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!!!