Friday, April 29, 2016

Shiver in My Bones Just Thinking About the Weather

You know it's become cooler out because after Archie butted his way in onto her favorite, soft fleece blanket, Heidi put her ears back and is clearly unhappy, but she didn't murder him and she didn't get up and run away. Archie couldn't be happier.

There are several races this weekend, but right now, I doubt I'll be up to doing any of them. I think John is going to do the mountain bike race in Cedar Rapids, but that might be it for him too.

It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow, which will definitely put a damper on my gardening. I'm hoping Sunday's weather doesn't disappoint.

Have a warm, lovely weekend, unless, of course, you are trying to get someone to snuggle with you...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Out of the Blues and Into the Blacks

This past weekend was soooo great. I used my last 3 hours of vacation for the month to get off work in the afternoon. It just happened to be Earth Day, and since I have always loved the world, ever since the 70's when we used the term "ecology" instead of "environment" as in, " I am all about ecology!", I celebrated one of my favorite holidays by putting my laundry on the line, as opposed to using an electric dryer and then doing one of my favorite bike rides. I didn't drive my car once the entire day.

I thought there was supposed to be a stronger headwind, but it wasn't too bad at all. It's almost exactly a 50 mile ride to Sutliff Bridge and back. It was the first time this year that I rode that far at any kind of speed and without stopping with my friends a bunch of times.

I stopped at the bridge and had the whole thing to myself. I drank some water and ate my blueberry coffee cake that I got at the Co-op on my way home from work, and watched the river rushing underneath me. The bar at the end of  the bridge was cranking old country music, Waylon Jennings, followed by Merle Haggard, followed by George Jones. It was perfect.

I got home a little later than I thought, so John was nice enough to get us some take-out sushi and we had a nice, relaxing evening and then went to bed embarrassingly early.

On Saturday, I went on a nice, easy 4.5 mile run and then John and I headed to Menards to get more stakes and organic black dirt, and some bulbs for the garden. I also did some more yard work with about 6,458 more hours of work to go...Of course, the trails were calling and who were we not to answer?

We had another great day riding and playing outside. John got me to ride on one small section of black trails. Last year my goal was to get brave enough to ride on all of the blue trails and once I did that, this year I'm trying to get brave enough to ride the black trails. In my head, that meant that maybe by August when I was in better shape and had some practice. John's idea was that I start last Saturday. He respected my deferring, but I have a feeling he'll keep gently pushing me in that direction.

Saturday night, I made some BBQ shrimp shish kabob over brown rice and a lovely, cold glass of pinot gregio and we watched the movie, "Infinitely Polar Bear". Mark Ruffalo was excellent in it.

Sunday morning was a trail work day. We had missed the last couple and even though we had committed to a road ride with our RAGBRAI friends, we still managed a couple of hours whacking those bad sticker bushes.

We met our friends at the Deadwood at 11 and headed out to Solon. We had a nice tailwind on the way there, which meant we were going to suffer a little more on the way home. I guess we could all worry about that later...

Some of our friends who weren't up for the ride, met us at Big Grove for lunch. It was wonderful to be able to hang out outside for pretty much the entire day.

On the way home, some of the guys were talking about getting a quick drink somewhere and I invited them all over to our porch instead. Unfortunately, I kind of forgot to confer with John, but luckily he wasn't too upset. We sat around and talked about past and future bike rides until about 6 pm when everyone took off and we finally had to go inside.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

When I'm Out Running, I Strut My Stuff...

I had the most wonderful weekend. I can't put the photos of it up on here at work, so I will try to get that taken care of tonight and write it out tomorrow. Today? You get random Springiness. My bleeding hearts are going crazy right now. My lilacs are blooming early, but they don't seem quite as plentiful as they normally are. As soon as I have a spare second that I don't fill with running or bike riding or otherwise playing outside, I will try to get going on planting the seedlings that seem to be thriving in my bedroom window.

This morning I did a fun little 3.5 mile run on the bike path before work. I had my iPhone full of dorky music and it played me songs by bands/groups at the bottom of the V's and all of the W's. For whatever reason known only to my iPhone it played it backwards from the alphabet. Here is the lurvely playlist I got to listen to this morning:

1.  "Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F*ck Wit" - Wu Tang Clan - Honestly, nothing makes a white, middle aged woman feel more bad-ass street than starting her 6 am run through her Midwestern college town listening to Wu Tang Clan. Do you feel me? Sure.  I thought you did.

