to Portland, OR. I’ve wanted to go to Portland for years – people rave about the place and post the most amazing pictures on instagram. So I was really excited to go.

We flew up on the Friday night. I rocked my new birthday leg-warmers (I rocked them 30 years ago too) and tucked into the birthday reading the husband brought for me!

me emelie

Because I look just like Emelie when I run.


I will only admit this on my blog where you are all runners and you won’t judge…but basically I wanted to go to Portland to run the trails of Forest Park. Forest Park is a massive park just outside downtown Portland. I’d seen so many pictures of it, I was dying to run there. But being a family girl, I was prepared to run/hike with my boys. We brought along the Bob stroller, although I was unconvinced I could push the Dude in it any more. However as we drove up on Saturday morning, the Husband announced that he would take the Dude hiking and geocaching, and I was free to run my heart out for an hour and a half.What an awesome present for a  mum!

How I felt

How I felt

I ran and ran and ran, and it was every bit as amazing as I expected. I honestly can’t tell you how much running through forests makes my heart soar. There’s something almost primeval about it, it’s utter magic. I ran up Wild Cherry trail which climbed steadily through trees that were bright green with moss on their branches and trunks. At the top, I turned right on Wildwood trail and ran along that for three miles or so. It’s a balcony trail that is roughly parallel with Leif Erickson trail – there’s some undulation but it’s more or less flat. It was just magical, running through the forest. I loved every second of it.

I felt really safe even though I was running alone through a forest in a city. There were plenty of runners on the trails, every time I felt like I was a bit too isolated, another runner or hiker would come into view. There were plenty of women running alone too. The trails were all deliciously smooth and well maintained so I wasn’t worried about twisting my ankle either.

portland wildwood forest park

See how the trail curves round? Magic, people!

portland wildwood forest park IMG_2222 wildwood forest park portland

Eventually I turned off down a very steep, very muddy fireroad to get back to Leif Erickson trail. It was a bit tricky and that was the only time I felt isolated but it was fine and soon I was back on Leif. Leif (we’re on first name terms now) is a wide, smooth fire-road shaded with lovely trees. It was steadily, gently downhill for me all the way back to the car. I arrived back grinning from ear to ear and buzzing with endorphins as I found my boys again. Just the most brilliant 7 miles I’ve run for a very long time.

In case anyone’s interested in practicalities, we parked at the trailhead at the top of NW Thurman and I ran a route of Leif Erickson – Wild Cherry – Wildwood – Fireroad 1 – Leif back to the start.

I’d intended to run the next day along the river, on the floating walkway (!) but my nasty germs rallied for one final hurrah, which meant I felt pretty ropey. A wise decision. I shall save my floating walkway for our next time in Portland.

A few more photos of our weekend because I really love other people’s travel photos and I’ll assume you love mine too :)


Get your falafel and lentil soup here, folks! (Alder St pod)

portland cake doughnut

Voodoo doughnuts. Good but not worth the calories

portland mini golf

Every Ramsden trip needs to include mini-golf (Glowing Greens in downtown Portland)

me portland

DO get brunch at Mother’s!!!!!

The Dude is obsessed with hedgehogs but California is a hedgehog-free state. So I emailed Rose City Hedgehogs and asked very nicely if we could come and visit. The lovely lady said yes and so my favourite small person (who isn’t very small any more) finally got to hold a hedgie!



Multnomah Falls. An Instagram cliche but totally amazing!

family multnomah portland

Our awkward family photo

dude portland oregon

Getting sworn in as a junior ranger. Oddly moving for his mother!

bridge of the gods portland oregon

Bridge of the Gods from the book/movie ‘Wild’.

columbia gorge portland Oregon

The beautiful Columbia River Gorge

family portland

Ending with the obligatory IG shot of our feet on the PDX airport carpet

Oregon, you wowed us! We’ve already started planning our trip there in August!

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Race Recap: Crissy Field parkrun

I’m not sure how many US readers are aware of parkrun. It’s a British phenomenon which has literally changed the face of running in the UK. It’s a series of free, weekly, timed 5k runs across the country – there are over 300 in the UK plus parkruns across Europe, South Africa, Singapore, NZ and Australia. I ran a parkrun in Leeds last summer!

