Saturday, March 28, 2015
Me: John, there are two birds having sex right outside our window.
John: that's okay. They should be done in about 5 seconds.
Me: No. They've already done it TWICE in 5 seconds.
Friday, March 27, 2015
|Nothing is more meditative during yoga than some fresh cat butt in your face.|
Yesterday evening I took John and Stinky and her boyfriend out for a fancy dinner for no real reason. I love doing that from time to time - going out for something fancy in the middle of the week for no reason.
|Archie is adorable when he sleeps...|
We don't have any races again this week, which is good because the weather is supposed to just stay cold and then maybe rain. We are going to try and ride mountain bikes and get in a longer trail run. On Sunday we're going to go out and help clean up the mountain bike trails in our area. That way, if they ever dry out, we can ride on them without crashing over logs and other crap.
|...Except for when he's clearly dreaming about killing us while we sleep.|
1. Registration for TOMROV - a back to back 100'ish mile bike ride along the Mississippi River in Iowa and Illinois.
2. 3 books - Akhil Sharma's "Family Life", Lily King's "Euphoria" and Joshua Ferris' "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour"
3. A fancy family dinner in the middle of the week for no real reason.
I'd say that's 3 for 3 on awesome expenditures.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
|My current favorite room in my house.|
Yesterday was about as close to perfect as a day that you have to go to work can be. I only worked until 1:30, so I had more time, just not the WHOLE day. I had a nice bike commute to work and back and then putzed around a bit when I first got home. Then I got ready to run a longer route. I had wanted to run over 10 miles, but my feet have been really killing me lately. I've been trying different placement of my metatasalgia pads and will keep working on that and hope I get it dialed in before the 25K part trail race on April 11th.
Anyway, beside the foot pain, I felt pretty strong during my run and I loved being outside and moving for an hour and a half. Playing outside is always my favorite thing.
|Heidi rubbing her scent on my book. I guess no one else can read it now.|
This morning I was looking out at our screened-in-porch, thinking about how nice it would be to get to hang out there today and reflecting on how happy I am up in my reading room, and it made me really wish I had more time to spend at home.This little homebody sure loves my 1950 cottage.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
|This is what I looked like when I was 10 years old in 1975 when I started running.|
In honor of my 40th year of running, I'm going to do some dork-ass posts related to my anniversary. This one will be called: How it all started.
For those of you who know me or have been reading my blog for years, are aware that my mom died when I was 10 and we moved from Arizona to a suburb on the South side of Chicago, and my abusive aunt and uncle became my legal guardians. Basically, I was in hell and didn't know what to do to make things better.
I had never been exposed to sports. My parents were Beatnik artists types who weren't into structure and I went to one of those "Free to be You and Me" schools that didn't believe in competition. People in Chicago were INSANE about sports and I had no idea how to play any of the sports. They all revolved around teams and playing well with others and there was all of that attention that had to be paid. It wasn't my thing. When track season came along, we ran. Just ran. I didn't have to pay attention to anything or anyone, but what my body was doing. FINALLY! Something I could do, and liked and was actually good at. Running is one of the best things that have happened to me in my life. I am so lucky to have found it at such a young age.
I also did the high jump, which we didn't have big mats, so we did a scissors kick over it, into a pit of sand. The first time I got my picture taken in the local newspaper for a track meet, I was giving a HUGE beav shot, legs all spread apart with my scissor kick over the bar and my hair was frizzy and standing straight up. The caption read: "Not a picture of grace and coordination, but Churlita gets the job done." I'd say that's been pretty applicable my entire life.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
So, remember how I told you that John got a new to him mountain bike? Well, we were finally able to take it out for a spin on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier in the morning, I was feeling exhausted. It could be that I overdid it a bit with such a long run and ride the day before, but there was a pressure system moving through and it could have been that I was getting a slight migraine. Either way, I decided to skip running and I fell asleep watching the professional bike race in Italy that was on John's computer (some would say that falling asleep while watching a long bike race was only natural).
I perked-up a little and we had lunch and both worked on our respective mountain bikes. I replaced my clipless pedals for flat ones. Some people wonder how I can constantly forget to clip-out, and other people who have met me and know how spacy I am, just wonder why I ever thought I could remember to clip-out.
Our local mountain biking trails were closed because they were too muddy and riding them messes with tree roots and the trails and who wants to basically sh*t all over their favorite place? Not this girl. So, we headed to Beverly Park in Cedar Rapids where there aren't so many roots and it's more open and tends to dry out more easily. Neither of us had ever been there before and it was awesome. It isn't as big or as technical or scary as the trails on Sugar Bottom, but they have a lot of fun things, like berms and skinny bridges with no rails that came close to scaring the poop out of me when I rode over them.