2. "Land of 1,000 Dances" - Wilson Pickett - One of my favorite songs to run to.

3. "Jesus Etc" - Wilco - Now, that's a little more appropriate. Perfect music for a middle aged White lady.

4. "Kansas City" - Wilbert Harrison.

5. "Baba O'Riley" - The Who - When I was in high school, I used to listen to this when I ran as well. It made me feel so rebellious back then. Now, it just makes me feel kind of old.

6. "Fell in Love With a Girl" - The White Stripes - This used to be my ringtone for Coadster. It still makes me think that Coadster is calling me...

7. "Summer" - War. This song takes me right back to living in a suburb on the Southside of Chicago when I was 11. It's a little slow for running, but it gets HUGE nostalgia points.

8. "Kiss Off" and "Blister in the Sun" - both by the Violent Femmes. Those songs take me back to my first Summer in Iowa City in 1984. My roommates and I used to lay-out in front of our apartment building to tan. Not only had we never heard of sunscreen, but we used baby oil instead, so our skin could really fry and I can now worry about how much melanoma my body will make for me because of that. Blister in the sun was so very accurate.

9. "Hurry On Sundown" - Vetiver - This is a great song to run to...It's also good for road trips. It was the perfect song to end my run to.

The other good thing about this warmer weather is that now I can go outside and read on my breaks and lunch. Of course, when I'm outside I don't get quite as much reading done, because I notice that my glasses leave a cool reflection on my dress and it reminds me of when I was a kid and my brother used to sneak up on me and try to burn my skin with a magnifying glass and one time he did that to a friend of mine and she said, "That doesn't exactly tickle, you know." And then I have to laugh at the memory of all the girls in my class using that phrase, "It doesn't exactly tickle, you know" in the mid 1970's and then through all of that I've "read" a couple of pages of my book that I have to reread, because I obviously wasn't paying attention through my memory. Welcome to my world...

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Heart is Crammed in My Cranium and It Still Knows How to Pound

I was supposed to do two races this weekend, and yet, I have no race reports. Wah.

It was a rough weekend for migraines and not feeling well. So, on Saturday when I was supposed to do a very hilly 10K running race, I was just too dizzy and weak to do it, but I was still able to go and take photos and cheer John and my friends on.

Lucky for me, my friends are silly and fun and are great for photo ops.

John wasn't super happy with his race. His time was worse than last year and he said he felt crappy the whole run. I wonder a little if he still hasn't quite gotten over his cold yet. He still was 3rd in his category and he loves this course, so he still had a nice morning.

We got home and went to town on Sprunging the Spring and the warm weather. I took 3 big tubs of bottles and cans back to the Can Shed and put the money we got for it in our pizza fund cup. Then we got all the screens out of the garage and replaced all the storm windows - which isn't a quick or easy process when you have a fat orange cat trying to escape every time you open a window....We also did some cleaning and I worked for a little minute in the yard.

I was still hoping to do the 20 mile Time Trial race on Sunday at that point, so I wanted to get in a 2nd ride on the TT bike and check out which sunglasses would work best with my funny looking aero helmet, so I took my time trial bike out on Sand Road and got about 10 miles in.

That night, I made veggie lagasna for dinner and we watched a movie on Netflix streaming called, "Man Up" with Simon Pegg. It was super goofy but we both thought it was pretty fun.

I woke up around 12:30 with a migraine. I got up and took my meds and went back to bed. By 6 am, I got up again and my brain pain was still too bad to race. I thought I might be able to still go to the race and help out and take photos, but after about 5 minutes of trying to walk around, I realized that was a pipe dream I wasn't going to be smoking anytime soon either. So, John took off to the race and I went back to bed.

I woke up again around 10:30 and finally felt better. I decided to just go on a little 3.5 mile run and test my legs and my strength. I wasn't setting any records, but I wasn't doing too badly. I read my book a little and then John got home form his race and I made us black bean quesadillas for lunch.
Since we were both kind of tired but it was a beautiful day and we still wanted to play, we decided to hit the trails at Sugar Bottom.

They were so much dryer and nicer than the week before and we had a great time. It's so nice to go out to Sugar Bottome, because we almost always run into people we know. This time, our friend Todd was out there and we stopped and talked to him for a minute. He told John he was crazy for doing a 10K run on Saturday, a 20 mile TT that morning and THEN riding mountain bikes in the afternoon. He didn't get an argument from me.