In the US, there are 5 events and in January 2015, San Francisco got one, at Crissy Field, next to the Golden Gate Bridge. I was super-excited when it started and fully intended to go…but somehow it was a full year before I made it! We live about 45 minutes away and that’s a lot of driving for a 5k! But this weekend, I finally got there.

I’m currently training for a 5k PR in March at Oakland, as is Jen, so some trial runs would be very useful and parkrun fitted the bill perfectly. On Saturday morning, I rocked up at the San Francisco Yacht Club with my boys and met up with Jen and BT and we prepared to rock it!

I want BT's running top!

I want BT’s running top!



Meeting up with one of the Husband's colleagues!

Meeting up with one of the Husband’s colleagues!                                   (Source: parkrun FB page)

Officially my goal for the race was to test my legs, to see how I was progressing with my training. Unofficially, I wanted to thrash myself to pieces and get that sub-25 right here, right now! I was All Fired Up!

Crissy Field parkrun is small – there were 37 runners that day. Half of them seemed to be British, it was delightful. Many were expats, many were tourists! There was a lovely, informal feeling, everyone was very friendly. The race director took a load of photos, which were uploaded later that night and are dotted throughout this post – there are some crackers!! He talked us through the course (which has changed recently, it’s different to the one on the site, much more PR friendly), he took a starting photo and we were off.

parkrun sf

Dale, the RD, briefing us!

Start line! The Dude moved back after the photo.

Start line! The Dude moved back after the photo.                                                                                            (Source, FB page)

The course heads off down Crissy Field along a trail made of hard-packed sand and gravel. Then it turns left onto the tarmac along Old Mason St, turns left on a path, cuts back down to the corner and then you return up the sandy path to the start point. There were signposts at every turn, although basically I just followed the people in front.

We set off at a rate of knots. Due to the rain lately (yay!) it was very puddle-y, there were BIG puddles along the whole of the sand trail. Initially I tried to run round them as much as possible and then realized I was adding seconds and distance, so just ploughed straight through them. There was a slight headwind as we headed along, nothing major but noticeable. I was all out straight from the start – maybe not a wise strategy but I was there to race. I ran hard and slowly wound my way past other runners. I couldn’t see any women ahead, but I had tunnel vision, so didn’t really think about it much.

parkrun sf

Western view

parkrun sf

Eastern View           (Source: FB page)

Just after the mile beeped on my watch, we turned left. The tarmac was immediately easier to run on so I powered along, chasing people down as best I could. I turned left and then left again, heading back towards the turning point. Just before M2, I saw BT in her gorgeous orange top. ‘Lead woman’ she grunted at me as I ran past. Really? I saw my boys valiantly bringing up the rear – the Dude ‘was not racing’ today. ‘You’re in the lead’ the Husband told me. As I turned back onto the sandy trail, I glanced behind me and saw a woman in red not far behind. I have no final kick so I knew I’d lose the lead but I wasn’t there to win the race, I was there to get sub-25.

That last mile wasn’t fun. I was dribbling everywhere (so ladylike). I splashed through puddles, dodged kids on skuuts, focused super-hard on finishing. In the distance, I could see the buildings where I knew we’d started – it seemed so far away. At about 1/4 mile from the end, there’s a bridge – once I got there, I focussed on moving my arms, knowing my battered legs would have to follow suit. Eventually I saw the coned-off finish chute…as I ran up I glanced down at my watch…24.09. I knew I could do this sub-25 thing but the clock ticked mercilessly and my legs seemed to slow to get me there. I finally crossed the line, stopped my watch and bent over to catch my breath.

parkrun me

Left it all on the road!                                                          (Source: FB page)

I looked at my watch.



Smiley face!                                                                                        (Source: FB page)

Happy Dance. Well, in my head I did a happy dance. In reality I just caught my breath. I’d somehow come in first woman…I’d won!!!!


