Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lucky Stars Twinkling on the Megatransect Challenge X

“You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are.”

Those words greeted the racers at about mile marker 20-21 of the 26-mile off-road trail challenge – the Megatransect (a.k.a. “MEGA”)  - in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. How true the prose rung in my ears realizing at that very point, I was going to finish my very first marathon – not a flat, hardtop, easy 26 miles like normal folks do – but a 5,500 elevation gain, rocky path marathon.  And here’s the kicker:  I didn’t do any run-hike-specific training for which makes for a noteworthy blog post and a little sharing of life’s lessons on human spirit and the wonderful bodies we occupy.  Yes, we all are truly stronger than we think we are.

 I finished the Transylvania Epic in 2011 – a 7-day mountain bike stage race in Rothrock State Forest that took 8 months of training to prepare for riding for about 30 hours in 7 days.  My life revolved around training and preparing for that thing.   We were physically ready and yes, we finished it.  It was something we were very proud of completing.  After that, I wanted another challenge equally hard and I picked an off-road marathon.  I blogged about it here saying if I can get in on registration, it was meant to be.  If I didn’t, oh well.  Low and behold, I got in and the race sold out in 90 minutes.   That meant it was time to start training – again.

Just like preparing for 7 days of mountain biking, I devised a training plan with a couple key races to help build distance and endurance.   The first big race was the 16-mile Hyner Challenge in April.   During February and March, I slowly added mileage like all the textbooks say, and come Hyner race day, I finished – but not without stress.  I ached the last 4 miles and prayed I could finish.  My body was crying for me to stop.  I bloggedabout the aftermath here thinking I simply wasn’t cut out for long-distance running.  A few weeks later, I bagged the 18-mile Rothrock thinking my body can’t take the pounding stress.  Summer went by and I assumed I wasn’t doing the Mega.  It really bothered me there were no transfers or refunds – especially since SO many folks couldn’t get registered and wanted to be part of it.  In August, a friend of mine (and his wife) decided to do a 27 mile hike without much training.  I thought, “huh, if he can do it, I can too, right?”  He finished with a couple weekends of long hikes prior to the 27 mile day.   But life got in the way for me and I never was able to get out and do some long training hikes as planned, and I continued to ask myself, “Can I hike 26 miles without training AT ALL for it?”.   Two weeks prior to the Mega, I picked up the inspirational saying book a co-worker gave me for retirement and turned to a page that said, “I will stop doing things the same old way just because I like to play it safe.  I will be daring and courageous and refuse to allow fear to control my actions.”  At that moment, I decided to change the “Can I?” attitude of doing the Mega  to, “I can.”  I decided to race, see how far I get and be satisfied with whatever happens.    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not much of a couch-potato and didn’t go into this thing unfit.  I life weights, do a little biking, run about 4-5 miles twice a week and do a LOT of organic gardening.   I garden for hours on end:  walking, lifting, pulling, stooping, and digging for up to 6 hours straight.   I often wondered if this “exercise” would benefit me someday.  I believe it just did. Those 6-8ish hours a day of being on my feet paid off.

Race day:  nervous as all hell having virtually no trail running training and was still a little fearful I couldn’t do it.  The inspirational side of me said, “just savor every second and soak up the beauty of this mountain.  Smell it.  Look at it, and just enjoy the journey every step of the way.”  And that’s exactly what I did for the next 10 hours.  From the moment the race director said “go” until the sprint to the finish line at just under 10 hours, I simply savored each rock, every conversation with fellow racers, and thanked all the volunteers.  I felt bad for folks in pain and immediately thanked my lucky stars for my generally pain free body.  I watched people go down steep trails backward to avoid the excruciating knee pain going forward.  I thanked my lucky stars again.  I listened to folks “complain” about the “horrible” trails and immediately thought how magnificent Mother Nature was to create such beauty.  I stood in awe at a majestic mountain reflecting in a lake and nearly cried.    I watched folks wobble, fall, and crawl over boulders as I hopped from boulder and boulder with perfect balance and once again, thanking those lucky stars.  Town folk lined the streets and cheered us on.  One particular family had hand-made signs out “You can do it!”  “Face the challenge head-on.”   The young gal had pompoms and was cheering for us.  It was heart-warming.   She especially liked the gentleman dressed as a football player carrying the football for the race. 

And I teared up.  I was about to finish something I never, in a million years, expected I could do.  I started running.  I was SO excited to be SO close to the finish I couldn’t contain myself.  The only pain my lucky stars threw me was a tiny blister that flared up AFTER I started running those last 4 miles.  I ran through it.  The finish line was in sight and the clock said 9:57.  I cheered and jumped in delight that I made it under 10 hours.   The crowd clapped and yelled too.  It was a moment almost as exciting as popping the cork on the champagne bottle to finish 7 days of mountain biking.  Definitely two of the most rewarding moments in life I’ll never forget.