In the evening, we ordered a pizza and then John went to play pool with his friend and I watched cheesy TV, ate some ice cream and read my book. Even for a bad migraine weekend, I was still lucky enough to get out and play some and stay home and rest some. Balance!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April, Come She Will

Nice leaning barn in the back there. It's a good thing the winds were coming the other way, or they could have finished the job.

So, I'm a little behind on blogging...Let's go back to Thursday, shall we? I finally got to use a half day of vacation to go on a fun bike ride.

The winds were blowing out of the Southeast fairly strong...Although, nothing compares to what they were like a couple of weekends ago...

I decided to head to Lone Tree for a nice 40 mile ride. It was a lovely day. I hadn't ridden to Lone Tree in a year. I love the route I take to get there. On the way out, I am mostly on a nice, curvy road with very little car traffic. There are beautiful farm houses and barns, and cows. Yea cows!

I had a couple of cookies in my jersey pocket, for my break at the tank when I got to Lone Tree proper. It was a beautiful day in the 60's, so sitting and eating cookies and drinking water outside, was the perfect thing for me to do.

I headed back to a glorious tailwind. I came home all full of endorphins and loving the world...

...Then I had to deal with the damn cats. The cats are thrilled now that it's warm enough to get out on the porch where they have a HUGE 3-D, TV, eternally tuned-in to the nature channel with smell-o-rama capabilities.

Inevitably Archie acts like a big jerk and starts trying to rip the screen in order to get even MORE attention, and so he has to get put in time-out. Heidi, who is normally irritated with Archie, is suddenly incensed and worried on his behalf and I have to roll my eyes so far up into my head, I'm never sure if they'll roll back out. The cat drama never ends...

Basically, this post is an ode to Spring in Iowa. Thank you for warming up, thank you for your beautiful breezes (although you can feel free to turn that sh*t down a notch), and your fragrant flowering trees that make my bike rides a complete and wonderful sensory experience. Now, if you can just do something about these cats....

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's a Wonder Tall Trees Ain't Layin' Down.

So, it's the 10th anniversary of the Iowa City tornado. Just for fun, I'm going to trot out the piece I wrote about the tornado right after it happened. Here it is:

 At first the sirens went off and we ignored them. I have ignored those sirens for the 20 years I've lived in Iowa City. Coadster looked worried but I reassured her (like I always do) that there will never be a tornado in Iowa City because of the way the river runs or whatever the hell I've always been told. Then the siren went off again and I told Coadster that the tornado would hit Swisher like it always does. Then I got a call from Ale' at UAY telling me that she was safe and in a basement.

I got Coadster set up in our laundry room that doesn't have any windows (we don't have a basement) and I decided to take a bath since the bathroom doesn't have any windows either. I lit candles just in case the power went out and Coadster had dragged any comforter or blanket she could find. Halfway through my bath, the sirens stopped and then I heard a sound different from anything I'd ever heard before. It was like a train, but louder - it was a huge locomotive, bigger than our house. I jumped out of the tub and wrapped some towels around myself. Coadster was in the fetal position on the floor and so I wedged right behind her. She had made a nest of our dirty laundry and comforters and we covered ourselves in blankets. Our ears were popping and we could feel the house start to lift. All we could hear was that fucking train and Coadster screaming, "Mommy, make it stop!" But I couldn't. I couldn't protect my daughter. When I felt the house move, I thought that was it for us and I was so sad that Ale' would have to grow up without us.

 Then something happened and our ears stopped popping and the house calmed down. I think it was because the roof blew off and relieved the pressure. Then the winds died down. We were afraid to sit up in case it came back. I reminded Coadster to breathe, "In through your nose and out through your mouth," and we practiced taking long, deep breaths together.

We heard voices outside. People inquiring if everyone was okay. We decided to get up and see what happened. All of our windows were covered in mud and I remember thinking how strange it was that none of them had blown through. I tried to open our door to see out, but there was a tree keeping us in. I went around to the other door and the tree was there too, but we could wedge it open a crack big enough to get through. Our neighbor and his daughter were standing outside. When Coadster saw her friend, they both cried and held onto each other. My neighbor informed me that there was a gas leak and a downed power line and we should leave our place. He took Coadster and I tried to get in my car and pick up Ale' downtown.

