Thursday, June 23, 2016

Look at That Kitchen and All of That Food. Look at Them Eat it. Guess it Tastes Real Good.

I was pretty fried on Sunday, so I just did a 3.5 mile run and then devoted the rest of the day to working in my yard. I could have spent weeks out there. Jeesh!

I mowed everything and everywhere I mowed I noticed how overgrown and unseemly our yard has become. So, I started in the front of the house with the loppers and the sheers and went to town. Of course, then I had to drag all of the brush to the backyard where the pile was...

...And don't get me started on the weeding. With the two new gardens, I cleaning out the beds could be a full-time job. The good thing was that with all that work, comes beautiful lilies.

Flowers and bikes are the perfect combination in my world. Too bad lilies aren't a little stronger, so I could ride around town with them.

...And best of all...We're getting veggies now! Nothing is better than picking something from the garden and eating it for dinner within the hour.

I love greens and hopefully tomorrow, I'll get to make my first batch of pesto with basil from our garden.

Because we don't have air conditioning, we are trying to think of food that doesn't require turning the oven on. The other evening that meant falafel, hummus, all the veggies and olives and artichoke hearts and feta cheese we could fit in our bellies. Lord knows I love a challenge.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On an Island in the Sun. We'll be Playing and Having Fun.

So, Coadster took-off yesterday with my brother to go to the least visited National Park in the country. Coadster has a dream of attending all of the National Parks during her lifetime and being a teacher, she has Summers off and my brother was able to retire at the age of 51 last year (jerk), so they have nothing but time....They get to go and play for about a week.

They stayed with some of my brother's friends in the U. P. on Monday evening and hopped on the ferry for Isle Royale yesterday morning. Coadster texted me before she left, assuming she wouldn't have any service on the island in the middle of Lake Superior. There are no bears on the island, but moose and other interesting wildlife. The coolest thing is that there is a lake on the island with an island that they can swim out to, so they can be on an island on a lake on an island in a lake. Meta!

They also have to pack in everything they need, since there might be one little store on the island, but it doesn't have much. I am so excited to hear about their trip and see their photos. I'm also so happy that my girl loves to play outside as much as she does and doesn't even flinch at camping somewhere where she won't have any access to internet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oh, When You're Watching Out for Me, I Look for What Matters.

Oh, kids. I finally have a race report. It seems like forever, but at least I got one race in this month...

We did the Timber City Adventure Race again this year. I do it with my brother, who, with his fancy race canoe and his great skills gives us a HUGE advantage.

This year, I made gigantic mistakes that cost me a lot on my run. Of course, I still had a blast and that's really all that matters.

I came into the race having had a bad migraine and taking two courses of my meds the day before. I also couldn't sleep the night before. I'm not sure why. It could have been nerves or just leftover issues with the migraine. Who knows? Anyway, I started Saturday morning with that not so fresh feeling because of the lack of sleep.

I had posted something on Facebook about the race and one of our teammates decided to bring his son and do it. How great is that? His son is only 7 years old and he did the whole race. Plus, he is such a great kid who entertained himself and had a great attitude and was a real sweetheart.

Since we had a racing canoe, we had to wait until the last heat to put in. During our wait, John helped all of the people get their canoes in the river. I told him that I thought he was a great guy, and he said, "Hey! I got to play in the mud. I was happy."

While John was helping the canoers get into the water, we were talking to another racing canoe team. They were really nice and we were telling each other about different races we thought the other might like. Another reason I love racing - I get to meet interesting people and hear about other cool experiences.

The water in the river was nice and high - which means fast. Normally, my brother and I go out on the river the night before to get me working on my form and rpm's, since this is the only time I canoe all year, but with my migraine the day before, I couldn't do that. So, I went into it with no practice whatsoever. Sounds like a great plan, huh?

I am so very lucky that my brother is a canoe racer. I get the advantage of someone else paying for my speed with his boat and all I have to do is paddle. My brother reads the river, yells, Hut!" every time I'm supposed to change sides to paddle and reminds me of different things wrong with my form.

