Saturday, December 31, 2011


Yup, that's me.  Being me.  And wishing you a Happy New Year, but also yelling, "RICKY BROWN!"  He hates when I do that when I see him.   But sometimes I can't contain my excitement when I'm racing and see his familiar face in the crowd. It's my gut reaction.   HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my friends.  It's New Year's eve and I'm trying NOT to reflect on what was, what is, and what will be.  I like the now.  Thinking about what was generates way, way too many rambling thoughts of good and bad and it makes my head hurt.  Thinking about what will be is equally painful.  But the now... now THAT'S painless.   No head swimming in thoughts, no random wanderings and what-ifs, and no little monsters in there saying do this or do that.  Right now is where you want to be.  Today.  This second.  Doing what your gut (and heart) is telling you to do.  You're reading this which means you too are in the now and you aren't worrying, wondering, or contemplating anything.  Just calmness...and no thinking going on and on and on. Doesn't it feel good?  Ha.... I made you smile too.   So I think I'll attempt to live the upcoming year in the present moment as best I can.  Definitely no new year's resolutions, no random thoughts of what if this and what if that and none of the worry or baggage that comes along with those random thoughts and contemplation.  The present moment -- the now -- it's the only place you can be absolutely certain of peace.   PEACE!  I like that. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Riding Road on the First Day of Winter

I haven't been on a bike in a llooonnngg time (months??) and Rick and I decided to take advantage of the 57 degrees and do a 20 mile road ride to Millersburg yesterday.  We did it to save money (obviously!) to pick up our van at the garage.  Rick said the day before he hated to "waste" the money to go down there to get it.  (We typically do all of our shopping/stops in one trip on one day -- this would have been an extra, not-needed trip that would have cost us about $5.00 in gas round trip, two vehicles.  Yes, retired people have every cent accounted for!).   It took us two hours!  But we were on our mountain bikes so that's partly to blame for the slowness.  Neither of us were in any kind of hurry though.  We talked almost the entire trip.  We talked about the goats, the trophy buck, the Amish barns, the chickens, the bridge that's closed, my old homestead where I grew up that no longer has the outdoor oven (I'm thinking I want to build an outdoor oven), our sore butts, how far we have to go, coasting, standing, and anything else that came up along the way.  It was awesome.  I love being retired with Ricky Brown. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Bubbly" Hubby

For those of you that know my Ricky Brown, you'll get a kick out of this post.  For those of you that don't know him, suffice it to say he tends to be sort of laid back, relaxed, and easy-going.  In other words, he's not busting at the seams with energy like some of us (he's also not stressed like some of us!).  His favorite thing on the bike is coasting. (Truly!).  If he starts to sweat on the trainer, he stops.  (Truly!) Now that we're retired, we like to workout together.   We had our little routine that we do with weights, then we either walk, hike, kayak, or sit on the trainer.  Yesterday, for some crazy reason, Mr. Brown was bouncing off the walls.  It was near impossible to focus on the task at hand.   He was jumping, running in place, dancing around (to "I'm sexy and I know it" no less), singing, laughing, poking fun at a certain exercise by going real fast and exaggerated and just being a Ricky Brown I normally don't see.  I couldn't even hardly do my squats from cracking up.  Every time we'd go to a different exercise, he's start doing something crazy.  It was a riot. I told him to "calm down!  Would you act like that at the YMCA?  We made fun of people who acted oddly -- like the mirror monkeys."  Then he imitated a mirror monkey.  "HEWYOUGH!!"   I believe he had some pent up energy that finally needed released.  You go Ricky Brown!  Today now, he's not out of bed yet.  I wonder if his workout yesterday had something to do with it?  It was funny.  Nice workout Ricky Brown!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ban the Wheat Belly!

A gal at work gave me this article, Eight reasons Wheat is Making You Gain: Doctor Says Whole Wheat Packs on Belly Fat - And Has a Lot in Common with Opiate Drugs.  Dr. William Davis, MD and cardiologist, claims the compounds found in "modern" wheat are responsible for appetite stimulation, rises in blood sugar, and release of endorphin-like chemicals than get the brain hooked on breads, pastas and crackers. He claims blood sugar rises more with wheat than with a snickers bar and the excess sugar gets stored as fat. "Modern" wheat is defined as the industrial processing and genetic seeds manufacturers use to create what folks call "wheat" in most pre-packaged and processed foods.  If you look at a grocery store loaf of bread that claims to be 100% stone ground wheat, it usually also contains a whole lot of other unknown substances. Many times, high fructose corn syrup is in there and that has been known to increase appetite.  So wheat is bad now the good doctors say.  This article, courtesy has this to say: 

It’s all about blood sugar

Here are the basics. When you eat, your food is converted to fuel for your body. In order for your body to use the fuel (blood sugar), it needs insulin. Some foods cause rapid increases in blood sugar and also insulin. The repetitive highs and lows -- a roller coaster -- causes fat to be stored. Wheat is at the top of the list of foods that causes this rise and fall of blood sugar and insulin levels. Dr. Davis has documented his patient’s blood sugar levels before and after eating wheat and the results are astonishing! "Wheat increases your blood sugar more than that Snickers bar," says the cardiologist. And don’t think relying only on whole wheat flour is the answer. Though whole wheat flour is better than white flour, both are from the same plant. "It’s like [comparing] filtered cigarettes to unfiltered cigarettes," notes Dr. Davis.

Ironically, the Eat to Live way of life (#3 top seller on and # 5 on the NY Times list  I might add) that I've been thinking about doing again (was successful in 2009) excludes most grains by default.  The diet (to lose weight) is 3-7 servings of fruit a day, one pound of raw vegetables (mostly leafy greens, excludes starchy veges), one pound of steamed vegetables (excluding starchy vegetables) 1 cup of beans or legumes (including tofu), 1 ounce nuts or seeds, 1 tablespoon chia or flax a day, 1 cup soy or almond milk daily, and here's where the grains come in: 1 cup daily of EITHER starchy vegetable  (i.e., sweet potato, white potato, corn, squash) OR 1 cup of whole grains (i.e., oatmeal, bread, quiona, millet).   No dairy, animal products, white flour, sugar, oil or salt.  Looking at my choices, bread (thus WHEAT!) would go first.  Donna mentioned this wheat thing about a year ago and at the time she was trying to eliminate wheat and was feeling pretty good in the process.  There just might be something to be said for what the doctors are claiming here.  Ban the wheat belly!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm A Loser - Again

A little over two years ago, my work had it's inaugural Biggest Loser contest with 40 folks competing to lose weight.  We're thrilled the gal who ran it two years ago wanted to do it again with a start date and weigh-in of January 4.  And of course I'm in on the fun and festivities the 2nd time around since I successfully lost about 8 pounds last time around. There's something about being on a team that is very, very motivating.  It just works!  It's a little bigger this time with teams of 6 and so far we have 6 teams signed up with others waiting in the wings until the last minute to sign up.  My team name is the "Chubublicans."  No, we're not all republicans (that's part of the fun of the name!).  It was between that, Mission Slimpossible or the Kankle Wrangers.  We're six females sick of trying to squeeze our butts into too-tight pants.  The one girl is doing the 17-day diet and another has been successfully losing with Weight Watchers.  Another is doing some sort of exercise video P-90?  Can't recall the exact name.  Me?  I'm sticking to my tried and true calorie counting focusing on 1500 or less AND will pick up the running/exercise.  The big motivator for me is the $10 buck entry fee I had to pony up. I want it back! And some! Each person had to pay $10 bucks and will pay another $1 for each pound gained in each week of the 6-week weigh-in period.   Our entire team is pretty serious... as is all the others entered.  It's SO much fun to do this thing at work.  Everyone is buzzing and chatting already.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cal Pro Ir Carb Fat Calc Fib

Those seven little truncated words are my 10-year habit I can't seem to shake.  It all started in 2001 when I bought a mountain bike and realized I was too fat to ride it further than 5 miles.  Thus, a life change that is obviously too instilled in my brain now to give up.  I track calories. And Protein. And Iron. And Carbohydrates.  And Fat.  And Calcium.  And just this year, Fiber (old age!).   I started digging in my training box for the years I lost weight (eating less than 1500 calories a day and ate a lot of yogurt, chicken, peanut butter, and eggs), and discovered I started doing this in February of 2002.  I had no friggin' idea 10 years have past.   Eat to Live is a diet that claims you don't have to track a single calorie and I tried it, but found myself cheating and writing calories down.  Go figure!  So I'm back on the tally again and write every morsel of food down.  Some habits are hard to break.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Crazy Week and Checking Out the Mega

