Monday, December 31, 2012

Running to the Moon

Last night I joined a virtual running group - Moon Joggers. The link will take you to their blog. Moon Joggers was started by two sisters (one in Texas and one in Utah). From the idea of setting a 2013 running goal for themselves, Ashley and Angie ended up inviting people - via their blog and Facebook - to join them in a quest to run or walk enough miles to get to the moon. That's about 500,000 miles roundtrip!

The concept for the group is to pledge as a team or an individual to run or walk 1000 miles in 2013. Folks can also pledge as an ultimate participant to go 2013 miles in 2013. Ashley and Angie decided that this is a walking and running group so bike, swim or go-cart miles are not counted in the totals. I signed on for 1000 miles as an individual. After I signed up, I figured I'd better see if my training plan would fit. I did a rough caculation of my expected miles in training for Bob Potts and it came to just 4 miles shy of where I'd need to be at the end of May to make 1000 by the end of the  year. The challenge, then, will be getting enough miles in the next 7 months when I switch my emphasis to biking in preparation for the Century ride in September. The goal will keep me on my feet! 

I also love that a group of strangers can come together to do something like this. The participants in the virtual group are from all over the world. The New Zealanders have already posted their first miles of the year! Several of them did mignight runs.  There is a man from Kamploops, BC! That's where Carmen and Todd and the boys live. What are the chances I'd 'meet' someone else from there. I love it!

Ashley and Angie have encouraged people to post pictures of themselves labeled with their hometown on Facebook. I used a funny photo (above) from a few years ago when Dave and I visited the Hagley Museum and Dupont Library. When we took this photo I had no idea there would be such a fun use for it. Never underestimate the need for goofy photos of yourself!

I love this whole idea. I learned about it when Helen, one of my running buddies,  posted it to Facebook yesterday.  I wish I had noticed it sooner. If I had, I would have recruited some of my family members to join me on a team. A few years ago my sisters - Katie, Meg and Christine - had our own virtual trek across the United Staes on the American Discovery Trail. If I remember correctly we did manage to get to California in just about a year. My niece, Cara, has recently taken up running and I'm sure she would have joined the team as well. And heck we could all use a little motivation to excercise more! Maybe next year. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Training Week #3 - December 24-30

Monday - I skipped my YAYOG ladders tonight. Stripping paint and wallpaper and washing the walls has been workout enough for my upper body. I'm pretty sure if I even tried a pushup right now my arms would break. I have a four mile run scheduled for tomorrow which I'm looking forward to. Merry Christmas eve!

Tuesday - Merry Christmas. I went out for 4 mile run today. I felt a little stiff in the beginning but got in the groove of it pretty quick. In the last mile I felt a numbness/tingling in my left hip. It felt like there was something caught in my hip. The feeling passed before the run was over though.  Garmin stats I don't know what the extra lap is about. I probably hit the button accidentally. My heart rate is weird at the beginning (not just on this one). I think it's because the monitor is not connecting to my skin right off. I should wet the contacts. In summer that's not an issue but I guess it is in winter. I really need to work on keeping my pace steadier. If it's going to flucutate I should be aiming for the negative split - slower in the beginning and faster at the end.

Tomorrow will be a challenge. I prefer to do biking for the cross days and strength work. The forecast is for rain and wind and a flood advisory. At the moment we are on the snow/rain line so it will be a mess. I will likely skip the bike but if it's not too bad I might go for a walk instead of bike. We'll see.

Wednesday - I did opt for the walk. The forecast today includes a flood watch and the maps show the I-95 corridor on the snow/sleet/rain line. Precipitation is not expected until the afternoon but the clouds were rather ominous looking. I'd rather get stuck walking in rain/snow than biking.

I walked around Media, exploring some side streets I don't usually go on since they are cul de sac streets. I was out for a little over an hour. I ended up at the Acme to pick up some things but I turned off the Garmin in the store thinking that I was going to go there anyway so in the store shouldn't figure into my exercise minutes. Garmin stats. I didn't wear the heart monitor this time. Although I guess I could/should have to get a feel for where I'm at in all kinds of activities. The change in pace for the third mile had to be while I was on State Street. I was taking my time there checking in on the stores. I love Media. :)

When I came home I did a Tabata routine which included push ups, pointers, swimmers and bicycles.

