Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Morning View

Saturday morning I had a wonderful 20-miler where the body felt just right. I had on new shoes (I don't even know how many pairs of Brooks I've bought), a fresh attitude and some good tunes on my iPhone. After my run, I was treated to coffee at Erie Island with my two daughters and even had a surprise "Karen sighting" as well. Great morning and afternoon.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day of the Tread: Race Report

Running with my daughter was just simply a wonderful experience. The whole week before this race, she would ask people what they were wearing for THEIR Halloween race. She thinks it's perfectly normal that every family runs. And I love that about her.

I think you already know about "stroller-gate" as I'm beginning to call it. Long story short, the stroller that had gone through training for 3 marathons and a half dozen half marathons would eventually get delivered 2 hours after the race. I'm still not happy about Continental's lack of concern, but I'm not about to let this get the better of me. So I'm not going to harp about it in this blog. We had a great time and the "rental" held up pretty well. Besides, B got to relax in the rented jogging stroller like it was a barcolounger. It was really quite funny. She looked at me at one point...I think around mile 2 and said she was just going to take a rest period while I ran. Really?

I gotta say this was the first race where even the cops monitoring traffic commented that they couldn't believe I was doing the 10k portion with a stroller. One guy asked if I had been pushing the stroller the entire time. Are you serious? I can just picture races that test your endurance with challenges like having you run one mile of a course pushing a stroller - yeah, that must be it! People commented on how hard it looked pushing B up the hill. And it was a doozy of a hill, I tell you. The last half mile was quite a challenging climb, especially pushing 40+ pounds. And knowing I had to climb the hill twice, since the 10k course was two loops of the 5k course, was tough. The course was a typical urban course, but we got the opportunity to spend most of the first loop with an increible 8-year-old. He's been running 5k races since he was 7 and this was his third. He was hoping to PR. He has 2 dogs and his mom is speedy, as she was a couple minutes ahead of us. After the race, he came up to me with his mom and said, "There's the bumblebee lady I ran with!" It's such a small world, but his mother is originally from Mentor. Small, local races are good for that.

After the race, a quick shower, and a light snack, we headed off to find the Golden Crown Panaderia for some Green Chili Bread and biscochitos, then to Explora! science museum for Bridget to have some fun. This place was amazing and we explored for over 3 hours. We could have made a second day at this place and still not see everything.

This was my second trip to Albuquerque and I look forward to another visit in the coming years to explore more of New Mexico, especially Santa Fe. Lots of costumes, the Devil as an announcer, meeting a girl dressed as a runaway bride, seeing a family dressed as a hotdog (dad) with mom as ketchup and kid as mustard were just some of the highlights. Running with an 8-year-old hoping to PR reminds me of what a great community runners are. Seeing Bridget play and learn at Explora! and sampling some delicious bakery items really made this trip grand, Overall, a fun day finishing with 10:41 mile average, great weather, and a wonderful trip with my daughter as we checked off our 28th state!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Airline Failed to Load the Jogging Stroller

Tomorrow is the 10k race with my daughter wherein I will be pushing her in the jogging stroller. I've made our costumes and we've been anticipating this race for weeks. I "gate checked" the jogging stroller before getting on our flight. I even told the flight attendant to please make sure the stroller gets onboard because we have a race in the morning. I get to Houston. No f'ing stroller. The fine people in Houston told me I couldn't file a claim till my final destination. I explained on deaf ears that I had gate checked the stroller with a generic blue gate check tag and was pretty sure the stroller couldn't communicate it's final destination. Long story short, the business card I left in the stroller at least revealed my name and it should arrive by 3am. Swell. Great. Great day of travel. The only shining moment is that my travel expert husband was able to secure me a backup jogging stroller rental. So this race is going to happen!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mental Challenge of Long Runs

Training for an endurance event means logging in multiple log runs. I'm sure there are definitions galore out there for what constitutes a "long run." For me, the long run is generally any distance longer than a half marathon's distance. Lately, all of my long runs have been knocked out by myself as the family just can't understand why anyone would want to run for 3+ hours. Yesterday's run was probably my breaking point mentally. I didn't enjoy being alone. Not really sure I've would have been good company anyway. I was quite the whiner. I finished 3 miles and that's when I knew I was in trouble. I started whining that I still had 19 more miles to go. At mile 7, I whined I still had 15 more miles! Quite honestly, when you're knocking out a 20+ miler, all of your math will result in a "long run." Yuck! Even as I write this, I'm still amazed I finished. I'll be glad that in 4 more weeks, my runs can go back to 10 miles or less per run. Now that's something I can wrap my head around!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I'm Loving Now

I just bought this. As Martha would say, "it's a good thing."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy (Uhm Girl)

Bridget got to "pick" our team costumes. She decided we'd be Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, except she said I'm Bumblebee Girl. Bridget has a ladybug costume - I just had to order her ladybug girl boots (should be delivered by in a couple days). Monday was a holiday so Bridget, Megan and I ventured to JoAnn Fabrics to pick up some tulle and Dick's to find a yellow running shirt. I'll wear my tri shorts under the tulle. Karen was kind enough to loan me bumblebee arm sleeves and antennae. And poof - just like that, we have our costumes!

