Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plan(s) B

I had a meeting in Harrisburg, PA today. I checked in with a runner I know in Harrisburg area to ask about somewhere I could do a run out that way instead of coming all the way home first. She suggested I try the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail. There was one flaw in my plan. There really wasn't anywhere to change. I couldn't do it were I had the meeting - too awkward and there wasn't anywhere near the trail either. I would have settled for a port-a-potty but there wasn't one. It looked like a nice trail though.

So I continued on toward home and decided to stop at Ridley Creek State Park. I changed in the rest room and headed out on the blue trail. It was pretty hot and humid tonight but still I managed to complete it in one hour. I actually ran more ups than downs. I'm still getting used to controlling momentum and dodging roots at the same time. The park was buzzing with birds and bugs (some of which were biting). And despite the scare from the deer that scrambled out of the brush (not sure who was more shocked) I had a great time. 

In other Plan B news - I had to do day 26 of the arm challenge today (even though it's the 27th) due to total lack of energy yesterday. My tank fell from half to empty like a ton of bricks. I feel much better today so I really think it was a case of not enough calories in to match increased activity levels. I spent 1.5 hours on the trail Sunday and that represents a huge jump in my activity since before vacation.

In yet other Plan B news - Dave and I have been talking about taking an Amtrak trip from Philly to Pittsburg to Cleveland to Albany to New York and back to Philly maybe in October. However his October weekend are filling up quickly and strangely enough there is nothing this weekend. So we are going to do it now. The trip begins on Saturday afternoon around 11 when we leave Media by train to 30th street and ends around 10 or so Sunday evening when we return to Media by train from 30th street.

The idea started because we really want to see and experience the Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, PA but I don't want to just go out and back on the same train. When I looked at the Amtrak routes and timetables I realized we could do this cool loop! We'll cross PA and NY in the daytime of each day so we'll get to see a lot of the countryside of both states. We have a four hour layover in Pittsburg and will spend some of the time walking to Primanti Brothers on Smallman Street for a sandwich. The question remains whether I will make an exception to the no bread thing for this sandwich. Likely not which will get me some strange looks but considering the 'strangeness' of a Primanti Brothers whose going to notice? Would you believe I could eat two of these at one sitting --- when I was a 20 something? Man that was a long time ago.

So all in all Plan B is working out very well.

Have a great weekend, all! :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's not about whether you ARE taller than Aunt Paula .....

.... it's about how young you were when it happened.

This is one of many favorite quotes from the sibling BBQ this past Saturday (8-24-13). And this post is part of the "Blog Challenge" that my nieces and I do after many - if not all - family gatherings. If you are new to this blog the BC simply means each of us blogs independently about our impressions, memories, what have you about the event. We are sworn to not look at any of the other participant's blogs until we have finished our own post. It's fun to see which elements we remember or choose to include. My nieces blogs are private (two of them aren't even 18 yet). If I could share them I would because they are all so very creative. And before I continue with my thoughts on the day, I'd like to welcome Miss Elizabeth (Bippy) to the challenge.

My initial impression of the BBQ - almost two full days later - is how some things stay the same and some don't. We are all one year older of course and this is more apparent in the 'younger generation'. It's tough to call them collectively 'children' anymore since many of them are now adults. But my nieces and nephew breaking into song or lines from musicals, plays and movies is something that is still the same. It's kind of awesome; often funny; and something they will probably always do when ever they are together.

Another 'same' thing is some sort of intellectual discussion of which I usually can not wrap my head around. The topics are different though. Last year it was about 'what constitutes a classic'. This year it was a discussion between Nathan (who was heading back to his junior year at RIT the next day) and Cara (who started 11th grade? today) about physics. I don't get the classics and physics and I have never been on the same page. I get a kick out listening to the conversations. I don't dare try to participate though.

We played board games (same) but ones that I never played before (different). I learned how to play Quirkle (kind of like a cross-dominoes game) and Quiddler (which in my head kept coming out as Quibbler making me think of the publication in the Harry Potter books.). I enjoyed both games immensely. But like the kids becoming taller than me, it's a pretty safe but that I will not win. I LOVE board games but I don't have a good head for strategy nor the inclination to compete. The latter could be related to the former I guess.

Something that always stays the same - the day is too short as are the years that separate them. I'm glad my siblings and I make an effort to have these gatherings even though everyone can't always make it every time.

Ok I'm off to see what the other ladies wrote.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Are You Smarter Than Your Smartphone

Now that our carrier has an affordable calling plan to Canada, Dave and I are becoming untethered.
And that is not the same as unhinged although I'm sure someone besides me wants to make that comment. HA! Beat ya to it. A good defense is a good offense. ;)
We only kept the landline because of the unlimited long distance to Canada while the cell phone plans were too expensive. We Skype more than we call these days but still need a way to reach that part of our family in a hurry or emergency and vice versa. So with that obstacle gone and the fact that our land line phones need to be replaced, the timing was right to make the change. Among the many benefits two stand out -
  • Being able to free up surfaces around the house. 3 of the four phones in our house are on a tabletop of some sort. The 4th, a kitchen wall phone, may have to stay up until I find something to hide the likely different shade/fade of paint behind it.