Jen rocked up a few seconds later….second woman. The woman in red who worried me earlier wasn’t apparently in the race. Ooops.

parkrun sf jen

No death-face for Jen!                                                                                 (Source: FB page)

We stood around watching other people run in, including a very fast woman pushing a double stroller. Glad she didn’t get a babysitter that morning :) BT arrived, really happy with her time and then finally, my boys arrived. The Dude stuck with his usual strategy of dawdling the whole race and then kicking into a sprint at the very end so that the accompanying parent looks like THEY’RE the slow one. Bearing in mind that this is the western-most parkrun in the world, the Husband had the honour of being the very last park runner to finish on the entire planet.

parkrun sf tennille

BT finishing!                                                                                                      (Source: FB page)

parkrun dude husband

The Dude sprinting to the finish!                                                                  (Source: FB page)

parkrun sf dude

Love love love this photo!                                                                                                (Source: FB page)

parkrun sf

parkrun sf us family

(Source: FB page)

There was a lot of chatting. Being such a small race, it was really friendly! We also got some cool photos!!! And then everyone retired to the nearby coffee and doughnut stand and we hung around for half an hour more in the sunshine, refueling. It was really, really nice.

sf parkrun

Lard with a view

parkrun dude

Run parkrun and get free, amazing photos of your child!         (Source: FB page)

The Husband headed off on his bike (Ironman training is underway) and the Dude and I drove home. As I drove, it dawned on me that I’d done it – I’d achieved a really big milestone for me and I was so chuffed, such a feeling of satisfaction and delight! It hadn’t struck me immediately, it took a while to sink in. So when I got home, I checked the official results which had been emailed out already and somehow my official time….was 25.01.

I haven’t quite worked out how that happened. The Husband, and Jen both had official times that were exactly what their garmins showed them! It’s not really a big deal but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed.  After some reflection, I feel that I HAVE achieved my Q1 goal – I DID run a sub-25 5k – but now I need to beat that at Oakland to get the Official Time and the medal to prove it.

I feel obliged to post a garmin shot to prove I'm not a big fat liar!

I feel obliged to post a garmin shot to prove I’m not a big fat liar!

In any case, it was a good day’s work. I ‘won’ my first race, I PR’d whichever way you looked at it and I hit my goal-time! Definitely an awesome morning!

Just a quick word on parkrun…I really can’t recommend it enough. If you’re in the Bay Area, do give it a go – it needs your support! It happens every week at the Beach Hut Cafe on Crissy Field (next to the Yacht Club car-park). There’s plentiful free parking. It’s timed, it’s completely free, the course is excellent and VERY PR-able! The people were incredibly friendly. It’s the kind of thing that SF needs and that SF runners should support!

parkrun me sf

Source: FB page!

We’ll be back in mid-February for a mother-son double-date! I already can’t wait.

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That rubbish week of training!

First up…I believe a few gentlemen read this blog. Thank you for doing so. I’m going to discuss periods in this post – please keep reading if you’re interested, but feel free to come back next time!

So. Last week, I wrote a training update that was all unicorns, champagne corks and ginger cats! I’d done all my runs, I’d hit all my goal paces, I’d eaten well, I’d even done some core work. I was flying and I was buzzing with excitement.

My favourite buzzing photo!

My favourite buzzing photo!

And then last week happened.

I missed a key workout which threw everything else off kilter. All my paces were slower. I missed all my tempo goal splits. I felt sluggish and slow, so I ate every single carb that came within arm’s reach. (This made me slower and more sluggish). I despaired of my goals. I despaired of many things.

Me, despairing. All the cycling photos this week!

Me, despairing.
All the cycling photos this week!

And then on Thursday night, my period came and it all became clear.

Now I don’t want to blame my poor running and eating on my period. It was definitely due, in part at least, to a lack of self-control, self-discipline and guts. But I’d be foolish to discount the impact it has on me. I definitely get less patient, I definitely eat carbs like they’re going out of fashion and I definitely get weepy but it hadn’t occurred to me that it might impact my speed.

Salty Running did an excellent post about the impact of your period on your running that I cannot dream of improving upon so I’m linking to it here and you should go and read it in its entirety!!  But basically, the first two weeks of your cycle are your best running weeks. Then it’s basically downhill for two weeks. The progesterone that rules the second part of your cycle even wants to store carbs! I knew it!

So what does this mean for my Q1 goals?

