Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear Old Mom - Again

My dear old mother is at it again. She fell and broke her hip yesterday. She's in the Hershey Medical Center having surgery for a hip replacement today, Wednesday. Poor thing is in a bunch of pain again. It was a "classic hip fracture" the Orthopedic surgeon told us. They call it a femoral neck break where the ball at the top of your femur snaps off. She'll be getting that ball replaced with a new one. The hip socket is ok and will not be replaced. It's an 8-12 week recovery. So guess who gets to cook, clean, and wash clothes for my parents again for the next couple weeks? It's all a test... and of course I want to pass so I'll study hard. No, the training for TSE will not let up. I can get a LOT of biking in from 4:00 am to 7:00ish, and have an entire day to do everything else. With a little luck, mom will be back on her feet just about the time it will start to get nice out. She knows I'm "in training" and appreciates how much I need to ride. So she'll be very flexible with me helping her and riding. Rick is a sweetheart too and will take care of stuff here at our house (keeping things straightened up, cooking for himself, etc). Life is STILL good!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Endurance Period 2 Wrap Up - Over the Hump for Winter Training

Believe it or not, we are in week 12 of the 20 week winter training plan. So that means only 8 more weeks of winter, right? Yeh -- I'm not in the winter/cold/snow mode this year since all I want to do is bike my ass off and its much, much nicer when its warm. I don't want it to snow (getting that wish here in central PA!), I'm wishing for warming temps to get outside to ride, and I'm getting tired of the trainer; although I'm sure the past two weeks are why I'm a tad weary of the trainer and will be raring to go next week. Endurance Period #2 was just finished up yesterday. It was a two-week stint of a planned 17.5 and 18.0 hours. Being a working girl and with the Christmas holiday AND the cold temps preventing me (not Donna!) from getting out, I didn't hit those hours. I did, however, eek out a 13-hr and 12-hr week -- all but 3 hours on the trainer which may explain the weariness of it. Both of the weeks included another 2 hours or so of core work bringing the final tally to 15ish hours for both weeks. Given my prior-years training hours were never this high, I'm a happy camper even without hitting the planned 17.5/18 hours. This week is a very welcome REST and I won't have any trouble whatsoever adhering to the plan. The plan is to also drop the 5 pounds gained since Thanksgiving. Damn cookies, cheese, and lack of willpower.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Buttercup Hit a PR on the Trainer

4:00 hours, 50.53 miles, 135 average HR, 2574 calories burned. Me, myself, and I headed to the cave at 5:30 am and emerged at 9:30. That left plenty of day for the cooking frenzy I'm about to begin for Christmas Day. I have to admit, I never imagined I could sit indoors on a trainer and ride bike for 4 hours. I shocked myself. All it took was Spinervals Hardcore 100, paying attention to Coach Troy's cues, and EATING. I had a bagel with fruit spread before I started, a Clif bar and Hammer bar during, and a Boathouse Farms Thai Chi Tea. Now I know I can do the entire 3-DVD set which is about 5 1/2 hours (maybe for the 5-hour January endurance session). Bring it! Tomorrow will be a mere 3 hours with a rest day on Christmas. Sunday I'll be back at it for 3.75 hrs and I'd love if Mom nature would cooperate and I could go outside, but she's stubborn sometimes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Riding With the MBM Crew to See the Eclipse (In Spirit)

The MBM riders, decided to see the lunar eclipse this morning up close and personal from the comfort of their bike saddles at 2:50 am. Unhuh -- Donna, Brett, Zach and Sheena went for a spin at 2:50 am this morning to watch the lunar eclipse happening only every 400 years or so on Winter Solstice. Nice. You can read about the fun they had here. I rode with them in spirit. Rick and I both got up about 3:00ish to see the eclipse. He opted to go back to bed, I opted to get on the trainer and take a spin for an hour or so. Nothing like spinning at 3:17 am. Yeh baby...

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Official -- My Transylvania Epic Training Bud

It's official kids - my training partner has come out. Donna's doin' the Transylvania Epic (TSE) ! Her and Brett helped mark one of the stages last year and said the atmosphere at the base camp was really cool. I watched last year's race unfold via the Internet and was SO wishing I could do it. This year, we both decided to just buck up and do it! The plan is, if I end up being the only Master 50+ female and they eliminate the category (which is what the fine print says if 5 girls aren't entered), we'll be a duo rather than in open women. Donna and I met about 9 or 10 years ago and rode our first race together at the 12 Hours of Ole Bull Midnight Madness in 2002 on Team "Dirtpuff Girlz." Many years later, we're still annoying the hell out of each other with riding, skiing, racing an adventure race or two in a season, hitting the BSM (Broad Street Market), and talking about one of our favorite topics - food. Yup, we even think the same thoughts on food. Donna inspires me to eat more healthy and try to keep my weight in check. She, of course, is the thin sexy one of the two of us. I was blessed with a cheesy butt, grey thin hair, and a flat chest. But opposites always attract, right? Thinking through the years, we've had many "firsts." We rode the first Ironcross together -- circa 2003. We rode on our Cannondale mountain bikes and lugged those monsters up Wigwam. When we did a training ride for the Ironcross, I'll never forget her standing at the bottom of Wigwam looking up and saying, "Brett - I don't think I can do this." And Brett was saying under his breath, "Oh buck up and do it." But instead, he said, "sure you can honey, just grab your bike and start climbing." I had my first mud race with D -- Blue Marsh. One to remember, for sure. My first 24-hour race was Seven-Springs and guess who was on my team? Yup...Donna. Along with Roxanne Morgan and I think Teresa Spitler. As much as I hated riding in the mud at 3:00 a.m., I went back for a couple more through the years -- always on a team with Donna. We did a couple of the Goals Adventure races which were all memorable - F____ was typically the word of the day. Donna had her first garden last year and I sure hope I was partly responsible for that. I'm sure there's more firsts -- just can't recall them all. Training for something like the TSE is much, much more fun with a training partner. There's nothing like a little encouragement from your friend to endure many, many training hours in preparation for the big week. And we're both extremely fortunate to have such wonderful, supportive hubbies. I think it was a tough pill to swallow for both of them ( time, etc), but both are now totally receptive of us doing it. Heck, I think Brett is even training with Donna and while Rick isn't training with me, he totally accepts me putting in the training time. He knows what this thing involves and is on-board with what I need to do to get 'er dun. He even scheduled his vacation so he can be there with us. Thank you hubby! There is nothing like good friends - thank you friend, Miss Donna!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Endurance Week Wrap Up

At first I was really bummed that I didn't get the planned 17.5 hours in. I made it to 15.75. Then, I remembered I NEVER rode more than about 12 hours in a week and I just put in 13.50 saddle hours this week. That's a record! OK - I'm happy now. It was a cold 28 degrees today, but tolerable since there was no wind. Since it costs $3.00 to drive to the mountain bike trails closest to us, I decided to ride out of the house to the local mountain trails. There was climbing, a handful of rocks, and a fun bushwhacking section that had me walking back up the mountain. I was trying to see where the trail went and it pretty much went no where forcing me to turn around. Oh well. There was also a sign that no one can resist to see what it means: "Restricted area. Stay out." Of course I had to go look. The spot I ride was coal-mined years ago. And the restricted area is yet another cave in of an old mine shaft. They put a single strand of wire around it and hang up the restricted area signs - hardly enough to keep anyone or anything out. There are numerous deep holes/mine shafts in this mountain and valley and some are pretty scary. My dad tells the story of my grandpa going to work in the coal mines by walking through a tunnel in the mountain. Interesting times 75 years ago. There are very few operating coal mines left but numerous abandoned mines. Today I was sharing the mountain with horse back riders and 4-wheelers. But I didn't mind any of them because we were all where we weren't supposed to be but I saw aboslutely no signs whatsoever that said we couldn't be there. The horse folks had their truck and trailer parked out in the open for anyone to see they were riding where they shouldn't. At least a bike and 4-wheeler can sort of sneak in, but the horses can't. Odd they didn't seem to care much. I guess that's proof the land owners really don't mind anymore. The endurance week was good overall. The longest days were 3:15 hours, 3:00, and 2:30 - well on my way to being ready for 7-days straight in 5 months and 1 week. I'm happy with it.

