Friday, April 17, 2015

There is No Pain You Are Receding.

Apparently, I've been a little lame in the blogging department this week. Sorry about that.

I know I've mentioned several times that I can get a bit socially overwhelmed, I'm not much of a structure person, I'm a HUGE homebody and if I ever won the lotto, I would quit my job in a heartbeat. Well, this week I started feeling like my life was moving too fast and I desperately needed some alone time so I could reboot. Since I didn't win the lottery, I had to just take a vacation day for no real reason other than...Sanity.

I did have some practical plans, but most of them fell by the wayside, to just slow everything down, hang my laundry on the line, read the book "Sisterland", which has been really hard for me to put down and go for about a 50 mile bike ride to Sutliff Bridge and back.

Don't think I forgot it was cat day Friday...

Ignore my ugly 40 years of running feet here, and imagine how lovely it is to put up your dogs, while you read a great book on your screened-in porch, as your cat eyes a bird on the feeder. Feel the warm, 75 degree breeze and smell the freshly cut grass from your neighbor's yard and notice your breathing slow down, while your brain rewires itself. Got that? Feeling that? That is sanity and I had that for most of the day yesterday. It was purrrrrfect.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oh, the Dreadful Wind and Rain.

Sadly, it looks like my weekly migraines are back. At least they're not twice weekly right now, like they've been in the past.

On Sunday I woke up with one. I tried to watch Paris-Roubaix, but the pain in my brain made that impossible. So, I took my migraine meds and went back to bed. The nice thing about bike races is that they last so long, a couple of hours later, and I woke-up and was able to see the finish. It was actually an exciting finish.

After the race was over, John finished working on my road bike. He had to recable it and put on new bar tape. I think I mentioned that the last road race I did in March, I had problems getting into my two lowest gears...Which was really bad with the gigantic hill I had to keep climbing and the leaden legs with which I had to climb it. I did try messing with the barrel adjuster, but John looked at it and said it was way beyond that. So, now my bike has been recabled and I have fresh, brightly colored, handle bar tape on my bike that matches my kit. I'm ready for the my next road race tomorrow...Okay, my bike is ready. I'm not sure I am.

While John was working on my bike, I cleaned the gutters in the back of the house and pruned all of the volunteer trees and bushes along our house and watched the weather sites.

They kept predicting rain with the greatest chances in the afternoon, so we decided to take off around noon and get a little road ride in. Neither of us knew if our legs could handle a ride, but we both wanted to try. Since the winds were strong and gusting from the South, we headed toward Riverside, Iowa. (the future home of James T Kirk) We thought we'd ride to Highway 22, right before you get to Riverside, and then head back. It would be a nice 30 mile bike ride.

It started out just fine. Both John and I were surprised we weren't more sore. then it started to sprinkle, and I thought, "Eh. As long as it isn't really raining..." Then as we went along it started to really rain, and I thought, "Well, as long as the roads aren't super wet and slippery...." Then the roads got super wet and slippery and I finally shut-up, before I made it tornado out.

The few bigger hills, kind of killed my legs, especially since we were going up them in over 20 mph wind gusts and rain. But then at Highway 22, we turned around and man! what a difference. The tailwind was so wonderful and it was still raining, but not hitting me in the face so much and we were practically blown up any hills. Aaaaaahhhhhh!

We got home, muddy, cold, wet and tired....And you guessed it, the rain stopped almost the minute we got to our house and the sun came out. Stupid, dumb, weather. We were actually pretty happy with the ride, no matter what. It's a bike ride, after all. They're all pretty great.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Run, Run, Run, Run, Run, Run, Run Away

Okay. So, last Saturday was finally the day of my 25K trail run. I was way more nervous than I thought I'd be. This was the 4th time I've done this race and the third time I finished it.

We had a couple of friends also racing. One of them was even 5 months pregnant. She normally wins the 50K, but since she was halfway through her pregnancy, she only ran the 25K and still did amazingly well. Amazing.

Thanks for the picture, Chelsea Bilskemper.

I know I mentioned that the weather plays a huge part in times for this race and the 3 years before, the weather has been difficult. My goal was to run this in 3 hours. the last 2 times I ran it in 3:05 and 3:04. Since the weather was great, I was hoping that was doable. After the first couple of years, I finally got the fueling and hydrating down. I ate oatmeal for breakfast about an hour or so before the race and then had 3 salted caramel Gu's in my jersey pocket, along with 3 small bottles of water on my belt.

