Tuesday, March 29, 2016

She's Making a List and Checking it Twice

If you think the spilled tea stain on this list is bad, you should see what my cookbooks look like...

So, remember at the beginning of the year when I said I was going to start doing some real writing? Well, it hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean that I can't start now. I have decided to give myself some writing prompts. They could be words or ideas or working on my issues, or making myself share a memory...Or hell, make one up. I love fiction! Anyway, this will be my first. My writing prompt is "lists".

One would think that a person like myself would love lists. I document everything obsessively and I'm spacey, so constant reminders are completely necessary for me to function. I read one thing about the spaciness that comes with perimenopause and they suggested trying to remember things by saying them out loud. Such as, "I'm putting my keys on the kitchen table". Then an hour later when you (and by you, I mean me) are frantically going through your bottomless messenger bag looking for them, you can recall the sound of you own voice in your head telling you where they might be. Which is much better and more useful than the other voices in my head...

My fear of lists comes from my abusive legal guardian, my Aunt Kath. She used to do this thing where every day in the summer, she would make a list of chores we had to do. This was on top of my every day chores of cooking and cleaning-up after every meal, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping every day, cleaning out the stalls of the horses in the barn and cleaning the two bathrooms. She would stay in her bedroom and sleep all day, while we did this work. We were supposed to get paid $2 a week for allowance, but she would wait a month or two to pay us and then give us less than half of what she owed us. We also were not allowed to work anywhere else (except they would let me detassel corn for two weeks every July as long as I got all my other chores done before and after work). The only money I had during high school was from performing these tasks and I had to buy my own clothes and anything else I needed, besides the food I cooked everyone for breakfast and dinner.

The crazy thing about her lists, was that she would make them as long as she possibly could and then when we finished, we would have to knock on her bedroom door to see if she would let us do anything. I would only want to go for a run or a bike ride, because I wasn't really allowed to hang out with other people or leave the house for more than an hour or two, but my Aunt would tell us to come back later and we would have to just sit around and wait for her to decide to get up out of her bed. Usually, when she did, she would check out our lists and think of other things to write on it and the process would start all over.

So, for years I stayed away from lists. They were my nemesis for so many years when I was younger. As I worked through so many of my issues, I got around to rethinking lists. First of all, I'm the only person in charge of me, so the only tasks I have to perform, are the ones I feel necessary. Secondly, I can put "ride bikes" or "go for a run" on my lists. They don't all have to be chores. I can write down all of the fun stuff I want to do. Thirdly, if I don't get something done on my list, it's not a big deal. I won't get the crap beat out of me or the few things I hold dear taken away from me anymore.

Now I make lists and there are no scary dark clouds hanging over my head about them and they aren't endless and they are helpful...And many times, fun. See how I turned that around?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

You've Been on a Road That Just Don't Seem to End

This was the vacant lot where my girls and their friends played "town" in the Spring until the poison ivy came in every year. I'm sad they cut all the trees down.

I took a half day of vacation on Tuesday afternoon. It was supposed to be the one nice day this week before it rained yesterday and snowed today.

It was a lovely day, I just didn't feel that well. I was going to try and do a 12 mile run, out to the Coralville Resevoir and back, but I'm pretty sure I had one of those weird migraines without the actual pain. I was dizzy and achy and an aura and I had some weird digestive problems, just like when I have a migraine, I just didn't feel the stabbing pain with it, is all.

I love to do adventure rides and runs. I know people who only want to do hard training rides or runs, and I do harder, training rides and runs too (although, judging from my results, probably not nearly enough....) but I love the long, slow, adventure rides where I go out and run or ride at a nice pace and check out the scenery and see what I can see...Which is exactly what I did on Tuesday.

I had no idea how long I'd be able to go, so I set off with no pressure and figured, if I got too dizzy or my feet hurt too badly, or I just wasn't feeling it, I'd head back and if running was too much for me, I'd walk back home. Either way, it was a beautiful day and I'm so much happier when I'm outside moving.

I just ran slowly and enjoyed the view and listened to music on my iPhone and talked to some cows and my feet got pretty sore, fairly early on in the run, so I turned around when I got to Newport Road and didn't make it all that very near the resevoir, but that was fine.

Once I hit Dewey Street on the way back, I ran into some of my old neighbors and they were just going to take their dogs for a walk in the cemetery. I hadn't seen any of them for a long time, so I stopped and walked a ways with them in order to catch up a little.