It's amazing how life can get turned upside down and inside out with a single phone call.  My dear old dad calls last Saturday evening around 6:00:  "Mom was washing dishes and she turned to sit down and her hip gave out.  I called 911.  She's in terrible, terrible, pain."  Mother broke her other hip and had hip replacement surgery #2.  She now has two new hips so no more can break, right?!  I spent Saturday evening in the emergency room, Sunday morning with the bike club retrieving a bridge, Sunday afternoon at the hospital, Monday at work and visiting mother at lunch, Tuesday at my parents doing wash/cooking/cleaning for mom and dad only to get a phone call around 11:00 that mom was coming home THAT day... so off to the hospital we go after lunch to pick her up but only to stop off at Rick's 93-year old mother's to do HER wash first (my dear hubby helps too).   I had to work on Wednesday so father helped mom on Wednesday, and I've been helping mom every day since.   I'm doing little stuff, but to a person that can't do things on their own, it's big stuff to them: washing dishes, going to the store, going to the butcher (ugh... I really, really hate going to the butcher), running the vacuum, changing the cat litter box, etc.  TODAY is the first day I'm getting out - finally.   I'm heading to Weiser State Forest to do an 8.5 mile run/walk.  I've been doing early morning weights and the occassional trainer ride, but it ain't nothing like the out-of-doors.   Rick wanted me to paddle with him and I probably would have if I could have gotten into the woods earlier this week to run (hunting prevented that from happening).  Perusing sites for Ultra trail runs has me anxious to get out.  This one, the Megatransect, is intriguing me the most.  It's based just outside of Lock Haven, and is a little over 26 miles -- the marathon I'm itching to do!  The timing is perfect next year in September after a spring and summer of slowly building miles to the 26 big miles.  It's also a hugely popular race that sells out in 48 hours.  I marked the calendar for January 1 when the registration opens up to get registered.  I haven't officially decided if I want to do it, but maybe.   Trail running, here I come.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm Working Again, Damn It

This week was the beginning of a three-day work week for a couple months and it's screwing up my exercise routine!  This past week was messed up because I worked three days in a row for my first week back; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.   I chose those days to try to make it as "normal" a schedule as possible for those I have to work with.  It turns out I'll have to switch some of those days with Mondays to accommodate meeting schedules, but I like the idea of a day in between working to run.  I've been trying to get back into a regular running schedule working towards an every-other-day run of what I feel like between 4 and 7 miles.  The 4-miler would be hilly and faster and the 7-miler would be endurance-paced.  Starting in January, I'm going to pick up the pace on the shorter runs and lengthen the longer runs.  This will get me faster for the March 3 Humdinger run and of course I need the distance for the April 23 Hyner View Challenge.  So I NEED to adjust those work days.  And the beauty of it is I'm in charge of my schedule and can change those days however I want.  But the "professional" in me (that bitch) sides with working with others and being flexible.  I should stop being nice... that's what got me back working in the first place!  Actually, I'm happy to help out.  The State of Pennsylvania's business assistance programs and laws are complicated as hell and it would be overwhelming for a new person and she/he would run off in a week if they didn't have someone to show them the ropes.  And there really isn't anyone else other than my boss to mentor a new person and he certainly doesn't have a second of time to train someone.  And I might be staying a little longer than Spring.  My boss comes up to me on Wednesday and says, "Jill, we'd like you to stick around a little longer (than after my replacement comes on board in a month or two) to help out the Executive Office with something coming up."  NOOOOO, I thought.  But then the two days a week ran through my head and I thought I can handle that.  He said we'll see how it plays out.  Again, flexibility.  Speaking of flexibility, I've really been slacking on stretching.  Just call me slacker... on everything!  Life is a little upside down at the moment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Yuk - Pushups

I hate them, but endure the torture every other day.  Sometimes, I'll stop at the 49th and say I did 50. :)    They just suck.  But, the reward of doing them overrules the punishment, so I tolerate the pain.   There are claims most people can't do 10 in a row.  Can you?  Of all the people I know, the discussion of how many push ups can you do never came up and I truly don't know who can do 50 in a row.   There has to be someone -- show your face!   Here's a website that will help you get to 100.   Sports Medicine gurus claim it's the perfect exercise.

And how was Thanksgiving?  I ran in the morning to compensate for the over-indulgence I knew would overtake me.  Yes, I ate too much too.  Feel like crap today, as usual.  Rick and I plan to head to Rattling Creek for a little cement work on the big bridge footer to be ready for next weekend's bridge retrieval session on December 4.  I'd sure like to do a run, but not sure it'll work out.  I'll have to wait and see how the day goes. 

Saturday is garden day and Sunday is kayak day.  Still not much biking going on.  It'll likely wait until spring now.

Monday, November 21, 2011


All it takes is dropping down some bucks for a race and the energy is flowing again.  Now that I signed on the dotted line for both the Humdinger Trail Challenge on March 3 (7 miles) and the Hyner View Challenge on April 21 (16 miles), I'm revived!  The lackluster doldrums of trudging along at slow speed with no goal in mind is gone.  It feels good to be researching training plans and jotting down distances and times I need to complete to be ready for 16 miles in about 5 months.   Rick says, "oh, there goes the paddling because you have to train."  No honey, I only need to do one long run a week  and the other 3 or 4 runs will be an hour or less and you won't even notice I'm doing them.    He seemed satisfied. I know I'm happy again.  What is with this training thang?  Can't wait to climb a mountain again!

The Hyner View Trail Challenge

Yeh baby --   April 21, 2012.  The Hyner View Trail Challenge.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Have An Itch

It's called I-wanna-train-for-something.  And yesterday we got out on the RCST trails to scope out some upcoming bridge retrieval and detour trail work and it got me excited to get back on the trails.

I haven't done a marathon yet and I'm antsy to try one.  But it has to be trail and it has to be cheap.  I'm thinking 'bout a DIY trail marathon on the Rattling Creek trails the weekend of the Bare-Bones-Bash next year - September 15.     Here's a great story on Runner's World about a couple who put on a marathon exactly like mine would be - complete with 8-track Sheena Easton prizes!  Only I'll give a cassette of Billy Idol.  

Building up to the big 26.2 miles, I'd do the cheap stuff like the 7.1 mile Humdinger on March 3 and a smattering of other local stuff including Kuhn's Rattling Weekend 30K on the RCST trails.  18 miles a month in advance of the marathon would be perfect. 

Hmmmmm...... there's smoke coming out of my ears.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Article on How Exercise Will NOT Make You Thin

This was an interesting article in TIME:  Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin.      Good article.  See, you can tell I exercise!  Yeh baby.

I love my little boat.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Much Happening This Past Weekend

Quiet weekend:  One-hour road ride to town on Saturday for milk and the post office.  The highlight was bringing a gallon of milk home in my backpack.  Rick wanted to get a half gallon, but saw that it was cheaper by $1 dollar to get the full gallon.  We see the Amish carrying gallons of milk in their baskets on their scooters all the time.  Guess I need a basket (NOT!)

Yesterday we paddled the Lehigh River at a low level of 539 cfs.  Normal releases are about 750 or high cfs.  It was too low.  And it was friggin' cold!  Earlier in the week it was 56 degrees air temp and 48 degrees water temp and we were rolling comfortably.  Yesterday was 50 degree air temp with wind and 43 degrees water and we wouldn't have rolled if someone made us.  Our fingers, toes and face were cold.    We gotta dress warmer next time.  I talked Rick into flat water paddling this week.  We'll put in at Millersburg and head up river for an hour or two, then turn around and go back.  Now THAT's my kind of paddling!  Put the paddle to the water and go.  He didn't seem too thrilled, but he'll do it.  Hey - it's paddling!

Friday, November 11, 2011

"You're a Kayaker"

Yesterday, I told hubby I'm inspired to train for a marathon next year (trail) and he immediately says, "no you're not.  It takes too much time to train and you have to kayak."   I love him to death. 

So kayaking is taking top honors in the outdoor activity realm right now.  We're planning to go until the ice forms which will likely be sometime in January.  In other years, it was usually January and February that the boys couldn't get out to paddle.  This year shouldn't be any different.  Two years ago, there never was ice which was rare.   The only thing I don't like about paddling is there's no cardio with it unless we attain which only happens in the narrows.  There's also no leg work at all.  The weight workouts and squeezing in some trainer time and maybe a run or two will compensate for the lack of leg work and cardio.  I can't recall the last time I had my HR good and high.  It's just something we don't do unless we're training and doing intervals.   Who likes forcing your heart rate up into the red zone.  Not me! 

Yesterday was a nice long weight workout.  Hubby worked out at the same time.  Actually, we did many of the exercises together but of course my weight was heavier.  :)  It was the normal 12-15 x 3 sets:
shoulder press
chest press
bi-cep curl
lat pull-downs
tricep press
core routine with weight ball

Today, Friday, is a not-sure day.  It's cold and windy.  I may sit on the trainer.  Just not sure yet. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Working!

I must have 40 books on diet, weight loss, and fitness and each one pours on their opinion on the best, the quickest, the healthiest, or safest way to lose weight and/or gain fitness.  I think I tried them all.  More recently, since the weight gain, I'm leaning more towards eating what maintains bone health to prevent osteoporosis.  And after about 6 years or so of daily calorie tracking, I can't quit that little secret to weight loss either. It's a true addiction.  I tried to give up the habit, but the pen would magically start scribbling calories on a piece of scrap paper; or, my brain would start tallying up the numbers causing more static up there.  But the really bad habit I got into was stopping tracking when I hit my daily limit of 1500.  Huh!  So what good was tracking?  Actually, I track my calcium for bones, protein for strength (since I tend not to eat too much meat these days), iron for my muscles and joints (did you know aches and pains could be a sign of low iron?), fiber, fat, and carbs although I may drop the carbs since I don't train anymore. 

