Saturday, October 19, 2013

Today I went for a bike ride

Today I went for a bike ride. I wanted a destination and decided the soccer game my sister was coaching was a good destination again. However, I didn't want to do the same circuit and I wanted to add some miles. My total two weeks ago was 20. 

I plotted a route that would take me the reverse of my home route last time ending up on Baltimore Avenue heading into the city. I mapped a route to the Art Museum but that seemed too far so I backed it ip to 30th and Chestnut - the post office. 

I left the house a little after 10 a.m. When I got to PlushMill road it was blocked off for a 5k race that was happening through Wallingford. The policeman at the barricade waved me through anyway. When I got to Brookhaven road there was another barricade at Avondale. I didn't want to be in the way of the race so I decided to head to the Leiper-Smedly trail intending to pick up my route where the trail meets Avondale at Yale road. I had wanted to avoid the trail because it is narrow, windy in spots and must be shared with chipmunks and squirrels who don't look before they cross. It was the best way now to get where I wanted to be so I figured I'd go slow and carefully.

But when I got past the arts center and crossed over the runners were coming up off the trail. I knew they would not appreciate sharing with me. So I ended up having to wiggle my way through the streets of  Swarthmore to pick up my route on the other side. This added lots of ups and downs to the route. 

I almost turned around and went home. I don't mind wandering when I plan to wander but I was getting frustrated because this was not my plan. Once I broke through onto Yale Avenue and rejoined my original route I calmed down and really started to enjoy the ride. The streets I was on are a designated bike route alternative to Baltimore Pike. They are wide and comfortable. 

Once I got on Baltimore Avenue there is a bike lane. But it's between parked cars and the trolley so between car doors opening and cars moving over for trolley ....well you get the idea. I made it through just fine. :)

 Now I was on the route I followed for my walk to Independence Hall on July 4th. The same set of houses that were decked out for 4th of July were also gussied up for Halloween. I took photos here and again in the city. I'll edit this post later and add them as well as a link to my route. Don't have access to my PC right now. 

So on I went to 30th and Chestnut. Here I stopped to eat half my apple and enjoy the view and hustle bustle of the city. From here I headed down Walnut street toward Upper Darby where Christine's soccer team was playing. This part of the ride was mostly uneventful although I was a little confused by the bike lane and the left turn lanes every other block. It is a one way street and the bike lane is on the left. I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be when the bike lane morphed into the left turn only lane. I decided to hug the right side of the bike/turn lane at these intersections. No collisions and no horns blowing at me but I'm still not sure I was where I supposed to be. I'll have to check with my biking friends and family. 

The only thing that kept this stretch from being entirely uneventful was a silly fall where I banged up my knee a little. I'm still not sure what happened. I was slowing down to stop at the light. I put my foot down to balance on the curb and instead went over sideways on the sidewalk. My left knee took the brunt of the fall. I 'll probably have a bruise tomorrow but no real damage. 

I arrived at the soccer field too late for the games but watched a second team my sister coaches do some drills. I finished my apple and stretched a lot and went on my way home. 

I was at 21+ miles now and it wasn't long before my legs were asking me to stop. In hindsight, I should not have gone as far as 30th street on the first leg. But I had to get home so I plugged away. I did ok until I got to the hill coming up State Road just past the route 1 ramps less than a mile from home.  I was struggling and weaving as a result of my leg fatigue so I decided it was really safer to get off and navigate this curvy climb walking on the other side where there was a nice wide shoulder. 

I had a great time today . I passed by several neighborhood block parties. There were lots of tents, bbq grills and people enjoying a nice- if cloudy - fall day. I'm sorry I missed my sister's team's games but they tied one and won the other so I'm happy for them. I should have done shorter miles. 22 - 25 would have made more sense than 30. But I feel good and after lots of stretching when I got home my legs have forgiven me. Grudgingly, perhaps, as they are still a bit cranky but nothing that will keep me from the Perkis People hike tomorrow! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

From Sweet Apples to Green Lagoons

Tonight's run was at Linvilla Orchards. I met Maggi and Kristen there at 5:30. The trail map says the Linvill Trail is 3.5 miles and the Indian Orchard spur off the Linvill Trail is 1.5. Either we missed a turn or the 3.5 includes the 1.5 or the trail map mis-stated the length. No worries, though. 2 miles is 2 miles. I got to add Kristen to my list and tonight was my fourth exercise day in a row- something I haven't done in a very long time. :)

The trail goes around the apple and pumpkin orchards that are bounded in part by Linvill Road and Knowlton road. There were some open fields as well that likely held some other crop long since harvested. The smell of the apples was very strong and quite pleasant. Kristen and Maggi are doing the same 5k on Sunday (Hero 5k in Collegeville); Kristen is doing a 20 miler on Saturday in prep for the Philly marathon; and Maggi is going trail running with Ryan and Sophorn on Saturday. So they were content to take it easy and chat which of course suited me just fine.