Thursday- the usual 60 minute outing and today I was supposed to mix in speed-work. Do you know how much I dislike speed- work? Let me count the ways. Actually just take my word for it - I HATE speed-work and leave it at that or we may be counting for a very long time.

I've been wanting to get a more accurate reading on my max heart rate. The formulas available are not always accurate. So today I was going to do run/walk intervals over to Springton Lake Middle School and then use the track there to try Jenny Hadfield's workout for finding the heart rate.

It was not a good day. I did more walking than running on my way to the track. It was like walking to the gallows. Again, I HATE speed-work and although I know I can do it I just couldn't convince myself to run hard for 2 minutes at a time. I did do a few shorter hard/slow intervals so the workout was not a total waste of time but my heart just wasn't in it. No pun intended. I walked the slow intervals instead of jogging them. Garmin Stats 

Tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday I'll be going out for 9 miles at Forbidden Drive.

Saturday - 9 miles today. You can read some of the details here. Here are the Garmin Stats I impressed with the more or less steadiness of the pace. Lap #5 was when we stopped to take a photo at the turn around marker and the last lap was the downhill finish. :) The rest are a lot closer to each other than they usually are. I'm surprised at the lower average heart rate compared to last Saturday's run. The average pace was slower too, though, so I guess that makes sense.

Sunday - I get a fail for today. I did not do 90 minutes of cross. I knew the bike was not going to happen early on. Saturday's snowstorm blew out but the winds that did so remained. The gusts were pretty awesome (but not for bike riding) and the wind chills were in the teens. The funk I felt on Saturday seemed linger. I slept almost 11 hours from Saturdy to Sunday. Breakfast didn't sit real well at first. I decided to get to work on finishing the bedroom renovation and see how I felt after that. I thought if I felt up to it I'd go to Ridley Creek State Park and hike instead of bike.

We spent 5+ hours finishing up. This including cleaning not only our mess upstairs but the corresponding dust and grime that filtered downstairs as well. I showered and even changed into clothes suitable for hiking. A few minutes later I switched to my jeans and a sweatshirt. I'm tired. I'm not thrilled at missing a day like this but it is what it is. I know there will be other days like this and I know that I am not bailing out of laziness this time. I'm bailing for the need of some rest.

Next week is a drop back week. I only have 5 to do on Saturday. This week also brings in the New Year and many of my running/walking buddies will be meeting on New Year's day for a run or walk followed by breakfast at the Collegeville diner. I'm looking forward to that.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Long Run at Forbidden Drive

Today I had 9 miles on my schedule. At 8 am I was at the Northwestern Avenue entrance to Forbidden Drive with John T., Julius, Maggi & Russ. We waited until just a few minutes after 8 for three others who said they might be there then we took off.

John T at our turn around
The 4 1/2 mile marker
John T did the whole 9 miles with me. I was very grateful for his company once again. Long miles (any miles really) are better with friends. Today the temps were again near the freezing mark but unlike last week there was very little wind. The skies were overcast and snow was predicted. Running in snow is a nice experienc. At Forbidden Drive even more so.  The trail winds along the Wisahickon Creek on one side and steep slopes on the other side with paths leading up to more rugged trails. We stayed on the 'lower' trail today. We never got the snow. We did get showered with something that was a cross between hail and packing peanuts however. It stuck to some of the less tree covered portions of the trail.
Packing peanut snow
I was feeling very sluggish this morning. My legs felt like lead and my breathing was labored. Part of the breathing was our pace. It was faster than I would have gone on my own. I fell a few steps behind John in a few places but caught up on the walk portions. The second half of the run went much smoother for me and as a result felt like it was faster. I don't think it was but I was feeling better and that's good enough. I felt some tightness in the back of my right knee around mile 8 but it didn't last long. The uneveness of the path could have contributed to that. I did some stretches when I got home as usual.

When we arrived at the trail today we saw this young man on his unicylce. I took this photo about an hour and 40 minutes or so later about a half mile from the end of our run. While we were running he was riding the unicylce - not on the lower trail where we were - but up in the hills alongisde us. I've run up there. It's full of rocks and tree roots. It's a 'real' trail. I can't wrap my head around how he does it! The gentleman in the photo with him rode a two wheel bicycle up and down the lower trail. They were together. The older man is likely the unicylde rider's ride home. :)

Valley Green Inn
2.5 miles from the start/end of our run
 As I type this (it's 6 pm) and I'm feeling a little yukky. Achy mostly. I really hope I'm not coming down with something. Although if I am that would help explain my sluggishness this morning. I felt better running into the wind last week than in no wind today. Hopefully a good night sleep will take care of whatever it is.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas should be more about the simple things. Judging by the squeal of delight when she opened this gift, a bag of popcorn was exactly what Erin wanted for Christmas.

