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.