My car looked okay at first and then I noticed the glass. The back window blew through my car along with parts of trees and leaves. I cleaned off my seat and got in. The road was blocked by a downed tree to the West and so I tried to go the other way. I made it to Hotz Street before I was blocked by another tree. Hotz St was torn up. Every tree, every garage, most of the houses looked like they had been bombed. The radio was telling me that another tornado was approaching so I got out and tried to run to our neighbor's house. A guy stopped me and asked me if I had a place to go. I have no idea what I said to him, but whatever it was must have appeased him. It smelled like Christmas because of the huge pine that had been topped off and was now lying in the street. I looked out for downed power lines and climbed over several huge trees before I made it to the neighbor's house. Every single one of their windows had been blown out, but they had a basement and we all huddled in the bathroom and listened to the radio.

It sounded safe again. The neighbor's phone was working so I called my ex-husband at 126 where he works and asked him to get Ale'. We went outside to see if everyone was okay. Slowly, we were finding people and pets. But we couldn't see very well. We thought it would be so much better if we could just see. We were trying to go from house to house on Parsons, Hotz and Jefferson to make sure everyone was okay. Most people I ran into were laughing - not because it was funny, but because it all seemed so ridiculous and surreal. I walked past a duplex on Hotz street where one side was smashed by a tree and I heard someone sobbing. That sound was almost worse than the sound of the tornado itself.

We had heard that they turned the gas off so we thought it was safe to go back home. I walked to the back to see if the gas lines were still attached and they were. When I came back to the front my landlord was there with his high school aged daughter and 2 of her male friends. he hugged me and said his house was fine but he was fighting back tears at what happened to us. He thought it would be okay for us to stay in our place since the gas was off.

The upstairs neighbors came home to get their cats. He had left 10 minutes before the storm and had barely made it to his friend's house before it hit. Luckily, their cats were fine and they put them in a duffel bag to take them back to where they were staying. His girlfriend was crying and Coadster went up to her and said, "Are you okay? Really?" and hugged her. I was so happy that my daughter was growing up to be a compassionate and good person. Sometimes when they're 13 and hard to take, you wonder, but Coadster has been so amazingly helpful and kind through all of this.

The guy who lives upstairs looked around and said, "Dude, this looks just like Storm Stories, but it's my house."

The girls and I finally went in our house. We unfolded our futons and all slept together in the living room so I could reach over and make sure they were okay throughout the night. One, two. One, two. I counted them from time to time. They were both sure they wouldn't be able to sleep, but they were out in 5 minutes. I was up most of the night. We had to leave the window open (without a screen as they had all been shredded and ripped off), since there could have been gas left in the pipes to escape into our house. MidAmerican was across the street by 10 and working cutting up all the felled trees on the power lines. Chainsaws buzzed all night and after the bars closed, the drunk college kids stumbled through our neighborhood laughing and probably looting. I fell asleep dreaming about a drunken A-hole trap. In my dream, the power was still on and I set a cold shiny 40 oz. directly behind the live power line and watched as each drunk fried on their way to take it.

She Had Wheels On, On Her Feet

Sunday was a recovery day. It was also a very good day. I felt like crap in the morning, not oddly enough. John woke me up early enough to watch much of Paris-Roubaix on-line. He also gave me a shoulder and foot rub while we watched the race. If you ever want to make someone worship you and start a new religion in your honor, give that person who just ran a 25K trail run the day before, a shoulder and foot rub. I am one very lucky girl.

I always feel like a race car driver when I forget to take my helmet off and I'm sitting in the car with it on.

John read this thing that said it is better for you to run an easy, short run the day after a long race, than to not run at all. So, I ran 2 VERY slow miles. It didn't exactly tickle, but it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be, either.

I did some reading, some laundry and some leftover heating up for lunch. Then I took the nicest, biggest, fattest nap you can imagine. I was still exhausted from the day before, so it was just what the doctor ordered. It had rained a little on and off, so we weren't sure if the mountain bike trails would be open, but we called and it said they were. It looked like it rained more closer to Solon, than in Iowa City, but the sign on the trails still said they were open. Mountain bike riding is great for me when I'm tired. I can go slowly and and play in the woods and I take it easy and don't ride anything that's the least bit scary to me and just have a good time.