Last night we had our annual Christmas celebration with my dad, step mom, sister and our respective familes. Well almost all our respective families. Jimmy and Corinne got their dates mixed up. Jimmy was very surprised when we called him a little after 6 to ask "How far away are you?". His answer, I'm at home and Corinne was at work. They thought we we getting together on January 23rd. In their defense, the past few years we have had this get together in January. Most of us acutally prefer it in January - after the hustle and bustle of the rest of the holiday stuff. However, this year Dad and Dinana are going to Florida for the entire month of January (simply because they can now).

We had a lovely dinner of baked tortellinis and salad. Dinana's baked tortellinis are a family favorite and you could see each of us grin as we walked in the door and smelled it cooking.

Amanda and Bruce
Arron and Emma

After dinner we sat in the living room for the reading of "Red Ranger Came Calling". Dad's been reading it to the girls since 2000. Part of family legend now is the year that Dad & Dinana came to our house and Dad forgot the book and the girls made him go back home and get it. Another year, we had our celebration duing a wind storm that knocked out the power and the story was read by flashlight. This year there were no such hiccups although we did break from tradition and Dad simply read from the chair by the fireplace rather than with all three girls (Emma, Amanda and Erin) gathered round him. We voted this as a better way since this caused him to hold up the book to show us all the pictures. :)

Then came the exchange of gifts. Youngest chooses a gift (for someone else) first then each person who opens one gets to choose the next. After some debate we decided that Emma and Arron would take Jimmy and Corinne's gifts with them since they would likely see both of them sometime this week. There was a brief discussion about divvying them up amongst ourselves but that didn't seem to be in keeping with the Christmas spirit.

Getting gifts is definitely fun. But I truly believe our family has more fun with the telling of stories over and over. No one is spared an emabarassing story if there is one about you to tell and I'm pretty sure no one is without one. No, I won't tell you them here. They are mostly of the kind "You had to be there". Trust me though we get a kick out of them.

Then there is the battle of the boxes. Who got the coolest box. Pretty soon it will be competition I think to see who 'give' the coolest box. Sometimes there is a fuss over who gets to take home the coolest box. Emma called dibs at dinner this year! However, Gumpop made sure that both girls got equally awesome boxes.

Here is a picture of Dave and I. We are still awake although very tired. Here are photos of our accomplishments in the bedroom rehab before going to dinner tonight.
About 3/4 of the wallpaper
is removed off the walls now
All of the paint is off the ceiling.
Obviously this was taken
before we finished for the day.

Today it's off to home depot before they closet to pick up more supplies and then back to the room for more scraping and washing of surfaces.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Training week #2; December 17-23

Here is a summary of week #2

Monday - YAYOG ladders. I did the same workout as last week. It wasn't quite as hard but I've a looooooong way to go yet.

Tuesday - 3 miles. I set out to run the same route as last week, About half way through I realized I took a slightly different beginning. I couldn't figure out why I was hitting the mile mark sooner than last time. No big deal. 3 miles is 3 miles. No shin or knee issues this week and At times when I took notice of my form I wasn't crooked this week. :) Garmin stats

Wednesday- I get partial credit for tonight. I skipped the bike ride due to darkness. I did do the Tabata routine. Tonight I mixed it up more to avoid the muscle soreness that bled into my Thursday run last week. Tonight I did a combo of sumo squats, bicycles, dirty dogs and side planks.

Next week I'm off work so I'll do my bike ride in the morning. Then beginning Jan 2 I'm going to take a yoga class that my friend Kristie M is teaching at Plymouth Whitemarsh HS Adult School. The class is 5 Wednesdays evenings. By the time it is over the sunset will have shifted enough that I can get back to bike rides on Wednesdays. Isn't it cool when things work out that way?

Thursday - My work day today was less than enjoyable. Not quite stressful but a lot of stuff that was out of my control and having to deal with people who were treading heavily on my nerves and all I could do was smile and pretend to bear it. I couldn't wait to get home and run.