 The human body is strong, very strong.  The only thing that holds it back is your brain and the fear you feed it.  Human spirit is equally powerful.  Again, the failure is only what your thoughts say it can’t do.  Follow your heart and instincts folks… don’t let your thoughts get in the way.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Latest Endeavor

I might blog about it or I may not have time. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

2nd in a 5K??? Whodda Thought!

"What is your average pace?" Asked Lisa at the start.  "Oh, about a 12 minute pace" said Chili.   End of race: "Twelve Minute pace my ass!"  Chili finished 2nd in her age group only 30 seconds behind the winner at 28:38. Yes - a shocker: It was a friggin 9:30 minute pace.  Holy shit... I don't think I EVER ran that fast.  Of course I don't think I EVER ran a race on a totally flat rail trail before either.  Yes, 12 minutes includes hills.  So 9:30 shouldn't be a surprise on flat... but it was.  A pleasant surprise!  I was also feeling pretty good and just went with it.  I normally don't push myself too hard... I just don't.  But today I did.  It was a good day. The race was the Rattlesnake Run 5K at Lehigh Gorge State Park, Glen Onoko access.  We did a 24 mile bike ride afterwards. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Switchin' It Up - a Long Boat Kinda Day

This boat hasn't seen water in almost two years and today she finally got out for a spin. It was so nice to do a little endurance paddling below the Dauphin Narrows while Rick paddled the white splashy stuff with a couple of his buds. My arms got tired after only an hour moving at a good pace, but it was a good tiredness. The average heart rate was 129 for the entire hour which is actually a pretty good rate for paddling constantly. When I get up into the 150 range, I feel like my arms are going to fall off. When the hour was up, I just lounged around for another half hour and took in the beautiful day.  It's nice to switch things up every now and then. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Time to Change It Up?

Tractor tires leave huge ruts in wet fields and I believe I've fallen into one and need to figure out how to get out.  My hard core (as some call it) exercise program has virtually disappeared since I stopped the training for distance running.  I gave myself some time to heal my abused legs and feet and got a little to comfortable laying in the bottom of the rut.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still doing my routine morning core work, walking/riding with Ricky, and an occasional 3-4 mile very slow run, but it definitely falls into the "Same old, same old" category in the Top 5 Worst Exercise Habits.  I've been doing more hiking, walking, riding with Rick which is really cool, but its not getting the heart rate up enough to improve fitness.  Yes, our exercise regimen is the minimum daily requirement of exercise to stay healthy, but not enough to gain a little muscle. What to do?  Should I focus on learning the play moves of play boating? Throwing a play boat around definitely takes some serious energy as I found out this winter in the pool sessions.  I'd be tired in a half hour and start missing rolls.  Or maybe I should go back to my exercise roots of the eighties and start pumping iron again.  Weightlifting is one of the best osteoporosis preventatives, so I can't go wrong doing a couple reps every day.  Then there's my current passion (obsession?), the garden.  I always felt I was getting 3-4 hours of exercise everyday working in the garden.  It turns out, gardening is an activity and I still need to exercise.  If the heart rate doesn't rise, its an activity, not exercise.  Yes, any movement is good, but aerobic exercise is better.  Or maybe I need to find something completely new to really mix it up.  What could that possibly be when I've climbed just about every mountain at this point and have no plans to spend anything on anything new.  I like my friend's comment, "when was the last time you did something for the first time?"  Hmmm... thinking that through a little points me to getting some use out of that play boat.  What did I get if for, anyways?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's It Like to Live in Paradise?

Chasing a dream…finding that perfect locale that you can call “paradise.”  A deserted island, a mountain top, miles of untouched sandy beaches, a rooftop oasis in the middle of the city – it all counts as “paradise.”   We think about retiring someday in paradise.  Costa Rica?  The Mediterranean?  Maybe Bali is your paradise dreams come true?  Travel destinations near the equator are touted as “paradise” and most folks are quick to agree.   Maui comes to mind as a prime paradise destination with warm sands, warm nights, and warm water – all the time.  But reality is paradise is a figment of our imagination and if you know you – I mean really know you -- paradise can be anywhere, anything, any situation.   Being content, happy, and satisfied is part of paradise.  You can be in paradise sitting in your bubba chair with the remote in your hand.  A drug addict is in paradise on the high of his life.   A chef creates his paradise in his kitchen.   Touring your favorite micro-brewery and sampling the sweetness at the end is bound to bring on paradisiac thoughts.  Some believe just having a place on earth – any place on earth - is paradise.    The truth is paradise is any place or state of extreme happiness.  Are you happy?  Welcome to paradise.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Old Bones and Distance Running

