Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wedding, Marathon Training, Biking to Work and a Yard Sale

Out of all those activities, engaging in a yard sale is by far the most exhausting! So much crap had accumulated over the past 9 years with four people so it was definitely long overdue the task of purging all the useless items from our house. I hope another 8 or 9 years go by before im stupid enough to tackle another yard sale!

For the last two weeks, I've been hitting my running goals and just completed by first 15-mile run since October 2010. Makes me wonder what on earth I did in 2011 (or didn't do)?! Last week's long run was along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia and provided absolutely beautiful scenery, a much needed porta potty, and great people watching.

We attended the neatest wedding while in Philly. Greg's best friend was getting married in a Quaker wedding. This would be a first for us. The rehearsal dinner was held at the Mask & Wig Club, a male-only, theatre majors only club. Cool history and an even cooler vibe. The wedding was in what looked like an old warehouse, lit only by assorted sizes of mason jars with candles. So much fun dancing with old friends and making new friends!

Time to finish watching Olympic cycling. I've had to go a week without getting my Tour de France fix and I'm like an addict!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bridget and the Tooth Fairy

While we were waiting for our connector flight at O'Hare on Sunday, Bridget lost her first tooth! It was such an exciting time for her and even a few passengers waiting nearby seemed to enjoy the excitement as well.

Another milestone for my little one!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Montana, Mountains and Mud

A quick weekend trip to Montana would clinch our 44th state, but it would be one exhausting, crazy and fun weekend!

We arrived late Thursday night (Friday morning almost). Got up early and began with an early morning, 2-hour drive from Billings to Bozeman. Montana countryside is really quite breathtaking - wide open areas, green fields and mountains looming in the background. Bozeman is so quaint and looks just like a ski town should, loaded with boutiques, great restaurants, craft beer and sports-minded stores. After finding a great little Terry cycling dress for 40% off, we settled on lunch at MacKenzie River Pizza Company. I had the Bozeman Honey Ale using local Montana honey and it was simply delicious and the pizza was outstanding! All four of us rated this place two thumbs up!

After enjoying Bozeman, we headed an hour south to Yellowstone to see the geysers. Such an amazing site - we are very fortunate to have so many wonderful, and protected, national parks.

The drive from Yellowstone back to Billings was pure hell though. Greg had read the map and thought he was routing us the shortest, more efficient distance. Instead it was full of incredible altitude, narrow lanes, harrowing switchbacks and a moment of me melting down that I had had enough - 4 hours of cliffside driving with no guardrails was too much for me!

We finally made it back to Billings for a late dinner at the Montana Brewing Company and, let me tell you, I was thrilled with a beer and their yummy sweet potato fries.

Then, pouf! Race day was here. We were scheduled for a 10:00am start, but still needed to get our packets. The race start was at the Metrapark and the location would not disappoint. We had no idea what to expect and were so impressed with many levels of challenges!

Each race wave had about 100 people (including our wave) racing around the track. About a quarter mile in, we would face our first challenge - a series of 4 hay stacks about 4-4.5 feet tall. It was comical to see how unladylike I was scaling these big-ass bales of hay! Phew-glad that challenge was completed. And wow did I get a lot of haystack-related scratches! Ouch!

We then ran in and out of 4H stalls greeted by two separate large nets which required us to crawl under. If you had allergies, I hope you took your Claritin. Horse hair and hay were abundant.

Next up, our first mud hole! We had to shimmy Navy Seal style under a series of huge pipes, then crawl out of the mud while trying to keep our shoes on. About 40 feet outside of this mud pit was a giant slip n slide. We had to take a running start then drop down sliding head first to the bottom. Awesome!

We had about another quarter mile before another mud challenge. We had to crawl through giant sewer pipes, then crawl out of the mud pit. But guess what?! We had another set waiting us about 100 yards away!

Around the bend, just when you gained a little bit of speed and started to enjoy being vertical, we had to climb three sets of four foot walls that we had to heave ourselves over. With my arm strength, this would be tough in grass, but became further difficult in ankle-deep mud. Greg propped me up for the first one, I crawled under the second one after seeing several girls doing the same (huge mistake because mud would invade every part of my body), then Greg offered his knee again for me to scale the last one. Thank goodness Greg had enough arm strength to propel himself over because I was of no help on this challenge!

We couldn't see what was waiting for us on the next challenge, but saw people slowing down. Uh oh, not a good sign. We first had to wade through hip-deep muddy water with goodness only knows what swimming around us while we waited for the next challenge. Holy crap! The next challenge required us to climb up a wall with a knotted rope, flip our bodies over the wall, then scale down. Uhm, I'm not a fan of heights and was not happy that this wall was about 10 feet! Greg climbed right over with the excitement of a 12-year-old boy. I began climbing to the top, then reconsidered this craziness. I came back down and said I couldn't do it. Oh man, there was a fence between the climb and no way to get out of doing this obstacle. I manned up, climbed up the wall, and with Greg's coaching, I slung my body over with all the clumsiness of an ox, and shimmied down. And wouldn't you know it, there was another wall with ropes awaiting us. Sigh...but I did it.