I took my camera so I could take photos of Christmas lights in the neighborhood and at Rose Tree Park. The run was not without it's hiccups. For example it started raining halfway through and the strap to my headlamp came off. This last caused me to have to stop retrieve the lamp and try to get the strap back on. I tried to keep moving but finally had to stop to put it back together. Because I went out to Rose Tree Park there were some traffic delays which could not be avoided and I allowed my self to stop and take some photo there. Oh and then there was the dog out on a leash with its owner (thank goodness ) whose eyes reflected bright blue as it growled at me. If they had been red I'm sure I would have gone home after that.

Despite all that I enjoyed the run and felt much better after.

I need a brighter headlamp. This one is ok if there is no other light but I'm having trouble on neighborhood streets. In that case I can see where I'm going from the street lamp but not enough to see what obstacles or ruts may be in the road. Garmin stats

Saturday - 7 miles. At 7 am I joined Pete, John T., Maggi, Russ, Mike, Dennis, Julius and Amy for some miles along the Towpath in Manayunk. John and Julius kept me company for 7.22. The others did their own thing. Some doing more and some less. I love that we can meet and keep our own schedules.

We ran the first mile and then I switched to 3 and 1 intervals and John and Julius stayed with me. We stayed along the river and just about the 3.5 point we went up the steps to get on the Schuylkill River Trail bike path to head back. The run intervals were faster than I would have done on my own. I was failing the talk test but it was ok. I'll have to be more conservative when I get to the longer miles but for today this was fine.

The temps were in the mid 30's when we met but the wind chills were in the 20's. I added a layer at the last minute this morning and probably could have done without it. I drank water with breakfast and on the way to the run but didn't carry any on the run. This is about as long as I can or should go withiut carrying though. Garmin stats - I need to work on negative splits (slower start; faster finish) but at least my last mile today was faster than the one before :)

Sunday - 75 minutes bike - Considering I wanted to bail after 10 minutes this was a very successful workout. The temps were still in the 30s but much less wind so not quite as bone chilling. Although despite gloves my fingers were in a lot of pain when I returned and they started to warm up again. I didn't realize how cold they were while I was out there.

I was very tired this morning. The bedroom rehab we started yesterday after our morning run took a lot out of me physically. We are going to celebrate Christmas with the family this evening and want to put in more hours into the work in the bedroom so I had to get my ride in the AM if it was going to happen at all. I'm pretty sure I was even slower than last Sunday. But I kept moving and managed to get in the full 75 minutes. I spent a lot of time wandering around my own neighborhood and the various apartment and townhouse parking lots just to stay off the streets. I wasn't in the mood for traffic even as little as there was on a Sunday. I didn't want to take time to drive to any of the trails.

So lackluster it may have been but it's done :) Garmin stats

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DIY Renovations

Just getting started.
After 11 years in this house we are finally tackling our bedroom. We've done one room at a time at intervals since we moved in. Last November we finished the last downstairs room. All but carpeting which requires a bit more saving since we can't do that ourselves.

Fortunately we have a sleeper sofa in the family room. Also kinda fortunately, although it's not horrible, it is no where near as comfortable as our 'real' bed so there is motivation to keep at this and get it done. And hopefully get it done before I go back to work on January 2.

4 hours later no paint on the wall
and two very tired workers
The big issue in the bedroom is the wallpaper that the old owners did not remove before painting. Slowly but surely over the years parts of it began peeling away.

The photos do not do justice to the ugliness of this wallpaper. Underneath the wallpaper is cement. We are pretty sure the paper has been there since the house was built. A previous owner also did some repairs to the wall by plastering ON TOP OF the wallpaper. Seriously?

We figured it would be a few days to get the paint off and we did it all and cleaned up in 4 solid hours of work. We are going to pay for this tomorrow I'm sure. Dave already commented that it will hurt to call penalties in tonight's game. My hands and neck hurt now. But we are hurting happy with the progress.

And it probably doesn't matter if we sleep on the floor in the basement tonight. I'm guessing we will both sleep well.

Tomorrow - we spray the walls and try to remove the wallpaper. Stay tuned. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Acts of Kindness

"It’s days like this that make it hard to keep smiling and moving. Yet somehow we must. For if we don’t the bad guys win. In the midst of our anger and disgust let’s remember to tell or show our family, friends and co-workers that we care about them. Be angry, be sad, be whatever you have to be to deal with this. Just don’t let the bad guys win. Tell somebody or a lot of somebodies that they matter."