Feeling the Affects of a Bad Diet

Non-holiday season is pretty much a healthy-food eating lifestyle. Well, at least I try on a daily basis and yes, I give in every now and then, but not often. But when the holidays arrive - ferget it! I must be related to Elf and I too agree the major food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. The fight to resist temptation to over-indulge on bad food all year is shot to hell come Christmas. My thoughts of being healthy by not eating dairy, sugar, and fats are just that at Christmas - a tiny little thought stored in the unused portion of my brain. Cookies, cheesecake, cheese, cheese balls, and desserts dance around on my cheesy belly from Rick's birthday (December 12) to New Year's. There's no resistance to a lovely slice of New York Cheesecake with sour cream topping. I know the multitude of bad about cheese cake (and you know it's pretty much ALL bad - saturated fat, factory-farmed dairy products laced with growth hormones and force fed government-subsidized corn that is tainted with genetic modification, and processed graham crackers also tainted with genetically modified and highly processed grains. I told you I know the good and bad stuff!). Yet, at Christmas, I indulge. May be this year will be the year I'll pass on it all because yesterday came yet another sign of my need to pay attention to what I'm feeding my supposedly-in-training-for-the-TSE body. It was cold, so a trainer ride was in order. This time though, I knew I had to eat a little more to get through it, so I did. But I've also been eating more the past two days and the more is all bad stuff - cookies from a work party, vege pizza complete with cheese; candy, chocolate meltaways, crystallized ginger, etc. There was no energy and the ride was shorted by about 3/4 of hour. I felt awful yet again but this time was not a lack of food feeling. It was a sluggish, lack-luster, low-energy feeling. It's an eye-opener when your body sends signals of the lack of proper nutrition and too much fatty, sugary, non-essentials. Part of me is really tired of thinking about food, yet the part that keeps my legs from turning the way they should on the bike reminds me, I better be thinking - and thinking hard. Yesterday's feeling will make me pass on the cheesecake that I'll spend a couple hours making on Thursday. It's a creation, but it'll be for my family who loves it dearly. This year, I have more important foodstuff to focus on. I have a 7-day mountain bike event to be ready for in 5 months and 1 week!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cookies Aren't Good Fuel for a Trainer Ride

Doh! Some really stupid little Buttercup did a 3-hour trainer ride yesterday and thought her 3 or 4 cookies she had in the morning would be enough carbs to help her get started on the ride. Holy cookie crumbs Batman - butter, white flour, and brown sugar just ain't' gonna cut it! She had a big bowl of oatmeal at 7:30ish, cookies, and a salad with eggs about noon before she started the ride about 12:30. And she did fuel during the ride with about 400 calories of her own concoction of seed/energy bars, but they too must not have been sufficient fuel for no sooner was she done her 3 hours, she pretty much was a limp biscuit. She got a nice big dish of Butternut Squash with some brown sugar, a couple pretzels and a big glass of water. But she had to lay down. Her entire body was very weak, tired, and exhausted. She also had only about 30 grams of protein up until that point and she said to hubby, "I think I need some protein too...". She couldn't even get up to make supper. So her dear, wonderful hubby made a beautiful meal of spaghetti, natural and locally raised chicken, and snap peas and Buttercup sucked it all down (a big pile). Forget the calorie counting for a second and just eat -- and she did. She started feeling better within a half hour and today feels great. So that's the 2nd time she messed up the eating before a long trainer ride. The ride itself was spot on - 3 hours with a perfect endurance HR of 137. Maybe one day she'll learn how to eat??? Dumb bitch.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why Doesn't Central PA Have This???

Check this out... a gal from Canada who did the TSE last year - Vegan Vagabond - started her 16 week winter training at this Ottowa Training Center called Eurosport. Never heard of Tacx Fortius trainers, but I guess they are the canadian version of the US Computrainer. This facility and the set-up is oh-so-suhweet -- your own trainer, screen, computer, and a personal fan! Just BYOBike. Wow... why not in Harrisburg?!? If a biker out there is unemployed and looking for work, how 'bout starting your own business. It would be a minimal investment and I'll just bet you could fill the room over the winter! I know of some places you could get a low interest business loan to get started!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Survive Winter Cycling Training Indoors

If you ride bicycle a bunch, you more than likely train year round. And if you're lucky enough to be located in the snow belt, you likely have experienced the numb fingers and feet while trying to ride outside in sub-freezing temps. That uncomfortable frozen feeling probably forced you indoors to try indoor winter cycling. Two of the most popular indoor winter cycling sports are spin classes which are very popular and sometime very intense, and riding a trainer - a mechanism to sit your own bike on and ride for miles without moving an inch. I, personally, have never experienced a spin class; but I've heard from many people they are incredibly good workouts. Problem is, from my perspective as an endurance athlete, they are too short. I've never heard of a spin class lasting longer than an hour. Granted, you need that intensity at least once a week, but it still seems too short to me. The trainer, on the other hand, is convenient and at your fingertips whenever you have time to ride. Problem is, I've heard the majority of people say, they can't last longer than an hour riding indoors (which makes the spin classes seem attractive, huh!) Even the legendary cycling coach, Joel Friel, states its a rare individual than can sit on a trainer for hours upon hours. He also shared other tips for the Endurance Factor Website. Three years ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing indoor trainer riding with a group. For an entire winter from November to March, a group of 4 to 8 of us would ride for three hours at a time - the coach would go four. The group setting make it entirely tolerable. The other nicety was a CompuTrainer which takes all boredom out of indoor riding. It's a computer device that provides visual riding on dozens of preset courses with a device that connects to your rear tire and simulates the course by putting more or less pressure on your tire. But, us normal folks typically don't have $1,700 to drop on a Computrainer, so once I was on my own again, I had to figure ways to endure 3-hour sessions on my own. Yes my friends, I am one of those rare cases that can endure hours upon hours on a trainer. Here's what I found works:
  • It helps if you have someone to train with, but when you don,'t:
  • Good music works. Pick your favorites and load them on your MP3
  • Good movies work. Plug in the DVD and the movie and start spinning.
  • Spinerval DVDs are awesome workouts. Build a collection of about a dozen so you don't get bored with playing the same DVD all the time.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on your bike computer.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on the wall.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on your heart rate monitor.
  • Focus on the sounds or the DVD ONLY
  • If you watch your movie or music all the way through, you know you are on the trainer for somewhere between 1 and 2 hours - 3 hours if you get long movies or Spinerval DVDs.

Did I mention you really shouldn't watch the time? That part is REALLY important. I found if you totally focus on anything BUT the time, you can survive. Before you know it, an hour is over and you're just getting warmed up! Avatar (2-3/4 hours long) is on tap for this weekend. As is Titanic (3.25 hours), or maybe "Tough Love", a 3-hour Spinerval session.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Buttercup Wimped Out on Sunday

She didn't buck up yesterday...

It poured raining all day, so we knew it was an indoor workout day. It was also Ricky's birthday and he wanted to go to the YMCA and Walmart. Buttercup planned to do the spin bike at the Y for an hour, then come home for the 2nd hour. When she got there, someone was on the lone spin bike. Damn it. She wasn't using those recumbent things -- they just aren't the same. Ok, how 'bout the stepper-type machine. Drat - someone is on that. Ok... the elliptical will do with some good tunes. Double drat - the MP3 batteries are dead. She was left with a treadmill with a TV. B.O.R.I.N.G. For an entire hour, Buttercup walked a 2.5% incline watching the life story of Taylor Swift. Can you believe her?! She shoulda walked over to the guy on the lone spin bike and said, "hey... bucko.... aren't you soon dun??" And then socked him in the shin. That woulda worked. Needless to say, when she got home, the incline whooped her enough that she didn't get back on her own bike. That wimp. She ended up curled up and cozy with her kitties at 7:00 p.m. Maybe she was tired too from the day before where she bucked it up big-time and climbed like a mountain goat. Oh well...there will be days like that every now and then and its ok. Tonight's the night to start the 12-days straight of endurance riding and she's pretty psyched after sleeping off her wimpy day yesterday. She's looking at it like a little test of what's to come in 5 months of 7-days straight of 4+ hours of riding per day. The spinerval DVDs are lined up, and Avatar is on order for the weekend session. Go get 'em girlie!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Backroad Specificity Training - Mahantango Valley and Mountain

We got lucky on Saturday and the temps crawled into the 40s and I headed outside for a road ride instead of sitting on the trainer. I decided to do the 2x30-minute climbing day since I knew it wouldn't be hard to keep the heart rate at 90% while climbing the closest - and my favorite - mountain destination. When Rick and I first met, we sat atop this mountain and just soaked it all in - the young couple falling in love and the beauty of the scenery. It was SOOO romantic! Mahantango mountain isn't very high (I think the elevation is about 1,000 feet), but the view is incredible looking into Mahantango Valley. The valley is steeped in history of Pennsylvania German settlers -- my roots. Mahantango Valley is probably most popular for its highly collectible, museum-quality furniture from 200 years ago. Today, only 75 pieces are known to be in existence making this folk-art furniture extremely valuable. A blanket chest sold at Sotheby's 8 years ago for $211,500. Wow. At one point years ago, a local auctioneer told me and my mom he knows of some pieces in little old ladies attics in the valley. My mom and I were drooling. We both adore this type of furniture and when I see an old house in the valley, I wonder if there's a museum piece in the house. Back to the mountain. The mountain is a popular north-facing slope for hangliders. When the wind is right, its quite entertaining to watch these guys "jump" off the slope. See some pictures here and a pilot's story about hang-gliding at the Sac. But it's also an incredibly intense climb when starting at the low point, Mahantango creek. It took me exactly 25 minutes to do the steep 1.5 miles on two-ringed Jake. Yes my friends, I didn't have a granny to do this and I was wishing I did. And the training plan said "2x30-minutes at 90%." So that meant when I got to the top, I turned around and went back down and did it again. I had to fight the little monsters who were tugging at me to NOT go back up a second time. But I bucked up, and did it. My heart rate was one beat under my max at one point for this ride and ended up at an average of 142 for the 2.75 hour ride for the day. Excellent training session - excellent ride for the day.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Trainer and YMCA Kinda Weekend