We're getting excited for the Day of the Tread Halloween-themed race!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Race Report: Raid the Rock

Several months ago Greg and I signed up for Raid the Rock, an adventure race. For those who read this little blog know that we're trying to complete a variety of racing events in all 50 states. So far, we've tackled everything from a 5k to a marathon, a sprint triathlon to a half ironman. The adventure race was greg's choice because this man embraces risk and adventure. So this weekend, we completed our first Adventure Race!

Morning Instructions
We were told to arrive at Lake Sylvia by 7:45am for a pre-race meeting prior to the 8am race start. During the pre-race meeting, we would be given important information like the order of the events. We had no problems finding Lake Sylvia, a gem of a place about 30 miles outside Little Rock, Arkansas. During our briefing, we were told that the mountain biking event would be first, followed by trekking, then canoeing and one mystery event. We were given our control cards, shown what to look for at each checkpoint, then told to line up in a few minutes at the "start". And we were off!

First Discipline: Mountain Biking
We had rented our mountain bikes at River Trail Rentals. We highly recommend Dave's place and can't say enough good things about him. First off, this was my FIRST time to go mountain biking. On the plus side, I was riding a red Specialized bike and Greg has a yellow/green Canondale, so we had a great set of wheels. We even nicknamed our bikes Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew because of the colors. On the down side, my ass hurt because I did not know how to lift up as I went over "obstacles", something I learned the hard way. The bike portion was 8-ish miles long and was so technical and had so much climbing that it took us nearly 1-1/2 hours to complete. I learned a lot while riding, which caused us to lose time since I was a newbie. First, gear shifting is key. For example, going into an easier gear for a hard climb in a road bike makes sense. On a mountain bike, the easiest gear makes it difficult to get traction when climbing, especially over gravel and dirt roads. And the rocks - damn, if that wasn't hard and technical. After the race, we hung around talking to several racers who all commented on how hard and technical the rocky, single track course was. And Greg was a saint. He listened to my grousing and took it in stride. I did not know how to ride over rocks and downed trees and he was patient during my learning curve. I spent the majority of the bike portion yelling "Ow Ow Ow" and "don't get too far ahead of me!" At one point, I heard hissing and naturally thought it was a snake. Then I realized it was air in my suspension. I felt stupid, but I still felt I could not lower my snake terrorism alert level below ORANGE! We got all our checkpoints and after I survived the mountain biking portion, I actually realized it was fun and pretty darn cool.

T1: dropped off our bikes, gulped down some warm gatorade, went to the table to check in, then headed out for the trekking portion. Five checkpoints completed and we weren't the last to check in. Oh, and Greg wrecked his bike. I think he got back up so quickly, in spite of being hurt, so he could ride far enough ahead of me so as not to hear my constant whining!

Second Discipline: Trekking
Trekking, not running. Simply not feasible to speed through this because trekking and trail running are not synonymous. We were spoiled by the mountain biking portion because the checkpoints were reasonably on the course and could easily be seen from the trails. This was not the case with the trekking portion. At check-in, we were not told which direction to head out, which was obviously why we had a compass. But seriously, a little pointing or head nodding...even eye rolling would be appreciated. We headed in the SW direction per Greg. Greg learned his navigation skills from You Tube. Robin had no NAV skills. THIS was going to be an adventure, for sure! We crossed over to an old Jeep trail, saw some campers who confirmed "others" had gone through in the same direction. Within 15 minutes we had our 6th checkpoint, then in another 15-20 minutes we had our 7th checkpoint. Our confidence was building. Can you guess what happened next? Yep, we could NOT find the 8th checkpoint, which meant we weren't going to be able to find the 9th checkpoint either. No matter how hard we tried, it was not going to happen. After nearly an hour of searching aimlessly, I freaked. No, really, I freaked out. I could not stand the crunching, the constant worry of how copperheads blend in and are everywhere, and the absolute loss of control when feeling lost. Everywhere we looked, it looked the same. Brown grass, brown leaves, brown trees and no trail or path to find or follow. Greg sensing my hopelessness (yes, crying will send that signal), agreed to abandon our search for 8 and 9. As we were heading to find checkpoint 10, we ran into this super nice older couple. We thought they might be able to shed some light on checkpoints 8 and 9, and maybe help us a bit with the topographical map. Well, you gotta love locals. The "mister" had just finished loading up his squirrels from today's squirrel hunting and he and his wife had spent part of the morning scouting out their deer hunting spot, since next week is the start of deer hunting season. The mister knew exactly where we were, but could only identify places on the map with phrases like "that's where I got my biggest wild turkey" and "that's where I saw the gray fox". I seriously could have stayed and had drinks with them. They offered us water and sunscreen, were so hospitable, and helped us laugh and relax after my meltdown. It was about a 2 mile walk to checkpoint 10, which we thankfully found. Because we had been out on the course for nearly 4 hours total at this point, and knowing that checkpoints 11 and 12 were DEEP in the woods, we decided to head to checkpoint 13, which was also the transition area.

