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Today is my last day in London (as a resident, at least) before moving back to California bright and early tomorrow morning (7:55am one-way flight to SFO – through O’Hare – fun). By some miracle, I’m actually pretty much packed and ready to go. Okay, perhaps “ready” isn’t quite the word – I’m still very much in denial and am pretty sure I’ll have a total meltdown on the plane (kinda like going to summer camp as a kid – totally flipped out when I moved to London, and will probably do the same as I leave too) – but tomorrow has been circled in my calendar for quite some time and I simply want to take the leap. It’s a big, scary and somewhat sad leap – but also an incredibly exciting and wonderful one – so let’s do this!

Miracle, however, is the right word, because this used to be what (a small fraction of) my stuff looked like yesterday:

And just a few moments ago, I managed to organize what I don’t need into boxes and fit most of what I do need (before I return in November) into these bags:

Now let’s play a game – what percentage of my suitcases contain running gear?! I don’t actually know the answer, but it’s quite a lot. I’m not as much of a gear whore as E but I’m catching up, quickly. 🙂 And of course, my carry-on bag – which contains my valuables (laptop, jewelry, oboe etc.) – also contains my race day outfit and several gels. I’m such a nerd!

Aside from packing, I’ve been enjoying/lamenting many “London lasts” recently. For instance, my last night in my flat (before temporarily invading E’s space); last day at work (yippee!); last run along the Thames (I will not be missing the tourists); last travel adventure (Iceland); last time seeing various friends (aka my London family); last Borough market visit; last dinner at my local gastropub…the list goes on and on!

But there have also been a few running/exercise-related firsts – or at least firsts in awhile – this past week that I wanted to share. In Iceland, I ran my first destination 10k (I have only raced Mornington Chaser’s 10k series in London over the last two years), so it was fun to spice things up and a nice way to get back into racing after many weeks of injury. I also ran my first long run yesterday (just over 10 miles) since the New Forest 10 miler in early July! I can’t say it was 100% pain-free, but it was a solid run (8:50 average pace) and I was just SO happy to get back out there on a Sunday morning. Of course, what made me even happier was enjoying a big stack of my Triple B pancakes post-run! And today, I had an awesome private swim lesson with an ex-Olympic swimmer – my first private lesson as well as any real attempt to learn to swim properly in about twenty years (back at that summer camp I mentioned earlier…). It was tough to get the technique down – and it was hard not to get frustrated with myself at times for not getting everything right immediately (so much multi-tasking) – but I definitely made tons of progress even within an hour. I have to remind myself that it takes time to get the hang of a new sport, and if I start practicing the drills he gave me on a regular basis in my pool back at home, everything will soon feel more natural, just like with running! I’m excited to learn and swim for exercise (as opposed to splashing around randomly when on vacation, in between sunbathing), and can’t wait to enter my first triathlon.

Now that my bags are packed and I’m ready to go, the saddest part of all has arrived. My last night with E. At least I know I’ll be seeing him in a couple weeks – in California, just before my birthday! It will be his first time in Santa Cruz, and my last time enjoying life as a 20-something…

So goodbye for now, London – it’s been a fun and interesting adventure over the last four years! If it weren’t for my time here, I’m not sure I would’ve re-discovered my passion for running, and for that I am eternally grateful.

And on that note, I’m off to the pub!

I got back from my long weekend in Iceland late last night – check out my photo album to get a glimpse of all my running and other adventures! Also, stay tuned for an awesome guest post from E on his Icelandic racing victory – he kicked some serious butt in the half and I’m extremely proud of him. It’s inspiring just how far he has come since running this race (his first half marathon, in fact) two years ago. Go E!

In the meantime, here’s my quick and dirty race recap: the Reykjavik 10k went well, especially taking into account my hip injury and recent lack of running. I set out with the goal to push myself hard, but not *too* hard until the last couple of miles to ensure I didn’t crash and burn, all while remaining mindful of my hip. I also promised myself I would at least get under 48 minutes, if not under 47. I ended up running 6.28M (narrow streets/slower runners forced me to weave a lot in the first few miles) in 46:46, which although not exactly close to my recent 10k times (45ish), was fast enough (7:26 min/mile average pace) to rebuild some of the confidence I had lost in my fitness levels. It had been over five weeks since I had run anything over five miles, and much longer since I had sustained a tempo pace for any decent length of time, so I was quite pleased. Plus my hip behaved!

But what surprised me (and gave me an extra confidence boost) was that even with my slower time, I managed to place really well! I came in 296th overall out of 3736 finishers, 20th of 2294 women and 10th of 1250 in my division (19 – 39). Had I run closer to my 45ish time, I would’ve placed 5th in my division – crazy! I’ve never placed that high in anything – guess it pays to do smaller, slightly more random races (with a lot of slower runners, apparently…)!