It's hubby's birthday weekend! He turns a wonderful young 55 on Sunday. We both aren't quite feeling the 50's yet so for now, it's just a number. I think he's bumming about the weekend because none of his little friends are planning any kayak trips this weekend - probably because 1) it's cold and 2) all the river/creek levels are not good right now for any runs. So Ricky's 2nd favorite activity in the winter when there's no snow to cross country ski yet is the YMCA. And hubby is on a money-savings kick right now with gas at $3.09 a gallon, so we're doubling up on stops while we head to the YMCA (it's 12 miles from our home with several stores along the way). Because tomorrow is a busy day, I'm hitting the trainer for 3 hours bright and early at 4:00 a.m. I plan to do weights and walk on the treadmill at the YMCA. And Sunday's weather is questionable too so I think I'll repeat the trainer ride Sunday morning. The plan gives specific outdoor intervals, but they can be replicated on the trainer fairly easily. Sunday will be taxing on the body -- 90% effort for 30 minutes, two times. That's heavy duty - just below race pace. My average heart rate will be about 162. With some good tunes, though, it's not hard to do. Oh boy. I can't wait to have a cookie when I'm done -- it's cookie season!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Week 9 - More Climbing and Prepping for Weeks 10 and 11

Last week and this week of the Winter Mountain biking Training plan are focusing on climbing. Fairly high heart rates and intervals are primarily what it's all about. The weekly hours aren't quite as long with about 11 hours being the weekly total, but the high heart rate can tax the old bod after two weeks. What's going to be interesting is going right into the 2nd set of two-weeks of endurance building. There's no rest week in between. Endurance weeks are L.O.N.G. hours maxing out at about 17 or 18 by the end of the week and it's extremely important to attempt to get as many of those hours in as possible to be ready for 7-days straight of racing in May/June. Ouch. I don't think I've ever gotten that many bike hours in during a single week. It definitely will be a challenge to get those hours -- especially now that's its too cold and dark to ride outside or at night. The majority of those hours will be on the trainer. The other challenge is how will my body take it not having a break. The next rest is between Christmas and New Year's and will be a welcome R&R period. Until next time, ride-on!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Focus Baby, Focus

It's also called determination and persistence. Once the old brain cells get in the right mindset, there's no stopping it. The mindset, in this case, is training for the Transylvania Epic. It takes a bit of determination to train to be ready for racing mountain bike for 7 days straight. Sometimes, though, you need a little encouragement from a friend. This weekend was a test. It was cold -- classic Pennsylvania December weather. The temps were about 32ish both Saturday and Sunday with flurries and wind making it feel something like 19. I had planned to road ride Saturday and head to the woods on Sunday. Of course, I wimped out on Saturday seeing snow on the ground, and the high temps for the day at 32. So I ended up on the trainer at 4:30 in the morning. It was totally unplanned. I woke up (my normal 3:30ish am), piddled around a little sipping coffee, then - on a whim - decided to get on the trainer without any food in my system and a salad the night before. Needless to say, I felt like shit the entire day and didn't realize until about 5:00 pm that I needed a mega dose of carbs. A nice dish of butternut squash with pecans and sucanat did the trick and by Sunday morning I felt great. While I was feeling bad on Saturday, I decided I'd wimp out on my trip to Michaux to ride in the cold. Well..... Miss D wasn't having anything to do with me bailing on her and I'm very, very thankful she talked me out of staying home. We rode for 3.5 hours yesterday on classic Michaux rocky trails and it was an awesome workout - even with flurries and temps no where above 32. I was on my worst rock bike (aluminum hard tail 29er), yet got through some interesting rocky trails without any issues. So I endured 6.5 hours of riding this weekend, thanks to Miss D. I told Rick, I think I'm ready for the first three days of the Transylvania Epic. What an incredible feeling to start feeling like I'm getting in shape again. There's nothing like the feeling of fitness.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Training Week 8 (of 32): Specificity Week - Climbing

Don't you love the word, "specificity?" I had to look the pronunciation up on that one because my long tongue kept getting tied up trying to say it. Spes-if-ic-ity. Got it. Ok... what is it in relation to mountain bike training for the Transylvania Epic? It means the focus is on something specific and for the next two weeks that means climbing and Lord knows I'm the worst climber out there so this week and next week will be good to help me work on my weakness. Part of my problem with climbing is a very poor weight to power ratio. You see, I'm too chunky to be a decent bike rider and that doesn't make for good bike climbing skills. But I'm working on the weight part and my training plan will help me work on the power part for climbing. I'll be in the trainer during the week and will get out on some good mountain climbs this coming weekend. Here's a sample of a trainer workout:
15 min warm-up with easy spinning
15 minutes at 75% effort (for me, that's about a 132 heart rate)
5 minutes easy spin
15 minutes at 80% effort (144 heart rate)
5 minutes easy spin
15 minutes at 75%
5 minutes easy spin
4 x 1 minutes at 90% with 1 minute rest between (90% heart rate is 162).
I live on a hill, so Saturday will be some hill climbing next to my house and if the weather sucks, I'll do a half and half ride: half on the trainer and half on the hill next to my house. Hopefully the weather will hold out and I can get to Michaux on Sunday to climb with my bud, Donna. Nothing like suffering with someone. Actually, after years of training by myself its really nice to have someone to train with for a change. Even Rick is hopping on his trainer during the week and we "train" together. It's awesome. (Although, I had to ask Rick what pedaling so slow does for him...). A whole new realm of training has opened up. It's fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Icing on the Rest Week Cake

It was only 6.75 training hours this week -- 6.75 gloriously easy, restful, re-energizing hours. And the better part of rest week hours? It's about the only time Rick will ride with me and I LOVE riding with my hubby. Thank god it got warm enough for him to ride today because as of last night, he was not going to ride with the high temps only to be around 42 today (probably only in the high 30s in the woods -- WAY too cold for Mr. Brown). The temps made it to about 45 with no wind and it was very comfortable. We rode some of the Lykens Watershed sections of the Rattling Creek trails for about 1.75 hrs and only saw two other riders (compared to last week's packed parking lot and about 2 dozen riders). Dean went with us today. He was thrilled to get out two weeks in a row and I'm thrilled that we are getting acquainted again without him beating up on me too much. He's really not too bad of a guy once you get to know him. It was a delightfully, relaxing day - a delightfully restful weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Having a 'Tude

Bosses, motivational speakers, stress management advisers, and even parents are quick to tell you everything in life is about your attitude. Mom used to tell me as a kid, "you're a sore loser, you have a bad attitude." But then years later, at my work, I was presented a plaque that said, "Jill -- for bringing a positive attitude and a smile to every day." Go to any stress management class and they'll start preaching, "its all in your attitude - how you "think" about things" The past four months while my mother was ill, my stress levels and attitude were put to the test and what did I discover? That everyone is right -- attitude IS everything and yes my dear friends, it IS all in your head. Positive thoughts and good karma DO really work. Say to yourself, "I think I can, I think I can," and you will. The Nike marketing theme, "Just do it?" Works. It's an attitude. You know how sometimes that little devilish monster gets in your head and it starts scratching at your brain saying, "what did you think you were doing -- you can't do this - you are nuts!" And if you fight it with the good thoughts - shazaam - you feel better. See, positive thoughts work! And my final test and realization of good karma has been this past month. On October 4, I got it in my head that I CAN do a 7-day stage mountain bike race and my attitude hasn't been quite the same since. Oh yes, the 'tude is still very, very positive, but having entered this race also changed my attitude and perspective on many other things. My attitude towards my gardens was always perfection. I had to have every weed pulled, every plant marked, every bed trimmed and every bush cut back. The plants had to compliment each other in the herb garden and vegetables had to be in perfect rows. Since my mom got sick and I entered this race, my attitude about the gardens is, what does it matter? So what if there's a weed -- the birds will pick at the seed heads. So what if herb garden contrasting plants doesn't match. Does anyone really know that silver lacy wormwood is a good contrast for the wide, dark green comfrey leaves? So what if the rows aren't perfect -- better yet -- don't plant any next year, what does it matter? You can go to the farmer's market and get local produce a LOT cheaper than the time you spend in the garden. And the 'tude for the training? It's nonstop focus. All I think about is being ready to ride 25-46 miles for 6 days in a row and being fit enough to succeed. I'm not so much worried about winning or even competing - it's all about the success of finishing. The challenge is against myself. There's that attitude again...I'm going to finish this thing. Anyway, what else am I going to do all winter?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toast and Anticipating R&R Week