  1. That having my goal race (Oakland) a day or two after my period is unfortunate. I’m going to have to work even harder to PR.
  2. That I need to schedule my races more carefully than I have in the past. I’m actually going to try to do this!
  3. That my 5k coming up this weekend (a ‘trial run’) may actually be a bigger deal than I’d expected!! I should be running faster and free-er again.
  4. Do I plan a Parkrun 5k in mid-March before progesterone starts to ruin things?
  5. Day 2 of my period made Game of Throne’s Red Wedding look like a preschooler tripping in the playground. I need to check my iron levels.
Not THOSE iron levels!

Not THOSE iron levels!


Before I end, a quick summary of this week’s non-period-related excitement. (Phew, you all think).

The Good

  • Hit 25 miles total. Happy with that.
  • Ran four times. That’s decent.
  • My morning run with Lisa.
  • Gutting it out in the cold and the rain on Saturday.

The Bad

  • Missed a key speed workout, intervals.
  • My tempo miles were all way short of goal-pace and were slower than my PR at Thanksgiving.
  • My diet was bad. Too much sugar, carbs and wine.
  • I didn’t do a single core exercise all week.

Next week

  • Crissy Field Parkrun on Saturday. 5k. I definitely want to be close to PR. Whatever…I totally want to PR even if I don’t go sub-25.
  • Focus on core work, speed work and sleeeeep.
  • My nutrition. I’ve read a good book on nutrition this week and I’m going to try some of the hints and tips.

Wish me luck.

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A weekend in the snow

Our friends have a lovely cabin up in the Gold Country mountains, near Murphys.  We spent a lovely weekend there in the summer. They are literally about to have another baby, so when they mentioned that they weren’t going to the cabin in January (just in case things happened early), they asked if we fancied popping up for MLK weekend. Did we? Did we heck. Yes please!


cabin arnold

The view from my bedroom window. Perfection.

We planned to go up on Friday night but the Husband had to work late so we ended up going Saturday morning. We arrived in Murphys at lunchtime and had pizza and cake, so not the healthiest lunch but it was delicious. We spent the afternoon snuggled on the sofa reading. (Well, the boys played on the iPad, I read).


That evening, we drove up to Bear Valley Ski Resort, about 40 minutes further up the mountain for the MLK weekend extravaganza…a flaming torchlight procession and then fireworks. When we arrived, there was sledging/sledding. The Dude was beside himself with excitement. I was terrified. This is ridiculous, I know. There was a very gentle slope and little three year olds were barreling down laughing but I was rooted to the spot with fear. It took me a while to work through it but finally I gave it a go. I was embarrassingly proud of myself!!

dude sledging

Two Ramsdens are not terrified.

bear valley skiing

Torchlight procession down the mountain

bear valley fireworks

Boom! Oooh….aaah!


On Sunday, we headed back up there to go skiing. For the first time ever, I wasn’t totally terrified to go skiing, the trip to Tahoe a few weeks ago was fresh enough in my mind. Bear Valley is a much smaller resort than Tahoe – it’s a big bowl, which sheltered skiers from the winds up there. It’s much older – the chair lifts were quite vicious when you got on and I was a little nervous about their safety, although they were obviously fine. There were a few easy green slopes and then some nice blues but everything else was steep and black. We spent the day on the greens and blues and had a good time. If you’re thinking of skiing there, rent your equipment before you go. MLK weekend is apparently their busiest weekend and it took about 90 minutes to get us equipped and on the slopes. The staff were excellent but we wished we’d got our stuff elsewhere so we could get cracking.

bear valley skiing

us family

The family that skies together…


On the way home, we stopped to join locals sledging in the forests. This time I was much braver :)

me sledging


We sledged again on Monday before heading home!! The Dude is obsessed.

white pine lake

A frozen lake at sunset. Magical.

Back home now…and the training continues :)

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Training, lately!

People, I am LOVING running at the moment!!! Totally head over heels in love with it.

Let’s back up. I’m about two weeks into my current training cycle and realized I haven’t blogged about actually running for a while, so I thought I’d do a quick update.

TL: DR….it’s all good!

I worked up a training plan for Q1 which, for the first two months at least, has two big goals. The first is my sub-25 minute 5k goal. The second is my 25k trail race in Oklahoma at the end of February. Those goals are polar opposites. Go fast over a short distance AND go slow over a long distance. Hardly ideal, but I’ve drawn up a plan that I hope covers both.