"Listen to your body."  These are words that roll off the tongue of many coaches, doctors, co-workers and friends when an ailment arises and one starts to complain.  Heck, sometimes we might even listen to our own gut feelings and actually do something about it.  I've been registered to do some distance hike/runs this year and after the first one - the 16.3 mile Hyner Challenge -  something wasn't feeling too good in the old body.  I pondered the thought, "maybe I'm not cut out for ump-teen miles at a time" even though the other determined half of me said, "ferget about it... just hike through the pain."  Well, I chose the worried half and quit hiking/running anything longer than 5ish miles.  A month later, I feel better than ever.  My feet no longer hurt, my toes aren't tender anymore, the bones on the top of my feet aren't aching, my ass cheek isn't hurting all the time, and the rest of my achy, tired-feeling body returned to its energetic, can't-stop self again.  There's some truth to listening to your body.  I found a good article in the NY times on running distance, and in there was this comment:  Exercise early in life can affect the development of tendons and muscles, but many people don’t start running until adulthood, so their bodies may not be as well developed for distance.    Yup, that's me -- I didn't start exercise until early forties and then it was biking.  The running didn't start until mid-forties and that really wasn't anything longer than about 8ish miles.  I did a half-marathon two years ago, but haven't really done anything longer.  So this year's mega-distance tryouts obviously answered the question of Can I Do It?  Nope girly, you can't.  Your old bones aren't seasoned enough for distance hiking/running.  But it's a blessing in disguise because my bikes were starting to feel very dirty with all the dust they've been accumulating.  I'm back in the saddle again.  Maybe not as much as years past, but biking nonetheless. And the best part?  It doesn't hurt anywhere.   Listen to your body!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A 16.3 Mile Jaunt in the Woods

The 6th Annual Hyner View Challenge is in the books. This "Challenge" is a 16.35 mile trail run with 4,226 feet of climbing that a thousand or so folks muster up mental and physical strength to complete.  And if the 25K isn't enough, there was a 50K option this year and yes, 98 runners finished it. The weather was perfect at 50ish calm degrees and a slight sprinkle cooled us off after a climb.  To call this thing a "challenge" is an understatement.  Hyner View is in Clinton County and it sits atop a tall mountain and offers the spectators a breathtaking sight to see.  Today, the runners started at Pine Creek level and climbed the side of the mountain to that view and then went on to climb two more mountains equally epic.  The climbs were steep, rocky, and long.  The runs back down those mountains were not as steep, but rocky and long just the same.  90% of the Hyner Challenge running was on trail - beautiful, well-maintained trail. Someone put a lot of TLC in maintaining the trails. They were pristine.   The race itself was very well organized -- they had to be -- there was over a thousand folks registered.  As the 25K folks lined up to start, you could see the 50K folks in the distance approaching the summit of Hyner.  It was pretty cool to see that.  The 50K folks started at 8:00 am and the 25K started at 9:00.  Both were mass starts.  This caused a slow-down when everyone funneled into a single line on the singletrack.  Obviously, those out front didn't experience this wait.  The first climb spaced people out, but there was always someone within sight both in front and behind during the whole race.  By the 2nd mountain climb, many were walking, even on the flat sections.  By the final mountain climb, folks were cramping up.   And after that last climb, there was 4 more miles to go.  The final 2.5 miles was mostly downhill on singletrack (some rocks) and some road and after 14ish miles, running downhill and pushing to the finish was not an easy thing to do.  The highlight of my run was seeing these absolutely beautiful wildflowers on a couple of the switchbacks.  Purple triliums are magnificent in their natural setting and caught my eye in the midst of a rocky climb.  They certainly took my mind off the task at hand for a couple minutes.   I was impressed by the folks that came out to run/hike this thing.  Young and old, male and female, fast and slow.  I commented to a "local" on one of the trails that its nice to see folks walking. I loved his comment, "This is a competition against yourself."  So true. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Humdinger Results

Humdinger 2012 results:

    1   123 Susan Hamilton       56:23.0
    2   289 Phyllis Sieber          1:15:53.5
    3   273 Andrea Sapiente      1:23:29.8
    4   342 Jill Wiest                 1:26:53.4
    5   320 Donna Thompson    1:32:36.2
    6   282 Erica Shames            1:44:19.6
    7   246 Valerie Pratt              1:46:30.8
    8   286 Nancy Shrom            2:02:03.9
Full results here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Clown and the Amish in the Humdinger Trail Run

There’s nothing like a day of laughter, exercise, beer-drinking (you got beads if you drank a glass at the water stops), and all-around good times. Today was one of those days and Sheena and I had a blast running in our get-ups. She was a perfect mismatched clown and I was, well, let the pictures speak for themselves. The stares were in full force ‘cause folks just weren’t quite sure if it was real or not. One gal said to me at the start (as I was mouthing to the race director that we couldn’t hear him): “oh, I get it – it’s a costume. Some people were saying there’s an Amish guy running the race.” Oh what fun.

