Thursday, October 30, 2014

He Got the Action, He Got the Motion

 So, yesterday was National Cat Day? Oops! Looks like I missed that one on my blog. I'll just make up for it today. Archie helped sniff out my Halloween costume this week. I now have everything for it. I just have to figure out how to strap that broom to my bike and affix the witch's hat to my helmet somehow. Don't worry, I'll be sure to show you all the finished product.

Last night, Archie kept me company while I finished my latest ghost story, The Ghosts of Belfast. Today I am starting Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I think I'll probably continue my Halloween, scary reading into November for a while too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Until We Dream of Life and Life Becomes a Dream

 Here in Iowa, we don't always get Spring or Fall. It can go from Summer to Winter, seemingly in a day. So, this Fall has been particularly amazing. It has been perfect temperatures, with some rain, but not too much and the trees are almost overwhelming in their colors.

 Basically, this post will be me bragging about how incredible our Sunday bike ride to Kalona was. it was a beautiful Sunday with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60's. We went out a little later, so John and I could celebrate his mom's birthday by taking her out to brunch.

 By the time we rode to Kalona, ate and drank at the brewery and then started back home, the sun was already casting long shadows against the dried, and as of yet, unharvested corn, making for more great alien looking cyclist shadow photos. My favorite.

 I love all of the colors and textures of the countryside. I will miss that this Winter when everything is different shades of gray.

All of that beautiful gravel riding gave John a flat tire, so we were detained for about 10 or 15 minutes while he fixed it and got his CO2 cartridges to work. We made it past Hills and almost to Iowa City before we lost our sunlight. Luckily, we brought our lights. Next weekend, we'll be lucky if we get into the 50's for temps. We were happy to be able to enjoy the last warm days of Fall while they lasted.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And If You Hear of Something Good, Don't Hold Back, Pass It Around!

We raced Bobber's CX this weekend and it's one of my favorite races of the year. Not just because it is in our own backyard and most of our friends come by, but mostly because they offer so many categories for women. I know I complain all the time about this, but normally there are 2 categories for women. You are either a beginner or you race with fastest girls. It's maddening, especially since there are tons of different categories for men. I've had officials tell me they can't add more categories because they don't get that many women, but if there were more categories, I think more women would race AND it doesn't take much at all to shuffle an extra category in with another race (especially if not that many women are racing it). Offer us shwag or a funky medal/trophy as a prize. if we want to win money, we can put on our big girl chamois and race in the open women's. But as a 50+ slower racer, I'd be happy to have the option not to race with the hotshots in their 20's and 30's (or even a hotshot in her 50's). Anyway, I will always a race that supports more options for women. Yea Bobber's CX!

 John had a good race for the most part. He crashed on a root at the beginning and then had to make up a bunch of places he lost because of that. He was leading the race for most of it, but he said fighting so hard to catch up at the beginning, killed him on the last lap. Like he said, he never feels bad losing to the guy he lost to, because that guy is an amazing racer.

Thanks Angy Snoop for the photo.
 Since I had so many options to race, I signed up for two and brought my mountain bike. My plan was to ride my mountain bike in the master's women's race and my CX bike in the Cat 3 women's race with a nice 3 hour break in between. It was a blast to ride a mountain bike. I had never done it before and I loved it. Of course, I'm sure it slowed me down some, but I figured out of the 3 women racing the master's race, it was a pretty sure bet I'd get 2nd, so I didn't think it was a huge gamble to try the mountain bike. I was right. I did get 2nd out all the master's women and 1st in the 45+ master's category.
Thanks Angy Snoop for the photo
 What I love about these series of photos, is the ridiculous faces I'm making in pretty much every single one. Hey, at least I'm amusing when I race.

Thanks, Angy Snoop for the photo.

 So, while I was racing, I noticed that problem with my calf starting to flare up again. it was fine when I was riding, but any time I had to get off and run uphill or in the sand, it would hurt. I thought about DNF'ing at one point, but I thought I could tough it out...And I did. But I decided not to do the 2nd race. After I saw how swollen my calf was, I'm sure I made the right decision. I will spend the rest of this week, trying to stay off of my fatted calf as much as possible, in hopes of racing next weekend at Spooky CX. Wish me luck!

 After the race, we got to play with our friends. We started drinking pretty early, and probably had a little TOO much fun, but that's not really much of a problem. There really is no such thing as too much fun, is there?

All in all, I ended the day with a t-shirt I won in the participation raffle and a new frisbee I won in the raffle tickets I paid for and 1st place master's 45+ women's medal. See why I love this race so much?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Set Me Up My Friend. I'm Running Low

 Lately, my blog is all about fixing up my house and playing outside, but that's only because it reflects my life. And I'm okay with that. On Wednesday, I stayed home so a company could come over and fill up the ground underneath part of our garage with some filler stuff to make it even with the other part. Apparently, it had settling issues. Anyway, that meant I had a day to get stuff done around the house.

 I made some black bean soup in the crock pot, read some of my new book, tried to work on organizing our 5 million gloves and socks and hats that we have previously just thrown into drawers and then wondered why we couldn't find anything that matched, and tried to keep Archie awake so he would quit coming in our room and waking me up several times a night (that in itself was a full-time job).

