Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Into the Blue Again, After the Money's Gone

 On one of the last days of my blog's 10th anniversary, I give to you my end of the year post for 2006. Holy cow! What a difference 9 years makes in a girl's life:

Oh, what the hell. We only have a few days left, so I thought I'd take a little look back at the year 2006 through photos. I'm also going to attempt a miraculous feat here - I'm going to try to find something good in everything that happened. Wish me luck.
The year started out very mixed. In February, one of our kinda/sorta neighbors died. He was also a beloved history professor and father. It was sudden and awful and Coadster took it very hard. I'm not sure if I can find much good in that; but we also got our digital camera around the same time and could start documenting all the wonders of Iowa City. Okay, I realize I'm fudging on this very first one, but you try to find something positive in a really wonderful man dying.

T. S. Eliot wasn't kidding, April was by far the cruelest month. Our neighborhood was rocked by a tornado and to this day, it looks so stark without any trees. I've thought a lot about the good in this one and it's easy. No one in our town died or was injured. Seriously, nothing else- not even the money, the terror it created or inconveniences matter.

My summer was spent catching-up in every way imaginable. I had to juggle money and time and sanity. (and I had very little of that to mess with, as you well know) In the end, I feel that I did a lot of things half-assed, (sorry about how little time I spent in the garden, K.) but it was still all good enough and we actually had a lot of fun too.

In July, after too much wine, I decided it would be a great idea to ride the last day (50 miles) of RAGBRAI. I've been very careful about what I've agreed to ever since. It was hot, sweaty, my ass was sore for several weeks after, and though earlier in the week my friends rode with Lance Armstrong's entourage, I didn't see any sign of John Kerry on the road to Muscatine.
It was also crazy and fun and I am oh, so glad I did it. Would I do it again? Um, only if I had the proper bike and gear and enough water.

In August, the girls and I took a trip to Minneapolis to see one of my many friends named S. and get away from the tornado reconstruction that was still going on. After we got back, we found out that our toilet had been running the whole time we were gone and my water bill was almost $400 dollars. Apparently, I was supposed to learn some karmic lesson about finances this year, but I'm not sure what it was. Please don't rat me out to the universe, I don't want to have to keep losing money until I say "uncle" or "now, I finally get it."

The Fall came just as quickly as the Summer and I found myself caught-up in teenage hell. Stinky had her thirteenth birthday party that went all kinds of out of control and my treat bag from it contained many new gray hairs, a need for blood pressure meds, and a pronounced nervous tic. I also learned one of those difficult life lessons - no more teenage parties ever!

Finally, the year ended much better than it started. A couple of my family members let me borrow their copies of old family photos to scan. It has been so great. I'm still not quite through with that project, but I don't think it will go much further into 2007.
Now, I'm looking forward to the new year and hoping it's much safer, happier, less expensive and freer from natural disasters than 2006.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

You and Me Burning Matches

Well, we've had some weather here in the last 24 hours...Actually, almost ALL the weather. It rained, it sleeted, it ice pelleted, it was windy, it snowed...Okay. I guess I mean we had all of the BAD weather.

It's supposed to get a lot colder in the next couple of days, so I woke up this morning at 5 and went running on the fresh snow while it was still 27 degrees out, with very little wind. I forgot how much harder it is to run on snow, than just running on pavement. If you ever want a killer calf work-out, run uphill, in the snow. Yow! Since I've never run on a treadmill before, I have plenty of good cold weather gear and even before I had the proper gear, I've been running in below zero temps since the 70's in my big, bulky, cotton sweat pants. So, my body is used to it.

All of this is leading to (FINALLY!) my month of December. Usually, December is my "off" month. After a full 9 months of different kinds of racing, I need a month to not train or race and just do whatever I feel like. Last year, we were training for CX Nationals in January, so I made January my off month and started doing real training in February. It really set me back.