My hip, which was bothering me again this morning, felt good the entire time. I'm sure some of the pain this morning is old age morning-ness. Keep moving and keep smiling right? And I did do a lot movement and stretching as I could throughout the day and that helped. Still, I think it was wise to avoid the orchard trail which is a bit steeper. Having said that Linvill was not as flat as advertised but we managed.

While my hip was good my breathing not so much and now as I sit at home writing this my throat is thick and I have a cough. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It's humid out and we haven't had that first frost yet. I'll be fine once the pollen dies and I get my endurance back.

We did make one wrong turn - the angle of the trail marker was goofy. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. We ended up circling a very ugly looking bright green swampy pond. Kristen was spooked and I have to admit that it did have the look of something that could house a creature of some sort.

As we returned to our cars the rain drops started. The weather forecast was off by about an hour in predicting the start of the rain. So all in all the length of our run was perfect.

I arrived home to find Dave on the phone with Verizon. We have no Internet or TV so this will have to post tomorrow. Friday is a rest day and date night. Popcorn for dinner and a movie! :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Spider webs, a goose and loons

Oh my! We ran again tonight at Haverford College. This time though we were armed with headlamps, flashlights and reflective gear so we could manage two loops. Seriously, it was like night and day from one loop in the setting sun and one in complete dark. It felt like a whole new trail the second time around. It was awesome!

Having learned my lesson from last week I hugged the right side of the trail tonight so the only thing I collided with was SPIDER WEBS. Strange too they were not there the first time around. Someone theorized that the spiders were using us for target practice in the dark. On one particularly tree root filled segment we were laughed at by a GOOSE. It was more of a cackle than a laugh actually and this prompted Maggi to tell a story about LOONS at her aunt's house. The story came complete with sound effects. I can only imagine what others on the trail must have thought when they heard that....or what it is they thought they heard.

I was a little annoyed on the first loop when my stupid left hip flexor started acting up. I tried to warm up before we started but obviously not enough. By the start of the second loop - a little over 2 miles - it felt better. More warming up is necessary and more regular stretching every day I guess.

Tonight I met Destrie a new runner with MLC. She is a very fast runner but stayed with us long enough for me to count her on my list of people I have run, walked, biked or hiked with. I also ran with Sara for the first time ever and added her to the list and realized that Naomi wasn't on my list either. We haven't run together since March! Hard to believe. So I could have added her last week. I'm up to 35 now with a 75 days left to hit 50 by December 1st.

Tomorrow some of us are meeting at Linvilla orchards to run a trail there and then Friday is a rest day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stupid %#$@! Redneck Pick-Up Driver

Ok if you know me well you know that I do not generally curse or call people names (at least not out loud) but tonight was one of the exceptions. Grrrrrr...But let me start at the beginning of what was mostly a very nice evening.

Dave and I were headed to the Chipotle in Havertown to help our friend Kristie raise money toward her efforts to go to Nicaragua with Buildon. I wanted to get some bike time in tonight as well. So I left on my bike and asked Dave to time his arrival for 45 minutes later. I mapped a route and off I went.

There was no way around spending some time on Route 1/Township Line Road for a bit but I had been on this same stretch of road on Saturday when I rode to my sister's soccer game. 5 pm on Tuesday has a different traffic volume than 9 am on Saturday but the shoulder is wide for most of the ride and I never felt unsafe. Drivers were courteous and I was paying attention to where I was. Still, I was happy to make a right on to quieter residential streets shortly after passing the State Road cut off.

Then I travelled mostly Marvine Road which runs parallel to Township Line (RT 1) through to Lansdowne Avenue. Every intersection has a stop sign which was a nuisance but every driver I met there was courteous and let me go on my turn. Two actually waved me ahead of their turn which they certainly did not have to do and I appreciated it all the more.