  • And obviously most important is a savings of $40 per month on our phone bill. Not all of which was just removing the land line.
Since upgrading the phones was part of the deal and since my phone will be 'on' more often now I decided it was time to get a smartphone for myself. The staff at the Verizon store was very kind not to snicker at my 'old' phone which is of the type they probably haven't seen in a very long time. Heck, some of the staff are so young they probably don't recall ever selling one like it. Old or not, it still has use. I'll likely donate it to a domestic abuse or similar program.

So now I am the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S3. My original plan was to go into the store with "Give me the most basic smartphone you have". But Dave wanted the S3, the price was right with the new plan and I was able to do a quick bit of research and learned enough to say "yeah, ok, that works for me."

I admit to being a bit panicky last night. I know it has lots of secrets and capability. Would I be able to learn it all and handle it? I may be a self proclaimed Dork but on something as basic as a phone one wants to maintain some level of dignity. I resolved the panic by - finally - reminding myself it's just a phone with bells and whistles that I've lived without this long and I do NOT have to have complete command of this toy in one night. :) I can turn it on, turn it off, make a call and text. I did learn a few other things last night but those 4 were really all I needed to start.

I've resolved, however, to learn at least one new thing about it every day for the next little while. I'll likely have time to learn more than one thing on most days but at least one before I go to sleep is reasonable even on a busy day.

After work I'll be going out to purchase some kind of protective cover. It's a very nice phone, very light but also very thin and slippery. A protective cover is like an insurance policy. If I have one I'll never drop it :) I've done an informal poll on FB (thank you if you contributed to that) and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm looking for now.  I'd love to hear your comments about your experience with your smartphone.
  • What does it do that blows you away or has you saying "Really? Do I need that?".
  • What apps besides the basic ones (phone, messaging, email and internet) do you absolutely love or hate
Until I 'see' you next, keep smiling and keep moving.....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Warning - rambling thought post. Ok, so most of them are but when I have to pick something as broad as a whole month as the title you know I'm going to be all over the place. Read on at your own risk.

So I've haven't been here in a while. 4 days after my last post we left for British Columbia to visit Carmen, Todd and the boys - Cole is 14 now and I swear 2 feet taller than he was when he came to visit us in 2011; Dawson is 10 going on 11 in a few weeks and anxious to visit us next summer for HIS 12th birthday; Brendan is 9 and still as much a pistol as he was the last time Dave and I visited together (4 years ago). They are great kids. Probably the best way to tell you about the vacation is to show you the photos. If you're not family you haven't seen them yet so here is the link. They are annotated and will give you the highlights. I'll give you the same warning I gave the family.... I was a total tourist and took way too many scenery pictures. BC ranks neck and neck with Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the prettiest places I've visited. I'm not a big world traveler (yet) but so far those two get my votes. Anyway, we had an awesome relaxing time.

Carmen and I took a nice hike one day and we (Dave and I) did keep up with 3 out of 4 parts of the arm challenge while we were away. We didn't do the arm curls because we did not want to add the weights to our bag and there really wasn't anything there that worked. But we did dips, pushups and arm punches without missing a day. We switched up a rest day and workout day so we had a rest day on the two days we knew we would be on the road all day. Other than that though I did not do much in the way of fitness. Physical fitness that is. We had major R&R which goes a long way toward mental fitness. And I did keep up the no bread, pasta grains theme of eating. I didn't get as much balance as I might have at home but kept those items out so I'm good.

August in general has been a funky month for me as far as physical fitness goes. This is true going way back to my first year training for a marathon even - 2005. There are a lot of excuses for that.
1. August is typically our vacation month. I get vacation days but Dave does not so August being an off month for softball makes it a good time for both of us to take off.
2. August is ragweed month. As I type I'm in a bit of a stupor. It's either funky feeling because of full sinuses or funky feeling because of meds. If I'd get up and move more - get the blood moving - I'd probably manage better. But it's a chicken and egg thing. Can't get the momentum to move; need to move to get the momentum.
3. August is usually really hot and humid. Kind of lame excuse this month though. Although it was 89 and humid today the rest of the month has been below average temps. I've even needed a jacket a few morning on the way too work.
4. In years that I was training for a fall race, I'd be kind of burned out by now. Obviously that is not an issue this year.

In short, it is the year of the sloth. Thanks Kristi Y. I am borrowing your sloth theme because it so works right now. And thanks to Brian D for reminded everyone that we should "just make sure you have a fitness habit that works for you". With that, I need to regroup.

The one bright spot for physical fitness this month has been the arm challenge. Who would have thought that I would ever do 40 pushups, 80 dips, 110 arm curls and 90 seconds of air punches in one day let alone less than half an hour as I did a short while ago. I do my pushups and dips in intervals. Usually 10-15 at a time with about a minute rest in between. By August 30 we will be at 50 pushups and 120 dips.  I  think for September I'm going to stay at those numbers but work toward doing more in one continuous effort. I wonder if in another 30 days I could do 50 pushups and 120 dips straight through for each?

