Thursday, April 30, 2015

Yes, It's Summer. My Time of Year.

I know some of you are Fall and Winter people, but I am definitely a Spring and Summer girl. I love warm weather, I love flowers, I don't mind bugs or heat and I love to mow the lawn...Seriously.

I also really, really love plants and flowers.

Yesterday I had to get off early to meet the guy from the city who was supposed to assess our house for tax purposes. Since the weather was supposed to be absolutely perfect (70 degrees, no humidity, gentle breezes), I took another hour or so off, to go for a nice, 6 mile run. As you can see, I was almost dizzy from the flowering tree smells.

I went home from the run, mowed the lawn, cleaned my garden beds, tidied up my house and then gave myself an hour to read my book on the porch. Man, but I could get a lot of stuff done if I could only afford to work part-time...

I think I've told you that John has dinner at his mom's house every Wednesday. Yesterday, I cut a bunch of tulips and lilacs for him to bring to her. They looked and smelled amazing.

Here's to Spring and Summer and reading on the porch and running and flowers, and unicorns and rainbows. I am giddy with all of this bounty.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wide Awake. I'm Wide Awake. Yeah

Sunday came with better weather. It was a little chilly, but the winds calmed down and the rains made their way somewhere East of us. Bye bye. I did wake-up with a slight migraine, but it wasn't too bad and it was the first one I've had in 2 weeks. So, I couldn't really complain.

Stinky asked me a couple of months ago if I would do the River Run with her. It's an easy 5K run and it would mean not racing the criterium. I hate crits and this is a hilly crit, which sucks even more for me, so I gladly agreed.

Stinky had one of those Winters where she gained more weight then she wanted to. She also was working 3 jobs and had very little time to work-out. She wasn't even sure she could finish a 3.1 mile race. John was sweet enough to come to the race with us and wait for us to finish.

 Stinky did great. I could tell going up the one big hill that she wanted to stop and walk. She started thinking up excuses. She: "My calves are pretty sore..." Me: "They'll be that way." She: I feel like I'm going slow enough to be walking anyway..." Me: But you're passing all of the walkers, so that can't be true." Me: See that? We're almost past the worst of it. As soon as we hit that rise, the very worst part of the race is over and everything will be so much easier. So, is my talking to you helping, hurting or making you want to punch me?" She: "It's helping me...And making me want to punch you a little."

The good news is that Stinky didn't stop to walk even once. She said she knows she would have if I hadn't run with her and talked her out of it. she also beat her goal time of 40 minutes and finished in a time of 33.25. I was one proud, annoying muthah.

I took my migraine meds after I finished the running race and headed home so we could quite literally switch gears and get ready for John's criterium. I think I mentioned yesterday that John was battling for first place for the Omnium. he got 2nd in the road race, 1st in the Time Trial and the criterium would decide the winner of all 3 races for the weekend.

It was great to watch the race. John was strong throughout, but he will tell you, he isn't the strongest sprinter, and ended up getting 3rd in the criterium and 2nd for the Omnium for the 50 + masters men's category. Very impressive.

Some of our friends showed up to cheer John on and after the race, we got to hang out at an outdoor patio and watch the races go by while we ate and drank.

The races ended, John and I went home and this time it was John who fell asleep by 8:30 while we were trying to finish The Big Sleep. I suppose next weekend, we should probably try to watch Wide Awake instead, huh?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weather's Gonna Break and Hell's Gonna Fly.

This weekend, we went completely insane and did three races in 2 days. The craziest part about it, was the weather conditions on Saturday. The first race I did was a 26 mile road bike race. It was about 40 degrees,which was chilly, but not awful, the winds were gusting at 25 mph, which was careening dangerously close to awful, but the driving rain in our faces, chilling us to the bone, dropkicked us way past awful.

I wasn't sure how to dress for the conditions. I decided to wear my Fasterkatts - cycling boots. Even with shoe covers, I knew my feet would be too cold. I also wore tights, a Merino Wool long sleeve undershirt with my thermal team jacket and Winter gloves. At the last minute, I decided to wear John's plastic rain jacket. If it had even been 5-10 degrees warmer, the rain jacket would have been unbearably hot, but it was the only thing that kept me from getting hypothermic like many of the other racers. Thanks, John!