I'm back to what worked 5 years ago when I lost about 10 pounds:  calorie counting, but I STOP EATING at 1500 calories, give or take a hundred.  Monday was 1400, Tuesday was 1600, and yesterday was 1700 (I know, I know - a little high) and the scale is down almost a half pound since Monday.  That's exactly where it should be in 3 days.   What Rick has been telling me for years continues to be true:  Calories in, calories out.  It's all about the might calorie. 

Yesterday's paddle was beautiful.  Hubby bought me a drysuit for winter paddling.  It's a lovely Teal color and we thought it was a women's leftover model from a couple years ago, but low and behold it's a man's style.  Rick said he wouldn't wear that color.  I have to learn to stand to pee.  If you know anything about drysuits, they are jumpsuits and difficult to get in and out of and once in, you stay in until you are done.   Rick bought me a Shewee.  I don't like standing to pee.  I peed on my leg.  I guess I'll figure that one out too at some point.  teehee...shewee..

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanks Geraldine -- I Needed That!

Rick's 93 year-old mother, who has macular degeneration and comments about not being able to see much anymore, says to me on Sunday, "Jill, are you gaining weight?"  Yes, Geraldine.  "How much did you gain?"  About 15 pounds.  "I can tell [and she points to my upper body]."  ARGH!  Actually, it's just what I needed hear to kick me in the ass and motivate me MORE into finally trying to drop these ugly menopausal pounds.  Rick insists it isn't menopause.  Ok Rick, whatever you say.  So once again, the story of my life is in full gear -- dropping some weight and getting more fit. 

Yesterday:  Washed 5 of mothers farm house windows and two of her doors.  Walked with Ricky about 3 miles round-trip to the hardware store.  Did about 2 hours of weeding.  It was rest day from weights.  About 1,400 calorie intake on Monday and 1,600 yesterday.

Today:  One hour weights this morning.  Stepped it up to 12 pound dumb bells and 45 pound squat.  Not feeling the burn so may have to up the weights on Thursday.  Also doing more of a circuit workout and keeping the heart rate up.   I'm shooting for every other day weight work.    KAYAKING  this afternoon for about 2 hours at the Rockville Bridge.  70 degrees!  Who could refuse!  Planning to look at dry pants for winter paddling too.  Ouch.  ($150).  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First Timer Trip on Tohickon Creek

Phew!  That was a little intense at spots.  Today was my first trip down the Tohicken Creek.  "Shit! Shit! Shit!" were the words blurting out of my mouth in several of the rapids.  I guess I just wasn't expecting such BIG drops and waves. (In the eyes of an experience paddler, they really weren't THAT big.  But for me, they seemed gigantic).   Holy hannah my heart was pounding -- especially after the rapid called "race course."  It's long (maybe 2-3 minutes to get through if you run it straight through) and there's just wave upon wave upon wave and they look like holes and I felt like I was going over at a couple spots.  It was scary! But I kept paddling and watching for rocks and amazingly made it.   Prior to race course, 1st Ledge took me off guard too and you had go river right then head left and the flow was on a curve and there was a HUGE hole I had to punch through and I was afraid my little puddle jumper wouldn't have what it takes to cut through some of those holes but it did.   And the other "shit!" rapid was "The Chute" which is exactly what its called -- a fast flowing Chute with a big-ass wave at the bottom of it.  I guess I'm too used to the Lehigh (Knee-high) river with its mild rapids.  The Tohickon Creek was definitely a step-up for me but I'm proud to say I made it through without any swimming.  No-name Ledge had a seam you had to punch through and I was slightly off to the side and the flow wanted to flip me but I did a quick brace and was through it.  That was my first combat brace -- felt as good as getting a combat roll (which I haven't gotten yet).  I did it! I did the Tohickon.  Yeh!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Preppin' for the To and Listening to a Little Frank

I'm about to lose my virginity.  For years, Rick and I drove to the release weekends of the Tohickon Creek, but have not ran the rapids in a boat.  We hiked, biked, and sat on rocks and watched kayakers drop off ledges in the creek.  Last year, Rick finally ran it twice, stopping to scout rapids and even portaged a section or two.  This year, I get my first shot at shooting a rapid or two.  Rick says its a step up for me, but a step below than the Lower Yough which means it should be just about right.  But I fully intend to portage one of the bigger river-wide drops - it skeers me!  The rest of the creek should be fun.  There's 10 folks going from the Harrisburg group: Vern, Phil, Mike C, Mike M, Rick, Jennifer, Chris, Jill, and I can't recall the other two.  

So today, we hit the river to hone in our skills for Saturday.  Two hours of paddling, eddying, peeling out, and a little bit of rolling.  We both feel good and ready for the big day.

And the morning was started with my now normal routine of core and weights.  Each day I'm varying which body part I work on.  Yesterday, though, I dug out the old cassette tapes for a little wireless music  - wireless in the sense of no headset. (We couldn't find the 8-track tapes.  We don't have those new-fangled CD players to hook up to our floor speakers yet.  teehee).    And what did I find fun but Rick's favorite, FRANK ZAPPA.  OMG, Frank's version of Ring of Fire is so funny it puts the rest to shame.  I think there are about 40 versions of Ring of fire out there, but we really get a kick out of this one.  And some of the 80's music got me pumped and swinging to the beat.  Stuff like The Information Society and Billy Idol.  Huh! Billy... what man of the day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back at It Again Today

Another hour of iron with Moby first thing this am:

3 sets of 15 reps each exercise.  Boosted the leg exercises and shrugs  to 15 pound dumb bells in each hand:
Step ups
Deadlifts (kept those light to save my back)
Seated press
Standing one leg  calf raise (hard -- I had no balance!)
Side Bends

Core (with 10 pound ball)
50 Seated side to sides  with ball in hand
50 Bent leg side to sides on back with ball in between knees
50 Bent leg Sit-ups

And today is GARDEN day for both me and mother dear.  Rick's going to help! He's a dear.  I don't wimp in the garden... we're talking digging weeds (small trees!), hauling spent brush and ditching it, hauling horsey shit and spreading it, hauling compost and spreading it, raking the garden(s) of weeds, pulling weeds, etc.  I use no mechanical devices -- I like the exercise.  It's all by hand - even hauling tubs of horse shit up over the hill from my mom's.  Talk about weight bearing!   I don't think I'll do any cardio today unless Rick decides he wants to go for a bike ride this afternoon. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Proof of the Health Benefits of Weight Bearing Exercise

At the ripe old age of about 20, I sat on a weight bench for the first time and pumped a little iron.  The year was 1981.    Rachel Mclish was my mentor at the time - the first Ms. Olympia (1980). An interview in 2008 revealed her age of 52, 5'5" tall and 126 pounds. and she lifts weights, runs, and skis/snowboards today.  For the past 32 years, in some form or fashion, the iron has always been part of my life.  Maybe not as a priority in some years, but it never completely went away.  Nor did walking, running, and more recently, swimming, kayaking, mountain biking and adventure racing (lifting, crawling, jumping, etc).  Last year my mother was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis and since that time, I've been getting every test I'm permitted to get to be sure I'm not at risk. (If women aren't completely through menopause, you can't get the official bone density scan.).  Most health seminars have portable versions of a DEXA scan machine of some sort - either the heel scan or the hand scan.  Last week, my annual boob squishing came with a free DEXA scan of my hand.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to get the scan.  And the results proved those past 32 years of running, jumping and lifting paid off big time.  My scan results were +2.9.   Looking at the chart below, I'm off the chart.  Anything above a -1 is considered good.  The chart the radiology tech showed me didn't go any higher than +2.9.  She told me, "whatever you are doing, don't stop doing it."  So girls, don't stop running, jumping and lifting - ever!  I'm living, walking proof of strong bones through exercise and getting enough calcium.  My calcium sources are NOT from dairy and I limit meat consumption to about once a week (maybe).  I get my calcium from plant sources (soy milk, greens, seeds, blackstrap molasses) and take Vitamin D supplements.   Its working.

Normal boneT-score greater than -1
OsteopeniaT-score between -1 and -2.5
OsteoporosisT-score less than -2.5
Severe (established) osteoporosisT-score less than -2.5 and 1+ osteoporotic fractures

Monday, October 31, 2011

Days Two and Three of Retirement

After Saturday's dumbbell fest, Sunday was slow to get moving.  We ended up spending the day with Rick's 93 year old mother doing her wash.  The good part is her room is on Floor 3 and the wash is on Floor 1 with some lovely steps in between.  Since other folks were using the washer/dryer, we had to check back every 10 minutes or so to see when they were finished using the machines.  We got about 30 minutes worth of running up and down the steps and then came home and walked for about and hour and fifteen minutes.  The day ended up with almost two hours of walking and stairs. 

Monday was another dumbbell workout similar to Saturday, a core workout, and then I stepped it up to heavier-weight squats and step-ups with 15 pound dumbbells in each hand.  I'm still a lightweight compared to most (30 lb squat), but I gotta build slowly.   Then hubby and I walked again for about an hour.  Total workout time today was two hours.