Since I ended up taking both October and November as "off" months this year, I decided to use December as a build-up month. I've been trying to be healthy about building up my miles for running and swimming and I've only done bike rides, when it was possible to ride outside. Next month, I'll start increasing intensity, and distance for running and swimming and I'll start doing my Arnie Baker bike trainer work-outs twice a week. It will be interesting to see how next racing season plays out.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A World Where Roses Bloom

Well, kids. My computer died a couple of days before Christmas, so I'm left blogging only at work. John asked a co-worker if we could pay him to work on fixing it and it's in his hands now.

Since my Christmas weekend was so amazing, I thought I'd do a weekend stats post. 

Movies watched: 4. One in the theater - STAR WARS! Duh. It was a fun family movie. 3 DVDs - The Hangover (nothing like watching an inappropriate movie with your kin on Christmas Eve, P. S. I Love You (yeah, I know it's super cheesy, but who cares), The Nativity (a bizarre, goofy, British, Christmas movie starring a certain Hobbit.

Christmas presents given and received. Who cares, really. The most important thing was having all that time with John and my kids and their boyfriends...Although, the ceramic fox spoon holder thingy that Coadster got us, was pretty adorable.

 Best Christmas tradition - Sushi for lunch.

Food made - Creamy pesto tortellini with bread and many spreads, veggie lasagna with salad and many choices for salad fixin's, turkey melts with ginger,cashew, carrot soup, black bean quinoa enchilada bake, French toast, and many, many snacks.

Games played - 1 Cards Against Humanity. Nothing like playing innapropriate games with your kin on Christmas night.

Playing done: 18.5 miles of running, 26.7 miles of bike riding, and 1 mile of lap swimming.

Dates gone on: 1 After Coadster went to Des Moines on Saturday, John and I decided to have dinner and drinks at Kalona Brewery. Pretty damn festive, huh?

Books read: 1 ended and 1 started. "Unbroken" is the one I started and it is an engrossing read. It's written almost like a screenplay.

Cat annoyances? Too many to count.

I hope your holiday weekend was amazing as mine...Except the whole cat thing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ooooohh, She's a LIttle Runaway

My girls around Christmas time when they were much younger.                                                                                            

 Well. I have one more day to get through at work, and then I get 4 days off. Yea! Today I will use an old blog post from the first year I started this, 10 years ago. It's about running outside at Christmas time and adorable, naughty pets. Enjoy:

Winter makes running so much more interesting. Besides the fact that I have to wear about 50 layers when it's cold, it's almost always dark out by the time I go running after work and I can't see very well in the dark. One night last month while I was running, a cat came up to me on the sidewalk right off of a driveway and meowed. I meowed back and we had a little conversation. I looked up and a woman who I assume was the owner of the cat was standing on the other side of her minivan looking extremely concerned (what? WHAT?!).

On Saturday I had another encounter with someone else's pet while I was running. I was nearing the top of that hill on Rochester Street when this cute teenaged dog came running almost right into me. She didn't attack me, she just wanted some attention. She was the sweetest Viszla and so I stopped and looked at her collar to see if there was an address from that neighborhood where I could take her home. I found an AKC tag and another tag with her name, Kimball and a phone number with an area code that I couldn't place. I figured I'd try to keep running to see if she would go home but she just kept following me.

She had no concept of cars or traffic or death, evidently and she would just run into the middle of the street when she heard or saw something that interested her. I tried to yell at her and sometimes she would listen and sometimes she wouldn't. After all, I wasn't the boss of her. All the cars that almost hit her, stopped and gave me those awful shaming looks and rolled eyes through their car windows because they thought I was her owner. One car even stopped and rolled down their window so I could defend myself. They were sympathetic and we were all at a loss as to what to do. So, they drove on and I tried to run in more residential streets with less traffic. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and I stopped and grabbed her collar and walked her to my house the 5 or 6 blocks left. She was so sad that she couldn't run around and play in the traffic.

When I got home with her, I called the number which got me to someone in Oregon. She gave me the owner's address and phone number in Iowa City. I called them and got their voice mail. I drove to their house with the dog because I thought maybe they were in the neighborhood somewhere looking for her. No one was home. We went back home and I tried calling again. Kimball parked herself at Stinky's feet because Stinky was eating tortilla chips and the snack dust was raining down all around her.