Photo courtesy of Steve Hanson.
This is the only road race in our area that has a masters women's category. Which is awesome. Sadly, I was the only woman who signed up for this category. Sigh. The good thing about that, was that all I had to do is finish the race and I would win my category. Sounds easy, right? Well, in those weather conditions, it was a bit of a challenge.

I still haven't spent much time training on my bike this year and that was so evident in the race. I really wanted to stay with the pack of women at least until the first half of the first lap, which was where we had the crazy head wind. I made it up until the first steep hill, that then turns and is still a less steep climb. About halfway up that steepest part of the hill, I got dropped like I was hot. Which wasn't so hot.

I rode the rest of the lap, as well as the second full lap by myself, with no one to draft off of in those insane winds. At one point, when I still had about 2 miles of head winds and rain pelting my face left, before I turned into a tailwind, I did question my sanity for the millionth time and reminded myself that not only was I doing this, I PAID to do it. Hey, I've never claimed to be particularly smart...

The pay-off for riding in Amish/Mennonite country. Thanks again for the photo, Mark Consadine.
I did finish the race and found out that many of my teammates were suffering from the bone chilling cold. I had to help one of my teammates take off his helmet, his fingers were so frozen. I think I gained about 5 lbs of water weight. My boots were so full of rain, that I had to dump the excess in the toilet when I was done racing.

Strangest of all, was that John was so cold, he said he didn't think he wanted to come back for the Time Trial in the afternoon. John is one of the heartiest people I've ever met and he is addicted to racing. If he is too cold to race, you know it's a big deal. We went home and I heated up soup and warmed up some brie and got some bread out, while John soaked in a hot tub. After we ate and took a quick 20 minute nap/rest, we headed back to do the Time Trial.

It was a good thing we did come back. It stopped raining, so all we had to contend with was the cold and the winds. John and I did our 13 mile Time Trial and he got first in his category and I got first, middle and last in mine, since the other woman who was registered never showed.

We were both completely exhausted when we finished our second race. We went home to shower, then went to Shorts for dinner and a couple of beers. I fell asleep on the couch by 8 o'clock, ironically while watching "The Big Sleep". It was one hell of a day in every way.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Somewhere Impossible Light Still Shines and Every Smile is as if New.

Cat Friday, you say? Well, here's the cat Friday Centerfold. Meeeee-ooooow!

 As I said in previous posts, my week started with a battle of wits between cat and dog...

Okay. On closer inspection, maybe it's more accurate to call it a battle of the witless.

Last night Coadster came back to town. She had an interview for a teaching job at a school about a half hour away from us. If she gets it, she will stay with us during the week and then go back to her place in Des Moines for the weekend. I would love to have her here, but I know she'd rather work in Des Moines and not have to be away from her boyfriend and puppy all week. I'm hoping she gets exactly what she wants...As always.

John and Coadster and I went to Mickey's for dinner. Stinky just started waiting tables there, so we got to sit in her section and harass her. It was great. After dinner, John and Coadster and I wandered into Prairie Lights, where I bought a couple of books and got a free rose with each. How great is that?

I hope you all have a tongue-waggingly good weekend, filled with books and pretty flowers...And lot's and lot's of sassy cats.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

That's Life. That's What All the People Say.

Me coming into the finish line at the Dam to Downtown.

The good thing about growing old with someone and not dating someone who is much younger than you, is the ammunition you have when they try to tease you about your age.

I was clearly not half as happy as the woman behind me.
Here is a conversation John and I had right before a running race.

Me: Oh, I need to take some Advil before I start running.

John: Wow. Too bad your bones weren't creaking when you said that, for added old people effect.

Me: Well, even if they did, you wouldn't be able to hear it anyway...

John: Touche'!

John and I both take off our shoes immediately after we cross the finish line. Is that an old people thing?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Well It's Not Far Down to Paradise, At Least It's Not for Me

On Sunday the grand puppy was still here to freak the cats out...Until Archie realized that Bailey wasn't a threat in the least and began to stalk her, and made her hide behind John for protection. Poor girl.

This Sunday, I didn't have a migraine when I woke-up. It was a good day. John and I were both pretty sore from the day before, so we decided to just swim laps later in the day, and not try to run or ride.