I also liked riding with my flat pedals. When I wore clipless pedals, I was so afraid I wouldn't clip-out when I was going up a steep hill or trying to go up on a rooted section, that I would just ride on the tops of my pedals which gave me no dig and on rougher sections, my feet would bounce off the pedals, so it was nice to wear the BMX style of pedals that have little metal things that rubber of my shoes cling onto, but if I need to put a foot down, I don't have to think about it. For now, I think I'll stick with them for mountain biking and even try them for CX and see how they work.
After about an hour and a half of playing, my legs were ready to pack it in. We headed home, showered, ordered a pizza and drank cocktails while watching "Beetlejuice". I could get used to days like these.
Monday, March 23, 2015
|Running isn't pretty...At least when I do it, it isn't.|
I took 3 days off of working out last week. Not in a row, but that's a lot of time off for me. I'm glad I did, because I was a little crispy fried, and I came back on Saturday with a vengeance. I did a longer run and 50 mile bike ride to Kalona and back. It was a perfect day. I keep saying this, but I really do love my life these days. Since my girls are grown, I can do whatever I want (that I can afford and if it's legal...In general) and I am lucky enough to have found a partner who loves to play outside as much as I do.
Saturday morning, I ran a route I've been running since 1983, when I first moved to Iowa City. Of course, back then I lived downtown, so it was only 5 or 6 miles long, and now I live a lot further from it, so it has turned into a 9.2 mile route.
The last time I ran it was on February 21st. It killed me and I wasn't even going very fast. I must have just been out of shape from the Winter, but I did worry that maybe I was just old and it would always feel like that. Thank jeebus that wasn't the case. I ran it on Saturday and kept reminding myself to slow down, so I didn't kill myself like last time, but I kept just naturally "speeding" up and by the end of it, I was still just fine. I checked my stats from last time, and I averaged a half mile a minute faster than I did last time. I'm feeling a little better about running that 25K half trail run on April 11th. I just need to get some trail running in now...
John ran a 10.5 mile route, while I was running mine. We both decided to take 20 minute naps after we had grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch. Then at around 2:30, we headed to Kalona on our bikes.
We stopped briefly in Hills to say hi to some of our friends who were doing a different social ride and then continued on. We always take this great route that brings us through Amish country on dirt roads, where we see more horse and buggies than cars. The dirt roads never have any real gravel on them, so we are easily able to ride our road bikes on them...That was, until now. We got caught in super heavy gravel, and the sad thing about those roads, is that there aren't enough cars to make a smoother lane. I just had to get into an easier gear and ride it slowly and remember not to brake and hope that I didn't pinch flat on a rock.
We got to the Brew pub a few minutes late, because of the gravel and the fact that my gears are screwy and need to be worked on, and my chain went off the tracks and we could barely pull it out of where it was stuck. Our friend Burn was waiting for us. He drove there and brought his bike so he could eat and drink with us and then ride part way back with us and turn around and at least get a little ride in. We ate and had a couple of beers and rode back on the wide shoulder of the highway instead of the gravel and got home just as the streetlights were coming on. We rode 50 miles there and back. It was a great way to play.
Friday, March 20, 2015
I thought I'd shake things up and just talk about what's going on in my life these days, besides racing and training.
When we were in Des Moines last Saturday, we got to have lunch with Coadster and her boyfriend. It was great to see them.
In books: I'm still reading the first book of the Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy. So far, it's really good. I can see why she won the Nobel Prize for it. It's a little spicier than I thought it would too. Bonus! Before that, I read Murakami's, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running". I really liked that as well. It was nice to read what another aging athlete is thinking and doing and a lot of what he wrote about training for triathlons, I could really relate to. I plan on reading James McBride's "The Good Lord Bird" next. It won the National Book Award and looks really interesting.
In viewing: We watched "The Very Best Marigold Hotel" last night and it was very sweet. I love escapism. We also started watching "Futurama" from the beginning this week. I have seen a couple of episodes but it was a while into the series and I had no idea what was going on. Now, it's starting to all make sense...Kind of.
In music: I've been listening to Neko Case on Pandora radio. A nice mix of folky, blue grassy, indie singers. This weekend I cleaned my living room and made dinner to The Los Lobos Greatest hits collection and Ricki Lee Jones' "Flying Cowboys".
In food: I've made BBQ shrimp kabobs on the grill with brown rice, tamari, butter and nutritional yeast, served with honey sriracha brussel sprouts, I also made a black bean quinoa enchilada bake with guacamole salad and tonight we're having fish tacos with guacamole, black beans and spicy slaw.