Today, the legs are officially toast. The final 3.5 hours of week 5 of winter training seemed a bit, well, tiring. Not quite sure why -- could it be today was the last of a two-week endurance stint putting in an average of 14 hours a week (about 12 on the bike). Could it be I haven't spent this much time on a bike since about 2007? Could it be I'm exactly 10 pounds heavier than I was back in 2007 and it's just a little bit harder to carry around? Could it be I was on a singlespeed for 3.5 hours today? I dunno... could be anything - could a combination of them all. But I DO know, I'm very, very, very much looking forward to the next rest week. A total of 6 hours! And only 4 of those are on the bike. Although I know I'll be ready to ride again after Thanksgiving - I'm still enthused to continue preparing to be ready for the Transylvania Epic. One of my goals over the next week is watch the diet - big time. I'm boycotting Thanksgiving turkey -- poor thing. (for those that don't know me, if I don't know that the turkey was raised humanely (free range), I won't eat it. And I know for a fact my sister-in-law ain't buying no free-range turkeys.) I'll stick to the vegetables and mom's wonderful rice pudding. Gotta go take a nap.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Training Woes

Winter training. Spring training. Eating to train. Eating NOT to gain wait yet still keep the energy to train. Training in the dark. Training in the cold. Training with friends to beat boredom of training by oneself. Trying to gather friends to train (who equally have no time to train and some live too far from me!). Training hard. Training easy. Training moderately. Tracking training. Talking to dad about his horse training and how his training really is similar to my training. Amazing -- Chili training like a race horse. Core training. Stretching after training. Drinking wine after trainer. Yum. That's the best part. For someone who was so sick of training three years ago I didn't want to ever track another minute of training or calorie of food, I sure got myself into it this time - big time. This week is the first of 6 endurance weeks over the winter and the training plan has about 14.5 hours of bike hours for the week. I now remember why I got really, really sick of training. Working full time, commuting two hours a day, and coping with darkness at 5:30 makes it quite the challenge to get those hours in without taking a day of work off. Yesterday, I was super-fortunate to have Veterans day off and got an incredibly delightful 3 hour road ride under my belt for the week. Hubby joined me for half of it which made it even more delightful. Right now, the heart rate is to be between 60 and 70%, so its easy to ride with hubby. Today, I woke up feeling the accumulation of 4 days straight riding in my entire body. Luckily, today is core/stretching/walking day and I'm grateful. Tomorrow and Sunday are 6 more hours of riding and I'm adding 2 hours of paddling tomorrow too because I love my husband and miss paddling with him. Sooo... the week will end up with over 17 hours of training. And I'm loving every training second. I adore a challenge. Next week? Repeat. Bring it on baby!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chili's First Ride at Raystown Lake, PA - The Allegrippis Trail Network

Interesting trail system. There wasn't a log in sight and there was a guy out blowing leaves off the trails. There were very few tiny rocks and no lung-bursting long climbs. This was definitely a totally new experience for me. To be honest, I was missing the rocks and log hopping. Yes my friends, I'm one of the few that can't rave about the Allegrippis trails. Don't get me wrong, Rick and I were super-duper impressed with the trailwork that went into the system. The builders clearly put some TLC and sweat equity into the network. It's obvious there was a ton of planning, designing, and volunteers to make it happen. The bench cutting is incredible, not to mention the layout and the tons and tons of dirt hauled to create the pump-track effect. For all those reasons -- cheers to the trail designers and builders. Job well done guys and girls and kudos to all involved. But it just wasn't the style of mountain biking I've grown accustomed with and love. Rick and I both commented how much we liked the natural flowing sections that followed the contours of the land, and then all of sudden -- whoops! Who put that huge mound of dirt there? It was flowing SOOOOO nicely, then shit! Another moto-crossish mound of dirt. Rick nor I were enjoying some of those dirt piles - especially the steeper ones because we both weren't using momentum like the trails were intended to be ridden. I was hanging on the brakes on the downhills and didn't make some of the uphill sections. But then again, this was our first time. Maybe, with practice, it would be more fun for both of us. At some point though, I'll have to learn to ride these trails 'cause I'm doing 46 miles of them next June! Yes, I'll go again (I have to!), but after the TSE next year, I may not make the trip much. Rick and I both agreed its not worth the long drive 'cause its not our preferred style of riding. Give me some logs to hop and rocks to roll over. Throw in a couple mountains to climb and I'm in mountain biking heaven.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Lowly Push-up

Years past, my winter training for cycling and multi-sport always included regular trips to the YMCA to give the weight machines and free weights a little workout. I read that cyclists can improve leg power with regular weightlifting. They also recommended a couple upper body exercises to prepare for the jarring and technical workout (not to mention falling) that comes along with mountain biking. This winter, I find a new training plan that states, "we aren't bodybuilders" and only recommends several core exercises and the one and only upper body strength builder you need -- the push-up. From my training plan, "Add push ups twice a week. 3 sets. First set for warm up, 2nd and 3rd sets as many as you can do. Push ups are my all time favorite exercise for all around upper body strength." I started thinking about this, "OMG... how will I keep my strength without the lat pull-down machine? I can't live without my chest-press - or tricep dips. And holly hannah - my bicep curls and shoulder presses. Where will I get my definition from??" Well guess what Chili, the lowly push-up does it all! Long before weight rooms and free weights, man (very few women did push-ups back in the day!) was doing push-ups and building a bunch of strength and muscles in the process. Shoulders, chest, triceps, biceps, back, core, legs, and even butt muscles are ALL engaged with one push of body weight a mere 8 inches. The mechanics of a push-up work soooo many muscles at once, that your body can't help but become stronger. "As a symbol of health and wellness, nothing surpasses the simple push-up" states an article in the New York Times. So there you have it. You don't need weights or machines to build definition and strength. All you need is your good old body weight. And it's free and can be done anywhere, anytime. Now drop and give me 10!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Gotta Be Fun - 7.5 hrs in Meeshow

And it was. How else could someone spend 7.5 hours on a 40-50 degree day riding mountain bike? It's ALL about the fun factor -- and friends to play with! I met Ruth for the first time today and her, myself, Donna and Sheena set out from Donna's house for a "fun" little jaunt down the mountain, across the bottom, then back up some Dead Woman's hollow (on Halloween - how appropriate!) to meet up with the Ohioans who were spending a few days in a cabin in Michaux State Forest. That little jaunt coupled with the ride after we met Bill and Esther and crew, ended up being somewhere around 38 miles with a ride time of about 5 hours and 41 minutes. It was wonderful! We laughed, chitted, chatted, giggled at Sheena, talked about long endurance rides (Ruth is the master ultra-endurance rider -- she has a ton of mountain hundies and stage races under her belt), stopped and took a break or two, climbed, cursed the climbs, rode rocks, cursed the baby-heads, and generally had a blast. I can't recall the last time I was in the woods for 7.5 hours. I have to give credit where credit is due -- PERPETUEM SOLIDS. This is the first time I tried a sustained-energy release supplement and it worked like a charm. The solids are new, 30 calories a piece, and you chew 1-4 an hour. I was popping one every 20 minutes and felt strong the entire day. Well, maybe after I popped the last one I was starting to feel a bit lightheaded and hungry (at 7 hours!); but they got me through the majority of the day. And of course friends help to. I'm ready to do it again! Thanks girls.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Riding Rothrock

I'm a relative newcomer to mountain biking with a mere 10 years under my belt and believe it or not, I'm only recently really discovering what Pennsylvania has to offer -- as recently as this past SUNDAY! Brett, on the other hand, even though he's about 15 years younger than me, has been at it since I think 1996? At least that's the year he mentioned he rode the infamous Tussey Mountain Trail and many others when he went to school at State College. I can't believe I live only 1 3/4 hours from this magnificent trail network in Rothrock State forest and Sunday was my first experience at mountain biking there. Thanks to entering the Transylvania Epic 7-day Stage Race next year and having dear friends that like to ride as much as me (Weisers!), I'm finally now discovering this little mountain biking mecca of Pennsylvania. Wow. Words can't quite describe how beautiful it is up there. I used to think we had to travel to Whitegrass in West Virginia to experience the views and ridge lines of the Appalachia mountains. Not. We have it right in our backyard in Central PA. I really, really gotta get out more and certainly plan to do so over the next 6 months -- winter or not! Can't thank the Weisers enough for going along and guiding. We climbed, then went down, then climbed, then went down, then climbed just a little and went across, then down, then climbed again, and finally went down. Yup -- that's what Rothrock is all about. Climbing and screaming back down. It's a climbers heaven. My brother-in-law's girlfriend, Mary, would be in heaven 'cause they road ride in Florida and love to climb; but, yup, that's right, there ain't nuttin' to climb in Florida! They live in Orlando and have to drive north to the "hills" of Florida to climb. They also like to do the annual 6-Gap Century in Georgia which is a mere 11,000 feet of climbing. Nice. Sounds like what the TSE will be -- or is it going to be more than 11,000 feet? Can't wait to find out - and ride some more!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prepping to Train to Train

