Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I am Tired, I am Weary

Heidi doesn't mind when I am sick AT ALL.

My cold got the WAY better of me these last few days.  I woke-up on Monday feeling kind of crappy. John told me I should stay home and I told him that Mondays were bad days to miss at my office...Then I felt so dizzy I could barely stand and said I would call in and stay home. I stayed home again today and started feeling a little better in the afternoon.

I suppose if I HAVE to be sick, I should focus on the positive. So, here is a list of the good things about having a cold.

1. I am normally too hyper to sit around much, but when I'm sick, I am able to, say...Read an entire 500 some page novel in 2 days and start another one.

2. I get to create my couch world where I camp out with my Kleenex, a book, the TV remote, and some hot tea and water. I like to think of it as the adult version of the blanket fort.

3. I am limited to, but also have no excuse but to just lie around, read books, blow my nose, watch ridiculous amounts of House Hunters episodes and sleep...But most importantly, I'm way too sick to clean anything.

4. I get to spend TWO WHOLE DAYS away from work during the week.

5. I finally get to whine back to the cats, so they know what it feels like.

6. It's feed a cold and starve a fever and guess which one I have?

7. My beautiful boyfriend brings me take-out from Oyama, because what's better for a sick person than Miso soup and Wasabi to burn out a cold? The sushi is just the receptacle, I swear.

8. This afternoon when I started to feel a little better, I had to make myself figure out if I could be functional enough to go to work, so I made myself sit up for a couple of hours and FINALLY got to work on my cartoon drawing for the painting I've been trying to finish for months now. The cats are sweet enough to work as security against the evil and terrifying birds and chipmunks and bunnies and squirrels that lurk in our backyards. Regular Gargoyles, those two.

We'll see how tomorrow goes. I may forgo riding my bike to work, in case I still don't have the energy. I'm sure the cats will miss me....

Sunday, October 04, 2015

That Bullsh*t is Bullsh*t. It Just Goes by Different Names

So, remember how  in my last blog I said I wasn't sure if John or I were going to be too sick to do the races we signed up for? Well, we went anyway. Two of our women teammates and another woman we know from Iowa City showed up too. Yea!

I figured, what the hell. I like the courses and I love the women who race in Wisconsin. For the most part, they aren't all overly competitive and threatened by faster racers or snobby to slower racers. They are generally friendly and introduce themselves and are happy that we are there. I also love most of the women who race masters. Like one of the women said when someone commented on all the funky socks we were wearing, "Yeah. We're old enough not to take racing or ourselves too seriously." Amen to that, sister.

Here is me at the start already wiping snot. Such class. Such elegance. Such grace...
 So, if you want to get a sense of just how bad your cold really is I have some tips for you. First, get to the race just a little bit late, so you only have time to ride one lap. During the lap, your legs will feel like jello. No, they will feel like leaded jello. (I'm sure it's a thing) You will tell yourself you are just old and need to warm-up. You will be lying to yourself. The race will start and you will be in a fog. You will have trouble putting your feet on your pedals and you will not have much strength on the nice paved, gradual uphill. You will come to the turn with three women still behind you. "Not bad for being sick," you will think as they all quickly pass you. Damn.

You will try the only steep uphill, that wouldn't normally be a problem, but now, in your brain fog, you forget about your gears or a decent pace and you just say, screw it, get off your bike and walk part of the way up. You glance behind you to see if the cat 4 women, who started 30 seconds after you, are catching-up. Not yet. You hop back on your bike and by the time you reach where all the people are, the 4's are catching you. The announcer comments on your awesome socks (thank-you) and says he thinks you are the leader of the 4's. You shake your head and think, "No. I got dropped by the masters and am getting overtaken by the beginners and waiting for the juniors to drop me too. Sigh". You feel like someone has lassoed your bike and is pulling you backward as half the cat 4's fly past you. Your eyes and nose are running and if anyone could see you up-close they would think your face was as nicely glazed as a doughnut (EW!). You start to feel a little down and then you tell yourself to shut it. You notice that even while you feel so crappy, you are still trying to figure out which lines to take up the hill, how to pump on the downhill with the big bumps and then just ahead, you see the really nice woman who introduced herself to you at the start and said this was her first CX race in 4 years. She is dying. You feel badly, but you pass her anyway and think, "Hey, at least I'm not last." Hell, you'll take what you can get at this point. You finally finish the race. Your beautiful boyfriend is waiting for you with water and your jacket and he tells you what a stud you are. You know he's lying, but you appreciate the hell out of him for saying it anyway. So, that's how you know how sick you are...And by you, I mean me.