I took off back to my house and my feet were still hurting, so I stopped after I hit the 9 mile mark. It wasn't quite as far as I wanted, but it was better than not running at all. I couldn't have asked for a better adventure...Okay. I would like to ask for new feet that don't hurt and not to get any more migraines (not even the painless kind) but everything else was great.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I Ride Down the Lane With a Happy Refrain

Hey! This week has been crazy, and most importantly, I've been reading a book that I can't put down, so I'm not getting much Blogging done....Or anything else, really.

So, we'll just right a little weekend post. It was lovely and wonderful. On Friday night I made some spicy peanut noodles with shrimp, miso soup and mixed greens with a homemade balsamic vinaigerette dressing.

On Saturday I read some in the morning, watched a professional bike race on-line and then did my 8.3 mile run outside. The run felt great. My metatarsalgia only hurt a little at the end, and all my other ailments kept themselves in line and didn't grieve me much at all. Ahhh.

That evening, we headed over to the Hilltop for our bike racing team party. Our racing team is also a riding club, so it's nice and mellow and some race and some ride and it also includes off road cycling, running, triathlon, and CX country ski races. It is perfect for me, because I'm not a hardcore road racer and I'm old and I would not fit in with a serious road racing team at all. I like our mix of weirdos and lovable freaks. It was nice to see everyone. That's the only problem when you have a team of people that all race different things or don't race at all, you don't get to see everyone very often.

On Sunday John got up early and ran a 13 mile route. I got some things done around the house and then Stinky called to see if we wouldn't mind watching her puppy. We didn't mind a bit. John tried to take a nap after his run and shower, but Jaxson didn't make it easy for him.

By the time I got home from my 4.5 mile run, I came home to two sleepy boys. It looks like John got the puppy to nap after all...

After lunch, John and I decided to head to the mountain bike trails. They were finally open. Yea!

We were both pretty tired from all of our over-playing we already did over the weekend, but it was fun to slowly ride along and get used to my mountain bike and riding trails and staying back on my saddle on the downhills.

It felt so great to be outside playing. It was in the 40's temperature wise, but after riding for a bit, I wasn't the least bit chilly.

After a little over an hour, I realized I was too tired to ride anymore. I was doing stupid stuff and almost crashing all over the place and figured that meant I was done.

We headed over to Big Grove for half priced beer and split some olives, spicy brussel sprouts and smoked trout salad. Yum.

We headed home and since had already eaten, we had plenty of time to watch a movie. We decided on "Singin' in the Rain". It was an excellent choice. Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. How fun is that?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

And Life Gets More Exciting with Each Passing Day

 I really tried to write this yesterday, but I was thwarted by high winds that knocked out the electricity in my office at 4 pm and then knocked out my internet at home, and that still isn't up yet...

I did a 25 mile part gravel/part paved road  race on Sunday. Saturday night I started getting a migraine, so I took my meds right before bed. It would be at least 12  hours until I would race, which would be okay. Any amount of time less than that can be a bit dangerous, plus if I take them too close to a race, I am even slower than I normally am.

Thanks to Amaris Hanson for the race photo!

 It had rained the night before and was still misting during the beginning of the race. Like I said last week, I haven't really trained at all on the bike this year. I've been trying to train more for running, since I have a running race pretty much every weekend in April. Also, my legs were pretty wrecked from the 10K I ran the day before. I rode the Women's B race. There was one other woman in my category.

I didn't check my bike out before John loaded it. My excuse is that I was getting the puppy in the kennel and making sure he went outside before that, but in all honesty, I often let John take care of my bike and I don't check it out before a race. So, when I pulled it off the rack when we went to register, I realized that I had my platform pedals on and I was wearing my Fasterkatt boots made for clipless pedals. Usually it's not a big deal, but for this race, where there are some impressive hills, I could really feel the difference of not getting that dig at the top of the hill. And with hills, I need all the help I can get.

So, the race started and I got dropped after the first couple of minutes. I rode along and passed a friend of mine who was not only racing for the first time, but riding a fat bike. Brave guy. I told him he was doing great as I passed him.

I caught up to the other woman in the B race and another friend of mine who was racing on a fat bike, just as they had crested the first smaller hill and could the next, very large hill coming up. I heard the girl say, "oh no!", at about the same time my friend said, "sh*t!". I passed them and  hoped that the girl would jump on my wheel on the downhill. I am heavier, so I go pretty damn fast on downhills. But I don't think she was all that comfortable drafting, especially on wet, slippery, muddy gravel. She was in sight, behind me for the next lap, but I heard after the race, that she dropped out at some point. I'm not sure if it was a mechanical or what, but I was in her sights and I bet she would have caught me, if she could have stayed in the race.