I had to pick Coadster up at her friend's swim meet and then we were going to be gone most of the day, so I called one more time with no answer. Then I had to call the animal shelter. I felt like shit taking her there but I'm not allowed to have a dog in my apartment and I didn't know when we'd be back. I left one last message at Kimball's owner's house to let them know where she was and gave the animal shelter all her info when they came for her.

When we got back we had four voice mail messages from Kimball's owners. First they were still looking for her then they called to tell me the animal shelter called them and then later that night they called and thanked me and offered me money for taking care of her. I think they were just happy nobody stole her because she was so damn cute.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tried it Out, It's Like Nothing You've Ever Seen

Today I'm going to cover my year in racing. It started with a bang. We went down to Austin, Texas for Cyclocross Nationals. I was going to do two races, but realized I was catching a cold after the first one. Which was too bad, because I really liked that course. I did get to do my biggest race to date. There were 102 women in my race. Wow.

 So, here are my race stats for the year: 30 races altogether. 6 running, 5 cycle road racing, 1 cycle gravel road race, 1 cycle gravel time trial, 2 cycle road time trials, 1 mountain bike time trial, 1 mountain bike regular race, 1 adventure race, 1 triathlon, 1 duathlon, 10 cyclocross races. Boom! That's actually a lot less than I normally do, but there was a reason for that. This year, my goal was to race less, train more and try to figure out how to do certain races better and make a few races a priority, instead of making every race a priority, which really makes it so that no race is a priority.

You certainly couldn't tell by this photo that I PR'ed in the race this year....
 My first priority race was the Hawkeye 25K in April. It's a 25K running race on roads, gravel paths and crazy, hilly, single track. I realized during our pre-run, that I went so much slower, but that made me almost finish in a faster time than I had ever previously raced it. So, I got real smart and figured I needed to pace myself better. I made myself slow down at the beginning of the race, which gave me more energy at the end of the race, and helped me finish it 20 some minutes faster than I had ever run it before. Yea!

Thanks to my sister-in-law for the photo.
  I also got to do another adventure race with my brother. I really love this race. I wasn't super strong at it this year, but the water was nice and high and we finished our canoe section WAY faster than we did the last time we did it. I had a real problem doing the running part of triathlons this year. I'm not sure what I need to fix it, or why it was so bad this year, but both triathlon type races I did this year, my legs felt like I had lead weights on them during the entire run.

Photo credit Lisa Eggers-Robertson.

 I try to do new things every year, whether it's a new kind of race, or a new discipline and this year, I did a few new things, either by choice, or just by the way things happened. I did my first duathlon, because there was e-coli in the water and they had to replace the swim with more running. Boy, did that work for me, since I suck at the swim anyway. That was the first race like that where I did well in the final run. I got my fastest 5K time in a tri/duathlon ever! Again...Who the hell knows why.

I did my first real mountain bike race this year too. I always said I wouldn't race mountain bikes because I wanted to have one thing that I just did for fun, but I decided to race anyway and I thought it was a lot of fun. I was too scared to ride a couple of parts that all of the other women I raced could ride, but it didn't hold me back too much and I ended up doing pretty well in my race. Will I do more mountain bike races? I'm not sure. It might depend on whether I can get more guts up to ride the scarier stuff.

Photo credit Paul Savala

Another new race I did was a gravel TT. I've done gravel races before, but I've never felt comfortable pack racing...Especially on gravel, so a TT really appealed to me. I loved the race, I just have to figure out the hydration on my CX bike, because I don't have bottle cages and it was insanely hot that day.