"Oh, I get it.... it's a costume.   People were saying there was an Amish running the race."

An Amish in the group!

Sheena heading toward the finish.
The winner of the best dressed was a young man dressed in a dress with full makeup.  He looked beautiful.  Greg and Rick heard him talk at one point and thought for a second it was a girl.   Sheena was faster than me and unsure of her time; but I finished in about 1:28.  We won’t know where we placed amongst our age groups for a couple of days.  They just put our names on a big board and you have to stand and take the time to read each one to see where you finished in your age group and I didn’t feel  taking the time.  Great day, great weather, great fun. Thanks Sheena and River Town Race Series.  Full set of pictures courtesy Ricky Brown here.

Happy runners eating soup, Courtesy Rivers Town Race Series.  Yum!  Thanks guys.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Run, Run, Run... or, Hike, Hike, Hike

The Humdinger 7.1 Trail run is coming up in less than two weeks (March 3) and the Hyner Challenge 16.4 Trail run is April 21.  Folks on the Hyner Ultra Hike Facebook group are asking tons of questions that are answering bunches of thoughts I too had.  The biggest... do I have to run this whole thing and feel like I have to "compete."  I'm thrilled to find out, NO.  If I wanna walk the whole thing, I can.  If I wanna run some, walk some, I can do that too.  The last person to finish last year took 10:04 and the last gal in my age group was just under 9 hours.  The fastest gal in my age group was around 4 hours.  That's quite a spread and I'll fit snugly in between the two.  Ricky and I hiked 8.5 miles yesterday (all walking) on some steep, rocky terrain along with smooth trail and it took us 3 1/2 hours.  Rick quit at the 6 mile marker and I pushed on to get some more mileage.  Judged on that time, if I decide to hike the entire Hyner Challenge (unlikely), it should take me about 7 hours to finish.  Realistically, I'm guessing I'll be done in 5ish hours with a combo of slow run/fast hike.  But the nice thing is doesn't matter -- when I finish, I finish.  I really like that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Winning At Losing

The Chubublicans did it - we won! Week 6 results of the 6-week DCED Biggest Loser competition were kept hush-hush until today at the finale - a pizza party!  And the winner is.... the Chubublicans with a total weight loss of 89.4 pounds and 7.14%.  I'd say that's a success.  Congrats girls!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Week Five Results - Loser at Work

There's only one week to go and my team, the Chubublicans, are still in contention to win.  The scorekeeper won't share the overall tally to keep the incentive going for everyone to work hard, but one of the Chubs team members is keeping her own score and based on her numbers, we're still in first after week five in both total weight loss and percentage. The weight loss totals are very close with a 3 pound difference between first and second.  The Chubs are at 79.9 total pounds lost after 5 weeks.   The percentage of weight loss is the key to win and below is what we think the standings are after week five.  It pays to have a lightweight on the team to boost the percentage!  I'm not a numbers person, and hubby is, and he thinks we have a pretty good buffer from the second place team and could possibly win.  Of course I'm exercising my ass off trying to drop another 2 by Tuesday to keep that percentage high.  I'm tired though.  And ready to eat some cake - or anything with SUGAR.

TOTAL Percentage Loss of All Teams:
Thin It To Win It                   4.85
Processing Not Included        3.18
Victorious Secrets                 3.42
The Number Crunchers         5.89
Chubublicans                         6.37
Mission Slimpossible            3.07
Winners                                 5.682
Reducing Government Waste  5.05
Burgers in Our Sites                 4.48

Friday, February 3, 2012

Loser at Work - Week Four Results

My team, the Chubublicans, is still holding in first place.  It's a 5 pound and .25 percent lead which isn't much.  I told the girls not to let their guard down!   Here's this week's totals:

TEAM RESULTS (lbs and % body weight lost in past week)
loss/gain (lbs)
Thin It To Win It!
Processing not included
Victorious Secrets
The Number Crunchers
not sure
Mission Slimpossible
Reducing Government Waist
Burgers in Our Sites

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aspiring to Be A Freestyle Playboater