On the last lap, I started bonking hard. I was an idiot and forgot about bringing some fuel with me. I had a couple of pieces of peanut butter toast at 9 am, and then ate a Gu a half hour before the race. It wasn't nearly enough calories...Especially since I was still a bit calorie deprived from the running race the day before. Duh. Like I said, so many lessons to relearn at the beginning of the season.

We got our new racing kits the night before the race and I love, love, love them. Our old ones were green and white, which looked nice...Until you rode in the mud, or even put on sunscreen which would turn them yellow and it was almost impossible to wash the stains out of them. We got to christen these uniforms in a lovely mud bath.

John said one of the chickens was in the middle of the road when his pack came through. Iowa racing problems...
 So, I finished up my race. John dropped out of his after 4 laps. He knew he wouldn't have enough energy to race the full 6 laps after he raced the day before and was also undertrained, so he did what he could and then stopped when he ran out of energy.

Before I bonked, I had a lot of fun out there. At one point, I was "bombing" down a hill and mud was flying in my eyes, so I had them mostly closed, so they wouldn't burn and I could feel my bike sliding a little and I wondered what the outcome would be if I hit a pothole on the the way down, but I was having a blast. A few years ago, I would have been terrified to even think about riding that fast down a muddy, gravel hill. So, it's nice to know that confronting some of those fears can free me up to have some silly fun, even at a more advanced age. It's good to keep testing myself.

Also, as I've said before, I love to play in the mud. As you can see, I did enough of that...And notice the Cliff bar I had to gulp down after my race, in order to ride back to the car.

Of course, I wasn't half as muddy as the A racer guys. Don't they kind of look like those silver painted robot people you see in big cities?

It was a good day on the gravel, but man was I exhausted after two days of racing. I tried to do a nice, slow run on Monday, but my body rebelled. After two VERY slow running miles, I had to stop and walk two miles home. Which was better than fine. It was a beautiful evening and I love to go for walks. Now, for a few weeks of raceless training, before my crazy running race filled April...

Monday, March 14, 2016

The World Was Moving and She Was Right There With it (And She Was)

Race report! Race report! Race report! It's my first race report of the year...And since I did two races this weekend, I'll have another one tomorrow.

As I said before, I was injured all Winter and finally just was able to run a full 10K about a week ago, so I knew I wasn't going to be in any kind of shape for this race on Saturday. I have had people ask me why I race when I have no chance of being in the mix. I didn't start racing until my late 40's, after my kids were grown, but I still ran almost every day for most of my adult life and I have commuted to work by bike since my first paper route in 1976 (I didn't even know how to drive or have a license until I was 31 years old), so motivation has never been an issue for me. I love to play outside. I think the many reasons I race when I know I won't be the least bit competitive, are too many to mention. I learn so much about myself both physically and mentally when I run. It takes me out of my comfort zone and keeps me from getting in quite such a rut. I have seen so many people age and never challenge themselves and just kind of give up on their lives, and I DEFINITELY don't want to do that. Also, I meet so many great people, who love to do the things I love to do and don't call me crazy because I like to run and ride my bike...They may call me crazy for several other reasons, though....

Anyway, every year I feel like I have to relearn how to race. John and I do so many kinds of races that I have to remember the logistics of each type of race. These early season races are great for that. I like to call them my "learning from mistakes races".

Boy howdy! Did I have a lot to relearn this weekend. We got out of the house late, because we were dealing with the grand puppy.and by the time we got to downtown Des Moines, there was a 500 mile long train in our way. Luckily, our friends were in the car behind us and knew Des Moines a lot better. They told us to turn around and go a couple more blocks and we'd miss the train. We finally got to the race in time to register, use the port-o-potties, but with no time to warm-up. As I've said many times, the older a person is, the more time that person needs to warm-up before a race. For whatever reason, this time around, I don't think missing the warm-up hurt me that much. Whew! I went into the Leprechaun Chase run thinking that my goal should be that I average 10 minute miles. I wasn't feeling strong at that distance and I didn't want to reinjure myself. After the first mile, I changed it to 9.5 minute miles (which was my goal last year too) and I ended up running it with an average of 9.26 minute miles. Much better than I had hoped, but still 2 and a half minutes slower than last year. I was 8th in my age group, and I was happy with my time and my result.