Isn't periodization grand? You prep to train. Then you train to train. Then you really go at. I think they call it Prep, Base, Build, Race; and it covers as much as a 30+ week period. Good old Joel Friel's Training Bible works every time - even years after its publication. Chris Eatough's 12-week plan to do the Transylvania Epic covers that Build/Race period, and the base period is the 12 weeks prior to the Build. Right now, I'm "prepping" with some easy, fun, long stuff -- just enjoying my weekends and the beautiful weather. Weight lifting is part of the scheme too with twice a week sessions at the YMCA focusing on leg work. Presses, squats, lunges, hammy machine, and a handful of upper body drills keep all the muscles in check and hopefully build some strength for lots of climbing. And the running I so much adored and felt it was really helping the fitness? It's been put on hold. I'm so enthused about riding right now that that's all I wanna do. So I am.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Celebrating the B-Day

Last year I was in tears over turning 50. This year I decided to embrace my 51st and celebrate it. How? Why riding mountain bike, of course. I wanted to test the waters to see if my endurance and power on singletrack is still there (its been a while) to train for the TSE (Transyslvania Epic). Yup, it is. 22.7 miles later (all but 3.1 miles singletrack) and still in one piece and not feeling too bad about it, I succeeded at riding the entire Rattling Creek loop in honor of my 51 years. Yesterday, I rode 2 hours on my cross bike. So I guess that means I can get through the first two days of the TSE, huh? Cool. I'll be slow, but who cares -- at least I'm doing it. And the icing on the Birthday Cake is coming home to my present from my hubby. He carefully and artistically arranged all the ingredients on a pizza stone in prep for homemade pizza he made me. My birthday card was in the middle of the ingredients. He's SO thoughtful! I love him. And this year, I'm proud to be 51 and still able to ride mountain bike.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Training for the Transylvania Epic - 7-1/2 months Worth!

Been doing some research on training for my big vacation next year -- 7 days straight of riding mountain bike. I have the 12-weeks prior to the event nailed down, but I've since found another training site specific to the BC 7-day Mountain Bike Stage Race in Canada. Here is their training suggestions. One of the reasons I entered TSE is because the training plan I got is doable. No more than 15 hours a week training in the 12-week period prior to the May 29-June 4 event. I can handle that. The BC Bike Race Training plan is a little more hours than that AND they have a winter 12-week training plan along with a down-period to do some cross-training (running!) and weight workouts. The BC Website has good info and I plan to do add the winter training. It's a BUNCH of hours on the trainer which I'm used to doing from years past and isn't a problem adding (note to self; get new tunes!). I'll also plan to continue to run as much as I can and of course weights twice a week along with my daily core work. Core work will be very, very important to prevent the back pain that could creep up on me maybe in the 5th day or so of the TSE. You gotta have a strong core. Lastly, with all this training, I'm encouraged and enthused to finally drop some extra poundage. Hopefully, 10 pounds will disappear in the next 6 months. It's gonna be a "fit" winter!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vacation 2011 - BOOKED!

I did it.

I just plunked down too much money to reserve my vacation spot for next year.


State College, of all places.

"Huh?" You say?

Yup....I'm the 1st entry in the 50+ Female solo Division for the Transylvania Mountain Bike Epic Stage Race. Seven -- COUNT THEM - SEVEN (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven) days of mountain bike riding somewhere between 25 and 40 miles a day in the mountains. I'm so darned excited I can't stand it. What a challenge to work toward.

And my team?

Don Wiest Stables. I'm riding for my Momma and Pappa. In case you didn't know, my dad just turned 80 and STILL trains harness horses and hits all the horse races. He claims being active all his life is what keeps him going. There's not a more appropriate team to race for - an active 80 year-old still doing his thing! I wonder where I got my competitive genes? And my dear mother is a type 1 diabetic and currently dealing with a ton of issues. So riding for both of them just seemed right.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Transylvania Epic 2011

They added a friggin' category for 50+ female mountain bikers! There's hardly EVER a category just for female old farts!! I have to do it... My plan is to hire an Amish girl to clean for my mom for 12 weeks prior to the race while I train. And if I cook like a crazy woman and freeze meals for mom, she can pop them in the microwave for 12 weeks. Do you think it would work?? Oh - what am I talking about? It's a 7-day staged mountain bike race in STate College, PA. Last year was the first year, and it was incredible following the results on the web -- I felt like I was there. And of course I wanted to do it, but since my mom's been sick, I haven't been thinking too much about it. But now I'm totally into it with a category for old girls! I love it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yes Its 7 Months Away, But...

I signed up for the Hyner View Trail Challenge, a 25K trail run in the beautiful PA Wilds next April 16, 2011. I'm one of these people that needs to have something on the calendar to work towards to keep the energy flowing. Otherwise, I'd be a couch potato in short order. Here's a beautiful topo of the course. Running fits my schedule. Now that I moved to a different job, I can take lunch again and that 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, can give me some good run time; although I won't run everyday -- it'll be a run, walk, run, walk, run week. Or walk, run, walk, run, walk. All in all, I never run back to back days -- the body needs to heal!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cap City Adventure Challenge Race Report

We were wishing we had pics 'cause it was a doozy like years past. Not as hard as some years, but long. So minus the pics, you'll have to settle for words. And rather than a lengthy report, how about some bullets this time?!

  • Time: 5 hours and 36 minutes
  • Place: 2nd Female Masters (there were only three teams this year)
  • Time on Bus (yes bus!): 45 minutes
  • We ran to start
  • But only ran to the buses on the other side of the Island
  • Buses went to Blue Mtn Parkway and dumped us on the top of the mountain.
  • Ran trail for 6 miles to Fort Hunter.
  • Ran DOWN Robert's Valley Road - Quads are aching today.
  • Launched canoe for a 6-mile paddle to City Island (low water and wind!)
  • Got on bikes and rode the Harrisburg Green belt for 20 miles total
  • Special tests included kicking a shoe in a bucket (all three had to make it); throwing a tire on a tall cone; running through eggs blindfolded (Steph nailed it!), sling-shot and ball (had to catch a ball - HARD!) We teamed up again with another team. Donna and I had the sling down to a science - Steph and the other team caught the balls.
  • More Special tests: swinging from a rope to a wooden platform; but had to figure how to get the rope 6 feet away from us (bungie cord with a helmet attached to it to lynch the rope); cut a 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper in a single piece big enough for one of our team mates to climb through (without tearing it).
  • Awesome team yet again - Steph and me and Donna have a blast. Steph had her beautiful pink balls on. I wish I had a pic. Our team had balls!
  • I hurt all over today (sunday).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting Back on Track

Life is full of hic-cups, ain't it? Chili is trying to get back on track now that family issues are causing the road to detour, but she'll eventually figure it all out. There's rumor she might be changing jobs at work too now that her politcally-appointed boss headed back to Philadelphia. ARGH! The new job will be a fun challenge though - very rewarding. For now, the biking/running/kayaking/adventure fun is minimal, but with the BASH coming up, how can she NOT get a little excited about mountain biking? Especially, when fine folks like Sir Bikes a-Lot make videos of the Rattling Creek Trails. This is the funniest website. It's bikers are from North Carolina and my favorites are Sir Toots a-Lot and Sir Bio-hazard. Sir Toots a-lot can break wind on command. Ha! Oh-so-typical mountainbiker fun stuff. LOVE mountainbikers. I wonder if these guys ride singlespeed?!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Helping Mom and Getting a Medical Education