The left turn onto Lansdowne Avenue was not fun. I got off and walked across, then went right back on to Route 1 and - according to the mapping program - the restaurant should have been a block down on the left.

It wasn't.

When I first saw the map I had trouble picturing a restaurant where it said it would be. I called Kristie to get help. She wasn't sure where to go from where I was so she was going to check and call me back. Before she was able to do that, a kind woman pedestrian stopped and offered assistance. The woman told me I wasn't the first to be sent the wrong way. The restaurant was brand new as was the shopping center and the mapping programs weren't quite on board yet. No worries I turned around and headed the right way. Again on Route 1, again having to cross Lansdowne but never feeling unsafe. I was very aware of the traffic but everyone behaved so it was all good.

I arrived at the shopping center and navigated my way through it. I came to a stop sign and stopped. The car at 90 degrees - which was their first - went through. I looked one more time to be sure and saw a pick up coming the other direction to the  stop sign. He wasn't close to the stop sign yet. I proceeded through. Pick up not only decided to ignore the stop sign AND cut the corner so when I reached halfway across he was headed right for me. I shouted, he stopped. Then he proceeded to roll down his window and scold me. I was FURIOUS. (and scared and shaking). I yelled right back at him. "I was there first!" (by a long shot) "Yeah, well you are gonna be the first to get killed" was his reply and he drove off.

Sheesh! Dave arrived shortly thereafter. We put my bike in the van, had a nice meal with friends for a good cause and Dave drove me home. I was calmed down enough by the end of dinner to cycle home but it was getting dark and I don't have front light yet. Plus the temps tonight were right on the edge of where my ears hurt in the wind. I needed covering.

Still with the messed up direction to the restaurant I put in 8.5 good miles. Riding was the perfect follow up to extended hip opening work we did in yoga class last night that left me a bit sore this morning. It was a good ride and a good evening ... except for Stupid %#$@! Redneck Pick-Up Driver.

There were way more nice drivers on the road than him. Thank goodness.

Monday, October 14, 2013

What's Next......

Back in June I spent 30 days trying to develop new eating habits which basically involved cutting out grains and processed foods. I did well and have more or less stuck with the concept since. I'm not perfect - nor do I want to be. Those 30 days did create a habit that has served me well through what I've decided to call the Summer of the Blerch.

Recently I broke through my mental haze on both the bike and on foot. So on Sunday, after Canadian Thanksgiving on Saturday - where all nutrition bets are always off - I embarked on a 55 day attempt at strict (er) adherence to better eating. Why 55? Why not 8 full weeks or 56 days? Because December 6th-7th is annual family cookie bake weekend and December 7th (which would have been day 56 or the end of 8 full weeks) involves breakfast at Shady Maple. Enough said? :)

In addition to strengthening my seat on the better nutrition bandwagon I am also going to take advantage of the haze breakthrough and get back into a fitness routine. It will be neat to see how the two work together. I'm not going to write a "must stick to it" fitness plan. I'm not up for that. Instead I'm going to do my best to balance trail running and biking from week to week. I will add hiking and at home body weight exercise to keep things interesting.

Weekdays will be tough with sunlight waning but I am getting a new headlamp that I can switch onto my bike helmet so I can get in some miles or minutes on foot or bike a few days a during each week. I am not the only one who likes night running and I know others who will join in which is a great for accountability.

For motivation, on November 1st I will sign up for the Tyler 10K Trail Run. It's scheduled for April 5, 2014. It's run at Tyler (duh) Arboretum right here in Media. It will be my first trail race. For cycling motivation through the winter, I have set my sights on joining at least one local cycling club for group rides starting in April.

So 2014 is shaping up to be the year of trail running and biking. I have been fearful of both in a group setting. I have to remember that very few of my fitness buddies care if I (or anyone) is slow or awkward or whatever. And I'm cyclists are the same. There is a time and a place for everyone. I used to be the first to tell everyone that.... time to start taking my own advice.

Stay tuned. Oh and I've already been tested. The hardest thing for me is controlling my sweet tooth. If I can resist I'm good but once I give in... it's a fast downhill spiral. Today at work someone dumped a humongous bowl of Halloween candy on us. It's loaded with Reese's Peanut Butter cups. I did not touch them. 2 days down; 53 to go. :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

And Then There Is Fred

Saturday (October 12) was the family's celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving. I am always asked what's the difference between Canadian and US Thanksgiving. The food is the same and the reason for celebrating is basically the same as well. The differences lie in two distinct areas.

1. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. We originally celebrated it here in 1999 when I surprised Dave with a visit from his daughter, husband and their infant son, Cole (from Canada as is Dave originally). It was such a hit with everyone including my side of the family that we now have as many of them as can make it in October; leaving everyone free to visit other family sides in November.

2. Canadians however need lessons in making long weekends. US Thanksgiving is on a Thursday and most people (except retail of course) have off for four days. Canadian Thanksgiving is on a Monday (it's actually tomorrow). I don't get it.

CanThan 2013 was celebrated by the return of "Hats" otherwise known as "Four on a couch". We haven't played it at CanThan for several years. However, given Uncle Dave's supply of baseball hats we do have a good setup for it.

The rules: Each player dons a hat or does not don a hat. You sit around the room alternating hat wearer, no hat wearer, hat wearer, no hat wearer. Get the idea? If you don't you will likely get picked last to be on someone's team. (Fortunately we don't use playground rules so you're good).

By the way, there is one more chair/seat than people in the room. That's n+1 seats with n being the number of people in the room. If you didn't get alternating hats don't bother trying to get that one. Just stick with me I'll get you through.

Next, the names of everyone in the room are written on separate pieces of paper and placed in a... well this year it was the salad bowl. ( Yes, the salad was gone and the bowl cleaned. ) Each player then picks a name from the hat. You may get your own name or someone else's. We used to play you couldn't get your own name but then it took way too long to even get started.

The person sitting to the left of the empty chair/seat goes first and calls from someone to sit in it. If I went first for example I might say "I want Dave to come sit next to me". The person who has Dave's name on their paper comes and sits next to me. It might be Dave or it more likely (and for more fun) will be someone else. Now you have to remember who is "Dave". The person to the left of the now vacated seat calls another person. And so on.

The object is to move people around the room to negotiate four members of your own team (hat or no hat) onto the couch.

Now if it weren't difficult enough to remember who is who when they aren't who they 'appear' to be we have to deal with knowing and remembering which names were put in the hat and who calls who by what name. An easy example is that my dad's name in Paul. But in the hat he is "Gumpop" because that's what the majority of the people in the room call him. But there were at least three people in the room who would call him Dad and one who would call him Paul - outside of hats of course. And then there is Fred. Fred's birth name is Erin Claire and - as I learned just this weekend - may also be known as squeegee. Now of course all of this is easy to figure out if you are part of the family or part of our 'extended friends of family'** plan and have attended at least one game of hats before.

This year we had a newbie. Meet Sara, part of the friends of family plan by way of Fred.

Newbies get a cheat sheet. This lets her know which names are in the game since most of us she had just met that morning. Sara gets big high fives though. She played sportingly well for a newbie and was - in my humble opinion - a key player in at least two of the no-hat team's three wins.

Here are the requisite (although forgotten of late) group photos.
Kids (it's all relative...
well except for friends of family plan members
but you know what I mean)

** The friends of family plan is easy to join. No fees, no secret handshakes. You just have to know one of us and get yourself invited. On that note, I will leave with a story that I meant to but neglected to share with the family yesterday. When sending an email confirmation to everyone about Thanksgiving advising of the totals and who was bringing what, I mis-entered Jimmy's gmail address and it went to a different J Pollum. I received a very nice reply from a Ms. Pollum who lives on the west coast informing me that my message did not reach the intended recipient. I thanked her and let her know she was welcome to join us if it weren't for the distance. Maybe next year :) 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It Wasn't JUST 2 miles

It's easy to say it was 'just' 2 miles because well that's what how far it was. Actually I think Mike said it was 2.3 but we won't quibble.

I broke through my sluggish haze on Saturday with the bike ride and tonight was my chance to prove I could still do more than walk on two feet. Of course I know I can but I was starting to question whether I wanted to. So I jumped at the chance to meet Maggi, Naomi and Mike at Haverford College tonight. We had thought we were doing 4 but didn't take the extra loop (probably talking too much to notice the cut off) and ended up back at our cars after 2. It was getting dark and no one had any headlamps so it was likely just as well. Here's how it went for me....

We had plans to meet at 6. I get off work at 4 and I did have to resist thoughts of just going home. I was determined to get over this hump though and I knew this was the group to do that with. They would not judge if I didn't finish or lagged behind. They would be very supportive and their presence would carry me I knew. I had also been on parts of this trail before so I could easily find my way back to my car alone if needed.