As we rode, the trails seemed pretty good for the most part, but were a little wet in places. We heard someone riding fast behind us, and we got out of the way so they could pass. He was a guy named Ryan who is on another racing team. He stopped and asked if we were feeling weird about riding the trails, even though they were open. He said he thought they were about 80 % good, but 20 % might be a little too muddy. We all agreed that we didn't want to be "those guys" who ride on the trails when they're not supposed to, so we finished up our lap and headed back to the car.

We finished up the last day of the weekend, by listening to the Dire Straits Pandora station while we made enchiladas, black beans, Mexican rice, de gallo salsa and guacamole for dinner and then watched the movie, "Creed". Not a bad day for a girl who could barely walk.

Monday, April 11, 2016

They Just Don't Appreciate That You Get Tired.

O M GEE, kids! Saturday was rough. Originally, I thought that my biggest problem would be pain in my feet, but that ended up being the least of my worries.

It was a cold morning, but really beautiful. I decided not to wear a jacket at the beginning of the race and boy was I glad I didn't have to carry that thing around with me for 15.5 miles. I also noticed that I screwed up the laces on one of my shoes, right before the race, but didn't have time to fix it. I hoped that it wouldn't come back to bite me during my race...
I think I was doing the Frankenstein Shuffle here. Thanks to the Hawkeye 50 for the photo.

I started the race at a nice, slow pace. Map My Run barked at me that I was running about a mile a minute slower than I was the year before, but I knew I wasn't going to be strong enough to go much faster than that. I carried one bottle of water and one bottle of Gatorade and three salted caramel Gu's on me and it seemed about perfect for fueling and hydrating during the race.

No surprise, my biggest problem during the race turned out to be how undertrained I was. There wasn't anything I could do about that, since I couldn't make myself be uninjured all Winter long. So, all I could do was plug away and hope I was strong enough to finish the race.

About 2 miles or so into the race, a woman came around me and asked, "Are you a talker or a quieter?" I think she was looking for someone to run and chat with, and we were pretty closely paced. I felt bad, but I told her I was a quieter, because I couldn't breathe very easily when I ran. She said, she totally understood and went past me. I really appreciated her asking me, because some people just assume you are like they are and want to chat. We ran pretty closely together, passing each other at different times until I got to the Spillway. The water was a bit higher than years past, and there was ice on some of the rocks, so I was pretty careful not to fall as I crossed. There was a nice little group of us running/walking up the crazy hill after the spillway. It was there that I realized that my shoe lacing problem was going to mess with me. My shoe was so loose that I was afraid it was going to come off, so I had to stop and untie and retie it tighter. Of course, it all took way longer than it should have because I got my hands wet during the water crossing and they were freezing in the cold air. By the time I got all recombobulated (it's a word in my head. Trust me), all my running group friends were long gone.

By the 7th mile, I was in a bad place. I was already exhausted, I couldn't see anyone in front of or behind me and I thought I might be last. I also was silly and was trying to do math to calculate what time I might get into the finish at my current pace...I can't really do math when I'm not oxygen deprived and exhausted, so that was clearly a bad idea. I calculated incorrectly, and thought it would take me 3.5 hours at this pace. I also started breathing too shallowly, which can turn into panic breathing. So, I told myself to chill the Eff out. I worked on slowing down my breathing, tried to rationally look at the chances that I was actually last, and admitted that I saw people behind me at the water crossing, and even if I was last and it did take me 3.5 hours to finish, so what? All I had to do was get through this next mile, and if I had to walk, then I'd walk. My breathing calmed down, and I carried on...Albeit, very slowly.

I walked up most of the big hills, because I knew I didn't have much left and I didn't want to burn all of my matches on the uphills. I ran past a woman and then a couple and then a man and by the time I hit the paved road with about 4 miles left, I passed another woman. I kept trying to go one more mile and see if I could do that without walking, and finally I was at the turn-off with about a half mile to go. John was waiting for me there and told me I was almost there. Two women came out of nowhere and passed me like I was standing still on the home stretch. If I had any oxygen left, I would have said, "Good on you. Go get it!" I finally finished and I could barely stand. I finished in 2 hours and 38 minutes the year before and this year it took me 2 hours and 55 minutes. Yikes.