CX is always my favorite type of racing and I'm not necessarily all that great at it. I wanted to race less road over the Summer, so I wouldn't be so tired by the end of the season. I also switched to flat pedals and made sure to warm-up on a trainer before races. How did it work? I thought the flat pedals worked well for now. I may switch back at some point, but I learned a lot, changing my pedal choice up. The trainer made a HUGE difference. Older people, like myself, need a lot more warm-up time and I noticed a big, positive difference in my starts. Since I got sick in October and my CX racing season pretty much went to shit, I didn't get to find out if not racing so much in the Spring and Summer helped me at the end of my season or not. Maybe we'll find out next year.

What I got out of my racing season this year, is that it's good to race a little less, learn how to train for a few A races and not worry about every race, and always, always, always have fun. I hope to have even more fun next year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

"Tis the Season to Be Jolly

My favorite barn to run past.

 My weekend was pretty close to perfect. We just did whatever we wanted and didn't really worry about getting stuff done, or the house cleaned or stress ourselves out in any way. It might be a first, for the weekend before Christmas...

Saturday, without trying to be a grown-up and just do what I wanted when I wanted, was really lovely. I slept-in until about 8. John and I watched a professional cyclocross race on-line while I drank tea, and then I read my book for about an hour. It was pretty chilly, and since I was going to run my 6 mile route for the first time in about a month, I wanted to make sure I was well layered.

My run was very nice. I didn't go super fast, but things on my person didn't hurt, so that was a big victory.

Once I got home, I made a nice lunch of leftovers. we took a nap and then packed-up and went to the rec services building to swim. We swam for about an hour and since the steam room was closed for maintenance, we had to suffer in the sauna...Poor us. Our life is so hard.

Following along on our day of leisure, we decided to do a date night. We went to the new Brewlab in Iowa City. They don't have any of their own brews and no food yet, but we did try some other craft beers. We were the only people in the joint, so I hope they get more people once they get things rolling.

We went to The Mill for dinner. The students are gone for break, so it was also pretty quiet and mellow. We went home and watched the  movie, Ex Machina.

a friend looking adorable and helping with the trail maintenance.

Sunday was just as nice. We met people at the Cross-country ski trails to do some maintenance. You know...For if it ever snows at all this Winter.

When we finished working, we went home and got ready for another, nice 30 mile bike ride. The South winds were pretty strong, which explained the 50 degrees. So, going out was a little rough, but coming back home, we barely had to pedal. I thought I could do a little run right after my bike ride, but hell no! My legs mutinied, so I did a VERY slow 2 miles and called it good.

The very best thing about this weekend, was that I didn't have a migraine. Not even a smidge. Talk about your stress-free weekends...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hang It on the Shelf in Good Health and in Good Time

Here's me trying to remember to drink more water in the Badlands this Summer.

Well, I guess it's as good a time as any to do my 2015 year in health post today. As most of you know, since my mom died at such a young age from a stroke, I do everything I can to stay healthy. I haven't always succeeded in keeping my stress levels down or my diet as healthy as possible, but I seem to be getting better with age.

Here were my stats from my last annual appointment: Pulse - 56, Blood Pressure - 112/68, Body Temp - 97.2 F (I must run cold?), Height - Just under 5'7" (I used to be 5'8" and 3/4, so I'm really shrinking), Weight - None of your damn business! but I will say I'm about 10 lbs less than I have been the last few years and still 15 lbs over what I was before I started racing bikes and used to run  about 40'ish miles a week...My fasting cholesterol was drawn this year and it was pretty good. My overall cholesterol was 156. My HDL was 121 and my LDL was 25. My Triglycerides were 51. That's all pretty good. The only thing that worries me was that 3 years ago when I was feeling super tired and weak and having increased migraines, I went to the doctor to make sure there wasn't anything serious wrong with me and they did a full blood work-up. Everything turned out pretty well, basically all of my weakness and stuff was being caused by the stupid menopause, except for a test they did for kidney function. It was a little below normal and I'm not sure how that works. Is it one of those things that just happens to everyone as they get older, or is it because I took so much Advil for so long, because of my migraines?  Most of my older family members were smokers, so strokes and cancer got to them long before they could develop diabetes or kidney diseases...I'm not sure, but, being me, I did research it some and it sounds like I need to make sure I hydrate like hell, don't eat too much protein and stay away from salt as much as possible. Also, watch the alcohol intake.