Each week includes:

  • a tempo run
  • interval sessions
  • a long run
  • two easy runs
  • strength and ab work

Tempo Runs – I started at just one tempo mile and am building up to five. I’m aiming for at least an 8.02 pace (which would get me sub-25). This week’s two tempo miles were 7.56 and 8.03. I was OVER THE MOON. I was also knackered, but really really thrilled.

Interval Sessions – My plan was to run laps at the local park, which has a running track around the footie pitch. However I run these sessions early in the morning and the park is super-dark and I’m not going there, no matter how safe my town is. So I’m running up and down a residential road, which feels safer. Each interval is 0.25m long and I recover with 0.15m easy jogging. My current average interval time is 1.55 which is 7.44 pace and I’m aiming to drop that down. (I was supposed to run a second set of intervals last night but instead sat down on the sofa with a glass of Merlot. Sorry).

A few weeks ago, when I still saw dawn on my morning runs

A few weeks ago, when I still saw dawn on my morning runs

Long Runs – To get me ready for 15 hilly trail miles in Oklahoma, I’m running long. I’m up to 11 miles at the moment and I’m running uphill for 5 miles of each run, with roughly 600m elevation gain. I haven’t run long consistently for a few months now and my legs took a while to get back into the groove but my second long run was longer, higher and a tiny bit faster than my first, so I’m encouraged.

Easy Runs – One easy run is a very easy 3 miles, the other is roughly 6 miles on Thursday morning with Lisa. Those Thursday morning runs are definitely the highlight of my running week, despite the 5.15 wake-up call. It’s so nice to have company.

Me and Lisa in daylight a few weeks ago. You do NOT want to see our 5.45am photos...

Me and Lisa in daylight a few weeks ago. You do NOT want to see our 5.45am photos…also, yes I am very short

Strength and Abs – It turns out that the hardest part of this training plan is to do the strength/ab work. The first night, I procrastinated until about 9.30 at night!!! I’m starting to get into a routine now. I do core work every other day – a mixture of crunches, planks and various other things, and I can definitely feel the muscles aching all the way down my front and sides which is encouraging. Strength-work is much harder to get excited about, so I have gone back to my trusty Jilian Michaels 30-day shred workout on the Netflix because I know I’ll get a good workout.

Doing core work with a cat is...challenging!

Doing core work with a cat underneath you is…challenging!

So that’s the plan…and so far, so good. I’m thoroughly enjoying training, seriously loving it. I have a lot of work to do on actually getting faster for tempo miles and intervals but I feel like I’ve had a good start!!!

Onwards! Let’s Go forth And Kick Arse!

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Hiking Mt Sutro

On New Year’s Day, we were tempted to stay in our PJs all day but the sun was shining, we had to go into the city to feed a friend’s cat so we decided to get a hike in whilst we were there. We chose Mt Sutro as our location. Mt Sutro is a hill in the middle of the city topped with a Eucalyptus forest. I’ve seen loads of pictures of it over the years and have always fancied going there so I was super-chuffed to get the boys there.

It was lovely. Gorgeous muddy trails winding through Eucalyptus trees. Some fun geocaches. Views over the city and Marin. It was a great start to the year. Thought I’d just share my favourite photos.


Loved loved loved this strange little log-decoration




‘Run me,’ the trail begged.


Golden (gate) view


Fairy Gates trail – perfectly named


Vibrant green leaves in a dell

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A surprisingly decent ski trip!

Between Christmas and New Year, there’s that strange seven-day period where you’re not sure what day it is, you’re still eating more than you can really justify but all motivation to exercise has been wiped out and you’re slowly turning into a sloth. (Just me?) Perfect opportunity to go skiing. For the first year in several, Tahoe had good snow over the Christmas period, so on Boxing Day we joined half the population of the Bay Area and drove up. It took pretty much all day but eventually we got to Tahoe Vista and checked into our little hotel. The cold took our breath away but the room had a fire and the lake looked amazing.



I’ve talked before about my relationship with skiing. ‘Love-Hate’ is an understatement. This is the summary of it.

Things I love about skiing.