What a week it's been. At 12:30 on Wednesday morning, my dad calls and says "Can you come down... mom took a turn for the worse." OMG -- of course I started freaking by hearing the tone in my dad's voice. The pain became so intense for her she simply couldn't stand up any more. It was a frantic, emotional evening and I sat with her in the emergency room until they FINALLY (after 4 times in the ER!) admitted her to the hospital around 7:00 am. Since they had an official diagnoses from an orthopedic doctor (spinal fracture from osteoporosis), they agreed to admit her. They immediately put her on morphine. It's harrowing to watch a loved one be in so much pain and you are basically helpless. She also was very dehydrated from throwing up from percocet meds. She was in rough shape. Much longer story shortened, she's currently in short-term rehab trying to deal with the pain and today she received an epidural. No, you're right -- an epidural isn't going to help a fracture. It turns out she has another ailment that's causing her so much pain. Here's my word of the year and my new found education: Spondylolisthesis. I'm still practicing how to say that one and can't get it out right anytime I try to say it. It's slippage of the bone in the spine and the excruciating pain she's been feeling is from the pressure the slipped bone is putting on the nerves. Thus, the epidural. We are praying it works and gives her some relief. She can't take much more pain. So her issues are twofold: the osteoporosis spinal fracture (the pain doc called it a sacral fracture) and the spondylolisthesis which is the real culprit. Oh, it can be caused 5 ways, one is degenerative arthritis which is her diagnoses (along with the osteoporosis). If the epidural works and the get her pain under control, she's coming home on Monday. You have no idea how much I'm praying her pain subsides. Poor thing. As a side note and you can think what you'd like on this one, we went through 6 doctors, a nurse practitioner, and countless radiology techs and nurses to get a doctor who explained to us today in 20 minutes more information than we received in the past 6 weeks. My mom and I BOTH were astounded at all the information that came out of Dr. Dunn's mouth in layman's terms. We were absolutely thrilled to get so much information. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions if something isn't clear. What an experience.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Taking Care of Dear Old Momma

It's official -- my mother's diagnosis came on Friday and the doctor was right, "You have a serious, serious problem." She has advanced osteoporosis and the pain she's been having is from fractures in the spine as a result of weakened vertebrae. It's so heartbreaking to see her in so much pain and not being able to do normal things anymore like run the vacuum or stand and wash dishes or cook. And there's no remedy for recovery - no surgery, no therapy, no nothing -- just pain pills for a little relief. The doc said recovery for the fractures is long. Please, whether you are male or female, take care of yourself now -- today. Osteoporosis is often brought on by a lifetime of not getting enough calcium and habits that deplete the calcium from the bone such as smoking, drinking alcohol and a high animal protein diet that leaches protein from the bone (this one is controversial, but my parents are huge meat eaters their entire life. Growing up, it was never unusual to see pickled tongue and heart in the frig - yuk!). The disease IS preventable. Don't smoke, watch your calcium intake and eating foods that leach it from your bones (salt, phosphoric acid in sodas, alcohol, animal proteins), get vitamins especially vitamin D, and EXERCISE! Running, jogging, jumping, walking, dancing, and free weight lifting (no machines) are preventative measures to fight it off. I'll never stop running or walking/hiking. The bike and swimming is not enough -- you MUST do weight-bearing exercises.

The Rattling 25K run and 25 mile bike race is OFF my schedule. I can't take the time to finish training for it right now. The only event I'm definitely doing is the BASH, and the Capital City Challenge. I can squeeze in an hour or two of riding/running/paddling to stay semi-fit for the Cap City Challenge, but that'll be it. I'm very fortunate momma lives next door and I can stop by as much as needed. Right now, we're on an every-other day schedule. We're taking it one day at a time. Now go have a glass of soy milk!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

2010 Jackson Allstar Review - More Than A Playboat

Folks, the boat really does make ALL the difference. But don't let them tell you one or the other is best -- you gotta test drive it for yourself and make your own determination. I guess you could say I'm a beginner play boater after 5 years of river running and doing ez surfing in a Wavesport Diesel. I wanted to graduate to a small boat and did in fact use a Wavesport EZG 50 for a season, but the uncomfortable outfitting made the boat unbearable. My legs were too long and feet were too big to get a good fit no matter how we rearranged the outfitting. Our local outfitter, Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville PA, brings demo boats to the winter roll practice sessions and I sat in a Jackson 2010 All star. The comfort of the sweet cheeks, happy feet and a little more space for big feet and knees was immediately noticeable -- even in such a tiny boat. I fell in love with the boat and wanted one. "But Jill, we run rivers and this is a playboat" my husband tells me. So I gave the idea up -- but still thought about the comfort every time I sat in other boats. This season I went on an all out search for a comfortable river running playboat with no luck. Nothing compared to the comfort of the Jackson All star. So I demoed the Allstar -- even after the outfitter said the boat is too big for me (It's really not - I'm 145 in a 130-180 weight range) and hubby kept telling me I didn't want a playboat to run rivers. We were sold in 15 minutes but hubby made me stay in the boat for at least ½ hour so I didn't experience the pain in my legs like I would in the EZG after that amount of time in the boat. ½ hour later - no pain. A roll was in order but I haven't tried since roll practice and I'm not a great roller. Tuck, snap and up - It rolled like a ball with ease. Very smooth and controlled. Wow. Hubby says, "let's go" and paddled away toward the takeout because he knew immediately that me rolling that easy sealed the deal. He was no longer skeptical about a play boat. The question remained; will it be ok for running a river? We took it into a local "practice" area to see how it would handle in heavier flow and I had no issues other a noticeable difference in attaining (it took more work), but this past weekend was the maiden voyage down a lesser-class river (II-III) and all I can say is amazing, absolutely amazing. There was no fear or apprehension to try waves and ferrying against pushier flow that I wouldn't have even thought about doing in the Diesel. The boat is ultra quick to turn and because of the roundness of the design, there are no edges for water to catch. And the few times I DID feel something catchy it didn't take much to snap and compensate for the grabby water and prevent a roll under. Even in the Ledges wave (a popular play wave), I thought for sure I was going under several times but every single time I pulled or snapped and out of being buried I came. Another paddler asked me, "how does that boat fit -- isn't it too big for you." I'm not sure what the fixation is with folks thinking this boat is too big for me. Possibly they are thinking all-out play moves like cartwheels or flips which I don't plan to do for quite some time if ever. The boat is perfectly sized for a river running playboat for an individual in lower end of the weight range. It surfs like a charm and peels out with ease in the heaviest of flow. I'm in love with my 2010 Jackson Allstar. I think hubby is jealous.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More Blubbering on My Mom

Sorry... can't help it - but my mom seems to be the center of what's going on in my life right now so here's a little more on her. Fate has its way of working and she called me last evening and said she's not going to see CATS. She developed nauseousness and vomiting; likely from the pain meds she's taking. Damn I feel bad for her and wish it would just go away. It made her happy to know her first suggestion of who to give the tickets to, took them. Rick's son, Neal, and his girlfriend Jessica (who loves cats by the way) are going to the show tonight and they were thrilled. I must say, I was pretty darn happy too they took them. Today (Sunday) is packed with catch-up work as best I can: a little weed pulling, a little harvesting and storing of food (swiss chard), a little house cleaning for me, a little house cleaning for mom, delivery of tickets to Neal in Millersburg, delivery of Rick's mom's wash (we do her wash for her every week 'cause she can't see to do it -- she's 92 with macular degeneration), a 10-11 mile trail run on virgin trail I never ran on (Ned Smith Center in Millersburg), then collapse this evening from exhaustion. Maybe I'll have a glass of wine. Oh, I didn't mention I have a new kitten. Pictures are coming. I found her sitting on top of a culvert in the middle of a back country road, meowing and crying for food. I picked her up and she purred all the way home (about a mile). Someone dumped her off. We've seen that happen before and old sappy Chili can't walk away from a dumped, friendly kitten.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Update on Training and Momma

The biking was officially eliminated to the barest minimum to allow more time for helping momma. That's the training that takes the most time and gives the most time to tend to parental needs. Running will continue -- even long runs take no longer than 2 hrs so I'll keep up the running and kayaking after work.

Mother: Two emergency room visits diagnosed her with an inflamed sacroiliac. They took an x-ray, gave her pain meds and oral steroids, told her to see her orthopedic doctor and sent her home. The orthropedic doctor told her yesterday, "You have a serious problem. I'm surprised the emergency room didn't admit you the last time you were there to conduct further tests." She's going for an MRI and the Orth doc actually wanted to admit her to the hospital, or get her doped up and sit at home. She opted to get doped up and sit at home because she paid $60 bucks to see CATS on Sunday and refuses to miss it. He thinks she has a fractured hip. He asked her if she was ever diagnosed with osteoporosis or smoked. No to the Osteo and yes to smoking. After a little research this morning, its common for hip fractures/vertebrae fractures even without falling for people with osteoporosis. Smoking doesn't help the deteriorating bone. More to come when I hear the results of the MRI and next Doc visit. In the meantime, its running in the early am, walking at lunch when its cool, kayaking after work, and helping the old gal with cooking/cleaning/washing clothes/etc. Poor thing. I will NEVER stop exercising or eating healthy foods. BTW, cycling and swimming and not good weight-bearing exercises to help prevent osteoporsis. Walking, jogging, running, jumping and weightlifing (free weights only) are the recommended exercises. And get your calcium! And don't smoke.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Training At a Standstill