I will say, that if my whole point of racing is to push myself past certain limits, then I was a HUGE winner. Unfortunately, I may have pushed myself way harder than I should have. I could barely walk after the race, I've had digestive problems and haven't been able to eat much since the race and I was passing-out on and off for a day or two after. Today things are getting back to normal, but I'm not doing any physical exercise, except bike commuting to work and back to let myself rest until tomorrow when I'll reevaluate.

John's race went better than mine, but not as well as he had hoped. He finished a few minutes slower than the year before and said he didn't feel that great during the whole race. He still managed to be 4th in his category and 18th overall. A pretty great result, as far as I'm concerned.

After the race, we met some of our friends at Big Grove for lunch and beer. I was feeling okay at first and got to play with my friend's beautiful baby girl. I gave the baby back and then I was starting to feel hot and dizzy again. I tried to go outside and sit with my head between my knees, but that wasn't working either. I went inside and told John that I needed the keys to the car. I was pretty embarrassed, but I knew if I didn't hightail it somewhere where I could lie down, I was going to pass-out. John came out to check on me, but we had ordered food, so he went back into the restaurant. I told him to go back and  have fun. I would be just fine, as long as I didn't have to sit up. I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke-up/came-to, I felt a lot better. I went in, and John had already eaten and had the waitress box up the rest of our food. I told him I was feeling better and took a few bites of my salad. I wasn't hungry, but all I had eaten so far that day was some oatmeal and a couple of Gu's and I had burned about 2300 calories during the race, so I figured I should. We stayed and chatted with everyone about a half hour more, and then we headed home. It was a great day and I was happy I finished it. My body might be a little pissed off at me, but what else is new?

Friday, April 08, 2016

Keep the Pace Hold the Race. Your Mind is Getting Clearer

Jaxson kept eating my book while I was trying to read it. It would have been annoying if he weren't so damn cute.
 I woke up yesterday with very sore leg muscles. I tried to remember what I did the day before to cause it. Had I run a marathon, or done a 100 miles on my time trial bike? Was it from all that puppy playing? Then it hit me. It was something way more strenuous and brutal than all of that...Yup. You got it - yard work and gardening. It gets me every year.

After work yesterday, I was doing a nice, easy, run on the bike trail. I saw a couple of ducks up ahead of me and I was quickly gaining on them. I would have caught them too, if they hadn't resorted to using their amazing powers of flight.  Little cheaters.

So, tomorrow, I am signed up for the Hawkeye 25K. It's that 15.5 mile trail run I do every year. Of course, this year, I am in no kind of shape for it. The longest I've been able to run without my feet hurting so badly I could cry, was 9 miles. I am going into the race the same way I have everything this year - cutting myself a sh*t-ton of slack. If I can't go very fast, I'll go slowly. If my feet hurt too badly to run, I'll take myself a nice walk in the woods. The only thing I'll hurt is my pride.

I am glad that I did so well last, year, because I don't have that pressure hanging over me. I will have a great time.  I plan on Enjoying the amazing scenery and then going to Big Grove brewery, where they gave us half priced beer after the race last year, and meet some of our bike racing friends who are also doing the race. I'm looking forward to the fun.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Round Here We Stay Up Very, Very, Very, Very Late

On Tuesday I had originally planned to take a vacation day and ride my bike. As it got closer, the weather got crappier. The I decided to use that day to get some work done around the house and just rest. As I've mentioned before, I haven't been feeling the best lately, and I've had a hard time sleeping, so I feel exhausted and dizzy much of the time. So, I figured a rest day might do me good. Then on Monday, I found out that my newest grand puppy got into something and spent the night in the puppy ER. You would think that a puppy that small wouldn't be able to get into anything, but puppies are like babies, they seem to be able to defy gravity and somehow gain the power of flight to access all the things that are oh, so very bad for them.

I volunteered to watch the puppy and give him his meds at the appointed times and make sure he pooped out the bad stuff. It was a pretty damn good day, if you ask me.

Stinky was bringing the puppy over at about 8:30, so I got up early to run my 4.5 mile route. It's been a while since I've been running when it was in the 20's. That was cold for my old bones.

Jaxson and I had a grand old time. We played with the red dot, and all the cat toys and he chased Archie around...Of course, Archie is still terrified of Jaxson, since Archie only weighs 15 lbs more than the puppy. By mid-afternoon, right as Jaxson was eating, Archie got a little braver. Too bad Jaxson licked his bowl clean, because Archie was kind enough to finish his food for him if he couldn't. Archie's a giver that way...