John was still too sick to race as well. Since we had some time to kill before we met my family for dinner at 5, and there was some kind of big football game  going on between Iowa and Wisconsin, we stopped for appetizers and a beer at Great Dane in Fitchburg. You may not know this, but I can be a bit on the loud and obnoxious side (yeah, shut-up) and because of that, other obnoxious people at bars seem to want to be my new best friend. We met a guy like that yesterday. He was actually pretty amusing. He made us try his cheese covered, gravied fries. He then set about showing us and the bar, just exactly how much cheese there was on his food. Lovely.

We were both exhausted and had some more time to kill, so we pulled the car over next to a park and took a nap. While John was looking at Google Maps for the restaurant, he commented on the fact that it was right across the street from the mustard museum. OMGEEEEE!

I love cheesy, kitschy, Americana crap. All of it. John is very patient and is nice enough to tag along to play at the 1950's putt-putt golf course, the largest assortment of pinball machines or whatever else weird shit I drag him to. He was not surprised that I wanted to see it, and I'm sure he was just relieved that it wasn't the world's largest ball of twine...Which I still want to see.

John imitating the creepy mustard lady behind him.
  The Mustard Museum used to be in Mt Horeb and moved to Middleton for some reason. It was closing in 8 minutes, so I didn't have time to read the blah,blah,blah about it.

There were lovely samples and videos and can you believe people actually get paid to work at the mustard museum? I bet you never find that on a survey: Please mark your occupation - hospital worker, office clerk, law enforcement, mustard museum worker...

Be honest, have you ever met anyone who gave out wedding mustard?
After we left the museum , we had a wonderful evening of Cajun style food and drinks with my family. It was one full day.

I know there are more single-minded people out there who would be bummed-out the rest of the day after having such an embarrassingly bad race, disgusting cold and knowing they wouldn't get to do the other race they paid for the next day. Lucky for me, I like to look at my life as one cheesy, kitschy, ridiculous adventure. One that doesn't always go my way, but takes me places that make me laugh and one in which I am most assuredly wearing awesome socks.

Friday, October 02, 2015

But Where Are the Cats? There Ought to be Cats.

Now that it's cooler out, Archie makes one hell of a fat, furry, orange blanket when I read.
It's Friday and the weather is immaculate on this beautiful October day. Both John and I have had mild colds, so we'll see what kind of races, if any, we have.

We're supposed to race in the Madison, Wisconsin area on Saturday and then De Kalb on Sunday. Hopefully, we'll get to have dinner with my brother and one of my sisters who live in Madison. Of course, Iowa plays Wisconsin that day, so we'll probably stay far away from the University. I guess we're having ourselves some first world, Midwestern, Fall, problems this weekend, aren't we?

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Ba De Ya, Say Do You Remember. Ba De Ya, Dancing in September.

Wellllll, how do you like that? It's October already. September was a transition month for me. I went from longer road rides, to shorter, more intense off-road and trainer rides to get ready for cyclcross season...And I raced almost every weekend this month.

So, here are my monthly stats -

Running - 60.63 miles

Cycling - 458 miles

Trainer work-outs - 2 @ 1/2 hour a piece.

Swims - none

Races - 7 - 1 gravel time trial, 1 duathlon and 5 cyclocross races.

Organized touring rides - 1 - the Culinary Ride.

Number of different bikes ridden: 5 of my 6.

 Books read: 6 - "The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling, "Shirley", by Susan Scarf Merrell, "The Haunting of Hill House", by Shirley Jackson, "Tigerman", by Nick Harkaway, "An Untamed State", by Roxane Gay, and "A Hologram for the King", by Dave Eggers.

Paintings or Drawings started or finished: Zero. I am planning to make that a priority in October.

House projects started or finished: Zero. Again, I'll try to make that a priority in October too.

Towns we traveled to for races: 4 - The Amanas, Pella, Cedar Falls and Des Moines.

So, how was your September? What things didn't you get around to that you're SURE you'll start on in October?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Feel it in the Air. The Summer's Out of Reach

 I promise this post will be one of those "less talk, more rock" dealies. You can thank me later.

Today I am looking back at the dog days of Summer. I consider Summer that time between my oldest daughter's birthday and my youngest daughter's birthday.

Coadster's birthday is May 15th and this year for her birthday, we gave her a graduation present of a weekend in Chicago to see a Cubs game on her birthday weekend. The Cubs were nice enough to win for her, initiating the victory dance documented in the photo above.

June brought me my first triathlon of the year and the first time I did TOMROV, since I got a real bike back in 2011. This time around, TOMROV was soooo much less stressful and way more fun. If I do it again, I will definitely work on hill climbing ahead of time.

 I also did an adventure race with my brother in June. The conditions were about perfect, and even though my legs failed me during the run, I was the first woman who finished.

 We finished the month of June in true nerd style - by riding to Riverside, IA to celebrate Trek Fest. We even got flashed by a Star Fleet officer. The things you see in small Iowa towns...