Anyway, for 50, I think I'm doing pretty good on the health front. I didn't have any horrible injuries this year. I do wear a strap thingy on my left knee and some metatarsalgia pads in my shoes when I run, so I sometimes feel like I'm being held together with duct tape. I'm also plugging along with the menopausal "fun". Earlier this year, I thought I was almost done with the whole business, I hardly had any migraines and the hormones seemed to be leveling off, but then the Fall brought a whole new level of migraine frustration and all I can do is take the crap when and  how it gets flung at me.

For next year, my health goals are to try to take less Advil when dealing with the migraines, drink more water and drink less alcohol. I want to eat less and better and hopefully lose at least another 10 lbs. I have started doing more sit-ups and some push-ups and every morning I MEAN to start doing my sun salutations, but haven't quite managed it yet, but I'm sure I'll get better about yoga and stretching in the new year. Most importantly, I want to work on relaxing and having fun. The fun factor was really high this year and I want to keep that ball rolling. Salud!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Some day, When I'm Awfully Low. When the World is Cold...

 Soooo, it's still my 10th anniversary of my blog, and since it doesn't look like we're going to have a white Christmas this year, I thought I'd put up this old post about a bad sledding accident many years ago, where I was a huge mess in every way possible in front of my poor kid. Here it is:

Yesterday Stinky and I went sledding at Hickory Hill Park. The hill was packed with a lot of kids from Stinky's school and since we got there later in the day, according to the laws of sled hill seniority, we had to hang out on the bad side of the hill. What makes that side of the hill so bad is that there is this odd looking man hole cover thing that rises almost a foot out of the ground in the middle of the field at the bottom of the hill. It's pretty dangerous and I wish they would surround it with hay bails or something but instead, they just tried to mark it with a tall rusty pole that someone painted green.

Stinky and I got on the sled (she was in the back and I was in the front) and scooched ourselves with our hands and feet far enough off the top of the hill so the sled could start zipping down unaided. We were riding one of those inflatable sleds that look kind of like an inner tube but are impossible to steer. Of course, we plowed right into the pole and slammed into the manhole cover thing. Stinky had the foresight to slip back behind the sled before we hit it, but I held on, thinking it might give me some cushion. Once I hit the manhole cover, I was propelled upside down and hit the ground on my head, neck and shoulder and then the whole right side of my body slammed down after.

There was a couple cross-country skiing right by there when we crashed. The woman stopped and asked me if I was okay. I think I said something like, "Huh? Oh yeah. Um, I think I hit my head." Then she started getting on my shit about the pole and how I needed to put it back in the ground so that no one else made the same mistake. Yeah, even if I had been together enough, I wouldn't have worried about it. The problem has never been that people can't see the manhole cover, it was always more that it's hard to steer around it. I told her that the pole caused more pain than the manhole cover did. Then she got all exasperated and put down her ski poles.

"I guess, I'll just have to do it then." She tried, but of course the ground was frozen and it wouldn't work and then she gave me a dirty look. Whatever. I already told her I hit my head, if she wanted to judge me for being stupid and lame, she was going to have to get at the back of a long, long line.

I could tell Stinky was really worried about me so I told her I was fine but that we had to go home. Then halfway back up the hill, I started to cry. I have no idea why, I wasn't in that much pain. I think I may have been startled more than anything. Stinky has hardly ever seen me cry so that worried her even more and I felt like shit for making her worry. Plus, I was really embarrassed because I was crying and it was so cold that all the tears and snot froze and I had that hideous frozen slime face.

Because of the way the trails were laid out, as we were nearing the end of the woods, we crossed paths with the bitchy, judgmental woman again. She gave me one of those, overly concerned, condescendingly, pitying looks and I was so glad I didn't have Tourettes because in my head I was screaming, "Quit friggin', frickin', fucking looking at me!"