Then my friend Donna called - yeh!  She filled me in on the 15 inches of snow in Michaux State Forest and the stranded Trainwreck they helped get out.  Trainwreck is from Ohio and he rents a cabin in Michaux every year around Halloween to ride bike. This year, everyone bailed on him for the ride on Saturday (those wimps... don't they have skis??) so he hung with Donna/Brett for Saturday night.  Crazy weekend!  Lots of broken tree branches everywhere.  It was like a war zone. 

And I almost got my clothes ready to wear to work this week and thought about what to take to lunch.  It's gonna take a little time to get out of that work-week routine!   Tomorrow is a trip to Vanity Fair Outlets in Reading.  Mother dear wants to go.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm Retired!

From work that is, but not from working out.  I knew for months I was retiring from my desk job yesterday, but not until after I officially left and started my post working-world retirement exercise routine, did it finally sink in.  Sooo..... I think I'll start this Chilibloggin thang back up to keep me honest:  keep me on track for working out and getting back in shape again.  Heck, I have time now!  There are NO excuses any more.  Moby's Play is 63 minutes, and that's a perfect timeframe for a weight workout, not to mention Moby's incredibly inspiring music.   This was a GOOD weight workout  -- not this hurry-up-I-got-other-things-to-do routine that plagued me for years (and kept me from relaxing).  Here's what it was like:

Core to warm up:
50 seated lean-back side-to-sides with a weighted ball (don't know the technical name)
50 bent-leg side-to-sides on back with weighted ball (don't know the technical name)

Dumbells!  All exercises were with 8 pound dumbbells (Planning to build the weight -- just did very light weight to get me back in the swing of things again):
3 sets x 15 or 20 reps each exercise
Side bends
Shoulder presses
Bicep curls
Standing pull-ups
Dead lifts

On the fitness ball:
Chest flys (I think that's what they are called)
Chest press
Side-to-side with weighted ball

Sitting on the floor:
tricep extensions (10 lb. weighted ball)

I'm back baby!  Flabby menopausal belly, GO AWAY!  teehee.

Monday, June 27, 2011

That's All Folks

My blogging life is over.... see me in the real world.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kayak Skills and Strength - Where Are You?

Guess what I discovered the past two weeks since taking a break from biking? When you do nothing but ride a bike for 8 months, that's pretty much all you can do AFTER you're done training to ride. My running days are over. I have a physical ailment that raises it's ugly head while running and it's at its worst now that I haven't run in almost 9 months. I think I can hike without the ailment causing too much distress, so I may give that a try at some point. And my other love, kayaking, is a bit less than normal too. It took me four trips on the water to realize my kayak strength is gone and needs rebuilt. Sections of the Dauphin Narrows that I could attain through semi-easily are now a huge struggle. Rick keeps saying, "what's wrong?" And the answer is simple -- I got out of my routine to keep my strength up! We used to regularly go to the YMCA and I'd used the lat pull-down which is a key muscle group for kayaking strength along with working the biceps, traps and other muscles along the spine and in the shoulders. I haven't worked my lats in over 9 months. The only upper body move I've been doing is push-ups and the only muscle used in the push and in kayaking is the tricep. Down river runs are ok, but attaining will need some work. Strength-building, here I come. Get me up the river again.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Putting Out The Trash

It's exactly two weeks since finishing the TSE. The majority of folks that enter this type of event are hard-core riders -- in it for the long haul. Amanda Carey, the girls overall winner at TSE, went on to win the Lumberjack 100 yesterday. It's obvious her TSE win and fitness is going strong. Three of the top 5 female finishers were also at the TSE. We've been told about this time- two weeks of recovering from the Epic - we'll be feeling strong and ready to do some serious biking. I kinda felt it yesterday, but I'm now letting that thing called life get back in my way. My ride was 1.25 hrs. The plan for 3 hrs first thing in the morning was delayed due to fog. So my mom, the garden, and cooking got in the way and the ride was shortened to 1.25 hrs. Today is a paddle with hubby. Next weekend is busy with motherly assistance, and the following weekend is the 4th of July weekend. AND THERE AIN'T NO BIKING IN THE MIX. Yup, I'm putting all the training and success of finishing the TSE out for the garbage man to pick up. There are no plans to cash-in on the fitness. Is that a waste? Is it a shame to see the bike legs disappear into the onion patch? Some folks are likely cringing at the thought and couldn't imagine committing the time and effort, then let it go to waste. Others may see the logic and realize there's life off the saddle. Part of me is devastated to let it go. It was a LONG 8 months of training. But the larger part of me is finally getting things back in order again. I guess I'm truly a creature of habit and prefer to spend time in the backyard, with hubby, or helping my mom. I can't seem to get away from dirt under my fingernails and hubby's obsession with kayaking. Heck, I even found time to sit on my patio and finish a book I've been reading for too many months now. Fitness, though, is still heavy on my mind. Yes, the endurance is gonna disappear with the bike legs, but staying fit will stay. The plan is two hours of purposeful movement a day and an uber-healthy diet. The movement will be what I feel: running, walking, stretching, biking, kayaking, weight-lifting, gardening, or swimming. The idea is to simply move. Yes, and putting the trash out counts too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More Finisher's Thoughts on the Trans-Sylvania Epic 2011

Now that a few days have passed since finishing the TSE and the brain waves are functioning more normally again (Really? There is a “normal?”), there are a few more comments to make. First, thank you Donna! Without a friend, this thing would have been impossible since my goal was not to “compete”, but to finish. Having a friend to train, to plan, and to finally do the event made all the difference. There would have been some long-ass lonely training rides and stages without a buddy to share the pain. Next, the TSE is a race. The promoters label it as “your next adventure vacation” and are trying to attract more weekend warriors like Donna and I, but in the end, it’s a race. There was no holding back the near or at race pace every day if we expected to make the cut-offs. Yes, every stage had a cut-off time and if you didn’t make it, you would be DNF and not get the medal at the end of the week. That part was stressful – every day. We planned our efforts the night before looking at the maps and courses and would ask ourselves, can we make the cut-off? Some days were doubtful, but thanks to the heat, the cut-offs were extended on Stages 2 and 3 for the handful of us that were adventurers, not competitors. I believe there may have been about a half a dozen or so that lagged behind the racers each day and another handful realized they couldn’t do it and DNF’d on their own. I spoke to a gentleman from New Hampshire at Raystown that said he was here for the vacation and didn’t expect to have to race like we were. Feelings were mutual. Raystown was the only stage that we initially thought we couldn’t make the cut off and ended up hitting the half way point (cut off) ½ hour ahead of schedule. Stage 6 was questionable… we hit the checkpoint 15 minutes after what we thought was the cut-off and were told it was extended by 15 minutes because of the delayed start. You have no idea how grateful I was at this point in the race to know we now have a real shot a finishing the entire thing. Making the Stage 6 cutoff was bittersweet. We were both feeling the effects of a week of riding and while we were happy to have made the cut-off, we then realized rocky Tussey Ridge trail was ahead of us. Donna preferred to take it easy at this point while I hopped over rocks with delight. I was feeling unusually good at this point and my rock handling skills were getting better and better each day. Tussey Ridge is an incredible trail sitting high atop one of the highest peaks in the State college area overlooking several valleys. I stopped at one point, looked around, and was overwhelmed with awe. Tears came to my eyes. The mountains are breathtaking. And here I was, at Stage 6, about to finish a week of hard-core mountain biking. It was one of those emotional moments we all have when riding too long. The only day I really had thoughts of DNF was at the beginning of Stage 3. This is where Donna and I got separated – me thinking she was ahead and I told her to “go!” when my chain dropped and I was struggling physically to get moving, and her knowing I was ahead because she made a wrong turn that I didn’t know about. But after an hour of riding and seeing the whitewater on Penn’s Creek, I perked up and started enjoying the ride. I shared a climb with a young man that did it solo last year and I asked, does it get easier? And he said your body will adapt and it won’t seem as hard. And amazingly, it did. I’m still shocked that I had no physical issues other than a little stiffness in the morning and of course the sore butt to endure every day. We stretched each night, ate pounds of food, and rode again the next day. Food is key. A gal was loading her plate with cake and ice cream and said, “I have absolutely no desire to eat this, but need the calories.” She was right! It was the calories that helped keep us going.

The entire thing was an education. I initially entered for two reasons: they had a class for 50+ master women and I thought training would be a perfect way to lose some weight. There were no other entries in my class and I was thrown to the wolves with the pros. And the weight loss? I gained 10 pounds. I have no regrets and am thrilled to have the finishers medal. Truly, it was a life experience.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chili's Adventure Vacation 2011 - Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic

We trained for 8 months to endure 7 days of mountain bike racing. Many of those training days were very wet and very cold. Mom nature was looking out for us and left the skies loose AFTER we finished on Saturday. Every day was sunshine, warmth, and beautiful trails and yes, I finished every stage. We weren’t void of mud holes though after the past few weeks of downpours. We encountered a mudfest or stream bed somewhere along the course each day. It would be very, very difficult for me to write a report for every day and every detail. Suffice it to say it was an incredible journey and experience. I bulleted the highlights below. The one thing that really stood out for the week was learning how the human body can endure and adapt to the condition. We rode every day except the first and last for between 5 and 6.5 hours. We rode hard: up many mountains climbing thousands and thousands of feet and over many rocks. Our wrists went numb on the downhills and the balls of our feet burned. And this is the part that astounds me: my heart rate was low the entire time. On some of the climbs I’d look and it would be 126 bpm ON THE CLIMB. It never once, went over 165. On the downhills, it would drop in the 60s. Obviously, a bunch of fat burning was going on. I dropped 4% fat over those 7 days burning on average about 3,000 calories a day. Of course, we consumed probably more than that in a day to fuel the body for the next day. And yes, the body was slow and tired to start the next day, but after an hour of riding was ready to perform. My beloved 26 inch Specialized Epic Marathon had no issues at all and got me through every day with no mechanicals. I was one of the very few people with a 26 inch bike. I’m going to miss a bunch of details, but its impossible to remember everything while writing this. So here are some of the highlights. Leave a comment if you have questions.