Right before the race started. So much green and so many cell phones...
The first mile didn't feel too bad and the second mile was okay. By the third mile I started doing this thing that I do a lot in races, I start thinking, "I should go faster...No. I should stop and walk for a minute." How dumb is that? Why don't I ever think during a race, "I'm going at a decent speed. I should just keep this up." Why is it faster or stop with me? Anyway, I ignored my inner demons and kept it up, even at the end when my quads were screaming and people in surrounding states could hear my loud, labored breathing. There was a woman ahead of me who looked like she could be in my age group. I thought, if I pass her, I'll be one point higher up in the standings, so I went a little faster, and passed her. Then I told myself I couldn't slow down or she'd pass me back. About 200 yards from the finish line, I saw John standing on the side and telling me I was almost there. I tried to pick it up even more, but I didn't have much left. The woman never passed me back, and I checked the result later and she was only in her 40's, but I'm sure it helped give me a little inspiration at the end, while I was dying.

I crossed the finish line and felt like I could just as easily pass-out and throw-up at the same time. I am almost always like that at the end of a race. I guess it means I went as hard as I could, but it also means I had to sit down as soon as possible. We found a spot on the grassy knoll, and I melted into the grass. We got a text right away telling us our times and places in the race. Technology can be pretty cool sometimes.

It was just starting to mist and we were cooling down enough that we needed to change into dryer and less stinky clothing and then headed to El Bait Shop for the after party. The Leprechaun chase is a race against the men and the women, where the women get a 5 minute lead, and the men have the advantage of more testosterone in their system and a completely different physiology. So, the women won this year. Yea! We all got a free beer, and I made sure to ask for a non-green beer.

It was raining during the after party, but I did get to see a friend of mine from bike racing and she said she did the race and she was having some knee issues, but at least she was out there doing it, and I told her she was amazing. Sometimes, it feels like "being out there, doing it" is half the battle.

We waited out in the rain long enough for John to do his podium for getting 3rd in his age group. He ran it about 30 seconds faster than he did last year, but dropped down from second to third. Like he says, it's all about who else shows up to the race.

We FINALLY got to go eat lunch. The Mexican place we normally go to was temporarily closed so we checked out the closest place we could find to get out of the rain. That place turned out to be Court Avenue Brewing Company, It had good pub grub and we each had another beer in addition to the free beer we split at the after race party.

We headed home to the grand puppy and to take long, hot baths and get ready for the next round of racing on Sunday.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

And They Called it Puppy Love

So, I came home from work on Friday night and the grand puppy was here waiting for us. He is a very sweet boy...Until he sees his own reflection and then he has to establish dominance with himself.

Friday, March 11, 2016

I Know When to Go Out. And When to Stay In

I have soooo much going on this weekend. Today, Stinky is dropping off her new puppy so we can watch him while Stinky and her boyfriend go to Chicago to celebrate St Patrick's Day. From the sound of it, Stinky and her boyfriend have already spoiled the puppy so much, that all the spoiling we do to him, shouldn't have much of a negative effect...But we all know that I'm up for the challenge.

On Saturday we head to Des Moines and do the Leprechaun Chase 10K. I am in NOOOO place to actually race. I'm still just starting to be able to finish a 10K. So, I will putter along and have fun and if I come in last, I come in last. I will still love the spectacle of the thing and meeting other people who are having fun playing outside too.

On Saturday we have our first bike race of the year. It's a part road/part gravel race. Once again, I am ridiculously undertrained to do any kind of bike race. Also, I'm not going to really take road racing seriously this year. I will sign up for local races (because I love supporting bike races, even though I'm not particularly competitive in them) and stay a Cat 4. I am old, fat, and slow and it seems silly to try and race against the fastest girls in the state when I can't keep up with the slowest ones. There are a few women in their fifties still racing road in Iowa, but none of them are built like me. Most of the women I raced with who were my age when I started, have quit racing on the road. Basically, they catted up when they got strong enough and then a few years later, stopped racing because there was no master's women category and when they lost strength as they aged and they would have to cat down, they chose to opt out. Some of them still race mountain bikes or cyclocross and time trials, so that's good. Anyway, for me, I like to do local races, but trying to stay with a pack of the fastest women racers in the state is a losing battle.

So, on Sunday I will kit-up, hop on my bike and have as much fun as possible and hang out with great people. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Take it All in on Your Stride

 I took my first full vacation day off since our trip to Madison. This vacation day was just for me. For staying home and relaxing, getting a few things done and then going on a nice, long run.

I started out the morning reading my book on the couch. A thunderstorm rolled in and I got very, very sleepy. I set my book down to rest my eyes and woke up and hour and a half later. Oops!

I was awakened by Archie growling and hissing out the front window. I got up to see what he was so upset about and then saw the Fed Ex guy. Archie hate, hate, hates the mail carrier, or anyone else who leaves stuff at our door, apparently. I like the Fed Ex guy, He brought me my new helmet. It should match my racing kit AND it will make me highly visible on the road.