We got home and I was fine. I made an appointment to see my chiropractor and I have some impressive bruises, but I didn't break anything. I do feel like it might be a smart time to start hibernating, though.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wait...They Don't Love You Like I Love You

Okay. Here is the first of my end of the year posts. Last year I only read about 20 books, (in my defense, a couple of them were very, very long). This year, I should end-up reading at least 52 (the most I've read since I had children). I'm almost done with my 51st book. What I gained by nerding-out and reading so much was a LOT. I learned so much about so many things and the really well written books, have made me want to starting writing again. I have some ideas in my head, we'll see if anything ends up on paper...

I am as quirky about how I read books, as I am about everything else. I read every other book by a man and every other written by a woman. I also have about 6 months of books all lined-up in order and ready to go. Just by coincidence, I happened to be reading, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" about POW's in a Japanese work camp on Veteran's Day and Native American author, Sherman Alexie's "War Dances" on Thanksgiving. Here is my best-of list of the books I read:

Best Non-Fiction: I'm giving a tie to "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", by Haruki Murakami, and "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. Second place goes to "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls.

Best Short Fiction Collection: "Bark", by Lorrie Moore. The best short story I read was "War Dances" by Sherman Alexie. It was incredible. You should read it....Especially if you have issues with your father.

Best Novella: Patrick Modiano's "Suspended Sentences"

Best Poem/Short Short Writing Piece: Sherman Alexie's "Ode to Mix Tapes".

Best Reread Children's Book: "Island of the Blue Dolphins", by Scott O'Dell. Second place goes to "The Call of the Wild/White Fang", by Jack London.

Best Classic Novel: 'The Wreath: Kristin Lavranstadder". Sigrid Unset.

Most Disappointing Classic Novel: "Wuthering Heights", Emily Bronte.

Best Western (not the hotel): "Son", by Philipp Meyer. It could have been about 100 pages shorter, but it was pretty engaging.

Best Horror Fiction: "The Haunting of Hill House", by the master, Shirley Jackson.

Best Sci-fi: "Oryx and Crake", by Margaret Atwood.

Best Overall Novels: This is a toss-up, in order of my mood on any given day - "Euphoria", Lily King, "The Good Lord Bird", James McBride, "Tigerman", Nick Harkaway, "Station Eleven", Emily St. John Mandel, "The Bone Clocks", David Mitchell. Any of these books are well worth your time.

Most Disappointing Novel: "The Flamethrowers", by Rachel Kushner. I know it won awards and was on lists and stuff, but it didn't do it for me...Whatever "it" is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Little Off Center and I'm Out of Tune

Thanks to Natalie Rekemeyer for the photo.

The good thing about being an obsessive documenter, is that I can always go back and see what I said I was going to try to do every year and check and see how closely I kept to my goals...Or didn't. I'm also an obsessive reflector. So, this is the time of the year, that I look back and checkety check myself. Did I do right by myself physically, intellectually, creatively and spiritually this year? Where can I improve? What made me happy, what things and/or people wasted my time? I never look at anything in my life as a failure, just something I need to work on...And I have LOTS of things to work on. What all of this is leading to, is the threat of many of my end of the year evaluation or best of posts. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

On another front. My Christmas shopping is done. I don't normally buy for anyone but my daughters. I did give my niece and nephew a 20 spot last time I saw them (my brother calls cash, "the gift that keeps on giving"). John and I usually just give each other a fun trip somewhere for our Christmas present to each other. For the girls, John and I give them money and then I buy them some stocking stuffers. As most of you know, I am more of an experience person, than a thing person. Unless that thing can contribute to a nice experience...Like a bike, or running shoes, or a book. Anyway, this year I wanted to get my girls an experience for Christmas. Something they could do together. I was think something like, taking some yoga classes together or getting a manicure/pedicure together or a nice dinner someplace. I asked the girls what they would want to do as a sister thing, and they suggested getting a punch card at the University rec service building. Perfect. I was able to get a 10 punch pass, so they can use it to take a yoga or spin class or to work-out machine thingys or just to hang out in the fun pool area and use the jacuzzi, the lazy river and the mini rock climbing wall at the pool. However they use it, I hope they have a blast.