I got Jaxson settled on the couch and I was trying to read my book, when we both decided to take a little afternoon snooze. Archie got extra, special, brave after Jaxson fell asleep. he even nudged the puppy with his paw just to see if he was really asleep.

We slept for about an hour. I have to say, puppy naps really are the best naps.

I tried to get a selfie with the puppy, but that was easier said than done. This was about all I could manage without squirming and blurring all over the place.

I probably don't need to tell you that I didn't get much done on my day off...Except for eggplant parmesan over linguini with steamed asparagus made for dinner. But it was a perfect day to not go to work, play with a puppy and rest. Exactly what I needed.

Also, the puppy seems to be healed from his foray into garbage cuisine. Silly old boy.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

All For Freedom and for Pleasure. Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

I saw this thing along the bike path. I think it's a stripped down bike helmet with some kind of spike in it? Is it a hoodoo message to cyclists?

Since it is April 6th already, I thought I might finally get around to doing my monthly stats for march. here we go:

Cycling Miles - 177.

Running Mile - 87.60.

Swimming Miles: 5.

Walking Miles - 2.

Races: 2. One 10K road running race and one 25 mile part gravel/part road race on my cyclocross bike.

Books Read: 7. "The Secret Garden", by Frances Hodgson Burnett, "Norwegian Wood", by Haruki Murakami, "Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance", Carla Kaplan, "Wolf in White Van" John Darnielle, "In the Woods" Tana French, "Last Kind Words Saloon" Larry McMurtry, "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity", Katherine Boo.

House Projects started or comepleted - ....Yeah. You know the drill. One of these days...

Drawing/Paintings started or completed - I did do some doodling and a few rough sketches, but I'm still having a hard time coming up with an image I really want to paint.

Yard Work - I started some seedlings of organic basil, tomatoes, cone flowers and marigolds for the garden, I've been playing pick-up sticks in my backyard almost every day with these colossal winds, and I'm clearing leaves away from the garden, so the earliest flowers can get sunlight and bloom away.

Out of Town Trips - 1. To Des Moines for a running race.

So, that was my March in numbers. I'm hoping that the weather starts getting warmer and less windy this month, so I can stop wasting my time eternally picking up sticks in my yard and start playing more on my bike.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

It Was a Wicked and Wild Wind

On Sunday we decided to ride our road bikes. According to the Weather Channel, it wasn't supposed to be as windy as the day before...But it was more than windy enough. I thought the gusts were supposed to be up to 30 mph, but once we got out onto roads with nothing to break the wind, it was closer to 40 mph.

It was the first ride of the year for one of guys and the wind was killing all of us, so we stopped for a minute in Hills, and a random guy pulled over to where we were standing, behind a building trying to shield ourselves from the wind. He was some kind of RAGBRAI blogger, and he gave us his card, so we could check out his blog. Crap. I still need to do that.

We took another break about 8 miles from Kalona. If you look at the photo above, you can see by the red rag on the Embargo sign exactly which way the wind was blowing and just how strong.

We take a couple of dirt roads that aren't bad for a road bikes, but when we were getting ready to turn onto the last one, we realized that they had just regraveled it and that new gravel was crazy thick. One of the guys we were riding with said that it was tough enough to ride with the wicked head and cross wind without trying to maneuver on thick gravel with road bikes, so we continued straight onto Highway one, which can be busy but has a really wide shoulder for all of the horse and buggies from the Amish community,

As we reached the Highway, we saw a woman getting blown away just walking along the road. She laughed when she saw us and asked, "What are you guys doing?" We wondered the same thing. The Highway was even worse with a cross wind. I have never in my life wished that I weighed more before, but I would have paid money for another 50 lbs to keep from blowing into traffic with each gust. It didn't help that I was riding a bike with dish wheels that worked like sails.

We crossed the highway and tried the other side of the road, so that the wind would blow me into the ditch instead of into a truck on the highway. Blowing into the ditch wasn't all that much more fun, so about a mile from Kalona, I told the boys to go ahead and I'd meet them there. John was nice enough to stay with me and we walked until we got to Highway 22, where we could finally turn and get the benefits of a tailwind into town. Whew!