My dear mother is having health issues again so the training is sort of at a stand still. Only got an 8.5 mile run and a 34 mile road ride in this weekend along with a short paddle on Sunday. The last half of the bike ride was with the seat post in the lowest position -- the clamp broke when I tried to raise the seat. Needless to say, it wasn't a good weekend for training. And momma? She ended up in the emergency room on Thursday from severe pain from an inflamed sacroiliac. X-rays revealed an arthritic back with the sacroiliac issues. She has an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Thursday so hopefully they'll help her out and give some pain relief beyond the pain meds she currently taking that just ain't doing the trick. It hurts her so much she's really not doing much at home -- no cooking/cleaning/keeping things in order. So Chili to the rescue. I love my aging parents. With momma at 73 and papa at almost-80, I have a sneaky feeling I'll be spending more time with them over the next couple years. In the meantime, I'm not sure if I'll be able to continue the long hours training for the Rattling Double -- I'll have to take it day by day. My current training schedule will be good for the Cap City Challenge in September and short adventure tris; but I can't commit to anything long right now. ARGH!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rattling Weekend Training Recap #2

Plans are made to go awry, right? Last week and this weekend were incredibly out-of-whack to the normal routine; thus, the training was screwed up too. The 9-mile trail run turned into an out-and-back 8.8 (I think) on mostly flat road with a walking climb to the top of a mountain in Marysville while Rick paddled in the Narrows. The 18 mile mountain bike turned into a 28 mile hilly road/fire road cyclocross bike ride with a dirt-road mountain climb. I guess that's ok. I'm so anal and think it just had to be on the trails in Weiser to be ready for the Rattling Double header, but that just couldn't happen with relatives in from Florida and other things going on. So I had to squeeze the training in at places it would fit. This weekend should be back on track, so I plan to be in Weiser State Forest bright and early Saturday morning for a 10-mile trail run. If the trails are dry, I think I'll do the mountain bike immediately after the run. Rick will be kayaking all day, so the day is mine. Sunday is a day of playing in the new play boat. It's SOOO fun.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Holy Wave Hopping - An All Out Playboat

Yup... it's all mine. The Jackson 2010 Allstar - an all out whitewater playboat. It could flip, spin, cartwheel, stall and squirt if I figure out how to master those tricks. Will I? I dunno. Maybe. For now, I'm happy trying surfing waves and eventually side surfing. Oh, and yes I gotta be better at rolling. Acutally, it was the roll that sold me on the boat. I took it out for a spin and when we were done, I said to Rick "let me see if I can roll" (I haven't rolled since this winter in roll sessions in a heated pool). Tuck, under, snap and up. Nary a problem with the roll. Rick said, "that's it.. let's go." And off we went to pay for our new boat. I think he's happier than me. You see, I've been looking for a new smaller boat for quite some time but they are all pretty painfully small. Every one I sat in hurt my knees because your legs and feet are sort of wedge under thigh braces. And when I sat in this one, there was no pain. Thus, I was sold. Here are some pictures from today in the Narrows.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rattling Weekend Training Recap#1

If you read the sidebar, you'll see I have my weekend training laid out to prep for the Rattling Double -- 25K trail run on August 21 and 25Mile mountain bike on August 22. The plan is to trail run on Saturday and mountain bike on Sunday just like race weekend will unfold. Yesterday was 8.2 miles in Weiser starting from the snowmobile parking lot where the race will begin. Ouch. Climbing Ironmine Trail hurts on bike AND foot (it's an 800 ascend in 2 miles from the get go). Today, I mountain biked from home on ATV trails near my house. I was loving the ATVs today... they put in some sweet trail. There's an ATV club near my house that rides in Bear Valley -- Rausch Creek Trail riders. My ride ended up being 20 miles total with climbing and lots of trail riding with a good bit of baby heads and loose, gravely stuff to maneuver through. Only about 7 miles was hardtop road used for access to the trail. And how do I feel? Well...this morning was torture getting the joints and muscles moving from yesterday's run, but once they remembered its ok to move, life was good. The ride went well -- no pain. I think maybe I'll be able to pull this double thing off. But stay tuned!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Re-energizing Info - Rattling Weekend - Running the RCST Trails

Registration for the Rattling 50 (50 mile mountain bike marathon on trails near my home) came early this year with a discount and I signed up in January. About a month later I starting training for some running events and wasn't riding bike much. My arse has seen more time in the saddle the past few weeks and I think I'd be ready, but to be honest, I miss running! The run hours were cut back dramatically in prep for the Rattling 50 on August 22. Low and behold, my prayers were answered... the Rattling 50 promoter is offering a 1/2 marathon - 25 miles AND a 25K run the day before. I am all over that - a double! 25K run and a 25M bike ride two days in a row. Nice. I don't have to ride bike for hours on end to prepare 'cause I could do a 25-miler today. And now I can add the run miles back in the training mix since there's less saddle time. There's plenty of time to ramp up the miles each week, building to the 15 miles by August 21. The run is a tad over 15 miles on Saturday, then the mountain bike is 25 miles on Sunday, both on the Rattling Creek trails. What a perfect combo. Both include the monstrous climbs to start the race -- Ironmine trail. If you go to the registration, Kuhn will be updating the start location on the Marathon. He lists the girl scout camp, but it's now the Snowmobile parking lot. I have a sneaky suspicion he changed the course too and plans to do two loops of the 25ish mile singletrack loop for the full 50 which is actually a good idea. My original course of the Rattling 50 included a bunch of fireroad/snowmobile trail. Running the Rattling Creek trails is oh-so-nice if you're into trail running. It's typical off-road terrain with lots of rocks, roots, and tight trails. As far as I know, there's never been an organized trail run on the Rattling Creek Trail network. This will be a first.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Biking and Boating Long Weekend

Rick and I burned work on Friday knowing we'd be on the Lehigh River all day on Saturday. We took a leisurely 2 hour road ride on Friday covering about 25 miles. Rick enjoys riding at a social pace and coasts as much as possible. (I love him!). The rest of the day was filled with chores around the house. Saturday went as planned -- 20 folks met up at the put-in in White Haven for a 12 mile trip down the Lehigh River. It took us 5 hours and we thoroughly enjoyed every second of playing, chit-chatting, surfing, and watching others do tricks. There were all skill levels in our group including a guy who bought his boat just the day before. The Canoe Club of Greater Harrisburg was the trip organizer and they did an awesome job of pairing less experienced folks with experienced folks so they could learn the ropes. I had my first experience at the wave at 2nd Chance Rapid and screamed like a giddy little girl on a roller coaster. You see, there's this HUGE wave -- maybe 5-6 feet high -- and we've seen folks get stuck in it, flip backwards, and simply don't make it through. The guy just ahead of me was totally vertical and in the air. We weren't sure if he'd make it over the top but he did. I always avoided the wave but this time a little girl of about 12 or 13 went through it ahead of me and I thought damn it, so can I. As I approached it, I started paddling like hell to push through it and had success. It was the BEST! Now I'm ready for more. Of course it helps when you have an indestructible river-running boat like my 65 gallon Wavesport Diesel. I'm thinking of switching up to my 52 gallon Wavesport EZG which probably wouldn't make it through wave as nicely, but I can play more with the small boat.

Sunday ended up being a totally unplanned metric century of the back roads of Central PA in Northumberland, Schuylkill and Dauphin Counties. It rained in the morning which put the damper on riding mountain bike in Weiser 'cause the trails get way to tight with wet brush hanging on them (the trails virtually dissappear). So I opted for a road ride. Early Sunday mornings are a nice time to road ride with little traffic except the old folks heading to church at about 20 mph. They are harmless to bikers (IMHO). I knew I wanted to get 4 hours in and that's pretty easy in the mountains. But on the road? That's a lot of pedaling and miles. Off I went on my regular 45 mile loop. As I neared the end of it, it was less than 3 hours. Shit! I gotta ride more. Until I was done, I put in the 4 hours and ended up with 62 miles. H.o.l.y. h.e.l.l. I never expected that one. 2,989 calories burned and yes, I'm on my way to being ready for the Rattling 50 in August. I was toying with doing the 23K Kuhn is putting on the same day, but I think I'll stick with focusing on the riding and reduce the running to shorter distances (4-6 miles at a time) for the time being. I'm finding my body can't do both, so it's either long rides, or long runs, so right now I'll focus on the riding since I already put in a long run for the year. Awesome stuff. And what did YOU do this weekend?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Girlie Mountain Bike Ride in Michaux State Forest

It's not often I get out with the girls on a nice, long mountain bike ride. But this past weekend I found the time to make the trek to the wondrous Michaux State Forest (1.5 hrs from home one way), to ride with Donna, Nancy and Sally. Yes, I was a bit intimidated by the skill of these girls. Donna's been riding like a pro of late in prep for a 7-day straight mountain bike trek through Scotland in August, and both Sally and Nancy are pretty darn good racers. And the planned time was 3-4 hours, 25-30 miles. Huh?! Are you guys kidding me? Ok…. I'll suck it up and see what happens. It was awesome. The racer types weren't racing (thank you girls!) and the pro was keeping her cool. The old gal sorta kept up (except when they put rocks in my backpack) and endured the full 3.5 hours. We rode the ICON of Michaux Mountain biking for one last time - Grave's Ridge. The trail is slated to become a logging access road in the near future. Thus, the rocks in my backpack (and you thought I was kidding) were Grave's Ridge mementos. How sad it is to see that trail go. We rode about 20 of some of the most beautiful trail Michaux has to offer. It was a lovely day in the woods. Even climbing in Michaux is nice. What a great playground.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mission Accomplished - Finishing My First Off-road Half Marathon