Mystery Event
Oh no, what could this entail?! A big sigh of relief when we learned that it was a spiderweb network of ropes. We had to each go through one web without causing the ropes to move and jingle the bells which were tied at the top of the rope network. Greg's P90x yoga training allowed him to go through the web jingle-free. I climbed through as well. So on our first attempt, we tackled our mystery event. Now onto canoeing!

Third Discipline: Canoeing
Fortunately, we had a kind volunteer who showed us how to get in and out of a canoe without tipping by holding the oar across the canoe to use as balance. The last time I went canoeing, I was 16 and it was a church youth group outing at Mohican...and we tipped the canoe. The volunteer's tip wss much appreciated since I was the one having to get in and out of the canoe to get the checkpoints. The 14th checkpoint required me to get out in thick, sinking mud. I got our checkpoint and as I was getting back in the canoe, I heard Greg Hsay, "oh gosh!" He then says, "Get back in the canoe and I'll tell you in a minute" when I asked him what was wrong. Of course, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that he saw a water moccasin and he didn't want me to go back into snake panic mode. Turned out that he saw the 8-12 hour adventure racing group zip lining over Lake Sylvia and he wanted to turn the canoe around so I could see it, too. Phew - big big big sigh of relief. We paddled over to checkpoint 15 and it was pretty awesome seeing the zip liners land in the water right by the checkpoint. This place really was a spectacular sight of beauty. Paddle paddle paddle to our last checkpoint - 16. I climbed out of the canoe, got our number, and off we went to end our canoe portion which, believe it or not, I really enjoyed.

We went back to check-in, showed our control card, and were told that we had to "decode" the special message. Each checkpoint had a number that we wrote down, which was then assigned a letter to reveal a phrase. I LOVE RAID THE ROCK. And yes,we did! They gave us our hats, which I'm wearing with pride in the picture above because it was one of the hardest things I've ever done! And I especially loved that we tackled this race as a team. So off we climbed back into our Ford F-150 king cab - oh yeah, when in Arkansas...and headed back for some much-needed showers. Check out Greg's legs below - you can see his sock line and how dirty we got!

Before we returned our bikes, we drove past the World Cheese Dip Championship. Oh yeah, baby! All the queso you could eat for $5 sponsored by Velveeta! And yes, we partook in all this cheesy goodness!

Post-Race Celebration: Flying Saucer
Loved this place and would definitely go back there if we ever visit Little Rock again. We had a blast! I had another Diamond Bear Pale Ale and Greg had a flight sample of Bartender's Choice. We parked our tired butts in front of the Arkansas Razorbacks game, ate some tater tots (gotta have our carbs), and enjoyed the remaining part of our weekend sans kids!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Afternoon in Little Rock

Checked into hotel in downtown Little Rock, then  set off to find the Flying Saucer, a little joint recommended by a friend because "Robin would make a great waitress here." We had to check it out! Great beer list and the waitresses wore short plaid kilts with knee-high boots. Yep, I would blend right in. Had a most delicious Diamond Bear Pale Ale, a Little Rock local brewer actually. This would eventually become our joint during this trip. 

Next we headed out for me to see the Clinton Presidential Library. It's funny how each generation identifies with a particular president. For me, it was Bill Clinton. This afternoon, my husband "humored" me in taking a tour of the William Clinton Presidential Library. Greg and I both couldn't believe how much we enjoyed this. Regardless of political affiliation, it was so interesting reviewing historical events occurring between 1993-2000. We even laughed seeing Paul Begala and George Stephanopoulos on large flip cell phones with Cellular One stamped on the phone. Wow, a lot has changed technologically. We even joked that we still had the "bag" phones in 1993, so a flip phone was cutting edge. 

Dinner at Bosco's where Greg commented that this was our cheapest date - 3 beers, pizza and 2 salads with tax for $27! Loving the affordability of Little Rock!

Another thing we loved about Little Rock so far was the friendliness of this southern town. I would come back here in a heartbeat!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Wonders of Dry Shoes and Dry Socks!

I had a 20-miler on this morning's agenda with a 10-miler scheduled for tomorrow. So it wasn't like I could just postpone my run hoping that tomorrow's forecast would be better. I dressed accordingly with my windbreaker (uhm, it wasn't waterproof I learned) and headed out the door. Here's the best part: I only wore the windbreaker to provide protection for my iPhone. I didn't care if I got wet, but I was going to treat my phone with care! Anyway, I hovered under a tree for cover and texted Meg to bring me dry socks and shoes. She showed up at mile 11 and I couldn't believe the difference! I was so cold and wet, but with dry shoes and socks I had enough energy to finish out the remaining 9 miles. And the bold cup of coffee at Erie Island was the perfect way to warm me up, plus it was wonderful sharing a cup of coffee with my not-so-little, almost 17-year-old pumpkin.