  • Being in the mountains!
  • Ski shops and buying ski gear.
  • Eating all the cheese, potatoes and cake.
  • Lazy lunches en piste with mulled wine and carbonara.
  • Chalets. Alpine things. Doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles.
  • The sense of achievement when you look back up a slope and think ‘Wow, I skied that’.

Things I hate about skiing.

  • Skiing.

We had four days of skiing. The first day was an utter disaster. The Dude wasn’t in ski-school so we spent the day on the nursery slopes whilst our kid, who had expected to cruise effortlessly down anything we pointed him at, was struck with fear, unable to control his feet and had turned into a repulsive ski-brat. (No judgement, I often turn into a ski-brat as well).  I was paralyzed with fear, dashing to the bathroom every half hour. The Husband was VERY patient with us both, but the day was so grim that I emailed my girls that evening and told them that my mammogram had been more pleasurable than skiing. I meant it.



The highlight of my day was getting to snuggle at St Bernard

The next day was much better. The Dude got into ski school so the Husband and I had the whole day to ski. Apart from one strop thrown first thing when the Husband tried to make me ski something blue I wasn’t ready for, we had a remarkably nice day. We spent it high up the mountain on gentle slopes where we cruised up and down, stopping for hot chocolate. We had such a nice day, I was so surprised…and the Dude had an amazing time at ski school.

Fun in the...snowstorm

Fun in the…snowstorm

The following day was almost magical. The Dude spent the day skiing with us. I’d been unsure about this because he does still need many hours in ski school and the first hour was grim for all of us. But suddenly, it was like my little man flicked a switch and he just pointed his skis down the hill and slid slowly down. Over the course of the day, as we played on easy, (VERY) easy slopes in the most incredible snow I’ve ever skied in, we just had so much fun together. This was my best day skiing since I broke my leg.

tahoe skiing tahoe skiing dude skiing tahoe

The final day, we skied together again. The Dude wanted to ski down the mountain from the top. The slopes were blues, he’d only skied greens, but we knew they were fairly easy runs so we gave it a shot. Our little man skied steadily, in snow-plough, the whole way down, singing ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ whenever he felt nervous. He repeated that feat two further times. Honestly, my chest was bursting with pride.

dude skiing tahoe

I skied down from the top!

tahoe skiing

Lovely lovely snow!

I’d been planning to have a snowboarding lesson during this stay – I’ve meant to try it for ages and was hoping to give it a shot. But somehow I found myself having too much fun on skis, not a sentence I’d EVER thought I’d write. But I did. It was a great trip full of fresh mountain air, grilled cheese sarnies, hot chocolate and my favourite boys. I’m super-grateful we got to do it.I’m even looking forward to skiing again in this Winter! Wonders will never cease.


Next year I’m renting another child for the whole season to keep the Dude company.

tahoe skiing

Thanks for the snow, Squaw!

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December favourites

I meant to publish this a few days ago but New Year swooped in and I never got round to it…but here are the things that I loved in December. I’m not sure I’ll be doing monthly favourites in 2016 but it’s been fun doing them. You can see my other favourites here.

This month…


In December, I finished this semester’s course and got an A, yay!! I’ve signed up for ‘practicum’ in Spring 2016 which is the practical teaching side of things. My lecturer is my favourite lecturer I’ve had so far – I am super-excited about starting on Feb 1st. In the meantime, it’s lovely not to have any homework for a while.


Little Bee by Chris Cleave was hugely hyped on the cover. I found it in a second-hand bookshop and I liked the design and decided to buy it. It started spectacularly but totally fizzled out by the end. However the ‘beach incident’ was gripping and it shed an uncomfortable light on the way the British government treat refugees and asylum seekers.

Those who stay and those who leave by Elena Ferrante is the third in the Neapolitan novels. I liked this one a little less than the other two but it was still a good read.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a Christmas present from my lovely friend Debs. It was fab – a fun, light read that was well-written, clever and funny. Hard to find in a book these days. Much recommended.

I read 41 books in 2015 – 14 more than in 2014. I kind of stopped reading novels during the Dude’s early years and it’s been such a delight to get back into them. So much pleasure in a good book.


I watched two EXCELLENT TV series this month and totally recommend both. They’re both British and both on Netflix.