 As soon as the guy was done with the work, I set out to run, only to be stopped short by my neighbor in the open field with his new bulldog puppy.What a great way to get stopped.

I headed out to hickory Hill Park to do a trail run. My calf was still tight, but it was so nice out, I just wanted to run no matter what. It was so worth it and I felt pretty strong too.

Of course, when I got done, my calf was making me limp around. So, now I'll try to behave and wait for it to stop hurting, and then do shorter more frequent runs and see if that helps. I don't regret a thing with that run, though. October in Iowa can be magnificent when it wants

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We'll Drive On and Follow the Sun, Making Sunday Go On and On.

 Sunday was a great day. We finally didn't have a race and we had a whole day to play. The weather was perfect too. cool enough to wear my wool cap, but warm enough not to have to wear gloves or big coats or anything.

 I ran my 6 mile route in the morning. It was so wonderful, people had their Halloween decorations up, my iPhone was playing the best songs, but then at the end, my calf got crazy sore and tight. I had to stop and walk the last 1/2 mile or so. Still so worth it.

 At noon, John and I helped out a friend of ours try to get Union members out to vote and protect their interests by picking the best candidates. We wandered around North Liberty and knocked on doors and left info and felt like we did our part. Then we went to Sugar Bottom beach where we were going to meet a few people to practice riding our bikes on sand to prepare for a race this weekend.

 The two people who said they were coming to practice, both backed-out at the last minute. So, we figured it was just us. We decided to explore any trail we saw around there. The leaves were amazing all around the lake. We then went back to the playground to ride a little sand and saw two of our bike racer friends hanging out there. At first I was confused and thought it was a great coincidence that they just happened to be there. Then I realized that they saw our post up and decided to practice with us. Score!

 At first we rode on the sand in the playground, but then John decided to try the beach out. It was all deserted, so we weren't ruining things for any kids who wanted to play. The beach was so damn fun. Half of the sand was wet, so it was really really easy to ride, but then there were thicker, drier patches that made our bikes fishtail like crazy underneath us and that was even more fun.

 How cool does that look?

 Initially, I thought my calf hurt so much because of these lovely bruises I acquired at the last Cyclocross race I did, but now I think it's because I'm running so sporadically and I'm old, so my muscles and tendons are not nearly as supple as they used to be. So, as soon as my calf feels a little less sore, I'm going to try to do shorter runs almost every day of the week. I'll let you all know how that works.

Two of the guys we rode with decided to take their cyclocross bikes on the mountain bike trails, but John and I were pretty fried from the race the day before and our runs earlier in the day, so we opted to go to the Brew Pub in Solon for 2 for 1 drinks and dinner over happy hour. It was a particularly happy hour for me after a very happy day. I love Fall in Iowa.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Would Teach My Feet to Fly

 So, this week's race report is brought to you by menopausal migraines. Everyone's favorite...Or not. That migraine I got the weekend before, never really let-up. It got better enough to be a dull pain, and it got worse a couple of times and I had to actually take my meds to be functional, but man is it draining to be in constant pain for that long. I know...Wah, wah, wah.

 I love going to Des Moines races, because there are actually women my age there and they usually have a masters category for women, which can be very, very rare. It's nice to talk to women my age, who are also going through THE CHANGE and can commiserate with me when I say, "With all these hormone fluctuations, I have no idea who is going to show up for my races on any given weekend" or "With hot flashes, being menopausal during the Winter in Iowa is almost tolerable"...

 Anyway, last Saturday's race taught me many lessons. #1. No matter how hungry you think you are, do NOT eat quiche two hours before your race. #2. Now that I'm a little more comfortable with cyclocross in general, I don't need to continually ride and reride the course all day long before my race...ESPECIALLY if it is a muddy course that I spend much time slogging or "running" through. I am too old to recover from that before my race. #3. Don't do a really hard double work-out 2 days before my race. See the part in number 2 where I say I'm too old to recover from that. #4. Set up a trainer and spin on it a little before the race. I start out way too slowly and by the time I get warmed-up, it's too late and all the fast girls are getting ready to lap me. Most importantly, I need to stop being almost 50 years old, it's really not helping my results at all.

 That having been said, I raced the 45+ women's race. There were only 3 women in my race and I finished solidly in the middle. I am okay with that. Of course, I was still behind the last girl in the open race, so the next time they don't have a master's category, I might be watching all of the other racer's behinds...Still not a bad thing. Mostly, my results don't matter. Sure, I will keep trying to get better and faster, but I love to race CX no matter what my results are and I love the people I meet at the races; What else am I going to do? Sit around and watch TV all day on the weekends? Probably not.

It's nice when everyone in my race makes the podium.

Friday, October 17, 2014

On a Morning From a Bogart Movie

 Today is Friday and my attention span disappeared, so you get cat photos. Lots and lots of cat photos. Cats in bags and boxes and on futons.

 Heidi looks adorable in a bag.

 Don't worry. I watched him closely, but Archie pisses me off enough sometimes that I'm tempted to give him an unsupervised room full of plastic bags.