On to the next challenge - monkey bars with water shooting out so that you couldn't possibly get across with the bars being wet and your hands muddy, but it was so funny to try! The next challenge was perhaps my favorite. It was the Natty Light station. Yep, we had to down a can of Natural Light, then move on to the hurdles. I have to admit I liked that Greg said I hopped over these light a ninja. It had to be the magical powers of Natty Light!

Our final "big" challenge was climbing a rope net, flipping our bodies over and climbing back down. The first set was about 8-10 feet tall. The second set was probably 14-16 feet high. Thank goodness I had been rock climbing a couple months ago or I would have never been brave enough to do this one!

Finally, we encountered the last mud pit as we were closing in on an hour of running and obstacle challenges. The kids got to throw water balloons at us and I couldn't believe how much giggling I heard from both Bridget and Megan! Up and over a little mud hill and back into the final mud pit, then we crossed the finish line. And that, boys and girls, is how we finished our 44th state. And the above picture will be going on our mantel as our 8th Anniversary picture as it was my present from Greg. Love how droppy our shirts are from being filling and soaked with mud!

And Meg, who has ALWAYS love mud, jumped in, too!

But Bridget refused to get muddy. She said she was a girly girl and mud was not going to happen!

What a whirlwind of a weekend enjoying Montana, mountains and mud!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Montana, Are You Ready for Us?

This weekend, we will be tackling state #44 - Montana. As Greg and I attempt the Dirty Dash in Billings, MT as Team Ohio Oinks, we are planning on laughing our way through multiple mud pits. I'll post photos post-race, but in the meantime, here are a few fun facts about Montana:

1.The average square mile of land contains 1.4 elk, 1.4 pronghorn antelope, and 3.3 deer.

2.In 1888 Helena had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world.

3.46 out of Montana's 56 counties are considered "frontier counties" with an average population of 6 or fewer people per square mile.

4.Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay. This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park.

5.Montana has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states.

6.The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman gained fame through the work of its chief paleontologist, Jack Horner. Horner was the prototype for the character Dr. Alan Grant in the best selling novel/movie, "Jurassic Park."

7.Just south of Billings, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and his troops made their last stand. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument features the Plains Indians and United States military involved in the historic battle.

On my list of to-do's while in Billings is Angry Hanks, famous for their beer list. We're planning on visiting Bozeman and just meandering as time allows.

And we're going to get dirty!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One Step Closer to College

We celebrated Meg's graduation and acceptance to college Saturday afternoon, surrounded by family and friends. As I was getting ready for the celebration, I found myself getting very weepy. My best friend and daughter would be leaving soon to begin her new life - four hours away! As excited as I am for her to start her adult life, I am going to miss her madly. But until then, I still have 5 weeks with her and we've got a huge summer checklist to do!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Getting in the Miles

In spite of the oppressive heat, I've been managing to keep up with the marathon training quite nicely as well as adding in a little cross training. This past weekend, I eeked out a 12-mile run. With the heat, I've found a run/walk ratio works best. Plus, I'm not a vegetable the next day at work when I go Galloway. I'm also noticing that those little nagging injuries don't seem to be popping up when I incorproate the run/walk ratio to my long runs. Fingers crossed!

Greg and I took advantage of the perfect weather on the 4th and biked 20 miles through the Metroparks. No matter how many times I run or bike, I am always blown away by the beauty of the Metroparks.

Unfortunately, while biking during my lunch hour last week, I had a flat tire 3 miles in. This was the FOURTH flat tire on my bike wheel and I swore if it happened again, then I would march my bike to Century Cycles and buy a new tire (not tube). The downside to this thinking is that I didn't have a backup tube. My CO cartridge fired all over my hand from being clumsy (brrr it was cold!). Not to be deterred, I decided to hoof it back to the office and get in a good workout anyway. Let me be the first to say that Pearl Izumi cleats don't really have any "give" in them and it was a loooonnnnggg run back to the office!

When I stopped in at Century Cycles on my way home, I was once again impressed with their level of customer service. The mechanics are so kind and really care about your bike. They gave me such personal attention and one of the mechanics even stayed late after closing to take care of all of my bike issues (I think I had more issues than even I was aware). I am definitely one loyal customer and I think a cupcake run will occur this week to thank the guys behind the counter!

Hope you're getting in the miles during this heat and staying plenty hydrated!

Monday, July 2, 2012

June Racing Update

June racing included the Girls with Sole 5k and the Dirty Rotten 8k Trail Run. Boy, did I pick the right races. Great people, wonderful causes, cool schwag and very well run events. Although I wasn't blazing fast, it provided me with a good opportunity to gauge my fitness level and serve as the proper motivation to get my butt in gear for this thing called Marathon training!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What a Great Training Week

3 runs and 2 rides and I'm still able to walk! Easy run on Tuesday, 8k trail race on Saturday and a 10-mile long run on Sunday. I commuted home from work on Thursday for 14 miles and then cycled back to work on Friday.

My run this morning was HOT! I left the house at 7am (not a morning person) and the Urgent Care sign said 74 degrees. When I ran past the same sign during my last mile, it said 87 degrees! Phew, that's toasty! And the temps look like they're sticking around a little longer. This might necessitate a jump into the lake to cool off!