Monday, December 14, 2015

There's Nothing Here to Run From

I always think that weekends where we don't race will be all about the mellow, but they never are....Which is okay, because the alternative is that they are busy and full of wonderful.

This weekend we got to hang-out with the grandpuppy and Coadster's boyfriend. Coadster had a high school friend's wedding to attend, and so they were here for that....

 ...And she was here to play with Archie.

Archie hisses a lot, but he secretly likes the attention. None of the rest of us are going to constantly engage him for the entire day.

Archie is also happier when he can get up and not be on the same plane as the puppy. They really are good friends...And Archie is always happy to meet another animal that weighs more than him.

Saturday was in the upper 50's. I ran some errands, got to hang-out with Coadster's family and then did a 2 mile run. I'm trying to get back into running on a regular basis again. So, I'm going back to just doing 2 or 3.5 mile runs for the next week, to get my body used to the pounding again.

After the run, John and I decided to do a road ride. You heard that right...A real live road ride in the middle of December. Thank you, El Nino! We only did 30 miles and we didn't kill ourselves at all, but it had been a long time since I've ridden my road bike, so it was nice and I am definitely feeling it in my hamstrings today. At one point during our ride, I told John that I got a clump of mud in my eye. John told me not to worry, there was a 50% it WASN'T manure. Mmmmm. Nice

After our ride, we showered and met Coadster and her boyfriend at Short's for dinner and then headed to Atlas for another bike team's Christmas party. They invite people from all the racing teams in town, so it's really nice to see everyone. We stayed for about an hour and then headed home.

On Sunday I had originally planned to do a fun run with some of the bike racer women in town. When I had agreed to do it, I thought I would be running more at the end of November and early December, but that didn't really happen. It's a 6 mile run, and I've only run that distance once in the last couple of months. Then last Wednesday, Stinky called me and asked if we could decorate the tree on Sunday night. I thought I'd get up early on Sunday and get the tree and make stuff for dinner, but it would mean I'd be pretty rushed. Then I woke-up with ANOTHER migraine on Sunday morning, so, that ended that. I took my migraine meds and passed-out for about 3 hours.

I woke-up, spent some time with Coadster and her boyfriend and puppy, before Coadster went to work and the rest of her family went home to Des Moines.

John and I went grocery and Christmas tree shopping. We got all kinds of stuff to make a festive feast for us and the girls. By about 3 o'clock, I did a little 3.5 mile run in the warm rain. I took my meds about 8 hours before, so I was out of the danger zone and my run felt pretty good.

The girls did most of the decorating, while John and I cleaned-up after dinner. I do love all the history behind our ornaments. Coadster made me an ornament for my birthday this year in a glass blowing class she took with her boyfriend's mom. It's my new favorite tree decoration.

Archie even got into the spirit of things...Okay, maybe we helped him. He was so tired from playing with the grandpuppy this weekend, that he allowed me to put a Christmas hat on him. After he woke-up enough to realize how badly the leopard print clashed with his natural tiger stripes, he quickly attacked and killed the offending Christmas chapeau.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This is Not My Life, It's Just a Fond Farewell to a Friend

Before our adventure race in June.

A couple of friends my age died this week. One was a guy I used to hang-out with in college. His dad was the head of the International Writers Workshop here and his mom is a well received East Indian writer. There was a group of us who all spent time together and then he went to film school and I was dating my soon to be ex-husband who was an actor and they both worked on a movie filmed here called "Zadar Cow From Hell" with Duck's Breath Mystery Theater. Anyway, we were friends through college and then after and then he moved to NYC. We reconnected on FB and his wife just posted that he died this weekend. It was shock and my heart goes out to his family.

Another friend of mine suffered a seizure on Sunday that stopped her heart for too long. The tried for a couple of days to save her, but the damage was too extensive. That friend, I met from bike racing. Her husband at the time, was a big force in Iowa cycling and raced CX. She had this beautiful dog, and I originally met her because I would go over and drool over her Pharoah Hound.