The biggest problem I had this year was a lack of fuel and hydration. I thought I had mastered that with races, but it's been a while since I've raced a 2.5 hour race and for some reason, I forget this shite over and over again. I had a muffin for breakfast and a couple of things of Gu and a bottle of water with some kind of electrolyte fizzy stuff my brother put in it.

I was not set up to be able to drink my water without stopping paddling. So, I didn't drink hardly any water. The paddle was a little over an hour and it was starting to heat-up. I should have known something was wrong when I started to get exhausted by the end of the canoe.

We pulled out of the river and I had made another mistake. I thought I was being brilliant by taking my sandals off before getting out of the canoe, since my sandals got so stuck in the mud the last year. So, this year THAT was no problem, what I didn't take into account was that the hill we ran up to get to our bikes was all gravel. Boy howdee! did that feel good running on in my bare feet. Sigh.

I finally ate my first Gu and took a big swig of water before getting on the bike. At first we get to go up a 20% grade hill, and I had nothing after the canoe and the rocky hill run, so I just went slow and steady up if and after a few miles, I started feeling better. In fact, I felt pretty damn good for most of the bike ride portion. I passed tons of people. Granted, some of those people were riding mountain bikes, but I passed people riding TT bikes as well...And most importantly, no one passed me.

John had been the best support we could have asked for during the whole race. Helping other canoes into the water, setting up our bikes and everything we would need in the first transition, and driving behind us on the bikes to make sure if we flatted, he could replace our wheels in a jiffy. By the time I got to the run, I had nuthin'. I was exhausted, dehydrated and had very little fuel. In other words, I was an idiot. I ran probably the first mile and a half like the walking dead. I ate about a half a Gu and had two cups of water at one point, but I was seriously bonking and that was WAY too little too late.

John magically appeared on the road when I had about 8 blocks left. I told him I was dying and he said, "That's okay. You're almost there. You have about 7 blocks to go. You can do it." He knows I like to know exactly how much suffering I have l left in a race. Seven blocks? That didn't sound too bad. I had been taking turns walking and running and feeling like I was going to pass out for a while by that point and John just stayed on the sidewalk, close by me until the last turn-off where I had a half a block left. Who knows what I would have done without him.

From the look of things, I was as happy as a five year old for our win.

Anyway, I finished with much help and support from my partner in crime and playing outside and my brother. We ended up getting 1st place in the mixed race division and we celebrated with Mexican food in air conditioning. Yea us!

Friday, June 17, 2016

'Cause I haven't Got Time for the Pain. I haven't Got Room for the Pain...

So, I'm supposed to do that Adventure Race with my brother this weekend. I'm still iffy as far as my health issues go, but I'm hoping for the best.

Yesterday I took a half day of vacation to do some hilly riding, since the first hill I come to on my bike during the Adventure Race will be a 20 % grade uphill. Jeesh!

As I said, I haven't been feeling great lately, but I figured I'd go for a nice 50 mile ride out to Sutliff Bridge and back. I stopped at the Co-op on the way home and since their cheese danishes were on sale for just over $2, I figured that I should buy one and have it as my treat at the halfway point.

I didn't feel very strong, but I thought since I had a headwind, I'd feel better on the way home when the wind was at my back. I was wrong. I got almost to Solon when I realized that I was too tired and dizzy and weak to make it all the way home. Luckily for me, Stinky had asked to borrow my hatchback so she could move some furniture out of her house. I called her to see if she could come get me. She said, "No problem."

I kept riding, albeit very slowly and got to the turn-off for the Raptor Center at Lake McBride when I saw Stinky. She pulled over and we loaded my bike up and headed home. On the way, she told me that she was searching the road for me as she was driving but it was hard to tell if it was me or not because there were so many old people riding their bikes and a lot of them were wearing neon helmets like mine. Old people? What the hell? Damn kids, got no respect. I couldn't get too offended because she later told me she was on her way to a manicure when I called, and she didn't think twice about rescheduling it to come and get me. Nice kid, I got there....Except for her old lady cracks.