In playing: John just bought a used mountain bike - a dual suspension, 26'er and we plan to go play on trails this weekend.
|Since it's Friday, I had to put up a cat photo. I believe this is a fast moving, Heidi tail ( a very rare species).|
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Here is a piece I wrote on my blog in 2011 about what it feels like to get up early and swim laps in the Winter in honor of me swimming laps this morning for the first time in almost 2 weeks:
At first it feels like drudgery waking up that early and it is dreary and cold and your bed is so, very warm. It's still dark outside and snowing when you drive your car at six am and you wonder why this seemed like such a good idea the night before.
Now, you've done it. You've put yourself into a swimsuit in the middle of January - and you're Irish and pasty for god's sake! The worst part comes next. You stand with your toes just hanging over the edge and contemplate jumping. It seems impossible. You know? To willingly immerse yourself in cool water, but it's not like you can turn around and walk back to the locker room...Or can you?
That's it. You do it. You take that flying leap and suddenly you are chilly and wet, but you're moving. You decide it feels pretty good, after all. You're on your back now and your arms are cutting through the lane. Your goggles are tainted by drops of water and make all the lights above you look like they are surrounded by colorful halos. You are fluid and slick and even though you can't see yourself, you think this must be what real beauty is. It's not that perfect skin you don't have, or those perfectly proportioned features you can't imagine. It's just this - this feeling of weightlessness and strength and fluidity.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
|Thanks to Darian Nagle-Gamm for the photo.|
Two days in a weekend - two races...Or how one old lady learns her limits.
|Thanks to Brittany McConnell for the photo.|
Sunday I was what is known as, OTB or Off the Back from about the start of the race. I actually wasn't even going to do the race. My legs were shot after the 10K running race the day before and then my asshole cat kept me up half the night. I'm not sure what the hell his problem is, but he's been really bad lately. He wakes us up, so we lock him out of our room, then he stands by our door and whines and meows. I was lucky if I even got 3 hours of very interrupted sleep. Ugh!
Anyway, this race starts and ends on a big, steep hill. The kind that is never kind to me. I rode it once on the preride and barely got up it. Granted, I know old ladies need to warm-up more than the younger kids, so my legs would probably work better after more riding, but we also need more recovery time in between races, and I didn't give myself much of that. So, when I was standing at the start, I told the official that I was going to bow-out. I said something to some of the other women, and one in particular talked me back into it. She told me not to worry about my results and since I already paid to enter, I might as well ride my bike on roads with no traffic and have fun. She was right, so I threw my helmet back into the race.
|Oh holy hell, but it felt good to cross that finish line.|
She hopped on and we kept on riding. We chicked a few of the Cat 5 guys and then we got to the sweeping downhill, immediately before the longer uphill. I'm not too bad with those types of hills, because I get a lot of momentum going down first. I thought she was right on my wheel and the Cat 1 and 2 men were coming up on us, to lap us. I scooted way over to the right, and tried to go faster up the hill to stay out of their way. After they passed and I looked back, my teammate was way behind me. I thought about waiting, but then I figured I better just keep riding. I didn't want to give myself a reason to quit the race. Just keep swimming....
|The owner of Geoff's Bike and Ski was nice enough to provide the after race libations. Also thanks to Mauro Heck for the photo.|
I got lapped by all the fields, but I finished the race and I'm glad I did it and I had a lot of fun on the back sections of the course where there were more rolling hills, and everyone is really nice to me, even when I'm sucking.
So, yesterday I ran 4.5 miles and then did a slow, social ride with my friends and for the next two days, I plan to take off of everything, except bike commuting to work and back. My poor legs need a break. I'll let you know how it all feels on Thursday.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Apparently, I feel compelled to imitate every caution sign I come across...
This weekend was lovely, lovely loverly. Friday night I came home and John and I got to sit outside on the porch with cocktails and watch the birds and squirrels and bunnies that live in our backyard and enjoy the 70 degree temps. Ahhhh.
I made salmon, baked potatoes and steamed asparagus for dinner. Then we watched the move, "St Vincent". It was really good.
We got up at 5 am on Sunday to head to Des Moines for the Leprechaun Chase. It was a 10K where the women go off first and the men start 5 minutes later, so they're able to "catch" us. It was a lot of fun and everyone wore green which gave me another excuse to wear my BEER socks.
Before the race, John and I did a little warm-up run along the river and, as you can see, took super dorky photos.
We met our friends, another couple before the race. The guy in the couple had never raced before in his life. He was nervous, but we told him he had trained enough and his time would be faster than he had ever run in his life. Indeed, it was.