Heck, it was my first EVER half marathon -- on-road or off -- and I finished! Michaux has some of the best singletrack in the state and it's just as awesome to run as it is to ride on mountain bike. (Actually, it was easier to run.) The half marathon was part Michaux Mash, part Tour de Cure, and part Ironcross, and maybe parts of other races but those are the events I recall riding and recognized the trail. It was a little over 13. 5 miles and we started on the climb for the Ironcross that takes you up WIGWAM! I was SO excited to be able to go up that thing WITHOUT a bike on my back for a change. There was a gal sitting on a rock half way up Wigwam and she says to me "are you ok?" and I said, "yes, are you??" She was having a bit of an anxiety/asthma attack and needed to catch her breath. She started climbing behind me, and was glad to hear the top was minutes away. About an hour later, she came up behind me and said, "it took me awhile to catch you!" And then we traded spots and talked the remainder of the race. She was SO nice. Christine drove 6+ hours from upstate New York to race "something shorter." She's an ultra runner, and recently lost 90 pounds through running. She said her longest run was 53 miles. Wow! She's also a vocal music teacher who plays clarinet and piano. Lovely girl. She finished just in front of me by about 30 seconds. When she left, she gave me a hug. Camaraderie amongst off-road runners is the same as mountain bikers. What an awesome group those off-road enthusiasts are. The overall winner was a GIRL! She was from Carlisle, in the 40-49 age group, was totally ripped without an ounce of fat, and her name was Kelly _____ (can't recall her last name). She was very inspiring and finished in 2:27. My time was 3:12 which I'm dang proud of cause I was mid-pack at 17th out of 33 overall, and only 45 minutes behind the winner. Compared to mountain biking - that's a huge improvement for me. I was nearly always a back of the pack (or DFL) in mountain biking. It's really, really nice to be mid-pack for a change. Maybe I should switch to trail running? ZACH put on a good race and I hope there are more trail run races. He had a plentiful swag bag with an aluminum bottle rather than yet another t-shirt. And since I made podium for a change, I picked up a box of Hammer bars. It nearly paid for my entry with swag. Thank you Zach! And nice meeting you Christine and all the other cool trail runners I met today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Michaux Off-Road Half Marathon - June 13, 2010

It's time to come back to reality after a week's worth of watching Transylvania Epic mountain biking videos on While I'd love to hop on my bike and ride for hours on end, the real world ain't gonna let that happen right now and I gotta get back to the focus of running and another inaugural event - the Michaux off-road half marathon. June 13 is the inaugural event, and like the Epic, the group will likely be small for this first race but hopefully word will spread it will grow. Michaux state forest is known for its incredible mountain bike trails and they are equally awesome on foot. No matter the weather, it'll be nice to get out and do 13 miles in the woods on foot. It's a long drive for me (two hours to Caledonia state park), but worth it. Am I ready? Yup. I hit 11 miles off road two weeks ago and didn't feel too bad. Yes, I walked some of it, but who cares. It's nice to get out from behind the desk. See you on the trails!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Inspiring Vids and Race Reports

Last fall, when the Kuhn and Adams team announced their new mountain bike stage race, the Transylvania Epic, the thought crossed my mind I'd love to do it. Reality set in and there was no way I could muster up enough time in the saddle to be ready for such a beast. Add in the entry cost of about a grand and that sealed the future of riding the Epic someday.

But guess what's going on right now, this week. The Epic. And I'm fixated to the blogs and stage reports folks are putting out. THEY ARE SUCH AWESOME READS. And yes, they are totally inspiring. Rebecca Rusch brought tears to my eyes just like the time I balled my eyes out watching Jamie Whitmore win Xterra Worlds and I started training for Xterras. You know where that got me -- in Hawaii! Rebecca Rusch is my new inspiration. Watch her video about the EPIC and you'll be inspired too. For those that don't know Rebecca, she's a professional adventure racer for several years now and she's doing the Epic. I always admired women adventure racers 'cause they are right there by the guys doing exactly what the guys do at their pace. They are amazing women. Strong, fast, and super-fit. While not an adventure racer (although I'll bet its crossed her mind!) Fit Chick fits that bill too -- and she's winning the Epic at the moment.

Here are some really good blogs from racers at the EPIC. I don't know who the Back Bay guy is, but his blog postings are awesome reads.

Rebecca Rusch Blog
Back Bay Cycling Club (guy from Massachusetts)
Mike Cushionbury - Bicycling Mag
Team Cystic Fybrosis (Selene Yeager, a.k.a. Fit Chick, Women's Duo, and another guy from CF)
A guy from Ketchum Idaho

Get me out from behind this desk and on a bike seat! I gotta rethink my activity level.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10-Day Vacation Wrap-up

75.25 Bike miles
36.33 Run/Walk miles
9,375 Calories Burned

That's only the fun stuff. This doesn't include turning compost, hauling compost to the beds, planting seed crops, pulling weed trees, and the biggest time-consuming, stresser-outer I've experienced yet in the backyard -- picking strawberries. What a HUGE pain-in-the-ass. And on top of it, Rick did nothing but complain about my inept ability to plant a strawberry patch and it's way too thick. Yes, I know Rick. Now please stop it! Yes, the plants paid for themselves twice in the past 10 days, but I feel like I'm turning into a strawberry. I planted 50 plants last year and this year all 50 plants and their daughters decided to have red babies. They started ripening the day I started vacation and I have to pick every day averaging about 2-4 boxes a day. Yes, you read that right. I picked 22 boxes of strawberries in the past 10 days AND I'M SICK OF PICKING STRAWBERRIES! It takes an hour or more a picking; because they are planted way too close together and I have to dig and root to find the berries. My back can barely take it. And then another hour cutting up and freezing the damn things. I'm totally stressing out now that I'm back to work and have to figure out when I'm going to find the time to pick berries. I'm mowing them over when they are done. Can't deal with it. Will save for retirement. ARGH!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Traveling Different Trails for a Change

Two miles from home is PA Game Commission Parcel #264, a.k.a. Bear Valley. When I first started mountain biking, these game lands were to be my stomping grounds until just a year later, the PGC shut them down to mountain bikes, horses, and ATV (although ATVs were never permitted on there in the first place). Being so close to home, the convenience is oh-so-nice so today I put on the trail shoes and headed to the woods; and for a change it wasn't Weiser State Forest. The Game Commission obviously never patrols these woods because what I found were the most pristine 4-wheeler trails you could imagine. It appeared even the horses like them based on the horse prints and shit I found. The trails were smooth, well-traveled, and not a log or obstacle anywhere. The trails were very easy to follow -- just follow the smooth doubletrack. These lands are old mining country, so every now and then you'll find mining debris and at one point, someone propped up some wires that were falling across the trail. After the climb to the top of the mountain (1,100 ft ascend from my house), the trail followed the ridge top for about a mile and it was beautiful. Then you come to a "T" which split down either side of the mountain. I opted to double back and head home which gave me about an 11 mile loop total. It was slow going at spots and yes, I walked up the side of the mountain so no time records were set. I was hiking for about 2:20 minutes. I might try the right side into Bear Valley later in the week. At some point, I think that trail will hook up to the private land that is leased by a 4-wheeler club from a coal company. That could explain why the trail so worn in -- a renegade 4-wheeler or two probably sneak off onto the game lands every now and then. It was SO pretty up there - much prettier than the private land that is used hard by the 4-wheelers and dirt bikes. It's quite torn up. But the game lands remain pristine. And there are dozens and dozens of remnant trails from the coal mining era. I recall the locals saying they used to ride over there a lot years ago. They really should rethink letting mountain bikes on their existing trails again. How nice it would be.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quiet Dayz

Things have quieted down on the training front. Oh I'm still getting out, but it's "exercise" again, not "training". Training seems like a dirty word. Exercise seems more refreshing. It's been just about 2 weeks since I had my ass in a bike seat, but that's about to change with vacation starting in 7 hours. The plan is to have 10 glorious days with no list of things to do. The plan is to exercise for two hours a day and hit the garden with summer crop plantings and compost/soil building afterwords. In between I might read Suicide by Sugar. The biggest priority is DE-STRESS. What gets done, gets done. What doesn't, doesn't. The priority every day is the 2 hours of exercise and everything else comes after. I want to trail run, mountain bike, house-clean a little, and garden a lot. And I'm ready for it! I may not see you for 10 days.