Then when we went to CycloCX worlds and were riding our bikes in the snowy downtown streets of Louisville, Kentucky, we heard someone yell, "Hey! Iowa City!" We were surprised because we weren't wearing our team kits or anything that would identify us from that distance, but we realized it was the Bike Iowa folks, so we stopped over and chatted for a bit, and we all rode our bikes to the race venue together. They had a trailer with huge speakers and they were cranking the Black Keys. There were hundreds of people walking to the site and they all applauded and cheered us as we rode up. It was so fun. We hung-out with them for a bit here and there while we were in Kentucky that weekend.

The next few years, we became better friends. We were about the same age, so we talked about concerts that we were both at or both wanted to be at and the weird phases we went through and are still going through. This Summer she and another friend wanted to do the adventure race together. I had told them about it, so they asked me a lot of questions. My friend had hernia surgery right before, and couldn't race, but she came anyway to support our other friend. My brother and I were racing as a team, and his wife and John were our support and got to hang-out with my friend while she was working support as well. She asked John if he could help her lift the kayak onto her vehicle and he said, "Jeez! Why can't you do it yourself? Did you just have surgery or something?" John is "hilarious" and it was a great testament to my friend, that she didn't backhand him.

We had a great time that day and my brother and his wife fell in love with my friends. My friend told me later that spending time with John and I gave her hope for finding a partner again too. She and her husband split-up this year and then a couple of months ago, her beloved dog died. She had such a crappy year, but she also had a very strong support system and she just got a new puppy that she named Hope.

I still can't process the fact that she's gone, but even having such a rough time recently, she led a life of fun and love and empathy and she did so much for other people and animals, that I bet she wouldn't have done things any differently had she known how soon things were going to end for her.

What I take away from these kinds of things, is that I'm glad I did as much with her as I did and tried to tell her how much I appreciated her and that I was here for her whenever she needed me while she was here. I also try to reexamine my own life and ask myself, if I knew this was my last year on earth, would I live differently, and if so, what do I need to change right now, so I didn't feel like I was wasting time and energy on people and things that don't deserve it? I'm lucky that I've been asking myself those questions for years now, and I'm pretty happy with the way I live my life.There is always room for improvement and I definitely have worse days than others, but in general, I feel like I'm making the most of what I have.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

I Guess My Feet Know Where They Want Me to Go...

I guess since we're over a week into December, I might want to finally do my monthly stats for November. It was another more mellow kind of month as far as races and work-outs were concerned. December might be even more mellow, since it's generally my "off" month and then I'll start training in earnest in January. Anyway, here is how it went down.

Bike Miles: 163.32 road and 5 bike trainer work-outs ranging in length from 20 minutes to 50 minutes.

Running Miles: 52.22. Way up from October, but I remember the days when I used to run that much in one week. Sigh.

Cross Country skiing: 7 miles. Yea!

Races: It looks like I only did two this month. One cyclocross race and one trail running race.

Places traveled for races: Chicago suburb.

Books read: 8. Another banner month for books: "Bark", Lorrie Moore. "The Children's Act", Ian McEwan. "The Tombs of Atuan", Ursula Le Guin, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North", Richard Flanagan. "Lila" Marilyn Robinson. "The Time Machine" H G Wells. "Station Eleven" Emily St John Mandel. "War Dances", Sherman Alexie.

Paintings/Drawings started or finished: None, but I have some stuff swirling around in my brain that might come to fruition here in the next month...

House Projects: Just a little tiny one where we put in a new shelf and got rid of old, gross plants and bought a couple, new, cuter plants...Also, I went through our spare bedroom that had become a giant, messy closet full of our techie bike and running clothes and sorted and folded and put it all away, nice and neat...For at least a week, anyway. It was quite a project...

Season readying: I got my battery heated gloves out, found all of my boots and hats and scarves and John put the studded tires on our commuter bikes.

How about you all? Did you spend November getting ready for the new season and do have some fun projects swirling around in your head for this month?