So, after I got home, I took a little nap. I was still feeling kind of dizzy and I thought that maybe what I had was a mile migraine, but later in the evening, I realized that I was actually just starting to get a serious migraine, one that has already caused me to take my meds twice now. I'm hoping it will all go away for the race tomorrow...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ain't Got Time to Make No Apologies

So, during our long bike ride last weekend, we spent a LOT of time with each other and in that time, we each adopted our own catch phrases. Here's how it went down:

John H.: "It will only take a minute..." Of course, his minutes could take hours.

John S.: "Where did you say you put those earplugs again?" Usually, he asked this question after I sang bad 70's songs or after John H. changed the lyrics to songs to fit whatever my current issue was. He has been known for such hits as "Here comes road rash girl, riding down the lane...." on that RAGBRAI where I crashed hard when my wheel got stuck in a crack in the road) or "Migraine girl, you've been livin' in your migraine world..." after any ride I had some brain pain going on.

Me: "I'm sorry..." after just about anything. I can't help it, I was raised Irish Catholic, it's all in the upbringing. Besides, being the only girl, I had to make up for the boys who never apologize about anything.

I guess we'll see what kind of catch phrases this year's RAGBRAI will bring...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

She Had Heaven and She Held on So Tight.

The second day of TOMROV was just as epic, but with an extra added bonus of it being so, so much cooler. It was raining when we first woke-up, so we started later than we had planned. It began by riding out of Dubuque through the Mines of Spain. Those hills were incredible. Unlike Saturday where most of the hills were shorter and steeper, the hills out of Dubuque weren't quite so steep but went on and on and on and on....

Thanks to John heck for the photo.

I was still crampy hormone girl on Sunday and I had to practice some serious pain relief breathing up some of those hills. By the time hit the first stop, I had to tell the boys that I wasn't feeling the best and I couldn't help crying, but for them not to take it personally, it was just my stupid hormones. Of course, my hilarious boyfriend said, "That's fine. I'll just blame it on John H." John H. answered with, "Hey, now!" You'll be happy to know that neither boy was hurt during that transaction.

Another great photo by John Heck.

The scenery was great and beautiful and we went to our couple of favorite stops. One was a HUGE supper club in Goose Lake. It is the finishing point for people who were riding the shorter route and some of them came in for a beer and/or a meal before they drove home. It was great to talk to other cyclists and hear how their rides went.

After we ate, we headed off to the next stop. We faced some stronger head winds than we had the day before, but we all took turns pulling and we didn't worry about going all that fast.

We finally made it to the last town before the end. We had about 15 of our 90 miles left and we stopped at our favorite watering hole - The Lucky Frog. We usually see our other Iowa City friends there and this year was no different. I went back and chatted with them in the beer garden, and then went back in the bar with the boys. Our friend, Darci came in and sat with us for a bit and filled us in on the latest news about Jingle Cross - the big race that's coming to Iowa City in September. It all sounds like it's going to be so cool.

Photo courtesy of John Heck...Damn him.

My friend John H. likes to take candid shots of us and sometimes they turn out okay, but on Sunday, I had to put my hand to my face to shield myself from the lens. I was gross and sweaty and my hair had that frizz halo going on the top of my head and I do believe there are enough unflattering photos of me on the internet, don't you?

The last 15 miles went without a hitch. Again, the stupid ride ended with a steep uphill on the way to Scott Community College, but I took it slow and steady and we finished and went home and showered our stinky cats with attention and ate some pizza and watched an episode of the Sopranos while noting our aches and pains and wondering how we got so damn old. A nice end to a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Two of Us Burning Matches

Soooooo....TOMROV. It was pretty amazing. I felt pretty crappy both days, but not so crappy that I couldn't do the ride. Whew!

It ended up just being myself, John and our other friend named John. Our other friend, Marco got injured and couldn't make it.

We got started almost two hours earlier than we ever have before. It was supposed to be ridiculously hot and it was supposed to storm, but what it ended up being was cloudy during the morning and then hot and humid in the afternoon. Not too bad, considering...