This was my Facebook comment last Friday, after learning and trying unsuccessfully to comprehend the violence that took the lives of 20 children and 6 (or 7 depending on who does the reporting) adults. Since then I've been wondering if there is anything else I can do to make a difference. Today I heard about a movement to perform "26 Acts of Kindness" in memory of the victims of this tragedy about which I can make no sense.  This may be the outlet I need.

I am going to do this anonymously. I don't feel comfortable publicly announcing what I do because then it becomes about me and not about making a difference. I'm blogging the idea to make myself accountable (since I just told you I would do this I will) and perhaps to inspire others to take it on as well.

There are 13 days left in the year. That's 2 acts per day minimum. Let's make a difference starting now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Training week #1 Dec 10 - Dec 16

For those that like to follow someone else's training here is week 1. For those who don't I'll be sure to title each one "Training week..." so you can skip these. Writing it down keeps me accountable and helps me figure out what and why. Personally, I've gotten some aha! moments reading other people's training blogs so who knows perhaps I can pay it forward (or back) So here goes.

Week 1 Here is the link to the full schedule

Monday: YAYOG ladders. Push ups w/ knees on the floor; swimmers; military press with hands knee height; pointers. It was hard. I had to remind myself that of course it's hard. That's why I need to do it. I've decided I'll repeat these each Monday for the first segment (6 weeks) of my training. Hopefully I'll see improvement.

Tuesday: Run three miles. I am very proud of this run. I got home from work at 4:30 and had plans with friends in West Chester at 6:00. I didn't blow off the run. It was a mad rush but I got it done. No excuses :)

The first two miles were great. I had minor shin discomfort the first few steps. I think this was leftover from the hike last weekend. The boots I wore were too big and too heavy. Anyway after mile 2 I felt discomfort in my right calf. This moved up behind my knee and my leg began to feel tingly/numb. Then I noticed I was leaning to my right side. Strange. Once I focused on straightening myself up the discomfort in my leg disappeared. I'll have to pay attention to that on both counts. Not slouching and figuring out why it's happening. Garmin Connect Stats.

Wednesday: Bike time plus strength and Stretch. With daylight at a minimum right now I was only able to get a four mile ride in. I did it anyway because I feel like now is the time to create the habit. I have to work on getting my headlamp situated better. It kept slipping and when I tried to adjust - one handed - the strap pushed my ear covering off. After the ride I had dinner with Dave and then went up to do 30 minutes of tabata style exercises using YAYOG. I combined sumo squats, hip extensions, single leg dead lifts and back lunges. 15 sets. I'm feeling energized! :) I followed the exercises with some IT Band stretches and foam rolling. Tomorrow will be the toughest day this week I think. 60 minutes moving and this week calls for some hills. Garmin Connect Stats

Thursday: As expected tonight's workout was the most challenging so far. Still, I think I passed. My schedule called for 60 minutes with emphasis on hills. Why I started with hills I'm not sure. Probably because I worked backward from other weeks when I thought I needed to not do hills. My plan was to do a couple miles easy maybe even with run/walk then head over to my nemesis, the 8th street hill in Media for some hill repeats then finish off the 60 minutes with easy miles again with run/walk intervals if needed.

I overdid my strength work last night. Too much in the legs and I was really feeling it today. The thought of hill repeats was making me kinda dizzy. I never considered not doing the workout or shortening it - thank you no excuses - but I was worried about getting through it. In the end, I figured I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain so I headed out with the intention to see if I could just keep running for 60 minutes. I began with a loop around my neighborhood which, by Media standards is more or less flat. Then I headed over to Media Borough for a lap of the Media 5 mile loop. One lap is 2.5 miles. I plodded along focusing on form and and my breathing just to keep moving. I didn't care how many miles I would eventually cover. As it was I ended up going up the 8th street hill twice; the second time in the last 5 minutes of my hour. In 60 minutes I only managed 4.91 miles but I ran the whole time. Don't misunderstand me, please. There is no shame in walking but for tonight the mental boost of running the entire time is a big step. Garmin Connect Stats. I think the elevation chart here does not do justice to the 8th street hill. But then it may just be I have a 'thing' about that hill.