Here’s the link to my Garmin race details in case you want to check out the route, as well as a few visual highlights if you don’t feel like looking at the full album. Enjoy!


Sorry, I’m just a little bit excited. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t really had a chance for this to really sink in, and finally, now that I’m sitting at my empty desk, having already sent out my farewell emails, gone on my last team lunch and said my goodbyes, I actually feel like I am leaving. And it is an incredible feeling – a long-awaited, energizing, satisfying feeling.

Little things will take some adjustment – like not having my blackberry. Yeah, I know, most people cannot wait to hand in a work blackberry, but since I also use it for all my personal communication while not at home (my phone is ancient, annoying and anything but smart), I predict some withdrawal. But that’s okay – I need to disconnect slightly during my last days in London to focus on my monster to-do list and say goodbye to my friends here, in person. I also can finally get a REAL phone once I’m back in the US – iPhone or Android, what do you guys think? Let’s get some debate flowing… 🙂

I will also miss some of my weekday routines – going to my favorite classes at the gym, having my coffee and breakfast as I read the news before starting my work for the day, gossiping with colleagues, lunchtime river runs etc. I certainly won’t miss the office – but I do like having that sense of structure. But again, breaking it all down and starting fresh is healthy – and necessary.

Oh yes – paychecks, can’t forget about that! I got my last one today, which was slightly painful – not sure when I’ll be seeing another one of those!!

And last but not least, I will miss some of my wonderful colleagues, who have truly made my work experience special (as well as tolerable). This morning I was surprised by a box of Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes (my favorite – now I really need to run!), a bouquet of beautiful roses, a London mug for my big cups of coffee, a “keep calm and carry on” coaster and a gigantic goodbye & good luck card.

And the cupcakes…

So now I’m wrapping things up and preparing to leave, at last. I remember the sense of freedom I felt five years ago as I left my NYC office building for good before travelling in South America – I feel the same way now. That mixture of exhilaration and fear, nostalgia/sadness and impatience to leave as quickly as possible…but most of all, I felt deeply confident that I had made the right decision. And I certainly did – just as I am doing now. I cannot wait to start making my way down my new chosen path!

But first, I need to properly celebrate the end of this chapter of my life – and what better way to do that than with another travel (and running) adventure?!

In a few hours, I’m meeting up with E to catch a flight to Iceland. We’ll have four days there to run the Reykjavik half marathon/10k and simply explore as much of the country as possible, which I hear is absolutely gorgeous! It’s been AGES since I’ve left the UK (for me, at least) – since the Amalfi Coast trip in June, actually! Normally I’m away at least twice a month during the summer, but with so much going on, I figured it would be wise to stay in town for most of July and August to prepare for my big move. It was a good call – although I can’t say that I feel prepared, I’m very much excited for a London break!

Which I guess is another good thing, given that in less than two weeks, I’ll be on my one-way flight back to California…

Sorry for the recent silence – it’s been an insane week! I wish I could say that a good chunk of the craziness involved running, but as you know that’s not the case for me this time around. Swapping a 30 minute run/walk for a 15-miler is a huge bummer, but at least it leaves me with more time on my hands, and I really need as many extra hours as I can get right now!

Since my last post, I hosted my flat leaving party, which was exhausting but tons of fun; started packing up years of accumulated stuff (I’ve hardly made a dent in this one…aaaah!); constantly checked on my newborn niece Elisia, who finally went home after five days in the hospital; spent several days watching the news and trying not to get caught up in the London rioting/looting (truly shocking, but finally calming down); and wrote several drafts of my “running story” for my coach’s new book, which still isn’t done and has been taking me AGES to finish because I really want it to be great. Tonight, I have my work leaving drinks – only FOUR DAYS left in the office after today (YAY) – tomorrow work and packing, Saturday packing and moving, Sunday/Monday I have an out of town wedding, Tuesday – Thursday are my last days at work and more packing, Friday – Monday I’ll be in Iceland, Tuesday – Monday is my last week in London (and is already jam packed) and then Tuesday the 30th at an ungodly hour of the morning, back to California I go! And that doesn’t even take into account school applications…or a billion other things I have yet to do…

Holy crap! Deep breath.

But this is primarily a running blog, so let’s get back on topic!

Last week, I got the green light from my physio to start running at last – well, running/walking to be exact – bringing my weekly mileage to just over seven miles! Pathetic yes, but much better than the previous week’s big fat zero.