The Fall is a police drama with Gillian Anderson chasing a serial killer through Belfast. I have to admit, it’s very dark, I found it very unsettling and had some nightmares. I also nearly had a heart attack when, on an early morning run with Lisa, a guy ran past us all in black just like the baddie in the programme. But it is excellent TV and I also found out that Gillian Anderson is British! Who knew?? Also, her detective inspector character is one of the most interesting women on TV that I’ve seen for a long time.

Broadchurch is another British TV show on Netflix that’s been very popular at home. It started grimly with the death of a young boy and I nearly gave up immediately but that’s the hardest bit and after that it’s fine to watch. The acting is spectacular! What made it really special to me was its portrayal of the Dorset town where it’s set, just 60 miles from home, and the local accent which isn’t too far removed from the Wiltshire accents of my family. It made me homesick in the very best way. It also made me wonder why on earth i’ve not visited anywhere so incredible as THIS place before!


We finished off the final series of Downton Abbey, which was rather lovely and as regards running, I loved one of the latest Salomon Trail shorts about running through redwood forests. Planning my birthday trip up to Redwood National Park right now.

We also watched The Snowman, which if you’ve never seen before, you need to watch. 20 minutes of your life and basically Christmas perfection.


Yep. Serial, like everyone else.

Also, two Marathon Talk interviews are worth recommending. The first is with an elderly British couple – she just broke the UK record for Women’s Marathon over 80 ( 5 1/2 hours) and they both did a 100k ultra for their 50th wedding anniversary. I loved it because they talked about how running had enriched their lives and it really brought home to me how I want to grow old with running, how I want to still be running at 80 and how I need to run NOW with that in mind and make good choices.

The other interview is with Melissa Fehr, an American expat  in London who won loads of medals at the World Transplant Games. She’s awesome but her frank discussion of transplants had me in tears in my car.

And then Christmas swooped in and that was about all I got round to doing!

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My Quarter One Goals


One thing that I learned when reviewing my 2015 running goals, race plans and general life resolutions was that I hadn’t achieved many of them.  Whilst I love setting goals, I decided I needed to be a bit more realistic.

One thing that struck me was that it’s almost impossible to set goals for the WHOLE year. Really, who has any idea what will happen today, let alone be able to predict 365 days?  So I decided to split the year into quarters and set quarterly goals instead, whilst having an overarching plan for the year.

If you don’t read Erin’s blog, you honestly have to – she’s a wonderful writer, a speedy runner and has great hair! Anyway,Erin came up with the most wonderful motto for the year which I just loved and am going to steal for 2016. Her NY Resolution is simply to ‘Go Forth and Kick Ass‘. I’m totally stealing it for 2016 because I can’t say it any better – therefore, in British-speak, my 2016 goal is to Go Forth And Kick Arse!!

This is how I plan to do it.

The Big Plan  (Jan – Dec)

The Husband has signed up for Ironman Vineman at the end of July. I know from experience that realistically I won’t have loads of time to train. Long runs will be difficult to fit in. As such, I’m not going to be training for a half-marathon at all during that period. Instead I’m going to be working on the 5k and the 10k. My goals are to finally go sub-25 for the 5k and sub-50 for the 10k. I’m 16 seconds away from my 5k goal but a good minute or so away from my 10k goal. I’m REALLY excited about this. I’m also hoping to run trails with the girls once a month as well! Know any good babysitters?

Still so incredibly proud of this guy

Still so incredibly proud of this guy

Once #ironballz is crowned a second time, I’m planning to focus hard on the Half Marathon and am planning to (going to) PR in the Autumn!

In addition to the above, I’d like to cycle round Lake Tahoe in the Summer. It’s 76-odd miles at altitude but I’m hoping to do it with the Husband (and anyone else who fancies it???) in June or July.


Love this place

And in non-running, I want to deepen my knowledge of classical music. I’m going to focus on one composer every month and listen to as much of his stuff as possible.

Quarter One Goals

So for Jan – March, these are my goals.