Thanks to John Heck for the photo.

Our friend John H. had never done TOMROV before. He loved the scenic views, but he did say that Saturday was probably the hardest day he has spent on his bike.

We started the ride in Bettendorf and rode along the Mississippi River encountering nice, rolling hills. As we got further into the ride, we crossed the River, and rode through an island called Sabula.

I tried to take a photo of John H. when the guy behind him here, swooped in for the photo bomb. He was pretty funny.

We did run into a little construction at the end of the bridge on the way into Illinois. They had a guy there stopping traffic, since only one lane was open. He didn't seem to mind the company of cyclists to chat with while he did his job.

A little way into Illinois, we hit one of the biggest rest stops in Pallisades Park. That whole area is gorgeous to ride through. The support for this ride in incredible. They had great food at all of the rest stops and so many great volunteers.

Riding out of that stop, we knew we were going to start hitting the big hills on the way to Galena. I had been feeling tired and crappy and crampy and my dry eye was tearing like crazy. I was still having fun on my ride, but I wasn't feeling all that strong. I let the boys pull for the most part, because I knew I couldn't maintain their speed. When John H. was getting tired on the bigger hills, I went up front and did some pulling finally. he told me he was just going to sit on my wheel and let me pull him. I told him that was fine. I owed him.

We finally climbed enough that we hit the ski resort. It was getting really hot and I was covered in sweat, sunscreen and road dust. Pretty.

The funnest part was riding down the hill from the ski resort. It's a pretty steep grade, but it also curves quite a bit and there other people riding pretty slowly and cautiously down it (and who can blame them). I wanted to hit 50 mph down it, but I fell short. I got up to 47 mph and kept thinking, "Please don't hit a rock. please don't hit a rock..."

After a few more hills we made it to Galena. We usually eat and drink beer there. On Saturday, I was too hot to really eat and the hormones put me on migraine watch, so I couldn't drink alcohol. I had lemonade and all three of us split one appetizer. Some of our Iowa City friends were there, so we got to chat a bit with them.

Photo courtesy of John Heck.

We took off and hit The Wall. It is a very steep, long  hill and most people we saw were just walking it. Last year, I hit it too hard and in too hard of a gear and just gave up and walked up it too. This year, our friend John H. said something and pulled over and stopped. I knew that if I stopped there with him, I'd never get up it. This year, my plan was to take it slowly and methodically and see how it went. Other than my heart pounding out of my chest, it went just fine.

We continued on after that and my eye was really starting to bug me. It was burning so badly, I couldn't stand it. I was smart enough to bring my drops and my Lacrilube, so I told the boys I had to stop and I started slowing down, but didn't realize that another guy had grabbed on to our train. He came around me and asked if I was okay. I told him I was, I just had to fix something. He went along and the boys came back around and waited while I put my medicine in my eyes and waited for it to start working. In that time every rider and every motorist stopped and asked if we were okay. I can get overwhelmed by how nice people can be.

We made it to the last bar before we crossed back over the river to Dubuque. I had a Coke and we sat in air conditioning for a few minutes. When we came out of the bar, we saw this guy with his megaphone heckling people as they rode pas the bar. I can't imagine strapping that megaphone on your back in the heat with all of those hills, but apparently, I'm not as dedicated...

Saturday ends with a huge hill on the way to Clarke College. I had run into one of my teammates, who I hadn't seen in a while, so I rode along and chatted with her for a bit, until we got to the hill at the end. Then I went on at my own pace and worked hard on finishing. When I had finished and we were getting our bags, some guy stopped me and said, "Holy cow! You passed me on that hill like I was standing still. What were you on?" I told him I was on "getting done with this ride and changing out of my sweaty chamois as soon as possible."

We ate their buffet which was so good. The even had shelves and shelves of any kind of dessert you could imagine. Sadly, I was still too hot and tired to eat much. We sat next two a couple of volunteers. They were older guys who talked to us about the history of TOMROV and they were very entertaining.