I was feeling optimistic but also quite frustrated because I’m used to having a running schedule, not being fed one or two runs at a time. I told my physio that I need to be able to see the bigger picture – particularly how my training will unfold leading up to the marathon on October 9th, assuming that my rehab goes well and my injury continues to heal properly. He had been reassuring me that I’d be fine to run 26.2 miles, but I was struggling to understand how I could possibly train in such a short amount of time, particularly taking the taper into account. I wouldn’t be worried if I had a strong running fitness base, as I did before my injury, but I don’t anymore and I need to be mindful of my hip as I actively recover.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear back from my physio with a longer term running plan until late Sunday night, so I had to do a bit of improvisation that morning. Normally that wouldn’t bother me, but given how much time and money I’ve already invested in treatment, I would obviously prefer to follow his advice than risk making myself worse! I’m so eager to start running again at this stage that I really do need a professional to pull in the reins and force me to take it easy. Then again, I’ve lost so much fitness that even Sunday’s 4 x 5min running intervals left me breathless, so can’t get too ahead of myself even if I wanted to!

I finally met with him yesterday and feel better now that we have a game plan for the next two weeks at least (see below), carrying me through to our next appointment on August 24, when I hope we will complete the schedule. He confirmed that it would be unwise to run a half marathon a week from this Saturday, so I regret to say that I am officially pulling out of the Reykjavik half (E seems to think that forfeiting equals him winning – I beg to differ). I’m hoping that the race officials will let me downgrade to the 10k race that same morning, because at this stage, I simply want to be able to participate. I booked a trip to Iceland to run a race – and thus I would like to run a race! When E gets up early and puts on his running gear, I want to be doing the same. When he walks around with a medal around his neck, I (hopefully) will have one around mine too. I want to share with him that great post-race feeling as we relax and enjoy a nice meal together. Not to say that I wouldn’t be happy to watch his race – but it’s more fun to be able to experience it with him.

This past week, I’ve struggled most with this feeling of being left behind. Of course I miss my early morning solitary runs, and yes it’s a shame that I’m missing out on a PB opportunity in Portland, but I’ve accepted all that. My current focus is simply becoming injury free! Nonetheless, the thought of all my running friends training without me makes me sad. At my flat leaving party, I overheard E talking to my friends (our now mutual friends) about getting together to do a long run the following morning. Of course I don’t mind him running with them, and obviously I want him to train hard for the half marathon I’m no longer running, but it was still devastating to sit there silently as they discussed routes and times. Usually I’m the one gathering everyone together for a social run of some kind! In the end, the run didn’t pan out plus it was POURING all day long, so I didn’t feel too bad about missing a 16-miler…

Anyway, in case you’d like to know what rehabbing from a hip injury looks like, here’s my plan for week 7 (first week back running), week 8 (current) and week 9 (week of Iceland 10k) that my physio helped me create. I’m supposed to do a variety of hip/glute strengthening exercises every day too. Also, just a reminder that I can’t do yoga, elliptical, rowing or swimming at the moment (just so you don’t think I’m in love with the stair master machine or something…). Full Portland Marathon training plan (if you can call it that, with how little running is in there) can be found here.

I’ll wish everyone a great weekend now, as I’ll most likely be engulfed in packing and other things for the next few days!

Week 7

Monday – 1km easy; Tuesday – 60min spin class, weights; Wednesday – 5min x [30sec run, 30sec walk]; 10min x physio’s pyramid [20sec run, 20sec walk; 30sec run, 30sec walk; 40sec run, 40sec walk; 30sec run, 30sec walk; 20sec run, 20sec walk]; Thursday – 60min spin class, weights; Friday – Same run as on Wed; Saturday – 50min stairmaster; Sunday – 4 x [5min steady run, 3min walk].

Week 8

Monday – 10min x [60sec easy run, 30sec walk], then 15min of physio’s pyramid but running sections hard effort; Tuesday – 50min spin class, weights; Wednesday – 10min x [60sec easy run, 30sec walk], then 20min of pyramid, even harder effort during running intervals; Thursday – 55min spin class, weights (I’m currently here); Friday – 25min easy run (first straight running session – yay!); Saturday – 50min stairmaster; Sunday – 10min x [90sec easy run, 30sec walk], then 20min of pyramid, but instead of walk/fast run, easy run/sprint.

Week 9

Monday – 35min easy run; Tuesday – 45min spin class, weights; Wednesday – 10min easy, 4 x 2min hard (6:39min/mile) with 2min recoveries, 10min easy (first “normal” speed session, like ones I used to do pre-injury); Thursday – 20min easy (might do 10min easy, 5 x 20sec acceleration strides, 5-10min easy); Friday – Rest; Saturday – Reykjavik 10k race; Sunday – Rest (hiking in Iceland, most likely).

In about a month, I’ll be on a one-way flight back to San Francisco, along with as much of my London life that I can possibly squeeze into two huge suitcases.

In three weeks, I’ll be celebrating my final day in the office, capped off with an evening flight to Iceland – the last of my London weekend getaways – to run the Reykjavik Half Marathon.