-Bald-Eagle-Coburn was my favorite stage. 96 degrees and 46 miles (I like heat!).
-The old rail tunnel freaked me out when everything went black.
-Raystown was my least favorite. Will never go back
-RB Winter still has a lot of rocks.
-The Queen Stage (Tussey Mountain) was breathtaking on the Tussey Ridge
-There was a streaker in the woods on Stage 2 (yes, a naked man!)
-We had delicious big-ass burritos after RB Winter.
-My legs are black and blue and scratched. Bug bites too.
-We ate a lot.
-Eat, Ride, Eat, Rest. Repeat.
-Little time to do anything else but eat, ride, and rest.
-The body recovers after 9-10 hours of sleep.
-Hammer products work.
-Coach Eatough’s Trans-Sylvania Epic-specific training plan works.
-Sitting in an icy cold creek or lake helps muscles recover.
-I’m old fashioned - no iPhone! (was disconnected for an entire week).
-Will stay old-fashioned.
-Donna and I thought each was ahead of the other and chased each other for 38 miles on Stage 3. Finally caught up at checkpoint after a guy told me my friend is behind me (and I though she was ahead).
-15 women started, only 12 finished all 7 stages. Thrilled to be one of the finishers.
-Lots of pollen and road dust made us cough and stuffy.
-Sheena saved the day on Friday - sent Marshmallow PB dessert with Brett!
-Pushed to finish -- just wanted to get it over with on Saturday.
-Will not ride bike for a couple weeks - tired of biking.
-May not race anymore - no desire to train.
-Glad to be home.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's a Race Jill, Not a Ride!

When I signed up for this thang, I thought since it's endurance riding, it would be a casual pace. NOT! We are all out racing and pushing ourselves. The first day was a time trial, so obviously we went fast. Donna was 12th and I was 13th out of 15 girls. Remember, half of them are professional athletes so we were both very pleased with our finishes. No DFL! (Dead ____ Last!) Yesterday was long and hot. It took us 6.50 hours to finish and we ended up 11th and 12th. Again, happy. I may not post too much cause donna is more technologically connected than me, so please check her blog too for pictures and updates.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Departing Thoughts

In 6 hours I'm off to State College to compete in one of those memorable lifetime events. The last time I did something like this was in Hawaii, 6 years ago - I ended up qualifying for a World Competition of the Xterra off-road triathlons -- and I felt the same way leaving for that as I do now. Nervous, anxious, a little scared, apprehensive (am I really ready??) and excited at the same time. It's an odd feeling - one that makes the head spin with zillions of thoughts if you allow it. 8 solid months of serious training is about to be put to the test. One thing I learned between Hawaii and now is to not think too much about it and just savor each moment, which is exactly the plan. I'm about to bake some Root cookies for me and Donna to enjoy as we laze around watching the racers roll in this evening and tomorrow before the first stage. We'll be mingling with some of the nations best endurance mountain bikers - I'm humbled at the thought. But vacations have another meaning -- to relax and unwind. And my idea of unwinding is on the bike seat (or in my kayak). So there's no doubt this will be a worthwhile vacation. If Donna got her laptop working, I'll be making updates to the blog. If she didn't, I'll update you next Sunday. All in all, we're off to see the Wizard - the wonderful wizard of oz!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joe's Final Exam

From taking that first step to figure out how to stand to taking a driver’s test to move us from childhood to becoming an adult, we are questioned and tested on our abilities. Tests are a necessary must to continue the forward momentum of life. We are constantly examined from pre-school to grad school on every word and thought driven into our skulls. After school life ends, we are tested by the real world. Our bosses analyze our performance using money as a reward or punishment. Our kids test our authority more often than not. Spouses test our patience and tolerance. Just how long can YOU put up with pee on the toilet seat? Did you really NEED to buy that $400 pink flamingo lawn ornament? It’s all just one big test. For the past 32 weeks, I’ve been studying for next week’s final exam – the Trans-Sylvania Epic – the 7-day mountain bike “race” I entered last October. At first, my brain tested my physical ability to even attempt such a thing. Do you really think you can endure 7 days of mountain biking? Do you think you can get through it without any injuries? You aren’t a kid anymore you know. How do you expect to recover fast enough to continue riding? Once I aced that mind-boggling self-criticism examination, the physical testing came into play. Weeks and weeks of winter bike riding trials and tribulations seemed never-ending. Snow and sub-freezing temps forced my butt indoors. Then the test became how long can one tolerate spinning in one place without moving? It was nothing but riding bike for hours on end. Twelve and fourteen hour weeks in the saddle became the norm, not the abnormal – all while testing my need to maintain a full-time job as a “Joe” and endure a two-hour commute every day. The test also was on toleration of one sport with no variation – something I haven’t done for over 8 years. Would I be able to do absolutely nothing but ride bike? Won’t I miss trail running and paddling? Priorities were tested. What once was top priority became mediocre and put on the “can wait” list. Experimentation of numerous combinations of foods and calories became yet one more test. Was I eating enough? Was I eating the right foods? What if I tried this “diet” or that one? Next week will be the final exam for this year’s semester. The test will be over a seven-day period and cover all my studies over the past 8 months: the training plan, the bike, the physical ability, the diet, the attitude, and of course one of the reasons I entered this thing in the first place, my age. All will be scrutinized, examined and quizzed. I’m really looking forward to graduation and getting my final grade. I got my hat and gown ready and the bottle of champagne for the graduation party afterwards. It’s time to line up for the commencement procession. Bring it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Only 3 Days of Rain Now for the TSE

They changed the forecast... only 3 days of rain predicted! I'm really not relying on any weathermen at this point -- just getting a kick out of seeing what they are predicting.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rain in the Forecast for the TSE - Really?

I cannot tell a lie -- I went off the training plan yesterday. Yes, I did the 3.5 hours of "endurance ride at 70-75% of Heart rate (exactly 75% at 135 average) at a pace I'd be riding the TSE (I thought of Donna pushing me the entire time so we make the cut-offs! I pushed hills and pedaled like hell on the down hill and flat sections), but I did it on the cross bike on back country roads. Why? Because I'm preserving the little bit of tolerance of wet conditions I have remaining for the Trans-Sylvania Epic. AND, I cleaned my bike real good and gave it a thorough going over (Rick helped) and I don't want to ride it anymore before the Epic. I had this feeling rain would be in the forecast - we can't go for 7 days without rain at the Epic -- and when I looked at the long range forecast this morning, low and behold, they are calling for rain 6 of the 7 days. BUT -- that ain't a problem! We've been training in rainy conditions, so BRING IT! We're ready! After all, it's mountain biking and a little mud ain't gonna hurt a thing. Today I'll hit the local mountain on my back-up bike - the niner - for a two hour stint. That bike will then get a thorough cleaning for its trip next week. We're in the final 5 days of training. Wow... it's almost over. It's been one hell of a journey!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nine Days to Go - If We Ain't Ready by Now...

When we ran into Mike Kuhn last weekend while pre-riding Stage 2 of the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic, he asked, "How do you feel? Are you ready?" I wasn't sure how to answer and my spur-of-the-moment without-much-thinking answer was. "I don't know. We've been following Chris's training plan pretty much to the T and while there weren't a bunch of super-long rides on there, there were certainly consecutive days of 2-3-4 hour rides. So I guess I'm ready, but I won't know for sure until the Epic."

But after riding all of Stage 2 and about 8 miles more (almost like doing the Stoopid 50!), my answer would now be. "YES!" I'm proud to say I feel ready. It was a stretch to get through the 50-mile day, but after eating, resting, and getting up and doing another 2.5 hours the next day and still feeling ok, yes - I feel ready. And now that we are in the taper, we're both starting to get re-energized and come race week, we'll be ready to ride like crazy women. I think we're gonna pull this thing off!