Finally, we got to our hotel. I told John that I would love to take a shower, go down to the bar and get my one drink for the day, sit in the jacuzzi and pass-out. He was all for it. Our night ended a really incredible day...Sure, there were a few hiccups and I wasn't feeling the best, but like they say, a bad day on the bike, is better than the best day without it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Well It's Not Far Down to Paradise. At Least It's Not For Me.

Well, it's getting hot here. I'm hoping my body won't fail me and I'll be able to ride bikes all weekend on TOMROV. I'll let you know how it all goes...

I decided to take a vacation day on Tuesday. I had to go in for my annual appointment in the morning, and the weather was supposed to be perfect, so I figured, what the hell.

My appointment was fine. She said my ears weren't infected anymore, but I still had some fluid in there. I also didn't  have to get a pap smear....So, it was a great appointment.

When I got home, I hung some clothes out on the line, watered my gardens and then sat on my porch, with some Chai tea, reading a book and watching my clothes flapping in the breeze. It was perfect.

Then I got down to business in the kitchen. We have soooo much work to do in there, but we've decided that we need to just chip away at it, or it seems so overwhelming that we become paralyzed and don't do anything. So, now we are patching up the holes in the ceiling. We have this stuff that goes on pink, but then turns white when it dries. As you can see, we also have bad places on the walls that is moisture damage from before we encapsulated our crawl space. That will be our next project. Apparently, with this house, we will never be bored...

I finally finished my chores, and then headed out to mountain bike. The trails were perfect and because most people were at work, I had almost the whole place to myself.

I hadn't ridden single track in a few weeks, so the first mile was nice and slow and cautious and then it started coming together for me. I even did a small part of a black trail. I took this photo to show John that I actually did ride part of a black trail even without him suggesting it first.

I had a blast, and I did stop in between different trail systems to have my lemon bar and I even had two high school aged looking guys have to pull over and let me pass them. It's usually the other way around.

I got home later than I thought I would, so I didn't make dinner and John and I headed to Shorts - our stand-by. All-in-all, even including my annual, it was about as perfect a stay in town vacation day as I could imagine.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

There's Nothing You Can Do That Can't Be Done

I started feeling better by last Friday. I hadn't been running and hadn't ridden my bike except for commuter rides for 10 days, so John and I both bowed out of the Pigman Sprint Triathlon. It was the first time since 2012 that we missed it. They are going to apply about 40 bucks of our entrance fee, so we didn't lose the whole thing...

So, we decided to ride bikes to Shorts for dinner and a beer, to see how it felt for either of us. It felt pretty damn good. Then a couple of friends of ours texted to see if they could stop by. They just got back from Peru and we wanted to hear about their trip, and they wanted to come by and get some of my extra seedlings of organic tomatoes and basil. We sat on the back porch and had a great talk.

On Saturday morning, Stinky texted me and asked if we could ride bikes to the Farmer's market together. Hell yes! It's one of my favorite things to do.

Check this out. I wish they had someone reading gigantic books at the Farmer's Market when my girls were younger. They would have loved that.

We had a nice breakfast and then wandered around. We saw my friend Harriet, who owns the restaurant Leaf. I hadn't seen her in forever. I also got asparagus and strawberries. So good.

When I got home it was time to get down to business. John got the steamer out and started to prep the kitchen.

Archie was extremely helpful. He lounged around and got into everything and needed to take a nap, but wouldn't because...What if all of this moving of things resulted in treats?

Because we were pretty sure that we were dealing with asbestos, we masked up (nothing is better than wearing a respirator when you have a cold), kicked Archie out and got to work. It took us about 4 hours. At one point we had to refill the steamer thingy, so I went out and mowed the backyard. I'm much better at outdoor chores than indoor. We finished scraping the popcorn off. Yea! We still have many patches to spackle and sand and then we have to prime and paint it and put in the new ceiling fans, and then we can start on the walls and put new tile on the floor, and, and, and...

On Sunday morning John and I ate every single strawberry I bought at the Farmer's Market the day before. If you only had regular store strawberries, I think your mouth would explode the first time you tasted the deliciousness of a real garden berry.