My goal was just to be able to run an average 9 and a half minute mile pace. I hadn't been able to come even close in any of my training runs. I didn't care about place, I just didn't want to injure myself and I wanted to have fun.
We took off and everyone went so fast, that I never knew if I was sucking, or if Iwas doing okay but everyone else wass amazing. My Map My Run read out my first mile time as an 8.5 minute mile. Sweet! But I wanted to slow that down, because I didn't want to die at the end of the race. I was pretty consistently running 9 - 9.5 minute miles the rest of the race. My heart and lungs felt great throughout the race, but my legs were soooo sore from running that 12.8 mile a run a couple of days before. Help me remember, when I tell myself I'm not going to worry about how I do in my race and I'm just going to run it and have fun, I'm lying. I always care how I do in the race when I'm running it and afterward when I get my time and place.
I finished in 55.53 minutes. A little under 9 minute miles. I was pretty happy with that. Especially since my lungs and heart were great and the next race I do, I promise to taper. I got 13th in my age group. Since I'm the oldest in my category and next year I'll be the youngest, I checked out the 50-54 year olds. I would have been 5th in that group. Something to look forward to next year. John got 2nd in his category. Nice work!
Friday, March 13, 2015
|This was taken when Archie was half the cat he is now.|
The plan tonight is for cocktails out on the porch with annoying cats harassing us. Kitty cocktails! I hope your Friday ends just as well.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Since it's been so nice here this week, I thought I'd write about a great run I had yesterday, instead of one from a long time ago.
|Lovely winding creek.|
I got off work early yesterday to do a 12'ish mile run. I have a 25K part trail/part road race coming up in exactly a month, so I need to get some longer runs in before that. About 3 weeks ago, I tried to do a 9 mile run and I thought it was going to kill me. Because of that, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish a run this long either. Of course, 3 more weeks of training and giving myself the day off from running the day before this and I had no problem finishing it. Granted, I went very slowly...
I obviously stopped to take photos along the way and waved to all of the cyclists I saw riding past me. It was a perfect day for a run. about 60 degrees and sunny with a light wind and almost no humidity.
As I got closer to the Resevoir, I saw more people. I ran past the Frisbee golfers and luckily didn't get grazed by a bad throw this time around.
This thing, made me look bad. I didn't realize a runner could trip the speed thingy, but just so you know, I was going up hill and I was tired...Okay, the speed thing doesn't lie. I was really that slow.
I made it to the Spillway, ate my salted caramel Gu, drank some water, took some photos and turned around to head home.
|This would look so much better without all of that ice in the lake. Soon...|
I finished my run in a little over 2 hours. I listened to some good music, saw some cool things and best of all, I was able to run the whole thing. Now, all I have to do is add 3 more miles and some really big, muddy hills and I'll be ready for my race in April...
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
|Archie is jealous of the attention we pay bike racing, instead of him.|
Lets see...When I left you on Friday, I was suffering from a migraine. Well, it didn't get better by that evening. I tried to run after work and couldn't do it. I got about 3/4 of a mile out and I was dizzy and weak and everything ached. That was it for me. I turned around and started walking home. When I felt better, I'd run a little until I got dizzy again and then walked and ran the rest of the way. I got home, made dinner and John and I watched the movie, Boyhood. I know a lot of people thought it was slow and boring, but so am I. So, I liked it. It seemed pretty realistic, coming from a single mom who raised her two kids that were similar in age as the ones in the movie.
|Bike smoothie blender!|
I've always been proud of the fact that all of our bike racing team sponsors are small, local businesses. I have raced against teams with a big McDonalds symbol on their backs, and I've wanted to puke the entire race, just thinking about Big Macs. Ew! Anyway, our biggest sponsor is our local Co-op. They do a lot for us, so when they expanded to Cedar Rapids and asked us if we could help with the grand opening, I jumped at the chance...Especially, when I heard that they wanted us to ride a bike powered smoothie blender wearing our racing kits. How fun is that?
John and I showed up and the response from customers was great. It was really fun to make smoothies that way. I wish I had all kinds of pedal powered things in my own home.
After our Co-op gig, John and I headed over to Big Grove for happy hour and dinner. It was packed again. We got set up at a tall table close to the bar. The fun thing, was that we had a couple of seats open and people who were waiting for tables, would sit with us. We met two different groups of couples that way. The second group of two different couples was a lot of fun. We talked about our favorite restaurants and bars in the Iowa City area, and beer and cycling. It turns out, they live in one of the towns that will be an overnight stay on RAGBRAI. They offered to let our group camp on their lawn and we suggested that they get their folks to watch their two kids for a day and ride to Coralville with us and stay at our place in Iowa City, if they wanted a day and night away from the kids. I know they would love our RAGBRAI group and hope they take us up on it.