  1. Get a 5k PR of sub-25 minutes, with the Oakland 5k on March 20th as my goal race.
  2. Start my next Early Childhood Education course – ‘practicum’ which is the teaching practice part. I’ve got a great placement lined up and I am ready to rock it. It starts in February and ends in June. I absolutely want an ‘A’ so that’s my success criteria.
  3. Work on my abs. I read an article about how people who do abs work 4 x weekly can cut minutes of their 5k times! A new PR and some abs? I’ll try that. Success would be being confident to run a race in March in just a sports bra.
  4. Cut back on my iPhone usage. (ANYONE GOT ANY TIPS?).
  5. Run the Post-Oak Challenge with Jess, Kate and Jen in Oklahoma. 15 hilly miles. This would be my longest run for years and years and years
  6. Listen to: Jan – Mozart. Feb – Beethoven. March – Tchaikovsky. (If you love any of these guys’ music, please let me know what to listen to).
  7. Read my Bible every day. Because I’ve been slacking lately.
Proof that the right pose can totally imply the possession of abs.

Proof that the right pose can totally imply the possession of abs.


As an incentive, if I do all of those things, I get a prize! Like a preschooler.

So those are my Quarter One goals. I LOVE the idea of shorter-term goals. I’m super excited about starting them. Here we go!

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My 2015 NY Resolutions…

When I reread my 2015 resolutions, I half-sniggered into my cup of tea and half-hung my tail between my legs. Let’s just say I didn’t exactly rock those resolutions.

Here we go…

Resolutions I succeeded at.

  1. Qualify as a preschool teacher

This was my big goal for 2015 and I totally did it. I am now qualified as a preschool teacher I’ve done 15 credits’ worth and in 2016 I’ll be working towards the 24 credits I need to gain the California certificate. I’ve spent as much time as I could volunteering in the classroom and actually taught summer school at a local preschool. I set myself the goal of graduating from my classes at the top – it turns out that they don’t tell you who came top but I did get A’s for all my courses so I’ll take that.  This brand-new career is the most exciting thing that has happened to me since I had the Dude – I am so grateful that I’m FINALLY in the career I should have gone into 20 years ago . An absolute triumph and delight.

2. Run in 5 exciting new places

Check! How about Maui, the Grand Tetons, Red Rock Canyon, Big Basin and Seattle.



3. Do a 100-mile bike ride

Done! This took up most of my summer’s training. But yep – me and Margarita rocked 100 miles in September and it was fab.


4. Travel.

We had some lovely trips this year and I got to tick off the two places I really wanted to visit – Maui and Yellowstone. Super-grateful we saw both places.




Things I didn’t manage!

  1. ANY of my running goals.

No sub-25 5k. No sub-50 10k. No sub-1.49 1/2M (that’s a MASSIVE stretch goal but I also failed at my more realistic 1.51 goal). I was not fast in 2015. I can’t decide if that’s due to Old Age or lack of trying. In 2016, I intend to find out.

race end world hunger me

2. Learning to swim.

The second year I’ve not even tried to do this resolution. Clearly I am not bothered.

3. Cross-train weekly.

Nope. I did a lot of cycling this year though so I did better than previous years.

me cycling margarita peninsula

4. Learn the guitar

Nope. I would like to do this but it didn’t happen.

5. Clean up my diet

My diet is pretty good most of the time. I didn’t exactly clean it up but it’s no worse than it was. So…kind of.

Condensed milk on toast!

Condensed milk on toast!

6. Less time on the iPhone

No. I didn’t do this and I definitely need to sort it. When he visited, my Dad made disparaging comments about how much time I spend on the computer and my iPhone. He was right and I was actually quite embarrassed. It’s not good for me or my family so I’m already working on this.

So there we go. Some good stuff, some rubbish stuff.

It’s been an interesting year. I lost both my remaining grandparents this year. I lost a very dear friend a few days after her 99th birthday.  Some friends lost parents, two friends lost their only child, a little boy the Dude’s age. As I get older, I become more and more aware of the fragility of life, of how life hangs on an absolute knife-edge. Which makes each day more precious and more important. I’m learning to cherish each moment and to worry less about PR’s but rather to skip runs to spend time with visiting parents, or to slow down and enjoy running trails with the Dude. This may make for less exciting blogging but it makes for a more exciting life.

Happy New Year, people. Thank you for reading my blog in 2015. I really appreciate you.

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