I obsessed over my gardens for a bit and then John and I went for my first road ride in 10 days. We decided to ride out to Solon to see if I could handle the hills. We are signed up to do TOMROV this coming weekend and it is 106 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing on Saturday and 90 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing on Sunday. I just wanted to make sure I could deal with it. The ride was fun and beautiful, we didn't go incredibly fast and the hills were more of a challenge than they usually are, but I think I'll be okay for TOMROV.

We ran into (not literally) one of our teammates on the way there. He was waiting for his friend, and they met us at Big Grove. Our friend, Burne was at a motorcycle hill climb in Anamosa, and he met us when that was over. We had a great talk about our upcoming bicycling plans and then John and I rode home to our popcornless kitchen ceiling. Aaaahhhh!

Friday, June 03, 2016

And We Were Swingin' (Swingin'). Yes, We Were Swingin' (Swingin')

So, finally time for my Memorial Weekend post. It started out okay. I had a little sore throat, but I figured it was from allergies. Friday was Coadster's last night to work at Short's before she moved back to Des Moines. I was going to make dinner, but then figured, "What the hell!" we should go and heckle Coadster on her last shift. She rarely works the bar, so John and I went and ate and heckled her. She did spill John's beer, so we like to think it was because of our supreme heckling or because she was so excited to see us, even though she "claims" it's because she isn't used to pouring beer. Whatever.

On Saturday I was really starting to get my full-on cold. I was hoping it was just going to be congestion, but not the tiredy, achy, really sicky kind of cold. Since John has had this same cold for a few weeks before me, he wasn't able to race and we went to Snake Alley to watch others race and hopefully meet with our friends there.

It was great to watch some people we knew race and the town is really cool looking too, right on the Mississippi River and the 2nd crookedest street in the country after Lombard Street.

Our friends texted us to tell us that they were sleeping in and would meet us later. They are younger and party a lot harder than John and I (which isn't saying much...), so John and I got some lunch.

We then headed to the Cobble Climb. This alley in Burlington still has the old school cobbles on it and the photo above is just the top part of it. Riders still have to ride the bottom alley before they get to the most treacherous part of the race. It's a lot of fun to watch. I originally thought I would try to ride my bike up it, but, you know....Sick.

Our friends still hadn't shown up and there was a break in the races, so we decided to head back to Iowa City. I was exhausted and slept on the way home and then got home and slept some more. When I woke-up, I decided to dig out my second knew garden, but man, did it kill me. I actually had to sit down while I shook the dirt off of the clumps I dug up. John was wonderful and started scraping the popcorn ceiling off the kitchen ceiling. I came in and made fish tacos for dinner. I was hoping the homemade pico de gallo would burn my cold out, but I was wrong.

A few weeks ago, I had planned a 75 mile bike ride to Conesville and back for Sunday. When I woke up that morning, it was clear I wouldn't be able to go. Wah. I could no longer hear out of my left ear (and still can't) and I was way to weak to think about riding my bike. So, the boys went without me and I planned to meet them and one of their wives for lunch.

There were some problems with a broken wheel, so I left a little early, picked up our friend in North Liberty after I pulled the wheel off of my bike for him to use and transported both of us to Conesville.

Conesville is a cute little town with many Mexican restaurants and bakeries. Perfect.

We ate great food and had a good talk, but then it was time to go to the most interesting part of the trip...

That's right...The Swinging Bridge!

The Swinging Bridge is pretty damn cool, I have to say.

Of course, every guy you will ever meet feels the need to swing the bridge as hard as possible. Bonus points if people get queasy or screech with fear.

We all had a loverly time. After I left, I realized I had overdone it. I went home and took another nap. I was going to try and plant my garden, but I didn't have it in me.

I saved it for the next day. After I slept most of Monday away, I did get up and finish planting my garden. Another tomato plant, two more basil plants, a couple of gladiolas, a lily and scads of Coneflowers (Echancea) - one of my favorites.

So, the weekend was nice, the weather was perfect and I am hoping to feel better this weekend