It's official:  I'm gonna be a freestyle playboater.  Yesterday was a pool session at Boiling Springs High School and we stopped at Blue Mountain Outfitters (the aboslute best kayak outfitter in Central Pennsylvania IMHO) to pick up a playboat to demo and I was sold after the first couple rolls.  It's a Wavesport Project X 48.   My other boat, the Jackson Allstar, is also an all-out playboat but a little too big for me to play in.  The weight range for the Allstar is 130-200 and the weight range for the Project X is 100-170 - a much better fit and feel.   Rick's happy too because he can now also play since the Allstar will be a perfect fit for him.  The first move to learn is the bow stall.  Of course Rick has tons of videos I can watch to learn.  Now I can't wait for roll sessions.  Woohoo! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Week Three Results

We're dropping in the ranks! Our weight was down this week and the secret weapon on Team Reducing Government Waste lost 18.3  pounds/11.35% boby weight this past week.  Since this thing is based on percentage, that team will win hands down like they did the first year we did this competition.  We just don't know how he does it... he's not a big guy to begin with.  He claims he sweats it out at the gym and doesn't really change his eating.  Then again, I think it's something to do with those Kenyan genes -- you know how runners from Kenya are freaks of nature!  I think Paul is too. 

TEAM RESULTS (lbs and % body weight lost in past week)

loss/gain (lbs)
Thin It To Win It!
Processing not included
Victorious Secrets
The Number Crunchers
Mission Slimpossible
Reducing Government Waist
Burgers in Our Sites

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Waiting Week Three Team Results

We're patiently waiting for the overall week three results.  One of our team members couldn't weigh in until late yesterday or even this morning, so it backed up the results and we're dying to find out if we're still leading.   It's very possible we continue to lead with our 8ish pound total loss this week.  Yes, that's not much, but judging on what teams lost the week before, our 8ish pounds would still be ahead.  At the half-way point in the game, some continue to be serious (most of our team) while other teams are already losing interest.  I heard of one girl that dropped out already (her team was in last place and she was the team captain!).  This is a very typical new-year's weight-loss habit:  folks are gung-ho to start it and about 3-4 weeks in, give it up.  When will people realize IT'S A LIFE CHANGE?   We all need to practice good eating habits ALL the time, not just for the new year.  I certainly learned a lot the past couple weeks and changed some bad habits.  I now know EXACTLY what I need to do to lose and what I need to do to maintain.  So being a Loser again was worth it.    This week was another 2.1 pounds down for me so my total is about 8. Well, maybe only 5 because that first weigh-in was exaggerated with water weight to make me heavier.   I'm tickled pink to see the 140's again.  Will post team results as soon as I have them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Biggest Loser at Work Update Week Two

My Biggest Loser Team - the Chubublicans --  is now in 1st place after our 2nd week weigh-in.  Woohoo! The team behind in second is trailing by 6 pounds.   Of course we are ALL motivated now!   Very cool (and fun!).

Thin It To Win It!   42
Processing not included   21.3
Victorious Secrets   24.9
The Number Crunchers   44.6
Chubublicans   56.1
Mission Slimpossible   31.2
Winners   50.2
Reducing Government Waste   26.6
Burgers in Our Sites   27.5

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Losin' It At Work Update

Our team, the Chubublicans, is in 2nd place after the first week challenge of the DCED version of Biggest Loser.  It's a six-week competition with nine teams of 6 people competing for the top prize of cash: about $500 smackaroos.  I say "about" because during the competition, those that gain are required to dump a buck in the pot for gaining leaving the prize a tad bigger than $500 bucks.  I ended up dumping in a buck or two in the pot for gaining in 2009 when we had this competition.  Ricky Brown ain't gonna let that happen to me this time around!  (It's all about the mighty dollar when you are retired... trust me!).  One of my team members was the top loser the first week with 13 pounds lost!  Wow.  I was the slacker on the team with 1.5 pounds lost.  All the other girls had significant weight-loss: 4, 7, and 5 pounds were common numbers.  Our team lost a total of 38.8 pounds, but we had a higher percentage of weight-loss of 3.10% which is what we are going by.   The winning team lost 43 pounds.  There's a team close on our heels at 2.94% so we need to stay on our toes.   And me?  It's hard as hell.  It's all belly fat - the hardest to lose.  I'm still focusing on the 1500 calories or less a day but that too is very, very difficult.  But... it's for the team, so I'll stick with it as best I can!


loss/gain (lbs)
Thin It To Win It!
Processing not included
Victorious Secrets
The Number Crunchers
Mission Slimpossible
Reducing Government Waste
Burgers in Our Sites