On a different subject- how 'bout that Gropenator!? (Arnold). Ha!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Final "Long-Ride" Weekend Before the TSE

Mist on the mountains, chipmunks, flowing and sweet singletrack, comfortable temps, and good friends to ride with. What more could you ask for?? The Dubya's and me headed to Rothrock State Forest this weekend to get our final long-ride weekend in before the Trans-Sylvania Epic. Scott and Jen Hildebrand joined us for Friday afternoon's 2.5 hour ride. The trails in State College are U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E. They are very well built and maintained and I think Donna and I will be having SO much fun on them for 7 days that we'll forget the fact we might have aches and pains and worries about making the cut offs. Saturday, we rode all of Stage 2 and some. Greenwood Furnace is about a 3 mile ride to the course, so we got the 43 mile stage and the 6 and something miles to and from the camp leaving us with 50 miles under our belts on Saturday. FIFTY MILES. All in one day. The Stage had maybe 1/2 fireroad/hardtop road and 1/2 singletrack (I'm guessing). We spent 6.75 hours on our bike seats. I just realized the Dubya's are half way to their Shenandoah 100 goal with this ride! At mile marker 40, I was ready to call it a day and Brett really wanted to do Sassafras to the "new trail" to Pig Pile. I was tired, but pushed on for 10 more miles and was very glad to have ridden Pig Pile to know what to expect in the race. The "new trail" is a connector between Sassafras and Pig Pile and has some amazing rockwork on it. Somebody puts a LOT of tender loving care into those trails. Our training has been very kind to Donna. I was having some trouble staying with her as we tested our speed to make time where we could so we are sure to make cut-offs. There was this crazy downhill section near the Boy Scout camp that I was praying the entire way down. Donna was running it like a professional downhiller and I lost sight of her about half way down. I was skeered! I guess the reminder of my $6,000 front teeth from a bike accident held me back a little and come race week, I will likely do the same because I was only a minute or so behind her and we typically catch up to one another at other sections. It started raining Saturday night and we packed up Sunday morning and headed home, hoping the rain would stop enough for us to get our 3 hr endurance ride in on Sunday. I eeked out a 2.5 hr road ride before getting rained upon. Today is a rest day, tomorrow is an easy ride day, and back at some high intensity stuff on Wednesday and Thursday. The weekend is less hours as is next week. We're starting our taper for race week. Yeh! It's so close now I can taste it. And how do we feel?? Ready to ride for 7 days! I think we'll pull this thing off!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Almost the Two Week Countdown to the TSE

It's hard to believe its almost here. After over 8 months of training, the Trans-Sylvania Epic is around the corner. The lists are made and packing has begun, but am I physically ready for this thing? Was the 20-week Eatough winter training plan and the 12-week Transylvania Epic-specific training plan enough? Will the 8 pounds I gained during that 8 months of training be a detriment or complement (there's a little muscle in there, I think!). Will I be able to accomplish a feat never before attempted: 7 days of mountain bike riding, er, "racing"? I'm a Joe, so I can't say I'll be "racing" for 7 days. My racing skills of years ago are rarely tapped these days and endurance riding is a welcome change. There were a couple XC Simulations in the training plan, but they were painful. So what are my thoughts on each day unfolding? Day one shouldn't be much of a problem at 10 miles - especially in a time-trial prologue. I like day one. Day two is the most difficult they claim at 43 miles. But its also open to the public so we're happy there may not be a cut-off. Stage 3 is 47 miles and to be honest, from there on out I can't be sure what will happen. Stage 4 is 42 miles of Lake Raystown - my LEAST favorite stage. You heard that right. I don't care much for the Raystown trails. They are very un-natural to me and I despise getting air. And because I won't be going fast to get air, there's a possibility I won't make the cut-off. But we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Stage 5 is mini cross country races at R.B. Winter - one of my favorite places to ride. I sure hope I have legs left by then so I can enjoy the trails in RB Winter. Stage 6 is the famed Rothrock Tussey Mountain. Again, hoping I can muster up some legs and energy at this point of the race to do that stage. And finally, the 7th stage is Bald Eagle Little Poe which I understand is a fun ride because by this last day, most "racers" are ready to just "ride." Huh -- they'll ALL be Joes on the 7th stage. I'm very, very much looking forward to the experience. I'm a sucker for a challenge and this is truly one to remember that will go down in the record books. I try real hard not to think about cut-offs or even "will I finish." The thought process has been focused on just doing what it takes to be ready for it, then just go do it and take whatever is dished out. If I feel good - I'll ride my heart out! If I feel tired - I'll SLEEP (and eat) when I'm done riding. I'm anxious to see this all come together. And of course I'm ready to ride this thing with my training pardner for the past 8 months -- Donna. I think we'll both be in celebration mode the entire week! We made it. We're going to the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Using That Little Ring

Yesterday's 3-hour endurance road ride followed Saturday's 4-hour endurance mountain trail ride which was a BUNCH of climbing. So what route did I decide to do yesterday not really thinking it through? You guessed it - one with even more climbing. It's a lovely back road ride in Lower Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, along the Mahantango mountain to the Susquehanna river. I had forgotten how hilly it is and after Saturday's climbing ride, each hill was agonizing - even on a road bike. I recall when I bought my road bike, I hesitated because of the 3rd little ring (it's a touring bike, not a "real" road bike). But boy-o-boy was I a happy little girl to shift down into that tiny little ring yesterday on each and every hill. Today, the legs are screaming. I'm super-grateful we have two rest days this week. Thanks Coach - you know what you're doing, don't you!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nuthin' Like Michaux for Training

The trails of Michaux State Forest have come a long way since my first race there in 2002. I recall rocks - and lots of them - in 4-wheeler torn doubletrack with washed sections and mud holes a foot deep. I remember worn in trail from years of use with banked corners. Yesterday, we rode Michaux for 4 hours and the newer trails nowadays are pristine, flowing, less rocky, and oh-so-sweet. I couldn't begin to tell you trail names other than Vista, but we were on some lovely singletrack intertwined with doubletrack, fire road, rail trail and road. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed. I think it was 4 or 5 times we went up and down the sides of mountains. What better way to prep for the TSE. The Dubya's did a fine job of laying out a route even though we ended up re-routing the end at the 3 hour marker 'cause we were all a little giddy at that point and just wanted to get home and eat steak. Yesterday was my last training session in Michaux. (:() Next weekend is Greenwood Furnace and the following weekend will be close to home to catch up on domestic stuff because the following two weekends are the Epic. Today is a 3-hour road ride. I really wanted to get out at 6:00 am so I could enjoy the day with my mother, but we were fogged in so the ride will be this evening. In exactly three weeks, we'll be suiting up for the prologue, the first day of the TSE. Three weeks will be here before we know it. Holy training-session Batman - the Epic is almost here and 8 months of training is coming to end. What a journey.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

"XC Race Simulation"

Thursday evening's training session was our first of four "XC Race Simulation" sessions for the final Race Prep Training from the Chris Eatough training plan for the Trans-Sylvania Epic. I honestly can't recall the last time I rode at race pace - riding so hard I hit a new max heart rate of 182. We were to do 2x30 minutes at 85-90% of our max heart rate. Can't say what my average heart rate was during the 30 minute intervals, but suffice it to say it was more like 95% most of the time. We climbed hard, descended fast, and screamed bloody murder at spots. Riding fast certainly boosts the fitness level. Only three more of these until the race which is good because they are not easy! (And to think the pros will ride that pace or faster the duration of the Epic. They ain't human.) Thursday's ride was at Swatara State park which is sort of like the Raystown stage with shorter and less steep uphill sections. The next three sessions will be at "The Farm" which is also lacking rocks, but has some steeper, longer climbs. The Farm should be a good place to do these XC simulations too. We'll get to finally see how we compare with others at race pace because some of the Mountainside folks should be riding at the farm on Wednesday. Friday was an endurance paced trail ride and I couldn't get on my local trails due to hunting. So I rode the berm of the roads, fields, and up farmers stony driveways. It felt like a pretty good trade off. Today is a 4-hour endurance ride in Michaux that will simulate one of the stages at the Epic with a good mix of fire road, climbs, rocks, and singletrack. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Dubya!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mountain Bike Training - On Rail Trail??

Families love riding bike on rail trail. Fisherman take their poles and tackle boxes on their bikes up rail trail to choice fishing holes. Summertime hikers love rail trail. And 7-day mountain bike racers train on rail trail. Huh?? Wouldn't you guys want to be riding rocks, roots, and climbing your asses off with only 4ish weeks left until the big week?? Wouldn't you want to be riding stuff that simulates the 7 mountain trail stages that will take you 3-5 hours to finish? Yes... and our time is coming for that this weekend and next. But last night's plan called for "Road:"

"Long effort. 1x60min at a tempo pace (80% effort). The burn should be there throughout, but under control and tolerable. "

Donna was hoping to hook up with a group road ride near her home that didn't pan out and I was planning on a Shippen Dam Road road ride (near Millersburg, PA and part of the Millersburg Crit weekend). But when Donna's group ride didn't happen, I thought maybe she'd be interested in doing the Stony Rail Trail. Coach Chris said at one point we could ride our mountain bikes on fire road in place of road ride and rail trail is comparable to fire road. The obvious benefits to rail trail are aboslutely no interruptions, a very consistent level (flat!) with no rolling hills or disruptions in your heart rate, and you can stay within a few beats of the recommended heart range the duration of the tempo ride. It was perfect. We rode a solid hour in our prescribed heart ranges. Well, mine was higher at about 86%, but I was ok with that 'cause when I trained for racing with the Wild Blues Team, I was nearly always in that range. I was feeling the burn throughout as the plan recommended. Donna's range is a little higher than mine so I had to work a little harder and at times I had to draft her to get the heart beat down a bit (thank you Donna!). I think I had a bit of dehydration going on too from not drinking enough all day. That will make the heart beat a little higher too. Rail trail training at tempo is ideal and don't ever let anyone tell you it's not. Last night, we averaged 13 mph on our mountain bikes. My average heart beat was 152 until we were finished (155 during the hour at tempo). It was yet another good training session. (Feeling great today -- the true tell-tale sign of how good the session was).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chili's Great Adventure