In two weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to my wonderful flat, which I’ve lived in for three and a half years (that’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere other than my parent’s house), and my amazing flatmates to (temporarily) move into E’s place a few minutes down the road.  

This weekend, assuming I get the okay from my physio tomorrow, I’ll start running again, beginning with one or two miles and slowly building up to get back on my October marathon schedule.

Any day now, my sister will be giving birth to a gorgeous baby girl and I’ll become an extremely proud aunt.

And today, I have officially completed my Open University nutrition course (which began in early May) and am starting the application process to various Nutrition & Dietetics DPD/MS programs in NYC and CA.

Wow. There’s a lot going on in the next month (and beyond). I’m still somewhat in denial – and probably will be until things really start to kick off – although it’s definitely sinking in. No wonder I’ve been feeling so all over the place this past week!

I’m obviously excited for everything that’s currently unfolding – but as you can imagine, all of these things put together elicit such a mixture of emotions, it can be slightly overwhelming at times. Particularly times like now – when I can’t run.

I know you runners out there understand exactly what I’m talking about. Running is my outlet – it helps me cope, it makes me happy, it gives me confidence, it keeps my weight down, it connects me to others (and the list goes on and on). Actually, I have to have a good think about why I love to run and make it such a priority in my life, since I still need to write my “story” for my coach’s next running book.

Although I have been cross-training, I haven’t been for a run in a week now, and have only done about 21M in the last three weeks in total, so I’m feeling extremely running starved at the moment. But I suppose that’s a good feeling to have, as opposed to feeling burnt out and unmotivated – I’ve been there too!

At least I can say that I truly am feeling better, in terms of my hip. I’ve been extremely disciplined about resting sufficiently as well as doing the exercises my physio has given me, so fingers crossed I get the green light to run when I speak with him tomorrow. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this excited to run a mile – maybe even TWO – in my whole running career! 🙂

Wish me luck…and stay tuned for updates on all of the above!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Given how little time I’ve had lately to do things like, say, nutrition course homework (currently am two weeks behind), Spring cleaning (better one season too late than never), and a whole bunch of other stuff on my to-do list that I’ve been putting off for ages, I was forced to cancel other plans and finally get it all done today.

I haven’t been quite as productive as I had hoped, but I’ve definitely made some progress:

*I read one chapter in my textbook, all about Fats. Interesting stuff. I now know, for instance, why chocolate melts in your mouth and not in your hand. Crucial information, clearly. Only four more chapters to go…

*I did a 7.5M/60-minute fartlek run in the sunshine – not quite the tempo run I had planned on the treadmill (couldn’t face the gym), but still a relatively challenging run.

*I FINALLY registered for the Reykjavik Half Marathon on August 20th with E, and we also booked flights, so it’s official – I’ll be in Iceland for four days this August! Well, if the volcanoes behave, that is – fingers crossed!! We were very close to entering the full marathon, but then decided we would prefer to do some sort of day-long snow mobile/glacier trekking adventure the day after the race, which obviously requires the ability to walk! This is a big item off my list, since we have been talking about doing this race for over a year now – E ran the half two years ago and loved it, and I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland and can’t imagine going from anywhere other than London, since it’s so close. Even still, it will be an expensive trip, but hopefully staying in a hostel and flying at odd times will offset the total cost. I think it will be worth it!

*I also finally booked a flight to California at the end of August to spend some extended time with family, meet my niece and (gasp) turn the big 3-0. Very excited (well, not so much for the latter…)!

*And as an extension of the above, I just received an email from the RRCA yesterday that they have added new coaching certification courses to their September/October calendar. Sadly, there is no California course, and the date of the one in NYC (which would be an ideal location, since I am overdue for an East Coast visit) is too early for me to attend. However, there is a course from October 7-8 in Portland, OR which could be doable. It’s not too far from CA, I’ve never been there (but have heard great things – Nike HQ is near there too!) AND I could even sign up for the Portland Marathon on October 9th. I’m still not sure if I’m up for more marathon training just yet, but I’m already logging about 30M per week, so I could easily increase my mileage later in the summer and do the bare minimum to simply enjoy the race. Looks like the entries are filling up fast, so I’ll have to decide soon if I’m up for either/both.

Has anyone run the Portland marathon before and/or is planning to run it this year? I’m sure if I did the RRCA course beforehand, which would take up most of my time and presumably introduce me to some interesting new people, I’d be fine going to Portland by myself, but it would be nice to have some company (particularly for after the race). So if I do it, I’ll most likely try to recruit one of my parents and/or some friends.

Either way, E and I are considering some marathons in later November/December that could be fun. I would hate to let all of 2010 go by without at least one big race!

Anyway, that’s my update for now. Back to the books as well as the disastrous state of my room!

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

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