I ate lunch and then finished reading my book on the porch, since it was so nice out.

Around 1:30, I went out for my run. I wanted to do my 8 mile route. I hadn't been able to run that far since my injury in January. Being an old runner who has been running for 40 years and has  messed-up feet and other permanent problems with my legs and feet, I give myself a LOT of leeway.

After the first mile, my calf started to feel really tight and my plantar fasciitis on my left foot was hurting. So, I stopped and walked for about a quarter of a mile, until the pain went away, and then I was fine...For a while, anyway.

I ran through the cemetery, which I love. and felt pretty strong through most of run...Until the last couple of miles. I also have this thing called metatarsalgia - which is a burning feeling on the pads of my feet just below my toes. I started feeling that pain in my late 30's and it's gotten worse the older I get. John gets me these pads that help alleviate it a little, but if I run over 6 miles, it really can feel like I am running on glass. I made it the full 8 miles, but then had to sit for a minute for the worst of the pain to go away. I have some inserts I can try and use again and I hope those help.

I took a long, hot bath when I got home, ran a bunch of errands, made breakfast for dinner and then headed to Red's for a board meeting for my bike racing team. It was a full, lovely day. 72 degrees at the beginning of March.

I came back to work on Wednesday all refreshed and much happier. 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Now I Want to be Your Dog. Well C'mon.

Check it out! On Friday we got to meet Stinky's new miniature dachchund puppy. His name is Jax and he is just about as sweet as a puppy can be.

He is only a few pounds and when he first came over he was exhausted from just being brought over from his original  home. So, Archie could smell him and he sniffed and sniffed, and couldn't see him.

Then the puppy woke-up, started making noises, moving around and Archie spotted him.

Both he and Heidi thought it was total bullsh*t that we brought that adorable attention getting thing into the house and kept their distance, but watched closely to make sure it wasn't going to attack them or anything...

All the humans in the house thought he was just fine.

It was sad to see him trapped in his cage and ready for transport, but we comforted ourselves with the knowledge that we get to babysit him next weekend when Stinky and her boyfriend got to Chicago to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

Oh, the other thing we did on Friday night was watch "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" and it was one of the best high school movies I've seen in a long time..

Friday, March 04, 2016

Inch by Inch, Row by Row, Gonna Make This Garden Grow

Check it out! It's getting close to thinking about gardening already. Yea! I used to plant seeds and make seedlings in my house, until they were ready to plant in the garden in May, but then I got a fat, orange, cat and I was afraid he would murder the seedlings before I could plant them. I'm hoping he's old enough now, and John is sweet enough to install another glass shelf on our South facing window in the spare bedroom, so we'll see how it goes...

I'm a little worried I'll have to watch Archie pretty closely. You can see what he did to Nemo after he found him... Bad cat.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

It's Time to Start the Show. So Kids Let's Go!

This bike path is on one of my running routes and after work, it heads me straight in the line of the sunset, to my house.
Say, kids! What time is it? It's monthly stats time. It's monthly stats time... February was an interesting month. I was able to ride 4 of my 6 bikes last week. When does that ever happen in February? I was injured for running, but still trying to limp along. It was really cold, and then it was pretty warm, and then it was really cold, then it was unseasonably warm...And we went away for the weekend, just to finally get some cross-country skiing done. So, here's how it looked:

Indoor bike trainer work-outs - 4 times for a total of 3.4 hours.

Outdoor biking - 189 miles.

Running - the first couple of weeks, I was only able to run a few miles, but I'm trying to build up, so I was able to just hit 40 miles (I used to do that in a week for most of my adult life before I started racing bikes 4 or 5 years ago).

Lap Swimming - 4 miles

Cross-Country Skiing. TEN WHOLE MILES. FINALLY!

Fun Trips Taken - 1 and it was cold but ever so much fun.

Books Read - 7. "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" - George Saunders, "The Painted Drum" - Louise Erdrich, "Night" - Elie Wiesel, "God Help the Child" - Toni Morrison, "The Sound of Things Falling" - Juan Gabriel Vasquez, "The Blazing World" - Siri Hustvedt, "The Unknown World" - Edward P. Jones

Paintings or Drawings - None.

House Projects - None. We did get some good cleaning done. Then we thought we might try to install a metal ceiling in the kitchen, and checked it out and nixed the idea when we figured it out that it would cost $1200. Oops! I'm sure we'll feel like working on the house now that it's getting warmer and racing season is upon us...

How was your February? Did you go on any fun trips? Were you better about doing your house projects than we were? That sure wouldn't be hard...