I'm giving myself a success rating for this workout even though I didn't do the scheduled hill repeats. Given the circumstances I think I gained just as much for what I did do. It was slower than I know I can do but not all workouts are about speed.

Tomorrow (Friday) is rest day and Saturday 6 miles at 3/1 intervals.

On Saturday I ran the Betzwood Trail with some running buddies. You can read more about that here. This was my first long run (6 miles). I wanted and did keep to 3 and 1 intervals. I still had a little muscle soreness from Wednesday's workout but by the end of the run I felt fine. And I have not had any since. I am glad I ran on Thursday, I'm pretty sure that sped up the recovery. My only regret - if you can call it that - is going out too fast. It always happens especially when I'm with a group and at the end - the last half mile or so - I was feeling the effects. I guess I should be happy it took that long. :) I forgot my Garmin - although strangely enough did have the heart monitor on - so no stats for this run. Some stretching upon returning home and some foam rolling later in the evening.

Sunday - Today's schedule called for 60 minutes cross which I really want to spend on the bike as much as possible. It was not raining when I woke up - although it looked like it might any minute - so I did go out for a bike ride. I did not push the pace on this ride at all. As you can see I didn't even get to 10 miles in the hour I was out. I tried to keep my legs turning as much as possible. At the end with about 5 minutes left I decided to head down Ridge to Olive Street to go around the corner and up 8th Street before going home. Let's just say it was a humbling experience. I did not expect to sail through that but still... First it's down hill on Ridge and around the bend on to Olive. Then uphill then around the corner and continue up hill on 8th. Despite what it may look like on the report off my Garmin I did not walk the bike up the last part of 8th street. I probably could have walked faster however. This is something to be conquered :)  Garmin Connect Stats

Today was another day to be excited about. Similar to Tuesday's run I had plans today that in previous training cycles I would have used as an excuse to skip. I didn't. It was only an hour afterall. I had plenty of time to ride, shower and change before I had to head out.

Week one is a success. Really excited about week 2 now :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Birthday Run

Someone asked if I would run my age in miles today. And while I'll admit to being intrigued by the idea of an ultra marathon some day - I would love to be able to say I had the determination and mental strenght to accomplish that - today is not that day. I forgot my garmin this morning but I know that we ran at least my age in minutes. 53 if you really must know.

Today was the first long run of training for Bob Potts. I put out a call to my running friends to join me and we ended up with a very nice group. Most of us ran 6 miles on the River Trail and three went out for an extra 4 miles after that.

As December should be it was a very brisk morning. My friend Kristie is not a fan of cold weather and so it was extra special to see her. The sun was shining by our 8 am start and it really was a beatiful run. I wish I had taken more photos along the trail but I was too busy listening and chatting. The conversations started out with thiings like "I can't feel my face/legs/hands" and moved on to what everyone had planned for the holidays and into next year. We talked about family holiday traditions both those being upheld and some that were being broken this year and how that was being dealt with - or not. You had to be there and know the people to fully appreciate it I suppose but it was an awesome way to spend the miles.

In addition to chatting and listening I also fell down. It stung and my leg felt a little sore for the next few steps but after a group recovery walk I felt fine and finished the last 3 miles. It is starting to sting a bit now as I sit here and I can feel some tightness in muscles around it. I've already iced it once but I think I will do some more and some gentle strectching as the day wears on.

So week #1 is almost complete. I have a 60 minute cross session tomorrow. I hope to spend that on the bike. There is rain in the forecast though. I know at some point I will have to ride in the rain because there is no telling what the weather will bring when I do the goal ride in September but I don't think it's necessary to do that now. The question is what should I do instead.

I'm disappointed that I forgot the Garmin. I don't need it to run - in fact I often take the side of running tech free - but I had wanted to track a few things in this training cycle including heart rate. No harm done there are many more long runs in this program.

Thanks to my friend who ran with me today. I know they all had options. I'm glad the time and place fo my birthday run worked for them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easy as Assembling a Bike

Today my work had its annual leadership “retreat”. 25 participants were asked to read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lecioni. [Editorial note: Very good book. Information that would benefit most relationships in general].

After general discussion of the 5 dysfunctions, the participants were divided into 5 teams each assigned one of those dysfunctions. We were instructed to put the bike together and consider how our assigned dysfunction would or could hinder our success. I won’t go into those details here.
My group was comprised of 3 females and 1 male. I was nominated team leader so I suggested we remove things from the box and lay them out so we could see what we had. The male member of our group chose to read the directions. An irony not lost on anyone.