We made it to the brew pub and I was starving. I normally get the salad there, but I needed something more substantial. Pizza! I had a migraine earlier in the morning, so I couldn't drink alcohol. John thought it was sad that I couldn't even drink a beer after putting in that much work, but drinking lemonade was actually perfect after all the wind and the heat. After our other friend, also named John, found out that it was 80 outside degrees, he said, "So, basically, we've been riding into a hair dryer?" Pretty much.

As we were sitting at the table, we all agreed that if over the course of our lunch, the winds had changed and we had to ride home in a head/cross wind like on the way there, we would give up and call for a ride. Luckily for us, we didn't have to do that. We rode back and for the first half of the ride we had the most glorious tail wind I have ever experienced. I have never ridden my bike that far in winds that strong before, so I had no idea what kind of joy that tailwind could bring. We had contests to see who could go the longest without pedaling. For me that was almost two miles of uphills and down, with an average pace of 20 mph. I wish I had my bike camera on me. I would have loved to get a photo of the boys riding in front of me with both arms outstretched and not pedaling. It was beautiful.

Of course with all good things, it had to come to an end. Once we got back on Sand Road, the winds had shifted enough that we had a bad West cross wind. The two boys fell behind, but I couldn't go slowly enough to wait for them to catch up, without getting blown off the road. So, John slowed down for them and they caught me waiting at the red light on the way into town.

I was talking to John about the ride later on, and we both agreed that however hard it was at parts, that ride was so worth it. Talk about an incredible adventure...

Monday, April 04, 2016

There's No Time to Cry. Happy, Happy.

What a weekend, what a weekend! Holy cow. We started out Friday night with me going into the garden to see if the hyacinths had bloomed yet and finding a ton of fresh catnip...And since it was the weekend, we got the cats high. Archie was totally all about the mellow.

Thanks to the Red Shamrock Foundation for the photo.

On Saturday morning, we got up and ran a mile and a half to the site to do our first trail race of the year. Of course, for me, it was my first trail run of the year too. I had planned to do a trail run a week for the last month, but that never happened.

Soooo, here's my race report:

I went into the race without a lot of hope for a great outcome. I decided to go out slow and try to do some negative splits. I usually go out balls to the wall, but I knew I didn't have it, and even if starting out slowly isn't the fastest, it definitely makes the run less painful and more fun.

I probably started out a little TOO slowly, but I'm okay with that. The first mile or two didn't feel that great. I even warmed-up enough this time too..By the second mile my quads were cramping something fierce. I have no idea why. We hit a long uphill section and I said, screw it, and walked up part of it. After that, my quads were just fine.

After the race when we are all windswept. Thanks to Brittany McConnell for taking this.

I got into a group of four guys and we hit a single track, technical section. I suddenly remembered how to choose my line and hit my feet in the best place over logs and among the roots sticking up on the trail. It was so much fun. After we reached a more open section, two of the guys took off, I passed the other two guys and ran off, but wasn't able to catch the first two. When we got to the bouncy, bridge, I knew I was getting close to the end of the race. There were about 5 of us on the bridge at once and every time my foot came down, the bridge came up and I finally had to yell, "I hate this bridge!" and all of the other runners laughed and agreed.

I came into the finish and was very happy to be done. The winds had been ridiculous and I was exhausted, but so happy. I ended up being 6th out of 16 in my category and I was more than fine with that. They changed the course some, so I have no idea if my time was better or worse than previous years. Basically, I finished the run and remembered all over again why I love racing...Even when I'm not at my strongest. Also? I need to run more trails. I forgot how fun they are.

The winds were crazy all day on Saturday. Can I mention again about how windy it was? Apparently, I can. We both rested after the race for a bit. Then I heated up pizza for lunch and we headed to Beverly in Cedar Rapids to ride some mountain bike trails.

The high winds weren't so bad in the cover of the trees, but there were many, many sticks blowing onto the trails. About a half mile in, John got a big stick stuck in his derailleur. It looked like we were going to have to walk our bikes back to the car, but John was able to bend things enough and not use his two easiest gears, so we could ride.

We had a blast on the trails. I hadn't ridden in Beverly since last Spring, and I did miss it. They have the coolest dirt berms there. We rode about 10 miles and my legs started to get very, very sore. A vulture was following us around the trails, and I figured I should take that as a sign that he was just waiting for me to die, so he could pick my bones, and we called it a day...A lovely playing on trails kind of day, and went home. There is nothing better than the feeling of being so tired from playing outside all day that all you can do is go home and eat and rest.