We set up the new futon on the dormer room. Now it is a proper guest room/reading room. Right now we have it set-up in the chaise lounge position, but we might play with other settings. It's the perfect reading furniture right now and the cats seem to dig it as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Watch Me As I Gravitate

This is my trainer set-up. That block of wood is used to elevate my front wheel so I can pretend I'm riding uphill.
 In the past, I haven't trained very well for Cyclo-cross season. I would work on skills and ride my bike on the road and get a run in or so, because that's what I liked. Not surprisingly, I'm not very good at CX. So, this year, I thought I'd try something new. I've heard good things about this training everyone has been talking about...

My view from the trainer. The other bikes want to play chicken.
So, twice a week, I get up at the ass crack of dawn and get on my trainer and work on pedaling my bike really, really fast and really, really hard for about 45 minutes, and then I go inside and do sit-ups and push-ups and leg lifts. Intervals, is what everyone says will make me stronger. There are these things called Tabata intervals. I go as hard as I can for 20 seconds on my bike, then rest for 10 seconds and do that 8 times. Four. Whole. Minutes. And I feel like I'm going to die when I'm done. I do those at the end of my work-out, so I'm already ready to puke, but those things put me over the edge. I'll let you know how that works for me...

Oh, and this is what Iowa looks like right now. Nice, huh?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Brace Yourself as the Beat Hits Ya.

 So, when you race, there are a few things you worry about. For me, my first is, "I hope I don't get sick." Bam! If I didn't wake up with a migraine on Saturday morning. The bad kind that makes me puke. So, I took my meds and that means I can't race. We had planned on racing both days at Dan Ryan Woods on the South side suburbs of Chicago and rented a hotel room. John decided not to race on Saturday either. I felt badly about that, but he said he wasn't ready and had to get a wheel trued and something else. Anyway, he was very gracious about the whole thing.

We made it to Chicago around 3 on Saturday, checked out the course and then made it to our hotel room. That evening we met my friend Sarah and her boyfriend and a friend of theirs at the Kinderhook Tap. The food and the drinks were lovely and it was great to see Sarah.

 The second thing I think before a bike race, "Man, I hope I don't crash." I woke up on Sunday with a much milder migraine and decided to try and race, but just know that I wouldn't be very strong. I figured I didn't know anyone there, and if I sucked hard, no one would know who I was or remember, and I'd get to ride the fun course. My last preride lap before my race, I tried to get up this hill in the single track section, that I hadn't been able to ride before. I pedaled my ass off, to get enough momentum. I actually made it and was all, "Yea me!" when Bam! I hit a root and went careening into a tree and then side endo'ed off my bike. I hurt both my shoulders in the crash and somehow slammed my middle finger into a tree. I didn't feel too terribly bad, just a little shaken, so I decided to still race anyway.

 The third thing I worry about before a race is, "Well, at least I I hope I don't have a mechanical during my race..." And Bam! If I didn't drop my chain after going over the barriers. I had too much momentum and almost tripped over the barrier, causing me to accidentally slam my bike too hard into the ground and my chain to drop off. I was already at the back, it just put me further behind.

 Needless to say, I was very last in my race...Besides the 3 women who didn't finish for whatever reason. It was fine, though. I know that the menopause and migraines will be a huge factor in my racing for the next however many years (hopefully, only a few more, please). So, right now all I can do is suck it up and deal and appreciate the times when my hormones aren't raging or crashing (however many minutes a month that might be). I also had a great time riding my bike around the course all day and hanging out with my friend, Sarah the night before and John was such a great support during my crappy race.

This is my finger the day after. John told me to elevate it and Monday morning at work gave me plenty of reasons and motivation to "elevate" my middle finger.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

There's Hundreds of People Like You and Me

I painted this for a friend of mine last week. I miss drawing and painting, but mostly painting. A co-worker gave me a sketch book for my birthday this year. It's about the size of a paperback, so I've been carrying it around in my messenger bag, and drawing stuff as it comes to me. It's hard to fit in all the stuff I love to do, but I hope I can work in more artsy-fartsy stuff in the mix this year.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Oh no. Not Me. I Never Lost Control.

 this is the house and garden edition of  my blog. This weekend, we spent most of Saturday FINALLY finishing up our bedroom. On Friday night, I finished cleaning the other book shelf. The one that contains all of my comic books. Cleaning them all off made it very hard for me to continue cleaning. I forgot I had so many and then I just wanted to sit around and look at them, but I was good and soldiered on...

 ...Okay. After I went through my books and figured out what I wanted to read this month for Halloween.

 This was a lovely little surprise our garden gave us. I went out there to dig up my gladiola bulbs, and saw that one of them was a late bloomer. The only pink one I planted bloomed this week. Spectacular!

 The cats have been having a field day with all of this cleaning and moving of furniture. It's like we gave them Christmas in October.

 It's amazing how high Archie can jump for being as heavy as he is.

 I don't know what the cats are going to do to amuse themselves when we're done moving furniture around...

Here is part of the room, all cleaned and tidied and put back together. There are two dressers and a closet and another window behind this, so it really isn't this small. As you can see, there is shelf space for more books. I'll have to work on that...