I arrived at the parking lot and figured I'd read a book while I waited. That made me a little sleepy so with 10 minutes to go I decided to get out of the car and walk around; stretch just a little and perk myself up again. As soon as I stepped out of the car I was hit with a gust of wind.

ME: Really? THIS is how it's gonna be?
MYSELF: Well duh. There's a Noreaster coming up the coast bringing heavy rain for tomorrow what did you expect?
ME: Grrrrrr

I grabbed my headband and windbreak shell out my bag. So here was the first cool thing about tonight. The shell which was quite tight to zip over my waist and tummy in the Spring just rolled right up smooth as can be tonight! Yay for better nutrition and portion control!

We took off shortly after 6 and it was awesome. I wanted to dance a happy dance. We were not doing anything speedy, rather a nice comfortable - passed the talk test - run. And nothing hurt or twinged. My brain didn't find any excuses to stop. It felt awesome. If you've never done this trail and you are local you really should try it. It's pretty and peaceful. It's mostly dirt, a little grave, some asphalt, some open space and some trees. Just enough tree roots and uneven ground to make it interesting and for the most part flat.

We were doing 3 minute run/1 minute walk intervals. On one of our walk intervals I had a run-in with another runner. Well he was running I was walking like I said. Good thing too or we both would have gone down I'm sure. We were travelling two across more or less and the trail was not very wide. When one of my group yelled "Runner Back" I should have looked back first to see how FAR back. I didn't think though and just moved to the right figuring he would pass on the left. And he likely would have if there had been time. But he was too close and had already (I think) eyeballed a path between us and so my step to get out of his way actually put me right in his path. I really should have paid more attention. No real harm done. I can feel a bruise growing on my right thigh where his knee plowed into it when his momentum swung him around but that will heal quickly enough. We saw him again in the parking lot and he kindly checked on my again. His name is Mitch.

So on we went and all of  a sudden we were back at our cars. I said to Mike, "I feel too good for that to be 4 miles". And as I said earlier it was only 2. But it was the best 2 miles I've run since March. I've busted through the mental haze and I'm ready to take on the fun that is winter and night time running! First I have to get a new headlamp though. The one from last year - which wasn't bright enough anyway - died.

Keep smiling and keep moving all!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back in the Saddle?

Well sort of. I was never in it for very long in the first place so it is weird to say 'back'... but it makes for a good title.

Today I rode to see sister Chris and her soccer team the Upper Darby Royals. Here is the route I took.

I've been planning this ride all week yet when I woke up this morning I was all but ready to write it off. I decided I was going to stay home and get some serious house cleaning done in anticipation of next weekend's Canadian Thanksgiving feast and the company that brings. I made myself some breakfast and settled in with a cup of coffee to catch up on some blogs, email and Facebook before starting to clean.

I went to Mike's Bike for Sight blog first. I learned about Mike Allen's journey to raise money for the blind and visually impaired through Dave's Lions club. The club will be hosting a bike for sight event next June to raise money for the same group. (Stay tuned for more on that) Mike left this morning (Saturday 10-5) to fly to Portland Oregon. In a day or two he will begin a 4000+ journey alone on a bike across the USA back Pennsylvania. Alone. Did you get that part? I've been following his blog and him on Facebook since I learned about the trip. It has been a dream of his to do this and it's finally happening. I'm in awe and captivated by what he is going to do.

I'm not sure exactly what it was about his simple post this morning that motivated me to get my butt back on the bike but it did. I'm tired, I don't feel 100% but I had to do it. Mike is going to have days like that in the next two months and doesn't have the luxury of skipping it. Well I guess he could but I'm pretty sure he won't. I have dreams (perhaps delusions) of doing a multi day bike ride of my own some day. Mine will be more like three days not two months but still a person has to start somewhere and I decided to start by riding to the soccer game.

It's a little embarrassing now looking at the elevation and comparing it to how tired I was at the end. I'm shaking that off though and focusing on the fact that I did it. Since my last post (two weeks ago) I've done almost nothing as far as exercise goes. I've been feeling like crap and as we know it's a vicious circle. I don't feel good so I don't go out but if I did I'd probably feel better and not going out makes me feel worse. Now I have to stick with it - keep smiling and keep moving right?

Stay tuned.