The big thing I was going to try this year, was working on my pacing. I noticed that during our pre-run, we went out slowly and took a break here and there and I still got done before the last two times I raced. I wondered if going out too hard, made me bonk so hard by the end, that I slowed myself down. So, I set my Map My Run when we went off and after the first mile, it told me I ran it in 8:21, so I slowed my pace down. A lot of people passed me and that made me nervous, but I told myself I wasn't racing them, I was racing myself. During the first few miles, that were on a crushed gravel path, I kept my pace between 9:00 and 9:30 minute miles.

Thanks for the photo, Hawkeye 50 photographer.
I got to the Spillway Crossing and I felt pretty good. My feet didn't hurt too badly, I had taken my first Gu and drank about a bottle of water and I was just a little oxygen deprived...

Thanks for the photo Hawkeye 50 photographer.
apparently, I was so oxygen deprived here that I thought I was afraid to get my feet wet, even though it feels really good after a long run...Or maybe I thought I'd do some yoga? Eegads! Anyway, you'll be happy to know that I did make it across the spillway, even though I didn't escape getting a photo taken of my most ungraceful moment of the race. Ha ha.

Anyway, I made it to the finish line at 2:38, having beaten my goal time by 22 minutes and my best time by 26 minutes. I was 60th out of 136 overall and 20th out of 61 women, I will take it. I guess, pacing was the key.

John, unfortunately didn't meet his goal time, but don't feel too sorry for him. he was 10th overall and 1st for the mens master's 40+ division. Very impressive.

After the race, we went to Big Grove Brewery for lunch and celebratory beer. We couldn't eat that much, we split an order of olives and brussel sprouts. When we ordered beer, we were told it was half price for all race participants. We couldn't lose for winning that day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

You Better run. You Better Take Cover.

He looks so much smarter with glasses, don't you think?
 It is cat day Friday here on the blog. This is also the weekend John and I do our 25K trail run.We'll see how that goes.

John: I keep thinking about all of the things I want to do tomorrow after our race, should we ride mountain bikes or do a road ride or go swimming, but then I realize, I'll probably just be crying myself to sleep after the race.


Cat day bonus today: My boss brought her 9 week old spaniel puppies into work today. As you can see, they are completely adorable. Work would be so much better, if puppies were brought in on a daily basis, don't think?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

I Kiss You on the Brain in the Shadow of a Train.

There's a tornado watch for our area, and I'm thinking it's a great time to escape. I haven't done a "great ride" post in a while, so here goes...

For John's birthday in 2012, we went to La Crosse to ride bikes. We had a friend tell us how fun the rails to trails were there and what a cute little town La Crosse, Wisconsin was. I did a little research and found out they had fun mountain bike trails there too. So, we loaded up the CX bikes and headed out.

The first day we went to the mountain bike trails. They had this cool set of berms to ride. We could have spent hours there.

 The Rails to Trails run at least 100 miles out and back, so we drove to Sparta and started there. We figured we'd go as far as we wanted and head back.

The weather was pretty chilly for September, but the views on the trail were amazing.

We were warned that we needed good lights to go through the sometimes 1/2 mile long tunnels, so we brought our 500 bazillion lumens lights and they worked just great.

This is what the inside of the tunnels looked like. We were happy for all the 500 bazillion lumens we had on us.

Once we rode about 25 miles in, we decided to stop and get something to eat and drink in that little town, whose name I don't remember now. There was a little bar/grill and we ordered beer and fish and chips. When we entered the bar, all the locals got quiet and turned around to check us out. We sat at the bar and the bartender took our order. Then he came back to us and said, "Um, some of our locals like to still smoke in the bar and they were wondering if that was going to be a problem for you." So, THAT'S why they were giving us suspicious looks and got all quiet when we walked in...We assured him it was fine with us and he promptly went back to where he had been standing, picked-up his lit cigarette from the ashtray where he had set it, and took a drag. Apparently, he was one of the "locals" who wanted to smoke inside...

We rode back to our car and ended up covering a little over 50 miles of beautiful, Wisconsin scenery. I'd love to do it again one of these days.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Oh, the Path Leads to the Sun.