I also forgot to bring the book I was reading home for the weekend, so I didn't have that distraction either. I decided to finally get some yard work done.

I raked out beds and lopped off all of the scraggly, volunteer, trees and bushes around my house that I've been meaning to trim up for the last few years. Bailey dog kept me company. She doesn't often get to hang out outside, so I thought she'd like it. She just started to get whiny that I wasn't giving her my full attention. Apparently, she fancies herself pretty damn special.

John worked on some of the bikes while I was busy in the yard. He finally changed out my studded tires. I feel like I'm flying to work and back with just knobbies on my commuter bike and without the metal studs. Yea!

I found this growing in my yard. It is Pulmonaria.Since we are in the process of turning our backyard into a shade garden, I will try to get this to take over.
After we finished our chores, we went to the University Rec Services Building to swim laps. They have an incredible  pool there and they just extended the lanes from 25 to 50 meters. I was so exhausted and at one point, I found myself staring down the lane and thinking how damn lucky I was. I had such an amazing weekend and even though I couldn't really do it justice, I have the use of an incredible pool, 6 awesome bikes to ride, tons of great places to run, 2 wonderful daughters to hang out with and one amazing partner to share it all with. Who knows what will happen from day to day, but I always love to stop and recognize just how good I have it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Make One Dream Come True. You Only live Twice.

Another weekend, another race. John and I did a very hilly 10K running race on Saturday. It was our 3rd race in a week and our legs were still a little sore from the 25K trail run the weekend before, and I had the worst sunburn I've had in a while. When I did that 50 mile bike ride on Thursday, I forgot to put on sunscreen and I was wearing a bike jersey tank, so my shoulder blades were exposed. My skin was fried. I had a hard time sleeping on Friday night and when I put on my first sports bra Saturday morning, it hurt so bad, I didn't think I'd be able to race. I tried a different style, and that didn't rub my sunburn at all. Whew!

I started out slowly and could feel how tight and sore my quads were. I figured, I'd just do what I could and I watched as many, many people passed me. By the 3rd mile, the endorphins kicked in. I couldn't feel how sore my legs were as much and I started to go a lot harder. I was suddenly passing people and feeling pretty good. By the time I got close to the finish, I didn't  have a lot left and a few people passed me toward the end. John was done long before me and he and Coadster were on the road with the grand puppy. I had to laugh through my pain when John yelled, "Hurry up and finish. Bailey needs petting!" 

I finished with my slowest time ever, but still got 4th in my age group and 60th out of 183 women overall. John didn't feel great or have his best time either, but he was 3rd in his age group category and 22nd out of men overall. Neither of us were particularly pleased with our times, but we both said that the 25K last weekend was more important to us, and we were both pretty happy with how we did in that race. At our ages, we can't expect to rock everything, right?

I was trying to get more of my bike on here, but I ended up cutting both it and my forehead out of the frame.

After our race, we went home and showered and then met Coadster and her boyfriend for lunch. I wasn't super hungry, but I knew I needed to eat...Especially, since John and I were headed to the mountain bike trails after lunch.

I thought my legs would be too tired to ride bikes very well, but I actually rode better and faster than I ever had before. Part of the reason, I think, was because I stopped using clipless pedals and I'm more confident when I don't have to remember to clip-out every time I get stuck. Another part is that I'm getting more familiar with the trails and I know what to expect when I ride. The biggest thing, was that I had a beer before I rode. Holy cow! I was so much more relaxed about things. Let that be a lesson to me!

John riding the rock garden. there might not be enough beer in the world to give me the guts to do that.

After our ride, we went home, showered and chilled-out a little bit before we went out for sushi with Coadster, Stinky and Stinky's boyfriend. While we were eating, a storm rolled in. We got hit with torrential downpours and hail on our way to the car and into our house. It was the perfect night to hang-out with the grand puppy, John and  Coadster and watch a movie while it stormed outside. We watched The Imitation Game. It was really good. So, I did a running race, I got to hang out with my girls, my boyfriend and my grand puppy. I got to ride mountain bikes and eat sushi and watch a good movie during a thunderstorm. All of the bases were covered.I can't think of much else that would make the day any more perfect.

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.