Monday, March 09, 2015
|Thanks to B, McConnell for taking this. The women racers before the race. We look so clean.|
Only 6 women showed up to race. Which was too bad, but I was surprised there were even that many women. Our numbers seem to be getting lower and lower for races in Eastern Iowa the last couple of years. Sigh.
I was in no kind of shape this early on and I'm not really sure what I'm doing this year as far as racing is concerned. With all of the weirdness going on with the perimenopause, I'm never sure how I'm going to feel from one day to the next and if I'll have a migraine or not. I think I'll be doing more running races than cycling, but I'm just going to go with things and see how I feel from one race to the next.
|Mud freckles everywhere. Yea!|
We started the race and I didn't really warm-up at all. As a 50 year old racer, I need to warm-up even more than all the young girls I was racing against, not less. Oops! I fell off the back early on. My legs felt like lead, but after we got on the pavement, I went as hard as I could and caught back on to the pack at the beginning of the 2nd lap. I held on until the last big hill on the gravel (my nemesis) and then hoped I could catch them again on the pavement. Of course, one of the women attacked hard and the pack broke apart, but I wasn't able to get anywhere near them.
John has always told me to ride as hard as if I'm fighting for first place, even if I get dropped and am riding all by myself. That worked for me here. At the end of the gravel section on the last lap, I saw two women ahead of me that I might be able to catch. That never happens. When I got to the pavement section, I figured I'd try to see if I could get up to them. I had absolutely nothing to lose. One of the women sped-up, but I caught the other one. I was really surprised because she is much younger and stronger than I am...Especially on gravel. I could tell she was hurting, so I told her to hop on my wheel and if she had something left, to try and go around me on the uphill gravel. I knew I was dying and wouldn't be able to climb that last muddy hill very well.
We turned onto the gravel and I figured she'd take off, but she told me she was having a low blood sugar episode and couldn't go any harder. I went as hard as I could (think turtle's pace) and I joked later that we had the slowest sprint for second on record. I got 2nd, but only because the other woman wasn't feeling well. I gave her my salted caramel Gu and John rode up to us after the race and gave her his too, so she could ride home okay.
The big thing I took away from this race, was that even toward the end, when I was hurting and so, so, tired, I thought, "I love this so much!" I really don't care how well I place in a race, I want to always have that feeling.
Friday, March 06, 2015
|Heidi is veiling her emotions.|
It's also the day we've all been waiting for - the day we get away from below zero windchills until next Winter (so they say). It is a beautiful day.
|Here I am at 5 am, just getting a migraine and my cat won't get off my bag, to let me go swim laps. Asshole.|
We all treat ourselves with different things. Some with food, some with alcohol, some by buying clothes or shoes. For me, it's books. Since I felt like crap most of the morning, at lunch I headed to Prairie Lights with a list of the "Best fiction of 2014". I was only going to get three books, but I got another one, because I want to read them all: "An Unnecessary Woman" by Rabih Alameddine, "Boy, Snow, Bird" by Helen Oyeyemi, "The Book of Unknown Americans" by Cristina Henriquez and "Frog Music" by Emma Donoghue. Of course, now I want to go home and for a run and then read all my books, all at once. It would be so cool to be magic like that.
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Because I am hoping this is the last cold day of the Winter, I thought I'd celebrate by documenting our last full day in Arizona last year. We got all crazy and did a trail run AND a bike ride that day. It was amazing.
When we rode up Mt Lemmon, John had noticed some horse trail signs. He thought they might make cool trails for running.
So, we drove up there, with the intent to use those trails. We also had our bikes on the rack of our car, because we wanted to get in one last bike ride before we headed back to the frozen tundra too.
|I loved the technical downhills.|
|I was in no shape for the intense uphills and was happy to let John go ahead at his much faster pace.|
We stopped at a Safeway at the bottom of the mountain and bought sandwiches and chocolate milk, so we could get a little fuel before our bike ride.
We went to the other side of Saguaro National Park, where they had a fun, curvy, eight mile loop where we could ride our bikes. We each went around a few times and tried to avoid crashing our bikes down a hill, into a pile of rocks.
After our ride we checked out San Xavier church, ate at a cool restaurant called, La Cocina and then headed to 4th Street to check out The Surly Wench Pub..
I figured if they were going to name a bar after me, I might as well check it out.
It might be because I grew up there, started riding bikes and running there when I was a kid and have HUGE nostalgia with it, or that I'm just done with Winter, but I don't think I would ever get tired of running and riding my bike in Arizona.