 I like to call July this year my super month. I can't imagine it being any better. We rode our bikes every day of the long 4th of July weekend and the next weekend we headed to Clear Lake, Iowa (the town where the music died) for a bike race. I wasn't able to do my time trial because of a migraine, but I had a great weekend and transferred my registration over to the road race the next day, which kicked my ass, but was a great ride.

Less then a week after that, we took our epic vacation to South Dakota and rode road bikes and mountain bikes and hiked and ran and swam and climbed rocks and it was the best vacation I've ever had.

We met RAGBRAI for the last two days and had a blast on Sutliff Bridge doing a dance-off with another team. Spectacular!

We did a lot of off-road riding in August. I raced my first gravel time trial and I had almost more fun pre-riding the course than actually doing the race.

I did my first real mountain bike race in August too. It was a lot of fun and I think I might try to do more MTB races in the future...After I get the guts to ride the black trails.

In September, I did my first duathlon. It was supposed to be a triathlon, but the e coli in the resevoir turned it into a duathlon. Without the swim, I had a lot more energy for the runs and the bike.

On September 21st we celebrated John's birthday by each riding three of our bikes and eating and drinking and eating some more.

The next day, September 22nd, we celebrated Stinky's golden birthday, with more really good food. The day after that, Fall started.

Looking back, this has been an incredible Summer full of fun, sun, runs, riding, reading, eating, drinking and playing outside almost every single day. Obviously, every season has its highs and lows, but this Summer tipped way more in the favor of the highs. We'll see what Fall and Winter bring, but I'm heading toward it with a leftover,  happy, warmth.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Snappin' Her Fingers and Shufflin' Her Feet.

It's after a weekend, which means another race report...Or two. This is the first week this year that I've done two cycloCX races in two days.

It's one of my favorite races of the year - Oakley Night Cap CX in Des Moines. It's at a bar called Mullets. I normally don't do that well at this race. They even offer a 45+ Women's Masters race, and every year I fail to make the podium. Sigh. 

thanks for the photo, Paul Buchanan
 Saturday is a night race. The women didn't go off until 10:15. I am WAY too old for that shit. John raced at 4, and we got there at 3, so I had SEVEN WHOLE HOURS to wait for my race. As you know, I'm a bit of a spaz, so I'm not that good at sitting around and relaxing, which meant that any chance I got in between races, I rode the course. It was a crazy twisty turny course, and I knew it would be dark by the time I raced, so I wanted to be familiar with it enough, that I didn't turn the wrong way and screw myself over. I was a little worried that I would exhaust myself before I even started the race, though.

I also spent almost a half hour spinning on the trainer before my race.

Photo courtesy of Heather Wince.
 It must have helped, because I had the best start to a race ever. They let the women racing the open category go first, then they gave us about 20 or 30 seconds and sent the masters women off.

I was about 3rd when we hit the tight turn. One of my teammates started to stall-out up the hill. I saw a little hole between her and another woman and sped through it. The women behind me got stuck behind my teammate, and so I was 2nd going into some of the twisty labrynths. One woman in my category passed me and then I passed the first woman who was ahead of me from the beginning of the race. I was pretty exhausted after the 2nd lap and another woman passed me. Damn! I passed two women in the open category and had a good gap on any other women who were behind me and feeling fine to be 3rd. I was even singing while I rode.

Coming over the barriers, I was in too low a gear and I was so oxygen deprived, I set my bike down too hard and my chain jumped off. Double Damn! One woman passed me, but she was in the open race and I was A-okay with that, but by the time I got my chain back on, the rest of the women in my category had almost caught up with me. I only had 2 laps left, so I tried to turn-up my speed. I was lucky and none of the other women caught me. I finished 3rd for the master's women overall and Third in the master's women 45 and over. It was the first time I've podiumed in the Saturday night race and I was very happy with that.

Sunday is a lot smaller field than the Saturday night party.  I was lucky enough to get another decent start. My friend J. got out first and got the hole shot through the first turn.

 I had to go around another woman and cut her off going up the hill, which sounds like an a-hole maneuver, but it's how you race cyclocross, Anyway, that's how I got out in front.

 I got passed by a woman, and I just rode right behind her, doing my locomotive engine breathing, which I can't help, but I'm sure it's unnerving. Finally she moved over and said, "Go on!" And so I did.

  I passed a girl from the open category and saw the gap between me and the women behind me get wider and wider.

 Next I caught up to another woman from the open women's race, but she fought me....For the next couple of laps we battled. I started getting stupid and trying to pass her at ridiculous times and going into corners too hard, so that I went off the course and hit a stump with my wheel. Dumb arse. I calmed down and just rode my bike.