I used to adventure race and yesterday reminded me why I did it. F.U.N. It gets you out of your routine -- outside the box. It gets you bloody, frustrated (in a good way), a little skeered, and almost always stiff the next day from using muscles that aren't used to that kind of activity. My 3-hr ride was local (to save gas money!) on the local mountain which has a serious network of ATV trails (there's a club that socks guests $50 bucks a day to ride there!) and old mining trails. Of course I got lost - yet again. I wanted to do this loop that included an ATV trail up and over the mountain to an old logging trail that's about 10 minutes from my house. But I wasn't sure which trail it was. So I had to trek up 1/4 of the mountain to see if I had the right trail (there are a bunch of confusing trails on the ATV section). The first try bumped me into two hikers which is very rare to see on these lands. It turns out they are locals who are very familiar with Rattling Creek. The one guy turns 91 next week! I was impressed. The second try was another dead end like the first. And the third trail I knew wasn't correct, but it was a new road that I wanted to see what was there. It almost looked like private land that someone tried to set up a camp of some sort but vandals destroyed it. Next to it was a pipeline that I knew led straight to the trail I was looking for -- at the bottom of the other side of the mountain. "Look Jill -- there's an obvious path up to the top. Just a couple rocks to climb over and a log or two -- but it can't be that bad." Ha! Who was I kidding. 45 minutes later, my legs were bleeding from the thorny weeds, my ankles were killing me from having to plant my feet into the ground so I wouldn't slide on my ass (it was STEEP), and my shoulder was hurting like hell from carrying my bike the entire time. There was no way to set the bike down - it was too steep and too rocky. Yes, think Wigwam going up and then turning around and go back down. Double the length. I was never so happy to see an established trail in my life. I was also never so happy to get home in one piece. It was quite the adventure. It certainly took the boredom out of a routine ride by myself. Rick was getting a little worried -- he didn't know how long I'd be and Bear Valley isn't a place you want to be messing around (old open mine shafts too). He was happy to see me. I was happy to see him!

No Hundie This Year

About a month ago, Donna signed up for the Shenandoah 100 which made me think about doing the Wilderness 101 which I wanted to do for years. This year, with all this endurance training base, would be the year to do it. Yesterday was the last day to sign up before the price went from $130 to $150. Last weekend, I paddled an hour or so with hubby and he went for a bike ride with me this week and I realized how much I miss doing stuff with him. We haven't really done anything together since I started training for the Epic. Missing hubby, coupled with my weed patch of a garden, along with caring for dear old mom, told me to skip the hundie and get back to my other life. So life after the TSE will be normal for at least three weeks (recovery period). Then I'll likely ride when I feel like it or have time. Paddling is on top of the list during recovery. I can't wait to paddle with hubby again! I miss my boat!

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Only 29 Friggin Days Away

I'm not exactly sure what to think about the fact that in about a month, we'll be packing our bikes and bags and heading to State College for 7 days of frolicking on our bikes. Actually, I try NOT to think about it - it makes me too nervous and the thought process hurts: Am I riding enough? Will I last 7 days of hardcore trail riding? Will my bike hold up? Should I take it for a tune-up before I go? Should I take spare parts? Will there be a kid there I can hire for the week to clean it up and check it over after each ride? Will the food be ok... should I take my own can't-live-without-staples like soy protein? What will I wear? What will cover my jiggly parts? Will we make the cut off each day? Are we riding fast enough to make that cut-off? And on. And on. And on. So what do I do? Just not think about and go ride. This week was an easy rest week and my thoughts focused on work -- it's a bit nutty right now with the new Gov implementing his new initiatives. Folks are NOT getting replaced as they quit, so the work just keeps piling up hirer and hirer on the rest of us that stay. It's starting to get old. Not to mention the fact I haven't gotten a raise now for 3 years for taking on this extra work. It's starting to get REAL old. Biking is my escape from my work madness at the moment. My wonderful boss has been allowing me to take Fridays off to help my mom so I can ride on weekends. He's an outdoors guy and thinks that me training for this race is pretty cool. I'm grateful for that. So today, I'm off and plan to take a lovely two-hour back country road ride on Jake (the cyclocross bike) this afternoon to "escape" from it all. And while I'm doing that, I won't think about too much except dodging cracks in the road and road kill. Not even the royal wedding would keep me from my escape. Thank you bike!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ready for Anything -- Training in Rain, Sleet, or Hail

Mom nature has really been cooking up some strange dishes lately. Last weekend, Donna and Brett had to ride in something like a monsoon in Raystown (I would have been there too if the flu didn't hit); this week was quirky with more rain than sun and yes, we trained in a pelting sleet/rain mix on Friday night during our Stony climb. Saturday was to be a 4.5 hr Swatara ride and guess what it was doing Saturday when we woke up? Donna was a little weary of the mud and cold, so we actually stayed indoors on the trainer on Saturday. Neither of us really wanted to be indoors, but neither of our hubbies are too keen on replacing drive trains from riding in gritty mud either. So we spent 3 hrs on the trainer listening to Coach Troy. It was good. Today, Easter Sunday, the sun shine peaked through a little at daybreak. It was a beautiful sunrise ride. I headed to my local mountain for a short 3.5 hour, 25 mile half road/half trail jaunt. Hubby informed me when I got home we're going paddling this afternoon in the local creek (the water is higher than normal making it a perfect paddling level). So that will be the icing on the weekend exercise cake. The week coming is R&R. My flu bug/congestion is gone and I'd really like to ride since I missed last weekend, but I better stick to the plan, as the coach suggested.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rattling Run Trail

I never knew it had a name. We always thought of the "Stony Climb" as just that, a brutal 45-minute fire road climb from Stony Creek at 508 feet above sea level, to the radio tower on the top of Third Mountain outside of Dauphin, PA, at 1,601 feet. Stony Creek used to be a popular mountain bike destination until the Game Commission shut down the trails to mountain biking and horses about 10 years ago. The Stony Climb and the rail trail remained open with the climb still being all its cracked up to be -- an incredibly good training ride climbing 1100 feet. Donna and I climbed Stony last evening after a hiatus of about 3-4 (or longer) years from these training grounds. The road is still bad getting there, and the climb itself is still long, hard, and beautiful once on top. We both commented how our heart rates didn't climb as high as they used to years ago. Funny how that happens. We were pelted a short bit with icy sleet and the rain never let up the entire two hours. Although it wasn't a washout downpour, we were still soaking wet and cold when done. The temp was 41 degrees. It was an out and back ride, turning around just before the turn to head back down to the rail trail about 7.5 miles from the start. We climbed the rocky section which was interesting -- neither of us ever did that before. All in all, another great training ride with my training partner. It's SO nice to have a buddy to train with. I was just thinking last week how bored I'm getting with the Rattling Creek trails riding by myself all the time over there. The Rattling Creek system is small -- and there's only so many ways you slice and dice riding there and its starting to get old after 10 years. I gotta get out more. I'm really looking forward to riding the farm at Marysville after work starting May 4 and each Wednesday after that up until the Epic. The plan calls for race pace every Wednesday and we're both anxious to test our speed so we can build a little more speed to make the cut-offs at the Epic.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back in the Saddle

After being sick with the 24-hour flu over the weekend, last night was the first day back on the bike with an easy spin on the trainer and today was an easy spin on the road with the mountain bike. Both felt fantastic. Today, especially, I felt strong -- an obvious positive side effect of laying off for a couple days. Tomorrow is a 2-hour ride on the Rattling Creek trails of which I think I'm going to test out some speed and see how many miles I can get on singletrack in 2 hours. I can't imagine it will be much different than what I've been putting in - about 12-14 miles in two hours depending which trails I ride (I've been doing mostly climbing). I think I'll do a half and half -- half singletrack and half snowmobile trail and/or fire road. They say many of the stages at the Epic are a mix, so why not do the same at Rattling Creek.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Post Flu Training

So the flu was short-lived, thank god! The fever didn't stay much longer than a 24-hour period and I still have some sniffles, but very little. The coach says, "Make sure you recover completely, then give yourself 2 days of easy riding to build back into the routine, then resume the training wherever that puts you. Don't worry about making up for lost time. It really doesn't work that way, and you just have to accept that everyone gets sick sometimes and move on from there." I really wanted to spin easy last night but my better judgment said, no, don't. Even Rick said, "what... you're actually going to take that advice??" So tonight I'm psyched to spin easy for 2 hours. It's raining, so it'll be all indoors which is fine by me for the first time back on the bike since Friday. I feel confident the break was not a detriment. It wasn't much longer than a normal rest week and I may replace one of the rest days next week with a road ride since I missed this past weekend. We'll see how it goes the remainder of this week and the weekend. Donna and I are a little concerned about making the cut-offs for the stages at the Epic so we're going to test our speed this weekend at Swatara. We plan to do 3 loops of all the trails in 4.5 hours. That would make it 40-something miles which is comparable to the Raystown loop. We haven't really been riding out of our endurance zones too much, so we decided its time to start crushing a little. Crossing our fingers....