I need to hit the trails again soon. I really want to run with the trail group but right now I'm afraid I'd just be a heavy ball on that chain gang. Maybe more important, I need to hit the trails again because I really like hiking and running the trails! And of course get the bike back on the road again. Heck, a walk would be a good idea. :)

Yesterday, Dave and I celebrated 14 years married. Where did THAT time go? We are still smiling and moving.

On Saturday we will be going to the more or less annual sibling bbq at my sister Meg's house. I say more or less because this gathering has a history that goes back probably 20 years or so. Either Meg, I or my sister KT hosted it. I don't think we've missed a year just moved it around. It's firmly in Meg's court now I think as we have settled into a routine of Sibling BBQ at her house in August, Canadian Thanksgiving at my house in October and Cookie bake at my brother's house in December. I love that all three events have become family PLUS. If you are in the area you are more or less invited.

Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

September Morning

Oh wait. It's only August 4th. It feels much more like September today - a picture perfect fall morning.

My plan was to go for a bike ride that started out with 5-6 miles around Media "south" of route 1 and then "north" of route 1 out and back to Hildacy Farms. The return from Hildacy Farms is a hill that I fell apart riding back in January. By the time I returned to the area of my house my legs did not feel up to making that so I repeated my warm up circuit around the immediate neighborhood and went home.

As I write this I think the truth is more likely that I let my brain talk me out of it. I blamed my legs but I think that isn't fair. *sigh* I'll get it next time.

The upside- it was a 7 mile bike ride  and that beats sitting on the couch.

Four more sleeps 'till vacation!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Numbers vs Narrative

2 kids playing in the creek
1 different kid walking back to the car with his mothers make up bag on his foot because he lost his shoe in the creek
1.5 falls (I saved one)
3.57 miles
1 runner passed me going my way
1 walker pass me coming toward me
1 warm up lap of the parking lot
1 cool down lap of the parking lot
159 average heart rate
58 minutes and 18 seconds total time on my feet

So I read a report that "they" did on whether people read other people's training or fitness reports for the numbers or for the narrative. I read for the narrative and since I write for myself mostly that's what you get here. But I do enjoy that others read my blog so in case you are one of the number seekers there you have tonight's run by the numbers :)

None of that really matters though as much as the fact that I actually did it. I've had a sore throat for three days now and this morning it felt the worst of the three. I almost didn't even put my gym bag in the car. In the end I decided that it was too early in the day to sabotage my efforts so the gym bag came with me to work. After some water and some coffee my throat felt less parched although it still bothers me to swallow.

"They" say the rule of thumb for working out with a cold (or whatever this is) is neck and above the neck go for it, below the neck skip it. I decided I would use the 10 minute rule tonight. 10 minutes on my feet and if I didn't feel right I'd turn around and go back. Since the first 8+ minutes was a long and winding downhill it was either keep going or turn around and go back up the winding uphill. If I kept going I'd have to go up it again on other side eventually but in the meantime I'd have some fun on the trail. Plus by the time 10 minutes was up I was feeling good and was, in fact, really enjoying the trail.

I did a loop of sorts combining parts of the blue and white trails at Ridley Creek State Park tonight. Trail running has been growing on me these past few years and I've pretty much decided that I really love it. It so much more interesting than road running. A little trickier, sure, but I think that's what I love the most - the adventure. :) When I was a kid and we would go on car trips I remember looking out the window of the car and imagining what it would be like to be able to hike up the hills and mountains we passed. I still do it (although not so much while I'm driving). I think trail running/hiking is in my blood somewhere. I'm just now getting to do it. I had a great time tonight.

Upon arriving home, I did the arm challenge. Which hurt a lot more than yesterday since my muscles where suffering from delayed onset soreness by the time I got to tonight's challenge. Still I finished. How are the rest of you doing? I know some readers are doing the arm challenge as well. Are you looking forward to Sundays day off from the arm challenge as much as I am? :)

Earlier this week I had a great bike ride - my first of length since returning. It was mostly flat. However, I'm proud to say I managed the three hills that were there very well. :) On that same night I had a shorter bike ride with the son of one of my running buddies. Austin is 7 and he and I rode for about 3 miles while his mom and a few others completed a virtual race with the "Nerd Herd". They are raising money to fight cancer. At 7, one does not have as much trail awareness as is necessary to be safe but fortunately he was very good at listening and following my directions and I'm pleased to say we both survived and had a nice chat about movies while we rode. Austin loves horror movies and was rather philosophical about the ones he can't see yet because they are above his viewer rating. ;)

Also earlier this week I ran at another nature preserve - Gwynedd - in Ambler with Maggi and Julius. It was great to run with them again. It was another gorgeous running night too!

No photos of anything this week. I wish someone would invent a camera that fits in your hat or visor and the shutter is managed by a button on your wrist or something like that. There were lost of photo opportunities this week but I just didn't feel like carrying the camera.

I ran tonight - Friday's are usually an off day - so that I could take tomorrow off and go to see my sister Meg and a production of Sound of Music. Meg is in the pit orchestra (I hope I got that right). She plays the bass guitar and just about any other instrument she wants but it's bass guitar for tomorrow. :)