 Well, it's Wednesday already and I'm just writing about last Sunday. That's pretty much the speed I'm working at these days...

Easter was a good day. I did wake-up with a migraine, but I took my meds and got up later and then we picked up John's mom for brunch. We went Augusta, which is a Cajun fusion place in a small farming town. It was started by a couple who were displaced after Hurricane Katrina and the food is excellent. Plus, I'll take my brunch with a side of sarcasm any day.

After brunch, I had to rest for just a little bit, to let my migraine dissipate even further. Then we got ready for fun.

Our local mountain bike trails finally dried out enough to open up. As you'll recall, these were the same trails we cleaned-off the weekend before. So, it felt even better to ride them.

I love riding on this bridge.

John got to ride his new to him mountain bike on these trails for the first time. He almost made it all the way to the top of Cyclocross Hill here. I won't even try it. I'm too chicken. Maybe later in the season after I get more time on the trails. We'll see...

So, lookee there! I got my first tree bark burn of the season. There is a little section of roots that you have to turn right before and then go uphill, so you  (meaning me) can't go over without some much needed speed. I had never tried it before. I finally gave it a whirl, and got bogged down right in the middle of it. Of course, I had the brilliant idea that I could just lean into the tree on my right to catch my balance. Silly me. Who knew that rubbing against tree bark would break the skin? Derrrrr.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Is There Life on Mars?

Well, I slid through another amazing and exhausting weekend, to think work might not be so bad, because at least I get a chance to rest-up a little.

My shadow followed me the entire run.
 I'm starting to taper off my running, since next weekend is our 25K trail running race. I needed to get used to running the kind of ridiculous hills that will be in my trail race. Lucky for me, I live almost exactly a mile from some amazing trails at Hickory Hill Park.

So, I did a slow warm-up to Hickory and then ran 4 miles there and then ran back on an extended route. I got in over 7  miles of running, which is the longest I'll run until next Saturday.

 This is my most hated bridge. Sure, it looks cool, but it's one of those that bounces up and down as you run and it messes up my stride something fierce.

This is someone's sculpture garden on the bike path that I run down. I love that there are so many sculptures all around town.

After my run, I made breakfast for lunch, hash browns saute'd veggies with leftover salmon, parmesan cheeesy eggs and toast. Then I did some work in the garden to give myself time to digest before I rode about 17 windy miles on my time trial bike.

I got home, cleaned-up and then John and I took our friend Ginger out for a belated birthday dinner at 30Hop. After we ate, we showed Ginger the outdoor, rooftop patio and we played with the ceiling heaters that looked like toaster ovend to us.

By the time we got home, it was after 8 o'clock and I was ready for bed. I love being old.

Friday, April 03, 2015

...Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain.

The weather here in Iowa has been amazing lately. It's been in the 60's and 70's this week. The winds have been pretty crazy, but they always are in the Spring. I guess those winds will build up our running and cycling legs.

This Friday's cat photos start with this nerd girl's dream. My man reading a zombie book, while petting his cat. Sigh.

Last night I introduced Archie to bubbles. He was a little scared at first, but then got bolder. I doubt they'll ever replace the red dot for him, but I might just keep trying because it's fun to mess with him.

Have a wonderful weekend. I hope you are all able to play outside and annoy your pets.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Stinky is a Cardinals fan and had the cajones to wear her Cards get-up to Wrigley field last year.
When Coadster was in high school, I made a list of all the things I wanted to help her experience before she graduated. I can't remember the whole list, but one of the things was for her to see a Broadway show and another was a road trip  to California. I was able to make those two things happen for her, but I never got her to a Cubs game at Wrigley field.

Fast forward to January of this year, when we were in Austin, Texas. We kept asking Coadster what she wanted for her college graduation present. She finally got it down to two options. She either wanted a stereo with a turntable and components or she wanted a trip to see the Chicago Cubs, with our family at Wrigley Field. She chose the latter and I thought that was great.

Even better? Was that there just happens to be a home game on the weekend of her 23rd birthday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. We got tickets to one of the rooftop seats, where you get unlimited food and drinks. The best part? A good friend of mine's parents own a condo on the Gold Coast, but have retired to another town, and they are letting us stay there for the weekend, and all we have to do is pay the cleaning fee. How great is that?