The handle bars presented our first challenge. The directions said use the appropriate tool. “What tool is that?” “The one that looks like it will fit here” (pointing to the part). We found the correct allen wrench and managed to get the handlebars on and even lined them up with the frame of the bike so the tire was straight. Very proud we were until someone pointed out the handlebars were on backwards. No problem we were good at this by now and fixed that pretty quickly.

Just when we thought we were done – a wise guy from another group came over and suggested we test the brakes. Sure enough they didn’t brake. It took a while but finally we managed to figure out where to make the adjustment. Let me just say that the alleged directions were no help whatsoever in this regard. And no, it wasn’t because we didn’t understand it. The directions simply didn’t address the issue.
We did have a part leftover and after a test ride where nothing fell off or apart we were ready to just toss it. Well, not before accusing one of the other groups of purposely adding an extra piece to our box just so we would be confused. Again, the instructions were no help. This part was not even pictured in the book. . We were rescued by another group who had the same part and managed to figure out where it went.  I’m still not sure what it’s for but it is now on the bike.

I was given the job of taking a test ride. Short as I am, I am not a kid so my knees were almost bumping my chin as I rode but the bike moved and stayed together. I did not fall off but my co-workers did admonish me for riding around without a helmet. I don’t understand all the fuss. There are no gophers in the office.

The five bikes are now put together and will be donated to City Team, Laurel House and one other location whose name escapes me at the moment. We did not contact these entities until this afternoon just in case there were major issues putting the bikes together. In fact, we had already asked Dave to be the backup assembler. He was prepared to come in tomorrow and fix our work. We determined that wasn’t necessary although someone suggested that we should probably buy the recipient’s helmets as well; partly because it’s a good idea but also because we are still a little worried about our product.

All in all it was a great excercise, supported great causes and we had fun doing it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Break's Over

Well almost over. On December 10th I'll return to running and begin marathon training for the Bob Potts Marathon. The very good news is that I'm itching to get out there again! :) I've been working on the schedule for this marathon for weeks now.

****Warning: Long training rant. If you keep reading, don't say I didn't warn you! ;) *****

I started with Hal Higdon's Marathon 3 schedule because my body works better on a schedule that limits the running to three days per week. I took advice from some fellow runners on things like strength training and the pros and cons of multiple 20+ mile training runs and mixed in my own gut feelings about what I think I need to do and came up with this. This sounds much more simple than it was. You wouldn't believe how much time I spent working on this. Ok some of you would.

One thing that concerned me is fitting my long runs into weekends where I know in adance I'm going to have issues. The last long run of the schedule was originally three weeks out. This coincides with State History day championships. I was a volunteer judge at this event last year and knew I wanted to do it again. It's two days - Friday and Saturday - and I was really tired when it was over. The thought of going out on Sunday after that was not sitting well. At some point I noticed that this weekend and two others that I will have issues with fell in to a pattern. They fell on week 7, 14, and 21. I LOVE symmetry!!! An idea popped in my head to take those weeks off. Not couch potato off...but just a week of no schedule to follow. A week of activity I feel like doing. Giving my body and - probably more important my mind - a break from the confines of a schedule.

So I adjusted the schedule to allow for that. The way it worked I'll build to 12 miles in the first segment; 18 for the second; and finally 24 before a 4 week taper. I plan to tell myself that sticking to 6 weeks of no excuses training is not that difficult and if I do it, I get a week off.

And 'no excuses' training is what it must be. If I want to be successful in this marathon I have to do the work. In addition to no excuses I also have to be flexible. I have a tendency to get it in my head that a workout is going to be at a certain time and place and if that doesn't work out I bail rather than re-adjusting my sights. I have to quit that.

This schedule is more aggressive and busier than any I've followed before. It has more days of work but there is also much more variety in those days. The bottom line though is I think I need to do it this way.

I need to work on hydration and nutrition. I've succombed to bonking in all 4 previous marathons. While some of that is mental, I know that poor planning of my food, water and electrolyte intake also played a part. I've planned the three 20+ milers to deal with the mental aspects. I have to eat and hydrate better on a daily basis - not just during runs - as well. With cold and flu season coming into their peak I need all the health and energy I can muster to stay on the trail.