I never caught the woman from the open women's race, but she wasn't in my category, so it wasn't a big deal. Since the two women who beat me the night before didn't race on Sunday. I won the the Women's Masters race.

Part of the prize I got was $20 worth of gift cards to El Bait Shop. I treated John to lunch and all the beer he could drink. Check out all of those taps! My goal of trying to get a little less last this year seems to be on track. Of course, I'm nowhere near most of the women in the open races, but that will give me my next goal...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Put it in Your Heart, Where Tomorrow Shines.

Oh, it's Friday again. Even though I had a short week, I'm still itching for the weekend. I'm ready for book reading and bike racing and good food eating...And mostly, no work.

Of course, I'm a little tired and pretty bored, but I only have about a half hour left at work, and it is Cat Friday, so I'm seeing some light at the end of my working woman's blues tunnel. May you all have weekends full of your favorite things.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Today is the Greatest Day I've Ever Known.

 On Sunday we went on the Iowa City Culinary Ride. We've never been able to do it before, because we've always had cyclocross races on the same weekend. This year we were freed-up and ready to see what it was all about.

We started from the Co-op where they had wonderful samples of food and coffee. Then we headed to the University gardens where they served virgin bloody mary's  with really good veggies.

We went to Yotopia for excellent breakfast yogurt served with granola and fresh raspberries. I could have eaten a bucket of it.

We stopped at a berry farm and farmer's market outside of Oxford and they offered Cuban tacos. I did love the Culinary Ride, but I do wish they would have told us there wouldn't be all that many vegetarian options. The questionnaire we filled-out for the ride asked us if we were veggie or not and so I assumed that meant there would be veggie options. There were at a couple of stops, but the taco stop only had a very small amount of a veggie slaw and the rest of it was pork and we were told we could only have a tiny portion and I'm pretty sure it was gone before all the riders got there. Another stop only had a chicken pasta with no veggie option. Which, I get that it isn't always easy to make things veggie, but it would be good to know ahead of time that there wouldn't always be veggie food. If I were a stricter vegetarian, it might not have been worth it to me.

Again, I loved the ride and had a blast, but there is always room for improvement or better communication about everything.

 I also heard some people thought the ride was a little too hilly and hard. Friends of mine who had done the ride in the past said it wasn't quite as hilly in other years. I did feel sorry for some of the people who were having problems and exhausted after riding the end of course that seemed to be an endless succession of hills.

Of course, the last two stops were also my favorite ones. Augusta in Oxford served an amazing souffle', blocked-off the street and sold fun cocktails that I didn't indulge in, as I wanted to spend a quiet evening at home, alone, reading my book and didn't want to end up passing-out on my couch instead.

Our last stop was at a really cool farm. They raised chickens in a bus. No, really and they had adorable, but huge Pyrenees mix 10 month old puppies and food from Devotay. We had a 15 mile stretch left and we needed to get back home, so john could go play pool with his friend Bry, and I could, as previously mentioned, have my precious alone time. We missed the after-party at Trumpet Blossom, but our friends who went said it was a blast and they had the most awesome veggie food there...Of course.

If you like food, bikes and fun, I would highly recommend the Culinary Ride, just make sure you get some hilly training in ahead of time and be aware that there might not be a ton of veggie options, though I believe all the meat that was served was from animals that were happy when they were alive and could possibly have lived in their very own bus.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Somewhere There's Heaven. How High the Moon.

We made a new friend by the bike rack at Leaf Kitchen.
It is the land of birthdays in our house this week. John and his cat shared a birthday on Monday and Stinky had her golden birthday on Tuesday.

Both John and I took the day off for his birthday. Probably one of the best birthday presents you can give yourself - a Monday off of work.

We woke up and drank coffee and tea and John opened a couple of his presents. Then we took a townie ride to Leaf Kitchen for brunch. we both had the smoked salmon eggs Benedict with potatoes. So amazingly good.

After lunch, John went for a short run and I read my book on the back porch. In the afternoon we played mountain bikes on the trails at Sugar Bottom. We hadn't been mountain biking and we really missed it, but we both were a little rusty on the first set of trails.

In the evening we did our Monday Night Ride with some friends and had a lovely time.

We all went out for dinner for Stinky's birthday. We checked out a new place in town called, Apres. They are a wine bar that serves tapas. Really, really good tapas.

We shared some fun dips and then we each got our own small plates of food. I loved everything I tried. I do have to say that they might want to add a few more chips, crackers and bread to their dips.

Instead of cake, Stinky wanted to do the table side s'mores. It was a fun concept, but again., I think they needed to even out their portions of each thing. We could have used a few more graham crackers to match the amount of chocolate and marshmallows we got. It's a new restaurant, and that is such a little thing to fix. I hope they do well, because we loved the place.