So, in May, Stinky and her boyfriend, Coadster and her boyfriend and John and I will all head to Chicago, with a cool condo to stay in, a Cubs game to go to and a birthday to celebrate. I love it when everything comes together.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's a Beautiful Day

On Sunday, our legs were fried from the run the day before. We had already committed to doing trail work on the mountain bike trails, but we figured it would take us a couple of hours and we contemplated maybe doing a little ride or swim after we were done.

I love it that people put up weird masks and trolls along the trails. I don't always see them when I'm riding, because I'm trying hard to make sure I don't hit a root or a rock.

We thought we'd be picking up sticks and lopping off a few limbs and cutting down dreaded sticker bushes, but what we found were a lot of downed trees and I wished I had a machete, instead of just loppers to clear up all of the brush on the trails.

 I love this part of the trail. It's all pine trees and I can pretend like I'm in Colorado instead of Iowa.

With all of the downed trees and extra work, the two hours we thought we'd work, turned into closer to 4 hours. By the time we finally finished, I was starving and sore and tired. I had a little migraine on and off all day. It had been 3 weeks and two days since I had had one, so I couldn't really complain, they just make me more tired than usual.

 John thought we should leave this tree down. He thought it would make a nice barrier and he was sure he could ride it. Uh huh. Sure...We cut it out of the trail.

After we finished, John and one of the other guys and I headed to Big Grove. I told you I was hungry. Of course, we couldn't eat all of the food we ordered, but we did have wonderful leftovers for  our work lunches on Monday.

So, the trails are cleaned-up and ready to ride...As soon as they dry up. Whenever that will be.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Look Around Your World, Pretty Baby. Is it Everything You Hoped It'd Be?

Our Friday team party was just fine. I had to get up and speak and that makes me nervous, but since I'm on the board, I have to just accept it.

The above is a photo of all the women on my team who showed up. We have junior riders in grade school and high school on up to masters riders who are 55 years old. It's a nice spectrum.

When we got back from the party, John and I started watching X-Files on Netflix streaming. I never got to watch it when it first came on because my daughters were young and too scared. It seems a little dated now, but it's still fun so far.

On Saturday I woke up and read my book for about an hour or so, and then John and I got ready to run. This is the 4th year we've signed up for the 25K mostly trail running race and also the 4th year that we did a pre-run together.

The route is really beautiful. It starts on a crushed limestone trail in Solon, Iowa and wends its way through some farmland, some gigantic lakeside estates and then heads to the spillway and wooded trails, before you take the not-so-picturesque few miles back on the highway.

A photo by the glow of my obnoxiously orange jacket.
 I was worried my feet issues from my Wednesday run would plague me, so we parked one of our cars a little bit further than the halfway point and the other car at the start/finish, in case I needed to quit early. John brought me the smaller pads for my feet and I tried them out that day. They actually worked really well. My feet didn't hurt too badly the entire run. Of course, they were pretty numb after I got them all wet crossing the spillway and then running down a windy highway in 40'ish degree temperatures...

In this race, the weather conditions are everything. The first time I did the race, I had been training all Winter in 20 degree temperatures and then, on the day of the race, it warmed up to almost 90 degrees in the middle of the race. I got heat stroke and severely dehydrated, and couldn't finish the race. Two years ago, we had about 6 inches of snow on the ground and it takes so much effort to pick your legs up in those conditions. Last year, it was a little ice and snow mixed in with tons of slippery mud. My fastest time for this was 3:04:11. So, my goal for this year is 3 hours or less. On Saturday, the conditions were pretty good. Temps in the 40's and only a little mud here and there. We finished our pre-run in 3:00:20. Only 20 seconds off of my goal time. Now, I just have to hope it doesn't , rain, hail, tornado or blizzard and I might have a shot of reaching my goal time.

 John and I both felt pretty good after the run. According to MapMyRun, we burnt 2500 calories and according to my scale, I lost 5 lbs (I'm sure that was all water/sweat weight). A good person would look at that and think they should refrain from eating much, in order to get their weight down and help their future times. John and I looked at those numbers and said, "Woohoo! Let's get Mexican, with a side of guacamole...And, wait. It's two-for-one margaritas?! Sign us up!" Yeah. We're probably not the best at sacrificing for our races...

So, I'd call our pre-run a big success. My feet didn't hurt much, we each only had one blister to show for it, I am almost at my goal time, and best of all, we had guilt-free Mexican food and margaritas.