My cross training of choice (weather permitting) is biking. I hope to work up to three hours in the saddle by the end of this training schedule because after this marathon and some well deserved (I hope) rest. I will begin training in earnest for the MS Bike Ride.

So there you have it. If you are still with me.....

What are your keys to success in training?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Horshoe Trail Part I; Valley Forge to Great Valley Nature Center

This morning Maryann R., Mike K. and I hiked the first 7 miles on The Horseshoe Trail.

When I was training for the 2007 MS Walk I did a lot of walking out at Valley Forge and saw the signs for the Horseshoe Trail. I purchased a guide book in the visitor center bookstore promising myself to hike some of it some day. That was 6 years ago. Better now than never I suppose. :)

The trail is marked with yellow blazes
Some were more difficult to read than others
The trail begins at the intersection of Route 252 and Route 23 and continues for 141.3 miles where it joins with the Applachain trail in Dauphin County. At 7 miles per trip it will take 20 hikes to do it all. Today's hike only took 2 hours and 45 minutes. So, assuming accomodating access points, I think it will be possible to tackle slightly larger pieces at one time in the future. Or maybe take on a two day venture?

We parked a car at the Great Valley Nature Center in Malvern. I've been told this is a neat place to visit and it appeared so. I think I'll have to go back someday when it is open. We met up at the Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge park to begin our hike. It is only a few minutes walk from there to the start of the trail.

About a half mile in are the remains of the Colonial Springs Bottling plant originally operated by Benjamin Franklin Fisher in the 1800's. In the early 1900's - the guidebook says - the property was purchased by Chares Hires of Hires Root Beer fame. Click here for a history of Valley Forge Mountain where much of our hike took place. The link includes mention of the bottling plant, the trail, how Mount Misery and Mount Joy got their names and other neat stuff.

Colonial Bottling Plant ruins

Another view of the Bottling Plant
Near the 3 mile mark of the hike we passed the Wharton Esherick Museum. It is housed in a very interesting looking building which according to the website is a National Historic Landmark. Mr. Esherick was a wood sculptor whose motto (according to the website) was "If it isn't fun, it isn't worth doing". This looks like another place worth visiting.

The trail follows paved road in a few places but is still mostly on trails through wooded areas. At some points it goes between the boundaries of private property. We saw houses and barns of varying sizes. We passed an Alpaca farm. I wish I had read the guidebook more closely before going out. Apparantly we passed very near some interesting sites that would have required only a small detour.

Just before the end of today's hike
we crossed this abandoned rail road.
I wonder what it was for? We surmised
it was to transport supplies for
the various forges in the area but
I haven't found any confirmation of that.
Here is a link to our hike as recorded by my Garmin I forgot to switch the mode so the watch thinks we were on the slowest bike ride ever but the distance and elevation profiles are accurate. :)

This was a fun hike and I look forward to Part II. If you are interested in hiking with us next time let me know and I'll keep you informed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Watch Out For Flying Rolos

In our family we play group trivial pursuit where - unless it's a pie question - you can get a little help from the peanut gallery. Four teams of two and 9 on the sidelines makes for a very noisy and extremely fun game.
It's the 80's version so geography is a category that often requires careful thought. What was true then isn't necessarily true now. 
Personally, I stink at the literature category but most of my family - especially my nieces - romp in that one.  

Here, my brother is trying to get the answer to an entertainment question. The answer was not "The Beatles" and he swore the answer was near the tip of his tongue. He wanted quiet to try to shake the answer out of his head. There are 17 people playing the game and he wants quiet? He didn't get it and for just for the record - because you know this will come back to haunt him - the answer was Charles Laughton.

The purpose of the gathering was the annual family cookie bake. For the third year we gathered on Friday evening for a giant sleepover and all went to Shady Maple for breakfast on Saturday morning. 

Ya gotta love Lancaster County. Gift certificates for sod and see REAL haystacks..not the hayrolls I am used to seeing.

Time to get down to the business
of making cut out cookies

Bruce turned out to be the best roller
and a pretty mean decorator too. He likely colored inside
the lines in his coloring books.

Hard at work icing the gingerbread men

However, different than past years we baked the rest of
the cookies in advance and swapped before heading home.
This photo really does not do justice to the volume of cookies.

And what does this have to do with Flying Rolos? In group trivial pursuit when the peanut gallery gets the answer right they get a rolo of course. Catching them before they bonk you in the head takes skill.