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sidelined - Flu

In 1979, I spent two days in bed shaking, dizzy, head achy, body tingling from head to toe and a feeling of not being concerned about absolutely anything - my hair, teeth, clothes, house, or even the pets. They can live without food for a couple more hours. It was a feeling of total illness - head to toe. Fast forward 32 years later and its back. The good old fashioned flu. This time around though, I'm in the midst of training for a 7-day staged mountain bike race. How will being forced to take time off affect my fitness? Only time will tell. I'm hopeful this will be on its way out of my body by Monday and I can get back on the bike -- very easy spinning to start. This is really sucking.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

44 Days to the Transylvania Epic and Counting

Yesterday, Donna shared with me some videos from last year of Stages 4 and 5 of the TSE -- the RB Winter mini cross-country races and Raystown. They're inspiring and scary! Scary you say? To be honest, not once did I think of this thing as an all-out "race." The focus of the past couple months of training and contemplating 7-days of riding has always -- and continues to be -- finish all stages. I'm 51-1/2. Heck, I feel lucky I can ride a bike, let alone do this. The videos show mostly the competitive types and they are riding fasssstt. The women's category this year is at least half stacked with professional mountain bikers who will be racing to win. I started a post on Facebook asking folks to comment on the adventurous challenge of the TSE -- not necessarily the "racing" aspect of this thing. Karmen Woelber, from Idaho, commented she too is in it for the challenge. I'm sure there are others that will join us adventure seekers - the "Joes" as someone put put it. "This is a race that the "Pros and Joes" alike race side-by-side." Yes, the pros absolutely are extremely inspiring and fun to watch. And of course there's the incredible trails we're going to get to ride for 7 days straight. That, in itself, will be phenomenal. And its only 44 days away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

30 Minutes is Really a Long Time

Today's training was a 2-hour road ride with 2 x 30 minutes at 80% of maximum heart rate, spinning easy for 5 minutes between the 30 minute sets. The ride was to be on a stretch of road with few interruptions. Once again, I didn't have the buck to up and dodge the rain drops outside. I hit the trainer. But the trainer is THE workout for 30 minutes straight because 30 minutes is a llooonnngg time to hold your heart rate at certain percentage AND keep your rpms at 70 with road riding in hill country. The trainer allowed me to hold the heart rate within 8 beats at 144 and 152; pedaling to the beat of Tiesto at 68-71 rpms. It was absolutely perfect. My average HR when done was 141 -- 144 during the 2x30 minutes intervals. 144 is exactly 80% of my max. And yes, I stayed on the trainer the duration of the 2 hour period this time. I found two new Tiesto songs I hadn't heard before and they pumped me up for the final 15 minutes when I normally start to fade. Tomorrow is yet another rest day - one we didn't have since last Wednesday. It's time. And Thursday is to be sunny and 65. It's time for something old but new this year -- the Stony climb. We used to do that climb to train for Ole Bull. It's a wondrous workout.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chasing the Turkeys from Their Breakfast

Sorry guys... but I got things to do today so get off the trail and quit scratching and rooting things up. My van was the first one in the parking lot this morning at 7:00 am at the Rattling Creek Trails. Yes, I scared the turkeys. They had one hell of mess in the trail - musta been something good under those leaves. They went flying the second they heard me. Yesterday was a great ride with Donna in Michaux State Forest. We rode for 3.5 hours hitting a little bit of everything -- rocks, roots, logs, climbs, singletrack and fire road. Today's plan said road or trail for 3 hours and initially I planned on doing the entire Rattling Creek singletrack loop, but opted for a 22 mile singletrack/snowmobile combo. It ended up being trail AND road (snowmobile trail is a cross between double track and fire road without the stones) for 3 hours. I was a little concerned how I'd feel after yesterday, but thanks to Hammer Perpetuem solids, I actually felt good when I was done and came home and did this for another 2 hours. I'm dead now. Sitting back sipping coffee, blogging, and will pick up a book shortly.

Friday, April 8, 2011

When Everything Seems Lighter and Easier

A couple weeks ago, Rick and I were at a pool session and I commented about how my boat seemed lighter -- did Rick do something to it? "Jill. It's a plastic boat. They don't get lighter." He loves to make comments like that to make me feel sorta stupid. Getting out on the bike trails this spring I noticed my bike seemed lighter when walking through rocks or carrying it over logs - last night in particular there were some huge logs I had to lift my bike up and over. Damn this bike is light... I didn't replace anything with carbon... what's up? The only thing I did was change the tires. Could those Mountain Kings be that much lighter? Weird. The fact of the matter is for the past 25ish weeks, I've been following Coach Eatough's recommendation of push-ups as the one and only upper body exercise. Yes, I posted before on the benefits of the lowly push-up, but this one is worth mentioning again with the results now apparent on the trail and in life in general. If there's one noticeable gain I can see now from all this training, its the fitness gain made from the push-ups. Logs seem easier to get over. I'm balancing myself better going through rock gardens. And mentioned above, the bike seems lighter when carrying it through rough sections. Eatough recommended adding push-ups twice a week, three sets. Warm up the first set, then do as many as you can the 2nd and 3rd set. Being one who tends to overdo it sometimes, I do push-ups every other day (somethings I skip a 2nd day), for 4 or 5 sets of 20 or 25 depending how I feel. The first 20 are rough; but once the muscles warm up, the remaining sets are easier. My style of push-up is the traditional men's with the knees off the floor. Today, I did 100 in 4 sets of 15 and 20, then the last set at 25. I feel like Arnold. Thank you Chris for the push-up tip.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bring on the Intervals

Tuesday night's interval session brought the legs and energy back to that gee-I-feel-good level. After Sunday's too much bad food episode and Monday's lackluster easy ride, it was really nice to have an all-out sweatfest. Yes, I was on the trainer on Tuesday. It was 42 degrees with a 20mph wind making the wind chill for a road ride a little colder than I care to tolerate for a spring day. Anyways, I'm all for the concentrated workout you get on the trainer. I know, just "Buck up Buttercup" and get the hell out. I figure I'll have plenty of times to buck up come later this spring AND of course during the Epic. For now, I ain't got no buck to up. I'm saving it for later. Wednesday night was rest although I was ready to ride last night. Still feeling good today, tonight is another interval session. It's 8x2min at 85% of max heart rate (that's a 154 heart rate for me). "Short hard efforts on the hills and steady and efficient everywhere else. If possible, choose rocky trails with short hills." I have to hang close to home because hubby has things to do at home, so my only option is the mountain near my house. Luckily, there's a washed out fire road climb that is perfect for these intervals. And when I'm done with the climbs, I can tool around on some virgin trail with lots of logs. It's not much, so I'll do a couple out and backs, then head home. Tomorrow will likely be another concentrated trainer session since rain is in the forecast and mother has my day planned for me (she's good at that!).

Some interesting tidbits of info on the TSE registrants:

58 total

  • 44 men (19 open, 3 in 50+, 13 in 40+ and 9 singlespeeders)

  • 14 women (12 open, 1 - 50+, 1 singlespeed)

  • Only 15 from Pennsylvania.
The women are still batting an average of 25% of all registrants which is phenomenal for a female to male turnout in a mountain bike event. It's funny, I entered this thing because there was a category for old-bat women; but now my attitude is to have fun and just enjoy the ride. After reading about Selene and Cheryl at the Cape Epic, I can imagine Donna and I will have as much fun (and not-so-fun moments, I'm sure) at the TSE. Yes, we plan to ride together for the whole thing as much as possible. Even though we likely won't get an official duo category since no other duos are entered, we'll still ride together. Maybe we can pick up some other girls that are riding this for the challenge too and not really competing like the pros will. That would be awesome. Only 51 Days left! yeh baby...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Casual Monday Evening Ride -- Thinking of 100 Milers

100 mile mountain bike races were on my mind last night as I rode my 2-hr endurance road ride (24 miles, 135 avg HR. I felt slow and heavy from less-than-quality food over the weekend). Donna and Brett signed up for the Shenandoah 100! Anyone and everyone that does endurance mountain riding says this Virgnia race is of the best. Judging by last year's entries (650!), it's obvious. Of course now I want to do one too, but not the 5+ hr drive to the Shenandoah. I'd do the one in my backyard only 1.5 hrs away -- the Wilderness 101. Brett did it and said its a tough one - especially somewhere around mile 60 when they make you climb a piece of rocky singletrack. I've talked about wanting to do this one for many years with my initial goal being when I turned 50. That 50th birthday has come and gone and I'm still waiting to do it. Hubby so sweetly said to me, "you can do whatever you want Jill -- you will anyway." I'd sign up today if it wasn't for one uncertainty -- my mother. She's thinking about getting shoulder replacements which would mean she'd need some help - a lot of help at first. I'll have to talk to her a little more and see what her plans are. Someday I'm DOING the 101. It's a challenge I can't let slip by and this year would be the best bet since all this training is under my belt. Er, I mean, under our belts -- Donna had the right idea.